In a democracy the decision of who is or who isn’t electable lies with us. It is not for others to tell us who stands a chance and who doesn’t.
There are two main factors which determine whether a politician is electable or not. The first is with respect to his policies, and the second is with regards his personality and character. A third, but less essential criteria is his past history of political success or failure. If an individual meets the necessary measures in terms of either policy or personality, then he cannot be dismissed as unelectable. If he or she meets both, then they should be taken as a serious political force. However, as Donald Trump has shown, in today’s world, even if none of the criteria are met, an individual can still attain the highest office if the general public feel sufficiently disengaged with the other candidates.
The policies which Corbyn stands for are rarely seriously challenged. There are few negative comments people can make about increasing the minimum wage, renationalising the railways, increasing NHS funding, restoring NHS bursaries, providing free school meals, combating inequalities, building more houses, reversing corporation tax cuts and so on. A YouGov poll in late 2016 demonstrated that Corbyn’s specific policies are more popular with the public than the Conservatives’, even though if asked directly the majority said that the Labour’s policies were worse. In other words, people unknowingly support Labour policies, but because of the negative perceptions they have of Corbyn’s party, they do not associate these ideas with them. Undoubtedly, part of this is due to the barrage of ‘unelectable’ slogans which media commentators and fellow politicians raise when referring to Corbyn. If Corbyn’s electability is in doubt, is it evident that it is not because of his policies.
Moreover, history has shown that Corbyn has precisely the character that a nation’s leader should have. He has always been highly consistent in his views. He is known, even by those who did not support his leadership bid, as an honest, sincere and decent individual. He has an evident kindness and compassion towards those less fortunate. Are these not precisely the qualities we should seek when electing a candidate to the most important role in our country?
It goes without saying that Corbyn’s electability and widespread general appeal has been proven through his past successes. Not only has he been an MP since 1983, and more recently convincingly won two leadership elections, but has also attracted huge numbers of new members to his party. In July 2016 100,000 new members joined the Labour Party in just 10 days, the majority of whom doing so in support of Corbyn at a time in which his leadership was under threat.
Perhaps those who brand him unelectable have their own reasons for not wanting him elected, that their own powerful interests may be less taken care of, that they would be worse off under Corbyn while the poorest in society would be better off. We may each be whispers in a raging storm, but eventually enough whispers can turn into voices, and voices into roars which can create a political movement with the potential to defeat those who desire nothing more than to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. There has never been a more important time to increase our collective roars and cries of genuine peace, justice and equality.
What truly is electability therefore? The ability to raise empty slogans, make and then break promises, and antagonise other nations? Or is it instead epitomised by the man who gains power even though he does not crave it simply for personal gain, who rides the waves of difficulty with grace and dignity, and who has consistently and ceaselessly stood for values of tolerance and harmony, and promoted policies in favour of public spending and welfare? Let us not vote for another candidate because we are told Corbyn is unelectable, or because the polls tell us he will be defeated. Instead let us ride the waves with him and make him electable, lest we drown under a far less principled and honest government.
In a democracy the decision of who is or who is not electable lies with us. It is not for others to tell us who stands a chance and who does not. Though we are whispers in a storm, let us not forget, once so was he. His leadership election victories against powerful voices who stood against him give us hope that enough of the electorate can see through the empty ‘unelectable’ anti-Corbyn rhetoric and that, just maybe, he can go one better.