The leadership result on Saturday is a defining moment for the future of the Labour Party. Only the most optimistic moderates believe that Owen Smith will become the new Labour Leader. Surprises can happen but probably not in Liverpool. The only real question is how big Corbyn’s margin of victory will be. A tight result or one that shrinks Corbyn’s mandate will be seized on as a sign of his weakening authority but let’s be blunt: we expect Corbyn’s grip on Labour to tighten after Saturday.
Why? His opponents have shot their load. What do moderates do next? There is not much appetite for a split in the party, no matter how dire the future looks. There will be a lot of moderates missing from conference this year and many more drinking their sorrows away in the bars while Corbynistas and Momentum celebrate in their parallel conference outside the gates of Labour’s gathering.
It’s worth remembering that while much of the country believes Labour is potentially in a terminal spiral of doom, Corbynistas do not. After years on the margins, the left will have strengthened its grip on power. With boundary changes, de-selections and the expected purge of ‘disloyal’ Labour staffers in the next year those on the left see a path to ridding Labour of its moderates. Brighton and Hove MP, Peter Kyle, is unlikely to be the last moderate Labour MP to face a battle for re-selection from the hard left. The expected departure of moderate members in their droves will further strengthen their hand.
The contrast between Labour and the Conservatives conferences could be stark this year. If you’re interested in power then the Tory show in Birmingham is the only place to be. But if you like a good old-fashioned family feud, we’ll see you on the train to Liverpool this weekend.