British politics needs a new opposition leader

In the heady days of 2016 and 2017, Jeremy Corbyn appeared to be a breath of fresh air. A conduit for British politics to come together and resolve its differences over Brexit and everything else.

That’s no longer the case.

I voted for him and Labour in 2017, and I’d be the first to start a chant of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”, but I simply can no longer countenance backing a leader who has, I think, taken things as far as he can.

There are a few key areas that to me, are evidence that someone new needs to take the reigns: his recent fudge over Brexit, his inability to make significant gains in elections and polls at a time of Tory crisis, and his regressive ideas around energy in particular — re-opening coalmines a fundamental Corbyn policy that I feel belies his eco-credentials.

I am not swayed by any of the rhetoric in the media around his supposed anti-semitism, and I do fully understand the argument that he faces constant smears and maltreatment by sections of the press.

Regardless, it is my belief that having blown the bloody doors off of British politics, it is time for Corbyn to step aside and allow the Labour leadership be taken up by someone who is:

a) younger

b) more forward-thinking

c) pro-remain

d) ideally not a white man

I’m going to address the reasons why I think Corbyn has hit his limit as leader, and then take a brief look at who could and should replace him.

Also, I’d like to make it clear that any leadership change should not be used as an excuse to move Labour back towards the centre. The successes Corbyn has achieved are entirely based on his moving the party leftwards.

Rather than yearn for an Yvette Cooper or David Miliband to come in and “rescue” things, we should be looking to build on Corbyn’s legacy, with a progressive, leftwing leader who can take the party forward.

But first, we must understand where Corbyn has misstepped.


Brexit

First and foremost, whether Corbyn is a “Lexiter” or not, the way he has played the game around Brexit has been until recently, very astute.

Somehow he has managed a balancing act that appeared to draw in voters on both sides, as evidenced by the 2017 General Election success.

However, we have now reached a point in the process whereby it is time to get off the fence.

Voters who were once willing to give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt on Brexit, are now convinced he opposes their views. And that’s a sentiment common in both Leavers and Remainers. From creating a coalition of each side, and bridging the divide, he has now landed in the position of simply pissing off both camps.

This has been borne out in the recent local elections results, with Labour taking a hammering from pro-Remain parties, while seeing no significant gains in leave areas.

Lack of electoral/polling success

The reality is, simply put, that Labour ought to at this point be doing better than they are.

The Tories have resolutely fucked everything, and yet Labour still struggle to take a command in polls, or come anywhere near a decent result in local elections.

Corbyn’s popularity rating has plummeted over the last year:

Labour have been badly wounded in the recent local elections. Did the Tories do monumentally worse? Yes, of course. But that doesn’t mean Labour shouldn’t have done better too. Tory losses weren’t scooped up by Labour, they went to Remain-backing parties.

Is it entirely Brexit-related? No, but what’s clear is that not having a definitive outset on the matter has cost Labour dearly.

Regressive policy

I get it. Closing the coalmines was horrendous for the Labour heartlands. Re-opening them would bring back lots of jobs.

But for goodness sake, it’s 2019. Labour itself has just declared a climate emergency. Coal isn’t the answer to any of the questions we now face.

And you may say “well, it’s one policy” and yes, true. But to me, it symbolises the biggest problem with Corbyn. His ideals are good, his goals noble, but the fundamental nitty-gritty — the policies — are just not good enough.

Where is the Green New Deal? Where is the investment in clean energy over fossil-fuels?

Corbyn is by all means, a good man, but the solutions he sees to society’s problems are rooted in a 20th century mindset.


Finding a replacement

So, those are my reasons, but it’s all well and good saying he should go, the bigger question is who can fill his boots?

In think, based on the criteria I set out above (younger, progressive, pro-remain, not a white man), there are three potential options:

  1. Emily Thornberry

Pros: Strong female, great orator, leftist credentials

Cons: Still tarnished by her comments on Rotherham from years ago.

Perhaps not young or progressive enough.

2. Clive Lewis

Pros: Ethnic minority, leftwing, very anti-Brexit

Cons: Some Corbynistas will see him as not leftwing enough, too militaristic etc.

3. Rosena Allin-Khan

Pros: Ethnic minority, female, leftwing, young, great orator, anti-Brexit

Cons: Inexperienced.

Of all the above options, it’s Allin-Kan that makes most sense.

Yes she’s inexperienced, but look across the Atlantic at the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and you can see that having experience on the frontlines of politics should not be a hinderance. In fact, it could be a strength.

What is clear is that Labour needs a new figurehead — someone who looks not like the old, but like the new Britain — young, progressive, female, an ethnic minority, and fundamentally, anti-Brexit are what is needed to get past this roadblock we’ve erected for ourselves.

Corbyn has done more for British politics than even his most ardent backers can see, but now is the time for him to step aside or face damaging that legacy.

Oh Jeremy Corbyn, please now call it quits, for all our sakes.


Jackson Rawlings is a political philosopher, writer and thinker with some big ideas about how we can change the world for the better.

The Politicalists

Politics chat while the world burns.

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Writing words about politics, mostly, and hoping they appear in the right order.

The Politicalists

Politics chat while the world burns.

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