The result of the referendum was game-changing for British politics. The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had an excellent opportunity to re-engage with the disaffected working class and devise a plan that drew our divided nation together. Instead, they have challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the party. They argue that Corbyn lost the referendum, is a weak leader and would not be elected Prime Minister in a snap election. I think they are wrong and seized an opportunity to foster their ambitions above the needs of the nation.
Blaming Corbyn for Brexit is incomprehensible. Margaret Hodge, a leader in the Corbyn revolt, is MP for one of the few London constituencies’ that voted to leave. She is no more responsible for this than Corbyn was for the country’s decision.
Both Corbyn and Theresa May had low profiles during the campaign and gave a mixed message on remaining. However, May is the favourite to become the PM and Corbyn subject to ‘the night of the long knives’.
Leadership, I believe is about purpose and belief. Corbyn has both. Consequently, he attracted a following which has doubled Labour Party membership.
Corbyn has been clear that his purpose is to stop austerity, to improve social and working conditions and to encourage business. People trust him, unlike the PLP, who could be confused with the Tories. Corbyn voted against £12bn cuts to Welfare and Work Reforms, 184 members of the PLP did not.
A snap election is unlikely to be called. Arguably, the next PM has the mandate to govern. However, even if the PLP believe it possible, it is not their place to remove the Party leader even if they feel he does not have broad appeal. The PLP does not decide the Labour leader but the grass-roots membership. It is undemocratic to try to unseat the leader who has a 60% majority.
Corbyn has not had the time, opportunity or media support to establish whether or not he has broad appeal. However, before his leadership, Labour had experienced a loss of grass-roots support in general elections.
If Corbyn can inspire the numbers of the Labour party to swell then, surely he must be best placed to win back support in the Labour Heartlands. That could lead Labour to electoral victory. His leadership won a by-election that Labour was expected to lose, followed by positive results in the local elections.
Corbyn has stood firm in the face of adversity, refusing to resign because he has a responsibility to honour the faith that the members placed in him. That is strong leadership; he has not jumped ship like Cameron, Farage or Johnson. He has shown respect for the party membership and democracy. The PLP, on the other hand, have behaved with indifference to both. They also could have used their energy to hold those to account who abrogated their responsibility. Instead, they have chosen to foster their ambitions above the needs of the nation.
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