The tension at the heart of the Labour Party

Liz Kendall shared her views with the public yesterday on why she did not win the Labour Leadership election. She believes it is because she stuck to her guns and in plain and simple English, said what she thought and stayed with it.

Perhaps it was more than that, and the reason explains so much about the state of the Labour Party at the moment.

Kendall is fairly well liked within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and managed to secure with ease the minimum number of nominations from MPs. Corbyn, on the other hand, needed the signatures of MPs who did not support him and still do not in order to get on the ballot paper. However, when it came to the wider ballot, undertaken by all members of the Party and not just those in Parliament, Kendall slipped down the rankings. This only emphasises the enormous gulf opening up between the PLP and wider Labour Party membership. Kendall, however much she felt she represented her Parliamentary colleagues, not only failed to gauge the mood of the wider membership but to get her name out there so that she became better known.

So if Labour MPs are serious about kicking Corbyn out of his current position, how will they then plug the gap between the views of the PLP and the wider membership? Or will they take the ‘don’t care’ option by choosing the candidates for the ballot paper that represent them and give the party membership a much narrower field to choose from? This could result in a decreasing membership base, and thus decreased funds. I imagine Labour MPs will care less about that as they look to gain a leader who could get them back onto the Government benches – far more important that the £3 membership fees paid by so many last year.

But this is a risky strategy. The media love nothing more than internal party strife – the Conservatives can attest to that in spades – and even if the Labour party elects a leader who is deemed to be more appealing to the electorate at large this may be overshadowed by back biting, rumours and leaks to the press. Does that make it worth it, or are they better off sitting tight and letting Corbyn drive himself out of office?

The problem is, MPs may not want to wait that long.