Outside the marginals

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

Any leadership to prevent this Brexit?

There was a Labour Party public meeting held this week-end in this Tory safe seat. Whilst in some ways it is heartening to see any political activity in the constituency that is well outside the marginals, it is also a bit worrying to see potential dissipation of effort. Arguably Labour should be putting its efforts into more marginal seats in the region, either defending seats vulnerable to loss or seeking to recapture winnable seats from the Tories.

Local officials seemed very chipper despite accepting that the Council Election results were a “disaster”. It was not quite so unrealistic as saying “one more heave”, but the view seemed to be that a few more heaves would capture the seat.

But by the time that has happened, the country may look very different. We will have crashed out of the EU, we may have lost Scotland, there may have been a Border Poll in Ireland, and constituency boundaries will have been redrawn. We may be what the Washington Post called Wangland (England and Wales) and it will be Conservative.

Right now the political imperative would seem to be damage limitation. However the Question and Answer Session at the meeting was dispiriting when it got to Brexit.

There was an accusation that the Withdrawal Bill was a nasty bit of Tory Legislation that took power from Brussels but landed it in the hands of Government ministers rather than Parliament or the People. There was an acceptance that there would be limited likelihood of significantly changing it – even though there was an appetite for making life difficult for the Tories and ensuring that their DUP allies had to spend more time actually in the chamber.

From this I would draw the conclusion that we are getting a “Tory Brexit” and that ought to be challenged. But within the Labour Party (at least as vocalised at the meeting) it seems we must “respect the will of the people” even though in the same breath it was recognised that the referendum was “fraudulent” and based on “lies”.

Therefore the Labour Party will not obstruct Brexit, but just try and make it less bad around the edges. Calls for a second referendum were ruled out as not being in accordance with “the will of the people”. They are painting themselves into a corner where they will be unable to stop a Tory Brexit with a few pink streaks.

They (or someone – who?) needs to be publicising the Withdrawal Bill and saying “this is not what we voted for”. If Labour supporters in constituencies that voted “Leave” really share a Brexit vision with Messrs Davies, Fox, Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Bone and Gove, the Labour Party has bigger problems than they realise.

The slogan should be “This is a Tory Brexit, This is not what 52% voted for”.

In such a situation they should be demanding an in/out referendum when the exit terms are agreed.

(It was a fundamental Cameronian error to allow the last referendum with “In” defined in some detail, but no definition what-so-ever to “Out” (a slogan on a bus does not count). This was in stark contrast to the Scottish Independence Referendum where both “Stay” and “Go” were well-defined and could be examined and challenged before the vote. But I think Cameron was so out of touch that he thought it was unnecessary to waste time defining “Leave” because he believed that his renegotiation and reforms would lead to an inevitable personal triumph. It didn’t cross his mind that he might be wrong. The Fool.)

We need to make the choice to leave the EU based on a clear evaluation of two defined alternatives. Quite how we do that post Article 50, I am not sure. Who will stand up and make the case for sanity is unclear.

It won’t be Labour.

The Liberal Democrats are too marginalised to make sufficient impact. In addition they are too traumatised by the kicking they got following the tuition fees shambles. Being accused of breaking election promises hurt and put them back at least a generation.  They are not brave (or foolhardy) enough to risk being seen again as “undemocratic” – even though challenging a decision and representing a minority is not undemocratic. That should be seen as a key aspect of a fully functioning democracy.

It won’t be the Scottish Nationalists. Why should they fight English Nationalism when they have the option of Independence?

This is incredibly depressing and marginalising.

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