Written by Tom Bewick
This article was first published in BrexitCentral and we republish with their kind permission
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As the socialist tribes descend on Brighton once again, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party finds itself in the grip of a full blown civil war. The Momentum faction wants to depose deputy leader Tom Watson, and his Blairite kind, in good old Marxist-Leninist style: if you can’t take out your opponent democratically, then just abolish their post. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn himself – according to comparable polling data – has just secured the ignominious title of being the most unpopular opposition leader since 1977. And all this, just weeks before an inevitable general election.
In times gone by, a serious opposition party would be miles ahead in the opinion polls. Party discipline would be watertight, even if for the selfish reason that the electorate has rarely put into power such a divided team. There will be many, now middle-aged, Labour voters, who remember 1977 rather fondly; and in particular the Queen’s Silver Jubilee of that year. For it was not only the Sex Pistols making scurrilous headlines performing God Save the Queen. The year of the Jubilee also saw giant street parties in everyday working communities up and down the land.
In this era, even Labour was an unequivocally patriotic party: working-class bonds like faith, family and flag were not to be ridiculed and certainly never sneered at. What, then, must all these grown-up voters think of Emily Thornberry? As a shadow minister, she was sacked by Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader, for condescendingly poking fun at a blue-collar worker’s house proudly displaying the flag of St. George. Fast forward to the eve of this year’s Labour Party conference and Thornberry was seen at a People’s Vote rally all dressed up and bejewelled in the federalist stars of the EU. And without, it would seem, any apparent sense of self-awareness or irony, Thornberry led a chant of ‘this is what democracy looks like’! It was as if, in the Westminster bubble that had temporarily relocated to the seaside, the second referendum Remain leadership inside the Labour Party had completely taken all leave of its senses.
From afar, the self-proclaimed people’s republic of Brighton and Hove looks like the Corbyn cult embarking upon a final death wish. Because by so actively trashing the dignity and the decision of 5 million Labour supporters who voted to leave the EU in 2016, you can’t help but conclude that the real plan of old Blairites like Watson and Thornberry is to sink Corbyn and Momentum so far below the water line, that Labour goes down to one of its biggest electoral defeats.
Corbyn himself appears oblivious to the total incredulity of his latest ridiculous Brexit position. As a Member of Parliament of 36 years standing, he has more Eurosceptic DNA inside him than Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone put together. On every occasion, before becoming Labour leader, Corbyn voted against European treaties that have increasingly robbed Britain of its sovereignty in the pursuit of ever closer political union. Now Corbyn can’t even say if he would be pro-Leave or pro-Remain in a second referendum facilitated by a future Labour government – of which he is hoping to be the Prime Minister. Like a medieval bishop overseeing some baronial dispute, Corbyn is hedging his bets, piously sitting on the fence, hoping somehow that his approach will eventually cut through to a divided nation eternally grateful for the wisdom of St. Jeremy.
As Foreign Secretary in a future Labour government, Emily Thornberry would be despatched to Brussels “to get the best possible Brexit deal”. Quite why the EU would agree any favourable terms with such a political temptress, who has already telegraphed in advance that she would campaign against her own negotiating position, beggars belief. Indeed, it would be like Len McCluskey of Unite saying he would happily go and negotiate a new pay deal for his members, only to campaign against his own union’s recommendation when put back to the ballot: McCluskey would be laughed out of town.
Karl Marx famously said that history often repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, and then as farce.” The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn took the tragic decision in the summer of 2017, after the last general election, to immediately start undermining the result of the EU referendum. Instead of sticking to the party’s own manifesto commitments, of getting Britain out of all the institutions of the EU, Labour has deliberately tried to thwart the largest democratic mandate in British history. Led by Sir Keir Starmer, the party’s ‘constructive ambiguity’ architect, Labour has moved its position from one of breath-taking incredulity to a full-blown farce. Millions of traditional Labour voters are now observing, in total horror, the party of Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan, Clement Attlee and Barbara Castle tearing itself apart.
Corbyn had his chance to stay true to his own convictions regarding the undemocratic nature of the EU. He could have chosen to lead; instead he has turned out to be no more than a puppet of a hard-left Remain sect. The Labour Party – following the convulsive events of June 2016 – had a golden opportunity to reconnect with everyday working people in the Midlands, the North and South Wales. Instead, the destiny the current middle-class membership has actively chosen is one of representing only graduates, public sector workers and the liberal metropolitan elite. Any psephology student will tell you that there is no path back to power for the party, by actively going against the democratic wishes of two-thirds of Labour Leave supporting seats in the House of Commons. What we are now witnessing is probably the death throes of the old party of the working class. At the last general election, the Conservatives managed to attract more support from C2, D and E voters than Labour. At the forthcoming general election, particularly if the Tories respond positively to Nigel Farage’s non-aggression pact, the Brexit Party are set to take Corbyn’s Labour Party to the cleaners. Like Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch, Labour is finished. It has ceased to exist.