Old Labour Old Problems?

Having elected Jeremy Corbyn as it’s leader the Labour Party now has to work out what to do with the result. There does seem to be a lot of enthusiasm for his policies among the party members, the Unions (though whether the enthusiasm extends to Union members is more debatable) and especially the £3.00 clicktivists.
Roughly half a million people were entitled to vote either by being members of the Labour party, by paying £3.00 to become a registered supporter, or as in my case, registering as a member of an affiliated organisation. Apparently only about 60,000 people took my route of registering as a member of an affiliated organisation. Registering as an affiliate cost nothing but about five minutes of your time. My Trade Union, Unite, has 1.4 million members alone, hence my skepticism as to whether the members of Unite share Len McCluskey’s enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn.
Leaving that aside, what concerns me more, is that in order to win power and enact those policies we will have to convince at least some of the 11 million people who voted Tory in May to switch their vote next time round. I don’t think that many of them decided to keep David Cameron in No.10 because Ed Milliband wasn’t left wing enough.
In addition there is also the minor problem of wresting forty odd seats in Scotland from the Nationalists. A more left leaning party might help there, at least slightly. However, as I read it the problem for Labour in Scotland wasn’t so much the politics of the politicians as their general uselessness. (The term “Numpty” was invented to describe a certain type of time served Scottish Labour politician.) The SNP will take a lot of shifting. Next May’s Scottish Assembly elections will be one of his first tests.
As for his policies, anti-austerity is a popular battle cry from John O’Groats to Athens. whether it is as popular as some people think is yet to be seen. One of the reasons that Labour lost in May was that a lot of voters didn’t see an alternative to austerity as possible and didn’t trust Labour with their taxes. Making the case against cuts will be difficult, especially as Corbyn’s preferred method of deficit reduction appears to involve higher taxes. There is an argument that the United Kingdom is under taxed, but that has to be weighed against the fact that tax rises are not popular.
How many of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, from scrapping Trident (something that is not necessarily a bad idea) through limited sanctions against Israel to nationalisation of the energy companies will actually make it into the 2020 manifesto remains to be seen. The public however may take a bit of persuading to vote for some of them.
The impression that I have is that the key to a Labour victory (as far as the Corbynistas are concerned) is voter re-education and getting people who don’t vote and up to now couldn’t be bothered to vote, to get off their sofa in May 2020 and vote Labour. In the meantime Cameron and the Tories will be gerrymandering the constituency boundaries and making it more difficult to register to vote.
We are stuck with an old white male leader, who I do not think knows how to compromise and who has alienated a large section of his M.P.’s already. We had the chance to elect a woman, Yvette Cooper, who would genuinely have brought a fresh perspective to leading the party, but we blew it. We decided we preferred the feelgood politics of protest to the politics of power. After all you can keep your principles unsullied if you never have to put them into practice.


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