Now is surely the time to put this "unelectable" myth to bed. Yesterday - despite the best efforts of certain members of the PLP, the media and other naysayers - Jeremy Corbyn was once again elected leader of the Labour Party. Despite 150,000+ of his supporters being barred from voting, he was elected once again with an increased mandate (62% against 59% last time). And once again, he won easily in every category (members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters, which surely puts paid to the constant cries from the media and PLP that he is "unelectable".
As it was, 506,438 votes were cast; 313,209 for Corbyn, 193,229 for Smith. Had the party bigwigs not barred more recent converts to Labour (and expelled a further 10,000 or so), most of whom I assume would have voted Corbyn, the result would have been (rough calculation only) an even more emphatic victory, 71% against 29%.
The NEC of the Labour Party tried their best:
- First they tried to keep Corbyn off the ballot in the first place, which was obviously a no-goer;
- Then they purged 10,000 members or so for such behaviour as once saying that they had previously voted for an alternative party to Labour in previous elections (surely such people should be welcomed, rather than discarded?);
- Then they set an arbitrary cut-off date for members to have a vote; anyone joining since January 2016 was barred from voting (which was transparently dishonest, as it was never declared; rather, members joining the party since January were specifically promised a vote in future leadership elections);
- Then they made it difficult for some members eligible to vote, simply by not sending them a ballot and blaming it on "IT issues";
- Then - despite having barred more recent members from voting - they introduced a "sign up for £25 now to get a vote", which just seemed bizarre. You could vote if you joined before January 2016, or as a £25 member who joined during/after August 2016, but not if you joined in between those dates;
- And not to forget that Corbyn was being constantly undermined by his own party, through mass resignations and votes of "no confidence".
In addition to all that, they had virtually all the mainstream media - the BBC, ITV, Sky (well, obviously) and all the major newspapers and online news sources vilifying Corbyn and bigging up Smith. If ever a pro-Corbyn article appeared anywhere, it would be immediately dismissed by the rest of the media as either "Trotskyite propaganda" or "loony left propaganda". Polls constantly appeared, apparently showing that the vote was going to be close. I'm not sure who they asked, but if they prove so spectacularly inaccurate then they are surely worthless. Either that, or the pollsters were deliberately skewing the results.
Despite all the above, they failed dismally. Corbyn won easily against all those odds.
Of course, there is a counter-argument in that the current Labour membership/affiliates are not representative of the electorate as a whole, and there's undoubtedly some truth in that. "The wider electorate will never vote for Labour under his leadership!" the media cry. But it's a bit of a weak argument, given that Labour under Corbyn's leadership haven't actually lost any elections yet. In the couple of by-elections their candidates have actually increased their majorities from the 2015 General Election.
Ah, but they lost (I think) six seats in the last round of local council elections, which is apparently bad for this stage of the electoral process. That they would have needed something like 88% of all votes (rather than the 73% that they got) to gain any seats is rarely mentioned, oddly.
Jeremy Corbyn's position is now practically bulletproof and he will lead Labour into the next General Election, whenever that may be. I would implore the rest of the PLP to get behind him now and get on with the serious business of taking the Conservatives to task, but they won't be reading this so my view will go unnoticed. And in the main - going from their past behaviour - I don't think they will anyway; they will continue attempting to undermine him, no matter what he does or says.
Sorry for blathering on so long! Rant over.