Like most of today’s students, 2015 was the first time I was able to vote in a general election. As a leftist, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t really blown away by Ed Miliband and his Labour party of the time. I decided that Labour just wasn’t really the party for me. However, when Corbyn was nominated for the leadership election he captured my interest. Here was a real leftist, I thought, coming into the forefront of mainstream UK politics. He seemed like a genuine, virtuous guy and his anti-establishment personality was enticing. I never became a party member or even a paid supporter (although I did seriously consider it), nor did I join Momentum. But I would have described myself a supporter of Corbyn and I would have voted for Labour had there been an election.
A year on, another leadership election, and I again decide that Labour really isn’t the party for me after all. There are predominantly two doubts I have about Corbyn; firstly, his code of ethics, and secondly his politics. I’m not saying that I support Owen Smith. I dislike his flip-flopping, his anti-democratic policy of another EU referendum and his obvious ‘socialist’ charade as much as the next lefty. Instead, I reject Labour as a whole.
When I talk about Corbyn’s ethics, I’m not referring to tenuous links blown up by the press, like welcoming somebody with extreme views as a ‘friend’. Lets get straight to the point: Iran is a highly authoritarian regime which executes Kurds and political activists amongst others. It has outlawed LGBTQ activity as well as persecuting minorities. By appearing on their state TV network five times for the reward of up to $5000 per go, he has compromised his supposedly unwavering code of ethics and given credibility to the state TV network, and therefore to the regime.
Furthermore, when Corbyn’s movement was accused of antisemitism, Shami Chakrabarti was commissioned to conduct a report into antisemitism in the party, which decided that antisemitism and other forms of racism were not rife within Labour. Whether or not this is true, it is what happened next that makes me really doubt Corbyn; offering her a peerage. It’s not much different to the way the top Tories and Blairites have rewarded their allies. It reeks of hypocrisy seeing as he often calls for the abolishing of the Lords system. This sort of thing should just not happen in an open, transparent political system, and a politician should live by their their ideals.
But surely we can just forget about these two little blips? As the only socialist in mainstream politics, surely I have to support him over any of his rivals, right? Well, I proclaim that Corbyn is not actually a socialist at all… I am a socialist because I believe that people should have control of the business or industry that they work in. Corbyn’s policy is to re-nationalise the railways, the NHS, schools, and to tax the rich some more.
There are some good ideas here, but these are the policies of a social democrat. None of his policies really advocate for social ownership of their workplace. Nationalising the railways is a highly costly policy which would bring relatively few tenable benefits. More urgently, I want to see an end to the animal agricultural industry, responsible for at most 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as destroying more rainforest, using more water and polluting more land, rivers and oceans than almost any other industry. I want to see shares in large, corrupt businesses that can not be held accountable to anyone moving into the hands of their employees. I want to see more direct democracy and a means for people to have their say more easily on what goes on in government. Corbyn will not deliver on these things, and so I conclude that Labour is not the right party for me after all.