A quick note on the Labour Party, Brexit and Corbyn.
Owen Jones has, it seems, finally broken with Corbyn and mischief makers are suggesting that Corbyn’s decision to whip the PLP in favour of Article 50 Bill, even if not amended is a potential disaster for Corbyn’s majority amongst Labour’s membership. Others are claiming that he has navigated the issue with the skill of Odysseus passing the threats of Scylla and Charybdis; they argue that any position other than soft brexit is destructive to Labour’s chances of winning in 2020 and that Labour has a duty to respect the results of the referendum. Some of these new democrats have a long history of supporting a brexit anyway.
As members and voters we do not have to respect the result of the referendum, we did not respect Section 28, and we will always campaign and vote and persuade for the politics we believe is right. When I say we, there are obviously people in the Labour Party who design their policy programs exclusively in order to win but since I believe that leaving the EU will damage the economy for all but the ultra-rich, create a less tolerant society, damage the rule of Law and diminishes my rights I have no intention of shrugging my shoulders and say that’s all right then.
He is not pursuing the Party’s policy, which is to seek a second mandate if the terms agreed by the Government are unacceptable. Voting for the 3rd reading if the Bill is not amended with the opportunity for Parliament to have a meaningful say on the terms of the deal is not Party policy, and announcing that is what the PLP will do before the amendments are voted on is in my mind extremely poor tactics.
We should also say clearly that if we want to defend workers and consumers rights we need the EU Court and thus the single market is a red line. This is not negotiable with the Tory party which is why they are happy with a shit deal or no deal; it’s the only way they can avoid the court. No ECJ is their red line. Our minimum acceptable standard requires the court and we should say so; we have better law with judges of every other nationality on our supreme court, including. perhaps especially including those from the newer democracies.
However the split in the Party is not only about Brexit. There are some that continue to “triangulate” with UKIP and their caveman allies in the Tories. The code words being about “listening”. We cannot go there. Some call this strategy, asking where do we get the votes to win; but it’s not from the racist elements of UKIP or the Tories. These strategists are taking us to a racist sewer and, are where they are, because they do not do the work in opposing racism. I will not go there but even Corbyn is being pressured to drop his pro-migration line.
After the 2015 election and the disgraceful stitch up the previous year that confirmed the then front bench the right to do what they wanted, leading to the reasonable manifesto, the poor pledge card and the ludicrous “Ed Stone”, I promised myself that I will never not say what I think and never allow the Labour Party to silence me using a “Unity” card. The Party should listen to its members first.
In reality the old Labour electoral coalition is broken, by New Labour in 1997; it’s time to take sides. We’ve been loosing votes since 1997, 3m between ’97 and 2001.
Therefore I continue to support his imperfect leadership but also those MPs who are voting against the Bill. I continue to support the 10 point plan and there is to my mind no-one else in the PLP who would be better electorally. It was New Labour that told the organised working class to fuck off; why would they come back for a rehashed austerity programme written in the ’90s which is all that’s on offer.