It is perhaps safe to say that an apostate makes the best critic. It is all well and good for anyone to see something from the outside, having always been on the outside, and declare their disapproval of it. However, when somebody, once part of the inside, subsequently repositions themselves on the outside, sees fit to voice their disapproval of this inside phenomenon they have since renounced, it can be declared that, not only in the knowledge of relevant facts, but experience too, that they are decidedly different critics. Indeed, on this note, I declare myself a fervent Corbyn apostate.
I voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership election and I was thrilled to see him elected. It had occurred to me at the time that, amidst the mediocrity of our politics, Corbyn would invariably shake up the system. Not only would he shake up the system, I thought, but his vision and irrefutable integrity would accomplish for the country a fairer age if he was elected Prime Minister – a thought which, in hindsight, seems incredibly farfetched.
Those fellow Labour members who voted for him undoubtedly thought the same thing too. He did not just inspire me, but he inspired many others – as can be seen by the astonishingly impressive Labour membership total of over 500,000, comfortably the biggest in the country.
Yet, by the time of Corbyn’s second leadership victory – which saw him resoundingly defeat Owen Smith – I had since lost hope. Never mind the fact that this leadership contest had been called due to Corbyn failing to inspire confidence in 172 of his MPs, but I quickly realised that he also was not, and could not, inspire confidence in the electorate. It was from this point on that one of the most important principles of my life pervaded my thinking: it might not be a problem for me, but it certainly is a problem for others.
First, we must face facts. Poll after poll puts Theresa May considerably ahead of Jeremy Corbyn. At the time of writing (or should I say typing), 42% of voters according to YouGov’s most recent poll intend to vote for the Conservatives, whilst Labour stagnate on 28%, this an unequivocal sign of a large Conservative majority. Asked who would make the best Prime Minister, Theresa May polled 48%, whilst Corbyn lags heavily behind on 18%. Asked who would manage the country’s economy better, the Conservatives polled 44%, while Labour again lag with just 18%. Whilst there has been controversy of late over the accuracy of polls, as seen in the United States, it is worth remembering that the poll results mostly suggested a narrow Clinton victory. However, there is nothing narrow about the disparity between Labour and the Conservatives. There is no doubt the Conservatives will prevail come 2020.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, with the emergence of the Right – see hard Brexit, Trump’s victory, Marine Le Pen’s rise, the scandalously unhinged governments of Hungary and Poland – it is naturally more important to not only have a prominent Left, but a competent one at that. A regression to an activist party, which is essentially what Labour have become, will be ridiculed in the United Kingdom and unheard outside of it. After all, a leader that advocates a power-sharing arrangement of the Falklands with Argentina, refers to Hamas and Hezbollah as friends, refuses to sing the National Anthem, and desires to scrap Trident, will find it not just hard, but impossible, to gain adequate credibility in the eyes of the electorate; and, I’m afraid, such policy positions have permanently damaged him.
It is thus with a heavy heart that I support the removal of the leader of the party I am proud to say I am a member of. Whatever my personal agreements and disagreements with Jeremy Corbyn, it pales in comparison to the importance of building a popular party capable of delivering justice and reason. As an apostate, I know why it is an attractive proposition to support Corbyn. But in a time of immeasurable volatility around the world, it is ample time we restored a bit of stability to our politics.
Robert Lawson is a first-year Politics and Sociology student at The University of Manchester