The Labour party have always had their differences. Gaiskellites, Bevanites, Tribunites, Wilsonites, Bennites, Blairites and Corbynistas; the Party has always been made of different factions with differing ideas, ideologies and opinions. Rifts have always been there and they probably always will.
However, today we don’t just see a difference of opinion within the Labour Party, we see a smear campaign. It seems there is nothing Jeremy Corbyn can do without many members of the PLP jumping on him, telling the public how unelectable he is and how he is destroying the Party. They don’t just keep their differences within the Party apparatus, but they take it to the media, intentionally exposing the divisions Labour has always had – at the expense of their overall popularity.
One of the biggest arguments from the Labour right is that Corbyn is unelectable because he is unpopular with the public. They argue that since 1979, general elections have been won by the leader whose popularity is the highest.
However, a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI has today revealed that Jeremy Corbyn is now leading David Cameron in personal popularity, with Cameron on 34% and Corbyn scoring 35%.
The Labour leader’s ratings improved a net 10 points, while the Prime Minister’s fell a net ten points. Mr Corbyn is now on net -11 while Mr Cameron is on net -25 with the pollster.
What we see here is not an indication of a landslide win for Labour in 2020, maybe not even a win at all, but we now have clear evidence that Corbyn is not as much of a calamity as many from within and without have suggested.
Corbyn, it now seems, is able to appeal to the public more than the oxymoronic ‘compassionate Conservatives” Cameron and Osborne. But in order to build on this progress, the Labour leader needs the support of his Party. It will only be a united Labour that wins in 2020, not a divided one.
So when we see today that Stella Creasy having another pop at Momentum, and many other so-called ‘moderates’ in the party complaining of ‘far-left’ infiltrators; we see the real reason that Labour will not get into power. Not Corbyn, not socialism, but disunity.
Labour has an opportunity to score political points and rob the Tories of political capital lost over a budget that unravelled in two days. One that the same poll indicates is the worst received budget since the Tories were elected in 2010.
Labour has an opportunity to destroy the Chancellor, whose public satisfaction is at just 27% and dissatisfaction at 60%. If Labour really wants to make sure it remains the party of the people, it needs to unite against the Chancellor’s budget and not let them wriggle their way out of yet another omnishambles.
The Tories are weak, and with a real prospect of Brexit in June, their weaknesses could potentially boil over into a split, Labour has the potential to be strong in the face of a fractured Tory Party. Corbyn, with a united Labour Party behind him, can provide a real alternative to the Tory agenda.
Both the Labour right and the Labour left deserve equal shares of the blame for disunity, but the party will not be able to function like this if it wishes to have any chance of being elected in 2020.
This poll shows that if they can put their ideological differences aside, and unite against a fractured Conservative party, then it is possible for them to win in 2020. Only a united Labour will be able to defeat the tactics of fear, lies and malice, and not by emulating their failures of the past.
Labour will only ever win again as a clear alternative; by promoting a truly different kind of politics – a politics that speaks to the next generation – one of hope not fear, equality over division and poverty, and of peace over perpetual war.