So Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership contest. Again. After a bitter summer full of dispute and wrangling Jeremy Corbyn decisively defeated Owen Smith and strengthened his hold on the Labour Party. In doing so Corbyn ended the debate about who will lead the party into the next election, but added to a more profound question; can Labour ever win again?
It is hard for even the most optimistic Labour supporter to make a case for the Labour Party winning the 2020 election. The proposed boundary changes could cost Labour as many as 20 seats and the latest polling puts Labour a staggering 15 points behind the Conservatives. There is no historical precedent for an opposition party winning from this position. Politics has been strange in recent times, but it is not that strange!
So if we rule out 2020, what about future elections? The synopsis also looks bleak for the Labour Party in this regard as well. In their traditional stronghold of Scotland, they now only have 1 MP and currently sit in third place behind the Conservatives. Furthermore research has found a lot of working class Labour voters who voted for Brexit deserting the party. Without these voters it is impossible for Labour to gain a winning majority. This is a long-term problem for Labour and as of yet there has been no solution.
Perhaps most seriously there is the question of whether the Labour Party can or even wants to stick together. London Mayor Sadiq Khanhas warned of a split and a large proportion of Labour voters now consider this to be likely. Figures from all sides of the party such as Chuka Umunna, Hilary Benn and John McDonnell have called for unity and have denied rumours of a split, but still the headlines won’t disappear. Can the Labour moderates really cope with another 4 years of Corbyn?
Political parties have no divine right to exist and certainly have no divine right to win. This is certainly true for the Labour Party. It is foolish given what is happening in politics in the world to make a definitive prediction on this topic, but what we know is that political parties do have a shelf-life and Labour could be reaching the end of theirs. Labour as an electoral force are on a precipice and it is anyone’s guess as to whether they can or ever will recover.
Article by Mike Hough
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