Is the party over? | Denzelviews on WordPress.com
In this blog post I’ll be examining the reasons why I think the Labour Party may be finished.
I’ve been watching the past few months in horror, with the tragic murder of Jo Cox, the referendum vote for the UK to leave the European Union and Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership again.
And now with such an ineffectual Labour leadership, there is no opposition to the government’s plans, apart from a few talented and brave Labour MPs like Sir Keir Starmer, and Tory rebels like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. Theresa May believes she can do whatever she wants despite such a small parliamentary majority. Already we are seeing a move towards a so-called ‘hard brexit’ where the UK leaves the single market, a move which could cost the treasury up to £66 Billion each year1. Things could get worse — Theresa May has been so emboldened by the continued self-destruction of Labour she may decide to go even further to the right. She’s already trying to reintroduce grammar schools and had plans to force all businesses to name all of their foreign workers. What’s to stop her from selling off remaining council houses? Reducing funding to our schools even more? Pushing on with the privatisation of the NHS? Whatever the answer may be, it certainly is not Labour at the moment, and it does not look like being Labour in the near future either. She is a skilled and ruthless politician; she sees the opportunity to push the country’s attitudes to social and economic attitudes further to the right, destroying Labour in the process. And so the question I’m asking in is this: Is Labour finished for good?
Polls & voter disconnect with Corbyn
As has been blatantly obvious since he became leader of Labour, Jeremy Corbyn is electoral poison. As of July 2016, Jeremy Corbyn had the worst public satisfaction rating as Labour leader since Michael Foot in 1982. Compared to Blair’s high of 69% in 1997, Jeremy Corbyn’s rating of 24% is disastrous. Even Brown, at his most unpopular in 2008, was 28%. Miliband, the man many expected to lead Labour to victory in 2015 had a rating of 35%, and yet under his leadership the Conservatives managed to, impressively, form a majority government. Labour has been losing seats up and down the country, especially in Labour heartlands. Our traditional voters tell us they care about defence, the economy and immigration, three areas Jeremy Corbyn is at his most weak. Labour’s current polling is some of the worst in its history. We’re sinking into electoral oblivion, fast.
Labour’s policies towards immigration and the EU
Our polling is likely to get worse. The Labour party is an internationalist, pro-European party. While this reflects my views, it is not going to make us popular throughout the country. If we are to survive in our heartlands, we must pledge to lower immigration. We don’t need to go on some UKIP-style racist rampage, merely suggest sensible policies, like Sir Keir is attempting. We also need to accept the result of the EU referendum. While this doesn’t mean we can’t scrutinise and fight the government and their version of Brexit, we can’t campaign on a ticket to keep us in the EU. Labour must have three key messages: One, that we will lower immigration and put in place controls. Two, we will take the UK out of the European Union. And three, we will fight to keep the UK in the single market, as it is essential for our economy. If we are too scared to have these conversations we will be trounced, and rightly so. In saying the Labour party is against any controls of immigration, Diane Abbott is effectively consigning the Labour party to history.
Antisemitism and abuse
It isn’t just policy pledges that could put off voters from voting for Labour in the future. The Labour brand is becoming associated with racism, anti-Semitism and abuse. At the launch of the Labour party’s inquiry into anti-Semitism within the party, Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish Labour MP, was abused by a man who shouted out racist and anti-semitic jibes. During the whole debacle, Jeremy Corbyn remained seated and did not even attempt to intervene at any point. He even accepted the very man in question taking a selfie with him at the end of the launch. Ruth is now so terrified she took body guards to the Labour conference and lives in a safe house. Many female Labour MPs have had safe rooms installed in their constituency offices; such is the level of fear and intimidation now present within the Labour party.
Jeremy has done nothing to prevent this abuse. He shows no signs of being unsettled by it, despite it being done in his name. When the British people see a party where their own MPs are being abused, where Jewish people no longer feel safe to be a Labour member, where the leader is failing to stand up to abuse — are they going to vote for that party?
Rising sense of nationalism across Britain
As the Brexit vote showed, Britain is becoming more and more nationalist. As support for UKIP surges along with the public support for the government proposals (now withdrawn) to force all companies to list their foreign workers, it is clear that public opinion is swaying towards more traditionally patriotic parties like the Conservatives and UKIP. Jeremy Corbyn failed to sing the national anthem last year. While I don’t think this is the most heinous crime (I personally feel uncomfortable with the strong monarchist message) it is going to stick in the minds of those people who vote for us: the British public.
Lastly, there is no question over who holds the most power over the UK. It is Rupert Murdoch. In every single public vote since the Thatcher government, the public have always done what the Murdoch press tell them to do (e.g. Scottish Referendum, Brexit, every single recent general election). Blair was able to skilfully get some of the press onside. The Sun was officially a Labour paper, while the Times and the Telegraph slightly toned down their criticism of Labour. But the current press is never, ever going to give the time of day to a far-left politician like Corbyn. Someone sensible, like Keir or Dan Jarvis would get more of a chance. Corbyn? No chance.
However, despite all that I’ve written above, there have been some silver linings. Labour has two regional mayors: Marvin Rees in Bristol and Sadiq Khan in London. Sadiq Khan in particular is an impressive success story. Sadiq beat his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith 57% to 43%, an impressive margin. He has the largest personal mandate of any politician in British political history and recently jumped up in London opinion polls from 45% to 58% approval. However, Sadiq Khan was very careful to avoid any links to Jeremy Corbyn. During the whole of the London mayoral campaign, he only appeared with Mr Corbyn three times. He purposefully distanced himself from Jeremy and won because he knew thousands of people want to vote for Labour, but don’t want to vote for Jeremy. So it shows that Labour politicians can be elected. But it would be despite their leader and not because of him. Had Liz or Andy been Labour leader, perhaps Sadiq would have been elected by an even wider mandate.
So to draw this article to a close: Is there a future for Labour? Yes, there is. But we must do several things to ensure that Labour does not vanish. We must offer greater devolution for the British people. We must accept that the UK is leaving the EU. We must campaign however to keep the UK in the single market. We must listen to people, and offer controls on immigration. And lastly?
We need to ditch Jeremy Corbyn.
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Originally published at politicalviewpointsblog.wordpress.com on October 12, 2016.