The local election results appear to suggest the media theme of Labour imploding under Jeremy Corbyn has been confirmed. However, as the old saying goes, appearances are deceptive. Not that the losses by Labour are not significant.
The problem for the Corbyn naysayers is that Labour’s electoral woes pre-date Corbyn’s leadership by a number of years. It was not he who led Labour to defeat in 2010 or 2015, nor was he in charge when UKIP began to make incursions.
Indeed, it is UKIP that is the crucial factor. Intentionally or not, they have served the Tories well in the roll of stalking horse. UKIP insinuated a narrow nationalism into communities that have carried the brunt of austerity.
The campaign for withdrawal from the EU became restricted to a backward looking Britishism, playing on fears exacerbated by the continuing effects of a Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, effectively nationalising the excessive debts incurred by the speculations of finance capitalism.
The result has been that Labour has become identified as the cause of financial crisis rather than having to cope with it. Subsequently, the Tories profited politically and set about ensuring that “ordinary working people” continued to be financially punished for the crisis created by others.
This led to many on the receiving end, having lost faith in Labour, turning to UKIP who effectively insinuated a Tory ideology. Rather than a sense of class solidarity, many pursued an apparently easier option of rebellion through UKIP.
This has been a reaction to the Tory austerity being applied by Labour controlled councils. Again, it is Labour that has become identified with depredations that really belong at the door of capitalism. But without a common sense of class solidarity it is individual issues that become prominent.
Brexit led to the fall of the previous Tory administration, to be replaced by one that carries the UKIP banner. Prime Minister May was a lukewarm “remainer” at best leading up to the referendum, but is totally committed to pursuing the Tory agenda of serving capital at the expense of the working class.
Having served its purpose, UKIP supplied the wherewithal for the Tories to prosper in the recent local elections. Should this be replicated on 8th June Labour must not turn in on itself. Simply blaming Corbyn would be avoiding the fundamental problem, an ideological insurgency of Tory notions in to the working class.
Brexit is being commandeered by the Tories to serve their narrow political ends. It is incumbent upon Labour MPs to stop pursuing some perceived easy option of moderation, whatever that means.
Labour has built a membership half a million or so strong. That will drift away if “politics as usual”, that is, the politics of change very little and certainly don’t rock the finance capital boat, is asserted. Local elections are poor indicators of political trends as barely a third of the electorate participate.
Fretting over leadership is to succumb to a media that has been openly hostile to Corbyn from the moment he was first elected. After all, the previous leader was branded “Red Ed” by that same media and similarly vilified for being so incompetent he couldn’t eat a bacon sandwich, never mind run a country.
Labour politicians who think ditching Corbyn is the solution are fooling themselves. The media, as enforces of capitalist ideology, will always have their poisoned pens at the ready. Only once a leader has proved to be ineffectual in challenging the status quo will grudging lukewarm praise be offered on leaving office.
If the only way Labour can garner enough support to form a government is by becoming pink Tories, what then is the point? It’s true Labour can change nothing without winning an election, but the purpose for such a victory must surely be making change worthwhile.