Labour voters face huge dilemma over Corbyn in General Election - Jayne Dowle

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

If proof was needed once again that this is no ordinary General Election, several leading former Labour MPs are now urging the electorate to vote Tory instead.

Like many natural Labour voters – I hesitate to say ‘traditional’ because this word has been hijacked – I’m seeking advice regarding what to do on December 12.

Which way will people vote in the General Election? Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Which way will people vote in the General Election? Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Pinning on a blue rosette in a former mining community in South Yorkshire wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

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I swear my grandmother would return to haunt me, probably in the local Labour party loudspeaker car festooned with red ribbons which usually transported her to the polling station.

That was then, when most things in life were certain. This is now, when people who fall broadly into the same category as me are perplexed. Just who should we vote for?

In constituency terms, I have no problem with my sitting MP, Labour’s Stephanie Peacock. However, I must say I would welcome the chance to discuss her Leave stance should she turn up on my doorstep.

It’s an interesting one, for a Labour MP, but in a constituency which voted overwhelmingly in favour of getting out of Europe, I can see her reasoning.

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Still, there is enough bile and hatred in politics as it is, without any need for me to start marching about in my kitchen waving my own principled stance. Live and let live, I say. Let’s concentrate on how this country is actually going to run, how we’re going to organise and pay for education and health and social care and tackle poverty and deprivation.

No, it’s not voting for the Labour candidate I would have the problem with; it’s what my vote will lead to I’m worrying about. This General Election is not a straightforward expression of political views. It’s a frightening game of consequences.

Nowhere was this more apparent that on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle last week. In a trenchant and heartfelt entreaty, the editor appealed to people who wouldn’t normally read his newspaper to turn their faces away from Jeremy Corbyn on account of his failure to deal with anti-semitism.

At almost the same time, Ian Austin, the former member for Dudley, who worked a special adviser for Gordon Brown and became an independent in February this year, has called Mr Corbyn an “extremist” who is “completely unfit” to be Prime Minister.

He was joined by John Woodcock, another Labour MP-turned-independent, who represented Barrow and Furness. He warned voters that they must mobilise to stop Jeremy Corbyn from “getting his hands on the levers of national security and defence” and informed us that he would personally, be voting Conservative.

And then Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South from 2001 to 2015 and a Minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, weighed in. He reminded Sky News that when you have a former Labour Minister advocating a vote for the Tories there is “something deeply wrong” and admitted that he would be “far happier” with Boris Johnson.

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And so we watched as the Labour Party disintegrated before our eyes. Or, here’s an alternative narrative: this General Election will prove to be the catalyst which millions of voters have been waiting for since Jeremy Corbyn became leader four years ago. It’s widely-held that if he was to secure a majority which did propel him into Downing Street, Mr Corbyn’s grip on power might not be secure enough to keep him there for very long.

There are many variables which might contribute to this, not least who ends up as the new deputy leader following the resignation of moderate Tom Watson, who has declared that he can no longer bring himself to campaign for Labour on a hypocritical ticket.

Can we natural Labour voters who don’t want to be responsible for delivering Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister be as forthright? Then again, do we want to watch through our fingers as his acolytes thumb their noses and say “you voted us in” as they plunge ahead with a spending spree to the tune of billions of pounds to instil his ambitious programme of public services and nationalisation? And do something – who knows what – about Brexit?

It’s like one of those modern dramas where the viewer gets to choose the ending. Only there is nothing remotely entertaining about the various scenarios we’re presented with. And in the end, the ultimate denouement is out of our hands.

If you were reading this and hoping that I would be able to give you a definitive answer to the question which perplexes you too, I’m sorry to disappoint.

In this General Election there is no clever or even familiar script to follow; each of us must carefully consider the options in our own constituencies, cast our vote according to our conscience and cross our fingers.