Corbyn has to go, that much is clear. The 250,000 supporters he has within the ranks of Labour’s party membership may be impressive by party standards but when there are 16.1million disaffected voters who wanted to remain in the EU, the party has to think more widely.
In the last week over 50 MPs have resigned from the shadow cabinet and for Corbyn replacing them is becoming a matter of shovelling snow while it’s still snowing. Today Pat Glass MP resigned as shadow education secretary after just two days in the role.
Furthermore the party’s MPs backed a no confidence vote in their leader by 172 votes to 40. It is unclear whether this will trigger a formal leadership contest as Corbyn has so far refused to resign – claiming the vote was unconstitutional.
Although quite evidently the party, and the country, is in crisis – the UK is currently operating with a hung government and without a credible opposition – the fact Corbyn’s demise is being played out so publicly could benefit Labour in the long term.
In a period of nearly unprecedented international and political turmoil column inches are hard won. By fighting it out in the public domain and not behind closed doors Labour is making headlines and letting voters know change is taking place.
The election of a new leader under the glare of the media allows their platforms to gain a larger public audience and whoever wins will surely be barraged with requests for interviews.
If it can recover itself quickly and unify around a new leader, Labour has the chance to publicly reinvent itself and in doing so bring back voters who were turned off by Miliband and further alienated by Corbyn.
However, whoever takes over must tread a fine line. The Brexit vote showed people are angry and they feel their voices are not being heard. He is an ineffective opposition leader but Corbyn speaks to many who feel ostracized from politics and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
The next Labour leadership team must emphasise the work Corbyn has done in encouraging new members to join the party and try to bring him, and his following, onside. A plurality of ideas within a party is never a bad thing if they can be managed under an effective leader
On Monday thousands of his supporters held a “keep Corbyn” rally in Parliament square – in an age of political cynicism the strength and loyalty of his voters should be recognised. No one doubts his principles or that they resonate with many voters – just not enough. Corbyn’s failing is his lack of the pragmatism and political skill needed to be leader.
Under Corbyn Labour has somehow managed to make the headlines when they should have been sitting back and watching the Conservatives implode ( see Corbyn’s list of ‘loyal’ and ‘hostile’ MPs the same week Ian Duncan Smith resigned from the cabinet).
Remain voters are angry with Corbyn for his lack of leadership during the campaign and they have every right to be. But if Labour can stand up now, frame the conversation and forcefully present the arguments to hold a divided and floundering Tory government to account, there is no reason why a new leader couldn’t win them the next general election.
The news cycle moves quickly and Labour must act fast in order to take advantage of its spotlight and show it is changing, Corbyn has to now accept his fate and resign, for the good of his party and the country.
If the party fails to stand behind a strong leader there is every chance it has condemned itself for a generation. But it hasn’t done so yet.