The Labour Party has gone through the most tumultuous period in its history over the past sixteen months. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, hero of the grassroots and king of community cafes, is the most divisive figure in British politics today. Some call him a breath of fresh, socialist air and others a relic from an age of empowered trade unions, hippy-hangover protests and idiotic idealism.
Both, paradoxically, are fair assessments. I voted for Jeremy last year and this year, all the while having periods of frustration and apathy towards his leadership. I voted for him for the same reasons so many people adore him; his honesty, his focus on policy, his genuine desire to make things better. Does he have problems? Of course, inviting Gerry Adams to speak in Parliament was pretty awful, but I’m not looking for a perfect politician. I’m looking for someone who can bring forward policies that are both electable and able to make a real difference in people’s lives.
Has Jeremy done this? For the most part, yes. He has championed some notable causes and will continue to do this against a Cameron-less Tory government primed to put in place its conservative utopia. However, to say that his leadership has been a success for the Labour Party thus far is fundamentally inaccurate. It has been a thorn in the government’s side, no doubt, but not much else. Even before the second leadership contest, the Labour Party has been struggling to make ground in the polls or in the ballot box. We’ve been doing worse than we did this time in the last election cycle and this has to be seen as a failure in Corbyn’s leadership.
We’re running out of excuses. The 2016 local elections were a disaster (it doesn’t matter that we came first, where we should’ve made gains we made loses) and we were unheard of during the referendum. We can be as angry at the moderate wing of the Labour Party as we want but their frustration comes from a want to win elections, thus far we are not on course to do that.
The sad truth is that if turnout in 2020 – or whenever the election comes – is the same as it has been for the last four elections, Labour will not win, especially given the re-drawing of constituency borders and the loss of Scotland. It’s all well and good having a go at the pollsters for not interviewing enough of certain demographics in their research, but they’re not doing it because those demographics aren’t voting. In the last four elections turnout between the ages of 18 and 24 averages out at just over 40%. If you want a grassroots movement that will take socialist policies from the rallies to Downing Street, this is not good enough.
Moderate members of the Labour Party are showing their loyalty now by promising to support Jeremy Corbyn till the next elections. Chuka Umunna, among other moderates, has called on the party to stay united against the conservatives. A local Councillor from my area, a staunch Liz Kendall-Owen Smith supporter, in fact, has even joined Momentum in an attempt to reach out. In short, the Labour Party is taking the risk people have demanded it to. Now, instead of getting angry every time anybody criticises Jeremy Corbyn, prove them wrong. Come 2020, the Labour Party will need every voter it can get. We are risking being totally wiped out. Don’t let us down, don’t waste your vote. Vote for the Labour Party and prove the doubters wrong.