THE BLOG

Corbyn Needs To Go

10/05/2017 11:58

Jeremy Corbyn has to go. He is demonstrably unfit to be leader of the Opposition or to be Prime Minister. He lacks the personal skills needed, the temperament, or the ability to balance an argument between competing perspectives. He is also holding Labour back from being a credible party of government. Indeed, it is unclear if Labour is even a credible party of opposition.

Despite these issues he is showing no signs of leaving. Indeed, he has already indicated in an interview that he intends to stay on regardless of the outcome of the general election. His argument will be that Neil Kinnock remained as leader after the 1987 defeat. The issue with this argument is Kinnock increased the number of Labour MPs by 20 seats and a swing of 3.2%, whilst Corbyn's PLP looks set to take a massive hit. The second argument will be the vote share - on this, his target is anything over 30.4% (which is what Miliband secured in 2015). The third argument will be the number of votes - on this, his target is anything over 9,347,304 votes. As such, if he is able to gain a higher percentage of the vote or a higher number of votes he will follow in Tony Benn's footsteps by celebrating it as a huge victory for socialism. The fact that the number of MPs would be massively reduced thereby undermining Labour's ability to do anything other than whistle in the ear of an extremely strong Tory government doesn't appear to factor into the calculation. But, regardless, Corbyn has strengthened his determination by saying he intends to remain as leader regardless of the result. So Labour could take a hit on all three measures and he'd not step down.

In this eventuality the remaining members of the PLP may need to take their own action. A leadership election is a possible option. But with the selectorate the same as the previous two it will likely return Corbyn with yet another huge mandate. This would bog Labour down in another lengthy election for several months thereby leaving the Tories to again set the agenda for the next five years, including on Brexit.

The alternative (which anyone in Labour recoils at the first mention) would be a breakaway faction of Labour MPs to form an Independent Labour Group within the Commons. This would then sit outside of the Labour Whip and be led by another figure. This option requires critical mass of a significant number of Labour MPs to prevent it being another SDP, and with a clear intention to return to the fold once Corbyn has gone. The issue is the romanticism most Labour members feel to the overall collective cause which transcends the individual. This is what stopped it before, and unless there is strength of purpose within the post-election PLP it will likely leave Labour MPs bound to a leader who doesn't care about unseating the Tories at the ballot box. There is an argument that if those MPs survived the election, then they are probably safe from the voter, but that calculation misses the point of what Labour as a party is meant to do. It isn't to just protest, it is meant to govern.

To secure office Labour needs to win the support of Tory voters. (It is also worth noting that this need can be extended to former Labour voters who switched to either UKIP or the Tories). Labour needs those people. It needs their vote. It needs to be relevant to them. Labour does not need to be a support group for old socialists who lost the argument a generation ago and are now having another shot with an even more spectacular failure.

Looking to the future it is too late for this general election. Corbyn will lead Labour into the election and it will lose seats, voters, and vote share. But the question is what happens afterwards? To have a future Labour will need to begin its renewal on day one. It will be a long struggle back and it will likely not secure power in 2022 either because of the enormity of it.

In a nutshell Corbyn needs to go and take McDonnell et al with him. The new Labour leader then needs a coronation. There is no need to have a leadership campaign for a debate because that's all Labour have been doing since 2010. They now need to be decisive. To me, that new leader must be Yvette Cooper.

Then Momentum needs to be proscribed as an organisation. This group has done considerable damage to Labour and its relevance to the voter by disconnecting the Party from those it needs to attract. Finally, the new leader (Cooper) will need to articulate a new vision for Labour renewal. Building on the model from Harold Wilson and Tony Blair, it needs to immediately put aside the debates of the past (without engaging with them) and present a different vision for social democracy. For example with Wilson it was scientific socialism. For Blair it was Third Way Revisionism. The trick is not to try and settle the fights of the past (they can never be settled because those fighting them don't want peace, they want process). Rather the new vision needs to close them all down and impose a unifying vision. Scientific Socialism presented a positive vision for technological growth, whilst New Labour promised a different mind-set predicated upon using capitalism to fund the social outputs of equality. 'You put something in, you get something out'.

Only by following this or a similar path do I believe the destruction of Labour and credible social democracy be averted. This is why I believe Corbyn must go, because right now he is standing in the way of Labour's reason to exist - which is to secure power so that equality of opportunity can be pursued. To put it another way, he is not the future - he is the past. Now is the time for Labour to decide if it wants a place in the future.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS