“I’d much rather have 15 people arguing about something than 15 people splitting into two camps, each side convinced it’s right and not talking to the other” – Linus Torvalds
The chances of Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership are a forgone conclusion according to every poll in the land, and currently 1/100 on in most bookies. Which given their recent accuracy at predicting political events, means I fully expect Owen Smith to be leader come Sunday.
However much of the conversation in the tabloids and in political circles has already moved on to what happens once the result of Jeremy Corbyn winning his second leadership election is announced.
Mainly they are talking about if the MPs of his party will finally get behind their leader, which again if polls are to be believed condemns Labour to being, at most, the official opposition for the next 8 years. Or if the Blairites peel off and start a new party, splitting the original in two.
However, I think this discussion is a moot point. For all intents and purposes the party is split already and no amount of MPs getting on Corbyns side is likely to fix the schism. I’m not talking about the MPs here, but the Labour voters themselves.
There is some obvious concern that given Corbyns leanings, that UKIP can seize on the opportunity and gain huge traction in Labours Northern heartlands, and for what it’s worth I think that is going to happen, but lets not kid ourselves, those that will make that defection are not even a small fraction of the 9m that voted Labour in 2015. I don’t think that is the main threat for Labour. I think there is a real risk is the rest of the remaining Labour supporters, simply won’t support a Corbyn Labour at all.
What will be telling is how close this leadership election actually is. If Smith gets anywhere near half that indicates a huge amount of Labour voters that have no confidence in Corbyn as leader.
Take a look at any Corbyn story on the Guardian, The Independence or the Mirror to get a taste of just how hated by a proportion of Labour voters Corbyn is. On the one hand you have Momentum and Corbynites who see him as the second coming, and on the other you have every other Labour voter who see him as the figure to bring down the party.
They want him out. Want him out badly. So what are these people going to do? Some might indeed plump for UKIP, but that leaves us with a huge pool of people that UKIP doesn’t appeal too, who yet can not bring themselves to vote for Labour led by our mate Corbs.
The options are they either don’t vote at all, as they are completely disenfranchised, or they go Lib Dem on some fantasy second referendum promise, or, I think a lot of them hold their nose and vote Tory. The conservatives and Blairite Labour policies are, aside from economic spending, not too dissimilar.
Basically “anything but Corbyn”.
If any of these results come to pass, not only does the Tory lead get inflamed to crushing levels, but Labour simultaneously loses huge swathes of traditional support. The kind of voters a large party like Labour take for a given at any election. If it were to happen in large enough numbers you could actually see Labour in 3rd place in a lot of areas. This is how parties fall.
But what about the increased membership and support Corbyn brings? Well that all depends on where that support is coming from, in terms of constituency seats. We don’t have any real hard data on it at the moment, but if his increased support comes almost entirely in areas where Labour already hold safe seats- like London seats as a good example, it doesn’t matter a jot, as Labour can’t gain seats it already has. It doesn’t matter if every person in Hackney votes Labour – it’s still only one seat, and one that they were never going to lose anyway, the extra support is wasted.
All of this could come together to see a self fulfilling prophecy. Labour supporters so sure that Corbyn is the death of the party, that by their own actions it comes to pass.
Are you a current Labour voter who won’t vote for Corbyns Labour? Please comment below and let me know your plans and/or thoughts.