James Forsyth James Forsyth

The party’s over

The hard left is now poised to gain control from top to bottom, something the Blairites never did

This leadership contest was meant to topple Jeremy Corbyn, or at the very least weaken him. It has ended up strengthening him. The Corbynites will be now emboldened to go after all those who stand in their way, from the general secretary and the deputy leader to party staff and regional organisers. They are tightening their grip over the party from top to bottom, something the Blairites never did.

Alarmingly for the moderates, the party could be beyond saving by 2020. Even the Parliamentary Labour Party, a bastion against Corbynism, could be pushed hard to the left at the next election. Candidate selection will enable Momentum and co. to oust some of their most determined foes. But if boundary changes go through ahead of the next election, the purge could go far further than that.

It has to be said that Corbyn’s achievement is remarkable. His personal ratings are dire and Labour trail the Tories by a double-digit margin in the polls. And yet, somehow, he still commands the loyalty of the Labour ‘selectorate’.

The worry for his Labour opponents is that Corbyn hasn’t remotely exhausted his well of potential support. In this election, he was handicapped by a series of rules designed to keep out many of his supporters. Members can vote only if they joined the party by 12 January, barring the tens of thousands who rushed to sign up when it became clear that Corbyn’s position was under threat.

Party HQ, which has yet to fall to the Corbynites, then set about disqualifying those who had indicated their support for other parties on social media or been abusive. (A popular joke among Labour MPs is that the Green party has only ever won one major election — the Labour leadership contest of 2015). More than 40,000 registered supporters were blocked, and still Corbyn command 62 per cent of the vote.

Part of the problem is that their sell is a hard one.

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