Just under a year ago myself, along with a huge majority of Labour members voted Jeremy Corbyn into the position of leader. He proved a stand out candidate in a period where the frustration of the 2015 election left Labour struggling to articulate what they wanted, what they stood for and how they needed to oppose the Tories.
To this day I believe that it was vital that Corbyn was on that ballot and that he won the leadership. It was vital in emphasising that Labour's members weren't happy with the status quo, Miliband had failed to win back support after New Labour had fallen apart and the array of candidates offered in 2015 did not excite or offer any change in direction. Therefore, the election of Corbyn forced those in the party (especially more senior members) to recognise that they could no longer subdue the more radical left wing of the party. They would have to now, under a mandate from their own members, endorse Corbyn and allow him to lead the party.
This, I think was extremely important. I wouldn't say I was ever convinced that Corbyn would be the leader that Labour should take into a general election, but without him it is hard to say whether real left wing debate could have re-entered the senior levels of the party.
I can therefore, appreciate the importance of Corbyn's election, but for me and many others, his leadership has been inadequate:
His core support remains within the membership of the party, he has dramatically failed to present an image of Labour which resonates much beyond those who already support him and Labour.
His performance in PMQ's was another downfall, his approach and choice to ask other peoples questions often came across with a lack of conviction. In his only chance to hold the PM to account he choose to distance himself, you never quite felt like Cameron was struggling for an answer. The same can be said about his more general public presentation. No one can say that Corbyn lacks conviction on the issues he believes in, but as a leader Corbyn never really managed to excite the electorate. There was no sense in his public speeches that he really wanted to be there, often looking uncomfortable and thus to a wider electorate (outside of his core left wing support) there was never really any heads turned. I would here (with regret) have to use Blair as an example, in 1997 Blair's public speeches were vital in winning public support. He spoke with an incredible sense of belief and purpose, his promises and key ideas were kept short and tapped into the issues which concerned the large majority of the electorate.
Yet the 'hard left' of the party and the members who continue to endorse Corbyn are completely blind to these realities, how long before we see history repeating itself?
The Labour split in the late 70's and early 80's was a dark time for Labour as an electable party.
1983, Labour go into the election on its most left wing manifesto. 27.6% of the vote was won. History is there to teach us, to prevent us from making the same mistakes. Yes, Labour is a left wing party, but it is also the only party who has a chance at removing the Tories from government. So I suggest its time to climb out of the bubble many Corbyn supporters seem to be in and accept that the UK is a conservative country thus moving to the left in opposition is not how you win an election.
With the prospect of a snap election looming, the Labour party need to unite under a leader who has the political ability to move the party to the centre ground. To quote the recently resurfaced George Osborne "in opposition you move to the centre, in government you move the centre". After just over 6 years in government the Tories have been shifting the centre ground of British politics to the right, leaving a widening gap between Labour and a large swathe of the electorate. Therefore, it is not a 'Blairite' idea to shift to the right, but a basic principle of politics. Once in power Labour will have the ability to move back to the left/centre left.
But, to continue to endorse Corbyn as leader is to cement Labour's position as the opposition party. Corbyn must have a place in the party, but the leader must be someone who can bridge the gap between the centre left politicians and those on the hard left and not someone who divides them.
If Corbyn stands again for leader (as he has said he would) in the event of another leadership election, his supporters must drop their pride and choose not to endorse him again. If Labour have to participate in a general election which could come about within the year it is vital they have a candidate capable of winning.
People on the hard left must think beyond their alliance with Corbyn, the people of this country deserve a labour government more than they deserve their pride and principle. A repeat of 1983 would spell disaster for the party, condemning it to a weakened opposition position whilst the right of the Tory party move the centre ground further to the right, and are in the driving seat when it comes to negotiating our exit of Europe.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more