Jeremy Corbyn Set To Be Reelected UK Labour Party Leader Despite Bitter Battle With His Own MPs

Corbyn’s supporters have also been encouraged by the huge crowds the Labour leader has been able to draw at his campaign rallies. The sight of thousands of people enthusiastically shouting “Jez we can”, a phrase neatly adopted from President Obama’s rally cry, is unusual in British politics. Party membership has surged to over 500,000 – making it the biggest in Europe. Corbyn hopes he can use this as a “very strong campaigning basis” to win power.

During the campaign, Corbyn held 59 rallies, raised over £300,000 in small donations and his team made over 400,000 campaign calls.

Parallels have often, and deliberately, been drawn between Corbyn and Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump’s insurgent campaigns. The ‘Jeremy For Leader’ team hope to model their general election battle on Sanders’ digital mobilisation techniques. Corbyn was quick to highlight a message of support he received from Sanders – which the Senator denies sending – in his fight against Smith.

But for Corbyn’s detractors, mass rallies do not necessarily translate into electoral success. No one can remember Cameron holding huge rallies. Because they did not happen. Tory party membership is only around 130,000. Yet he won an unexpected general election victory in 2015. Critics are also dismissive of the Sanders’ comparison, noting for all the noise around the Senator’s Democratic primary campaign – he did not win. 

What now?

Smith spent much of the campaign warning a Corbyn victory would split the party. He told The Huffington Post a break-up was not just possible, but “likely”. However that fear appears to have receded, not least as the UK’s electoral system punishes smaller parties – and the splitters would find it almost impossible to gain electoral traction.  

And there is also a feeling on the Labour benches that they do not want to give up their party to Corbyn and his allies. As Lord Kinnock told a recent closed door meeting of Labour MPs and peers: “There will be no retreat! Dammit, this is our party! I’ve been in it for 60 years, I’m not leaving it to anybody!”

Even if an uneasy truce is brokered in parliament between Corbyn and his MPs – with some senior politicians returning to the shadow cabinet – the conflict may continue at a local level.

Momentum, the leftwing campaign group that grew out of Corbyn’s 2015 leadership challenge, is a source of anger for many MPs. Smith has accused the group, which boasts thousands of members, of treating Labour as a “host body” for the hard-left as happened in the 1980s. It is a charge Momentum strongly denies.

MPs who are seen as disloyal fear deselection – the equivalent of an US Democratic Senator facing a primary challenge from the left. Corbyn, while not publicly encouraging local activists to try and oust sitting MPs, has been accused of tacitly endorsing it by insisting he does not want to “interfere”.

Demands of loyalty from Corbyn’s supporters particularly wind-up Labour MPs. Corbyn, as a backbench MP, rebelled against successive Labour leaders over 500 times.

In 2015, Corbyn said annual leadership contests could be a good idea. Now leader, he has changed his mind. But another leadership contest, perhaps one every year, before the 2020 general election is entirely possible.

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