openDemocracyUK

New Labour is 'unelectable'

Anything other than a Jeremy Corbyn victory will signal a disaster for Labour, who will be tripping over themselves to superficially differentiate themselves from the Tories.

Timothy Smith
30 July 2015
Corbyn

The 'Corbyn surge' has shown no sign of abating. Flickr/Jason. Some rights reserved.

Jeremy Corbyn joined the Labour leadership race as a stark outsider. Nobody gave him a chance and many even took pity on him to actually nominate him, so he could legitimately run. He was a 100-1 outsider according to the bookmakers and himself declared that he was only running to provide an alternative voice, given that his rivals are all New Labour purists, without much difference between them. All of them supported austerity and none of them could truly present an alternative vision to the ruling Conservative Party.

Corbyn though, provides a real difference; he is a principled, Old Labourist. He is putting forward an alternative vision for the Labour Party. This is what is causing a lot of problems. Many within the party are lamenting the fact that someone like Corbyn (honest, principled, unspoilt by political advisors and PR men) could win this, declaring him wholly unelectable. He isn't seen as sexy enough, or polished enough to garner support.

The anti-Corbyn media have united to smear him, as have the Labour Party's mainstream politicians. Tony Blair was trotted out to give his opinion, claiming that voting for Corbyn was 'reactionary' as if Corbyn had no legitimate policies, simply because he wasn't in line with Blair's centre-right agenda. 

A ‘disaster’?

Some have gone as far as to say that if Corbyn won, it would destroy Labour. Liz Kendall, one of his main rivals (who is tanking in the polls) said a Corbyn win would be a 'disaster' for the party, as if anyone else running would be better suited. This is why: 

The logic goes that Labour need to reclaim the centre (or the centre right space more accurately) from the Tories if they are to win the election. These New Labour, right wing rivals are all obsessed with targeting Tory votes. This is wholly misguided. The Tories only received 11.3 million votes. That really is not a lot. That's 37% of those who voted, which doesn't count the bulk of people who didn't even turn out to vote. Of those eligible to vote only 24% voted for the Tories, that means that Labour are missing out on the vast majority of people who DID NOT vote Tory, as they pander to the city and a right wing press.

It is Jeremy Corbyn, not the other candidates, who is targeting the majority of voters who shunned the Tories (and also shunned Labour). This is why he is becoming so popular, because an anti-austerity, social justice message does have scope. Just look at the way the SNP cleaned up in Scotland. 

Rather than Corbyn representing the death of Labour, anything other than a Corbyn victory will signal a disaster for Labour, who will be tripping over themselves to differentiate themselves from the Tories, despite having much in common with them.

Just look at the shadow cabinet who all look so quintessentially Blair, and so similar to their Tory opponents. They went to the same sort of schools, the same sort of universities and worked the same sort of corporate jobs before becoming politicians. People don't want New Labour, that's abundantly clear. The only people who want New Labour are Labour. 

If Labour opt for anyone but Corbyn they'll be forever struggling to find a space. The reason they lost the last election was not because they were 'too left wing.' Labour would have produced a dangerously similar budget to the Tories. As they stood pre-election they were not anti-austerity at all. They were simply Tory-lite. And unfortunately for them, the voters preferred the real deal, rather than a mock-up version.

Corbyn is the only candidate capable of smashing the legacy of Blair. Corbyn is something Labour are not, popular. Labour need him if they want to return to their roots and actually represent the rights of ordinary people. Without him, they'll look more Tory than ever and continue to struggle to find a place. If they want to win an election and actually gain some popular support, they need a leader like Corbyn, who knows how to speak to ordinary people. This again is why the SNP had success and this is why Labour can have success under Corbyn.

If he wins, it won't be easy, as a right wing press agenda and right wing elements within his own party will not be supporting him. But, if he loses, Labour won't exactly have a better chance of winning the election. It's New Labour that are unelectable, not Corbyn. Corbyn is trying to speak to the 76% of people who did not vote for the Tories. And it appears to be working. Corbyn is a popular man, not many politicians can say that for themselves. Labour need to give him a chance to do that, rather than pandering to Tory swing votes, who, at the end of the day, won’t help Labour create a grand vision. If Corbyn can fend off factions in his own party, it looks like he might have a chance of winning in 2020. There is nothing unelectable about someone with popular ideas. Quite the opposite.

We stand for democracy – please support us

We work to investigate and illuminate the crisis of democracy in Britain – and analyse how its failings can be healed.

We bring together outsider voices and diverse opinions.

We do deep investigative journalism exposing the gap between politicians' rhetoric and action.

We publish on and from all the British nations while questioning the nature of the UK.

Unconstrained by party political loyalties, we ask how we as citizens can secure our liberty, human rights, self-government and real democracy.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram