I’m tired of reading articles from moderate, centrist and right-wing political commentators on how a Corbyn victory would signal the end of the Labour Party, kill off the Green Party and fragment the left (or words to that effect), so I thought I’d explain why I think they’re wrong, how I see a Corbyn victory as being a great, unifying result for a progressive Labour Party, the Greens and many other parties on the left, and how I think he could lead the party to victory in 2020.
I want to first clarify what I mean by ‘great result’, as results in politics are such subjective things. If Corbyn wins, left-leaning parties like the Greens will likely see a significant drop in votes and membership numbers, while Labour will likely see a surge. However, what many commentators don’t seem to understand is that people on the left/liberal side of the political spectrum care more about enacting positive change than party colours. It’s important to point out here that since the start of Corbyn’s campaign, the left (people and parties alike) have started to unite under a common cause, and this hasn’t happened for a generation. If he wins, the issues we hold close to our hearts will finally be thrust into the limelight and debated seriously in parliament. That’s the best result the left-leaning Labour voters, Greens and other left-wing parties could hope for, and I’m sure many with democratic socialist beliefs will either join Labour or start to form progressive inter-party alliances to help be a part of this change.
Historically, however, political parties have been unlikely to win without the support of centrists and moderates, but I believe the centre ground has been muddied with self-serving career politicians which have made ordinary people feel powerless and disenfranchised for so long that public apathy and weariness has crept in. I think this is why a third of those registered to vote didn’t even bother in the last election. It’s important to point out that the ‘centre ground’ has also shifted further and further to the right under decades of a prevailing Tory narrative (perpetuated by the Lib Dems and New Labour), which I also believe is leaving a lot of people feeling cold. If the pre-general election leadership debates taught me anything, it’s that people want something they can vote for.
The Conservative party understands this better than any other large party, and this is why they did so well in the last election. They packaged themselves as the party for “aspirational” working people, which got them the votes from poor people who don’t want to be [or think of themselves as] poor, middle-earners who want to earn more and rich people who want to get richer. It’s good PR, pure and simple, and while I can’t stomach the Conservatives’ policies, at least I know where I stand with them.
In the last election I thought that Labour, in contrast, felt as if it was unsure of what it actually was trying to achieve (apart from wanting to oust the Tories). It felt as if the party was trying to be a ‘Jack of all trades’ to try and win the support of both left and right-leaning moderates without the heart or policies to back it up. It all felt a little desperate, to be frank.
With Corbyn, on the other hand, people actually know what they’re voting for: a principled politician who speaks up for what he genuinely believes will be best for ordinary, vulnerable and excluded people. This is why I don’t think the 2020 election will be won in Blairite fashion by appealing to the already-voting centre ground, but instead by inspiring the third of registered voters who didn’t vote to get to the polling booths, as well as inspiring the many more who didn’t register to vote to actually sign up in the first place. That is the real challenge, and out of all the leadership contenders, only Corbyn has demonstrably shown he has the ability to inspire such loyalty.