What next for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left?

Oh (pricey), Jeremy Corbyn. The previous Labour chief is dealing with down potential political oblivion after his successor and former shadow cupboard ally Sir Keir Starmer confirmed that he wouldn’t be standing as a Labour candidate on the subsequent election. 

“What I mentioned in regards to the occasion altering, I meant it, and that’s why Jeremy Corbyn won’t stand as a candidate on the subsequent election”, Sir Keir instructed reporters at a press convention on Wednesday morning, as he welcomed the Equality and Human Rights Fee’s determination to take the occasion of out of particular measures.

The EHRC present in October 2020 that the occasion, with Jeremy Corbyn as chief, had breached the Equality Act by failing to successfully tackle anti-semitism. Corbyn didn’t settle for the findings of the EHRC, prompting Sir Keir to withdraw the whip from his predecessor. We now know this to be a everlasting transfer. 

Starmer’s determination to escort Corbyn into the political wilderness begs the query of how the previous chief would possibly react. We’re in uncharted territory; by no means earlier than in fashionable British politics has a former chief been kicked out of the occasion they as soon as marshalled with such relative haste. It leaves Corbyn with loads of choices — as his legacy and political challenge hangs within the stability. 


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Stand as an impartial MP

The apparent selection for Jeremy Corbyn could be to as soon as once more run because the MP for his present constituency of Islington North, however this time as an impartial.

Islington North is a Labour stronghold, voting for a Labour MP at each alternative since a by-election was triggered within the constituency in 1937. A problem from Corbyn as an impartial, nonetheless, would flip the constituency right into a bitterly divided battleground — a microcosmic acid check for the ascendant forces of Starmerism as they battle an more and more beleaguered foe. Actually besieging Corbyn’s most fortified fortress. 

A fast scan of current historical past doesn’t essentially bode properly for the Islington North devoted. In 2019, 13 incumbent MPs switched events or ran as independents in their very own constituencies. None succeeded. Amongst these to lose their seats on these phrases had been veteran Labour MP Frank Area and all Change UK turncoats, a derisory displaying which led to the occasion’s immediate dissolution. 

Nevertheless, some elements recommend a Corbyn run in Islington North in 2024 may produce totally different outcomes — doubtlessly inviting comparability with former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell, who efficiently challenged his former occasion on two events: first, as a UKIP candidate in a 2014 by-election and, then, on the 2015 basic election. 

Moreover, Corbyn has represented the seat since 1983, together with his socialist politics interesting to each various working-class constituents in addition to wealthier left-wingers within the space. His identify recognition would additionally incite a media circus — far exceeding the non-existent protection of Frank Area’s ill-fated displaying in 2019. 

What would such a circus, and the heightened scrutiny it might invite, imply for Sir Keir? One key determine from the Labour proper just lately instructed politics.co.uk that “the management thinks it might have extra to realize from a Corbyn problem [in Islington North] than lose — as it should present voters in the remainder of the nation that Starmer has fully damaged with the Corbyn period”.

One potential hitch for the management is that, given Corbyn’s enduring affect within the Constituency Labour Celebration (CLP), native members could intentionally hijack the Labour candidate choice course of to provide a weak candidate. Members sympathetic to Corbyn’s plight could select somebody seen as fallible, leaving the trail to a Corbyn victory large open.

As issues stand, the Labour NEC at present decides which candidates to longlist after an prolonged sequence of intimate interviews. The method has produced plenty of controversies, not least of all that in Bolton North East, which noticed Angela Rayner ally Leigh Drennan blocked from standing. This brought about some commotion within the wider Labour household, however a variety contest in Islington North could be beneath the highlight like no different.

Count on NEC figures to deal with the candidate choice course of in Islington North with the utmost sensitivity and care. 

A brand new left-wing occasion 

Another choice for Jeremy Corbyn could be to create a brand new electoral car which may compete throughout the nation and patronise new left-wing expertise. There are a number of potential pathways the previous Labour chief may take right here, involving a wide range of already-established organisations. 

Firstly, Corbyn is the director and founding father of The Peace and Justice Undertaking, outwardly a human rights marketing campaign car focussed totally on topics deemed central to Corbyn’s legacy. These embrace austerity, international battle and worldwide politics.

However some on the Labour proper toes the physique may simply resurface as an electoral car. 

Had been the Peace and Justice Undertaking (or the “Corbyn Undertaking” based on its Twitter deal with) to enterprise into the realm of electoral politics, the physique would possible acquire the assist of the left-wing, grassroots campaigning car Momentum. Initially arrange within the wake of Corbyn’s profitable run for the Labour management in 2015, Momentum has been combating a dropping battle within the Labour Celebration in recent times. It has misplaced key NEC races to pro-Starmer campaigning teams like Labour to Win and has had only a few of its endorsed candidates chosen to run in 2024. 

