If you believe the polls and bookmakers (which many won’t!) Jeremy Corbyn is well on his way to winning the Labour leadership race. This has caused widespread anxiety amongst many Labour MPs and there are already talks of immediate coups and challenges to Corbyn should he win. There seems to be a common wisdom that if Corbyn is elected Labour leader he will not last five years and will not be the Labour leader come the 2020 election. However this does not necessarily stack up with the evidence.
Corbyn is on track not just to scrape home, but to win an overwhelming victory possibly in the first round of voting. This would give Corbyn an incredible mandate and would lead to questions about whether the party has the authority to get rid of him. In a future contest there would also be nothing to stop Corbyn putting his name forward again and possibly winning again, rendering any challenge to his leadership meaningless.
Historically Labour does not remove leaders, even unpopular leaders. We have seen that in recent years when Labour have gone into elections with Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown. It would be a big change in strategy if Labour suddenly decided that now was the time to start removing leaders in between elections.
Everyone also seems to be taking for granted that Corbyn will do badly electorally. What happens if Corbyn does better than people expect. If Corbyn does well in local elections and Scottish elections in Holyrood then there would be no reason to remove him. During the mid-terms there is also the potential for a bounce towards the opposition party which may cloud just how well Corbyn is actually doing and lull those on the Labour side into a false sense of security.
Firstly there was the idea that Corbyn could not win, that idea has quickly faded. Secondly there is the idea that if Corbyn does win, he cannot survive. This too for me is questionable. It is not too hard to see a set of circumstances where Corbyn does survive for five years. This could be disastrous for the Labour Party but may just be a scenario they need to get used to.
Article by Mike Hough