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Can Jeremy Corbyn’s project outlive its progenitor? The question is increasingly asked even among Corbyn’s greatest fans who usually see any discussion of life after Corbyn as sign of treasonous intent. Even if Labour somehow manages to win next month’s election, or perform well enough not to precipitate immediate resignation, the Labour leader is now 70 and reportedly increasingly worn out by the brutality of modern politics. This worries many Corbyn supporters who fear that the Corbynite project might not outlive their leader.
It was these fears which saw the spectacularly ill-judged attempt to abolish the post of deputy leader in order to prevent the Corbyn-sceptic Tom Watson from taking over should Corbyn resign. These efforts backfired. Up to 35, some say 50 or even 100 MPs, threatened to resign over the issue and the plan even managed to draw rare criticism from former Labour leader Ed Miliband. The botched political assassination also sucked coverage away from the Labour Party conference which was supposed to divert attention from Labour’s internecine feuds to its policy proposals. However, the pro-Corbyn faction did manage to change the rules so that in the event of Labour leader’s resignation whoever becomes the interim leader will be subject to the approval of the Corbynite controlled NEC.
Other efforts have also been made to try to ensure Corbynite survival should Corbyn depart. Labour Students, seen as a centrist bastion, has been abolished. Changes were made to make deselecting MPs easier and to give more grassroots control over selecting new candidates on the assumption the grassroots were Corbyn friendly. This has failed to deliver the desired results.
While pro-Corbyn candidates made some ground most deselection attempts have been fought off and there’s been an unexpected centrist pushback in selecting candidates. As such the Corbynite leadership core has taken further steps. Protestations of their desire to increase intra-party democracy have been revealed as so much hot air as they resort to the same tactics they once decried Blair’s New Labour such as parachuting favoured candidates into safe seats.
As such it seems that even if Corbyn goes soon he will have left his mark on the party. These developments plus changes made last year to reduce the number MPs nominations needed to stand as leader from 15% to 10% means a Corbynite candidate will certainly be in the running to become next Labour leader.