The Labour leadership contest is almost over, with Tory policy hitting the poorest hardest. Making the decision on who is best to lead Labour is vital. Jeremy Corbyn has not had the easiest of a first year, constant media attacks and campaigning with Labour In, despite being a well-known Eurosceptic. His opponent Owen Smith, the largely unknown MP who beat Angela Eagle after months of her saying “she will not hesitate to challenge his leadership”. After a period of time hesitating she did not garner enough support from the PLP for an effective challenge. But why should I even vote?
The leader is set to be announced on the 24th September, with voting closing on the 21st. The leadership contest was triggered after a vote of no confidence was supported by 172 MPs of the PLP. This succeeded the events of the leave vote of the referendum, Hilary Benn’s sacking and a large spate of resignations from the shadow cabinet.
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith
Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong party activist who has often voted against the party whip. Particularly during the tenures of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He advocates a platform of reversing austerity cuts to public services and welfare, renationalisation of the public utilities and railways, he also favours a foreign policy of military non-interventionism and unilateral nuclear disarmament. The previous leadership election he overwhelmingly won 59.5% in the first round of ballots. Since his election, the Labour party has increased over 500k members.
Owen Smith, a former radio and TV producer for the BBC where he worked for 10 years, he joined Labour at the age of 16. He worked as a special advisor to Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy, and the lobbyist for Pfizer. He had previously described the private sector can play a supportive role within the NHS with regards to private finance initiative schemes. Although, he has recently described the scheme as a failure. He is regarded as one of Labours ‘soft left’, and many say that his policies largely overlap with Corbyn.
Why I Refuse to Vote
I refuse to vote, this last year Labour has been a mess and it is not down Corbyn entirely. I will not vote for Corbyn because he does not inspire, he is morally right and his policies I largely support. But you can’t look at all the 172 MPs that voted a no confidence as coup plotters. The majority had genuine issues with his leadership, mostly down to party communication. Being involved and when questioning members of the NEC about Labour policy was largely met with blank stares. When asking about a clear campaign message for Labour In, was met with the same inevitable silence. This was down to lack of real leadership amongst his peers. He can lead a rally, a march or some kind movement but he can’t lead his peers, and this opens a significant weakness up for the Tories to exploit. He will forever be an activist, and could play an important part in shaping Labour policy for years to come, as they are largely heading in the right direction, I just don’t think he is the man to lead them.
Owen Smith, is less inspirational and far more boring that Corbyn, a relative unknown with the most common surname in the UK. As a former producer, special advisor and lobbyist, even is job titles don’t inspire political confidence. He has flip flopped on issues as regards to private sector support within the NHS. He voted for the Libyan intervention then voted against the Syrian intervention. He is a former member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and support unilateral nuclear disarmament. Like Corbyn, he describes himself as a democratic socialist. Both are not right for the party, whilst Corbyn promotes better progressive policies, he isn’t strong enough to get to a position to do this. Smith, is a complete unknown and offers no inspiration to vote for him, he seems to try to position himself on the ‘right’ side rather than follow his own policy positions.
There is a deeper problem and this is the main reason why I won’t vote. The few on both sides, the obscurantant centralists and the regressive left, have become locked in a bitter battle for control. Corbyn is the regressive left idol, despite not being regressive himself and Smith is the obscurantant centralist representative. Both sides have been horrific, throwing insults that surmount to suppression of opinion or blatantly attacking someone to discredit them. Both sides have caused a divide that makes the party look like a laughing stock, make the party unfit for the people. The two candidates aren’t bad people, they are just not leaders, Corbyn is the regressive left bandwagon they have jumped on, and Smith is too plain for anyone to notice that he would be weak to the obscurantant centralists.
The purges that have continued to wreak havoc are utterly deplorable, and they often attack those who are innocent and lifelong supporters. The purge makes Labour look utterly ridiculous and completely undemocratic. It makes Labour look as if they were saying “if you don’t agree with the right opinion or possibly agree with someone else then you aren’t fit for Labour”. I say that those who are responsible for the purge are unfit for Labour, the party is meant to be the most encompassing party for lots of different views. But what is the point of that if you ban people for liking a Green party tweet 4/5 years ago. Despite the fact that the likes of Quentin Davies, Robert Jackson and Shaun Woodward have defected from the conservatives, why haven’t they been expelled for agreeing with other political parties before?
Labour is Mocking Democracy, Bringing Shame on the UK Political System
I have agreed previously with Lib Dem, Green, and SNP policy. But that is called having an opinion and Labour purging these members with an opinion is utterly ridiculous. Currently Labour are heading in the direction of political wilderness and the fault is on everyone within the upper echelons of the party. You have brought a great deal of shame and disgust, but worst of all you have brought a severe sense of further mistrust from the public. I for one am ashamed of the attitude that far too many have taken, and I am ashamed of the obscurantant centralists and the regressive left. They both have a lock on the party that prevents any real change, and it is deeply disturbing that neither side can see their faults. The projected purity on both sides is counterfactual and the stubbornness is ugly.
I won’t vote because the party is destroying itself and both sides are at fault, it leaves centre left, progressive lefts (like me), socialists and true centralists feeling disillusioned with the Labour party. There is a great deal of shame and disgust for the party I have always supported, and you are showing your ugly side to the country and that is why I cannot vote in this election. Labour you are making a mockery of democracy, and are currently acting like a petulant child that doesn’t get their way. If you are to win the next election, you need to grow up or you will lose those 500k members and fade into political obscurity.