Jeremy Corbyn may consider himself an embodiment of Labour’s values, but he is signing not only his party into the history books, but also threatening the interests of British democracy.
The Labour Party in its traditional appeal has run its course. No longer do we have the same industrial Britain that won them a landslide in 1945, and in a post-Thatcher world our working class is significantly smaller. To maintain its credibility, Labour needs leadership. A leadership that can appeal, and a leadership that can be strong in opposition.
Corbyn provides neither, and the upcoming by-elections in Stoke and Copeland will likely prove this. With two-thirds of Labour constituencies voting Leave, Corbyn’s inability to accept immigration concerns opens these areas up to the far-right. Especially, when UKIP claimed 22.7 per cent back in 2015, more than both the Tories and the Lib Dems.
Heaven only knows what a general election would do to Labour. To some degree, voters should be eternally grateful to Mrs May for not abusing her powers. An early election could easily have increased her own majority and forced Labour out of opposition.
It is in democracy’s interests to have a healthy and strong alternative to the sitting government. Otherwise, our political system succumbs to despotism and deadlock. Labour’s Corbyn-induced crisis harps back to 1983’s ‘Longest Suicide Note in History’, and arguably the opposition has never looked weaker.
For those with any interest in Labour’s success, it should be blindingly obvious that Corbyn must go. With the Brexit three-line whip further dividing the party, a third leadership contest could be around the corner.
But who can pick Labour up from the depths that it finds itself?
If history is anything to go by, far-left leadership under Foot was succeeded by Kinnock’s centrist movement. What followed was not electoral success, but a modernisation that reflected Thatcher’s move rightward. Without this, the Blair years would have been unimaginable.
What needs to follow now is a new modernisation program, accepting the post-Brexit global shift rightward and guiding the party back to credibility.
In terms of leaders, former Acting Head Harriet Harman could capitalise on the wave of female empowerment and challenge Corbyn. Alternatively, the party could play it safe with more leftist figures like Keir Starmer, who could modernise the party’s image but would struggle to shift it anywhere ideologically different.
Bottom line: if Labour wants to win power again, Corbyn must release the reigns. But given his reluctance and incapacity to admit his own liability, it looks like another attempt will have to be made from someone willing to do it for him.