A YouGov poll out today, with the fieldwork having been done just last week, makes extremely sober reading for anyone within Labour or indeed anyone on the centre-left generally who isn’t down with Project Corbyn.
Labour members were asked if they thought Corbyn was doing well or badly as leader. The numbers are: WELL 72% BADLY 27% DK 1%. 53% of members think Labour are on course for victory at the next general election against 42% who do not think so. So around 20% of all Labour members think that Corbyn is doing well as leader but won’t win the next election, which is interesting.
When asked if there was another leadership contest who would get their first preference, 43% of Labour members choose Jeremy Corbyn. In second place is Andy Burnham – on 10%.
In short, Jeremy Corbyn is going nowhere and any attempted coup against him would fail. So what do the Labour moderates do now?
This is a remarkably difficult question to answer. A coup, as I say, will not work and they know it. This leaves two options, broadly. Either stick around and watch it all go down in flames while still on board, or split the party. Both are bad choices, and as any psychologist will tell you, trying to decide between two negative outcomes is one of the hardest things to do.
Having said that, one is definitely bad and one is just unbelievably risky. Sticking around offers no hope whatsoever, other than that somehow defeat in 2020 will bring the membership to its senses a la post-83. But it won’t – the defeat will be blamed on anyone but Corbyn. The Blairites, the right-wing media, the Zionist banking conspiracy, anyone but Jeremy and his platform. Either Corbyn will stick around or he’ll be replaced by a Corbynite.
Having said that, speak to anyone involved in the SDP if you want to know how difficult it is to create a new political party. However badly Corbyn does as leader over the next few years, however alienated parts of the party’s traditional support base ebb away, he has time on his side. There are still places in England and Wales where a donkey with a red rosette pinned to it could win and that won’t change overnight. Or at least, it isn’t terribly likely.
It’s easy for me to say they should just go for it. Get a good chunk this time round, at least 100 MPs, and strike out on their own. But it’s not my career on the line and I’m not in the middle of it either. I’m glad I’m not either – the choice that faces a lot of the PLP at present is a horrible one.
Robert reed says
I would agree it looks pretty hopeless for labour now. I have spoken to lots of labour members who have left,,at leat 30000 since corbyn took over…and there is a genuine appitite for a new party of the centre left.
My theory is labour is now really the party of the public sector, UNITE and protest. They don’t offer anything for the private sector and are hostile to many in business, to tradional working classes and new tech. Cameron’s tried to manoeuvre his party to the centre but the next Tory leader will probably be more right wing. The lib dems seem shot, and UKIP will die away post the remain winning the referendum.
This leaves a huge hole in uk politics, a centre left party could clean up. funding will be no problem as all the labour business doners have left.
What would the new party stand for…progressive politics for the 21st century, living in a high tech world, focussing on the challenges of the future and not on the battles of the past. Looking after those who need help and encouraging those who have ideas, working with business to change the UK..every unemployed person and student should have free access to broadband, to attract global business to invest in our country.
the world is changing fast, we need a party who understands this and can harness what is good and protect us from the dangers..
Nic Wells says
Err… The LibDems? At 15% in the recent elections they’re definitely not ‘shot’. And they seem to tick all your boxes.
David Richardson says
What exactly would be the policies of this centre-left party? Would they offer any alternative to destructive policies of austerity? Would they sneer at benefit-receivers, make low tax, labour “flexibility” their priorities, as the last lot did? Would they pledge to spend on infrastructure, and to redistribute wealth downwards rather than upwards?
D Wake says
Why are you so sure that Labour would lose under Corbyn and what is the evidence ? They are doing ok in elections and opinion polls and there are plenty of opportunities for the Conservatives to mess up between now and 2020
‘the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met’ — Hobbes
George Kendall says
I agree that a new party could work. but it’s far too soon.
For MPs. you can’t expect people who, a year ago thought they might be just about to be Labour Cabinet ministers, to throw their career away in the likelihood that they’ll never be an MP again, after 2020.
What may change matters is that in 2018, the new boundaries will come in, and almost every Labour MP will have to reapply for a new seat. If many of these MPs are not given a chance to fight a winnable seat in 2020, that’s when they may think about breaking away.
What is deeply regrettable is that there are many moderate members of the Labour party, who are leaving Labour, haven’t joined the Lib Dems, and may leave politics altogether.
We need them to stay engaged, whatever happens. Because, at a time of falling numbers of activists, active members will matter.
In the Lib Dems, we have a new group called the Social Democrat Group, which aims to build better links with social democrats outside the party. We’d love to be in touch with many of these people.
If anyone wants to get in touch, our twitter handle is https://twitter.com/socdemgroup
D Wake says
Maybe those moderate Labour people do not see the point of struggling in the wilderness for an uncertain reward and see opportunities to serve in another capacity but as you say the redistribution of seats could prove a catalyst for those who do not benefit from the revised constituency boundaries.