The decision to go to war in Iraq over mythical weapons of mass destruction was a significant point in the decline of the Labour party. Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband, successors to Tony Blair, did not make the situation any better with both leaders loosing general elections – the devastating results in the 2010 and 2015 general elections that brought the coalition government of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat into Downing Street and the annihilation of the party in Scotland respectively tell the story. The declining view of the party was made worse by the public rebellions, negative media comments and outbursts, infighting and the coordinated resignations of members of the shadow cabinet. The sum total of these actions is appalling at best for the following reasons:
- MPs public disloyalty to the leader, party members and labour voters
- Inability to work in and as a team for the greater good
- Refusal to serve the people in the shadow cabinet.
- Total disregard of the wishes and rights of members of the party that voted overwhelmingly for Jeremy Corbyn.
- Out of touch with the public’s dislike of career and establishment politicians
- The orchestration of the foiled coup to oust a democratically elected leader
- Aggressive and legal steps taken to disenfranchise members of the party thereby robbing them of their rights to vote in the leadership election
- Attempt to deny the leader automatic rights to be on the ballot paper in the leadership election against party rules.
- Public condemnation of the leader and the party’s future prospects in the media
- Past leaders of the party condemning the incumbent despite their poor records while in office
- The incessant name calling and character assassination by MPs and the media of party members who support Jeremy Corbyn and members of momentum.
The leadership campaign was bruising and divisive culminating in the final televised debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. Rather than focus on political issues and concerns of the populace, personal attacks on looks, comeliness and trivial matters were the order of the debate. The crux of Owen Smith’s campaign from the debates can be paraphrased as “I agree with Jeremy’s policies but I am better looking”, really? Against all odds, Jeremy Corbyn was deservedly re-elected as leader of the party for the second time in 12 months with a greater mandate leaving the rebellious MP with their tails between their legs. The significance of Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election emphasises that:
- You don’t judge a book by its cover and empty vessels make the loudest noise.
- It demonstrated the steadfastness and tenacity of the leader to withstand the onslaught of the media and MPs by fighting passionately for what he believes in and honouring the mandate given to him by party members.
- It showed that the leader, despite his convictions and principles, has the ability to find middle grounds to compromise for the sake of the party to foster unity
- Everyone should be given equal opportunity in life regardless of looks, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
- Democracy shouldn’t be hijacked by disloyal MPs who spend their time plotting coups instead of working to address issues and unite the party.
- Majority does not always equate to correctness.
- It exposed the MPs who do not know when to stop digging and start building by refusing to acknowledge the results or serve in the shadow cabinet.
Despite the increased mandate given to Jeremy Corbyn, there are still disloyal voices within the ranks stirring up issues behind the scenes. Wouldn’t it be better for those MPs that are not willing to work in and with the team to honourably resign or be deselected and stop hindering progress in the party? By not embracing or accepting the reality of the leader’s mandate they will continue to lose credibility in politics. The negative and divisive utterances of during the leadership camping inflicted wounds and deepened divisions in the party and country. The Labour Party is now faced with a Herculean task to right these ills, regain lost grounds and prepare for the next general election.
Contrary to the assertion propagated by some, the current situation in the party is not as a result of Jeremy Corbyn being the leader, but rather it is as a result of the public and negative criticism of the leader, party members and the party itself. This has portrayed the party to the world as disunited, full of MPs that cannot work in a team or be an effective opposition how much more lead the country if in government. They have sown so much hate and negativity with tales of doom and speculations of party splits, demise of the Labour movement and even stating the party cannot win an election. With these utterances by serving MPs, how would the public be made to believe or vote otherwise. Would they now eat their words and campaign for the party wholeheartedly, or stand aside hoping for signs of failures to fuel further public attacks of the leader?
The UK Labour Party is in-between delivery, the due date is just round the corner. What gets delivered after this impasse is up to the MPs to determine. The party can either be cast into political oblivion if the disloyalty, grumbling and infighting continues or it gives birth to a stronger and united Labour party if everyone pulls together, unite behind the leader and deliver at the next general elections with straight-talking honest politics.