Labour members at constituency level have voted overwhelmingly to back Jeremy Corbyn in the party’s leadership contest — possibly the biggest sign yet that the current leader is on course to retaining his position.
285 out of 387 constituencies voted for Corbyn, compared to just 53 who backed challenger Owen Smith. This means Corbyn is supported by a whopping 84% of party members at constituency level who voted. In last year’s contest, he won just 39% (152/397).
This means Corbyn is supported by a whopping 84% of party members at constituency level who voted. In last year’s contest, he won just 39% (152/397).
It is worth noting that how the vote turned out at constituency level is not necessarily an accurate reflection of how the entire electorate will vote in the leadership contest. The turnout among the constituencies ranged from just 7% to 15%, according to the New Stateman’s George Eaton, with most members choosing to abstain.
However, the nature of Corbyn’s victory is a clear indication of the size of the task facing Smith in trying to replace the current Labour leader.
Some of the constituencies which voted to back Corbyn did so almost totally unexpectedly. Like in Barrow-in-Furness, for example,where 73% of members backed the anti-Trident campaigner, despite the nuclear deterrent programme being the town’s biggest source of employment.
Smith supporters are not giving up yet. His team say private polling puts the former shadow work and pensions secretary neck-and-neck with the current Labour leader, and anti-Corbyn group Saving Labour claims it has recruited around 70,000 registered supporters and 50,000 trade unionists to vote for Smith in the contest.
“Many quiet, moderate members don’t attend meetings at the best of times and are even more put off in the current climate,” an unnamed Labour MP told the New Statesman. “There’s a real disconnect between Corbynite noise in meetings and on social media and where members are.”
Corbyn is still the hot favourite with British bookmakers to be announced the winner of the contest on September 24. Ladbrokes is currently offering odds of just 5/1 (16%) for Smith to cause an upset and bring Corbyn’s time at the helm to an abrupt end.
We will get a clearer idea of where opinion among Labour members is going when a new YouGov poll is published later this week.
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