Jeremy Corbyn can still lead the Labour Party into power – if he digs his heels in and removes his critics

Ironically, to succeed Corbyn would have to take a leaf out of the Blairite playbook: he must be tenacious, uncompromising and willing to play dirty

Matthew Turner
Monday 06 March 2017 12:02
Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism from Labour MPs for the loss of Copeland to the Tories
Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism from Labour MPs for the loss of Copeland to the Tories

As an ardent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, I will be the first to admit that the Labour Party is in disarray. Latest opinion polling indicate a catastrophic defeat in a hypothetical general election, and despite fending off the threat of Ukip in Stoke, the loss of Copeland was a huge blow to all who wanted to see the Corbyn project succeed.

Despite this, the vast majority of Corbyn’s critics are yet to come up with any meaningful solutions to the problems that we face – the few solutions that have been offered thus far are simply not grounded in reality. For instance, replacing him with another left-leaning leader in an attempt to placate his critics in the media and the Parliamentary Labour Party would only serve to embolden them.

The truth is that most of the so-called “moderates” in the Labour Party know what the solution is – they just don’t want to acknowledge it.

While it may be true that Labour’s media strategy is in desperate need of improvement, he is regularly being briefed against and undermined by many in his own party. Lord Mandelson’s comments offer credence to the theory that the Labour right will not rest until they regain control of the party, whatever the cost. There is no denying that there are problems with the leadership, but can they be solved when these problems are being exacerbated by his critics in the party on a daily basis? Voters will never look positively on a divided party.

The only way Corbyn can succeed, as The Times’ Daniel Finkelstein has already noted, is by taking the sharp left turn that he was elected to do. The people also need to see an authoritative and relentless streak that has so far been absent from his leadership. In short, Corbyn must fight back. He needs to take control of the party before he can take control of the country, otherwise he is nothing but a sitting duck.

One of the ways this can be achieved is through enabling the democratic right of CLPs to reselect and deselect their parliamentary candidates, and organising in order to ensure that young, up and coming, “fire in the belly” left wingers replace those who are actively seeking to undermine the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn urges demonstrators to 'defend the NHS with all of your might'

What would the implications of adopting mandatory reselection be? First and foremost, a consensus on the left wing policies that have been resisted by those in Labour who are still fawning over the politics and economics of old. Moreover, the improved media strategy that many are demanding could emanate from reselection. For the first time during Corbyn’s tenure, Labour would have a bold, unified and coherent party message that isn’t being contradicted every other hour by figures from their own party.

The harsh reality is that the only way this will be possible is by replacing the right wingers in the Labour Party. It is a prerequisite for the success of the Corbyn project. Ironically, he would be taking a leaf out of the Blairite playbook: Corbyn must be tenacious, uncompromising and willing to play dirty. He doesn’t need to quit, he doesn’t need to make accommodating deals or be diplomatic. He needs to double down and fast, because anything other than that won’t be enough to solve the Labour Party’s plight.

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