Has Labour under Jeremy Corbyn become completely irrelevant?

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The Labour Leader Addresses Party Conference
Was anyone listening to Corbyn's conference speech? (Source: Getty)

Alex Deane, managing director at FTI Consulting and common councilman in the City of London Corporation, says Yes.

While I’m a Tory, there’s no schadenfreude for me in answering “yes” to this. Our country needs a strong opposition; while Jeremy Corbyn continues to lead Labour, we do not have it. Legislation which should be challenged goes unchallenged. Some bills which should not become laws will.

In our adversarial political tradition, robust debate is the method by which the executive is held to account. Not only do unexamined proposals make bad laws, unexamined governments become overconfident and lazy, too. So we should all lament Labour’s irrelevance.

And there is no foreseeable mechanism for righting the situation. Corbyn simply does not care that the majority of his parliamentary party lacks confidence in him, and Labour’s membership seems set on keeping him in post regardless. When that is the case, there is very little that can be done to restore relevance to a party – and when Tom Watson is the approachable face of your moderate centre ground, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Atul Hatwal, editor of Labour Uncut, says No.

No. Clearly things aren’t great for Labour but the party has an important role to play in the coming years.

Nationally, Theresa May’s Tory government has a Commons majority barely in double digits. Her party is split on Brexit, with a hard core opposed to any participation in the Single Market. If Britain is retain some of the benefits of the Single Market, such as the passporting that’s essential for many financial services firms, a compromise deal with the EU is required. May will need Labour’s votes to pass any such deal and Labour priorities, such as ensuring employees’ rights aren’t torn up as part of Brexit, will have to be part of the package.

Regionally, Labour’s mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is already an internationally renowned leader and he’ll be joined next year by metro mayors in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool when elections are held. In each city, Labour is the hot favourite. Labour might not be in power at Westminster, but its local leaders and values remain very relevant.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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