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Monday 27 May 2019

Labour - Time To Face Reality

The European Parliament elections may have been dismissed by some as an irrelevance, but for the two main parties in the UK, they were all too relevant. And they were bad news for both: the Tories have been reduced to just three MEPs, haemorrhaging support to Nigel “Thirsty” Farage’s new Brexit Party electoral vehicle. while Labour, which is hoping to replace them as the party of Government, saw its MEP numbers halved.
But while Labour languished, the Lib Dems overhauled them and the Greens increased their EP representation to seven. They, the SNP and Plaid Cymru were unambiguously Remain parties. Moreover, as one helpful graphic from the BBC shows, the vote share for pro-Remain parties was higher than for pro-Brexit parties. Labour tried to straddle the issue, ride two horses at once. So who was to blame?
It’s no use blaming Jeremy Corbyn. Jezza stuck tenaciously to the line agreed by Conference last September and endorsed since. He did what he was mandated to do. The problem was that, with others offering snappier soundbites, Labour’s message did not convince voters one way or the other. And there is worse news.
It’s no use blaming Tom Watson. There have been some wildly creative claims over the weekend that Labour’s deputy leader was launching some kind of coup. He wasn’t, and he isn’t. Watson kept his loudest criticism to himself until after the vote. Moreover, his assertion that Labour must come down on the Remain side has been echoed by Emily Thornberry - the person many on the left would have replace him.
Barry Gardiner Is An Idiot. Many on the left will not want to hear this, but hear it they must. At the end of March, Gardiner said “Labour is not a remain party now”. For a party trying to appeal to both Leave and Remain, that was an act of monumental idiocy. As he said that, he drove tens of thousands of Labour voters to the Lib Dems and Greens.
Why that happened should not need explaining. Most voters do not share the ideological attachment to Labour, or indeed to any other party, that party members do. Most Labour voters voted to Remain in 2016; most who would usually vote Labour in 2019 would do so too. Tell them that Labour is not for them - they go elsewhere. Simples.
The current message to voters is not good enough. Here’s Laura Pidcock, an MP who has had a lot of stick from the right-wing press, and for whom I have a lot of time, trotting it out again last night: “I understand why many people will have used #EUelections to express frustration at handling of Brexit, but tomorrow morning, working class communities will wake to the same issues, worries & fears. We have to deliver a society that brings together Leave & Remain & works for all”. It’s not cutting through. Voters see through it.
Why so? There is no better deal on offer than that of remaining in the EU. Forget the Farage froth; telling voters to stand tall and have pride in their country won’t put food on the table. And taking Britain out of the EU will put even less food on the table. No party is going to be able to address those worries and fears if that happens.

Labour has to get real not only with the voters, but with its members. Tom Watson is right; so is Emily Thornberry. Corbyn did his best, but Labour was a study in ambiguity and confusion. That cannot continue. The party must choose, and choose wisely. That is all.
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JP Janson De Couet said...

The country is still 50:50 Leave:Remain, and nothing has changed since 2016. A People’s Vote would probably give the same result.

1. Remainers lose
2. Leavers lose
3. @UKLabour’s ethical Brexit compromise

It’s all rather dull.

squizzler said...

I note that the chart 'How Pro and Anti Brexit Parties have done' includes the Brexit Party amongst those in favour of Brexit. Since this party has not included any such policy in their manifesto (because they do not have one) I argue that it is the duty of commentators assign them to the undecided category.

People cannot have a free pass to direct public discourse without committing policy on which you can be judged to paper - which is recognised as a manifesto. 'Put up or shut up' applies here. Now we have labour and Brexit party both with leaders have made utterances that might lead you to think their stated policy is to leave the EU, the only differences are that one of them has a pretty opaque manifesto and the other no manifesto at all.

So it should be at the time of writing 23 seats for remain parties, 3 for leave parties and 38 for those with missing/non-committal manifesto pledges.

rob said...

@ no 1

Except that any Brexit,even if the NI issue could be sorted, means the country as a whole loses. The only winners would be those hedge fund managers betting on the economy collapsing in the short to medium term. Even Moggy admitted it would take possibly 50 years for any benefits to accrue.

It is interesting that the "Party" which gained most votes isn't in fact a Party with policies but just a protest by a minority of the electorate (who voted) against membership of the EU as egged on by most of the mainstream media.

Not really a firm basis for exiting at all.

Labour's "ethical compromise" would need to be agreed with the EU, as well as with the new government, which is by no means a given. And if the majority of members wishes were adhered to a confirmatory vote would still be required. That of course would depend on the updated members lists which, if reports are accurate, have been depleted recently?

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget Barry Gardiner and his Local Elections gaffe of "bailing the Tories out", that will also have had a big impact on Remain voters deserting Labour in droves.

rob said...

Another interesting fact. In both of the main Party Leader's (soon to be ex leader in Theresa May's case) constituencies the LibDems won.

Getting very close to home isn't it?

Personally I think that we shouldn't have to rely on just two main parties, both have chequered histories, to have a meaningful vote but then I'm just old fashioned. Or possibly just old!

Arnold said...

JP Janson De Couet. I'm not so sure. The Brexit Party got less a third of the total votes. It's the largest party, but that's all.

rob said...

Apparently Corbyn has intimated that he will consult and have it sorted out in September a month before the October deadline.

Sort of equates with Theresa May's strategy of kicking further down the road again. A bit dynamic the Labour Leader isn't he?

Sam said...

Corbyn has already said a second referendum is on the table.
If normally Labour voters think Labour's current life-changing policies, regardless of Brexit are worth ditching because of the Labour's stance on Brexit, well they deserve everything they get.
However I think you are reading far too much into it.
If this was going to be a life-changing,Earth changing election they would have turned out in droves. 37% is nothing.
Instead it looks more like millions of people are fed up with the whole situation. To think they will vote in a General election for more grief from the Tories because how Corbyn handles Brexit doesn't gell. Otherwise they would have turned out for this election.

Anonymous said...

Both Conservative & Labour are pro-brexit, it was in their manifestos at the last GE. We also need to take away from "pro-remain" votes cast by EU citizens who will not be able to vote in a GE. Looks like a Brexit landslide.

We have to uphold the vote of the 2016 referendum, to do anything else should be unthinkable to anyone who believes in democracy.

Anonymous said...

Have you added Labour to the remain parties, only to go on and argue that labour should now support remain, you can’t have it both ways, labour policy is to accept the 1st people’s vote(sigh), so at best they are somewhere in the middle and probably should be on the leave side for the moment, at least in the run up to the eu election they were, which is where they should be counted.
Otherwise it looks like alistair campbell spin, or lies as most would call them.

Anonymous said...

'Both Conservative & Labour are pro-brexit, it was in their manifestos at the last GE. We also need to take away from "pro-remain" votes cast by EU citizens who will not be able to vote in a GE. Looks like a Brexit landslide.'

By your logic we can't count Brexit Party votes as votes to leave as they have no manifesto.

Stephen said...

Anon - 17.38 - Labour lost the election - the 2017 manifesto doesn't hold any more, they're not bound by it now.

Gonzoland said...

Anon 18:07
Page 24
"Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.
We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.
We will end Theresa May’s reckless approach to Brexit, and seek to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain.
We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.
A Labour government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.

For more, read the full chapter online

Anonymous said...

Logic? No manifesto, no lies! Brexit party means leave: clue is in the name!

Corbyn hates the EU, always has done, always will do! He's not as daft as he's worzel looking, he knows leave will happen come what may!