The British democracy is facing its biggest national crisis for decades. In 2016, the European Referendum has bitterly split the country into two parts. As a result, the United Kingdom is still paralyzed and unable to free itself from this never-ending saga.
Brexit has no heroes
Jeremy Corbyn’s weak leadership performance and serial fallings could be the key factors responsible for this prolonged impasse.
Subsequently after the Brexit Referendum, in 2016, he refused to step down as leader of the Labour Party even after an overwhelming vote of no-confidence and a wave of resignations from his front bench. During the 2017 elections, he unexpectedly came from a long way behind Theresa May and nearly beat her but, now, this does not seem to be enough to make the electorate accept the idea of making him their Prime Minister. Is this not the first example of weak leadership?
Corbyn’s weakness explained with numbers
The Labour leader has the lowest poll numbers of any leader of the opposition since records began. His ambivalence in the Brexit stalemate situation and his inability in showing a charismatic leadership has given his adversary the chance of looking brighter then he is.
He is less popular than Boris Johnson amongst both men and women, in every socio-economic category, whether richer or poorer, in London and Scotland and remarkably, in every age group, younger and older. It’s no surprise that 62% among the over 65s tend to prefer Johnson to Corbyn, but it could be surprising that even among the youngest voters, aged 18 to 24 – those once seen as the Labour leader’s base – Corbyn is less popular than the PM, albeit by three points.
This is also the result of BoJo’s strong communication strategy turning him into a pumped-up boxer, “a populist simplifier” – according to the definition given by Professor Gianfranco Pasquino (John’s Hopkin’s University, Bologna) – able of keeping the adversary always under pressure. A perfect example of the good outcome of this strategy is the Johnson’s call for general elections by challenging Corbyn to “man up”.
The indecision showed by the leader of the Labour party turned him into the first opposition leader in history to block and fear a general election, even if the one consistent lifeline of the Labour leadership over recent months has been that it wants a general election. Tories call for elections because they believe that, as things stand, they will win. However, their counterpart is reluctant to have an election for the same reason and they are probably both right.
According to a poll conducted by Britain Elects Poll Tracker on Oct the 22nd, on the latest voting intentions, Tories (35%) are ten points ahead of Labour Party supporters (25%).
The polling firm Deltapoll suggests Johnson is better able to rally the Tory base then Theresa May was. He is trusted by leave voters in a way that May wasn’t. This could be one of the obstacles stopping Corbyn’s run towards victory.
Corbyn’s secret plan
Jeremy Corbyn’s ambivalence and opacity on Brexit has given an electoral advantage to Boris Johnson (always claiming to “get Brexit done”, “do or die”) and to the Liberal Democrats led by Jo Swinson (who keeps on asking to revoke Article 50). It is hard for Corbyn, who started with an anti-EU position, to lead a party divided into leavers and remainers. And this job is harder for a man with weak leadership.
Corbyn had been “taken prisoner” by his Party to stop him giving ground to his adversaries, a source said. According to another source, Corbyn’s plan seems to be clear: let Johnson get his Brexit done and then call for a general election next year. This means: moving away from the Brexit issue and taking an advantage on the Liberal Democrats who are wrecked after losing their flagship. As a result, Corbyn’s call for elections, next Spring, would let him become PM.
Interestingly, according to a recent poll, Labour Party supporters are also getting weaker on their traditional issues, whereas Tories overtake them.
The GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey published in the New Statesman shows that Labour Party supporters are five points behind the Tories on education and four behind on infrastructure. Labour has also lost its traditional advantage over the rivals when it comes to its perceived ability to deliver public services and fallen to 2% on the NHS. The Tories also polled better on defense and crime – in line with expectations – while Labour is still maintaining a strong lead is tackling poverty (ahead 10%).
The Daily Mail reported the words of one Labour MP calling his leader “LINO” – Leader In Name Only.
Johnson, on the other side, is always running borderline, stressing rules and sometimes putting the democratic system at risk. He has been capable of upsetting the Queen, his disruptive plans have been stopped by the Supreme Court but at the end, he is showing unconventional leadership abilities, whereas he is also able of becoming softer. BoJo is able of denying what he previously promised, when necessary.
The Irish Unionists (DUP) know this aspect of his behaviour very well, as they have been sacrificed to a deal that denies all of Johnson’s recent promises.
The importance of the dialectic
“The parliamentary supremacy of the British democracy has shown its strength. Everything works,” Gianfranco Pasquino said.
“Boris Johnson’s avowed strategy is to make him approach one of attempting to carry out the “will of the people” that is being thwarted by an “elite” among MPs who he claims have never been in favour of Brexit,” Steven McCabe, Associate Professor at Birmingham City University said. Johnson also claims that an election is urgently needed to bring end to what is regarded as a “zombie” parliament that is unwilling to make any definitive decision.
However, as Steven McCabe claimed, this criticism is unfair as “Parliament is doing its job in trying to reach a compromise that reflects divisions across the country”. McCabe explained: “There’s great division in all parts of society as well as among the two main parties because supporters voted to ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ which creates a challenge in achieving a solution that is going to be consistently supported by a majority of the electorate”. McCabe acknowledged that the only way out of the impasse will be people voting wither through another referendum he considers “highly unlikely” on an election though, according to him, this could result in continued confusion if the result is another ‘hung’ Parliament.
As for the political costs of this Brexit saga, McCabe suggests that “This situation undermines the trust of people in politics because they simplistically believe that Parliament is not doing what it is supposed to do in fulfilling the wishes of those who voted to leave over three years ago”.
“The political damage caused by the lack of the dialectic dialogue is huge. The voice of the opposition is the strength of every democracy,” Pasquino added.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Party since 2015, was first elected at Islington North on 1983; he won the primaries of his Party twice but has been unable of showing the political ability needed to face that big challenge called Brexit, yet. This could be one of the reasons why the UK is still stuck to this stalemate and this could cost Mr Corbyn dearly.