On the day of the snap election, Jeremy Corbyn has taken Labour to within just a few points of the Tories. Theresa May’s party still lead in the polls and are likely to return the highest number of seats but the latest data (as wary as we have to be of such predictions) suggests that they will loose their parliamentary majority. And some sources even claim that high voter turnout, especially amongst the young, could potentially lead to a shock result – an almost unthinkable outcome given that May called the election in order to bolster her majority and thus ensure a hard Brexit.
Corbyn has gained a lot of traction as the press have been forced to focus on his policies as opposed to just him as an individual. The Party’s manifesto has been very well received and it is the most left-wing set of polices from a mainstream political party in my life time. That being said, many have been quick to point out the shortcomings of it from a progressive point of view, most notably policies relating to putting 10,000 more police on the street, as well as a tacit acceptance of Trident.
These policies are poor and those so-called revolutionary Corbynistas who have funnelled into Momentum and the Labour Party, pinning all their hopes on Chairman Corbyn as the second coming of Jesus Christ are failing to scrutinise them or offer any constructive critique. Yet at the same time some are going a step further and arguing that the Party’s standing on Trident, etc, are reasons enough not to vote for Labour and to abandon the Corbyn project.
But voting Corbyn doesn’t mean a vote for the police, a vote for borders or an endorsement of Parliamentary politics. It is not even a vote for the Blairite’s who will still dominate the party no matter the result. What voting for Corbyn is, is a vote for a transition to something better. Corbyn’s politics represent a vast improvement on those held by May and the Tories and for the first time since the 80s there is a genuine choice between two different types of politics (rather than the Tory and Tory-lite options we’ve had of late).
It’s difficult to deny that a Corbyn government would make life better for a vast majority of people living in Britain. That is not to say that Corbyn has to be the end of the political project or journey, nor is he perfect or above reproach and we should not treat him as such.
Those moaning about Corbyn’s embrace of the police or Trident also need to be realistic. Politics in a parliamentary setting will always incredibly limited. Corbyn is forced to compromise on these issues in order to create some sort of party unity and it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to see this happen, particularly given the incredibly partisan media in this country. It is also possible to back Corbyn, but not back these regressive compromises (and aim to keep Labour to the left). Those who claim to be progressive should be vocal critics of such policies and ideas.
Corbyn’s reluctant embrace of these issues does not mean he should be written off. Rather it shows that whilst it is important to back a politician like him, we need to remember that most of the important political work is not done in Westminster and is not achieved through voting. Parliamentary politics will never bring about a Utopia, even if Corbyn was to win and stop the horrors of this Tory government. We must see this election as what it is, a single step on a much longer journey.