As members prepare to vote in its leadership contest, will Labour remain toxic for a generation?

BRITAIN-TRANSPORT-POLITICS-LABOUR
Will the smell of Corbyn linger long after he's gone? (Source: Getty)

Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Field Consulting, says Yes.

In politics, mud sticks. It took Labour 20 years to shake off the memory of the winter of discontent. And the Tories’ “nasty party” image still follows them like a bad smell long after Theresa May coined the phrase. Even if Jeremy Corbyn went tomorrow, the sense that voting Labour is risky and radical will linger for years to come. Even if a new Tony Blair took on the party leadership, the Tories would claim (with some justification) that the party is only one leadership contest away from reverting to a left-wing extremist ruling the roost. The damage to the Labour “brand” from the last 12 months might just be terminal. The question party moderates must now ask is whether the benefits of remaining within the Labour structure and retaining the Labour name outweigh the negatives. If Corbyn remains in charge, people are increasingly likely to conclude that the party is over, and it’s time to start again.


Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, says No.

Labour is in bad shape. Having been annihilated by Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, once boundary changes take place they will need to be 12 points ahead of the Conservatives in 2020 in England to form a government. They are currently 11 points behind the Conservatives. At the same point in 2011, Ed Miliband’s Labour was six points ahead of David Cameron, but still lost in 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s personal ratings are some of the worst for any opposition leader since polling began. And yet despite all this, the last few years show that nothing in politics is predictable. Despite Jeremy Corbyn, Labour still gets 30 per cent of the vote. The party’s core support seems incredibly resilient. In less than four years, after losing the 2020 election, Labour’s membership may wake up. They may choose a new pragmatic leader, who can bring back swing voters who have become disillusioned with the SNP and Tories after a decade in power. Stranger things have happened.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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