Consider for a moment how much Corbyn has staked thus far in the name of trying to stop Trident renewal from taking place. He has greatly annoyed the trade unions over the issue, never more so than at Labour conference in Brighton last year when he told the GMB he would make the party line be pro-EU regardless in the name of party unity, and then turning around and taking an anti-Trident line thus destroying his European line’s explanation. Jeremy brought Ken Livingstone into the fold, upsetting many, all because he was looking for an ally on the issue to co-chair the Labour defence review. Trident also played a heavy role in the longest reshuffle in history, with Maria Eagle finally getting the sack due to her position on the subject.
I realise he cares a lot about Trident and trying to stop it being renewed, but just think about this for a moment. Every Tory MP will vote for renewal, as will a huge amount of Labour MPs. If they were going to risk Corbyn’s wrath over Syria, they’ll do the same here without question. So regardless of what Corbyn does, the nuclear deterrent is going to be renewed, sometime this year, probably within the next six months. So given that, why bother wasting this much time and political capital on it all?
This is usually the part of the article where I reveal what I figure has been the calculation made by the politician who has done something baffling. But I genuinely have no idea why he’s done this, other than to prove a point. But I guess that is the Corbyn modus operandi. He feels comfortable holding a placard in front of King’s Cross so that’s what he does. He hates the idea of Trident renewal, so he wastes a lot of time and effort on trying to stop it, even though 32 years of parliamentary experience must have told him it was all futile from the start.
I know his supporters like to describe this behaviour as impassioned and honest. But there comes a point when one is the leader of the opposition when taking a personal stand on an issue then sticking with it in the face of all reality begins to look and feel very, well, sorry to say this, selfish. There were any number of things I’m sure he cares about deeply that he could have rallied his party around these last three and half months (it’s amazing it’s only been that long, isn’t it?). But he has chosen to make a big deal out of something where splits were inevitable and that he can actually do nothing whatsoever about.
I remain a large critic of Ed Miliband. However, Ed was usually able to see what battles he could and couldn’t win and react accordingly. Take the 2013 Syria vote as an example, one where Ed took a position I disagreed with myself, but Ed knew what he wanted to achieve, figured he could pick off enough Tory support, and he won out. I hate to say this, really I do, but Corbyn learn a thing or two about this sort of thing from his predecessor.