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Why Corbyn Supporters Need To Act On Fair Criticisms Of The Labour Party - And Not Just Dismiss Them As Unfair Attacks By The Mainstream Media

06/12/2016 12:08

Every time Owen Jones writes an article that is vaguely critical of the Labour Party, he immediately gets attacked as an enemy and a sell-out. Bear in mind he is a big supporter of Corbyn's policies and has even worked for the man himself. I find it strange that some Corbyn supporters can't accept his often fair and balanced criticisms. He never calls for Corbyn to go but just suggests ways the Labour Party can improve and better connect with people. It's also worth noting that he never just puts the judgement or criticism on to Corbyn alone and criticises the party as a whole.

Just to be clear, I accept that a lot of the media attacks on Corbyn are ridiculous. For example, the S*n recently publishing pictures of Corbyn "dancing" on his way to a remembrance service. They'd photo-shopped out the veteran he was walking with and made him look as if he was being disrespectful. A year before, the same paper jumped on what they saw as Corbyn not bowing low enough when he approached the Cenotaph.

However, sometimes Corbyn and the Labour Party do get it wrong and fair criticism cannot just be dismissed. For example, Owen Jones recently wrote a piece saying that Labour need to reconnect with voters they lost to UKIP and organise public meetings where ordinary voters' voices are genuinely heard. He made the point that too often, us left-wing political activists are very academic in our language and put voters off with the language we use. I recognise this all too well in the Green Party. We often have very wordy leaflets that don't really stand out and will most likely be thrown away after a glance.

A Corbyn-supporting friend of mine on Facebook shared his article with the post "With friends like these, who needs enemies". Incidentally when I was defending Owen and saying to them that whenever people criticise Corbyn they get hounded for it, I was then blocked from their Facebook. Thus proving my point that some Corbyn supporters can't take criticism of him. Time and time again, whether it's on Twitter or Facebook, I see Owen roundly abused for daring to criticise the Labour Party even a little bit. I myself was recently called "destructive" by someone on the Green Party Executive Committee (GPEx) for criticising the Green Party leadership in my last blog on the way they handled the Richmond by-election. Whatever political party you support or are part of, you should always hold the leadership to account and not be afraid to criticise them.

Of course when the most progressive leader Labour have had in a long time gets much more negative (and sometimes unfair) articles written about him then positive ones, it's very easy to build an emotional wall around him and feel that as a supporter you are constantly having to be on the defensive. However it is very important to acknowledge fair criticism of him and Labour as a whole in order to give the left the best chance of successively defeating the Tories in the next election. For instance I'm critical of the way he handled Brexit just after the result of the vote was announced, but I'm equally critical of the Labour MPs that resigned en-masse from his cabinet rather than help him come up with a strategy for Brexit. This led to Labour looking much divided over the summer with yet another leadership election, and subsequently they went massively down in the polls (not that I believe opinion polls these days!)

Furthermore I'm critical of the fact that the Labour Party as a whole aren't that keen on the progressive alliance idea and the need to stand aside in certain constituencies for other parties. When asked about the Green Party's seat in Brighton, Corbyn said that he still wanted Labour to contest the seat despite the fact he himself has backed Caroline Lucas many times in parliament when she has introduced private member bills. I also don't like the fact that Corbyn isn't supportive of electoral reform despite our voting system being one of the key reasons people don't turn out to vote. More often than not, their vote doesn't count. However, I'm pleased that certain Labour MPs from all wings of the party are open to the idea of electoral reform. People like Clive Lewis, Jonathan Reynolds and of course my own MP Wes Streeting. These MPs need to make their voice heard very clearly in the Labour Party on this issue and I hope they are working internally to push Labour to back a change to a more proportional voting system.

In fairness to Corbyn, I understand the difficulty he faces in regards to backing electoral reform. As one of the main two parties, Labour have always benefited from the First-Past-the-Post voting system we have. There are many Labour MPs whose seats would be under threat under a fairer voting system and an electoral pact with other progressive parties. If their leader openly backed electoral reform and/or the progressive alliance idea, it would be another excuse for the MPs who don't back him, to try and hound him out again. However, Labour have to be realistic in the sense that they are unlikely to win Scotland back any time soon considering the growing popularity of the Tories there and the fact that the SNP seem to be holding steady in their support.. England, Wales and Northern Ireland favour the Tories electorally and Labour alone can't defeat them in these parts of the UK. This is what the progressive alliance idea is all about. Labour, the Lib Dems, The Green Party, Plaid Cymru, SNP and the SDLP all working together and forming electoral pacts to get the Tories out. With multi-party politics a genuine thing in the UK, and the centre-left/left vote very split, Labour have to get passed the idea that they can win a majority and be prepared to work with others. Progressive parties do it across Europe, so why not here? For those that say people should join Labour and campaign for a Labour majority as the best way to get the Tories out, there are a few reasons why I personally couldn't join Labour at the moment, despite considering the option when Corbyn first got elected.

So to sum up, rather than being dismissive of anyone criticising Corbyn or Labour, look deeper to see whether it is constructive or silly tabloid criticism and work on making things better. You can shout people like Owen Jones down all you want but that isn't going to change the fact that Labour have many issues they have to sort out before they can even think of being elected into government and ousting the Conservatives from power.

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