Watson says that Corbyn must improve

At the No More War event at Parliament Square in August. A Creative Commons stock photo.

By Molly Ambler

The current political climate leaves a lot to be desired, one must not forget the Labour Party.

While the rest of the world is focusing on Brexit and the presidency of Trump, the Labour Party, once again, have to refute rumours of tension.

The Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, has downplayed suggestions that the party are looking at the popularity of alternative candidates for the leadership.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that while the party is considerably lagging behind Theresa May in opinion poll, Jeremy Corbyn was “established” in the role.

He said that the party faced an “uphill struggle” to win the next elections and had to offer “positive” ideas.

The most recent ICM poll put Labour at 27%, which is 15 points behind the Conservatives. This is compared with a YouGov poll that suggests 62% of voters are unfavourable towards Mr Corbyn compared with 22% who are.

Labour’s election co-ordinator, Ian Lavery has said “There are plenty of leaders to pick from if and when Jeremy decides, of his own volition, that it’s not him at the election. That isn’t the case at this point in time.”

Mr Corbyn has been under the microscope for some time, seeing off a challenge to his leadership through Owen Smith last year, winning 61.8% of the vote, a higher share than his first election into the position of leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Watson has remained loyal to his leader stating, “This is not the time for a leadership election. He got a second mandate from our members last year.

He is now the established leader of the Labour Party. It is his duty to lead the official Opposition through a period of unprecedented economic uncertainty and he will be tested.

He has to explain those and he has to improve on them and he’s well aware of that.”

Mr Corbyn, however, appears to be struggling with his party.

Last week he imposed a three-line whip, the strongest possible sanction, on his MPs in favour of supporting the Brexit bill, arguing that it reflected the will of the people, as shown by the EU Referendum.

However, Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis resigned from the front bench saying that backing the bill would go against his conscience.

In total, 52 Labour MPs voted against the orders of Mr Corbyn. Does this signal the end of support for Mr Corbyn? Only time will tell.

For now, his Deputy Leader, Mr Watson remains firm, further stating “The polls aren’t great for us, but I’m determined that we’ve got the leadership settled for this Parliament, that we can focus on developing a very positive, clear message to the British people in a general election.”

Mr Watson is also trying to re-affirm the position of the Labour Party on the political spectrum in Britain, naming the party as a “patriotic party.”

While Mr Corbyn’s deputy remains firm, it is unclear whether the rest of the party or indeed their voters will follow suit.

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