Rebellious left wing MP Jeremy Corbyn has just been voted in as the leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn managed to nab 59.5% of the vote in just the first round, with Burnham, Cooper and Kendall trailing behind at 19%, 17% and 4.5% respectively. Brownite Tom Watson will be Corbyn’s deputy and the shadow cabinet will be selected soon.
With all the controversy over a more left wing Labour Party in mind, here are a few possibilities of what may develop over the next few years in the main parties running up to 2020:
- The Labour party becomes divided and unstable.
Within minutes of Corbyn’s victory, a fair few frontline Labour MPs ruled themselves out of working in Corbyn’s cabinet. Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves, Tristam Hunt, Emma Reynolds, Liz Kendall, Jamie Reed and Chris Leslie all said that they would not be involved in a Corbyn-led government. This may weaken the Labour assault, as a total revamp of the frontline to less familiar or experienced faces may weaken their message.
Moreover, despite Corbyn’s supposed unification of the left, a hodgepodge of those who voted SNP and Green in 2015, reluctant Blairites, unions and traditional socialists is unlikely to have one solid message for the British public, even if they all back Corbyn in principle. He is most likely going to get royally hammered by the British press, even if it is not entirely accurate or relevant to the man himself. We only have to look at the whole malarkey over Osama Bin Laden and Israel with regards to Corbyn to see how associations, no matter how shaky, can damage a character. He has also been publically denounced by Tony Blair, a senior Labour figure in anyone’s book, and I can picture a lot of heads to be in the PLP’s hands while Corbyn announces policy during PMQs. That is, if Corbyn even makes it that far; he will have to appease all the warring factions inside and out of the party; who knows what his overall position will be in 2020.
- The Tory Party solidifies around Cameron
Although Cameron said that he would step down before the next General Election, it appears that the Conservative Party is heavily unified around him and his partnership with George Osborne. The party perspective on their main selling point of economic policy and its ensuing results seems more or less unanimous, with a solid and dedicated following to the project among the electorate too. Why would they feel a need to change? The major disagreement in the party seems to be on Europe, and despite Cameron’s staunch pro-EU position, the referendum should keep the backbenchers docile for a little while longer. Cameron will have had experience as PM for 10 years or so, with a team he is close with and experienced, and they do not have many strong candidates for a replacement.
- UKIP goes Red
Whilst Corbyn undoubtedly represents the left side of the Labour party, there is a certain modern and progressive element to it, welcoming refugees and championing equality. At the moment, the main party that represents the socially conservative, communitarian and protectionist wing of the left is UKIP. The metropolitan progressives are not going to budge out of the Lib/Lab flux, yet UKIP has a certain allure for the reactionary. It could be argued that the high-level UKIP members are more neoliberal, but this seems to be more of a public image, with the old guard being profoundly socially right wing. Moreover, the more “market liberal” types will likely unify around the Tories as a clear opposition to Corbyn’s socialist economic policy.
- The Lib Dems carry on being Lib Dems.
As Tom Davies has alluded to here, there may be a boost to the Lib Dem membership from Blairites who do not feel comfortable being associated with Corbyn or the Tories. However, the swing looks shaky, owing to the Lib Dems’ weak candidacy as a threat to keep Corbyn out of Downing Street. They currently have a leader in Tim Farron who falls on the socially democratic wing of the party, so whether this is a left of centre alternative to Corbyn without being a Conservative remains to be seen. All in all it looks ambiguous and random for where the Liberals will go next, typical.
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