Columnists > The signs are that Mr Corbyn will not walk whatever the result

31 May 2017 | by Peter Hennessy

The signs are that Mr Corbyn will not walk whatever the result


At general election times, the British political market propels itself into a choreographed frenzy, with opinion polls scanned avidly as the equivalent of a floating exchange rate of political value at a particular moment. The 2017 contest has been especially fascinating as a second, related sub-market has been in constant ferment too, driven by the possible fates of the British centre, soft and hard Lefts, in the afterglow of Labour’s expected defeat. 

The speculation falls into three parts. First, Jeremy Corbyn’s future as leader of the Labour Party. Will he assert squatters’ rights whatever the arithmetic of Labour seats in the new House of Commons? Second, if he does, will up to 100 of the Labour MPs who survive form a group on the Commons benches that does not recognise his leadership or will they go for another leadership challenge over the summer? Third, there is the wider question of a proper, viable centre-Left alternative in British politics, one that performs well on matters great and small every day that Parliament sits and that is sufficiently buoyant and persuasive to have a serious chance of offering an alternative government in the 2022 general election. In their darker moments, some veterans of Labour’s civil war in the 1980s talk in terms of it being another 10 to 15 years before there is another Labour Government.


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