EU Referendum: Forget the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn is out of his depth
The 23rd of June has arrived, and we will finally get to have our say as Britain heads to the polls for “the most important decision in a generation”. After weeks of solid campaigning, its all apparently going to end tomorrow morning in Manchester, with a narrow win for one side or the other. Nigel Farage will finally achieve his “independence day” or complain that the vote is inconclusive and we should have another go. Which is worse is entirely up to you. David Cameron’s future will be decided, and we may have a new Prime Minister within a few weeks, or we may yet hold onto the closest resemblance to a Liberal, Conservative Prime Minister this country will ever see. While all this occurs, Jeremy Corbyn is sailing under the radar, and that is precisely his problem, and he does not even recognise it.
From the outset it is probably best to state, if it is not already known, that I am not Mr Corbyn’s biggest fan. I truly cannot see a path where he stands on the doorstep of Number 10 on May 7th 2020, and proclaims a new era of politics has begun. This clearly, is not a view shared by the thousands who fanatically supported him last year during his leadership election success and who continue to do so. Their passion for his leadership is something which I did not think I would see in British Politics from my generation, and credit must hence be given, for the awakening which Mr Corbyn inspired. Yet, just when such optimism would have been put to perfect use, we found its control in the hands of a leader whose lack of passion, drive and enthusiasm for the EU, may yet drive this country to resemble Nigel Farage’s dream, and cast us off to Brexitland.
Don’t get me wrong, Jeremy Corbyn is not the sole root cause of our potential downfall. One must not forget the Eton Schoolboy tug of war at the top of the Conservative Party, which has basically started and led to a prolonged Pre-season before the real Tory Party Leadership Election commences. Indeed, Jeremy and every Labour politician is driving it into our ears and eyes whenever they can. Of course, it is the job of the opposition to hold to account the Government, and present an alternative, but it astounds me that a decision, that is so devoid of traditional party politics, that Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have gone to the same recording that failed them in the recent local elections, whilst ignoring the messages that are dominating this campaign, however unpleasant they may be.
Alongside this, Labour are campaigning on undeniably important issues; Workers rights, the NHS and the effect that the EU’s policy is having on countries such as Greece, who of course, share a similar political platform to Labour’s newly crowned leader. There’s only one problem; those voting in the Referendum, are not casting their vote on these issues. Only 2% saw workers rights as the most important issue, and only 8% as an issue at all. While Labour attack this point, the lack of mention for the key issues of the Economy, Immigration and sovereignty from most of Labour’s top team, is staggering. What they are trying to advocate for is important no doubt, but it is not the time, nor the place, to argue it.
Why though, does this relate to Jeremy? Its not a secret that he is not the most passionate supporter of the EU, and was at one point in his political career, a Eurosceptic. He may still be in secret, and who knows which box he’ll tick later today when he reaches the ballot box. It goes back to the optimism and passion he inspired, and to put it simply, it has been crushed, when quite frankly, us Remain voters needed it the most. The young generation that swept Corbyn to power last year are the most likely to vote remain, yet the most likely to not vote, so where is his call to arms. His lack of passion (7.5 out of 10 to be exact) for the EU, has hardly inspired confidence in his message, and it is hence perhaps no surprise, that the party members, supporters and voters, are not only split on the EU vote (albeit in a more subdued fashion than the Conservatives and UKIP), but also fundamentally confused about where the party stands on the EU issue.
Jeremy just isn’t cut out for life at the top, and the standards we expect from our Prime Ministers, and indeed, the cabinet around them. The one line, and the only line that has stuck with me from this campaign by Jeremy Corbyn is “Don’t blame me if the UK leaves the EU”. His argument of its not my fight, is one that leaves crucial Labour and young voters wondering if the EU is all that great, and worth standing up and fighting for. Of course he has his doubts about it, but all Prime Minister’s fight for causes they do not always truly back. I doubt David Cameron really wanted to put his neck on the line and call this referendum in the first place, his views not akin to that of a number of his voters and about half the British public, but that’s the point. Prime Ministers fight, and set out the arguments over causes their supporters clamor to hear and decide about, not shy away. They compromise and stomach the tough roads they are sometimes forced to go down.
