While it may feel that the two largest parties at Westminster are somewhat in disarray there is one stark difference. The Conservatives are following what appears to be a well established, simple process for electing a new leader, while Labour are skulking in back corridors, plotting behind closed door desperately trying to oust their leader.
The problem? The Labour members support Corbyn, but the MPs don’t. Why there is split is open for debate, but the most likely reason (in my view at least) is the simplest – the Labour MPs don’t think they can win the next general election with Corbyn as leader. If they are right it could see some of them out of a job and nobody wants to become unemployed!
The MPs have a point. Polling data shows the Conservatives maintaining a lead over Labour throughout most of 2016. Considering there is undoubtedly some discontent over Government cuts this certainly makes Labour look very weak.
Surely then Labour need to stick together? While a unified Labour would certainly help in the polls, I don’t think many people would believe Labour MPs if they suddenly started supporting their leader. Looking back in history Labour moved significantly to the left in the 1980’s which resulted in the splitting of Labour and the formation of the Social Democratic Party. This party eventually merged with Liberal Party become the Liberal Democrats, who until recently were a significant political party.
If history was to repeat itself it is conceivable that the majority of Labour MPs (those who do not support Corbyn) could resign the Labour whip and form a ‘New Labour’ party. Possibly even creating an alliance with the now minor Liberal Democrats party.
Of course this could result in the voters splitting their loyalties between the ‘old labour’ and ‘new labour’ parties leaving the Conservatives with an easy majority in the next general election. However, over time one party would rally support and things might get back to normal. Until then don’t expect to see a unified Labour party or indeed many happy headlines featuring Labour.