If ever there was a politician caught between a rock and a hard place it is Jeremy Corbyn. Seldom do you find a politician who possesses those rare qualities that aligns itself with a vision of what politics should be about. Corbyn cares for the vulnerable and needy, subscribes to the ‘greater good’ principle and dares to confront the social reality of inequality. Despite all this he is still unpopular and is not predicted to take Labour to victory.
So when the election was called on Tuesday 18 February why did Corbyn endorse it? Surely the safest option would have been to have refused to vote in support on the grounds that the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 was passed precisely for the reason that Prime Ministers would not be able to call elections when it suited them.
By forcing the Government to wait till 2020 would have given Corbyn enough time to prove that he can (or cannot) be a capable leader. A common defensive argument made in support of Corbyn is that he has not been given the time to prove himself seeing that a lot of his time has been taken up with internal fighting.
But is it as clear cut as that?
Corbyn is a case of ‘doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t. What this translates into is the fact that if Corbyn had refused to vote in support he would have faced a barrage of criticism under the headline of being an obstacle to democracy, never mind that he would have been following a democratic rule i.e the Parliament Act. People would have been blind to the fact that the PM has called the election to knock the opposition sideways and at such an angle that it would not be able to provide any substantive challenge her.
Corbyn then opts to support the election call and is called a turkey who votes for Christmas. He can do no right. While I do think that Corbyn has problems projecting himself as a leader much of the arguments against him have been media constructs. Like a stuck record the media play and replay the same old arguments such as Corbyn’s supposed anti-semitism. He is starved of the oxygen of publicity while other politicians, in comparison, speak drivel and are given an easier time.
As an example, Corbyn is making social inequality a centre point of his election campaign but has not received praise for this even though the evidence is overwhelming that the equality gap between rich and poor is growing bigger by the day. On the other hand other politicians who bring the same topic up are seen as tackling the problem of a social ill.
Jeremy Corbyn is caught between a rock and a hard place if there ever was such a political situation.