Labour leadership: the result and future challenges
Corbyn has won a bigger mandate than the last leadership election and once again won in all 3 categories of electorate.
This includes the membership of the party where Jeremy won 59% of the vote: a 10% increase on last year’s election. Corbyn winning almost 62% of the overall vote this time around with 313,000 votes, bettering his 59% of the vote last time around, cements his position as leader of the party, with no mandate to remove him forthcoming. Owen Smith came in with around 38% of the vote: while his vote total went up compared to last time out with Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, the percentage of the vote has been slightly eroded from an already low base.
Turnout for the Labour leadership race, even with the ‘purging’, was at 77.6%, with half a million votes being turned in. This is no surprise since leadership contests don’t feature the traditional turnout issues seen in General Elections such as bad weather or being able to get to the polling station. Corbynista’s, as they’ve become known, will proclaim this result as a renewed mandate and it will likely create an unstoppable Corbyn inside the party, with him likely to be the leader contesting the next General Election. However, the fact that over 1/5th of the party didn’t vote in an online election must raise some concern in the later weeks and months, with the labour hall containing many empty seats mass enthusiasm seems to be waning amongst those who aren’t big fans of Corbyn.
During the final weeks of the campaign questions focused on the future of the Labour party: with the assumption that Corbyn would win has been strong, the main questions haven’t been what would happen if Smith won but who will come back to shadow cabinet? Which MP’s will continue to oppose him, and will there be shadow cabinet elections with 1/3rd chosen by Corbyn, 1/3rd voted for by the members and 1/3rd voted for by the PLP, or will the PLP manage to control cabinet appointments in exchange for a mass return? Many have argued that towering Labour figures such as Yvette Cooper and Chuka Umunna will instead attempt to become chairs of influential select committee chairmanships and oppose the Tories from there.
One of the lessons Corbyn fans can take from this is that Yougov polling was entirely accurate. If they are to be trusted on this, then perhaps they can be trusted when they say the party is down in the polls: it’s time to get real and trust them rather than wilfully ignoring them or even worse lying about them. Now it’s time to go to work: Corbyn needs to change to win over the PLP and the minority of members who remain to be convinced, because without taking them with him, a general election victory is impossible.