Labour leadership: Corbyn consolidates power over party

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Media captionRe-elected leader Jeremy Corbyn tells BBC political editor about uniting the Labour Party

Once more with feeling. Jeremy Corbyn and his legions of activists can claim that today, having won for the second time and extended their grip on the Labour Party.

Victory will be sweet - not just because it is a confirmation of his remarkable support among thousands upon thousands of members around the country.

It is Mr Corbyn's second defeat of the Labour establishment, who many of his supporters believe have tried to undermine the leader consistently over the last 12 months.

They talk of a "surge in the purge" as the leadership contest progressed - party officials vetting and checking new supporters who had registered to vote.

There are claims that Labour HQ deliberately threw Corbyn supporters off the voting lists to reduce the size of his victory.

Corbyn supporters believe many MPs have done nothing in the past year other than try to damage his leadership and today they will be shown to have failed badly in their attempt to oust him.

'Bring it on'

It might seem strange, but for some in Mr Corbyn's team, this was precisely what they wanted months ago, even before the challenge was launched after the EU referendum.

One senior source told me in the spring, if there was to be a challenge, "bring it on". They were confident then that they would win second time round and be able afterwards to establish their authority still further.

And while there will be public statements calling for peace, requests for MPs of all stripes to come together, Mr Corbyn's team is also set on tightening its hold on the party.

In the bars and sweaty fringes of this conference, behind-the-scenes machinations over who is in control are well under way.

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Image caption Mr Corbyn defeated the only challenger, Owen Smith

The leader's reluctance to reintroduce elections to the shadow cabinet is in part down to the fact it would reduce his support on the party's ruling body, the NEC.

Pleas from senior MPs such Tom Watson, Andy Burnham and John Healey to bring them back are likely to fall on deaf ears this weekend, even though that would be the strongest outward signal to the rest of the party that Mr Corbyn wants to rebuild his front bench.

But if he brought back those ballots, the parliamentary party would choose three members of the NEC, possibly replacing two of Mr Corbyn's allies who currently sit on the committee, and therefore watering down his control.

'Reconciliation and assertion'

The decisions over the shadow cabinet are therefore not just about how to build an effective opposition to the Tories, but who is really in charge.

There will be olive branches proffered aplenty in the next couple of days, but the leader's approach will be "reconciliation and assertion" - a strategy that does not suggest Mr Corbyn's team plan only to play nice.

But beyond the interminable processes of Labour Party democracy - this is crucial to what's going on, but I confess a rather niche specialist subject - something incredible has just happened.

After a year of turbulence and warnings of electoral armageddon, Mr Corbyn has just successfully consolidated his power over his party, enthusing and exciting his party's new grassroots.

A leader who most of his MPs see as a loser, has emerged as a winner once more.

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