Julius Haswell is a third year MML student at King’s reading German, and is currently on his year abroad in Berlin where he works also as a junior journalist. While Julius combines his love of German history and thought with a love of music, he also enjoys Zac Goldsmith and being on the losing side of elections. He argues below that both big-‘c’ and small-‘c’ conservatives should be terrified by the prospect of a weak centre-left for the health of Britain’s national condition.
I kind of admire Jeremy Corbyn. He’s what my English teacher would have called a “trooper”: someone who keeps on going no matter what the odds are against him. Someone who doesn’t care what others think of him, he just pushed on to what he sees as being the right thing to do, and to be honest, we need people like him in politics… kind of.
In light of this I thought about the accusations made by Momentum against his opponents, that the media is out to get him at every stage of his leadership career, that in some way they don’t like outsiders, and that bit by bit they are trying to destroy his reputation until he resigns and the status quo will be restored.
Could this really be true? I mean, if the CIA can be trying to make sure Trump doesn’t get elected then surely MI5 could also be doing the same here, right? I thought about all the gaffes and put them to one side, because just because you bugger up every now and again and again and again, everyone does that! So is Jeremy Corbyn trying to fight his way upstream against the media out to get him?
The argument really just does not stack up, and it is systematically destroying the Labour Party. Seat by seat the approach of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum is securing the Conservative Party’s position in power.
As a Conservative, I am instinctively inclined to let them do it. In fact for a while I thought that this should be something we on the other side should be encouraging the Labour Party to eat itself alive, because after all it would mean we’d be in power for a long time to come. After all, many Labour MPs, most famously Neil Kinnock, have come out in the belief that Labour will remain unelectable for a generation.
But politics isn’t about that. It’s not about getting power and then consolidating it. It’s about doing what’s best for everyone in the country. And this is where the crux of my argument can be put at its clearest: for a government to be successful, it must have opposition.
Now I didn’t want this piece to just be a criticism of all of the points made in a previous piece by a well-known Momentum supporter, but some things said there do need to be addressed because it gives a very valuable insight into what we as conservatives see as the failings of the Labour Party.
First of all, the writer seems to treat the Labour Party like a repenter might treat themselves after they have sinned. The piece looks back to Labour’s most successful point in history, and treats the period with contempt, and also as if, for three elections in a row, the people didn’t really want the Labour Party in that format, but that it was just hanging on by those voters who hadn’t yet left them. This simply cannot be the case. For three elections in a row, which had in it one of the nation’s most chaotic and criticised war for a very long time, Labour still held off the opposition. Normally, if the people really hated the way the Labour Party was going as much as the piece suggests they did, the party would have been destroyed between elections.
The path Momentum wants to take now is a perilous one – one which will never win and will only weaken the Labour Party.
The writer suggests that in order to win back the voters it bled to parties like UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, it must become a proper left-wing socialist party. But this approach makes no sense whatsoever, because unfortunately the leader that they currently have simply cannot provide a viable alternative to these voters. Jeremy Corbyn has always been very critical of the European Union and not helping his position by taking a long weekend’s holiday a week before the referendum took place. The main reason the Liberal Democrats are doing so well is because of their desire to stay in the European Union, or at least to gain a “soft Brexit”.
And about UKIP, it seems laughable that some in Momentum think that they need to be more left-wing to gain back voters who voted for a very right-wing party. Besides, with no real policies on Europe compared with UKIP, there’s no real reason why its supporters would go back to Labour.
But the main argument here is this: at the last general election, one of the main reasons people didn’t vote for the Labour Party is because it was too left-wing. In fact, the British people have never wanted a far-left socialist government, otherwise there would probably have been one.
Furthermore, if the people had wanted a socialist prime minister, why did they vote in an old Etonian millionaire who was once in the Bullingdon Club? It just doesn’t make sense.
The real shame behind the demise of the Labour Party, however, is that it will in the long-run harm the country. While I am a conservative (with a small-c), I definitely do not agree with everything that a Conservative government does. But without a powerful opposition, a government can do whatever it wants. While many on the left have claimed that they are not giving Theresa May a blank sheet to do what she wants, the irony is that they have given the government rights to do pretty much whatever it wants, because there is no real opposition to stop her.
The business of holding a government to account however is also what makes a government better. The more competition there is in an environment, the more it forces rival sides to improve. So from a conservative perspective, I would rather my party be the best it can be, and always on its toes, so that we can really do what is best for the people of this country.
Unfortunately, the days are gone when Prime Minister’s Questions was exciting. It’s now just a procession where Jeremy Corbyn stands up and everyone knows that those sitting behind him, even on the closest benches, don’t fully support him.
To round off, the Labour Party needs to shed its shoddy socialism and become a proper unified party again, plain and simple. The whole point of the opposition is to oppose between General Elections, and to provide a good alternative in the lead up to one, and currently it cannot provide either. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that those in the party during Labour’s most successful years are the toxic ones that need to be purged. Britain needs a credible opposition, and please don’t let it be the Lib Dems.