This summers elections haven’t really changed anything within the Labour Party.
- We were massacred in Scotland but no one, even the BBC, is claiming this has anything to do with Corbyn.
- We increased our vote in England since the General Election by about 4%.
- We retained control of all the councils we controlled before (except Dudley).
- We won 2 Parliamentary by-elections.
- It is almost certain we will get London Mayor and do well in other Mayoral elections.
- We have retained control in Wales.
So far so good for us Corbynistas because the predicted ‘collapse’ of the Labour vate did not occur and it makes a leadership challenge this year look almost impossible.
BUT the Blairites will argue that:
- We lost nearly 30 seats in England
- Compared to the local elections in 2012 our vote was down 9%
- 6 years in to an austerity driven Tory government and in the midst of an EU bloodbath in the Tory Party we should be 20 points ahead, not just holding our ground.
In reply we will say that for a leader fighting his own PLP, the entire party machine, the entire media and only days after the ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal, this result is a ‘feckin miracle!
Both are right; we should be doing better but the results demonstrate that Corbyn is NOT an electoral liability, and of course the crucial question is whether if the PLP and the Party machine had united behind Corbyn in the run up to these elections would the results have been significantly more positive?
The Labour Party cannot control or resolve the media problem, which is a global problem of neoliberal hegemony, but theoretically at least we could fix the question of unity and solidarity within the Party. I think starting where we are now genuine unity is pretty unlikely, but we could at least present a united front – Corbynistas could stop blaming Blairites for everything and stop calling them Tories; the Blairites could stop openly criticising Corbyn and the Party machine could accept the democratic will of the Party and stop openly fighting the leadership and the membership. We could both try and discuss policy without descending into self-righteous, moralising, vitriol.
However, the barrier to that united front is not Corbyn, the Corbynistas or Momentum, it is the Blairite right who staked everything on Corbyn failing decisively this summer, which they hoped would lead to a rapid change of leadership and a return to New Labour hegemony within the party.
This now isn’t going to happen before the next local elections in 2018 and the question now is what are the Blairites going to do next? Are they going to commit to the Corbyn Labour Party and fight with us to win decisively in 2018? If they continue their current strategy of publicly undermining Corbyn hoping to remove him after a poor performance in 2018, then they are almost certainly handing the 2020 election to the Tories because after 2 more years of the in-fighting of the last 8 months the Labour Party really would be unelectable – whoever the leader is!
IF over the coming months leading up to the Party conference, the Blairites continue their current shenanigans, then my own view is that Corbyn will have to manufacture some sort of ‘put up, or shut up’ confrontation. He may even need to consider calling a leadership election himself in order to win decisively and thus silence his critics in the PLP and the Party machine.
Similarly, Corbyn must get control of the Party machine and stop it suspending and expelling members and supporters of Momentum and instead it must start suspending and expelling those who damage the Party by openly and publicly fighting the leadership and the membership.
Now this election is behind us, the Blairites in the PLP and the Party machine need to be brought into line and accept the democratic will of the Party and start working for a Labour victory in the country instead of a Blairite victory in the Party. If they are unable to do this then they should at least keep schtumm and keep their heads down, and if even that is beyond them, then they must leave the Party.