Tag Archives: Corbyn

Have we reached peak Corbyn?

The Government is stumbling from one crisis to another. Two senior ministers have resigned in the last few weeks and many others are under pressure. Brexit talks appear to be at an impasse and there are doubts whether the Government can get the current Brexit bill through Parliament. Under these conditions, most political analysts would expect the opposition to enjoy a substantial and growing lead. Yet this isn’t happening. So why have the polls not moved dramatically?

Firstly, it is not totally fair to say there has been no movement. The Britain elects poll tracker has a slight Labour lead of 1.5%. This is a change from the General Election where the Conservatives enjoyed a 2 point poll victory over the Labour Party. Labour has also gained 9 seats in council by-elections since the General Election whereas the Conservatives have lost 10. So, the evidence does suggest that the Labour Party is ahead at present.

However, that is not enough for many on the Labour side. Former leader and known Corbyn critic Tony Blair has suggested his party should be 20 points ahead. He has not been alone in his criticisms. One possible answer for the current static nature of the polls could be that we have reached peak Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn shocked everybody with his performance at the 2017 General Election. His energy and enthusiasm on the campaign trail was a pivotal factor in costing the Conservative Party an overall majority. This looked to have terminally wounded Theresa May. Yet, May has held on despite coup attempts, a disastrous conference speech and reports that up to 40 MPs are willing to call for a vote of no confidence. Not only this but she still retains a small lead over Jeremy Corbyn in the question over who would make the best Prime Minister. This lead is small, but it is consistent and has been static for the last few months after Corbyn made significant ground before. Very few leaders of the opposition have made the transition to Number 10 without leading on this question.

There could be several sensible explanations for these polls and given what has happened with political polling in the last few years we must take these findings with a pinch of salt. All political parties and leaders do have a ceiling though. Corbyn has divided the nation and maybe given his brand of politics, this is as high as we can expect him and Labour to go. However, until we see further evidence it would be foolish to consider this anything more than a working hypothesis.

Labour’s anti-Semitism problem

Labour conference was in buoyant mood this week at Brighton. Understandably so you might say. The mood music was that this was a party with momentum and on the verge of government.

However, in the midst of this jubilant atmosphere, one ugly issue began to rear its head again; anti-Semitism. Remarks at a party fringe event around whether people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust happened created a worrying sense of deja vu.

Accusations of anti-Semitism have plagued Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership tenure. Immediately after becoming leader Corbyn found himself defending comments he made about Hamas. Controversial remarks from Ken Livingstone then followed in 2016. This, alongside other events, led to the conduction of the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism.

Since last summer the issue has continued to bubble away, but has not flared up again until this moment. There was a hope that a new, stricter rule on anti-Semitism agreed at the conference would put an end to this discussion. Alas not.

The level of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is much debated. Senior Labour MP John Cryer, has said he has been “shocked” by the level of some anti-Semitic tweets sent by party members. Allies of Jeremy Corbyn, however, such as Len McCluskey, Ken Loach and Ken Livingstone argue that these claims of anti-Semitism are driven by leadership plots.

Regardless of the legitimacy of the accusations, this is not an image the Labour Party can shake. This should worry all in Jeremy Corbyn’s team. Ethically, any political party in the 21st century should long have moved on from anti-Semitism, especially one supposedly on the progressive wing of politics.

Electorally, it carries a cost as well. In two heavily Jewish constituencies in London at the 2017 General Election; Finchley and Golders Green and Hendon, the swing towards Labour was notably smaller than elsewhere in London. The 9.1% average swing Labour enjoyed across London would have been enough to win the seats.

Labour as a party need to act swiftly and firmly against these allegations. The longer this whiff of anti-Semitism continues, the more damaging it will be. So, yes question and criticise the actions of the Israeli government if necessary, but know where to draw the line. It is time for the Labour Party to do whatever it needs to, to bring this to an end.

Corbyn’s stance on NATO is an insult to Labour’s past!

The Labour leadership debates thus far have been dominated by questions about electability, coups and potential splits, but in the last hustings the debate took a different turn and moved onto NATO. Jeremy Corbyn has always been lukewarm about NATO and in response to a topic controversially refused to commit to upholding Article 5: the principle of collective defence (“an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies”).

One of the reasons for Corbyn’s popularity has been his stance on foreign affairs. Corbyn was a famous opponent of the Iraq War and is a long-standing critic of military intervention of any sort. In the 2015 Labour leadership debates Corbyn claimed he could not think of an instance where he would use military force. This was a position he further advanced with these views. Corbyn stated he wanted to avoid getting involved militarily and wanted to achieve a world where we did not need to go to war.

NATO was co-founded by a Labour government led by Clement Attlee in 1949 after World War 2 around the idea of collective security. Although NATO hasn’t always guaranteed world peace it has largely been successful in its aims and has acted as a deterrent for aggressive nations. War is a last resort and all other options must be exhausted before a military solution is implemented, but we must be realistic about the world we live in. Corbyn is right that we should pursue world peace with vigour and attempt to improve relations with other countries, but is wrong to suggest we shouldn’t uphold Article 5. A refusal to come to the aid of a fellow NATO member is a dereliction of duty and is a stance which should not be compatible with being leader of the Labour Party.

The hope is this situation never arises, but if NATO is to work as a deterrent all nations need to be committed to its goals and working together. Being lukewarm about NATO will only give succour to aggressive nations. It is not a stance which is popular with Labour MPs highlighted in this article by Wes Streeting and with the general public according to a 2014 poll. Corbyn’s idealism has been praised by many but this is a step too far and has made the job of re-uniting the Labour Party all the harder.