The Labour party has been hijacked.
Now, I’m sure some of you will be keen to tell me that it was Tony Blair who took the party off its proper course, but the opposite is true. For a party which is plagued with a lack of economic credibility, the early years of Blair are a clear example of successful Labour government. A budget surplus, falling unemployment and the introduction of a minimum wage are all testament to the virtues of a credible and progressive Labour party.
However, Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in this most recent party-defining election was abetted by the support lended to him by Communists, Marxists, Trotskyists, and even Conservatives. This in itself diminishes the significance of the majority he attained. Since when were these the values which Labour espoused?
A clear sign of the current chaos which is engulfing the party is Momentum, a grassroots organisation set up in the wake of Corbyn’s triumph which now comprises of some 100,000 members. There are members of Momentum who are not members of the Labour party yet it appears that they wish to shape Labour party policy and some cases supersede local branches of the party itself. This is compounded by the fact that Momentum is at odds with Progress, another faction of Labour closely aligned to party’s New Labour past.
For a party to be credible, it must have a clearly defined direction. Issues such as Syria and Trident have exposed the rift which threatens to tear Labour apart (perhaps the EU provides some respite but that isn’t much). I find it quite bemusing that someone who has defied his party whip over 500 times now expects his party to follow him. Jeremy Corbyn is a rebel but he’s certainly no leader. He is at odds with much of the Parliamentary Labour Party, with many supporters of Corbyn calling for the deselection of critical MPs. What these socialist types fail to recognise is that the 9.3 million people who voted for these diverse set of MPs dwarf the mandate of 250,000 which the ideologically rigid Corbyn received.
While I do no not agree with everything said in this article, I think that this piece by Joe Haines (former press secretary to Harold Wilson) further highlights how it is of the utmost importance that the Labour party reinvents itself quickly. He points out the following:
But let’s deal with reality: Corbyn’s total vote was just over 251,000; in other words, approximately one in every 183 people on the electoral register (46 million) voted for him, or 0.5 per cent. In relation to the next general election, that is the only statistic that matters and it should be compared to the nearly 9.35 million who voted Labour last May. The strength of the party lies in the nine million-odd, not the 251,000, and that figure will be dissipated at our peril.
Let me be clear: I don’t support undemocratically ousting Jeremy Corbyn. What I do support however, is clarity on where Labour is going. Will it take the more traditional moderate route which has proven to be successful or will it revert to becoming a party firmly positioned as ‘hard-left’, which is already proving troublesome. Polling in Scotland which shows the Tories challenging Labour for second place really is a warning sign that the party cannot continue as it is.
These days, those from within the Labour party who are critical of Corbyn are often branded as Tories. But the inconvenient truth which needs to be confronted is that the Labour party must win Conservatives over, not push them away. If you’re not keen on trying to be in Government then why enter the political sphere? There are various humanitarian organisations you can join instead. By entering the political sphere you have an obligation to fulfill the aspirations of your voters and by not doing so, you let these people down.
If Jeremy Corbyn continues to remain unpopular then he should put the interests of working people before his own, even if he has their best interests at heart. Alienating people who voted for a party that won a majority of seats is very counter-productive, especially when you realise these are the very same people whose votes you need so dearly.
Written by Aditya Dabral
Illustration by Ben Zombory-Moldovan