Labours explosion of new members making it the largest left wing party in Europe is down almost entirely to Jeremy Corbyn’s personal views on things such as Nuclear disarmament.
When Corbyn first came to power it was policies like these that made the headlines and the fact he had rebelled consistently against the likes of the Iraq war when Tony Blair was in power. Here was a man that was truthful, honest and had radical ideas that some on the left held dear. They were policies that would otherwise never have a chance of seeing the light of day in any fringe party. This was their chance to force these issues into the public consciousness. This is how Corbyn came to power and this is why he is popular with many on the left.
The trouble is that those people who support radical or far left policies are not necessarily the same people who would support the traditional working class left in all their guises.
Sure, the far left would support an end to war and the interference in international affairs and so would the traditional working class but the two would have very different outlooks. The far left would support an end to all forms of military intervention and the abolishment of many aspects of the armed forces. They view the army and its personnel as a spent force in a modern new world. The traditional working class left do not share that opinion. They are actually patriotic in nature and even if it’s not out and out patriotism they do none-the-less believe in their armed forces and the protection they afford the nation. They want a nuclear detterant. They value their armed forces. The differences are slight but significant.
There are several examples along these lines but perhaps one of the most stark of recent times is the EU referendum.
The working class traditional left have often been anti EU whilst the Conservative crowd has by and large despite the splits, been in favour of the EU. Cue then the anti establishment anti EU Jeremy Corbyn and surely this was a recipe for success? The Working classes must have been reeling when Corbyn decided to back remain in the EU referendum sparking immediate questions around how honest Corbyn was being with himself let alone the public. No sooner had Vote Leave won the EU referendum and Corbyn was calling for the triggering of Article 50. What was the pro Corbyn crowd going to do with this news?
In many forums on the Internet if you dared suggest that Corbyn was actually pro Leave but had to campaign for remain due to political internal issues you were told that you were barking mad and that Corbyn was always for remain. Now he backs leaving the EU (with caveats) and that same crowd will tell you that he still believes in the EU and he just accepts the “will of the people”. To them, it’s that simple, unable or unwilling to read between the lines. This is the perfect scenario for him. Back remain and keep the PLP on side and now having lost the EU vote, vehemently back leaving the EU. The truth is, he doesn’t care if we are out of the EU because, actually, it suits him. If he were vehemently for remain he would do an Owen Smith.. after all, surely he wouldn’t lose votes because the Pro Corbyn crowd have always vowed to stick by Corbyn no matter what and then of course they wouldn’t leak votes to the Lib Dems as has been proved in recent by-elections as the Lib Dem share of both votes in Stoke and Copeland increased.
This goes hand in hand with the mixed messages from various Labour MP’s including those close to Corbyn. Even on Immigration there have been repeat car crash interviews given by Dianne Abbott where she is unable to give a straight answer, contradicting other MP’s like Kier Starmers. We, those close to politics, understand full well the detail behind Corbyn’s immigration policy but the problem as has so often proved to be the case is the message.
Corbyn supporters are often oblivious to the fact that most people still get their news from mainstream media at 10pm on a weekday night. The message matters and if you cant get it across in two sentences then don’t expect the general public to ‘get it’ . Some will exclaim that people should read Corbyn’s Facebook page or the Labour Party website yet this completely dismisses the issue around political engagement in the country. Here’s the bottom line…
..most people don’t care enough to bother!
That’s why they still primarily base their opinions on the 10pm News. Social media serves a purpose up to a point. It didn’t work for Bernie Sanders in the US and it’s not working for Jeremy CORBYN here in the UK.
There is a good reason why Donald Trump won in the US. There were several long winded reasons but perhaps the one thing that has so often proved to be missing both from Bernie Sanders campaign and indeed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign is soundbites. Trump is the expert in that regard and he got his message across quickly and effectivley. There is little doubt that his message got across to the disenfranchised and the people most affected by mainstream elite politics. It was this that inspired millions to vote for him. In troubled times people do want change, but they want change they can relate to and understand. It’s this that is missing from Corbyn’s insurgency. It’s this that could eventually wipe him out.
It’s worth quickly mentioning here that many of the traditional working class won’t care one bit if Trump comes to the UK. It’s not on their list of concerns yet the far left or the new modern left turned out in their hundreds of thousands to protest his visit yet they have not afforded that turnout to any other issue since 2015 during the Union anti austerity protest. It remains to be seen if that many turn out on March 4th. If the new left are not addressing every day concerns here in the UK like this then why should the working class relate to it?
It’s no good door knocking, you’re never going to reach enough people to make a difference. Momentum split and that has just watered down the grass roots efforts. The Morning star and the Word newspapers don’t reach enough people to make a difference. What is left to reach the people? Mainstream media? They work with soundbites. Labour needs soundbites to reach the masses and it needs Corbyn to make his positions clear and understandable.
Very few people, including Corbyn’s detractors, have anything bad to say about the man himself. He is always billed as honest and a man with integrity. It’s not Corbyn himself that is the problem, if people voted based on honesty then Corbyn would win hands down.. That’s got to be an unequivocal fact that can be disputed by no person and if that’s true then you have to ask yourself “why won’t people vote for him?”. If you don’t know the answer, read this blog post from the beginning.
It really doesn’t matter who’s fault it is that Corbyn is in this position, you can blame the PLP, the media, even Corbyn himself, something isn’t working and until those issue are addressed or until we accept the inevitable then this mess will continue. The damage is done and the game is up. Barring a miracle of sorts there is no coming back from this.
Corbyn perhaps should carry on until there is no juice left in the tank, but what good will that do?
What the left, working class and modern far left alike, should do is come to a consensus on the way forward. Addressing all the concerns of the working classes and then move forward and if that can’t be done then the far left needs to find and build up a party in its own image. Leave the Labour Party to rot, as it should now do. The Labour Party is without a shadow of a doubt for the centre left ground. It will never be radical nor far left.
We, the left, should take a fringe party to the next level and make it big, stop avoiding the elephant in the room that Labour is not fit for purpose and focus on forming a new ‘largest socialist party in Europe’ that’s the way to go about this. Some on the far left jumped on a bandwagon at the start but they joined it when it was still in full flow. Now they have weighed the float down and it’s grinding to a halt because the float we find ourselves on wasn’t built for this.
Forget the Greens, they were not built for this either. If we were honest with ourselves we should know that many of the new Labour members never even supported Labour of modern times, they only support the man at the top and so it needs to be asked, if they like his policies but not the party why did the left never en mass join a fringe left party and turn that into a force instead?
The left needs to regroup and regroup fast. Right now, some are clinging on to the float like that cliff edge isn’t really coming towards them. It is.