Corbyn has ducked and dived wherever possible. He is proving he cannot adapt, cannot compromise, and cannot operate with those not perfectly aligned to his message. It clearly hasn’t clicked, nor do I suspect will it, that you cannot have a my way or the high way approach to party leadership, as Margaret Thatcher discovered. No one expects him to like ganging up with Dave, Theresa and Ruth, but its called leadership. It says a lot that Sadiq Khan and Yvette Cooper have both looked more Prime Ministerial these past few weeks, especially considering he beat the latter comprehensively last year in the Leadership election. Saying he has a different vision to David Cameron, as his reasoning for not sharing a platform on the EU, is either a lack of commitment to the cause and weak conviction, or it is down right stupidity on national campaigning, neither attractive qualities in a PM, and neither that demonstrates a knowledge of how to get your core support to vote when you need them.
So the key issues; not approaching the vote on the right issues, attacking the Tories and not allying with them as other Labour figures do so, and not going after the right demographics. In short, now that he is part of the political elite, Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got the foggiest how to rally his troops, what causes to call them up for, or indeed, exactly what his plan of attack actually is. Its not the first time he has struggled to do so, letting the Tories off far too easily when it came to the Panama papers to name but one other occasion. Simply put, he just does not know how, when and what to go after the Government on. His lack of front line politics experience, showing through all too clearly.
Nothing better could demonstrate this, than the lack of media coverage Jeremy received in the final days of the campaign, especially on the final day, where he was barely mentioned at all. Such coverage was firmly placed at the feet of the Tories and UKIP. He has been a back note in what is meant to be the headline act. He’s the Labour leader, but he’s not the headliner of the EU referendum show, he’s not even part of the choir. He’s off making the refreshments for the end of the show (its an important role to some, but its not going to attract attention, and probably won’t make much impact on those he wants it to). Gordon Brown has been more alive in this campaign than Corbyn, and his legacy was that he LOST an election. When you’re playing second fiddle to that… you’re onto a loser, take Ed Miliband’s word for it after Scotland’s Independence vote of 2014.
Of course there will be those who say it is the Media who are letting him down, and choosing to focus on the “sexier” Tory civil war. To those people, I say… welcome to politics! Donald Trump learnt how to play the media game a year ago, and in case you haven’t noticed, its worked for him far too well. Its not the medias job to go to politicians to look for a story, its their job to get noticed, and clearly, Corbyn just isn’t resonating with the media or the public.
There is also one final underlying nail in the coffin. Despite the strife, despite the EU debate tearing the Tory party limb from limb, they still lead in the polls, and by a considerable margin. They have remained in the lead through the 2016 budget, the Panama Papers, and now the EU referendum, with their lead anywhere between 4% & 8%. David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, are all resonating a more popular message with voters, despite all of the golden opportunities that Corbyn has been presented with. He couldn’t have asked for more, the Tories are in disarray, and yet, he can’t get anywhere near them. He lost seats earlier this year, and he is slowly being demoted to a footnote in politics.
At this rate, it won’t matter who leads the Tories into 2020. Their approach leads to them being more noticeable, they hit the necessary tag lines, they are on the messages that resonate and get the juices flowing, and most importantly, they can convey them. If Jeremy can’t even get his own supporters going, what hope does he hold in 2020. I do not relish the idea of Boris as PM, with Michael Gove is a barely more barely alternative, but if either gets in, 2020 is looking a whole lot easier after this.
Jeremy Corbyn seems happy to sit on the sidelines and let the other political leaders do the fighting for him. As was the case when he was a Back-bencher, he seems content to merely protest their decisions and blame them for the shortcomings of the nation, rather than actively leading and presenting an alternative for the nation to get behind. He currently has no drive to go after the nastier areas of politics as a leader, in case it damages him. He might like the idea of a new era of politics, and it certainly is, one of Tory domination if the current path continues. He may say “Don’t blame me if we exit the EU”, but sorry Jeremy I will. Of course Boris, Michael and Dave will be culpable, but you sir, have sat idly by, and let it happen. At least David Cameron has tried to win, you just look like you couldn’t give a damn, and if we go, the younger generation will not forgive you for it.