Written by Thomas Westgarth
It is hard to ignore some of the statistics surrounding Jeremy Corbyn that have recently been published. 1 in 5 Labour voters are likely to defect from the Labour party by 2020.The most important one is that 50% of Labour voters do not trust Corbyn with the economy. This is a bread and butter issue that wins elections for parties and the fact that people do not believe that Jez and John McDonnell can control the public’s finances spells a disaster for the Labour party. Despite this, Corbyn has helped to galvanise alienated voters and brought up many key issues which have been neglected by mainstream parties in recent years, such as inequality and the housing crisis. Will Corbyn help to pressure the government into making policies to tackle these problems? Or will he actually end up harming the people he wants to help the most?
One problem that has become prevalent in the UK is the increase in apathy amongst voters. Many people do not feel that they are represented by the ‘Westminster elite’. What Corbyn has managed to do is engage with those who do not feel that politicians are telling the whole truth. This was reflected in the latest Prime Minister’s Questions, where questions from the likes of ‘Marie’ and others were put to the PM. Acting as a man of the people, Corbyn has the ability to put pressing issues on the agenda. This will only happen if the Labour party manages to get the support of the electorate.
If the Tories continue to bounce in the polls, and eat away at the Labour vote, Labour will not be seen as competition, allowing the Conservatives to carry out whatever they please. Whether it will be to accelerate cuts to shrink the state and the pockets of those on tax credits, or to move towards the centre ground, remains to be seen.
One vital component to democracy in the UK is to have a strong and credible opposition. If Corbyn alienates the electorate it may result in any suggestions of his to be laughed at and instantly ignored. Therefore encouraging the Tories to carry out the tough decisions as they can use their large lead in the polls to cushion any fall in popularity them following rampant cuts or any other unpopular decisions that they may make.
Without the ability to engage the floating voter, Corbyn may lead the Labour party into the political wilderness. Far left supporters are well known for voicing their opinion and this was outlined when many of them registered to be Labour party supporters, but there will not be many Corbynites that have not registered, meaning that there may not be many more than the 2.5 million that voted for Corbyn. This sum is not enough for the Labour party to win power back.
Having said this, a week is a long time in politics; and this makes 5 years an age. The UK could suffer a recession, leave the EU or have foreign conflicts. All these variables will change the kind of Prime Minister the electorate will want us to have. But if Corbyn continues on his path of anti-austerity, tax rates which damage consumer and business confidence as well as keeping friendly dialogue with terrorist groups, he will alienate the electorate and damage any hope that the Labour party had to help the poorest in society, leaving that task to the Conservatives.