Jeremy Corbyn Must Offer Much More During the EU Referendum Campaign to Stay Relevant

13/06/2016 17:24 | Updated 13 June 2016

The Brexit debate has so far been an entirely Tory affair with it essentially being framed as heavyweight battle between David Cameron and Boris Johnson. The civil war within the Conservative party has taken centre stage, as Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have taken a back seat and appear to be watching the Tory infighting from a distance. In doing so, Labour has become increasingly irrelevant and ineffective as Britain prepares to make the biggest decision it has had to for decades. Corbyn has shown a lack of direction and leadership throughout the campaign and has let his opponents dominate the debate. The long term effects on his party and on his position as leader of not being a central part of the country's decision making process in this referendum could potentially be catastrophic.

Admittedly nothing is more interesting than watching Tories attack one another but some sections of the media have been of placing far too much emphasis on the Cameron vs Boris spectacle. At times this has made it rather difficult for Labour to get a strong footing in the debate, but Corbyn's half-hearted attempts to campaign for remain have not been helpful in the slightest.

The Labour leader has openly admitted he was not a huge fan of the EU and his support was only a "7 out of 10", when appearing on the Channel 4 chat show, The Last Leg and those close to Corbyn have claimed that if it wasn't for internal party politics and if he wasn't the party leader, he may have chosen to support Brexit. This explains why Corbyn has been so unenthusiastic throughout the campaign period and why he has chosen to be far less vocal than his peers. Corbyn's performances to date have been uninspiring, unpassionate and rather subdued and whether he is a strong advocate of the EU or not, his tepid attempt of campaigning has made both him and his party seem entirely irrelevant in a historic referendum.

Labour's inability to have an impact on the campaign were epitomized in the most recent TV debate. Even without any of the major Tory "remainers" present, Labour, with Angela Eagle, not Jeremy Corbyn as their primary representative, were unable to make any real impact. Instead it was Nicola Sturgeon who was the runaway success of the night and showed how effective a left-wing politician can be in this referendum. Sturgeon expertly managed to argue that the UK should stay within the EU, while also attacking the Tories and at every opportunity. This is the type of leadership that Labour is crying out for and simply hasn't been seen by Corbyn throughout the campaign.

If Labour are really set on proving they are a viable alternative for government in 2020, substantial leadership over the coming weeks is desperately required. A half-hearted, slightly lukewarm attempt by Corbyn to seem pro-remain simply isn't that and if Corbyn and Labour are not more assertive and do not take a more proactive approach they could easily find themselves not only irrelevant in this debate, but also entirely irrelevant in the discussions after the referendum.

No party can realistically be viewed as potential party of power unless they are able to galvanize people into believing and supporting what they want. If Corbyn continues to take a backseat and Britain votes to leave the EU, the party may have no choice but to challenge his leadership if they are to maintain any credibility for the next general election. Labour and Corbyn must do significantly more in this campaign period or face the consequence of being irrelevant for years to come.