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The Dangers of Hero Worship

28/06/2016 11:21 | Updated 28 June 2016

In one of the saddest periods for British politics in my lifetime, the most tumultuous I can remember and one which will no doubt be written into the history books, I can't believe I'm really writing something about Jeremy Corbyn and Labour Party politics. As I'm typing this, I'm watching the news as Jeremy Corbyn addresses a rally in Parliament Square, a crowd made up of his supporters, which seems to include members of the rape apologist SWP party and people wearing t-shirts with vile slogans such as "eradicate the right-wing Blairite vermin". I don't even need to go into what that disgusting slogan is reminiscent of. At a terrible and divisive time for Britain, only a few days after we voted to leave the European Union in a decision that has sent shockwaves across the world, many people are saying that as the party of opposition, Labour must stand together and united. These people are right. However, I believe we can no longer do this under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. I've tried to defend Corbyn, I've tried to remain positive and have been wishing for a united party, but I think it's now clear that we have been let down. People, including friends of mine, who worked tirelessly for the party throughout the EU referendum campaign have been let down. Those of us who tried to spread a coherent Labour message for remaining in the EU have been let down. The people who will suffer the most from the consequences of Brexit have been let down. This was the issue the party was supposed to be united on, yet Corbyn ran a lacklustre and frankly poor campaign. Organising Young Labour rallies, for young Labour members who are probably all going to vote to remain in the EU anyway, is not what the leader of the Labour Party, a supposedly internationalist party, should have been doing with his valuable time.

Where was Jeremy when he should have been making passionate speeches in Northern English towns who have suffered the most from government cuts and who voted to leave the EU? Where was Jeremy when Labour needed to genuinely talk about immigration? Where was Jeremy when he should have been persuading the Labour members on the very left of the party not to vote for "Lexit"? If anyone, surely they would listen to him?

Of course, we did not vote to leave the EU just because Jeremy Corbyn didn't run a good enough campaign. That would be a falsehood. However, Corbyn owed it to the people he so badly wishes to stand up for to campaign his hardest for the UK to stay in the EU - but maybe his heart just wasn't in it, and that just is not good enough. With the very real possibility of another general election looming, Labour needs to be a strong and credible force of opposition against the Conservatives. So many members of the people are now feeling cheated and angry at the Tory Party - arguably we have been dragged out of the EU due to Tory infighting that caused this referendum, and we are soon to be led by a new and unelected Prime Minister, which even many Tories and leave voters do not wish to see. This new Tory government will be less popular than ever before, including amongst many Tory voters and those who voted remain, and what we need more than ever is a Labour Party that can protect our rights and stand up for us as we are forced to make negotiations surrounding Brexit. I honestly do not believe, and I know many, many others believe too, that Labour would win a general election under Corbyn. Whilst I was campaigning during the EU referendum, which I did for both Stronger In and Labour In for Britain, when people saw I was with Labour many of them told me it was a shame that our leader didn't actually support the cause. Most people who spoke to me about it genuinely thought Corbyn was greatly eurosceptic, and complained of his lack of effort and persuasion. This, when we needed his strength the most.

So onto hero worship. I know that when he was elected leader of the party in September, and during his campaign, he inspired thousands of young members, and his campaign genuinely made me feel more hopeful. I know he is dedicated to what he believes in, but sadly I feel that his principles made him fail to deliver when we needed him the most, when we really needed him to fight and to lead Labour voters (not just members) into voting to remain in the EU. I know he continues to give many people hope, but this just isn't enough if we want to win elections. If the Labour Party genuinely wants to do its job and to make a difference to the lives of everyone - especially working people, women, BAME and LGBT+ people - then it needs to actually be electable. We cannot make any difference while we are out of government, and this means we need a leader who can appeal to a wide range of voters, which will include some previous Tory voters who are angry at what the Tory Party, as well as UKIP, has done to the country. Pretending that Corbyn is perfect and a hero who can do no wrong is genuinely dangerous - it's preventing our chances of getting into government and helping people any time in the near future. It's one thing to be principled, but it's another altogether to be simply obstinate. Criticism of any politician is healthy and necessary, and I would be saying this if it were Blair for example who was leader and we were in this position, before this is made into a factional issue.

On a final note, the scenes we have seen from the "Keep Corbyn" rally in Parliament Square tonight have been extremely worrying, and I for one am livid that Corbyn and McDonnell would condone this type of behaviour, sharing a protest with the SWP and people shouting about "Red Tories" and "right-wing scum". Is Labour not supposed to be against sexism, and for standing up for women and promoting tolerance? I know this type of event would massively alienate and anger me, and it makes me fear for the future of the party - this is not what I and many others could support.

It's time for Corbyn to get off his high horse and start practicing what he preaches - if he genuinely wants to get the party into government, and the majority of his Shadow Cabinet has resigned over this issue at how strongly they feel, then surely he cannot stay. This hero worship is dangerous, and we should be worried.

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