Yes, that’s right, it’s another election. The Labour party membership plan to go to the polls once again to decide who will lead them into a new era for the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith will go head to head when the ballot papers are handed in at the midday deadline after emerging as the front runners in what has been another internal battle for the Labour Party.
The Labour Party has been split since Jeremy Corbyn surprised everyone and won the leadership race, having started as a complete outsider. While many welcomed Corbyn as a much needed breath of fresh air to the party, others believed he was simply too far to the left and would be unable to win a general election. Those who doubted Corbyn were left further unconvinced after a spineless campaign to support a vote to stay within the European Union, leading to complete disarray within the Labour Party. The resignation of several shadow cabinet ministers after Brexit looked like the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but he refuses to go down quietly and now faces Owen Smith in a hotly contested leadership race.
Owen Smith, first elected in 2010 as the MP for Pontypridd, was on the shadow cabinet that disbanded due to Corbyn’s leadership. A member of the Labour Party since the age of 16, he enjoyed a successful career in journalism at the BBC before turning to politics. After his election victory in 2010 he quickly rose up the party ranks and was appointed a shadow minister within months. In 2012 he was promoted to shadow secretary for Wales, but was one of the many shadow cabinet ministers who resigned following the Brexit campaign.
A lot has changed since Corbyn was made leader of the Labour Party in 2015. Questions were raised before that vote about his leadership skills, which must be called into focus now. Corbyn’s inability to retain a sense of calm within his party will undoubtedly be a deciding factor for many who will vote for Owen Smith on Wednesday. Corbyn has also lost the backing of major unions GMB and Usdaw, although he still maintains the support of Unite and Unison.
Jeremy Corbyn has always had a relatively underwhelming support among the Labour party’s 232 MPs. Many of those who backed him the first time round took a chance in order to widen the reach of the party by nominating a left wing labour voice as leader. These same people may not elect Corbyn again, after an unenthusiastic campaign to remain within the European Union by a man who has always been known to be a sceptic of the EU.
Whether it be Jeremy Corbyn or Owen Smith, the Labour Party need stability and strength more than ever right now. After years in power they are a party in transition, struggling to find their identity in an ever changing world. Whoever wins this election race must win back the voters and more importantly, unite the party going into this new chapter and beyond.