Should Jeremy Corbyn resign as Labour leader? This question has been asked ever since the veteran Labour MP assumed office in September 2015. In our latest Head to Head debate, Sam Brooke argues that Jeremy Corbyn is the right man to lead Labour into the 2020 general election. However, Eric Kostadinov believes that Mr Corbyn should step down as leader. Who do you agree with? Read both arguments and vote in our poll!
Eric Kostadinov: Corbyn should resign
Labour will not win the 2020 election under Jeremy Corbyn. This is the most obvious statement currently in British Politics, with Labour a staggering 18% behind in most polls. What is the point of Labour if it is not able to govern? Jeremy Corbyn is not helping anybody in the country if Labour remains in opposition.
The fact that membership of the party has risen under his watch does not prove that the wider electorate support Corbyn, and indeed they don't, with Labour membership making up less than 1% of the overall population.
Secondly, supporters of Corbyn talk about his mandate to lead the party. It's true that he does have a mandate, however that does not mean that he shouldn't do the honourable thing and resign for the sake of a functioning opposition, and for the sake of the working classes who rely on the Labour Party, but who do not take the same interest in Politics as die-hard Corbyn supporters.
Corbyn supporters also argue that the country doesn't want to return to New Labour. This may be true, but wanting to get rid of Corbyn does not mean that you want New Labour back. Lisa Nandy and Ed Miliband are just two Labour MP's who don't believe Corbyn is the answer but also don't want a return to New Labour. Labour can get rid of Corbyn but still retain its values.
Labour will never be united under Corbyn. Although this is not 100% the fault of Corbyn, this is irrelevant and shows the unfortunate mess that can occur when the leader can't convince his own MP's that he is competent to lead. The reason why he can't convince his own MP's is because he indeed isn't a leader. Initially, he didn't want to win his own leadership race, and the fact he hasn't held a senior position within the party until now speaks volumes.
Corbyn is the least media savvy politician around, and whether those on the left like it or not, soundbites, election slogans, personality and party unity matter. Corbyn is too principled and naive to notice this, and the media destroy him for it, and if he was to make it to the next election they would attack him on an unprecedented level. Corbyn's image in the press is far too damaged to ever win an election. Again, whether we like it or not, he is viewed by many as a terrorist sympathiser, someone who doesn't love their own country, and someone who is far too left wing. He doesn't have the media skills to challenge this rhetoric, and he comes across absolutely woefully and out of his depth.
His ideology is also not representative of what the British public want, and Corbyn and his supporters do not seem to understand that not every person thinks socialism is the answer. If Jeremy Corbyn takes the party to the 2020 election it will be utterly destroyed. For the sake of the working classes who rely on Labour, he should do the honourable thing and resign.
Sam Brooke: Corbyn should remain leader
Although Jeremy Corbyn has been bashed by the right-wing media, right-wing parties, the Labour right, and Matthew Wright, it’s common knowledge that the Islington MP is a very principled man. Not only has he bent over backwards for his constituents, but his voting record on many issues is nigh-on impeccable. He opposed the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, as well as opposing the anti-LGBT Section 28 law, the introduction of university tuition fees, and the privatisation of the NHS enacted by the New Labour government. Perhaps the only skeleton in his closet is that he’s an Arsenal fan.
While opponents will say that Corbyn is too left-wing to be electable, people are forgetting that the usually successful centre-left social democratic parties of Europe have been in decline for years: the French Socialist Party is in 4th place in the presidential election polls, the Democratic Party in Italy lost an important referendum last year, and - most recently - the Dutch Labour Party fell to an all-time low of 9 seats after the general election in March. The working-class have fled to populists like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen because they feel abandoned by the liberalism that enacted austerity and made their lives harder.
Corbyn’s democratic socialist views and history as a champion of the working-class - supporting the Miners strikes in the 1980s - means that he offers a real alternative to those that feel disillusioned with the status quo and would otherwise flock to UKIP. Corbyn supports the nationalisation of energy and transport services, so they’re run for the people, not profit - sure enough, according to a YouGov poll, 73% of UKIP voters supported the nationalisation of railways and 79% for energy nationalisation. A more right-wing Labour leader would not be able to attract working-class voters like Corbyn can.
In fact, UKIP’s success is down to its pro-working-class policies as much as it is on blaming immigration for problems - leader Paul Nuttall has expressed a desire to keep the NHS public, and campaigns for progressive taxation and the protection of benefits. Armed with policies that support the welfare state and the support of trade unions, Corbyn can tempt working-class Ukip voters over to Labour by campaigning for their best interests as he always has, as well as Plaid Cymru, Green, and socialist voters with his left-wing policies.
If there’s one thing that Corbyn’s good at, it’s creating grassroots movements. His main support base in the Labour Party, Momentum, are renowned for their activism and energy on the campaign trail, and the fact that the party now has over 500,000 members - making it the largest party in terms of membership in Western Europe - is a testament to the energy the man creates - as much as he might look like he’d prefer an afternoon kip.
Unlike recent Labour leaders, Jeremy Corbyn can speak the working-class’ language and spread a message of hope, not hate. If that’s not enough to lead a working-class movement, then his six “Parliamentary Beard of the Year” titles should be.
But what do you think....?
Image rights: rwendland @ Commons Wikimedia