Looking Past The Membership

Apologies for the lack of posts, final year of University as you would expect is incredibly hectic. I’ve wanted to write this piece for a long time now, and this article from New Statesmen metaphorically sent me over the edge. The article highlights just how popular Corbyn is within the membership, with him receiving 62% of leadership votes among Labour members, considerably more than any other top Labour MP. Great. Bravo. Fantastic. Heroes was popular to the viewers of Heroes. But it still got cancelled. Not the perfect metaphor I know, but it doesn’t particularly matter whether Corbyn is popular to Labour members, a membership that only 6 months ago voted him in.

Labour’s membership equates to about 0.5% of the UK population, so effectively the article states that Corbyn is popular to 1/200th of the population. Obviously there will be fans outside of the membership, but because of the media’s onslaught, it’s unlikely the numbers are high. In fact it’s clear that he’s not popular within the electorate. We currently have the most incompetent, most devious, most cruel government in charge for many a year but their lead in the polls is ever growing. Why?

Basically to put it kindly as I possibly can, we have an incompetent opposition with (what is seen by the electorate) an incompetent leader. We, as a party, are seen as being incredibly out of touch with the electorate. For example as Ian Warren’s article points out:

“only one in six (16%) Labour party members believe immigration to be even in the top three most important issues facing the country, compared to 60% of the British public. Over two-thirds (68%) of Labour party members oppose the renewal of Trident, compared to just over a quarter of the British public (29%).”

Corbyn as part of his leadership said he would carry out the policies the membership wanted, meaning that Labour would oppose renewal of trident, continue to support free movement and access to benefits for EU migrants, and commit to public spending increases. However, this does not meet the opinions or wants of the electorate.

Don’t get me wrong I’d obviously love for the left movement to be successful; socialism is seen to be showing movement around the world e.g. Bernie Sanders, and Podemos within Spain. But, with the economy and immigration being such important factors to the electorate right now, people just cannot seem to trust the left after Blair’s government. The party should be taking a leaf out of Sadiq Khan’s mayoral campaign, as examined in Hamish Porter’s article, where he is focusing entirely on issues that matter to a large group of the electorate, predominantly, housing. Something Labour has always fought on is inequality, and this is also a big issue around many of the masses, especially the voters we should be targeting. High Pay Centre point out that:

“UKIP Supporters say tackling rich/poor gap is higher priority than taxes and benefits. 80% of UKIP supporters saying it should be a government priority, and across Britain, concern about pay gaps is now greater than about immigration”

This is where we should continue fighting the Tories, not harping on about Trident.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, we’ve spent too much time infighting and reshuffling, that we haven’t been holding this government to account. The left has spent far too much time making sure that everyone within is happy and on the same page, that the country has been left in the hands of the Tories. Even the Beckett Report wasn’t critical of Labour’s performance, although highlighting what went wrong it simply looked for many excuses. It highlighted that ‘Labour did not lose because it was left wing’ and highlights that many left wing policies were popular, especially the nationalisation of railways and increasing the top rate of tax. But as Louie Woodall articulates ‘people do not vote for these things. They vote on the things they care most about. And those things are not nationalisation, higher wages, and tax reform’.

Labour needs to look not to the issues of its members, but the issues of the electorate. Like Blair did with welfare in the 90s, we need to highlight issues and make them seem key to the masses especially with an uncertain future. We need to highlight what the Tories are doing so wrong e.g. current inequality, complex care, and poor investment by the Tories in many areas such as health and education. Because what is the point of Labour’s membership loving Corbyn, if the electorate aren’t buying in?

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