Nevertheless, endorsing Corbyn both as an impartial or as the top of a brand new occasion would see Momentum proscribed beneath Labour guidelines. One wonders if this could act as a disincentive to push forward with a brand new left-of-Labour occasion or whether or not unbridled scored-earth politics will turn into the chosen coverage of the organisation. 

It’s also price noting that Corbyn’s closest allies resembling Rebecca Lengthy-Bailey, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon would face suspension in the event that they backed a Corbyn run in any capability. 

Another choice for Corbyn could be to affix an current third occasion, seising an current organisation’s campaigning infrastructure and supporter contacts. 

One such car may very well be the Folks’s Meeting, a physique whose acknowledged intention is to kind a “coalition” between commerce unions and different left-wing organisations. The group was arrange in 2013 to problem the Con-Lib authorities’s financial programme, however has just lately been revived beneath the management of latest Nationwide Secretary Laura Pidcock, a former Labour MP and arch-Corbyn ally, as a Starmer-critical strain group. 

Pidcock, who served as shadow secretary of state for employment rights in Corbyn’s shadow cupboard and misplaced her seat on the 2019 election, just lately resigned from Labour’s NEC in protest that the occasion wouldn’t restore the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn. She argued that the occasion had turn into “hostile territory for socialists”. 

On its web site, the Meeting overtly describes the Starmer’s Labour occasion as “weak and ineffective”. “Everyone knows the circumstances dealing with us proper now. A rampant Tory authorities, oblivious to the hurt they’re doing. A weak and ineffective opposition, afraid of its personal shadow. A catastrophic price of dwelling disaster”, the positioning reads. 

Maybe it’s telling that Corbyn just lately attended an Meeting “Nationwide Demonstration” in Trafalgar Sq., talking to the gang alongside fellow left-wing Labour MPs John McDonnell and Diane Abbott. Corbyn and Pidcock are recognized to be shut, with the latter steadily touted as an heir-in-wait to the Corbyn challenge. 

One other potential car for electoral Corbynism may very well be Sufficient is Sufficient, the well-established price of dwelling marketing campaign group shaped of left-wing Labour MPs and commerce union officers. The group nominally seeks to pressurise the federal government into adopting its 5 calls for particularly: securing an actual pay rise, slashing vitality payments, ending meals poverty, constructing respectable houses for all, and taxing the wealthy. However the organisation has additionally been seen as an institutional problem to the Labour occasion’s monopoly on the British left and offering a voice to Starmer critics who see the Labour chief as not going far sufficient. 

The enchantment of the group’s lead figures in left-wing Labour MP Zarah Sultana and firebrand RMT union chief Mick Lynch has seen the group gather the contact info of 1000’s of supporters. This might present the right backdrop for an entry into electoral politics. 

A London mayoral bid

Since his suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Celebration (PLP) in 2020, rumours have circulated that Jeremy Corbyn could also be prepared to run as mayor of London in 2024.

From 2015-2019, London was considerably stronghold for Corbynism, with Labour retaining its 49 seats within the area on the 2019 contest, bucking the nationwide development.

There may be additionally precedent for a left-of-Labour candidate efficiently profitable the London mayoral election, which Corbyn could search to emulate. In 2000, Ken Livingstone was elected as an impartial, operating as a left-wing critic of the Tony Blair authorities. Livingstone took 39% of first preferences, massively outpolling the Conservatives (27%) and Labour candidate Frank Dobson (13%). In 2004 Livingstone returned to Labour, and gained a second time period beneath the occasion’s banner.

Present London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, confirmed to be operating for a 3rd time period in 2024, is at present wrapped in controversy over the London Extremely-Low-Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme. Nevertheless, he has just lately been flaunting his anti-Brexit credentials in preparation for the upcoming contest, and it stays to be seen how far Corbyn can problem Khan’s political dynasty within the capital. Khan just lately acquired the backing of Islington North CLP throughout his re-selection bid. 

Talking on the subject in November, Khan mentioned: “I used to be elected by Londoners on two events to serve our nice metropolis, giving again one thing to this nice metropolis that’s sorted me and my household. … This week the hearsay is Jeremy Corbyn standing in opposition to me and little question there will probably be another person subsequent week!”. 

All the above?

After all, there may be nothing stopping Corbyn from trialling all three of those choices to inflict as a lot harm as doable on the Labour management. 

The previous Labour chief may run for the London Mayoral election, as a consequence of happen in Could 2024, in a bid to construct momentum for a contest in Islington North. This might then present the platform for the creation of a brand new political occasion, and even encourage a merger of left-wing campaigning autos, creating a brand new physique which may threaten a chief minister Keir Starmer after 2024. A Corbyn-headed outfit may show a profitable UKIP-of-the-left after the subsequent election. 

In the long run, Starmer has taken no persuading to be hardline on Cobrynism — so the query is: how a lot persuading will Corbyn must go scored-earth on Starmerism?