Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected Labour leader with a thumping 62% vote share. His attentions, and that of the rest of his party, will turn towards the task of winning the next general election.
This is unlikely to be before 2020, which gives Corbyn plenty of time to prepare. That might normally be seen as an advantage, but the challenges facing him are legion. His first task is to appoint a credible shadow cabinet, which means healing the rift that has opened up between the membership-backed leadership and the MPs in parliament. He also needs to convince the public they wouldn’t be voting for a split party. There is the matter of formulating policy that appeals to the electorate, and shaking off the image of a being pinko-pacifist.
He also needs to ‘win back’ not only swing constituencies – like Nuneaton – but also places that used to be reliably Labour. The inroads that UKIP have made into the North East – as evidenced by the voting in the EU referendum – is a serious concern. Scotland, of course, now only has 3 non-SNP MPs across the whole of the country. Corbyn and the Labour Party will need the combined efforts of their new membership working to a convincing and well-formulated plan simply to tread water.
In addition, the recently proposed boundary commission changes hit Labour’s chances of winning a majority even harder. These have been criticised for being an exercise in gerrymandering: that the changes have been put through by a Conservative government that knows Labour will fare worst from the re-drawing of parliamentary constituencies.
This week’s chart is a best-guess at how the changes will affect the two parties. On this evidence Labour are clearly worse off, which re-enforces the impression that the decision to re-jig the voting areas is indeed a Tory stich-up. That’s not strictly true. As this thorough post from Number Cruncher Politics (the source of the graph) explains the changes only correct a historical advantage that the Labour Party have enjoyed since 1955.
Whatever the ultimate motivation or timing of the Boundary Commission’s work, it is yet another problem that has been heaped onto Corbyn’s Labour. Assuming the recommendations are made law this time, the Tories will be starting the next electoral race with an even bigger head start than they already have.