How Jeremy Corbyn has turned Labour into a pressure group

Last week, a Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting reportedly ended with a fierce argument between Jeremy Corbyn and members of the PLP. The specific nature of the dispute is not yet known. However, the disagreement was important enough for Corbyn to release a defensive yet painfully docile statement from what appeared to be his living room like some housebound Roly Mole. The parallels between the leader of the labour party and the furry Cbeebies bookworm don’t stop there: both appear to be reading from fiction. Staring down the teleprompter, Corbyn claimed, without a hint of irony, that “the labour party can win” if we focus on “unity not naval gazing.”

So, with all the absurdity of George W. Bush painting portraits of disabled Iraqi war veterans, Corbyn asked for the parliamentary party to stop self-indulgent and excessive contemplation of the party or single issues at the expense of the bigger picture. Apparently, Corbyn has been just an innocent bystander amongst a selfish PLP out of touch with the real issues of the day.

An attack on vanity, from a man who has travelled the lengths of the country holding extensive Momentum rallies. Preaching to the choir is an understatement; this is a heron trying to convince a room full of bears on the amenities of salmon consumption.

Talking of bears, the Momentum movement itself has moved beyond its socialist principles and coalesced around Corbyn like some Leninist cult. They propound a far left ideology within a parliamentary system (which is not in itself objectionable) but importantly without any element of Kerenskyite pragmatism. Corbyn and his allies have failed to compromise on their agenda with centrist PLP members let alone floating voters in the wider public and god forbid soft-Tories. But these are the necessary steps to win a parliamentary election.

“But Corbyn has been elected twice!” The Labour Party Forum cries, “This is a democratic party after all.” And it’s true, Corbyn is correct when he states that he leads “the largest membership of any left of centre party in Europe.” It has 530,000 members, over 313,000 of which voted for Corbyn. However, the electorate in 2015 was 46.5m. That means Momentum represent 0.7% if the public. It is no wonder the Labour Party is polling at around 27% and failed to hold Copeland in its most recent by-election. Without reaching out to centrist voters, without challenging Tory electoral hegemony, Labour will become merely a pressure group.

I will leave you this; even if Corbyn is the innocent bystander, is this not a problem in itself? Corbyn has failed to challenge a Conservative government that has undertaken a serious of fundamentally undemocratic and regressive actions against the people, including, but not limited to: extensive covert and over state surveillance, discrimination against mental health victims, a flawed EU negotiation strategy, the appointment of an incapable health secretary and an environmental minister who questions the existence of man-made climate change, the erosion of the NHS, the continuation of unnecessary austerity, the expansion of examinations to all ages of childhood, the absolute failure to address the housing crisis, the placation of racism, the placation of illiberal and undemocratic leaders, the abandonment of the most vulnerable in society and rule by an unelected PM. In response, every Wednesday Corbyn manages a benign list of questions that can only be described as complicit in Conservative rule. If the Labour party want power, want to actually implement the changes they desire, they need a leader that can apply accountability, not just pressure; that can reach outside their base, not just rally it. If labour want to work within the existing system, they need a leader that can lead a party, not a pressure group.

This is not, I must emphasise, an article merely to smear Corbyn. Of course there is a media bias against a man that threatens clientelism in this country. Of course, the Conservatives are hypocritical in the accusations they throw at him. This was just as true of Ed Miliband, Corbyn’s more capable predecessor. But beyond this, Corbyn has failed to provide leadership, compromise or pragmatism, choosing instead to lead the labour party in the same manner as he has acted his entire parliamentary career: as a minority applying pressure.

Bradley Young

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