The Corbyn Conundrum
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.
In his secret Siberian base, Jeremy Corbyn is building a car the size of the UK. It has no brakes.
— Michael Sellars (@Michael_Sellars)
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.
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.