I try to keep politics out of this economics blog. Though in recent few days, I’m failing to do that. I do hope the past few weeks prove to be a rare period of political turmoil. This is just a personal view, and you’re welcome to ignore.
UK democracy is a funny thing. Unless you live in a marginal constituency, voting in a general election feels like it has little effect. But, if you want to choose who is the Prime Minister of the UK, you should join the Conservative party, because it is this small unrepresentative part of the population who will choose.
On the other hand, if you want to choose who is the leader of the opposition, pay £3 and join the Labour party. Because it is this small unrepresentative part of the population who will choose the leader of the opposition.
I generally agree with the policies of Jeremy Corbyn –
- opposing austerity (on both economics and grounds of social justice),
- higher taxes on the rich, more public spending.
- Nationalisation of railways
- Foreign policy no intervention in Iraq / Syria / scrap trident / Critical of Israeli occupation.
So when Corbyn was elected leader I was happy. It is rare to have a politician who holds similar views. Not only that, but he promised a kinder / gentler politics. This was a big selling point, as often the hard left aren’t so good at the kinder politics / understanding of different view points.
Why voting against Corbyn now?
I still agree with general policies of Corbyn. But, a key factor in general elections is – do the electorate feel the leader of party is Prime Ministerial material?
Unfortunately, Corbyn doesn’t portray this. As an independent MP campaigning on issues, he’s great. But, as natural leader, orator and someone to inspire confidence, Corbyn isn’t the man. This was made clear during EU referendum, not helped by Corbyn sometimes arguing against the economic costs of Brexit. More on referendum here.
It is true the media is biased against Corbyn and has been from the start, but that isn’t going to change. Also, many Labour MPs have never been particularly keen on Corbyn. Also, you could point to some successes, like Labour overturning government policy on tax credits and disability benefits. But, the public haven’t warmed to Corbyn as a future PM, and never will. In an ideal world, people would discount personalities and make a rational choice based on reason e.t.c. But, this isn’t the case, and we can’t change how people vote.
Many Labour Party members are keen to retain Corbyn, but I think this ignores the political landscape and reality that Corbyn doesn’t connect with the average person ‘in the supermarket’. Outside the labour party membership, Corbyn’s leadership is viewed as over. It doesn’t matter how many members of Momentum and the Socialist Workers Party turn up to support Corbyn rallies, these are not representative of (potential) Labour voters.
Although I disagree with the direction of New Labour under Blair, it doesn’t mean I view ‘Blairite’ MPs as traitors or any of that nonsense. I still appreciate the experience and political understanding of Labour MPs. To win an election, you need a broad consensus of opinion – not just a strong left, minority view. As a Labour supporter, wanting the best for the party, if Corbyn has lost confidence of Labour MPs, this means Corbyn shouldn’t stay on. His insistence on staying shows admirable fight in one sense, but he’s fighting the wrong battle. Being leader of the Labour party is not about pleasing Labour members and an ideological viewpoint.
The captain of the Titanic is sailing towards the iceberg. Just because he had the 100% backing of the company at the start of the journey, doesn’t alter the fact the iceberg is looming.
Above all else, the UK needs a successful, coherent and united opposition. It’s bad enough losing the EU referendum, another decade of Conservative rule would be too much. I hope Labour will vote for a leader who is attractive to the British electorate, not just to themselves.
I kind of feel sorry for Corbyn. He is a principled man, who helped to steer the Labour party in a good direction. But the harsh political reality is that the voters don’t see him as a future PM.