Editorial: Corbyn, you’ve lost my vote

Published

Credit: Creative Commons

Georgina Hayes
Editor

The last month in politics has been an open goal for the Labour Party to potentially kick the Tories out of power and yet Corbyn hasn’t even bothered to take the shot

I am not a Blairite. I am a card-carrying, 21-year-old member of the Labour Party that has been actively campaigning and writing against the Conservative Party since before I could even vote. I align myself to the left of the party, and my politics are entirely aligned with Jeremy Corbyn’s.

Entirely aligned, except for on one issue – Brexit.

Thanks to that issue, and his utter refusal to listen to the members of the party (and young people), he’s just lost my vote. I’ll be voting Green in the event of a snap election now for as long as he’s leader of the party unless something drastically changes. I just can’t vote for a party that supports Brexit.

In case you missed it, despite intense pressure from party activists, MPs and many of the young people he engaged with politics in the first place, Corbyn has just reaffirmed that Brexit would go ahead if Labour won a snap election. Suffering from the same delusion Theresa May is currently under – that delusion being that there is another, a better, Brexit deal to be made – Corbyn told The Guardian that he would plough on with the Brexit process if he became Prime Minister.

So, the leader of “listening to the members” is currently ignoring over 80% of them who overwhelmingly want a People’s Vote.

Some diehard Corbyn adherents say that his inaction is all part of a master plan: he hasn’t tabled a vote of no confidence in the government yet because he’s waiting to be certain that he’d win; he’s hiding a master Brexit card beneath his sleeve that he’ll reveal in good time. It’s utter rubbish, and I wonder how many of these Corbynistas have actually been watching the news this month, but the number of people still holding out hope that Corbyn can be the saviour of this mess is rapidly declining. And with good reason.

The SNP, Greens and Lib Dems have all publicly backed a People’s Vote and said in no uncertain terms that they would work with Labour to facilitate one in the event of a snap election. Given the current state of things in the Tory Party, I also wouldn’t be surprised if a handful of pro-Remain Conservatives joined them (looking at you, Anna Soubry).

The numbers are, at least, more in Corbyn’s favour than in Theresa May’s as it currently stands. But, as always seems to be the case with Corbyn, he’s wasted precious time. Instead of actually bringing about a vote of no confidence that matters, he took the symbolic – and meaningless – path of tabling a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister rather than the government itself, much to the exasperation of literally everyone in the Labour Party or on the Remain side of the Brexit debate. The other parties have expressed obvious frustration with Corbyn’s inaction too, and it’s become almost impossible to justify even for some of his most loyal adherents.

And speaking of his most loyal adherents – something that’s been doing the rounds on Twitter at the moment is the idea that caring about Brexit is a privileged position to take, as if Brexit won’t be a categorical disaster for our economy, the NHS and overall international outlook. Some people are becoming so dogmatic in defending Corbyn no matter the circumstance (and there have been many) that they’re forgetting who will suffer the most when/if Brexit happens: the poor, the young and immigrants.

Britain is already on a cliff’s edge due to austerity and Corbyn knows fine well that Brexit will make it worse. As always, the middle classes and above will grumble about it but ultimately survive; it’s the most vulnerable in our society that will face the brunt of Brexit. Why, then, is Corbyn ignoring the members of his party and his own MPs to insist on pushing ahead with Brexit no matter the cost?

Corbyn is the kind of Eurosceptic that’s easier to empathise with than the Jacob Rees-Moggs, but he’s just as delusional. Corbyn’s political DNA is 1970s-style protectionism and old school socialism and, as a result, he’s always been a Brexiteer at heart. He isn’t refusing to act upon the will of his party members because he wants to follow “the will of the people”; Corbyn just can’t bring himself to support what he views as a European capitalist’s club.

Jeremy Corbyn is currently ignoring his own party not because of a secret master plan or because he believes in the referendum result: he just, quite simply, does not believe in the EU. And this would be fine, if Corbyn were the leader of a progressive pressure group rather than the leader of a progressive Labour Party. As leader of the Labour Party, he is obliged to follow the wishes of the party members. As leader of the Opposition, he is supposed to provide a clear alternative to the path the government is following. By insisting on following through with Brexit, Corbyn is neglecting both of these crucial responsibilities.

It makes absolutely no ideological or electoral sense whatsoever either. Ideologically, the Labour Party is progressive and champions the most vulnerable in society, and Brexit is utterly incompatible with these principles. Instead of doing what the leader of any parliamentary party should do – actually represent his party membership and the best interests of his voters – Corbyn has chosen to neglect the very people he swore to protect and represent. If any current Corbyn supporter thinks that homelessness, poverty or the state of the NHS won’t be made worse by Brexit then I don’t even know what to say to you – you’re clearly intent on following your now-useless leader off an electoral cliff where the Labour Party can’t help anyone.

Electorally, Corbyn risks losing both progressives and the younger generation as a whole – both voting blocs that Labour cannot afford to alienate if they hope to ever win an election again. Let’s not even mention the fact that polling shows the British public as a whole as now clearly supportive of a second referendum. Corbyn should be harnessing this change in the polls; over half of the British populace that want a second referendum aren’t currently represented in Parliament by either of the two major parties. Corbyn could be the answer to this, but instead he’s talking-the-talk about a snap election while refusing to provide a clear alternative to the incumbent on the biggest ballot box issue.

Instead of choosing to take advantage of the chaos within the Tory Party and trigger a vote of no confidence in the government with the help of other progressive parties, Corbyn is burying his head in the sand and missing obvious opportunities to bring down a government that is doing irreparable harm to our country. The last month in politics has been an open goal for the Labour Party to potentially kick the Tories out of power and yet Corbyn hasn’t even bothered to take the shot.

The people Corbyn seeks to help will not benefit from Brexit. Worse still, he won’t be able to help anyone at all if Labour remains locked out of government, which is surely what will happen if he dogmatically insists on following through with Brexit no matter the cost. The fact that Labour are still struggling to make headway against the Tories in the polls shows us that much. It will split the parliamentary party once more, he will lose much of the grassroot support he relied on in the first place, and the younger generation will never forgive him – or the party.