Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Labour On The Brink


According to some, Labour has never been more divided in the history of its existence. James Dancey looks into the symptoms of this crisis, and whether there is light at the end of the tunnel for the current leadership.




On Friday the 24th of June, the British people awoke to a political shock of multiple proportions. They voted to leave the EU, it was a shock, but it shouldn’t have been. The political disconnect being amplified by a chance to have their say and deliver a damning verdict on out of touch politicians.
Over the last few years, nothing has more ironically demonstrated the out of touch nature than the Westminster Labour party. Originally, set up to channel the working class beliefs all around the country, they have appeared to grow distant from the grassroots communities up and down the nation. A growing number of disenfranchised voters had turned to the Green party or UKIP as they channelled their frustration at an elitist political system that appeared to act more in self-interest rather than in the nation’s interest.

Then came Jeremy Corbyn, a man well-weathered by the political system with his beliefs firmly left-field. He galvanised and inspired thousands of Labour voters, many of whom rejoined the Labour party after the decades of political alienation. With his election on a great mandate with public support polling reasonably well for a newly elected leader, everything was going right for Corbyn.
Then, he slowly, seamlessly floated into the crosshairs of the media, and the heads began to roll. The Sun and The Daily Mail picking up on his left wing nature,  with the most popular buzzword used being ‘unelectable’.  As the Labour party began to grow more and more restless, it was clear there was a deep rift between Corbyn voters and more neo-liberal Labour members.

This rift has only magnified throughout the last few months, with the vote on Syria Airstrikes and the EU referendum being the most impacting contributors. In the last couple days, these tensions created have finally boiled over, and now Jeremy Corbyn is under threat, from unsurprisingly, many of his own former cabinet members. The knives are moving closer to his throat, but he is just as tenacious as he was on Day 1.

The Labour Party is on the brink of disaster. With divides being more and more evident day by day, is there any option? Should Corbyn stay? Should he go? Over half of Labour voters are still in favour of him but will he have the scope to reach out to undecided voters at the next election? Will the Labour party lose the Corbyn supporters if they form a coup? Never has a party seem so broken. Whereas the Conservative’s qualms are petty opinions, Labour’s issues are very deep ideological  disparities.


A lot of the blame for Corbyn has been his inaction in the recent EU referendum, one of which Labour were supposed to be fervently in the remain campaign. Many Labour MPs criticised Corbyn for his lack of his enthusiasm leading to the surprise defeat for the remain side. However, from my perspective, it appeared that Osborne and Cameron’s tactics were the ones that caused more backlash. I honestly don’t think that there’s a single thing Jeremy Corbyn could’ve done to convince the people to vote otherwise, it was clear that many people felt betrayed by the establishment.

That betrayal from the working class heartlands will become even more conspicuous if the Labour MPs eject him. The main issue that the Corbyn opposition face is the fact that Jeremy has performed reasonably well in elections so far.

So if I take the 36 metropolitan boroughs as a talking point, who have their elections once every four years, (so I can only compare these results to 4 year intervals.) Now I’m only going to compare these to when Labour was in opposition as Governments do tend to do badly in local elections.

The high point was Blair in 1996 who won 28 councils, and the low point was Neil Kinnock in 1992 who won 20. Note that Kinnock still gained seats in that general election. Corbyn won 25, which puts him bang in the middle of each council performance. Nothing is indicative of an imminent failure, however, the two divisions of the Labour party are lining up their artillery when the focus should be on the Tories.  Is there any way Labour can avoid disaster?

No. From my perspective, this is all going to end in flames for Labour, and they may not recover for years. This angers me, because, there always needs to be an opposition to a Conservative Government, if that opposition is weakened or broken. Then they risk giving the Tories free reign over the country. The Labour party has been essential for so many Conservative backtracks in the last year, and if we lose that, I dare to say I worry about the future of this country.

Labour should've survived the EU Referendum with ease, regardless of the result. They were mostly united in their message and didn't resort to the far fetched tactics of many campaigners, but unfortunately many of those in the parliamentary party saw it as an opportunity to take their own vision of the Labour party back. A vision that is more polarising then they expected it to be.

The Labour party is on the brink, and I wonder if anyone can save it.  


James X Editor