Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Laboured Opposition or Absent Opposition?

I find the Labour Party’s current stance on what is happening to the country confusing to say the least. They are meant to be holding the government to account but seem too paralysed by fear of UKIP to offer anything except abject abdication. “We will not obstruct the invoking of Article 50”!

They are of course reaping what they have sown. During the Miliband years (remember them?), they failed to tackle Cameron and Osborne as that dreadful duo laid the ground work for the right-wing coup* that is currently happening. The Language Battle was lost.

Yesterday (24 January 2017) on LabourList (well read by the sort of people Labour have to get to rally to their support) Diane Abbott, rather late in the day offers opposition to the 2010 Coalition Government:

There is a widespread anxiety that the economic outlook will deteriorate. If so, we should expect the Tories to expand their scapegoating tactics.

This goes back at least as early as the early 2010 general election campaign when David Cameron promised to eliminate the deficit in the next parliament and to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”. We now know that both his government, and its successor under Theresa May, have failed spectacularly to meet either target.

The effect of these claims was purely political, with little or no movement towards the stated goals. What it allowed the Tories to do was to demonise others – and the Labour Party – for the global economic crisis.
LabourList 24 January 2017 | Diane Abbott: It is not migrants who are making you worse off – it’s the Tories

All very true but a bit late. The Coalition and then the Tory Government by demonising migrants were able to:

  • Blame strains on public services on migrants, not austerity
  • Blame migrants on the EU, (and not the then Home Secretary!)

Given that those two “political facts” went virtually unchallenged it is hardly surprising that UKIP gained ground and the country voted narrowly for leaving the EU.

Now Labour are so petrified by the fact that so many of their voters have accepted these “political facts” that they do not dare oppose. (When I say “political facts”, I am referring to them in a “post fact” sense.)

At the moment invoking Article 50 will irreversibly set us on the road to departure from the EU – “doing what the people wanted” (apparently).

May together with her cheerleaders (or political jailers) Davis, Fox, & Johnson – in their turn egged on by the likes of Cash, Bone, Redwood & Rees-Mogg, believe that they will get a superb deal.

This is of course consistent with the Tory Brexit Strategy “Close your eyes and just really believe and all will be OK” But what if there aren’t fairies at the bottom of the garden and we don’t get this superb deal?

In her Brexit speech last week (17 January 2017, The government’s negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: PM speech), May has said that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”, and after her speech “Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs the UK would be leaving the EU whatever the outcome of the vote” (BBC News, 17 January 2017 | Brexit at-a-glance: What we learned from Theresa May). The Chancellor has implied that in the event of a negotiating failure (he apparently can contemplate something other than complete success), Britain will change:

‘If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term.

‘In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do.
Daily Mail, 16 January 2017 | Don’t try to wound us, Chancellor warns the EU: UK could slash taxes to tempt firms if Brussels refuses trade deal

So even if we “get a vote on the final deal” (The Lib Dem’s policy) it will be between:

  • Exiting on May’s negotiated Hard Brexit terms (recent British PM’s have a good record of “success” in such negotiations), or
  • Exiting on presumably WTO terms (i.e. Crash Brexit terms) and a reshaping of the “British Economic Model” as suggested by the Chancellor.

If Labour do not attempt to block Article 50 they are condemning us to this choice at best. I somehow do not think that their remaining surviving supporters voted for this.

The problem is, having abandoned so much ground, how do they fight back? Or must we look to the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats to hold the government to account and make sure that the right-wing coup is not completed by propelling us down a one way street to a sort of society that only the Republican Tea Party can dream of?


Arguably First Past the Post got us into this mess (by suppressing diversity of opinion within both the Labour and Conservative Parties and excluding UKIP from any representation). After redrawing the electoral boundaries, it could also give us in England a near perpetual “nasty party” (© Theresa May) government.

It has been far too easy for Cash, Bone, Redwood & Rees-Mogg; I suspect they cannot believe their dream of a right-wing Britain is almost within reach! All that stands between them and their dream is for Theresa May to fail to persuade 27 European Nations to unanimously agree with her demands.

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2 thoughts on “Laboured Opposition or Absent Opposition?

  1. Pingback: Pressing the Button for Point of No Return | Outside the marginals

  2. Pingback: Copeland and the Search for Opposition | Outside the marginals

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