Ten months to the day after Jeremy Corbyn’s astonishing election as leader of the Labour Party came a make-or-break moment for Labour’s resurgent left, and one of the biggest in the party’s post-war history.

Plagued throughout his tenure by seditious rumblings from prominent members of his own party, which exploded into an all-out mutiny after the European Union referendum, the rebels tried to prevent Corbyn from being on the ballot paper for a second leadership election.

The¬†results¬†on Tuesday¬†of¬†the¬†secretive vote ‚Ästcoming¬†at the end of an exhaustive seven-hour meeting¬†of Labour‚Äôs¬†National Executive Committee¬†‚Ästblocked their attempts,¬†allowed¬†Corbyn¬†onto the ballot in the¬†leadership election to be triggered by rebel former frontbencher Angela Eagle.

The Labour politicians who have been complaining about bullying from Corbyn’s side, whilst attempting¬†to¬†‚Äėbreak him as a man‚Äô¬†seem ‚ÄĮoblivious to the idea that the party‚ÄĮ that they want¬†‚Äėsaved‚Äô¬†is one‚ÄĮ that many, until last year,‚ÄĮ felt‚ÄĮ wholly‚ÄĮ excluded from.¬†Yet¬†with 100,000 new Labour Party members joining in the last two weeks, and the Labour Party membership having swelled to 600,000, it is clear that the reason why much of the PLP¬†attempted to keep him off the ballot in a new leadership election is because they knew that he would likely beat any potential challenger.

The efforts to exclude Corbyn were anti-democratic, and¬†would¬†surely¬†have¬†plunged¬†the party into an even more fractious¬†civil war than the one it is already in.¬†Yet the motion was defeated 18-14, and¬†Corbyn¬†has¬†now¬†been guaranteed a place on the ballot.¬†In the overwhelming probability that he wins this contest and secures a second mandate, many in the¬†PLP¬†will be faced with a question: do my views still align with those of my party?‚ÄĮ And the resounding answer, it seems,‚ÄĮwill‚ÄĮ surely‚ÄĮ be no.

Given the current wider political context, their situation looks increasingly bleak.

With¬†Tory centrist Theresa May¬†in Number 10, the neoliberal doctrine¬†of much of Labour‚Äôs right and their ‚Äėsoft-left‚Äô allies¬†will become increasingly difficult to adhere to,¬†as the centre ground will be commandeered by the new Prime Minister¬†attempts to appeal to¬†the¬†broader electorate.

But this is where it gets interesting.

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If the Liberal Democrats¬†hold to¬†leader Tim¬†Farron‚Äôs¬†promise and¬†fight a general election on a ‚Äėpledge to stop¬†Brexit‚Äô¬†ticket, it may become too much for centrist,¬†EU-supporting¬†Labour figures to resist forming some type of alliance.¬†Already,¬†Farron¬†has¬†urged¬†Labour members (and presumably MPs) to join them.¬†Who can say that marginalized, angry and virulently¬†pro-Europe¬†politicians such as¬†Chuka¬†Umunna, Chris Bryant and Vernon¬†Coaker¬†would not be seduced by this prospect?

This¬†potential new coalition¬†could‚ÄĮrepresent a significant threat to the left¬†in‚ÄĮfuture‚ÄĮgeneral elections,¬†as¬†the foreseeable message of¬†‚Äėstability‚Äô and ‚Äėsecurity‚Äô,¬†on¬†which¬†they would run¬†would¬†no doubt¬†play well to the electorate in¬†today‚Äôs¬†uncharted¬†waters.‚ÄĮDeserting Labour MPs¬†may lose the Labour ‚Äėbrand‚Äô, but this will be of minor consequence when compared to the potential gains they could make.

There is¬†a precedent, of course. In 1981, the so-called ‚Äėgang of four‚Äô ‚Äď a group of rebel Labour MP‚Äôs ‚Äď split from the party citing concern¬†with¬†left-wing leader Michael Foot‚Äôs plans to withdraw from the European Economic Community and campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament.¬† The¬†defectors‚ÄĮformed the Social Democratic Party (SDP),‚ÄĮwhich in turn allied‚ÄĮwith the Liberal‚ÄĮParty to form the Liberal Democrats,¬†who went on to¬†poll‚ÄĮrelatively‚ÄĮwell in the general election¬†two years later.

