The Labour Party did badly in last week’s local and devolved elections. They lost their overall majority in Wales and they were driven to a humiliating third place in Scotland behind the Tories. They did not, however, do quite as badly as some had feared/hoped. Only one council changed hands and Labour won the London mayoralty. Many have suggested that this is in fact the worst possible result for Labour. Although the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs would dispose of Corbyn tomorrow if they could, they know that the tidal wave of Marxists and other extreme leftists who joined Labour or registered as supporters in the wake of Ed Miliband’s rash change to the party’s rules would immediately reelect Corbyn (or his anointed successor of he didn’t stand). The only way for the MPs to prevent this would be to insure that no leftist got on the ballot paper by withholding the 35 nominations necessary. Disastrous as the Corbyn era has been for Labour he has still exercised patronage as leader and shown that the previously inconceivable take-over of the party by the hard left is possible. While in 2015 Corbyn needed charity nominations from supporters of other candidates (keen to show their sympathy to the left and pick up their second preferences) in order to get on to the ballot, it is by no means clear that Corbyn (or John McDonnell the shadow chancellor if Corbyn didn’t stand) would now struggle to reach the 35 MPs required. As a result the centre and right of the Labour Party are holding off on any coup. They need Corbyn’s failure to be undeniable and gruesome in order to make sure there are fewer than 35 MPs willing to nominate him or one of his faction for a second leadership election. Last week’s results were not gruesome enough. At the moment, even if they did manage to keep Corbyn and company off the ballot, it would look like a bizarre stitch-up as most of the membership/supporters would want to vote for him.
All this reflects a deeper problem. Labour lost ideological coherence under Blair. The non-Marxian Socialist core was eviscerated. Only non-Socialists and Marxists were left. Anti-capitalist non-socialists, who were a significant force at the inception of the Party in 1900 (enough for Keir Hardie to expressly deny the party was socialist), disappeared long ago. The non-socialists who reigned under Blair had no real reason for being in the Labour Party other than the fact that they were insufficiently posh for the Tory party and too concerned about their careers to be in the Lib-Dems. For them the Labour Party was a public relations firm that marketed the colour Red. It had no real conviction other than a rejection of the libertarian right of the Tory Party and of social conservatism. The base, such as it was (membership fell dramatically while Blair was in power), was far to the left of the leadership. The prospect of Corbyn’s leadership genuinely renewed the base but it renewed it from the ranks of disillusioned Marxists and sub-Marxist anti-capitalists. Now the MPs are held hostage by a party they do not remotely represent. Corbyn, who does represent this new party, has no prospect of ever securing a majority in the country as a whole or in Parliament especially now Scotland is lost to Labour. The Labour Party is the second party in the UK today purely for historic reasons. In reality, a two party system based on the Tories and the Liberals (as it was before universal manhood suffrage) would be far more representative.
The one great chance for the Labour left to retain Labour’s position as a major party and retain their control over the Labour Party is Islam. Islam is growing, it constitutes a genuine social base upon which a stable political movement might be founded. Immigrants tend to vote left even when it is against their interests. Labour politicians have shown great willingness to allow Islamic community leadership to effectively colonize the party machinery in key regions of the country. They have repeatedly addressed Muslim sex-segregated meetings despite their own extremist gender-ideological commitments. The Labour left’s hatred of the United States, its loathing for the Christian patrimony of the West and its desperation to find oppressed masses to play the part of the proletariat in their rusty ideological drama disposes them to overlook a multitude of sins on the part of Islam and its adherents. This I fear is the reason that Labour was only humiliated and not devastated in last week’s elections. The association of Labour with antisemitism strengthened and rallied Labour’s vote in the Muslim population allowing Labour to retain key councils across the centre and north of England and to win comfortably in London. It bodes ill for the future.