I usually read ‘The Guardian’ during my lunchbreak in work, so my attention was struck by an article headed ‘Remainers, you have nothing to fear from backing Labour in the EU elections’.
Mmm . . . this might be interesting I thought.
So, I read it. The article informed its readers that, unlike the Conservatives “Labour will enter the EU elections from a completely different angle, with a programme that is actually about Europe.” Yes indeed, and that’s the effing problem; because that programme is Brexit.
Its big message was that Labour’s policy is at one with the manifesto of the Party of European Socialists, although I’m fairly certain that this manifesto doesn’t actually support Brexit.
The manifesto “spells out, concretely and in the abstract, where the solutions lie”, and so “the party has an overriding imperative. It must, in solidarity with its European socialist allies, spread its hopeful vision for the bloc.” Except, of course, it wants to leave “the bloc” and, if it is the least bit logical, wishes that there was no bloc at all. And, concretely, the policy of the Labour Party – of a ‘jobs Brexit’ – is nonsense and in the abstract is unviable, that is, unviable in the dictionary definition related to biology.
The European Socialist’s manifesto contains all sorts of admirable objectives such as “a carbon-neutral continent by 2050; strong welfare states, social safety nets and quality public services; standards driven up by collective transnational action; a ban on zero-hours contracts and fake self-employment.” But there is a problem, I’ve yet to see a coherent argument for a national road to changing the climate, or unilateral national action that is collective transnational action.
We are told “We can fixate on the persistence of a pro-Brexit faction within Labour – unarguably, it exists – but it is tedious to continue to locate and analyse it when it cannot have a decisive voice on Labour’s position in the European elections.” But again, happy to be proved wrong, but unless the Party campaigns against Brexit, I think there’s a mistake hiding somewhere in this argument.
And I don’t think Remainers are finding Brexit tedious. In fact, the one million plus march and 6 million plus petition shows that they are quite fired up. Rather it’s the Leavers who are tired – and why wouldn’t they be? They were told, and many still believe, that leaving the EU would be easy, quick and painless. The “let’s just get on with it” mood that Theresa May keeps on saying ‘the British people’ want is from all these leavers who still desperately want to be proved right, and equally desperately want some charlatan to confirm their prejudices.
We’re told of the Labour Party – “Never mind the pro-Brexit faction” – what a pity it happens to include the leadership. And what can we say about such a leadership that, for example, presents us with the ridiculous spectacle of continuing negotiations with the Tories, that never should have started, that are based on the reactionary-ludicrous assumptions that some sort of progressive Brexit might exist, and might be agreed with the Tories. And the longer they go on, the greater the effort, the more alienating the Labour leadership becomes to all those members and voters who long ago realised that Brexit is a dish better not served at all.
It gets harder, the more one reads it, to understand just what this Grauniad article is saying. For example, when it states that the European manifesto “is the foundation for a much bolder question: how could these (EU) institutions be transformed so they served their original purpose?” Doesn’t the Brexit leadership assume that this is impossible? And do they not also assume that Brexit is still Brexit while adhering to a customs union and regulatory alignment, while having no say in setting the rules for either, while still in a position to ‘transform the institutions’.
You really could not make this up, which is why the leadership can’t explain how it can be made up, and the EU will tell it how it simply can’t be made up.
So, to sum up, supporters of the ‘successful ambiguity’ of Labour policy appear to be missing the rather unambiguous support the Corbyn leadership is giving Brexit – so unambiguous they proclaim their goal as one of unity with the Tories for their favourite Brexit option, which doesn’t look very different from May’s favourite Brexit option. And this is called opposition?
Some people nevertheless comfort themselves with opinion polls showing Labour ahead, or rather Labour doing less badly, than the Tories, although this wasn’t the case in the Newport byelection. What they fail to factor in is a Tory campaign for a hard Brexit– deal or no deal – should an election actually be called, which only they could deliver, and in the process hoovering up the Leave voters – who have no reason to vote Labour despite its policy. A Labour-supporting Brexit meanwhile, might present no reason whatsoever for Remainers to vote for it – which is why this otherwise ridiculous ‘Guardian’ column has seen the need to think up a reason to do so, which it abysmally fails to do.
So how ironic would it be if Theresa May should have called an election in 2017 on the basis of opinion polls, only to see the election campaign pan out differently and the arguments put during it actually have an impact, only for Corbyn to seek to do the same and go into an election telling everyone to ignore the elephant in the room? What sort of argument for Brexit that almost all his members think is crazy or stupid, or something worse, could possibly win the election, unless relying on the opposition being useless?
But isn’t this what Theresa May did before? Does this obviously failed leader, who isn’t even the leader of her own party anymore, really have to end up leading no one except the Labour Party, in its policy and strategy?
It is very, very hard to see the next election campaign repeating the same outcome as that in 2017, with a massive increase in the Labour vote – except perhaps in reverse. About as hard as seeing what’s progressive in Brexit and how it could possibly benefit the Labour Party to support it.
Perhaps that article really should have been headed ‘Remainers, you have everything to fear from backing Labour in the EU elections’. Of course if you still want to do so you perhaps you had better start doing something about the Party’s policy and its leadership. Non?