So Corbyn becomes leader of the Labour Party – will there be another split a la 1981 as a result? There are many factors working against that happening any time soon. For or a start, 1981 itself. As you may recall, that didn’t go so well. The “prepare for government” quip looked foolish in light of 23 seats.
Also, many on the right of Labour are hoping (and betting, really) on the Corbyn thing being temporary, a minor glitch in the system. Only thing is, Jeremy was supposed to be a very minor thing indeed, as in come fourth in the leadership contest.
However, memories of ’81 are powerful, so it would take an all mighty amount of pain for Labour to split again. Unless something else happened to help it along, of course.
During the summer of Labour’s meltdown, we’ve all but forgotten about the up coming battles within the Conservative Party surrounding the EU referendum. Every so often something pops through to remind us, like when the Redwood gang sounded off on the purdah issue again, but for the most part the Tories have had a breezy summer. But autumn is almost upon us, and in the midst of Jeremy’s inevitable honeymoon (during which many a Guardian journalist will write things they will soon regret for the rest of their careers), the cracks in the Conservative Party could become very visible again.
Imagine this scenario: the EU referendum has been won by the Yes side and we’re staying in. But the infighting has been so morose, Cameron feels he must step aside immediately to preserve party unity. A leadership contest is arranged between George Osborne and Owen Paterson. Reflecting the mood of the Tory membership, deeply annoyed at the party’s frontbench (what’s left of it anyhow) for backing the Yes side in the referendum, Paterson is elected by what turns out to be an embarrassing margin.
So you know the Corbyn-Redwood axis of insanity I’ve touched on previously? In the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph, it is now running both of Britain’s two top parties explicitly (and indeed, by extension, the country – recall that Paterson would be prime minister in the scenario I’ve outlined above). Could the centrist wings of both parties stand back idly and watch while this all unfolds? Could the business community, having just dodged a cannonball in the form of the EU referendum, let the country go into a general election at the end of which either John McDonnell or John Redwood could end up running the Treasury (my fantasy chancellors in this little schema)? In other words, what I’m really asking here is this: would a split in both Labour and the Tories not come about due to necessity, and for the only feasible solution from there to be a new party in which both sets of rebels join forces?
I know all of this sounds like science fiction. But Jeremy f-ing Corbyn is about to become the leader of the Labour Party, so I think we’re safely in Issac Asimov territory already, aren’t we?