2016 is a year many in the Labour party would prefer to forget: shadow cabinet resignations, Brexit, the re-election of Comrade Corbyn with an even bigger mandate and several very disappointing by-elections results. But what can the Labour Party do, at both leadership and grass roots levels, to ensure polling averages turn right around and offer an actual chance of winning the next election?
MPs have publically condemned Corbyn over the last year, forgetting their duties as Labour party members to fully support the leader, regardless of the differences in opinion. The Labour party is a broad church and rightly so! A party that is perceived to be perpetually bickering and fighting amongst themselves will never convince the electorate of their ability to lead the country. In the September national conference, the tension between the leadership and MPs such as Tom Watson’s “Unity memo” jibe and Seamus Milnes alterations to Clive Lewis’s speech made national headlines. If this party is to stand any chance at winning an election we must be a united force behind the leader, be it Corbyn or anyone else. Disagreement is a fact of life and it’s high time Labour accept and move on from this.
Research showed in the weeks leading up to and following the Brexit vote, the public were “In the dark” regarding the parties stance on the referendum. Corbyn’s anti-EU history and his reluctance to throw his full weight behind the Remain campaign confused Labour members and the general public. Had he put party differences aside and stood on a cross party platform with the Lib Dems, Greens, Remainer Conservatives and the SNP, the chances of a vote to remain would have been good. In recent months Labour has started to up the anti, putting forward strong opposition to the Government’s handling of Brexit and securing a parliamentary vote on the terms of Brexit. Still work needs to be done. Labour shouldn’t be afraid to talk about immigration; Labour voters did vote to Leave because of fears of immigration. A reluctance to talk about it or to address these concerns has driven many into the open arms of UKIP.
Last and not least the entire party machine needs an overhaul. Under the years of Blair it was a well-oiled machine of spin and PR, an undefeatable system for sending the Labour message and brand. Labour needs to have more substance and can’t just rely on spin-doctors, but to win an election the party needs to make a more effective use of the media. Younger, more idealistic members, despise the media as a sector out to get Corbyn and refuse to have anything to do with it. This is sticking ones head in the sand, rather than a display of real statesmanship, the media is a vital part of any healthy liberal democracy- Labour must embrace the media and use it as a positive tool to get the message across.
2016 was a tricky year and hopefully 2017 will bring better luck but this is not a time for despair. I, and other Labour members will never give up faith. The country needs a fair and just Labour Government that will put the interests of hard working people first. By campaigning and fighting the good fight, a Labour Government will soon be in office but until then, have a fantastic 2017!
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