What’s the main cause of political apathy at the moment, particularly amongst the young? Well, as a young person myself, I would say that there are a few basic reasons. Firstly, we live in a two-party system. There is absolutely no chance that any party other than the Tories and Labour have a chance of winning a majority in Parliament. Secondly, both of these parties are pretty close to each other on the political spectrum. As such, we all know that it doesn’t actually matter which of these two are in Government, because nothing is going to change, no matter who is voted in. All politicians see the world how it is, not how it should be. This is because the political system suits them. The voting system, the economic system and political rhetoric benefits the two-party system.They’ve all got pretty cushy jobs – why would they want to risk instability surrounding their jobs and their party? This is why young people in particular are so apathetic towards politics in this country. We know politicians don’t share the political will to change things, so why should we bother?
This is why Jeremy Corbyn was such a breath air when he decided to run for the leader of the Labour Party. Finally, a man who was principled, committed to change, and who would not sell out to gain political power. He was the outsider, the 100/1 shot. “This guy’s too radical” they said, “he doesn’t have a chance” they said. What happened? He inspired a generation of youngsters. He got young people involved and passionate. He shared our values and reached out to us in a way that no other politician could. And crucially, he won the election by the biggest landslide ever. Finally, the apathetic part of the population had something to be excited about. Most Labour MP’s however – fickle as they are – turned their back on Corbyn, and by extension, the Labour membership, the electorate, and democracy.
As soon as Corbyn won the election by a landslide and secured the largest mandate by a Labour leader ever, they called him unelectable. Right from the get go, many prominent Labour MP’s refused to work in Corbyn’s cabinet. A few months later, half of them rebelled and rallied behind Hilary Benn in the vote to bomb Syria. Then, despite the fact that Corbyn travelled the furthest of any party leader to make the case to remain in the EU during the referendum, they blamed solely him for not persuading the country to remain in the EU. His own MP’s scapegoated him, reminding me of sharks, circling, looking for any excuse to pounce and rip him apart.
A majority of Labour MP’s have denied Jeremy Corbyn a chance to succeed. They have denied him their support, despite the fact that he has an undeniably overwhelming mandate from the members, and then have the cheek to claim that he is the one who is ripping the party apart.
The rebel’s first choice as replacement for Labour Leader was Angela Eagle. You don’t have be a political genius to realise within two minutes of meeting her that she would never have a chance in a general election. A wetter blanket I have never seen. Just look at her disastrous Leadership campaign launch – embarrassing is an understatement. And what about her monstrously damaging performance in the EU referendum debate. If she’d have spent as much time putting forward positive reasons to stay in the EU as she did criticizing Boris Johnson and his record stewarding the capital city, then perhaps she wouldn’t have been voted as the worst of the six TV debaters by the viewers. Despite this abysmal performance, Labour MP’s nevertheless decided that she was the woman to replace the man who they believed was unable to convince the country to stay in the EU.
When the rebels finally realised she was not suitable to replace Corbyn, they put their faith in Owen Smith – who they support to this day. My question to those who support him, is this. Why is Smith more electable than Corbyn?
Smith isn’t the one who has the largest mandate ever for Labour leader. Smith wasn’t Labour leader when they won the London Mayoral election. So, in the face of Corbyn’s overwhelming support, why do they believe Smith is more likely to win a general election?
Well, one argument is that he is just as left wing as Corbyn, yet unlike the current leader, he can unite the whole party to work together. So, if we completely ignore the fact that Smith worked as a lobbyist for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world – why is he the left-wing saviour of Labour? Probably because he is the only one to run against Corbyn. As such, obviously most of the party will support him. However, just because most MP’s might support his leadership, it doesn’t mean he’ll win in 2020. If this were the reason for supporting him, then they have learnt no lessons from Ed Miliband. Before Corbyn, Miliband was supposedly a lurch to the the left, and he had the support of the party. Nevertheless, Labour got absolutely trounced in 2015. A united Labour does not mean General Election victory. They must be more.
In my eyes at least (and people may disagree with me), Smith doesn’t compete with Corbyn on the charisma scale. When Corbyn speaks, he has a lifetime of protesting and passion behind his words. He comes across as one of the most passionate and genuine leaders I have known. He inspired an entire movement to get him elected as Labour leader – called Momentum. Can one imagine Owen Smith inspiring a group of people so? I certainly can’t.
As well as this, I don’t think Smith’s policy of blocking Brexit is going to make him particularly electable. In fact, this sort of blatant disregard for the will of the majority will make him the complete opposite of electable. Smith, and those MP’s that support him, don’t seem to understand that overtly showing contempt for democracy, and 52% of the population will completely undermine their ‘electability’. Who wants to lend their support to a party who have no respect for the people who voted them in, and who uses them as simply a means to an end? Labour need as much of that 52% as possible. Indeed, part of the reason they’ve lost so much support recently is because they have seen a mass exodus of potential voters in favour of UKIP. Why is this? Because Labour has not listened to their concerns seriously, they have dismissed them as uneducated, ignorant or racist. Do they really think that blocking Brexit will win any of these voters back? No, blocking Brexit is a suicidal move, politically speaking, and will enrage a nation should they persist.
At least Corbyn was honest about the EU. He has always been a sceptic, along with many of the other supposedly hard-line left Labour MPs. He decided Labour would support the REMAIN campaign (probably because of pressure from his own MP’s), and it proved to be the wrong decision. Nevertheless, Corbyn earned much respect throughout the campaign for his reasonable, non-antagonistic tone. He didn’t engage in the hysteria or lies from either side, and was instead honest about his thoughts on the EU. He explained calmly both the positive and the negative aspects of the EU. So, while many Labour MP’s blame Corbyn for being too honest about the EU, he has the respect of much of the 52%, unlike Smith.
Bearing all this mind, how could anyone fathom the claim that Owen Smith is more likely to win a general election than Jeremy Corbyn?