After a bitter two months of leadership election campaigning, Jeremy Corbyn is still the leader of the Labour party, but this was not time wasted. The divisions within our party have been laid bare. Yet, as everyone is keen to stress, there is far more that unites than divides us. It is important that as a movement we face these divisions together and to not allow them to further impede our progress.
Currently, the moderates are calling for there to be elections to the shadow cabinet. This is a change that should be considered carefully. On one hand, it could be of great benefit in terms of uniting the party; allowing the shadow cabinet to represent all the ideas that there are within our broad movement. On the other hand, a fully elected shadow cabinet could do more harm than good. Jeremy Corbyn is the leader and this is unlikely to change in the near future. It is then key he has allies in top shadow cabinet positions so that the party can portray a coherent and convincing message to the country. Not having elections to the shadow cabinet could also work as a strategy to establish some element of unity within the parliamentary party and this would force the leadership to reach out to the members of the PLP, listen to their concerns and find a way in which they can work together.
If Corbyn has any hope of uniting the party as a whole then he must bring the murmuring about deselection of MPs to an end. There are clear rules surrounding the selection of MPs and what happens if there are boundary changes, all of which are wholly democratic. Instead of talking about how to deselect MPs like Peter Kyle we should be looking to learn from his success in the South East. When Sadiq Khan nominated Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, he justified it by saying: ‘Why are we afraid of having a debate?’. The current leadership should reflect on this sentiment and allow Labour MPs to voice opinions that are contrary to the program set out by the leadership. The range of thought in the party should not just be tolerated by the leadership, it should be embraced. Through debate we can expose any weakness in policy, making our positions more robust and credible.
Throughout its history The Labour Party has been the party of inclusion; however, this is beginning to be threatened. The resignation of Lord Mitchell is a stark reminder to the current leadership that it is not doing enough in the face of growing abuse in the party. Lord Mitchell cited the issues surrounding anti-semitism as a reason for resigning the whip, something that we should all find deeply worrying. It would be completely unfair to suggest that anti-semitism in The Labour Party has is a result of Jeremy Corbyn being leader, however, the current leadership have done nowhere near enough to stop it damaging the reputation of our party. If we are not able to make people of all backgrounds feel safe in our party then what hope do we have of creating the better and more inclusive society that we want?
The Labour Party is deeply, but not irreconcilably, divided. As we move on, it is vital that the divisions are confronted head on. The leadership will play a key role in bringing all groups within the party together and ensuring that all have an equal voice. Corbyn and his team must accept some responsibility for the failings in the first year of his leadership, especially regarding the increasing abuse in the party. Despite this we must also look to the future and shape a Labour Party that can create a radical and credible vision for Britain and can deliver on it by winning elections.
Mostyn Taylor Crockett
Mostyn has just finished his A-Levels. He writes as a Labour Party supporter.