Jeremy Corbyn won a landslide victory in the election for Labour Party leader, defeating his opponent Owen Smith by a margin of 61.8% to 38.2%. This leadership contest was because of yet another effort by the Blairite neoliberal elements in the party that dominate its parliamentary membership to regain control. They passed a no-confidence motion against Corbyn following the Brexit vote.
Corbyn’s vote share this time was even larger than the 59.5% that he got in 2015 when he surprised the Blairites with his come-from-behind win.
Corbyn won a majority over Smith in every category – members, registered supporters and trades union affiliates. He won the support of 59% of voting members, 70% of registered supporters and 60% of affiliated supporters.
The winner pointed out that he had secured his second mandate in a year and urged his colleagues to accept what had been a democratic decision.
Corbyn won despite the relentless efforts by the party leadership at undermining him.
It is Mr Corbyn’s second defeat of the Labour establishment, who many of his supporters believe have tried to undermine the leader consistently over the last 12 months.
They talk of a “surge in the purge” as the leadership contest progressed – party officials vetting and checking new supporters who had registered to vote.
There are claims that Labour HQ deliberately threw Corbyn supporters off the voting lists to reduce the size of his victory. Corbyn supporters believe many MPs have done nothing in the past year other than try to damage his leadership and today they will be shown to have failed badly in their attempt to oust him.
Will those neoliberals in the party leadership cease efforts at sabotaging Corbyn? It is not clear.
Smith congratulated Corbyn for mobilising so many supporters in the party, and said he would reflect on how he could help Labour to win the next election.
He said: “I entered this race because I didn’t think Jeremy was providing the leadership we needed, and because I felt we must renew our party to win back the voters’ trust and respect. However, I fully accept and respect the result and I will reflect carefully on it and on what role I might play in future to help Labour win again for the British people.”
That is likely to be read as a hint that the former shadow work and pensions secretary might be willing to accept a frontbench role, something that he repeatedly insisted during the campaign he would not do.
Smith, the MP for Pontypridd, emerged as a challenger after scores of shadow cabinet ministers resigned in the wake of the EU referendum, and Labour MPs overwhelmingly backed a motion of no confidence in their leader.
Rebel MPs must now decide whether to return to the frontline. Many are awaiting the results of a Saturday night meeting of the party’s national executive committee, which will discuss the rules for choosing a future shadow cabinet.
It is a great win for Corbyn and for British progressives because it may represent the waning of the pernicious influence of Tony Blair.