Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the Labour Party is being jeered at from outside and within his own party since September 12. Those who elected him with an outstanding edge over his three rivals, have pinned certain hopes on him. One out of many is the most important; they don’t want to see their leader failing, neither at the party nor at national level. So he must also have the clear realisation not to disappoint them on this count.
We do respect his republicanism but when it comes to his voters, many of whom still revere monarchy, and he standing respectfully in silence while the national anthem was being sung in remembrance of the Battle of Britain, and not moving his lips with others, is nothing but to disappoint his voters and give a chance of mudslinging to his adversaries. Right at the time of announcement of the result of leadership, he should have assumed himself a leader of the Labour Party who represents everyone, speaks for everyone and is no more an individual and idealist backbencher.
However, soon after his election as Leader of the Labour Party, he did certain good things as well. His clear cut articulation “working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show that we don’t have to be unequal. It doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable, things can, and they will, change” has been very well received. The announcement of a 31 member shadow cabinet with the majority of women and a novel way adopted during the PMQs, were certainly appreciated. Even in this case he was castigated that the top three departments were all male. In an effort to bring about a balance in this regard, he elevated Angela Eagle to the post of first secretary of state that has always been so far a male monopoly. His broadly based shadow cabinet consisting of Lord Falconer, Hilary Benn, Rosie Winterton and Andy Burnham, apart from others indicated continuity.
The other good thing that he did was to accept the membership of the Privy Council. It is customary that Leader of the Opposition is taken into confidence and revealed to him certain highly confidential matters relating the national security policy. It has been leaked out that the leadership of the armed forces is reluctant to share with him such things but the Conservatives would certainly like to put his sense of responsibility to test.
There are quite a number of Labour MPs, who do not support his stance over the use of drone attacks over ISIS in Syria, EU, NATO and Trident. So far as the EU is concerned, Corbyn has committed publicly that the party would campaign for the UK to stay in the EU in the forthcoming referendum. However he said: “We will, of course, oppose any attempt by the Tory government to undermine workers’ rights. But Labour is clear that the answer to any damaging changes that David Cameron brings back from his negotiation, is not to leave the European Union but to pledge to reverse any changes by campaigning to stay in and get a Labour government elected in 2020.”
On NATO and Trident, the first rebuke of Jeremy Corbyn came from military four days after his election. The first sea lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas announced the renewal of Trident and the creation of a new aircraft carrier fleet. He said: “I believe these two capabilities will define our nation’s strategic and maritime security authority for the next half a century or more.”
This can be well understood in the backdrop of Corbyn’s opposition of the renewal of Trident and spending of 2% of GDP on defence. Though Zambellas’s remark was certainly not aimed at Corbyn and hardly any senior member of the military would challenge an elected politician in public. Yet the senior ranks of military do think about these matters privately. The Sunday Times quoted a senior serving general who said: “there would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be mutiny” in the event of Corbyn becoming prime minister. It is sufficient to refresh our memories of the alleged military plots to destabilise Harold Wilson. These are the basis of Tory ministers harping on the tune that the Labour party is “a threat to our national security, our economic security and our family’s security.” Yet, the Tories altogether ignore Europe’s refugee crisis, contribute to the collapse of the NHS and now they are concentrating on trade union bill to crush already feeble employee rights, amassing more wealth by drained profits from wages.
The choices are open to Jeremy Corbyn: accept the challenges, eschew individualism and work to keep the party united under his wings. Only by this way he would be able to cast away the shadows of the coming events.