January 7th, 2018
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
This is a transformation of Labour as dramatic as anything that happened under Tony Blair in the 1990s. Arguably, it is much more significant. During his time as leader, Mr Blair did not put in much organisational effort to ensure that his ideological shift was a permanent one. New Labourites just assumed – how wrong they turned out to be – that the hard left had lost the arguments so comprehensively that it could not revive. New Labour never attempted to purge rebellious leftwingers, not even when they were as serially mutinous as Mr Corbyn himself. The Corbynites have absorbed that lesson and want to make Labour’s red shift irreversible.
Yet absolute control still eludes them; the long march through the institutions is not complete. There is one very important power bloc they do not control: the party’s elected representatives. Most Labour councillors are not Corbynites. The party’s most prominent mayors – Andy Burnham in Manchester and Sadiq Khan in London – are not Corbynites. The majority of Labour MPs are not Corbynite.
The Labour leader’s internal critics have largely fallen silent over the past six months, muted by the party’s above-expectations election result and Mr Corbyn’s popularity with the membership. Virtually every Labour MP now recites the mantra: “Jeremy is leader for as long as he wants to be.” That does not mean that they are all truly reconciled to his leadership or what has happened to their party. Most Labour MPs are some variety of social democrat or socialist. They do not cite Marxist theorists with approval. Many Labour MPs think the party could have done better at last year’s election under a leader who aroused less distrust among centrist, working-class and older voters. Others acknowledge that Mr Corbyn performed well, but worry that there will be a cap on the party’s support for so long as he or anyone of his ideological flavour is in charge. Quite a lot of Labour MPs think it is entirely possible that their party will win the next election – and then preside over such an economic disaster that it will ruin Labour’s reputation with the electorate for a generation.