No, Jeremy Corbyn, You Are Not a Prime Minister in Waiting│ Rory Johnston
Disarray across the aisle from the opposition is a prime minister in waiting’s absolute dream. Glance over to Jeremy Corbyn and there is a buoyancy to him that illustrates the beast licking his lips, moments before he ounces upon his prey – Number 10 Downing Street. Hardly an uncommon ploy of Jeremy Corbyn is to coin his Labour Party as the “government in waiting”. With YouGov giving the Labour Party a five point lead in the polls following the week from hell for the Conservatives in which a spree of front bench resignations compounded party conflict surrounding the Chequers agreement before the bodged Brexit white paper, one could certainly empathise with Corbyn’s giddy anticipation.
The resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis last week highlight the extent of the divisions inhabited within the Tory party. These divisions are simply wiping Labour party divisions under the rug without scrutiny. The honest reality is that both parties are just as divided as each other. When Corbyn speaks of a government in waiting, it is the rhetoric of a power hungry populist who seeks to woo his devoted followers. Using this line, Corbyn is either ignorant or mendacious whilst in denial.
Labour Party divisions have now resurfaced thanks to backbench fury directed towards the Shadow cabinet and Labour Party NEC’s decision to ignore vocal calls for the Labour Party’s code of conduct on anti-Semitism to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. To put this into context, the definition established by the IHRA is used by the Government, Crown Prosecution Service and many local authorities across the country.
The alleged motivation for this rejection was articulated by a Momentum representative on the NEC, Rachel Garnham who stated that the IHRA’s definition had flaws that “conflate(s) criticisms of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism”. Whilst one could argue that this motivation is planted with a basis of principle – regardless of one’s personal sentiment towards the state of Israel – it does beg the question whether the Labour Party are genuinely concerned with rectifying previous calamities regarding anti-Semitism. Garnham stated her pride in Corbyn’s “unswerving support for the Palestinian people”.
And that, is the crux of it.
It’s apparent that the Labour Party’s NEC have boundaries on their devotion to tackling anti-Semitism and racism within the party. A few months back, Tracy Ullman had a sketch in which she portrayed Jeremy Corbyn as reluctantly tackling the issue of anti-Semitism, asking members of his party to “tone it down”. Having angered many devotees of Corbyn at the time, it seems that this sketch wasn’t so unreasonable now. As Garnham has made explicitly clear, Corbyn and those at the Labour NEC wish to propagate this image of being morally pure in their support for Palestine in favour of ridding themselves the image of racism.
This has now consequentially harvested a potent backlash amongst the backbenches of the Labour Party. Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger has criticised the party saying that they would “wear the stain of racism for many years to come”. Furthermore, Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel has claimed that “The NEC has decided to prioritise the rights of those who wish to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel over the struggle against anti-Semitism”. Dame Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP has been heard in the chamber yesterday allegedly accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being a “F****** anti-Semite” whilst Chuka Umunna MP as part of a tweet stated that the Labour Party had wilfully ignored the advice of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council amongst others as well as adding that part of the reason of him joining the party was due to their stance against racism, something that now fills him with horror. This has ultimately spiralled into the first Labour Party resignation we’ll see from John Woodcock MP who will now represent his Barrow and Furness constituency as an independent. His criticism of the “hard left” has been greeted by Len McCluskey who simply responded that John Woodcock had abandoned Labour values a long time ago. Whilst it is conceivable that McCluskey was referencing to the investigation into Woodcock and alleged inappropriate messages he sent to a former female member of staff, what is undeniable is that the Labour Party is an extremely unhappy family right now. Perhaps we may see more resignation following Woodcock, and whilst the criticism of the current government’s inability to unite are perfectly valid, what would be lazy thought is to therefore justify a sudden replacement of this government for one led by Jeremy Corbyn.
There is no doubt that Theresa May needs to get her house in order. A cabinet that is not united is not healthy for anyone who isn’t called Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt. Nonetheless, a fractured cabinet is not suffice reasoning to allow an equally disruptive party virtue signal themselves into office. If there is one thing you cannot do to the British electorate, it is pull the wool over their eyes. Perhaps it should be time for Jeremy Corbyn to take note and make a serious effort to tackle racism within the party before he expects the British public to take him seriously as a Prime Minister in waiting.