Jeremy Corbyn is adding some unlikely excitement to the Labour leadership contest. Although he does not have enough MPs yet to make it onto the ballot paper — he needs another 16 nominations at the time of writing — there is still a sense he might make it into race. As I wrote earlier in the week, the other campaigns are open to ‘loaning’ Corbyn some of their nominations if he nearing the magic 35 threshold.
Typically, Corbyn is sticking to his principles and has told Total Politics he is not keen on the idea of other candidates helping him:
‘I’m not particularly into charity nominations. I want to see a proper debate within the party. Essentially there’s going to be that debate anyway because there are many in the party, and many members who joined the party, because they want to something different. So that debate’s going to happen and I will certainly be part of that debate whatever the outcome. I want people to choose of their own volition, I don’t want charity.’
But technically, Corbyn can’t refuse help from the other candidates — it’s up to MPs who they back for leader. He can only encourage MPs not to switch sides, so if they are instructed to change their nomination, so be it. I understand that the Andy Burnham campaign hasn’t changed its attitude and would still help out Corbyn if he is close to having the 35 names he needs.
Surprisingly, there is plenty of support for Corbyn inside the Labour party. According to a new LabourList survery of its readers, Corbyn is their clear favourite for leader on 47 per cent, with Andy Burnham on 13 per cent, Liz Kendall on 11 per cent and Yvette Cooper on nine per cent. There is even an appetite on the right of the party to see him do well. A senior Blairite in the party tells me they’d like to see Corbyn on the ballot to teach the left a lesson:
‘The right of the party should have nothing to fear from Jeremy. It would be good for the left of the party to see just how few votes would be cast.’
If the left wing elements of Labour want to see how successful their candidate would be in winning elections, they only need to look at Corbyn’s strategy in this nomination process. Winners in elections tend not to turn down support and Corbyn is refusing to build any kind of consensus across the party. Just imagine how successful he would be at the ballot box.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.