Labour faces double dilemma as Corbyn says he's going nowhere

Written by Josh May on 9 May 2017 in Diary

'I was elected leader of this party and I’ll carry on doing it."

Jeremy Corbyn has answered the question of whether he would stand down if Labour loses the general election.

In a move that has dismayed his internal party critics, the Labour leader told Buzzfeed he would be "carrying on" in the role regardless of the result on 8 June.

Previous Labour leaders Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband resigned in the aftermath of their election defeats in 2010 and 2015.

If Labour loses and Corbyn clings on, his supporters may point to the example of Neil Kinnock who stayed on to fight the 1992 general election despite losing to Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

Yet Labour’s vote share went up from 30.8% in 1987 to 34.4% in 1992.

If Corbyn tries to hold on after a crushing defeat, there is a dilemma for his opponents in the parliamentary Labour party: try to push him out again or stick with the strategy of the last few months of keeping their powder dry.

And there is a dilemma for his backers: stick with someone who has proven to have failed or find a preferable vessel for left-wing views.

Asked by Buzzfeed if the constant criticism of his leadership upset him, Corbyn said: "It doesn’t get to me at all. What I would say is that is about the party as a whole, the policies we’re putting forward as a whole, and the individual messenger is the person who’s doing their best to put those policies forward. I was elected leader of this party, I’m proud to do it, and I’ll carry on doing it."

Corbyn's comments came as he prepared to formally launch Labour's election campaign in Manchester today.

But one Labour source told PoliticsHome: "He and the leaders' office seem to have decided to sabotage our own campaign launch."

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