Jenny McQuilliam explores the effect Jeremy Corbyn is having on the Labour party; she focuses on his radicalisation, the divisions he has caused within the party and questions whether the Labour party will be successful in the future with his leadership.
Edited by Isabel Aruna.
Saturday the 24th of September saw the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s leader. With 61.8% of the vote, his electoral victory is immense and unquestionable. It is unquestionable that Corbyn has instigated a political implosion within the Labour party, which will continue to erupt under his divisive and ineffective leadership. Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed, resigned within one minute of the result’s announcement writing, “Morgan Phillips was right, our party owes far more to Methodism than Marxism – and it always will.” Reed joins the exodus of senior Labour Party members, with over 60 Shadow cabinet members having resigned from their posts in the summer. Corbyn’s calls for the party to ‘come together’ are futile and disingenuous when he is the focal point of Labour’s turbulence, underpinning their ever-increasing disunity and downfall.
As a young person and student myself, I do recognise the reasons for Corbyn’s popularity among the disillusioned in politics, particularly the youth. He embodies anti-establishment, radical left wing values, such as renationalising the railways, rebuking Trident (nuclear programme) and creating a National Education Service – including the abolition of University tuition fees, a policy we would all support. However, radicalism alone is not reliable nor is it not electable. Following Brexit, the nation’s future demands a secure and stable government for operating and negotiating.
The divisions Corbyn causes from his alienating agenda and attitude, means that the Labour party is not a viable option for stability. He is too eager to attack his own party, consistently criticising the years of New Labour, holding the Blair and Brown governments accountable for the current economic crisis, saying: ‘in 2008… the political consensus was to opt for ‘light touch regulation’ of finance – and then sit back and collect the tax revenues. But you cannot base a decent social policy on an unsustainable economic policy’. Not only does this fracture the party by affirming the divisions between Old and New Labour, it completely overlooks the successes of the Labour government between 1997 and 2008. For example, the introduction of the minimum wage, the Freedom of Information Act, the Human Rights Act, devolution for Scotland and Wales and the Civil Partnership Act of 2004.
Corbyn appears to provide effective opposition to everything but the government – he has even proven effective in challenging himself. On Monday the 26th of September he posed with a sign that pleaded to “bring back the Shadow Cabinet Minister of Mental Health”, a post he abolished and amalgamated into Diane Abbot’s Shadow Health Secretary role two months ago. In our society an overwhelming amount of students suffer from mental health issues and the ongoing stigma that surrounds it. A report conducted by the NUS discovered that in the year from March 2015, 78 per cent of students experienced a mental health problem and a third experienced suicidal thoughts. In this climate of increasing academic and social pressure, sufficient representation for those with mental health issues is fundamental and the disorganisation of the Labour Party under Corbyn compromises that.
Former Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, following the re-election result, said: ‘it may be that Labour, as it stands, is never going to be elected again’. Corbyn’s re-election as leader is ultimately a win for the Conservative party. A poll released by The Guardian last week revealed that Theresa May was more trusted than Corbyn on addressing immigration, safeguarding the NHS and implementing new trade deals as Britain goes through with Brexit. The NHS has long been Labour’s flagship area and the idea that a Conservative leader is more trusted in safeguarding the NHS than Labour, is surely a sign that the party is sinking under Corbyn’s command.