Scuttling HMS Keir Hardie
What happens if Jeremy Corbyn wins the current leadership election?
To recap on something I said earlier, you’d no more expect an unleaded car to run on Diesel than you can have a functioning parliamentary political party led by someone whose politics are a lot different (and less electorally appealing).
Surely this isn’t even a matter of opinion? If politics has any facts, this must be one of them.
The membership can’t vote to transform him into someone who enjoys the confidence of his colleagues. If Corbyn wins, the PLP will have no option but to find someone else to launch a fresh leadership challenge. His winning a ballot of members changes nothing in terms of his relationship to his parliamentary party.
The reasons they felt the need take such a drastic course of action will still be there. Nothing, apart from the numbers of members who voted for him this time, will have changed. If the PLP were to now accept him as leader after this contest, they would have to explain why they launched it in the first place.
The PLP, if they are not being spineless or unprincipled, will have no option but to go again. They have already allowed their mandate of nearly 10m voters to be trumped by Corbyn’s — a vote by a much smaller and amorphous group of people who may or may not have voted Labour in 2015.
They now understand why it was a mistake to accept his leadership in the first place. They learned this the hard way. It will not be a matter of being politically vindictive (even if that is a factor). It may look disloyal, but disloyalty won’t be the reason that they would be obliged to do it.
It would not be practically possible for them to commit to spending the next four years pretending everything is OK. That would not be the straight-talking politics that Corbyn has promised everyone. No-one would buy it. The PLP don’t even have the option to accept his leadership now, even if they want to.
Because limping on isn’t possible, Labour MPs will have to make a calculation; They either accept defeat and walk away, handing all of the assets and the incumbency to their biggest political rivals, or they may decide that they’re not leaving without the sort of fight that will make the surviving party useless to anyone who wanted to use it once they have gone.
I’m fairly sure that they’ll do the latter. Both sides of the Labour Party are now committed to destroying the Labour Party. Anything less will leave a weapon in the hand of the other side. It is wishful thinking to think that they can stay inside a pantomime horse with Corbyn and McDonnell at the front and the ‘Continuity Labour’ at the back.
If Owen Smith wins, then there is a small possibility that Labour can survive, as long as the moderates are prepared to weather the vicious and protracted internal war. Corbyn’s people would be just as committed to not leaving a weapon in the hands of their enemy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them were to decide that starting something new would be easier — once what was left of the old party has been turned into a useless wreck.
I don’t want any of this to happen. I’ve been fairly certain that this would be the outcome since last September. I wish things were different. I hope I’m wrong.
I just don’t think that I am.