Would a Jeremy Corbyn win really make Labour unelectable?

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Out of the four Labour leadership candidates Corbyn is the most left wing, but would a Corbyn victory make the party unelectable?

According to the BBC, the Labour pressure group, Labour First, has asked its members to not vote for Corbyn in the Labour leadership election. The results of which are due to be announced in September this year, five years on from Ed Miliband’s election.

The BBC have said that the group's secretary has said that:

"We clearly do not share Jeremy Corbyn's politics and believe these would destroy Labour's chances of electability.”

The thinking goes that a Corbyn win would make Labour unelectable and that the party should be in the centre ground not on the left.

What’s the merit to this argument?

The main argument for this is history. In 1997 Tony Blair led Labour to victory on a wave of modernity and centrist politics, combining many aspects of his own party as well as continuing some of the privatisation undertaken during the Thatcher and Major years.

Blair won with Labour in the centre. The argument is that Labour needs someone in the centre - that is someone not as left as Jeremy Corbyn - for them to have a hope of winning in five years time.

However, could a Corbyn victory mean a Labour victory? If Corbyn won, the right leaning press would have a field day and paint Labour as going backwards, but it might not be as gloomy for the party as they would depict.

Labour going left would of course vastly reduce their chances of winning in Conservative swing seats, but a Corbyn victory could resonate well in Scotland with some SNP supporters as well as many who supported the radical independence movement. A Corbyn win would certainly not save the party from the nationalists but it would certainly chime with many thinking that Labour had moved away from its roots and closer to the Conservatives.

Furthermore, Corbyn could gain support from the Greens who won 4% of the vote in May. It's a small pool of people but many in the Green movement are seeking a left wing alternative. A Corbyn win could bring many into Labour.

There’s also people who do not vote. That’s not to say that the third of the electorate who failed to vote are secretly Corbyn-loving lefties - far from it - but Corbyn offers a radical change for Britain, one that could inspire some of those left-leaners who do not vote to mark a cross in the box next time.

Of course we would not find out unless Jeremy Corbyn actually wins. If he did then the party would also lose support from more centrist Labour supporters and would lose any chance of winning Conservative swing-seats with Conservative voters. But I doubt that a Corbyn victory would end Labour as the party would make gains elsewhere on the left and perhaps even tap into that part of the electorate which has not voted for years.

So, would a Jeremy Corbyn win really make Labour unelectable? Possibly, but possibly not. With so many factors at play in the next five years who really knows.

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