Labour may never recover from Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn could split the Labour party for good, reports Emily Hohler. And a divided party is unelectable.


Labour risks turning into the party that elected "that guy"

In May, bookies put the odds of Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership contest at 100:1, says The Economist. Now some are already paying out on the bet, so sure are they of the 12 September result. Yet if Corbyn wins, he will inherit a party at war with itself, most of whose MPs oppose him, and many of whom want to "dump him" before the next election.

He initially threw his hat in the ring with no expectation of winning and yet may now have to lead, with no front-bench experience. Even if he is immediately deposed, a second contest could yield the same result. "It is almost enough to make one feel sorry for him."

What about the damage he is doing to the Labour party, says Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. The "iron fist of the electoral system" may stop anyone in their right mind from attempting a repeat of the 1981 schism when the SDP split away. But a divided party is unelectable. And the reality is that a party with a clear leftwing agenda cannot win the election.

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Proportional representation would allow a leftist party and a social democratic party to attract their own voters and join in coalition, but this isn't how our "shameful" electoral system works. It's a mistake to believe, as Corbyn's campaigners do, that Labour could win if only the poor and young non-voters could be galvanised to vote.

There aren't enough of them. Labour needs 94 more English and Welsh seats. For that to happen, "four out of five of the requisite new Labour voters need to be stolen from the Tories". Labour must stand united on EU membership in the referendum run-up. If Corbyn is demonstrably failing to hold the party together, he should do the honourable thing and step down.

It will be too late for that, says Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. Even if he resigns upon winning, the "mere act of choosing the most extreme leader in its history might be impossible to live down". Labour will always be the party that elected "that guy" and "only ever a rush of blood to the head away from another folly".

The damage inflicted by this episode falls on Labour, and no one else. A weak opposition will not cause the Tory party to fall apart, as so many have said. Political parties do not need "outside assistance to behave stupidly or well". And there will be no "popular insurrection against austerity". Thousands of "trudging comrades" will not "congeal into a national movement that draws in swing voters". This is a "passing commotion whose principal victims are the millions of low-paid Britons who need a serious party of the centre-left".

Emily Hohler

Emily has worked as a journalist for more than thirty years and was formerly Assistant Editor of MoneyWeek, which she helped launch in 2000. Prior to this, she was Deputy Features Editor of The Times and a Commissioning Editor for The Independent on Sunday and The Daily Telegraph. She has written for most of the national newspapers including The Times, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Evening Standard and The Daily Mail, She interviewed celebrities weekly for The Sunday Telegraph and wrote a regular column for The Evening Standard. As Political Editor of MoneyWeek, Emily has covered subjects from Brexit to the Gaza war.

Aside from her writing, Emily trained as Nutritional Therapist following her son's diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 and now works as a practitioner for Nature Doc, offering one-to-one consultations and running workshops in Oxfordshire.