Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce a parliamentary reshuffle for the opposition front-bench in the next few days. There’s a lot of talk about a “revenge reshuffle” to get rid of those who disagreed with him in his first few months holding the office of Labour leader, but I don’t buy into the rumors. In fact I think that the people talking of a “revenge reshuffle” are those who disagree with Jeremy Corbyn and want to demonise him as brash and unsuited for the job of leading a party, but, in his time as leader so far, he has proven quite the opposite.
However, that doesn’t mean that Corbyn, and Labour as a whole, don’t have problems to face in the coming year. Most importantly is the protection of welfare and the NHS, which the Tories seem intent on destroying absolutely. Then there is the issue of the unrest in the Middle East, the economy, and the airstrikes against Syria, and a whole host of other smaller issues that will raise their ugly heads later in the year. Membership of the EU leaps to mind, as does climate change and rising nationalism. Trade Unions will also, I think, be high on his agenda during the next parliamentary session, and, overall, I think he’s well equipped to deal with these problems.
Looking to the “strength” of Labour going into 2016, we see a party that is rapidly growing in power while a number of their MPs become marginalised due to disagreements in the party. Labour has the highest number of members (370,000) since 1997, with a staggeringly huge 180,000 member who joined after the last election. In case you can’t tell, that’s the British public rebelling against the Tories and praising Ed Miliband’s removal. The MPs themselves will have to respond to this change. Clearly the Labour-voting public are praising Corbyn and his views, and dissenters will either have to change or they will be replaced.
Not only this, but during Corbyn’s time as leader he has greatly strengthened Labour as force in and out of parliament. He brought the support of the Firefighters’ Union back to Labour after they repealed their support in 2004. He helped snub Michael Gove’s plan to fund Saudi Arabian prisons. Not only that, the pressure Corbyn and the Labour party put on Osborne got him to retreat on Tax Credit Cuts which, legitimately, probably saved a great many people from poverty. But, perhaps the most important thing about Corbyn’s time as leader; he has kept his cool in the face of a desperate smear campaign by those who oppose him.
The Murdoch media seem to be at the forefront of all of this, but they are not alone. Tony Blair, who represents everything wrong with the Labour Party since turning into “New Labour,” has criticised him, and Hilary Benn led 66 Labour MPs to support airstrikes in Syria, a movement that, I remind people, had an overwhelming 89% opposition from the British public. Just an aside to Hilary Benn: Your father would be ashamed. Evidently I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool.
Just a quick asside on the airstrikes in Syria, one of the reasons you aren’t hearing about them on the news is because they basically aren’t happening. There have been 4 airstrikes from British forces (I believe that was the number I last looked up from the RAF) including 3 on the same oil field and then there was one on Christmas day. The vote on Syria has ruined the Tories. They’ve already voted in favor of it so a number of people dislike them for that, then their supporters don’t hear about it and, if they go looking for information, find the government is basically doing nothing so they’re angry. Then the people who opposed it, that odd 89% of people, don’t see it in the news and can come to assumption that the tories are covering it up.
It’s also worth mentioning that Jeremy Corbyn has been to rallies and protests over the Christmas period with a particular emphasis on helping and getting help for flood victims in the north. This all culminated in an event that was the inspiration for this article where he “gatecrashed” a Tory “party” and gave a speech to about 7000 people, whom he had joined in protest, in Manchester. Meanwhile the Tories were allegedly celebrating how Corbyn had made Labour “irrelevant,” which is a bit of stupid thing to say when the crowd he spoke to was 3.5 times bigger than the one Cameron spoke to, and they cheered for Corbyn a whole lot more than the piggies squealed for Cameron.
On the subject of PigGate, it does rather help Corbyn when the current leader of the Tories is not only disliked by the general populace, but made a laughing stock of. Then of course the have the other Tory front benchers, of whom only Boris Johnson seems to have popular support. Nicky Morgan, education secretary, is hated by parent everywhere for her frankly ridiculous ideas of bringing teaching “back to basics,” while actually just limiting choice at A-level and channelling primary school children into achieving higher levels of ability in maths and science without putting any new money or ideas into the education system. Moreover, teachers are dissenting from her en-masse after rejoicing at Gove’s replacement as she expects them to work longer for no extra money or benefit, and with reduced pensions and a lack of opportunity for promotion.
The aforementioned Gove isn’t winning any support from the public either, being declared the most “unpopular man in Britain” during the waning years of the coalition government. As Secretary of State for Justice he has been very quiet as the role affords him significantly less power than his last. A part of me does want to see him rise to prominence again though, because his face is so easily caricatured.
Then we come to Osborne, who is quickly outstripping Gove’s claim to be the most hated man in Britain. I’m sure he is actually a very smart man, one doesn’t get elected as Chancellor of the Exchequer without being so, but he completely fails to display it. He is perceived to hate the poor and only care about the rich. He is perceived to be incompetent. He is perceived to be reinforcing a class system that is creeping ever so quickly back to the Victorian Era. He tells people to “live within their means” while completely failing to tackle the deficit, something which he promised to have done by 2014 when the coalition came about in 2011, along with claiming a huge list of expenses which amount to an estimated sum of £55,000 of unnecessary costs, of which he has paid back a pitiful £1,100 to date. I guess that, because he’s rich, he thinks he’s entitled to welfare whereas the unfortunate people who need it don’t deserve it. Reducing the highest rate of tax probably didn’t help him reduce the deficit much either, and probably only helped his friends in The City. It seems pretty simple; if you need money and people are already paying their taxes, don’t reduce their taxes. But that’s just the start of a long list of detestable moves by him. He’s dismantling the NHS with private contracts, he’s failed to collect the unpaid taxes by a number of big corporations in the UK, namely Amazon, FaceBook and Google, and most frustratingly of all, the hike in tuition fees leading to the UK having the highest cost for higher education in Europe.
Okay, I have to stop this because it’s starting to make me furious. The crux of the matter is that I think Labour have a really firm base to build on in the next year, and the time since Corbyn has been leader has seen the party grow enormously, particularly after the damage done to it by Ed Miliband. Corbyn is, in my opinion, probably the smartest man in the House of Commons at the moment. A record of dissent from people like Tony Blair on important issues such as war gives him a good history to back up his credibility as a candidate. He is not weak willed, as Miliband was perceived to be, and in all his dealings with the press and with MPs he has seen very calm and collected giving off the impression that he knows what he’s doing and he knows how to win the next election.