The challenge for whoever replaces him is to sort of refocus the party or attract the people that perhaps have left Labour in the meantime
Professor Tony Travers
And Professor Tony Travers has warned the party faces the prospect of never winning a general election again if Mr Corbyn’s successor fails to undo the damage of the last five years. The results of the first ballot of the contest between Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey are announced tomorrow – with former Brexit spokesman Mr Starmer widely tipped to get the 60 percent vote share needed to win the contest outright.
Mr Travers told Express.co.uk: “The challenge for whoever replaces him is to sort of refocus the party or attract the people that perhaps have left Labour in the meantime.
“Keir Starmer would probably have a better chance of doing that than Rebecca long Bailey for example, because he is more of a conventional seeming Labour leader.
“He has himself not really expressed many views on many issues so far but he looks more like a traditional Labour leader.
“He is a sort of centrist and an establishment figure.”
Assessing Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Prof Travers said: “What he did wrong was change the Labour Party in a way that was very ideological and which, wrongly assumed it was possible to win a general election in Britain from a a significantly left-wing position.
“The British electorate is moderate – it has been for decades.
“And there’s no evidence it has ever been easily attracted by relatively extreme left or right wing politicians.
“I think that Corbyn and many of those around him believed that if only they hung on there, as you know losing election after election, eventually the electorate would realise that what they really, really wanted a radical leftist government.
“And they never did, and they were never going to.”
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Prof Travers said there was no denying Mr Corbyn’s impact.
He explained: “To be fair, he that he did enormously increase the party’s membership.
“And although that became problematic, because the members had views which were a very long way away, even from traditional Labour voters and still further from centrist voters, which was a problem, the one thing he did do was to galvanise enthusiasm in a political party, which very few political leaders of any party have managed in 30 years.
“And it has to be said that he did make young people in particular very enthusiastic about politics.”
However, the party’s drubbing in December general election, which saw Labour lose swathes of seats in its traditional northern heartlands as the so-called “Red Wall” began to crumble, underlined the risks of having such a radical leader at the helm – as well as the uphill task facing whoever gets the job.
Prof Travers added: “The loss of responsibility falls on what you would call a ‘soft left’ in the Labour Party, what would have been called a Tribune group if Tribune still existed.
“They are absolutely crucial in all of this, many of them, because they definitely want to win elections.
“How that will be resolved depends on whether Labour wants to win an election ever again 2024 or 2029 or 2030, or whenever.
“I think that will involve the soft left in the Labour Party making a decision about how far they’re willing to empower the centrists in the party to come forward with a more traditional Labour agenda.”
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