With Theresa May’s coronation as Prime Minister we now begin on the unknown road towards ‘Brexit’; however we do this without an opposition. The Labour Party is in disarray, unable to hold meetings for fear of bullying and intimidation, and with a leader that cannot lead an effective opposition at such a crucial time for this country.
It is clear that, whether or not you agree with Corbyn’s politics, he, and his team, are incompetent when it comes to business of being the official opposition. A plain example of this recently is the commons vote on raising employment tribunals fees. This is type of legislation, limiting the power of workers to combat exploitation, which the Labour Party was built to fight against. MPs were instructed to abstain on this vote which seems a complete betrayal of Labour values. Chuka Umunna said on Monday’s Daily Politics: “what on earth is the parliamentary Labour Party doing abstaining on a vote like this? When we should be three line whipped to vote against an increase in employment tribunal fees.” With the Conservatives having such a small majority this is a vote that Labour could have easily won by appealing to some of the ‘kinder Tories’. Yet the leadership was unable to instruct its own MPs how to vote.
Although Labour was able to win the London Mayoral race, helped in part by the hateful campaign behind Zac Goldsmith which the public did not fall for, the 2016 local elections saw one of the worst performances by the opposition in recent history. This is due in part to the fact that Labour is not providing a compelling, radical and ambitious vision for Britain. Instead, under Corbyn’s leadership Labour has focused its efforts on issues like the Trident nuclear deterrent which a large proportion of the electorate do not see as a high priority.
Labour must create a vision that speaks to all in society, and, alongside it, a coherent and credible message; this will allow an emotional connection to be made with the electorate which The Party has failed to make for a long time. Finding this vision inevitably means that there must be debate within The Party. Corbyn is all too happy to talk at his own rallies, but he does not reach out to those within The Party that may not agree with him. They are instead tarnished as ‘right wingers’ and ‘Tory light’. To move forward Labour must be willing to venture outside of its comfort zone tackling issues such as immigration head on, rather than dismissing peoples’, mostly, legitimate fears.
Considering this, it does not seem that Jeremy Corbyn will be able to win a general election whenever it may come. The traditional post election rise of the opposition netted Corbyn a 3% lead over the Conservatives at its largest point, according to YouGov polls. This is nowhere near the 20% lead which, it seems, the opposition must achieve at some point in the parliament if it wants to win the next general election. It seems ludicrous that some sections of The Labour Party, being a parliamentary party, do not see this as a massive issue for it looking towards 2020. Some have been branded as power hungry and unprincipled in saying this, however, Labour must strive to win power if it wants to make our society a more socially just one.
Jeremy Corbyn is clearly a deeply principled man, a quality that many leaders do not have. However, he and his team are not able to run an effective opposition. They are not able to halt the government in its attempts to strip workers of many of their rights or provide a vision for Britain that looks to solve the biggest issues we face today. It seems as though there is no drive to bring The Labour Party together under this leadership, no will to create a consensus within The Labour Party or in the country as a whole. Their disdain for those that wish to win election seems to suggest that they would favor a split in the party, something that would doom the Labour movement to simply being a protest movement. It is now crucial to that the Labour Party unite behind someone that is able to save the party.
Mostyn Taylor Crockett
Mostyn has just finished his A-Levels. He writes as a Labour Party supporter.