Liam Bateman writes.
When Jeremy Corbyn entered the race for the leadership following the shock defeat in May, many would’ve simply turned up their nose at the suggestion the Bennite could be leader. Today however, polls from YouGov and new figures from bookies are showing Corbyn is now leading the race with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham not too far behind, leaving Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Blairite candidate Liz Kendall in the dust. This is a left wing revolution in the grassroots of the part after Blair shifted the party off course and left the party virtually souless.
However, Blairites are not pleased with this news as MPs like Liz Kendall say Corbyn will make the party unelectable. Tony Blair himself remarked that those who say their hearts are with Jeremy should “get a transplant,” a move condemned by his former deputy John Prescott. It’s quite obvious from the Blairities’ reaction they’re scared of Corbyn. And they have reason to be with Jeremy getting 152 nominations from Labour Party branches all across England, Scotland and Wales. Andy Burnham has 111 while Liz Kendall has a laughable 18.
Many opponents of Corbyn have said they believe his leadership would be a repeat of 1983, where Labour only got 209 seats, but there has been significant arguments otherwise. Many left wing activists and publications have backed him, saying he could win, but one of the most surprising people who think Corbyn could win in 2020 is none other than former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ken Clarke. While he by no means supports him, Clarke said in the Huffington Post “If you have another recession or if the Tory government becomes very unpopular, he could win.” Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has also backed him for the leadership and new MP Richard Burgon said on BBC Radio: “Nobody wants to see Labour in opposition […] but I do think it’s unfair to characterise Jeremy Corbyn and his campaign as some sort of time travel back to the 1980s.
“If there’s any travelling back in time going on it’s the travelling back in time to the stale, out-dated Blairite 1990s. And what perhaps did work electorally in the 1990s wouldn’t necessarily work now.”
What I think Blairites need to realise is that a return to New Labour would be the most disastrous for the party and I think if Liz Kendall went out into the country and ask the opinion on Tony Blair, a giant majority would denounce him and spit on the ground at what he did to Britain. And I actually agree with something Corbyn himself remarked in a debate. “We have become too afraid of the media to embrace our true values.” Is the centre ground needed to win? Absolutely, it’s impossible to win an election without it, but the assumption the right wing of the party are making is blatantly ignorant and their characterisation is simply making the Labour right less and less popular.
UK Labour shouldn’t be scared of change, especially the kind that re embraces what the party must always stand for, but it seems Labour will only find that out when their new leader is elected next month.