Loved by many but not by the few that matter - Corbyn's first challenge
A look at Jeremy Corbyn's immediate dilemma as leader of the Labour party
Saturday marked a historic moment for the Labour Party – Jeremy Corbyn routed his leadership rivals and stormed to a landslide majority of nearly 60%. Significantly, Corbyn’s mandate is rock solid. Supporters who paid a small fee to vote in the leadership race, trade union voters and Labour Party members all backed Corbyn. Anyone planning a coup must put away the sharpened bayonets for the moment as the party’s base is revitalised and emboldened.
Herein lies Corbyn’s greatest immediate challenge. He is ultimately a leader selected by the party’s base that must carve out a strong opposition team from a Parliamentary party that did not and does not want him. Corbyn unveiled a piecemeal shadow cabinet today. It’s all white, mostly male and certainly incomplete. At the time of writing it’s less than four hours until Communities and Local Government Questions in the Commons and Labour doesn’t have a shadow appointed.
But there are also glimmers of hope for unity in the party. Corbyn has stayed true to his words and appointed one or two Blairites into key positions, notably Lord Falconer who will continue in the shadow Justice brief. Grandees too have been somewhat restrained in shelling the new leader with a barrage of criticism (former Home Secretary David Blunkett aside). The sensible critics will have read the current mood and calculated that, in the short-term at least, it is better to respect the majority Corbyn has secured and allow him time to set up shop before doing the Tories bidding for them or risk agitating party members.