Whether you are a Labour supporter or not, Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership contest will lead to significant changes for British politics in its current form for the next few decades.Since Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, both the Conservatives and Labour have represented tepid centre-right and centre-left politics.
With an absence of a long-established far left and far right party, which was represented in the adversarial politics prior to Blair, fringe parties such as the Greens and UKIP have enjoyed moderate success as either protest votes or as havens for far right or left voters.
Had Cooper, Burnham or Kendall become Labour leader there would be little to comment on. It would be business as usual. There would be the inevitable reshuffle of the shadow cabinet and there would be promises of vague change after the disastrous general election defeat.
The Labour party would continue in a similar vein but with a different face in charge and with some slightly different policies, but in essence, it would have had the same Blairite or pseudo-Blairite core to it. Corbyn is almost a living cliché of the mid-20th century working class Trotskyist Labour member in both his appearance and policies. With Labour now standing proudly for policies firmly on the left, surely the Conservatives cannot afford to maintain their stance as a centre-right party.
Should they do so, they risk two things in the 2020 general election: either another protest vote for UKIP or simply losing voters to Labour who have become disillusioned with supposedly right wing parties who are only seriously represented by UKIP. It is clear that Corbyn has benefited from his sincerity and straight-talking. From Corbyn’s initial speeches we know that he has no interest in being another Labour PR man, such as Straw, Blair, Brown…the list goes on; Labour are once again the party of dissent.
Despite an overwhelming victory in the leadership election, Corbyn has attracted many critics. We have seen headlines focused on Corbyn calling Hamas ‘friends’ and inviting Gerry Adams to London in 1984. These criticisms still refuse to die out. What has struck me as odd are the attacks on him for his anti-monarchical attitudes. Corbyn has explicitly stated he has no interest in pursuing policies to overthrow the monarchy.
Further, the appointment of vegan Kerry McCarthy as Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary has received more criticism, better described as absurd speculation, suggesting that McCarthy wishes to impose on us some sort of vegan dictatorship.
I stated at the beginning of this article that Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party will lead to significant changes for British politics. This does come with a caveat: he must continue to win the battle against his critics in the media.Should Corbyn also continue to win over young voters who are disillusioned with the current political system, Labour will present a serious challenge in 2020, a challenge that Miliband was unable to provide in 2015 and which ultimately made the Conservatives’ victory all too easy.