by Atul Hatwal
Friday 6th May 2016 could be the date that Labour’s slow awakening began.
For moderates, the electoral consequences of Jeremy Corbyn have always been obvious. This dreadful set of election results is confirmation of the expected.
But it doesn’t matter how angry moderates are at the loss of English council seats, the reverses in Wales or the devastation in Scotland. Corbyn, or a hard left alternative, can only be beaten in a vote of the membership and supporters.
What matters most is how Labour’s internal swing vote, the soft left, react to the results.
At last year’s leadership election, their position could be characterised as apathy at a return to Brownite grind with Yvette; outright opposition to the late-Blair confrontation proffered by Liz and scepticism at Andy Burnham’s all too effective impression of Ed Miliband’s muddled equivocation.
In the absence of an alternative, Labour’s largest grouping voted for the only choice not to have failed them in the past twenty years – Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left dreaming.
It’s quite a shift to go from there to defenestrating Corbyn, eight months later.
Until now the soft left stance has largely been to give Jeremy Corbyn the benefit of the doubt.
“Sour grapes” is a phrase I’ve heard frequently used to describe the moderate response to the leader. The narrative about “Bitterites” and internal division undermining Labour’s message has gained some traction.
But given the paucity of Labour’s performance, to blame everything on the enemy within, a phantom army of Blairites, simply isn’t credible.
The Conservative party has been in a state of open civil war over the EU referendum but they still performed amazingly strongly for a government that is in it’s sixth year.
Up and down the country, local Labour parties have seen months of doorstep effort count for nothing when the votes have been tallied.
If the best that Jeremy Corbyn can say about these results is that “Labour hung on,” questions will start to be asked by those who have been supportive if not convinced.
For the first time under in Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader, moderates have permission to speak within Labour’s grassroots debate.
To paraphrase Churchill, in the moderates’ battle for the party, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut