The British Labour Party

 

WEEKLY COMMENT 17-09-2015

By Barry Edwards

The British Labour Party

 

The outright win by Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party leadership vote was expected but the size of his majority at 59.5 % was a surprise for many commentators. He managed to achieve support at over twice his nearest rivals Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper who attracted 19% and 17% of the votes. A political party leadership contest with such a decisive result after a resignation is rare. Congratulations must go to Jeremy Corbyn for his win although the future of the party is now in doubt according to many Labour supporters.

British politics is going to get a lot more interesting with such diverse views about the future of the country even though after only a week some of the contradictory ideas are beginning to mellow. It is still early days but it appears that the Labour party is going to produce some kind of reworked manifesto to explain what their policies are really all about. Since they are so contrary to the centre ground politics of the previous leadership, it will be interesting to see what the consensus is amongst those that have any influence in the party.

Everyone I have met since the result has something to say about the future of the Labour Party and they all seem to agree that Corbyn will not survive the next four and half years when the next general election will be held. My own view is that there is no real contender to lead the party that has any chance of winning a new challenge and it is likely Corbyn will survive for that simple reason. If that is the case, most people agree that the party is not likely to regain power for many years.

Four and a half years in politics is a long time and anything can happen to change people’s views therefore it is not always wise to be so certain about future elections. However, it is probable that the left wing idealism will have to soften somewhat to have a far-reaching attraction for the electorate. When these very idealistic parties begin to see there is a chance of power wherever they are in the world, they tend to broaden their appeal by gradually changing their policies to make themselves more electable. In my view, this is what will happen with the Corbyn strategies as we approach the 2020 general election.

The political debate over the next few years will certainly get more lively making people think about what they really want for the country and that at least will encourage more people to become involved and hopefully vote in that election. The task for Labour to get anywhere near a majority is enormous and they will have to compete with the Liberal Democrats who could find support from many Labour voters who would never vote Conservative.

That allows for the possibility of a resurgence of support for the Liberal Democrats which may have some appeal for wavering Conservatives when the budget deficit has been eliminated and the economy is growing nicely. If the current government moves to the right, there is a real chance that the middle ground could be held by the Lib Dems creating a hung parliament again, bringing in another coalition. However, most commentators believe the Conservatives have won the next general election already and will dominate the political arena for many years to come.

World events could disrupt the best laid plans and there are many uncertainties that could cause another recession changing the whole political scene not only in this country but worldwide. The EU referendum may divide the country if the government loses the yes vote and it is possible the refugee crisis plays a big role in deciding people’s minds when the referendum is held. Europe will not have the appeal if the number of migrants increases beyond what people expect since they would have the right to come into the UK after they have settled in other EU countries if the UK was still a member, although most say they wish to settle in Germany.

This is a subject that is very sensitive and may well have an unexpected influence on how the political scene changes over the next few years. The unpredictability of what will happen means Europe could go through a turbulent period changing the perception of the future of the EU throughout the continent. How the politicians in the EU handle these events will determine their future and the UK will be no exception. It may well be that events in Europe and around the world will decide the political future in the UK.

That’s all for this week, more observations next week.