Vote for hope
We all live in our own bubbles.
Most Labour people that I socialize with are not voting for Jeremy Corbyn. But, at the end of the day, if we are at all the party we claim to be, it won’t be our friends in the Labour membership that we listen to, regardless of their views on Corbyn, but the people in our lives outside the party. That is our duty.
I live in a very Labour area. Also a traditionally working class area. Outside of my university and Labour circles, everyone in my older circles come from a working class background. They are a part of a minority that still vote Labour instinctively. I have been, and still am, influenced by these people more than anyone else. Growing up discovering injustice, and being lucky enough to climb the ladder to University, I have evolved into what my council estate mum and dad always were: a Labour voter. And tribal at that. But I was of an even smaller minority to actively join the party, in the hope I could contribute to it winning in 2015. That prospect kept me excited about politics, faithful in its power to change our lives.
But for me, voting Labour was not really a choice more than it was a necessity, or so I was always told. The Labour party, for friends and family, were always there at every election, a hope to keep or vote the Tories out, the latter of whom were our tribal, mortal enemies.
So, if we were to judge a leader’s and the party’s performance, it is these people that would account for the first hurdle for judgement. The people with whom I grew up not only account for Labour’s rapidly receding core vote, but more importantly, they need and deserve a Labour government, and they -we- have always truly feared the alternative.
Fear of Toryism doesn’t seem to be deeply entrenched in some of the Party’s membership. I would avoid caricatures, but there is nothing more deeply upsetting -coming from where I am from- than seeing fellow members belittle what ‘Tory’ means when they refer to other members and MPs as ‘Red Tories’. Especially those that cannot even nearly be described as Blairite, but have simply determined that Corbyn is too calamitous, too incompetent, to win. They do not fear losing.
Fear drives a lot of communities we seek to serve, but not, it would seem, a lot of members. The fear of Corbyn losing, as all the evidence suggests, a general election is not enough to deter supporters voting for him a second time round. They vote for hope instead. A very valuable thing.
Hope is something we as a party aspire to inspire. It is not unlikely or wrong that many members voted Corbyn in 2015 because he offered them hope. His programme was simply more inspirational and hopeful than his opponents, who offered little more than managing a increasingly malign status quo. Corbyn offered change. Corbyn offered hope. That motive was noble. It is something we should aim to inspire in others.
9 months later, communities like mine do not share in that hope.
Corbyn can no longer claim to be the candidate of hope. If he claims to be the ‘people’s’ candidate, it is no people I recognise.
Corbyn cannot claim these easy, appealing tag lines -for that is all they are- because, 9 months later, it is clear Corbyn cannot win, and Corbyn thus cannot inspire hope. All we have left is fear.
I know this because I ask people around me. When I ask the friends I’ve grown up with, they want Jeremy to go. My mum, for the first time in a leadership contest, will vote via her union affiliation for Owen Smith. For her, it is merely ‘obvious’, common sense, that he cannot win an election. Apparently, her staff room thinks so too. I got a chance to speak to her friend the other day, and the same sentiment is evoked.
This sounds made up, or probably does for those that would like to remain believing the contrary. But the evidence backs me up.
My circle cannot represent everyone. I get this enough when I write on this matter. “I’m working class and I voted Corbyn!”. That’s fine. But my community, rather than them, are reflected more accurately in both canvassing and polling. Not only does polling have the Tories in the lead among C2DE voters, and in every single region bar the North East; not only does Theresa May poll 30 points ahead of her rival; not only has Corbyn got a -40 approval rating; not only does he even poll negatively, by 60:30, among trade union members – but I’ve never quite experienced canvassing as bad as I do now.
In deeply deprived wards, I get people telling me that for the first time in their lives, they cannot vote Labour. It doesn’t offer them hope anymore.
It’d be easier to dismiss our opponents saying this as ‘Red Tories’, except these are the people whom we claim to speak on behalf of. It isn’t a game. They are not careerist MPs with a fetish for extreme Blairism. That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? These are our people, or at least, the people we claim as ours. It’s imperative we listen.
And for those listening, it is quite surprising that anyone that simply has the chance to speak to people outside our circles -either in their social lives or while canvassing- would still have faith in Jeremy Corbyn.
