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No Respite for Corbyn as Labour Searches for Direction

09/12/2015 11:41 GMT | Updated 08/12/2016 10:12 GMT

It's been the biggest political certainty of our time - a sizeable proportion of Labour MPs and like-minded supporters were always going to push, and push hard, for a swift end to Jeremy Corbyn's unlikely spell as leader.

Every one of his errors has been magnified. Each break with convention has spiralled into a crisis. Moments of mild indecision - a sign of feeble judgement. His enemies have been ably assisted not only by a reactionary press, as one would expect, but also, and more damagingly, by the written and spoken contributions of the so-called 'liberal' media. The large body of anti-Corbyn dissenters within the PLP and their furious band of venomous, keyboard warrior backers have enjoyed the luxury of a mighty media machine at their disposal. Tony Blair may be toxic these days but there are still many hacks who hold a candle for Blairism.

Corbyn is quite obviously not a natural leader, certainly not in the conventional clichéd sense. Six months ago, nobody would have predicted his elevation, least of all Jeremy Corbyn himself. Having succeeded, trying to make himself heard above the background cacophony of internal strife, external vitriol and ridicule has been pretty much impossible. This was a wedding with no honeymoon.

My guess is that Corbyn, as reluctant a leader as ever there was, would like to bail out from his unhappy situation as soon as is practically 'permissible.'

Should that prove to be the case, the great pity will be that many of the ideas promoted by him will fail to get a serious hearing. A lengthy debate over Britain's place in the world, its foreign policy and how best it should defend itself, together with its attachment to a form of neoliberalism that fails too many of its people, is long overdue.

If, as seems likely, Jeremy Corbyn's spell as leader is to be a short one, what happens next?

With no obvious unifying candidate, the split in opinion between the PLP and the bulk of party membership clearly isn't going to go away so neither will the divisions. A wider debate on what precisely its values are and just 'what the Labour Party is for' will need to be addressed and it won't be a quick process. Nor will it be carried out behind closed doors.

In this respect there will be many difficult discussions to be had that do not necessarily fit into stereotypical left/right parameters. Complex issues facing Labour that can no longer be swept aside, such as:

The very real impact of concentrated immigration on public services, often in traditional working class areas.

The merits or otherwise of unequivocal support for continued membership of the EU.

The soft stance on expansionist NATO.

Fighting for real social change whilst being wedded to neoliberalism.

These and many more are challenges that face all political parties but in as broad a church as Labour they are areas that offer the potential for implosion.

Despite being buoyed by last weeks by-election result, it still seems unlikely that Corbyn will survive long enough as leader to head this internal debate but whoever comes next will have to face the same challenges in the same deeply divided party.

Ultimately, Labour cannot just be a party of protest but neither can it be an organisation whose principal aims are, in reality, little more than debatable, compassionate conservatism and highly questionable military interventions.