The Labour Leadership Contest
I know, another person giving another opinion on the next Labour leadership contest. I’m aware it’s starting to get somewhat boring now with all arguments exhausted. There have been some incredibly interesting debates and questions put forth by all views within the Labour Party and I suppose that is what has prompted me to create my own post about it. Notably, the blog posted by Owen Jones, proposing questions that need to be asked to, and answered by, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn which has prompted a variation of responses.
I am writing from the view of someone who, a few months ago, was completely convinced that Corbyn had what it takes to become the Prime Minister. I thought that a lot of the concerns some had regarding him were simply coming from people who disliked his left-wing ideology and the impact of the mainstream media on peoples’ opinions.
The past few months led me to completely question my original views. The result of the referendum on the European Union was a gutting moment for me, a 17 year old, unable to vote. A week or so later, during a discussion in my politics class, I realised quite how lacklustre the work Corbyn put in to assist in the Labour in for Britain was. I tried to stand up for him; I noted that he had been to many events which I had seen on Snapchat.
It was then I noticed. My main awareness of Corbyn’s presence during the Referendum campaign came from an app on my phone, which has a very limited demographic of young people. In addition, these ralleys he held only reached out to members of the Labour Party who would most likely have already made up their mind to vote to Remain. When 72% of young people who voted did so in favour of Remain, an update on Snapchat every few hours was unlikely to mobilise us nor reach out to the voters we so desperately needed to. Yes, the ralleys he held in favour of the EU were extremely well attended and were frequently held, but more could have been done by our leader, who despite it being Labour policy to remain, said he was 7/10 on remaining in the EU. When the results came through and we learned Brexit had won, MPs were told to congratulate the Labour MPs who campaigned so hard for leave. There’s more on this in Lilian Greenwood’s speech, which explains some of the reasons behind her resignation. The campaign put forward by Corbyn lacked the enthusiasm and outreach we so desperately required.
This brings me onto my next point about the use of political rallys as evidence of his support. Rallys are fine for use but they cannot be used as a way of saying ‘this man will win an election — look at this support!’ When you attend a political rally, you are doing so to show your support and make a stand for what you believe. You are doing so to be in an environment with people who believe the same things as you. You are not encouraging the majority of the population who don’t attend rallys to vote for your candidate. Rallys are great — I’ve been to some (including a Jeremy Corbyn one) but rallys are essentially preaching the converted. Imagine, for a bit, that you are in a crowded dance studio with mirrors along every wall. The size of the crowd inside is multiplied; no one is claiming that there is not a lot of people who have been mobilised to attend however it’s easy to exaggerate that and generalise that, because of the reflections of the mirrors. When most don’t attend these rallys, there needs to be a better outreach and a better strategy for gaining support. Similarly, on social media, if I was to look at my Twitter timeline and believe that it was representative, Labour would have a full 650 seats in the House of Commons. Clearly it doesn’t. I follow a majority of Labour voters/members/supporters and so Twitter so frequently resemble that of an echo chamber.
I think that my main point here is to say that it’s so easy to exaggerate the support of a leader because of who you know, but when chatting to all voters, it becomes evident that it is not the view of the majority.
I wanted it to work with Jeremy, I really, really did. Unfortunately, I can no longer see that happening. Earlier today I tweeted that Labour is a political party who aims to win power, not a social movement or pressure group. I fear that right now, that is where we are headed, and I much prefer the thought of being in Government with the ability to help people.