Why Corbyn Must Go – From a Corbyn Voter

By 15024926027_c3148c4af8_k

This article was difficult for me to write, as someone who would consider themselves to be positioned firmly on the left in British Politics, I voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest. Like him and many others, I was deeply frustrated by Labour’s failure to establish an alternative narrative to Osborne’s austerity and its apparent acceptance of the Conservatives’ Neo-liberal orthodoxy. I agreed with Corbyn’s stance on a range of issues from housing to welfare to Trident. I also liked the fact that Corbyn is an honest, decent and principled man. And I want to make clear that to this day, I still hold the same beliefs and I still have the same respect for Jeremy Corbyn.

However, Politics is about more than just policies and principles. The ultimate aim of all those involved in Politics is to improve the lives of those in their given country. In order to do this, one must achieve power, and it has become blatantly clear that the Labour Party will be unable to win power at the next Election (whenever that may be) if Corbyn remains at the helm.

The first reason that Corbyn-led Labour is simply unelectable is the irreversible divisions that his leadership has caused within the Party. Some Corbyn loyalists have claimed that party unity can be saved if the Parliamentary Party would just get behind Jeremy and turn their fire on the Tories, but the damage has already been done. Undermined from the start by a lack of support from MPs, the gulf between Corbyn and those he is supposed to lead reached new heights this week, with the majority of his Shadow Cabinet resigning. We can talk for a long time about the morality of the way Labour’s MPs have acted, but the fact they have acted in this way is reality nonetheless and such public divisions are proven to make a party unelectable in the eyes of the General populace.

Not only do such divisions make Labour unelectable, they also make it impossible for the party to fulfil its basic functions of being the Official Opposition. With Corbyn unable to command the authority of the party in Parliament and with a massively inexperienced Shadow Cabinet, Labour under Corbyn are simply unable hold the government to account in the manner required, something particularly crucial at a time of such uncertainty and importance for our country’s future. It’s also worth noting at this point that this was not a ‘Blairite Coup’. The range of figures from across the party that have called for Corbyn’s departure is evidence enough of that. Owen Smith, Kerry McCarthy, Karl Turner, Tom Watson, Pat Glass – none of these figures are Blairites, but all of them are concerned about the state of the Labour Party under Corbyn.  Given the scale of the current rebellion, business-as-usual is simply not an option. The only two options that remain on the table for the Labour Party are either to renew Corbyn’s mandate from the membership, or to elect a new Leader.

The recent EU Referendum provided clear reasons for Labour to pursue the latter option. When elected, it was thought that Corbyn would be able to inspire many disenfranchised people let down by the status quo. But which way did most of these people vote in the Referendum? They voted to Leave, the opposite of the position advocated by Corbyn. The reasons for this are up for debate, but it is patently clear that Corbyn is failing to win over Working-Class voters outside of his City strongholds. These are the kind of voters that so harmfully abandoned Labour for UKIP in 2015 and Corbyn has shown he is unable to hold sway over this key constituency.

Further to this, there has been no sign that turnout among young voters has increased since Corbyn has taken over the reins, with only 36% predicted to have voted in the Referendum. As a key element to Corbyn’s potential success, this does not bode well moving forward.

So why is it so vital that Labour score a victory in the next General Election? Firstly, three straight General Election victories would give the Tories a mentality of complacency (arguably one they already possess due to Corbyn’s incompetent leadership), meaning they believe they could do as they pleased. Under a potentially more radical leadership of Gove and unrestrained by the European Union, the potential harm that could be wrought by another Tory Government cannot be underestimated, and such harm would ultimately be inflicted upon the very communities the Labour Party has responsibility to protect.

But why now? 2020 is a long way away, surely now is not the time to remove Labour’s leader? But now is the time. With many members frustrated at Corbyn’s lacklustre efforts during the Referendum, which provided further evidence of his inability tolead, now is the time to move. The current situation is exacerbated by the fact that the impact of electoral defeat on the Labour Party could be even greater in the event of an early Election in the coming months, something that is entirely possible, whatever flimsy promises are made by Conservative leadership contenders. With Corbyn as leader, a depleted and divided Labour would undoubtedly perform disastrously in a snap election, damaging the party’s credibility and handing the Tories an even greater mandate.

So what would I want from a new leader? As a start, I do not believe a new leader should or would be likely to, end Labour’s opposition to austerity, which was the key plank of Corbyn’s leadership campaign. This leadership challenge is less about policy and more about competency in leading the party. A new leader could continue with many of Corbyn’s policies but would have to have several key qualities not possessed by their predecessor. The ability to unite the party, the ability to handle the media well and the ability to hold the Government to account effectively, both inside and outside Parliament.

Although none of the thus far mooted candidates are perfect, they would all be more effective and electable leaders than Corbyn. Labour does not have to move on from Corbyn’s policy platform, but they must move on from the incompetence that has riddled his tenure at the top of the party.

Despite his very noble intentions, Corbyn’s continued leadership is endangering those he most wants to protect. The country needs a strong Labour Party more than ever, and that cannot come about until he does the honourable thing and steps aside.

Photo credit: Flickr

 

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