About two weeks ago, on 12th September, a new leader of the Labour party was elected in the UK. This was described by many outlets as ‘shocking’ and by some senior party members as a ‘disaster’. The new opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, 66, is a senior Labour member is a hard left-wing politician who has served as such for over three decades.
The reasons he won the favour of almost 60% of voters now seem to be fairly unsurprising. After the party lost the general election in May, thousands of mostly young people joined the party gaining the right to vote. It may as well be suggested that these members that made up nearly two thirds of the total voters in September, were seeking a new face to believe in, someone honest, simple and passionate, just as they are. Perhaps, they needed someone to stand out from the rest of candidates following the centralised route drawn by Tony Blair.
But this does not make Mr. Corbyn the most desirable leader for Labour in a future perspective. This was proved by the string of some leading Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) who refused to serve in the Shadow Cabinet under his leadership immediately after the results were announced. Some of them described his victory as handing the next election’s victory to the Conservative party while others said that there is no way the new leader will stay until it takes place in 2020.
Mr. Corbyn is expected to bring back all the old hardcore socialist policies that most considered outdated, such as mass nationalisation, abolished tuition fees and reduced business subsidies. He will argue against Britain’s nuclear programme, if not the entire army, and in favour of Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union). Another example of his staggering start was the selection of his Shadow Ministers. After his first choice resulted in a Cabinet full of all middle-aged white men, he was heavily criticised and had to reshuffle it choosing mostly women this time.
On top of all that, the unfortunate leader was attacked by the governing Conservative party over his past public appearances in which he describes Hezbollah terrorist group as ‘friends’ and Osama bin Laden’s death as ‘tragedy’. He is also known for supporting the 9/11 and New World Order conspiracy theories.
The importance of a strong, competitive leader for Britain’s main opposition party cannot be overstated. Not only this person is there to criticise and hold to account the ruling government, but also to provide better alternatives and suggestions for policies. It is there to balance the power. If an opposition leader yields to the prime minister’s pressure, the way Mr. Corbyn did during his first prime minister’s questions, the governing party will have a brand new reason to relax, assured that the next victory is unescapable.
An annual Labour conference starting today in Brighton will show how much of his policy ideas he will have to give up in order to agree on something with his MPs. To draw a conclusion on where this will take the Labour party, perhaps, it would make sense to remember Mr. Corbyn’s own words said to BBC: “At my age I’m not likely to be a long-term contender, am I?”