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The Corbyn Conundrum

The Corbyn Conundrum
The new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo by: Garry Knight

The new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo by: Garry Knight

A few months ago, when the Labour Party suffered a defeat in the general election, no one would have thought that the new leader would be Jeremy Corbyn. Originally, Corbyn was introduced to “widen the debate,” he managed to scrape enough votes to run, which wasn’t a surprise as Corbyn had been a long standing MP and a backbencher. His previous achievements in Parliament included being voted worst dressed, and having the best beard.

Many claim that Corbyn offers a new path for Labour after complaints that Labour was becoming too much like the Conservatives, although this no longer holds true. Corbyn’s left-wing tendencies have meant that he has never before been able to make it to the front bench. Much like Corbyn was former leader, Michael Foot, under whom the Labour Party did not flourish by most accounts will not do so under Corbyn.

The problem lies in the lack of unity within Labour, only 7% of Labour MPs supported Corbyn as leader. Whilst 59.5% of those who did vote in this party election voted for Corbyn, it seems that many Labour stalwarts, such as Yvette Cooper and other Labour MPs’ such as Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall are far from happy.

 

 

Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet appears to be mainly new. Andy Burnham now occupies that Shadow Home Secretary role. Whilst Corbyn boasts of having a Shadow Cabinet that is mainly female, many have pointed out that the women have no high power positions. The role of Shadow Chancellor was given to John McDonnell, who is as much a controversial figure as Corbyn, and was often thought to be his only ally. He once praised IRA bombers and is known to want to overthrow capitalism – certainly a far cry from the Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne. However, many Labour MPs see this as a sign that no matter how much Corbyn insists that he is for unity, choosing McDonnell is not a step in the right direction.

It occurs to me that Corbyn is certainly not the right person to lead the Labour Party to victory. The party is now divided between those who support Corbyn and those who are more to the centre of the party. Corbyn appears to be as unelectable as “Red Ed”; the man is scruffy and seems to lack the easy-going mannerisms that made Cameron and Blair so appealing to the public. However, superficial thoughts aside, I fail to see how a man who only appeals to a minority of Labour MPs and voters is a good thing in the run-up to the next general election. The party has not learnt from their mistake of electing Miliband, who tried to garner the support of the working-class electorate, a gamble that did not pay off, because much like Corbyn is warrant to do, Miliband alienated the middle-class voter who felt that the party was too left-wing to appeal to them.

Will Jeremy Corbyn end up just a caricature of a party leader? Photo by: DonkeyHotey | Flickr

Will Jeremy Corbyn end up just a caricature of a party leader? Photo by: DonkeyHotey | Flickr

Few of Corbyn’s policies seem to endear him to many MPs who believe that the new leader favours an extreme viewpoint within the party. For example, three policies of the new Labour leader seem to indicate that Corbyn’s future as Labour leader is tenuous at best. The move to renationalise the railways and utilities is unpopular, it is shown that the state is more inefficient than in the private sector, which would actually push prices higher. Furthermore, a move to renationalise would be costly for the government, coupled with Corbyn’s resistance to austerity, and many fear that the slowly recovering British economy may once again fall on hard times.

The final policy, that is perhaps the most topical, is Corbyn’s “open borders” policy. Corbyn’s idea is that anyone who wishes to immigrate to the UK should be allowed to. Immigration was a key deciding factor for many voters in the election in May, many of Ukip’s four million votes came from previous Labour voters, so it seems that very few people who have voted in the past are keen to see more lax immigration rules.

It is hard to see how Jeremy Corbyn can lead the Labour Party to an electoral win in 2020. Corbyn is already facing difficulties within his party, many of whom would not have the confidence to campaign under the Corbyn banner in the run-up to the next general election and, coupled with idealistic and improbable policies, it will be an unmitigated disaster. It seems to me that the Corbyn revolution will be short-lived, however, only time will tell.

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2 Comments

  1. Miliband did not try to garner to the working-class voters. He failed to do so, which is why Scotland lost so many of its Labour MPs to Sturgeon’s full-on anti-austerity narrative. You are kidding yourself if you think that the reason Miliband was unelectable was because he was too left-wing. On the contrary, the Labour party lost its integrity by pandering to Conservative values and filling itself with career politicians who try to answer to the public opinion rather than trying to lead them. Politicians should lay forward their opinions and their plans and if they are elected, it is because the majority agrees with them. They should not try and appeal to the most people simply in order to get elected so that they can do what they want behind closed doors once they have the power.
    UKIP voters are not all racists. They are misinformed, working class people who wanted to vote for something anti-establishment that Labour has failed to provide as it has tried to follow the tories in order to appeal to voters. Which is really dumb, trying to out-Tory the Tories when you’re supposed to be the opposition. Why do you think Corbyn has been so successful? Over 20,000 new Labour members have joined since his election at the head of the party. He won by a large majority. Miliband was unelectable because he was weak and he let the Conservatives walk all over him. You are foolish to deny that the people want something different from a greedy Capitalist state. Corbyn is helping the UK to realise that people’s heads and hearts are in the right place. I think he will be unelectable because the media and the U.S. will ensure this is the case. But he is the most electable candidate, the most human candidate, that I have ever seen.

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  2. I’d argue that 2 weeks after a leadership victory is way, way too early to be suggesting he won’t win the next election with Labour. You don’t have any mention of Tim Farron and his taking of the centre ground of British politics. You mention very few names when talking of “rallying” backbenchers who want to see Corbyn go. Who are they? Why do they disagree with him? Are they right to do so?

    The main tenants of journalism seem completely lost here to some abject, piss-poor attempt at refuting Corbyn’s leadership. What research went in to the “renationalising the railways” segment? What sources say it will cost the taxpayer more money, and be more inefficient? The East Coast line has just come out of public hands and was actually making profit and seeing a record high satisfaction from customers.

    Research next time.

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