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For Heaven’s sake man, Go!

Jeremy Corbyn: driving Labour to the brink?
Image credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

This is the only occasion I can think of that David Cameron has taken the words right out of my mouth. Jeremy Corbyn is sitting very un-prettily on a throne that is no longer welcoming his presence. Over a week ago 172 Labour MPs passed a non-binding motion of no-confidence. Over 80% of Labour MPs no longer have confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. It seems that the summer blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War is being played out across the news, except with few heroes and little hope.

Channel 4 released a video on Facebook after the unveiling of the Chilcot Report comparing Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Blair’s commentary of the unfolding Iraq war since 2003. The comparison of two wildly differing viewpoints of the Iraq war is stark. Think what you will about Blair, but I can’t help but feel the rallying cries against the ex-leader show an under-appreciation for the weight of leadership. Corbyn’s rallying followers are saying the same thing: ‘he’s leading, he’s under pressure, give him a break’. You can’t hold the two leaders up together. The incumbent leader has never led the country, he has no experience in cabinet, shadow or otherwise – and I believe for good reason.

Jeremy Corbyn has worked very hard as an MP. He has led some fantastic grassroots campaigns and admirably represented his constituency for decades. However, this simply does not qualify him for leadership. Opposition leaders gain experience by working alongside the shadow cabinet, something the Islington North MP never did. He voted against his party over 500 times meaning he’s never seen a taste of leadership within Labour. That is a sign of a principled MP, but a misplaced leader.

Labour has been given many opportunities to oppose the government well. The government was in divided tatters over a toxic referendum but its leadership failed to be unified –  Corbyn even planned a holiday leading up to the referendum. At the election of Saddiq Khan – arguably the first major electoral win for Labour since 2005 – the leader didn’t even attend the swearing-in ceremony. Labour lost eighteen seats in May’s local elections. For the first election as opposition leader, to actually lose councillors is quite a defeat. These gaffes and failures are also not to mention that Labour hasn’t even been able to dent the SNP’s repeating victories. The strange paradox here being that Scotland’s politics has moved further to the left, but the most left-wing leader of Labour in over twenty years has no effect on the party’s fortunes there.

These issues are all part of the trials and tribulations of being a leader, but what I see as the fatal fault is stubbornness. Corbyn was swept to power on a wave of cheering fans hoping for a ‘different type of politics’. The ‘different kind of politics’ looked unexperienced and unprepared. It is not entirely the Leader of the Opposition’s fault; he was thrust into the divisive leadership race on a whim. Fellow candidates Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall urged Labour members to vote for anyone but Jeremy Corbyn, driving a wedge between factions within the party. This campaign left Labour in a very unstable place, and it was only a matter of time before the cracks began to show.

Corbynistas claim that the party leader’s support in September 2015 was so big that the vote of no confidence is undemocratic and unfair. 172 MPs have been elected by the public, they are hard-working and they each have worked alongside the Labour leader for over nine months on a daily basis. 172 people do not vote in malice but with thoughtfulness as to what is best for the country and best for the party. Deputy leader Tom Watson and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey attempted talks, trying to negotiate a resignation from the Labour leader but Corbyn dug his heels and is forcing an agonising leadership contest where he himself will stand. Angela Eagle is preparing to launch a leadership bid and it’s likely more will follow.

The Labour party is bigger than a man. I’m afraid that a party I have always had some faith in, is collapsing before my eyes, I’m depressed that British politics yet again are lacking credible and unified leadership and I’m tired of reading the tragic decline in credible opposition to the government.