Is Jeremy Corbyn about to launch a new party? Social media was alive Monday with speculation following reports from Guido Fawkes, GB News and the Daily Mail, writes Dave Middleton. There was no quote directly from Corbyn although “multiple sources close to him” were, apparently, reporting the news. Strangely, none of those multiple sources were prepared to be actually named. Indeed, the one name actually mentioned – former Labour MP Laura Pidcock – immediately took to XTwitter to debunk the idea that she was involved. Tweeting in response to the Guido Fawkes article she said: “Have been sent this, as much as I love him, it’s not true that I am starting a new party with @jeremycorbyn.”
Many people on the left have high hopes for such a party. XTwitter user Damian From Brighton confidently predicts that such a party could take about 30 seats. When questioned as to how realistic that number was, he stated: “Yes, the structure is in place. The plan as I see it is to return enough MPs to form a bloc which can hold the balance of power and therefore be able to demand amendments in return for votes to pass legislation.”
Not everybody shares Damian’s enthusiasm. Maria Carroll, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in 2019, told Critical Mass: “Personally I don’t believe Jeremy will launch a new party. Thing is Jeremy is the most loyal of servants of the Labour Party. There is no other party that could tempt him. It’s totally part of his DNA.”
Maria, who still has plenty of Labour contacts, is not the only one to doubt the rumour. As Luke Andreski told Critical Mass: “I doubt Corbyn will want to be seen as the man who divided the Labour vote.”
There have been plenty of failed attempts to build an electoral party to the left of Labour. In 1996 Arthur Scargill, former President of the National Union of Mineworkers, launched the Socialist Labour Party. In 1997 it received 0.2% of the vote after contesting 63 seats. By 2019 it had just 315 members.
It is not inevitable that a party led by Corbyn would go the same way. But, without access to national TV and competing with the already established Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), itself containing 3 former Labour MPs, and the newly formed Transform, any party led by Corbyn would find it difficult to cut through the two-party chatter that surrounds a general election in the UK.
Even if, and it’s a big if, Corbyn launched a new party he would find it hard to find the members to make it viable. Corbyn’s success in 2016 was precisely that he was able to gain control, or so we thought, of Labour’s party machinery. It was the fact that he was leader of one of the two main political parties that made the Corbyn project a viable attempt by those on the left to gain some sort of political control. But the fact is that the source of this rumour is not “his close friends” who would not be briefing Guido Fawkes or GB News, but rather a mischievous right trying to cause the illusion of a major problem for Starmer. The right-wing Labour Party is on track for electoral success and no rumour from the right, or wishful thinking from the left, is likely to derail it.
Socialist of many years. Former Labour member. Currently presenter of The Socialist Hour.