The end of the Labour Party as we know it?

As the Labour Party issues its leadership ballots today, Corbynmania is all anyone and everyone is talking about.

The drawn out leadership race took another astonishing turn last week with Jeremy Corbyn emerging as the ultimate front-runner most likely to win the entire contest in a single round on the back of the most recent YouGov leadership poll, further fuelling the state of panic within the party.

With the majority of members expected to cast their vote online shortly after receiving the ballot, last week proved crucial for the candidates in getting their respective messages out as the race intensified with former Labour leader and three times Prime Minister Tony Blair intervening against Corbyn by warning of party annihilation, and Alastair Campbell calling on members to vote for ‘anyone but Corbyn’.

Corbyn continued to receive blows from left, right and centre over the course of the week as Yvette Cooper delivered a speech on Thursday tackling his policies head on, suggesting they are neither radical nor credible; and Kendall reached out to her supporters urging them to vote tactically by marking Cooper or Burnham as second and third preferences. The success of Corbyn’s campaign, however, appears unscathed despite these numerous interventions, as most of the 160 000 people who signed up to vote in the last 24 hours before the registration deadline closed on Thursday are expected to cast their vote in his favour.

While approximately 30 MPs would be delighted if Jeremy Corbyn was to win the leadership, ”overall, the PLP feel shell-shocked by the surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn”, a senior Labour MP tells FleishmanHillard, admitting the “British people will never give the Labour party a majority if Corbyn sticks to the policies he’s been espousing for the last 30 years”.
As tensions escalate, there’s been some talk about a possible Labour split, but according to our source, Labour MPs “have an emotional commitment to the Labour Party that is unshakeable and their instinct will be to stay and fight on” and “we need to be careful not to get carried away and talk about the terminal decline of the Labour party”. After all, it’s worth remembering the party has lived through and survived similarly dark times during the 80s and 90s, which now constitute just a part of its history.

Even though the plans for Jezza’s victory party to celebrate Labour ‘getting back its soul’ are already underway, there remains a slim possibility the pollsters could be mistaken yet again, and when all the second preferences are counted Andy Burnham might just scrape through. However, such an outcome could hardly be considered a victory, leaving Burnham accountable to a Labour party membership significantly more left wing than the one inherited by Miliband, infused with anti-austerity sentiment and determined to have their voice heard.

Despite all the contention surrounding Corbyn and his policies, what remains uncontested is that come the 12th September, the Corbyn effect will be felt, and whoever emerges as the winner will find themselves in the difficult position of facing a fractured party on the brink of a civil war.

Those 15 MPs responsible for lending their support to Corbyn to get him on the ballot for the sake of broadening the debate are certainly kicking themselves now…

Paulina Jakubec, Account Executive, Public Affairs