National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Saturday, 12 September 2015
Corbyn as leader is definitely a good thing!
A new direction for Labour under Corbyn?
In case you have missed the news Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as leader of the Labour Party and this is something to be celebrated.
Celebrated? Really Chris? Why would a LibDem be celebrating this?
A fine set of questions to which the answers are; Yes, really and it is a long complicated rant so buckle up....
Firstly, I am a big fan of democracy and political theory - it is one of my vices and I'm a HUGE fan of Hobbes "Leviathan". I studied the evolution of Political theory at university for a semester and found this evolution fascinating and for a time I flirted with Marxism. To be fair I worked for MacDonald's at the time and it seemed to be a fair leap.
Anyway - at this point I was ripe to be attracted to a strong Labour movement and the Labour Party there was just one thing in the way.... New Labour.
New Labour has always struck me as a Diet Tory movement which was geared to winning elections and that was it. Throw in my opposition to the Iraq War and other policies such as ID cards etc and I found myself realising that beyond my radical reaction to my employer I had no real socialist beliefs and that liberalism was where my heart truly lay.
However I have always maintained that the Labour party should be a working class party and that for me and many others it had long ceased to be that.
Can I back up this assertion?
The rise of third (and fourth) party politics is a massive clue to this. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats attracted a large amount of votes from people who were looking for something different rather than the two same old parties who seemingly offered us nothing different. In 2015 following the Coalition that saw us being lumped into the same boat as Labour and the Tories the working classes flooded to UKIP seeing Farage as someone new and out of the Westminster bubble. Indeed according to our intel, streets that had been historically Labour were turning to UKIP instead. Why? Because Farage seemed to be voicing the working family's fears and beliefs rather than Westminster protocol and edited press statements.
What has this got to do with Corbyn?
Jeremy Corbyn is of the old school of Labour, a genuine Left winger who will (hopefully) steer the party away from the middle ground and actually represent the working classes again. No more of this abstaining on key votes as they did under Harman recently. The Party membership are obviously vexed with this New Labour fad and want to return to their old core values, the values the party were founded on, the very values and voters who were that much more extreme than the Old Liberal party back in the 1920s that saw the party rise to prominance. This is the same shift again almost a century on.
Finally there will be a gulf between Right and Left which will give the voters something to get behind.
There have been a lot of smug Tory tweets claiming walkover in 2020 and that we are looking at another five year term of Conservative government based on today's Labour leadership result. I wouldn't be so sure... After all if Corbyn can steer the party left and actually start representing the working classes again then they will draw a massive amount of support away from UKIP (always a good thing) and if he stands on anti-austerity (and means it) then he will gain even more votes and we could see the rise of the Labour party.
It also means that dissatisfied centralists in the Labour party may come looking for a centre party and join the LibDems(?).
So what about Medway?
Well on the council level it is too early to say. Many people have predicted the Conservatives losing seats in the last two elections and they've still walked away with a massive majority. I think it is too early to say for 2019.
I will predict that Corbyn's tenure (if done right) coupled with the absence of Mark Reckless, will see the end of Medway UKIP's showing on the council and (hopefully) see a massive fall in their vote share across the wards.
For the LibDems locally it won't make that big a difference with us still campaigning on our strengths and strong work ethic.
As for the 2020 General election - it is way to early to call that... IF the right candidate (and my money is on Naushabah Kahn) is against Rehman Chishti then we could see a swing to Labour. Sadly I fear the same might be true in Chatham & Aylesford IF the right candidate comes along and the voters of Chatham go back to Labour rather than UKIP then not even Tracey's record could save her but that is a pretty BIG IF!!!!
Though these predictions are, as Joey from Friends once said; Moo ("Its like a Cow's opinion - it doesn't matter"). I stand by my belief that Labour will now return to its roots and represent its core supporters - the workers which can only be a good thing for British politics having a clear divide between Red and Blue.