Jon McLeod, chairman of UK corporate, financial and public affairs at Weber Shandwick, says Yes.
In the words of the Carpenters, “we’ve only just begun”. This isn’t the end of Labour’s civil war. It isn’t the beginning of the end. And it’s not even the end of the beginning. Corbyn’s pledge to “wipe the slate” with his 170-plus detractor MPs has a Maoist ring to it. His inevitable victory will only deepen the chasm between the leadership and Momentum-aligned members on the one hand, and the Parliamentary Labour Party, moderate members and ordinary Labour voters on the other. Momentum members will be committed to the task of de-selecting “unsound” MPs between now and the 2020 General Election, which means a protracted ground war in constituency after constituency as the aftermath of boundary changes turns the screw on all sitting MPs. Corbyn’s problem is that Momentum Labour doesn’t actually do anything, whereas moderate Labour will hold significant “Alamos” in key local authorities and mayoralties like Sadiq Khan’s popular leadership in London. This is one fight that won’t end quickly.
Rupert Myers, barrister, writer and associate fellow at Bright Blue, says No.
Labour has long sustained a compromise between centrist pragmatists and the hard left. So long as the centrists were in ascendance, the purists were afforded latitude to rebel. The difference now is that the Corbynistas aren’t playing as nicely, threatening to purge rebels from the parliamentary party. Thus the civil war looks more likely to be coming to an end. The centrists should split, claim the mantle of official opposition and define themselves by holding the government to account over the negotiation of Brexit. Political movements still need people to knock on doors, but messages can now be sent through targeted electronic advertising and funds can be raised online. With a clear message, technology provides a platform for agile campaigns to resonate. Trump, Vote Leave and Momentum are all examples of how reinvention can dislodge political disillusionment. There’s never been an easier or more important time for modernisers to split, concede the unelectable remnants of Labour, end the civil war, and branch out as a new, credible centrist party on the left.