I can already hear the cries – “heresy!”, “burn him!”, “thought criminal!” – you know the type of thing. But after much thought and consideration, I am sorry to say that I, a socialist and republican member of Labour cannot bring myself to back Jeremy Corbyn.
This does not mean I definitely put him as my first choice as a protest vote – a sort of “we’re still here, listen to us” to the other candidates, but when it comes down to it, I honestly do not believe that Jeremy Corbyn would be a good leader for the Labour Party – either in terms of winning the next election, or holding the party together in this crucial time.
The first thing I have to point out is that in a broad sense this has nothing to do with policy – as you might’ve seen in previous articles by (or partially by) me, I do actually believe a Labour Party with a left wing policy base could actually have electoral success – but Corbyn is not the man under which such success could occur.
One primary issue isn’t even a personal failure of his, but an issue we sadly have to face – the media would tear him, and ergo Labour, to shreds. It’s sad that this is a reason for not electing someone as your leader, but the press still packs a punch – from 1992 to 2015, their impact has been immeasurable on election results. As a confident and good speaker, you’d think that Corbyn would resist such attacks, but there’s so much for Fleet Street to pick up on – “Red Ed” would suddenly be replaced by “Communist Corbyn”, a man who has previously stood by the dictator Hugo Chavez – someone described by Corbyn as a “friend of the poor”. I personally find this endorsement very distasteful, and it’s evidence that Corbyn is the type of Old Labour politician who cares a little too much about ideology and keeping the red flag flying. But that of course is nothing compared to the slaughterhouse that would be built up by media in reaction to this. On top of this, his open republicanism, affiliation with the hated George Galloway and the fact he has a column in the Morning Star aren’t just alienating for many people but also are fodder for our brutal right wing press.
Let’s face it – Corbyn is no world leader. He’s principled and an impressive MP – but does he strike you as someone Merkel and Obama will listen to? And more pressingly, is Jeremy Corbyn, PM actually something you can picture? Many fellow travellers in the red faction of Labour I inhabit fool themselves into believing that’s a tangible reality, but sadly, being polished and flexible counts for a lot, both while being Prime Minister and in any election campaign. Corbyn possesses neither of those qualities – as I stated earlier, he’s intensely ideological to the point that he’s willing to praise a despot essentially because of his left wing credentials, so could you really ever imagine that for the sake of unity in the party or practicality in the nation he would occasionally deviate from the strict lines of moral purity established by the left?
So what does Labour need? Not Corbyn, Burnham, Cooper or Kendall, that’s for sure. In my view, a sort of left wing Blair is needed – a politician who has the charisma, polish and energy to win over voters but with the policy, dedication and genuineness of someone like Jeremy Corbyn. A breath of fresh air, rather than a return to either New or Old Labour – a politician with his or her feet firmly in the modern day but with a clear view to escape the perils of the present day.
So in short, I shan’t be chanting “Come on Corbyn”, and though I may end up voting for him as protest, I don’t believe Jeremy Corbyn is the man to take Labour into an ever more dangerous future. His election would only cause division in the party, and defeat at the ballot box. However, there is hope yet for the left, and Corbyn’s inclusion in the debate will surely raise our profile and say to the next leader of the party that we, the lefties, are still alive and most certainly still kicking.