By Corbyn’s own standards -to inspire the poor and disenfranchised- he has failed. He has failed to offer them hope. His mission has failed.
It is no secret that I am voting for Owen Smith, as a consequence of the last 9 months and because I have held a torch for him and his politics for a while. But I am also voting for hope, and for hope’s restoration. For the hope that drew me to the party in the first place. Merely getting rid of a leader that only inspires fear -fear of the other side, of a perma-Tory government- will inspire more hope than we have now.
But it is more than that. For Owen simply represents our communities better than Corbyn. There is hope in a man who has feared Tories himself, because the imperative to beat them is stronger. Growing up experiencing the miners’ strike, and the repercussions of the tumultuous 1980s. The desperation of seeking a next Labour government.
A Labour government is both more likely under Smith and would -if his words are anything to go by- deliver the homes and jobs that our communities need. It would be radical in office rather than merely in Parliament Square. Real, genuine hope for real, genuine change.
I urge you all to vote for hope. Not the abstract hope that inspires Corbyn rallies, the ones that many neighbours will not share, but for real hope of a Labour government. For people we seek to serve. Please listen. Recognise the fear, recognise hope has been all but erased, and that soaring rhetoric does not mask the dread. Real hope is that which can genuinely offer the belief that, in the near future, there will be an end to the Tories seemingly perpetual rule. The first step to believing that is voting for Owen Smith.
I can’t help but agree. Corbyn has disappointed and no longer carries that hope. But I can’t help wondering about what might have been if the MPs had all accepted his election and got behind him. They have undermined, sniped, leaked and withdrawn their support. They have created all the media attention and given the stories to the press. It has been a siege mentality brought on by his own party. How daft is that? What greater betrayal?
Disagree I feel most comment over complicating.He was elected members now involved ,this cannot be ignored.Surely this must be fought at grassroots,too much acceptance of great and good,including HOL in both parties.
The longer he stumbles on, the more it appears he may have never been the right person for the job, even if he’d had full support of his MPs. However, he might have been an interesting alternative in a pre-Brexit Britain veering into right wing turmoil. As things now stand, he quite simply is not the right person in the right place at the right time, and for the sake of not only Labour, but the UK, he needs to stand down, or worst case be taken down.
Jade I really like your writing. Let me make a detailed comment on the drama which is engulfing the Labour Party. By way of background – my late parents were probably communists, supported and were members of the Labour all their lives. They did not grow up in poverty and nor did I but they spent their entire lives trying to alleviate it. They were well known and influential politically. My personal path has been different but causes me to look at politicians through a particular set of filters – everyone does this with different filters. You are correct about Corbyn but I believe this is because he fails to pass my primary main filters. Firstly I ask the question can he or could he run the government? Does he have the experience or natural ability to lead an organisation with millions of employees and £bns of spend and the most complex stakeholders. Its managerial but its what I call the CEO test. My judgement is he can’t. I think this demonstrated by those people with Gov experience who went into the Shadow cabinet but since resigned. The information available suggests its because Corbyn cannot establish and run an effective organisation making sure it functions properly and giving clear direction. If you can’t run the Labour party in opposition then can you run the government? There is an important side note here – both Blair and Cameron had little or no ministerial experience before they became PM. The difference is that, whilst you may or may not agree with everything or anything they did they were extremely smart with significant intellectual capacity to learn incredibly fast. You cannot run the government if you are not extremely clever its just to complicated. My second filter is on policy. The problem I have is that soundbites and strategic intentions do not = policy. The How of politics. Coupled to the lack of leadership there seems to be no really coherent policies emerging for say – education, alleviation of inequality, housing. Stating that you are going to do something is no longer enough, its about how you will do it. A really good leader will have not only a set of clear policies but also some semblance of how they will be put in place. There is heavy lifting on the detail to be done by research groups, junior shadows etc.
For me Corbyn has failed on these two points. I could go on about his world view and how is position is miles outside the Overton window but another time
I feel over complicating.JC properly elected why should he stand down.Members have say,maybe some are regretting rule change.But country may like clear choice.System needs clearing HOL as a start and mp,s should put up or shut up.