Because the general election looks set to produce an impressive win for the Conservatives, its main interest lies not in the result itself but in the result of that result. The House of Commons will look very different on June 9, and the implications of that could turn out to be very big indeed. That’s especially true for the opposition.
For Labour, heading for what many of its own people fear will be a very big defeat, it’s all about who comes after Jeremy Corbyn. True, he may not step down immediately. But he is unlikely to stay for long after the party’s first post-election conference in September. There, Corbynistas hope to make a change to party rules that would make it much easier to get a left-wing successor into the contest to replace him. The aim is to require just 5% of MPs and MEPs to nominate candidates for leadership, instead of the current 15%. That would significantly shift the balance of power in these contests from parliament to party members.
There is also a possibility that those urging Corbyn to stay on would allow him to step down straight away if they could find a successor capable of getting 15% of MPs and MEPs to nominate them prior to any rule change, thereby triggering yet another summer leadership contest.
Second-guessing the composition of the post-election Parliamentary Labour Party, then, is more than just a parlour game. Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that the question is an existential one.
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