Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor for the New Statesman
Today’s results are the political equivalent of pressing a giant “reset” button
Congratulations, comrades! Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader, in the best decision the Labour party could have made in its current state.
But before unfurling the red flag over the Palace of Westminster, Corbyn isn’t a good pick for any of the reasons his supporters would give.
It is not because his socialist credentials – far left of where his party has been for the past 15 years – will provide a “real opposition” to the ruling Conservative party. It is not because his anti-austerity message has inspired thousands of young people to “engage” in politics. And it’s not even because, unlike his rivals in the Labour leadership election, he “stands for something”.
No, the reason Labour supporters – and all those invested in the health of British politics and the future of the left globally – should be celebrating his victory is because he is so electorally toxic.
Electing Corbyn is a necessary “scorched earth policy”, as some Labour politicians glumly refer to it behind the scenes. Having Corbyn in charge will eventually lead the party and its members to accept that lurching to the left won’t wash with the British electorate, and will push them rethink the party’s direction and image. Today’s results are the political equivalent of pressing a giant “reset” button.
Corbyn’s eventual electoral failure will be the wake-up call Labour needs following a catastrophic election result in May, under the leadership of the soft-left Ed Miliband, where it haemorrhaged 40 of its 41 seats in Scotland – a trusty heartland of Labour voters – to the nationalist Scottish National Party (SNP). It also lost seats all over England to the Conservative party, and saw the right-wing nationalist UK Independence Party (Ukip) eating dangerously into the northern blue collar it could once rely upon for guaranteed support.
This patchwork of defeat has led to an identity crisis within the party. Some, like Corbyn and the party members and supporters who voted for him today, erroneously believe Labour lost the election because it was not seen as left-wing enough and failed to provide an alternative to the Conservatives’ austerity programme.
Others, …Read More