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The Trouble With Corbyn

15/07/2016 15:43 | Updated 15 July 2016

Since starting to engage with British politics in Year 10 or 11, I have struggled with my political 'identity'. I've always been left of centre, and vehemently anti-Tory, but where on that side of the spectrum I placed myself was harder to pinpoint. For a while I rejected the idea of party labels entirely, before flirting with the Greens, Liberal Democrats, and Labour. During Sixth Form I volunteered in the campaigns office of my local Liberal Democrat MP, but this was largely on the basis that he was the only viable alternative to Conservative reign, with a marginal swing in 2010 ending years of Tory rule in my area (alas, they returned with a vengeance in 2015). It was very much a tactical move, and I still didn't know exactly where I'd place myself independent of FPTP's constraints.

Little did I know that this progressive-yet-pragmatic approach was something that would come to dominate my politics, manifesting itself in eventual support for ("soft left", however pejorative a term this may be considered by some) Labour. It's true, I've conformed to the stereotype of drifting gradually right as I get older - although I will never cross that centre line. At 15, I was an idealist; now, with History and Politics A-Levels, the first year of a Politics degree, and four years' more life experience under my belt, I simply don't see how I can afford to be.

I quickly dismissed the Greens: they are many things, but 'practically-minded' is not one. While the Liberal Democrats may outwardly seem a party of moderation and pragmatism, there is a limit to the extent they can be considered a practical choice when they have no chance of winning. And thus I joined Labour. The problem is, as it stands, they're not about to win any election either. And that's where Corbyn comes in.

When it came to the Labour leadership election last year, I still didn't know where I stood. On one hand, the idealist in me wanted to believe that this could be a revolution in British politics, a refreshing shake-up of the status quo where socialism could become genuinely electable. When you live in a bubble of idealistic young people all singing Corbyn's praises, it's easy to be swept up by this, and doubt your own integrity for questioning it. On the other hand, part of me knew this wouldn't happen. In reality, it doesn't take a qualified historian to recognise that the hard-left never prevails in British politics, instead consigning the Labour Party to obscurity and infighting while the Tories run rampant with our public services (see: the Thatcher years).

While this time last year, we could retain some level of hope and optimism that Britain had changed and history wouldn't repeat itself in this way, the aftermath of the referendum has truly affirmed what I always suspected. British politics is on fire, and Corbyn's 'principled', non-negotiable, all-or-nothing approach played a significant role in igniting the flame. His long-held Euroscepticism (due to his 'perfect socialist paradise'-or-nothing views) showed through the #StrongerIn veneer, preventing the Labour Party from fully uniting against the right-wing Brexiteers who have committed such a hit-and-run on the country. He failed to make any significant political capital on the Tories' intense divisions during the referendum campaign, continuing to lag behind in the polls, save for one or two anomalies. And he is incapable of doing basic tasks expected of an opposition leader - like making any kind of official statement on the UK's new Prime Minister today.

People in blind support of this kind of 'leadership' on the basis that his 'ideas are good' speak from a position of privilege. Having no consideration for the (un)electability of a candidate means you are probably not too badly affected by the consequences - Conservative rule. This all-or-nothing approach is insular and dangerous, subjecting vulnerable people to years of (in some cases, life-threatening) Tory cuts because of an inability to compromise. And thus the Labour Party becomes the antithesis of socialist values: elitist and out-of-touch.

It therefore makes no sense to me why the PLP should be vilified by party members for trying to rectify this problem. They are simply trying to reignite their party as an electable force, as highly-educated individuals with first-hand experience of how politics works. In the aftermath of Jo Cox MP's death, people vowed to show more respect to their representatives - and yet some Corbynites are running a venomous campaign to keep their leader, vandalising Angela Eagle's constituency office for offering an alternative and spitting 'Blairite' at anyone who dares question Corbyn's authority. So much for a 'kinder, gentler politics'.

I'm not a Blairite simply for wanting Labour to stand a chance. I'm not unprincipled, I just see little point in uncompromising principles that can never be put into practice. I believe in a competitive and credible Labour Party that's able to undo some of the damage left by the Conservatives, and that party doesn't exist under Corbyn.

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