by Rachel Lever
So Jeremy wins by a landslide, demonstrating that he embodies and articulates a wind of change and a turn of the tide from Thatcherism and its Blairite progeny.
Together with Sarah Champion and any others having second thoughts, he invites rebels to return. Their local JC-supporting parties are urged to say they’ll work with them again if they agree to honour democratic decisions.
This should separate the sheep from the goats. Hopefully, Corbyn’s team will then be big enough to retain its status as official Opposition.
The remainder will divide further, to join up with Paddy Ashdown or Owen Smith or the Tories or spend more time with their families. Incrementally, Corbyn’s team will be enlarged as those who leave the party are replaced in by-elections, and boundary changes will make new selections a natural process. Some hardball de-selections will happen but will not be too widespread.
The Trade Unions are pretty solidly with Corbyn, so a Jarndyce v Jarndyce scenario is less likely. The last court cases went in JC’s favour which will discourage legal action. Michael Foster has just lost a heap of his cash, footing everyone’s expenses.
But if it comes to it the Party must fight to retain the Labour brand. The weight of the landslide vote, membership explosion and the trade unions will help to re-launch Labour as the most united it’s been for decades.
Two things needs to happen then:
* The grassroots will spread outwards and have deep and detailed conversations with their local communities, and together with them could act to alleviate hardship and neglect and illustrate Corbyn’s words and policies by practical initiatives.
* The new intake of members includes some great speakers, writers, singers and organisers: this will be developed into a winning force. Momentum has a great line in publicity graphics: it needs to go out from social media and into the streets and estates in place of the routine old stodge.
* We need, locally and nationally, to talk seriously about the benefits and/or pitfalls of a Left Alliance with those who are far closer to us than “our own” diehard disloyalists and their local party backers. This will include foregrounding policies we all hold in common, and doing some electoral deals.
* There are arguments for and against changing the national electoral system. We need to keep the MPs’ connection with local areas, which constituency representation gives. But there are hybrid systems, or we could have a job-share doubling-up arrangement.
* We should avoid the hideous, unprincipled power-grabbing horse-trading that goes on in most PR systems (Israel is an awful warning, with tiny ultra-religious factions holding the balance of power over coalition governments that are bad enough to start with).
* Another system could be a pyramid with continuous interplay between locally elected bodies at the base, up through intervening levels to a top layer elected from these intermediary levels.