12 Sep 2015

Jeremy Corbyn wins with a landslide – but what next?


Blair got 57% of the vote in the first round in 1994. Jeremy Corbyn got 59.5%.

In his victory speech, delivered in a suit (no tie), he promised to oppose the government’s plans to “shackle” the unions. He said he’d oppose welfare reforms too.

He talked about desperation in other parts of the world, especially the plight of refugees.

He said Britain must be a force for peace in the world. He emphasised environmental concerns.

And he attacked austerity, repeating his commitment to developing another economic policy.

He welcomed back people who’d left Labour over Iraq and the leadership of Tony Blair.

At no point did he outline quite how he would win over voters to his cause.

He singled out Ed Miliband for putting up with abuse from the media – knowing full well he’s in for some himself. He talked about suffering from appalling levels of abuse from the media.

He said the media didn’t understand the younger generation and that he would address younger people’s alienation from politics.

I understand he won’t necessarily use all six PMQ questions himself: he’ll let others ask some sometimes. He’ll give advance notice of questions sometimes to the Prime Minister. He confirmed his first engagement as leader would be to talk at the refugee march today.

He said the four candidates were like an ABBA tribute band, only days after Jon Cruddas claimed a Corbyn leadership would be like an 80s Trotskyite tribute band.

All sorts of issues are now thrown up after Corbyn’s landslide victory. Here are just a few of them.

Will he last? Senior Blairites (they still exist) say they think he’ll have at least two conferences as leader. But then what? If Team Corbyn and Corbyn himself decide he isn’t working out, would they try to line up an ideologically similar but more voter-friendly replacement?

To go down that route with confidence they would have to have entrenched the support they picked up from £3 sign-ups and got some rule changes through the NEC and Conference.

Would they also use rule changes to try to make sure that the 93% of Labour MPs who didn’t support Mr Corbyn show him loyalty?

Should Labour work with other parties on the Left to maximise its political impact? Should it even consider the sort of electoral pact that gave birth to the party?

What will Corbyn do in the EU referendum? Many think he will go for the Wilsonian option and give everyone a licence to join whichever campaign they like. Which one would he join? Would he condemn “Cameron’s boss class renegotiation” and  promise his own “workers’ renegotiation?”

What will Corbyn prioritise as policy shifts and will they antagonise other parts of the party? Labour has to make a call on Trident, so will the Blairites and the centre left reorganise, rethink or drift off to other work and lick their wounds?

Jeremy Corbyn didn’t answer those questions in his speech today. The following days and weeks will be very interesting indeed.

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