When Jeremy Corbyn entered the role as leader of the Labour Party in September 2015, there were always going to be questions raised about his past. A range of controversies have occurred over the last 3 years about Corbyn’s relations to anti-Semitism, but the last month has been significantly more controversial. Brexit has also caused huge controversy within the party, as divisive opinions have affected various MP’s futures in parliament. It is clear that the party structure is now so fundamentally fractured on these two issues, that it has the potential to negatively impact them in the next General Election.
The most noticeable internal controversy within the Labour Party in the last few days has been the deselection problem. Four Labour MP’s supported the government in last month’s crucial Brexit votes in the House of Commons; Kate Hoey, John Mann, Frank Field, and Graham Stringer. The Brexit votes were a vital win for the government, as they do not have a majority in the House of Commons; one of the votes was won by the government by 6 votes (307-301). These four MP’s have come under significant criticism and online abuse as a result of supporting the government.
Kate Hoey, one of the MP’s who supported the government on Brexit, is facing deselection after her local party in Vauxhall passed a vote of no confidence in her. Local activists want her suspended from the party and are aiming to declare her “ineligible” to stand as a candidate. They accused her of colluding with Nigel Farage during the Brexit campaign and believe that she no longer represents Labour values. However, Hoey is relaxed about the vote and said in response that she will always put “country before party”.
Deselection has caused controversy over the last few weeks, however the anti-Semitism has been an ongoing issue for the Labour Party. In recent days, the crisis has escalated as Jeremy Corbyn’s past has come back to haunt him. In 2010, Jeremy Corbyn attended an event which was anti-Zionist where one guest speaker compared the Israeli government to Nazis. Although Corbyn has released a written statement apologising for sharing a platform with controversial speakers, the media and the Jewish community have not forgotten or forgiven him.
Earlier this month, the three main Jewish newspapers all had the same front page to show a united front. Prominent figures in the Jewish community have condemned the way Labour has handled anti-Semitism issues within the party. Moreover, national media have condemned Labour’s newly written anti-Semitism definition as it is not the same as the International consensus definition.
Labour has reached breaking point; if they don’t successfully resolve the issue of anti-Semitism within the party the next election will be a disaster. Furthermore, there is still a genuine split in ideology with MP’s, but deselecting MP’s over supporting the government on Brexit is not the way forward for Labour. It is an unwritten rule that a party can only win a General Election if it is fully united behind policy and the leadership. Jeremy Corbyn must unite his party, which so far he has been unable to achieve, otherwise he will become yet another Labour leader that failed to reach power.