Jeremy Corbyn has won his leadership: now he needs to win his party
Jeremy Corbyn won the second clearest indication of the backing of voters over the weekend when he secured his leadership. His popularity has always been based on the fact that he appears honest, straight forward, and stands up for what he believes in. Above all, when you ask him a question you get a straight answer. That’s new to British politics, and it could be seen as quite telling that his biggest opponents are other MPs.
As a result, many people who support Corbyn tend to agree with his views on Brexit and immigration. He is also well known for building relations with troublesome Eastern leaders, which has led to much criticism. Ironically, many who criticise that fail to see the irony that they are holding hands with the kinds of people who have fingers in expensive pies of world arms agreements.
Does Corbyn need to refocus on the anti-austerity vote?
Back home in the UK, Corbyn was outspoken about where the Brexit votes were coming from, rightly citing the Welsh and Northern English counties. Those are the places most hit by austerity and successive government cuts that result in industry collapse.
“That divisive politics has sought to blame immigrants not government – government that has let industries go to the wall, that has failed to invest, that has deregulated the labour market and turned a deaf ear to the communities that have been left behind.”
Immigration always gets handed the harshest blows in such circumstances because it becomes an easy target. It is too easy to blame a lack of public resources on the newest additions to our society, despite the fact that immigration brings a positive net value into the country.
Corbyn has always been outspoken about his desire that Labour leads the way in supporting refugees and asylum seekers. The difficulty is that he speaks with a true compassion, not a populist political bias. One could say that a leader inviting more immigration is a dangerously un-electable one. Alienating a potentially large proportion of his party with his more liberal approach, Corbyn risks running a very split campaign and party.
Do we want a whipped opposition or an active, debating one?
But if a split party means an active, debating party, is that not one that represents democracy in action? Having a united front as the opposition is one thing, but pretending to agree on important social issues like Brexit and immigration is another. Furthermore, if his leadership has drawn significant numbers of new members to the party, surely we have to listen to what these numbers are saying.
Jeremy Corbyn is has always been a strong activist at heart, and maintains that even in his position as a leader. He had strong views on the referendum and was roundly criticised for not being more outspoken against Brexit. But at the risk of scapegoating him for the loss – as much of the media attempted to do – we must beg the question as to why he wasn’t so vocal in that campaign. Surely the risk to immigration was always on his mind should the remain campaign lose. If so, why was he not outspoken about it? Perhaps it was the highly divisive politics that he despises so much that made him almost shy away from entering into battles with the likes of Farage.
Conference could be the best chance to refocus
Now that he has been re-elected as the leader all eyes are focused on the conference season, where everyone will look for him to step up. And yet with the Brexit status still hanging in complete uncertainty we have to wonder how much pressure the party will be putting on the Tories to get the best deal for the UK.
What is the best deal? Immigration numbers are rising, indeed, and the UK government will need to do something to address this. However, following the messy media narrative that likes to mix up issues with refugee and those with immigration it is easy to see how UKIP followers seem to be losing a lot of compassion lately. If Corbyn wants to avoid divisive politics he is going to need to be somewhat more forthright in persuading his party – and its voters – to look at world-wide issues linking:
- Anti-war attitudes;
- Labour’s bad history under Blair for entering wars;
- His openly anti-Trident opinions;
- Trade in arms to dangerous countries;
- World conflicts creating refugees and asylum seekers; who
- Come to the UK for support; amongst
- Economic migrants potentially affected by Brexit.
I’ll use the word again: messy.
Jeremy Corbyn, immigration and Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn, immigration and Brexit – these could be the key terms to follow over the coming conferences. If Corbyn is going to start leading a truly viable opposition to the current government he is going to need to find some way of uniting his party at least in an anti-Tory stance, even if some of the details remain hotly debated within his front and back benches.