The Black Swan of the Labour Leadership Race

Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership election slate by the skin of his teeth, but my gut feel is that he will be considerably more successful in the final ballot. While Mr Corbyn is clearly well to the left of most members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, amongst grass roots Labour Party members, that is not so obviously the case. Add in the changes to the voting system, which has replaced the electoral college system with a one “Member”, one vote system.

The intriguing aspect however is that it is not just full members of the Labour Party who count as “Members” for voting purposes, but also includes the new category of “Registered Supporters”. The idea behind “Registered Supporters” was to encourage members of Trades Unions and other Labour-affiliated organisations who were not full Labour Party members to also vote in the election, although it is not limited to such.

So why do I think My Corbyn might do so well? Well, there are three (and possibly a cheeky fourth) reasons I think so:

1) Within the Labour Party’s existing 221k members, I would suggest that the individuals are generally more left leaning than the MPs. Kendall is clearly the candidate of the right, but the Blairite wing appears to have minority support among the grass roots. Cooper and Burnham hold positions very close to Ed Milliband and there appears little to choose policy wise between them, and are likely to split the centre vote. Corbyn as the candidate of the left may well find himself well up there just among the membership alone.

2) Within the Trades Union movement, which has now lost its block votes, I would speculate that the more politically active, and thus the more likely to register as supporters and vote, will be more left leaning than the membership of the unions as a whole.

3) Those people who have left Labour over the years, disenchanted by its move under Tony Blair to the centre, and who voted LibDem in 2005 and 2010 or Green in 2015, as well as those who support far left parties such as Respect and Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition, might see this as an opportunity to move Labour distinctly to the left.

4) And here is the cheeky one. There appears to be nothing to prevent those who have no sympathy for the Labour Party whatsoever from registering as supporters. Many supporters of the Conservatives, LibDems or UKIP may feel that they have a better chance in the future facing a Corbyn led party than any of the alternatives.

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