The extreme left of Labour often claim the Conservatives are “afraid of Corbyn”, the implication being that we are scared he will trounce us at the General Election. You probably should be afraid of Corbyn – but not for that reason. You should be afraid of Corbyn because he makes voting Labour an impossible decision for many left-leaning people.
This showed up on my Twitter feed today:
It followed a number of tweets that began last night when Jacob Young became the first Conservative politician ever elected in Coulby Newham, a Ward in Middlesborough. Coulby Newham used to be a Labour stronghold, but not any more. Only a short time ago, the Conservatives took the Copeland, a strong Labour seat for decades. We are winning in places where we have never seen a Conservative victory in living memory.
That’s great for the Conservatives – any Party would be happy with the gains we are making; especially since we are in the middle of a electoral term and that’s usually a time when by-elections and Council seats slip away from the Government. I personally couldn’t be more pleased. But you shouldn’t be; you should be worried.
I’ve said it many times before and at this rate I have no doubt I will say it many times more: we have no working Opposition in Parliament right now. Governments need an Opposition – they need someone credible that can stand up to their excesses and make them think twice about whether the ideas they put forward really are the best way of doing something. I like to think that everyone comes into politics for the best of reasons (well maybe not everyone, there’s always a bad egg here or there, but on the whole I think it’s true) but just because you have the right intentions doesn’t mean all your ideas are going to be the best way of achieving them. Good people can do silly things, and that’s why there needs to be someone there to challenge every decision. If your ideas can’t stand up to scrutiny, they need to be changed for ones that can.
Right now we have nobody challenging our ideas. So far it’s been okay – I think we as a Party have put the country on the right track. I hope we continue to keep the country on the right track. I like our ideas and I want to see more of them. But will it last? It didn’t for Blair, did it? How long do you, if you’re really honest, think it took for Labour’s 1997 supermajority to go to his cabinet’s head? They did a lot of bad things and because of the size of his party’s share of the Commons, there wasn’t anything the Opposition (i.e. us) could do about it.
If Corbyn stays in charge of Labour and if we continue to see Conservative victories on the scale that we have been seeing so far, our majority will go up at the next election. There are predictions that we could take Labour seats that we lost decades ago and would never have dreamt we could win back even in 2015. I won’t go so far as to say Labour could be wiped out if we had a General Election today but a severe cull could be on the cards.
That should frighten anyone. Every Government (even this one, which I think is doing the right thing for Britain) needs a strong Opposition to hold it in check; to question every plan, every policy; to keep our Ministers sharp and on the case. With Corbyn in the driving seat, Labour aren’t giving us any Opposition at all.
So yes, I’m frightened of Corbyn – but certainly not because he could win.