Former underdog Jeremy Corbyn is on course to beat challenger Owen Smith and will most likely be re-elected leader of the Labour Party next week. But then what? From purges to merges, deselections to elections, here are ten things to keep an eye on:
It used to be the case that before every election, Labour MPs would have to sit down and persuade their local parties to let them keep their seats. This process was called mandatory reselection, and it was abandoned in 1990. Local Labour parties (CLPs) are still able to reselect their candidates, but it’s a bit more difficult (and no longer mandatory). After winning the 2015 leadership contest, there were rumours that Corbyn might bring back mandatory reselection. Corbyn dismissed these rumours in October 2015 when he said:
“I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that I do not support any changes to Labour’s rules to make it easier to deselect sitting Labour MPs.”
However, that was before 172 Labour MPs turned around and essentially forced a reselection on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Trade Unions have spoken up in favour of reselecting MPs, and a poll in June found that 55 per cent of new members think “Labour MPs who persistently and publicly criticise the leadership in the media should be deselected”.
Launching his second leadership campaign two months ago, Corbyn heavily hinted at something similar to mandatory reselection when he said:
“…there will be a full and open selection process throughout the whole of the UK.”
Any sitting MP would have an opportunity to put their name forward, he added.
According to The Telegraph a group of Labour MPs are planning to set up an “alternative Labour”.
This defecting group of politicians are considering legal action to see if they can hold onto Labour’s assets, including its name and its properties around the country.
We don’t know who these rebel MPs might be (or even if the whole story is anything more than a rumour), but it will be interesting to see if they match up to Corbyn’s recent “abuse list“, dubbed the “deselection list” by Owen Smith:
- Ian Austin
- Tom Blenkinsop
- Ben Bradshaw
- Frank Field
- Tristram Hunt
- Stephen Kinnock
- Jess Phillips
- Jamie Reed
- Owen Smith
- Anna Turley
- Karl Turner
- Tom Watson
- John Woodcock
3. “The World Transformed”
Momentum have planned a “celebration of politics” in Liverpool, to run alongside the Labour Party conference next week.
And unlike the official conference (where member tickets cost £54-135) the majority of events at The World Transformed will be free to attend. Topics range from ableism to feminism to Marxism to racism, with some of the more controversial/interesting events including:
- A crash-course in “brandalism”
- A workshop on energy democracy
- A panel discussion on “building Black Power”
- John McDonnell’s “Labour manifesto of football”
- “Chakrabarti Inquiry: Does Labour have an Antisemitism Problem?”
- A Ken Loach film screening (Ken Loach founded rival political party Left Unity in 2013, and was consequently banned from voting for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015)
4. Labour Party Conference
This year’s official Labour Party’s conference will be hosted in Liverpool, and we can expect Corbyn’s supporters and critics to clash loudly on a lot of things, while quietly agreeing on a lot of policy.
Particularly unpopular among Corbyn’s critics is the proposed “McDonnell Amendment”, a rule change meaning any candidate can stand for Labour leader with the support of just five per cent of the party’s politicians. We can also expect arguments over Trident, NATO and shadow cabinet appointments.
5. The “Organising Innovation Task Force”
Encouraged by the Labour Party’s growing membership and “financial health”, Corbyn’s team have recently unveiled plans to “transform Labour’s campaigning culture with an Organising Innovation Task Force to incubate ideas and gather expertise”. The task force will focus on winning both elections and “the battle of ideas”.
One specific commitment is a “targeted campaign fund and additional organising focus on post-industrial communities, including but not exclusive to areas that face a significant threat from UKIP.”
6. “Labour Organising Academies”
Under the umbrella of the Innovation Task Force, Corbyn’s team also hope to set up Organising Academies across the country. These training centres would develop the campaigning skills of party members, even offering accredited courses in media and communications.
If this scheme gets off the ground, we can expect its critics to call it indoctrination.
Tying back to reselections, these Organising Academies will also provide “politics training” to ensure that Labour members understand exactly how their candidate selection processes work.
7. New Constituencies
With the number of MPs being culled from 650 to 600, plans have been unveiled to merge the country’s constituencies. Even Wikipedia has labelled this as an example of gerrymandering, as the proposals disproportionately benefit the Conservative Party.
Jeremy Corbyn will see over half of his constituency merged with Dianne Abbott’s Hackney North and Stoke Newington, while another quarter will be given to Keir Starmer’s Holborn and St Pancras, and one eighth to Emily Thornberry’s new “Islington” seat.
These new constituencies (and their new constituents) are part of the reason Corbyn is suggesting new candidates.
8. Another Leadership Election?
If there is neither split nor “purge”, another leadership challenge seems inevitable. And if the Boundary Commission does go ahead and essentially delete Jeremy Corbyn from the map, or if he steps down for whatever reason, a future contest could be between successors John McDonnell and Clive Lewis. That is, assuming Labour members get to keep their voting rights.
9. A Progressive Alliance?
A Progressive Alliance (aka a non-aggression pact) would see opposition parties like Labour, Green, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru agreeing not to contest each other in the next general election. This would involve the “opposition allies” holding a a pre-election in every constituency, and then agreeing to put forward just one candidate between all of them – the Progressive Alliance candidate.
Read more here.
10. Shadow Cabinet elections?
Labour MPs have suggested changing the rules so that they can elect shadow cabinet ministers.
Jeremy Corbyn has suggested changing the rules so that party members can elect shadow cabinet ministers.
Either way we’re in for another introspective struggle.