Is Labour Fit for Purpose?
I have often distanced myself from commenting too much about Labour, particularly on subjects such as the leadership vote in 2015 that resulted in Jeremy Corbyn being elected Leader of the Labour Party. But, as much of the political landscape of Britain seems to be up in the air at the moment, I think now would be a good time to consider what is happening at the Labour camp.
In September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the new Leader of the Labour party, after receiving 59.5% of the votes in the somewhat-public poll that was held. I myself did not partake in the vote as I was and remain a member of the Green Party, but part of me was pleased to see Corbyn win. An anti-war and anti-nuclear activist, someone who opposes austerity and who is a long time supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights, Jeremy Corbyn has been arguing for many of the things that my generation now expect to be the bottom line standard, except Jeremy Corbyn has been fighting for these things since before I was born and, disappointingly, many MPs remain unwilling to support.
However, following the results of the EU referendum, the Labour Party have seen 172 Labour MPs sign a letter of no confidence in their current leader, urging him to step down and allow someone else to step in the leadership role. Now, depending on where you choose to read you news, some might say this is because of his ineffectiveness as party leader. Or perhaps that he was not as vocal as many hoped or expected during the EU referendum campaigns. But to me, it seems to be for a obvious motive: these MPs do not share the same ideals as Corbyn.
To me, it seems the questions here are: to who should Jeremy Corbyn be accountable to; and to who should the other Labour MPs and candidates be accountable to? Currently, Corbyn say’s he is accountable the Labour Party members and to represent their views, whilst the Labour MPs argument seems to be that much of the Labour MPs and candidates feel that Labour will never be elected with Corbyn leading the line. But is this down to his leadership abilities, or the fact that much of the Labour party do not like what he stands for. This in itself raises questions about what do the Labour party really stand for these days? Cynical people, like myself perhaps, have felt that for a number of years the Labour Party has not really been a ‘Labour’ Party. Over the last few decades, the move from a left wing party to a more centrally inclined party has, in my eyes, been an attempt to pick up the votes of those that do not really care whilst also maintaining the votes of historic Labour constituencies like those around Yorkshire, who were hugely impacted by Margaret Thatcher’s reign of tyranny.
But the centre of politics feels so non-committal. Whilst I do not agree with right wing political stances, at least they know what they are standing for. 59.5% of voters in the Labour Leadership election voted for Corbyn, based on what he believed in and stood for. Huge amounts of younger people voted for Corbyn as well, despite the general consensus at the time that he was an outsiders bid. If 172 Labour MPs think they know better than 59.5% of their voting membership, then you can read into that how you will.
And whilst, as I said at the top, my opinion is perhaps not worth that much, I feel a Party should represent the interests of its membership and MPs not prepared to do that should consider if they are in the right place. I personally think Corbyn has been a breath of fresh air in the political scene, engaging with his constituents and with a long term track record of sticking to what he believes in, rather than chopping and changing like many Labour MPs. If Corbyn is forced to step down without any kind of membership poll taking place, I think it will be a sad day for politics, one which will epitomise the approach taken by many MPs and whether they act in their own interests, or those of the people they claim to represent.