Jeremy Corbyn heading for landslide victory over Owen Smith

New poll suggests attempted coup against Labour leader has failed
New poll suggests attempted coup against Labour leader has failed
Adam Bienkov By

Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership election. That's the unavoidable conclusion from today's YouGov/Times poll of Labour members.

Among all those who are eligible to vote, Corbyn leads by 57% to 35%, with just 8% still undecided. Once undecideds are stripped out, Corbyn leads by 62% to 38%.

The finer details of the poll are even worse for Owen Smith. Corbyn is ahead in every region and age group, with big leads among full members, registered supporters and trade union affiliates.

Smith, whose campaign has been beset by gaffes and controversies, has failed to make a good impression with party members. The poll finds that Corbyn is seen as more principled, more honest, more competent and more likely to win the next general election than his opponent. Among all entitled to vote, the word most closely associated with Corbyn is "principled". The word most closely associated with Smith is "untrustworthy".

It's customary on stories such as these to insert a note here about the fact that anything can change in the final weeks. To state that there's still everything to play for etc. But let's face it, it's not going to. Corbyn is on course for a landslide victory, potentially on an even bigger scale than last year. The attempt by Labour MPs to oust him has failed and done so quite spectacularly.

The only question now is what happens next? Despite finding a big overall lead for Corbyn, today's poll also finds a huge divide between longstanding party members and those who joined since Corbyn became leader.

Among all those who were members prior to Labour's election defeat last year, Owen Smith leads by 68% to 32%. Yet among all those who joined since that election, Corbyn leads by 78% to 22%.

For Corbyn supporters this is a sign of a re-invigorated party that is now more in touch with the country. For Corbyn's opponents this is a sign of a party that has been taken over by far left entryists leading them to disaster.

Whichever side of that divide you come down on, it's clear that these two differing views of the party are unreconcilable. Many Labour members seem to agree. Today's poll finds that 39% of the Labour selectorate think it's likely the party will split after the campaign, with 39% of Smith supporters saying they intend to quit if Corbyn wins.

So will a formal split actually happen? That still seems fairly unlikely. Such a split would require a high level of organisation and bravery from Labour MPs. As the failed coup and subsequent selection of Smith has demonstrated, the anti-Corbyn wing of the party lacks the kind of effective leadership and co-ordination that would be required for a split to be successful.

Hopes of a second successful leadership challenge also looks unlikely. With thousands more Corbyn-leaning members likely to join the party, hopes that the tide may eventually turn against him look more fanciful by the day. And with plans to change the leadership election rules in order to strip MPs of their nomination threshold, the influence and power of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is also likely to wane further. It's said that all great battles are won before a single drop of blood has been spilt. The great battle launched by Labour MPs against their leader was lost before they'd even sharpened their knives.

This is not to say that Corbyn's victory is total. The PLP remains overwhelmingly opposed to Corbyn and it is hard to see how this can change in the foreseeable future. Hopes from Corbyn supporters that their MPs can simply be deselected before the next election look overblown. Deselecting MPs (and particularly anti-Corbyn MPs) is not as straightforward as widely believed. Most of the PLP are likely to continue within the party, although some may choose to resign rather than face another five years under Corbyn. Some may return to the frontbench while many more will not. But the unbridgeable chasm between the party's parliamentary representatives and its members looks set to stay unbridged.

So barring an SDP-style split of the party, Labour looks set to limp towards the next general election, at which point depending on your point of view, they will either storm to victory, or face a crushing defeat the like of which they have never experienced before.

Either way, they will do so under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. In a political environment so full of uncertainties, that at least is something we can all depend upon.


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