THE BLOG

After the EU Referendum Result, Jeremy Corbyn Must Go

24/06/2016 11:12 | Updated 24 June 2016

The people have spoken and, upon the election of a new Conservative Party leader in the autumn, Britain will trigger Article 50 and begin the process of leaving the European Union.

Labour's response must be swift.

After months of whispering against Jeremy Corbyn's leadership it's now time to put up or shut up. And I think it is time to put up.

Corbyn's argument has been that he can reach other voters that Blairite metropolitan liberals cannot. Whatever may be said against the Labour right, this continues to be proven utterly incorrect. Corbyn is not the man to bring Scotland back to Labour (he can't even best the Tories), significant areas of the urban north of England are moving increasingly towards UKIP populism, and he is of nowhere near looking like sweeping the tricky southern marginals.

Other than a very committed core, it is difficult to know who is buying in to what he is selling. The man cannot win a General Election and, unlike Boris, is unable to be Machiavellian enough to see beyond his own nose. Ultimately therefore many Labour MPs may well be asking, "what is the point"?

What we are about to see is a government vacate the centre ground, led by a bumbling incompetent. Labour's response to this will be crucial. Having this response led by a leader also outside the centre ground and whose demeanour looks similarly incompetent is a nightmarish scenario for a party which has no long term right to exist. Labour left versus Tory right rarely ends well.

This is a very divisive moment in the UK's history. To have our official opposition led by a man who can't muster the civility to talk to the Prime Minister at the opening of parliament and whose geopolitical 'friends' are controversial in the extreme is a dereliction of duty for a Labour Party which still has pretensions of governing again one day. Action is needed.

Meanwhile, Seamus Milne and co continue to double down in the bunker. MPs have been told to argue that 'Jeremy Corbyn has showed that he is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than any other politician.' This is just utter lunacy. Labour could, should, be trying to deliver that, but he is not the man for the job.

What Labour have done particularly badly over the past decade is to offer any kind of big tent politics. As Ben Cobley has rightly noted, the party has diced itself up into the politics of identity, placing continual primacy to gender, race, and other elements that divide the country. And thus when it comes to anything with a semblance of totality, particularly English identity, they have been found utterly wanting.

Ed Miliband may have used the term 'one nation,' but most of his speeches resembled a Guardian op-ed. Corbyn can't be bothered to even pretend. Identity politics plus the economics of Michael Foot will likely have the same effect as it did in 1983. Farage has already driven his tank through Labour's little and dispersed platoons across large areas of England in any case.

So it is time for Labour's centre to step up to the plate. To directly highlight Corbyn's poor performance, to decry his political ineptitude over the referendum, and to demand a new leadership contest. This cannot be reheated Blairism - the European fervor of the 1990s, clearly, is over. But this movement must reject tribalism. One nation Tories and the rump of the Lib Dems should all feel more comfortable with the next Labour leader than they do a Johnson-Farage axis at No.10. The centre should therefore proffer a single candidate prepared to make specific offers to such types outside the party. And they should act now.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS