The endless ‘JezFest’ which has become the singular face of a once diverse party was on full display at this trivial one-day festival which took place on June 16th. Corbyn’s favourite comrades Len McCluskey and Owen Jones made appearances alongside musical stars like Clean Bandit. The Labour party’s excessive focus on young people, autocratic-style idolisation of their leader, distance from the working class and trivialisation of politics are all huge impediments to their success as a healthy opposition party.
Labour has monopolised the youth vote in the post-Blair years, with idolatrous support for Jeremy Corbyn perhaps replacing the traditional British clamour for pop-stars like One Direction. However, a commercialised Labour party holding concert events with artists that a majority of the country has never heard of will only do more to displace traditional Labour voters. Labour, of course, claims to represent the working man and, at least outwardly, seeks to improve upon dwindling votes in traditional Labour heartlands in the North of England and the Midlands. In the last general election, 6 seats, including former coal mining constituencies such as North-East Derbyshire, were lost to the Conservatives in what many perceived as shocking political shifts.
As Jeremy Corbyn was ushered through the crowds by bodyguards like an ageing but ever-popular rock star, the working class man from Wakefield was clearly the last thing on his mind. The working class desertion of the Labour Party is hardly surprising in light of the skewed priorities dictated by the party spending thousands on a one-day festival primarily aimed at young people in North London.
The cult of personality that Corbyn has encouraged through events such as these makes his adoration for dictators like Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro even more understandable. The image of Corbyn on an expansive stage, espousing socialist ideals in front of hordes of screaming millennials from London, implies a troubled trajectory for the party in British politics.
Labour would argue that this festival was necessary for engaging young people in our political process. Yes, low voter turnout among the 18-22 range is a significant issue and has inspired a variety of initiatives to encourage greater interest among young people in political issues. However, the answer isn’t reducing politics to trivial festivals and hate-filled slogans about the Tories and capitalism. The socialist solutions Corbyn holds for the country are over-simplified and packaged into an easily swallowable message, ready-made for dissemination at a concert. This not only mischaracterises the veritable evil of true socialism, the debasing of politics in this way also hurts our democracy.
A healthy opposition party is necessary for a thriving parliamentary democracy. Under Corbyn’s duplicitous and extremist leadership, no serious political debates can occur. We should all be concerned about the deterioration of a political party which has a role to play in shaping public and political debates about the future of the country. Labour Live was a great example of how a party that claims to be the home of the British worker is in reality miles away from the political and social issues facing the country.