James Forsyth

Can the Blairites rescue the Labour party?

Can the Blairites rescue the Labour party?
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The first conference of the Corbyn era has got MPs and journalists scrambling around for a copy of the Labour party’s rule book. Everyone is trying to work out whether or not scrapping Trident will be debated or not. This is the first skirmish in what promises to be a series of procedural fights between Corbyn and his supporters and what is left of the old party establishment.

It would be tempting for Labour moderates to end up expending all their energies in these fights, doing what they can to stop the Corbynites seizing control of the commanding heights of the Labour party. But, as I argue in the magazine this week, a better use of their time would be working out why Corbyn, a fairly mediocre candidate, beat them so easily.

This will be particularly painful for the Blairite wing of the party. For the second leadership election in a row, the contest has been won by the candidate who defined themselves against New Labour. This time round, the Blairite candidate—Liz Kendall—got a mere 4.5pc of the vote.

So, how do the Blairites come back from this? Well, they need to display more emotional intelligence than they have to date, they must show the party why they want to win. But overturning the hard left’s takeover of the Labour party will not be easy. It will require a new champion who can appeal to everyone from the soft left to the modernising right, a fresh set of arguments and the recruitment of 100,oo0 new, more moderate members. Without that, the Blairities won’t ever get their party back.