One hundred days after taking over the leadership of the Labour Party, there remains the question as to what Jeremy Corbyn has changed. Certainly, Prime Minister's Question Time is more interesting. It may not be as watchable compared to the old verbal argy bargy of earlier times. The difference here is Corbyn seems to win more regularly, or at least to show up some of the ineptitude in the Government to good effect. At times, he seems to be more in touch with the average person in the street. Corbyn's approach is more sedate, almost like a schoolteacher telling off an unruly child who should know better. David Cameron has, to date, no response apart from throwing a temper tantrum! This, of course, is what to expect from an unruly child. And Corbyn's drawing questions from members of the public is a stroke of genius - at least, until the novelty wears off.
So far, so positive for Corbyn. The problems lie elsewhere. The debacle over the Syria vote highlighted the extent to which he does not lead his Westminster Party. Most MPs appear to have little faith in Corbyn; and very few of them actually supported him in the ballot. As a backbencher, Corbyn was a serial rebel. As party leader, he has great difficulty in persuading his own MPs not to rebel. Corbyn may have the support of the grass roots of the party but he needs to lead - and be seen to be leading - his parliamentary party. To date, there is little evidence of this leadership. If a party leader cannot lead their own party, what expectation is there over their ability to lead the country?
Part of the problem here lies in the Corbyn approach. He wants to debate and discuss everything prior to a decision being reached. Ideally, he would like to persuade everyone of his position. The problem is this does not play out well in the media. Much of the British media wishes to dumb everything down to 'Yes' or 'No'; 'right' or 'wrong'. Corbyn's leadership is anything but that simplistic. It is not simply a case of, for example, bomb Syria - Yes or No. Corbyn wants to work through the consequences of each action. What might be the consequences of bombing Syria? What is the end-game? What are the alternative strategies? How effective might they be? And so on, and on, and on. That is the Corbyn way, and it does not play well in the media - regardless of him being right or wrong!
This unfortunate position is compounded by what is going on behind the scenes in the Labour Party. Publicly, Corbyn wants to bring a change to politics. There is to be less rough-and-tumble, and more debate. He wants to 'accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative'. This is clearly evidenced at Prime Minister's Questions. And Corbyn expects all of his MPs to do the same. He wants a proper debate on every issue; but a positive, constructive debate. Personal attacks are not acceptable.
Unfortunately for Corbyn, his most zealous supporters have a different interpretation. While they want to be positive, anyone who questions or undermines the leader becomes fair game for attack. The bile and nastiness that was thrown against those MPs for not toeing the Corbyn line on the Syria vote - even though it was a vote of conscience - is totally unforgiveable. This is only the most visible of the attacks against those who do not toe the Corbyn line. Threats of candidate de-selection, though strenuously denied by Corbyn, are being made. If you are not standing with Corbyn then you must be against him. Those against him must be eliminated. Suddenly, George Orwell's "Animal Farm" becomes a lot more real.Suggest a correction