What good are principles without power? Ryan Curran, a 17-year-old Labour member who voted for Jeremy Corbyn, explains why the Labour leader must go.
Labour’s previous leadership contest, now over nine months ago, inspired me to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as a “registered supporter”. His unique and honest style of politics was refreshing and seemed to be what the Labour Party desperately lacked. So when he won that election by a landslide, thousands of Labour members and supporters across the country, me included, couldn’t wait to see what this relatively unknown MP had to offer. However, since that election, with Corbyn’s leadership abilities having been properly tested, it has become clear that what he has to offer is uninspiring and unconvincing.
Tales of incompetence stemming from Corbyn’s team have emerged in recent weeks while his blatant lack of effective leadership has become apparent since he took over. One Labour MP, receiving treatment for cancer at the time, was supposedly given a position in the Shadow Cabinet without any notification, only then for Corbyn to sack her the next day after realising he had given her part of someone else’s role. Yet still no one had informed her regarding any of this. Mr Corbyn’s office blame this on “miscommunication”. I say it is blatant incompetence. Even Richard Murphy, the creator of “Corbynomics” and a former economic guru to Mr Corbyn, claims the leader has “no policy direction, no messaging, no direction, no co-ordination, no nothing.”
Meanwhile, Corbyn fails to turn up to PLP meetings, misses glaring PMQs opportunities (for instance, he forgot to mention Iain Duncan Smith in the session immediately following his high profile resignation), oversees shambolic reshuffles, and hides away from the media in times of difficulty. A recent ComRes poll demonstrates the public is more than aware of his inability to do the job. When up against Theresa May, only 13 per cent believe Corbyn is a strong leader, while Theresa May sits comfortably at 55 per cent. Meanwhile, 39 per cent believe Corbyn to be incompetent, while May reaches a mere eight per cent. And perhaps more worryingly (if it were even possible), voters believe Theresa May to be more principled than Corbyn by one percentage point, leaving the claim that the Labour leader has a chance of beating the Tories in an election as a result of his principles in tatters.
In terms of who the public think would make a better prime minister overall, Theresa May sweeps the board across all age groups. Even among voters aged 18-24, the group Corbyn is supposed to have inspired and enthused, the majority believe May is more suited to be PM. Terrifyingly, even 31 per cent of those who identified as Labour voters think May would perform better than Corbyn, with just over 40 per cent believing Corbyn would do a better job.
These statistics aren’t just bad for the Labour Party, they’re utterly devastating. No reasoned individual can argue that Corbyn stands a chance of winning an election faced with such damning figures. The public, especially following Brexit, crave strong and competent leadership, yet the evidence shows they believe Corbyn possesses neither.
Picture 2020: as Labour goes into the next election with Corbyn as the party’s leader, and how incredibly simple it would be for the Conservatives to win yet another majority with a theme along the lines of: “75 per cent of Jeremy Corbyn’s MPs do not support his leadership abilities, why should you?” It is simply absurd to imagine a political party going into an election so utterly vulnerable and open to attack as Labour is right now.
For Labour members, some still reeling from last year’s brutal election defeat, such electoral disaster is unthinkable. Yet with Jeremy Corbyn it appears inevitable. As such, members and registered supporters must awaken to this reality. The Labour Party can still be saved, but only if it makes the measured and outward-looking decision to choose an electable candidate that stands a chance of beating the Tories in the next election, which may indeed be called before 2020.
However, if members and supporters vote to return Corbyn to power, and the party suffers an election defeat so completely catastrophic the thought of anything but Tory rule remains distant for over a decade, we will only have ourselves to blame. As members of the Labour Party, this is our decision to make. I hope, for the sake of millions of people up and down the country who are desperately in need of a progressive Labour government, we make the right decision and elect the only credible candidate in this fresh leadership contest: Owen Smith.