Although¬†many¬†conservative commentators are describing Labour as a¬†‚Äėspent political force‚Äô,¬†the¬†irony of portraying¬†Corbyn¬†as unelectable whilst simultaneously fighting tooth-and-nail to keep him off the ballot paper¬†due to his popularity¬†is there for all to see.¬†Yet some critics¬†imply that another breakaway would damage the left of the party,¬†pointing¬†to the¬†fact that¬†Michael Foot‚Äôs Labour were comprehensively beaten by the Tories in the 1983 general election¬†following the¬†fallout from the split¬†two years earlier.

But the circumstances then were vastly different to now. The Thatcher government was benefitting from the surge in patriotic fervour that came courtesy of the Falklands invasion, and the weariness with the political establishment did not extend as far as it palpably does today in the post-referendum political climate.

Today, all¬†corners of society can be said to be disillusioned, and¬†resentment towards politics exists in different forms across boundaries of class, race, age and location. ‚ÄĮThe‚ÄĮ 1980s¬†binary‚ÄĮ opposition‚ÄĮof left/right, Thatcher/miners did not make for the incredibly fertile landscape we are experiencing now.¬†Aided¬†in large part by the¬†proliferation of ideas that the¬†interconnectivity that globalization¬†has enabled,¬†anti-establishment movements such as UKIP and the SNP have seen dramatic successes¬†in recent years.‚ÄĮ¬†For this reason, a¬†split¬†may¬†unshackle¬†Corbyn, pruning the intransigent¬†Blairites¬†to allow the young left of the party to blossom. Cat Smith,¬†Kate¬†Osamor¬†and¬†Clive Lewis¬†are amongst the promising young MP‚Äôs who could take up the mantle. Likewise, the CLP‚Äôs are brimming with energetic young political talent inspired by¬†Corbyn‚Äôs¬†socialist renaissance.

Unencumbered by the need to temper his socialistic ideals, Corbyn could refloat policies which the majority of the public support, such as renationalization and nuclear disarmament; and could fight more vociferously for workers rights and protecting public services whilst proposing more innovative, groundbreaking schemes such as universal basic income and breaking up the big media cartels which control the political debate.

This vision of an entirely different Britain is one the establishment are not too keen on.

The referendum result was a political manifestation of the anger that five years ago sparked riots; an anger that speaks of austerity and the subjugation of the working class, of job-losses and the deindustrialization of towns reliant on manufacturing, of fury at the foreign wars and corporate greed that has defined the previous decade-and-a half. It is infuriation with scandal, bribery and phone-hacking; with the London-centric media and aloof political elites. It is a rage whipped up by fears of immigration and terror.

Against this backdrop, there is a need for a potent left; ‚ÄĮfor a compassionate message that recognizes these fears and fights for the majority who feel them.‚ÄĮ Not only that, but for the first time in a long time,‚ÄĮ the left‚Äôs message is resonating, and¬†without the endless internecine conflict,¬†Corbyn‚Äôs¬†Labour Party could actually hope to win power.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, hope for real, powerful, progressive change can only be provided by a strong left. If the Labour Party has to split for this to exist, then so be it.

What you can do to help

  • Significantly, at the¬†NEC Committee¬†the meeting¬†also¬†passed a freeze date¬†blocking Labour Party¬†members¬†who joined¬†after January 12th¬†2016¬†voting in the new leadership contest,¬†meaning that 120,000 or so will be ineligible to vote¬†unless they can afford to pay ¬£25 before¬†an unclear date in the near future.¬†Although the new rules may well be subject to a legal challenge, another way to¬†circumvent¬†them is by joining¬†a union or another Labour-affiliated organisation¬†such as the¬†Fabian¬†Society.¬†
  • You can follow the links below to find out more about how to join the Unite union:
  1. Waged
  2. Unwaged
  • You can also¬†sign and share this petition¬†for all full members of Labour to be allowed to vote in the leadership election regardless of join date:
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