Jeremy Corbyn has been one of the political heavyweights of the past 18 months. He came from left field to sweep to power as the leader of the Labour party and then followed that up by winning a second leadership contest. He was entrenched as the man in place to take it to the Conservative Party and lead the voice of the opposition. He had it all but chose to stumble and after a while the media are starting to notice.
Take today for example. Corbyn made a speech and it didn’t even get a soundbite on the lunchtime news. All it got were some pictures and the presenter talking over them saying he made said speech. Going to the Guardian I see that the speech was about putting the NHS and education at the heart of Labour’s local election campaigns and here’s the thing, they aren’t issues that are moving the needle right now.
I am pretty sure that the Labour party have said we have x amount of days to save the NHS on multiple occasions in my lifetime alone. Yet despite Ed Miliband putting that at the heart of his campaign in 2015, he lost.
Now as I’ve believed for quite a while now, the whole identity of politics is changing. People are less likely to identify themselves as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ or ‘socialist’ etc. and more ‘Pro-EU’ or ‘Anti-EU’ – that is the battleground that politics is currently being waged on. People care about what is going to happen next regarding Brexit and how it will affect their lives and the future of their children. That is what people are worried about and not what is going on with the NHS or in education.
I’m not saying if this is right or wrong but that is just how it is at this juncture. On the EU and Brexit you need to have a cohesive and identifiable position. The Lib Dems are clearly lobbing all their Easter eggs in the pro-EU basket. UKIP and the Tories have a tonne of chocolate covered products too and they are all in baskets labelled ‘Anti-EU’ and then we get to the Labour Party. They say that the will of the people has to be served but that they’ll fight the Tories at every stage to get the best deal for the people of the United Kingdom. Yet these words ring hollow as they’ve not fought yet and instead laid down and let the Tories tickle their tummies.
This breathtaking arrogance hasn’t gone unnoticed. The polling data has long seen Jeremy Corbyn’s numbers go down and the Labour party despite being in opposition being 15%+ down in Westminster voting intentions. At this stage in the last parliament Ed Miliband had a sizeable lead in the polls. It only ebbed away when people started to look closer at him and his team and struggled to see them leading the country.
At this stage of the parliament with a government having to deal with a line-ball issue that is splitting the country in half, the opposition should be flying high. They aren’t and the reason for that isn’t Jeremy Corbyn per se but a lack of direction and that certainly comes from the top. His position on the EU has never been a strong one. He kinda likes some portions of the EU but not others and deep down no-one really knows where he stands and if he doesn’t have a strong position on the most important issue this generation will ever face, then no amounts of excellent policies on the NHS or education will cut through (not that we have any evidence he has any of these anyway).
Article 50 has been triggered. The lead of the Pro-EU lobby is clearly Tim Farron and Nick Clegg. Most people in the street will agree that at least they know where the Lib Dems stand on this and will either like what they are hearing from them or hate it. At least they know. When it comes to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn people just don’t know and that is a scary place to be for the Labour party.
Until Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have that clear (and believable) position on what should happen next regarding our future dealings with the EU then they will struggle. Talk about the NHS and education all you want. It sounds great and is vitally important but at this moment in time nothing compares to the short, medium and long-term future than these Article 50 talks and the public know it. Until Labour stand for something on this, they’ll continue to drift towards being an afterthought…
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