The bigger Corbyn’s victory the greater will be his survival chances

The bigger Corbyn’s victory the greater will be his survival chances


Why a clear win on first preferences is crucial

The final reweighted YouGov poll on the labour leadership had Corbyn with an amazing 57% of first preferences. That was nearly a month ago and the chances are that he will struggle to be quite at that level when the official results are announced next Saturday morning.

The size of his margin of victory is going to be very important because he will be taking over with less goodwill from his fellow MPs than any other leader in the party’s history.

We saw with Ed Miliband how the nature of his victory continued to dog him for the whole of the five years. This could be even more so with Corbyn.

Already, as Declan McHugh and Will Sherlock write in New Statesman there are rumblings about how the Parliamentary Labour Party and other internal structures might be used to constrain him.

“..Labour’s new figurehead will face a PLP overwhelmingly opposed to him. Many will question the legitimacy of his election and some will reject his authority. From day one, he will face a significant number of Labour MPs not merely against him but actively out to get him. There has probably never been a situation where a leader of the Labour Party has been so far removed from the parliamentary party which he supposedly commands.. “

It was only 4 years ago, remember, that the leader was allowed to choose his own shadow cabinet. Until then this was selected by vote of the parliamentary party and returning to the old system is already talked about.

A leader not being able to choose his own top team has far less power of patronage and retaining this could be an early first battle.

That so few of his parliamentary colleagues were ready to support him in the first place shows the scale of this problem at Westminster. His record as a serial rebel consistently voting against the party whip is going to make it hard for him to enforce his own discipline.

The apparently shambolic way the election has been held could also prove problematical for the new leader. You can imagine Cameron using some of those elements at PMQs.

Within hours of next week’s announcement the bookies will surely be opening markets on how long he will remain in the job. So much of this depends on Corbyn’s winning margin because the bigger it is the more difficult it will be to argue that it lacks legitimacy. In my view he needs to be on 53% of first preferences or more.

Mike Smithson

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