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Bleak future for Labour – and all self-inflicted

August 10, 2016

It now seems a case of when, not if, the Labour Party splits and a new political grouping enters the fray. With Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson now involved in a bitter war of words over Trotskyite entryism into the Labour Party it looks as if all hope of unity once the leadership election is concluded has finally gone.

Corbyn is going to win and his opponents will be routed

Jeremy_CorbynThis has looked inevitable for some months but the coalition of moderates and soft left that has clumsily manoeuvred against Corbyn and his allies has constantly deluded itself into believing it can somehow regain control of the leadership and party machinery that it so spectacularly conceded to Corbyn and the hard left last summer. The battle has been about laying claim to the Labour name, its proud history and legacy and, crucially, the party machinery and union support. With the outcome of that battle no longer in doubt, plans for a breakaway must be in the process of being drawn up.

This won’t be an SDP Mark 2, however.

• First, there is no coherent, credible leadership. No Gang of Four as there was in the early 1980s. If Owen Smith is the best they can manage, they haven’t a chance.

• Second, Corbyn’s opponents have proved themselves tactically inept from the start. Their dull, predictable, uninspiring campaigns last summer gifted him the leadership. Their attempts to undermine him in Parliament have been botched and ineffective. Then to provoke a leadership election that could only succeed if Corbyn was prevented from standing sealed their collective reputation for misjudgement. Even if Corbyn had been excluded from the ballot it would have backfired because – like him or not – most people would have seen him as the victim of unfair backroom shenanigans and would have deserted the Labour Party anyway.

• Third, there are no obvious generous financial backers for a new party as there were when the Social Democratic Party was launched. The SDP was a long time in the planning and its founders picked their moment to launch, unlike now. The day after Corbyn is re-elected his opponents will have to make their minds up: stay and unite around his leadership or go.

The prospects for a new party look bleak. It is hard to see many people rallying to the cause of a Westminster elite that has proved itself disloyal in the extreme and turned in on itself just at the moment the country was crying out for a coherent, principled opposition to a government that has embraced Brexit with alarming enthusiasm.

With Scotland lost, a boundary review pending that will wipe out dozens of Labour seats, UKIP threatening to grab thousands of working class votes and MPs that clearly can’t stand the sight of each other the future for Labour looks equally bleak.

From → Politics

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