Labour are embroiled in what seems like a death spiral. It’s Labour v Labour on the campaign trail, in Scotland and at the High Court. And, when you’re too busy fighting your own team, only your opponent wins.
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith are fighting out a seemingly one sided leadership battle grounded personality, rather than, policy differences.
The background to this is polling figures from early August show voting intention for the Conservatives at 42% while Labour sit on 28% – a massive 14% lead for a second term government. This could be temporary owed to a new Prime Minister bounce but it doesn’t feel like changing if Corbyn remains leader, or if Smith takes over. Answering the question ‘who would make the best Prime Minister?’ 52% of respondents said Theresa May while Jeremy Corbyn was beaten into third by ‘Don’t know’ with 18% and 30% respectively. Add that with the fact that 80% of his parliamentary colleagues don’t think he can be Prime Minister and his opponents will tell you the logical conclusion is that Corbyn’s position is untenable.
To be honest, we agree with them. Corbyn should listen to the voters being polled and to his colleagues in the parliamentary party and step aside for someone more capable of uniting the party. But Corbyn’s opponents need to listen too.
Since Corbyn took over as leader Labour’s membership has swollen to 515k. This is up a massive 315k since the day of the last election. These joiners see something in Corbyn that they haven’t seen in Labour for years. What that is, we don’t know. What we do know is that Labour leaders from across the party need to pay attention to it.
They also need to listen to, and more importantly respect, the decisions made by their devolved parties.
Scottish leader, Kezia Dugdale, recently had to tell members in Scotland that the party would not now, nor in the future, back a pact with the SNP in order to prevent a Conservative government. This came on the back of calls by the Shadow Scotland Secretary, Dave Anderson, calling for a relationship with the SNP at Westminster.
In each of these instances Labour is in broadcast mode. Whether it’s the left criticising the right for, along with the MSM, ganging up on Corbyn. Or the right of the party telling Corbyn that he isn’t seen as a Prime Minister in waiting. Or the Shadown Scottish Secretary speaking without consulting his party leader in Scotland.
The only people they’re talking now to is each other. It’s a shame for them that they can’t hear a word of what’s being said.