Jeremy Corbyn hasn't been a Labour Party MP since November 2020 and he isn't best pleased. The former Labour leader took to Twitter today to call out his treatment, citing Sir Keir Starmer in that tweet, but the whole situation isn't as black and white as it may appear.
General Election crash
People vote on what is best for them and their immediate family. Many people felt politically alienated from Corbyn's Labour because he didn't have many policies that were tailored for them. Where were the middle-class in Corbyn's plans? They were largely forgotten because efforts were focused on the more financially vulnerable – but even that message struggled to make its way through.
The working-class – who Corbyn endeavoured to help the most – were turned against him. Certain sections of the media certainly helped to frame that negative mindset but Corbyn and his team didn't do enough to combat those seismic waves that crashed against his ship. His name quickly became a pejorative term on the doorstep.
A combination of a powerful smear campaign, weak leadership, and Brexit, cost Labour badly in December 2019. Boris Johnson romped home to a landslide victory and the Conservative Party entered 2020 with an enormous majority government.
A final nail in the Corbyn coffin was his mishandling of the anti-Semitism scandal that engulfed the Labour Party under his leadership. Corbyn later argued that those anti-Semitism findings were exaggerated and, as a result, he didn't make a full apology for the upset caused.
Perhaps Corbyn was right. People have argued that Islamophobia in the Conservative Party has been allowed to fester, with very little media coverage highlighting that issue. However, it is not smart to play the comparison game when it comes to a racial issue.
Corbyn needed to accept that he could have done better with the situation – apologised for the upset caused – and moved on. That would have put the issue to bed and allowed him to continue his role as a Labour MP. Sadly, Corbyn's biggest strength has also proven to be his biggest weakness: integrity.
He genuinely didn't feel that he had done anything wrong with regards to anti-Semitism, or at least he didn't feel that he had done enough wrong to apologise for it. Corbyn would never simply apologise for the greater good of his party; he couldn't put his party above himself.
Starmer has been working desperately hard to clean the image of Labour. Since taking leadership, he has taken a no-nonsense approach to anti-Semitism and Corbyn's insistence on winning another argument threatens to undermine all of Starmer's efforts.
The former lawyer is trying to show that Labour has changed. Kicking Corbyn out was a big call. Publicly taking on the moderate left members within his own party was another. He is desperate to perform the Joe Biden technique of offering a credible alternative to the chaos in the Conservatives.
It was sad to see Corbyn kicked out of a party that he lead for many years but Starmer had little choice. Now – even if Corbyn gave a more wholesome apology to the Jewish community – bringing him back creates another mind-numbingly frustrating battle for the current Labour leader.
Pro-Conservative based press could go to town on Corbyn's return. "The Return of the Marxist", "Anti-Semites Assemble" – you get the idea. It becomes an easy stick to hit Labour with and it's a reminder of the baggage, the melodrama, and the failure of the past.
However, Corbyn knows that he could land a hefty blow on Starmer if he decides to lead his own political party. There is definitely a big socialist movement within Britain and a Corbyn-led party would eat into the current Labour polling numbers.
Whether he does that or not will come down to his mindset. He would land a major dent in Labour's push to get into power but he could argue that he is providing a voice for those who now feel politically homeless. Some would call such a move selfish – perhaps even narcissistic – but others would say that there is a real gap in the market for a moderately left party.
It is possible to be grateful to Corbyn for his efforts, without pandering for his return to the stage. He inspired a generation of young people to start taking politics seriously, compassionately conveying an alternative to a flawed status quo.
Nonetheless, that time has been and gone. History might look back on Corbyn with fondness and what might have been but feelings of nostalgia should not be mistaken for anything more. Britain is not ready for radical left-wing change and it might never be ready for it.
It seems wrong to cancel Corbyn because he is a good man at heart – of that there is no doubt. But any attempts to make a frontline return to politics threatens to break apart the fabrication of democracy that we currently entertain, slicing up the non-Conservative voter base and providing even greater assurances for the current party in power.
Labour cannot afford to take on a Socialist Party but they are understandably reluctant to take back Corbyn back in any hurry. Lord knows how the situation will play out but Corbyn will always provide Starmer with a problem – whether he is inside or outside of the Labour Party.