Why I Spoilt My Ballot At My CLP Meeting

12/09/2016 01:13
Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

This summer I have spent far too many an hour sat on my laptop reading articles about the Labour leadership election. This is partly due to a recent tonsillectomy, and partly because, as a Labour Party member, I'm going to have to choose who I want to be the leader of my party very shortly.

The thing is, I don't want to vote against Jeremy Corbyn. When he highlights job insecurity, the housing crisis and the government cuts, which are hurting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, I think to myself, finally, at last, someone is on our side!

Corbyn could be the path to generating the change our society so desperately needs.

However, there are clearly problems with his tenure: there would not have been another leadership election this summer if that were not the case.

"Corbyn could be the path to generating the change our society so desperately needs".

Yes, there is something to be said about the certain MPs who have, at every opportunity, looked to undermine Corbyn. Clearly, some underhand tactics have been used, akin to those of New Labour's Prince of Darkness.

Yes, parts of the media have been absolutely vile. The reaction to Corbyn's recent #traingate was ridiculous, for example. That he may have had a seat after all does not detract from his raising a very, very real issue! (Just ask my farther who commutes to London by train each day!) Sickeningly, the media has gone out of its way to catch him when it normally tip toes around the much shoddier goings on in the Tory party.

Maybe, he has never been given a real chance, but we are in the abysmal situation that we are in, and we have to be realistic about this.

Corbyn is principled, authentic and moral, and that is fantastic. However, he suffers from, what I like to call, stubborn old man syndrome (the phenomenon whereby a man of a certain age becomes more and more entrenched in their ways and beliefs). Whilst I deeply respect his lifetime's work, when it comes to being leader of the opposition, you have to sensibly pick your battles.

"we are in the abysmal situation that we are in, and we have to be realistic"

The thing is, you see, the majority just does not care about politics enough; the politically motivated, particularly of the left, often find this hard to digest.

One cannot blindly preach to the converted and expect an apathetic public to magically move towards them. One must firstly go to the majority, and then convince them, in an astute manner (yes, I do believe that it is possible to advertise radical, socialist ideas and policies in a moderate tone, if one is clever about it) that it is, indeed, in their best interest to shift back along with you.

For Labour to do all the great things Corbyn speaks of, we must win an election. We can ill afford to so bashfully alienate voters on trivial issues. Owen Jones was bang on the money when he said, "[i]t is socialist to seek power to introduce socialist policies".

My other qualm addresses Corbyn's management qualities. 172 MPs voted that they had no confidence in him; we, the membership, cannot react by blindly labelling them all snakes and Blairites. Besides the fact that this is counterintuitive, as there really aren't that many Blairites in the PLP, most of these people are good people, who have done good things. Maybe, we should at least try to understand their reasoning.

But then we come to Smith, and I just don't know. He speaks well, but does he mean it? He seems opportunist and is prone to unfortunate, sexist comments, though he does seem pragmatic. But is he genuine? Can I trust him? Would he really bring about change?

Slowly, I have come to the realisation that, in fact, I don't want to vote for either of these men. And, following last Thursday's dismal leadership debate, it seems others may agree with me, with some even labelling both men 'unelectable'.

This is why, at my CLP meeting a few weeks ago, where we voted for who we were going collectively endorse, I spoilt my ballot, enjoying the slightly thrillingly anarchic feeling which accompanies such an action.

I know that I am not offering a solution to our current mess, because, alas, we do need a leader come the 24th. I did choose to make one careful observation. 'Where are the women?' I wrote instead. Where are they, indeed?

Isabel Bull is a student of French and Politics at the University of Bristol. She is an active WILPF UK member, and a member of the UK Labour Party. She can be found on both Facebook and LinkedIn as Isabel Bull.