Is the force with you, Mr Corbyn?
The latest Star Wars movie burst onto our cinema screens over Christmas. Everyone’s favourite ‘western in space’ tells the familiar story of oppressed rebels (the good guys) versus the authoritarian Empire (the definite bad guys)
So why is it that in watching the film, I find myself thinking about the Labour Party? Who there are the rebels and who are the bad guys? The men and women that opposed the Vader-like Jeremy Corbyn were either sacked or lost their cabinet positions. Does this make our opposition weak because of the Party’s now largely apparent divide?
Back in September last year, the Labour Party needed a new face, one that Mr Corbyn himself never believed would be his own. Winning the biggest mandate of any Labour leader (59.5%), ironically he has a real lack of support within in his own party
Being both pacifist and a holder of fiercely anti-establishment views, Mr Corbyn held great hostility towards those in the Labour Party harbouring a more right-of-centre view. They are the rebel alliance.
This split was particularly highlighted in the December debate on the bombing of Syria. Corbyn condemns violence and opposed this motion. Despite this, his MPs voted freely on the issue. This allowed our rebels to undermine his influence as a leader. The Luke Skywalker figure, Hilary Benn, led the rebels in his speech, effectively going against Corbyn’s principles.
This has led to the current state of the Labour Party - a divided world between the leader’s supporters, and his opposition - a parallel to the divide between Jedi and Sith.
It’s this divide that has led to Mr Corbyn reshuffling his cabinet. This is a bold move, some would argue, an attempt to flex his leadership muscle within the Labour Party. Or, for others, it’s perhaps a move forced upon him which only exemplifies his lack of support and lack of confidence as a leader.
Despite this, the reshuffle as a whole has shown that rebels should think twice before undermining their leader. Moving Trident supporter Maria Eagle shows Corbyn is committed to his anti-nuclear weapon stance, proving popular with many in the electorate because of the £100bn price tag for the renewal of our nation’s nuclear submarines.
Jeremy Corbyn himself argues the reshuffle has made the party more diverse and effective in combating the opposition Conservative party. It is a sign that the empire is striking back.
But at the heart of the reshuffle, the question of leadership is now raised. In a political leader we would look for qualities such as decisiveness and control of his own party - both are qualities absent from the way in which the rebellion has been handled.
To show how he can control his party, Corbyn needed to strike fast in his reshuffle. Instead we have had a rather messy and drawn out change to the party - a win for the rebels.
So now whilst we eagerly wait for the arrival of Star Wars episode 8, we can entertain ourselves by watching the ever changing Labour Party and hope it might, one day, become an effective opposition.
-- William Partridge is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds