Sunday, 24 September 2017

On Labour, their conference, and #Brexit

It's not often that I would share Labour Party graphics, but bear with me on this one...
Tonight, via the machinations of the Labour Party byzantine internal processes*, delegates to their conference opted NOT to discuss the party's #Brexit policy**.
So on the single biggest issue of our time, Labour's much vaunted internal "democracy" has ensured that it won't be discussed. Of course, this will suit the leadership in its continuing quest to face both ways on the issue: supporting Brexit whilst doing just enough to keep pro-Europe supporters on board. In this regard talking about "Austerity", the NHS, Schools and Inequality is the right approach for Corbyn.
And they are all important issues - and should be talked about: but it's hard to see how Labour's approach to Brexit will not have an adverse impact on all these areas. Corbyn's long term Euro-scepticism, and antagonism to pluralist politics, put paid to any prospect of Labour leading a coalition to mitigate the impact of Brexit and push for, say, the Norway solution.
But what of the picture? Well, surviving pro-Europeans such as Mike Gapes MP and Richard Corbett MEP are circulating it as proof of what Labour's policy is, decided at their last conference. Of itself, the wording of the policy may give heart to those who see Labour's approach as playing a long-game - but their actions since the referendum have not suggested that they have such a long term strategy.
Indeed, the policy itself was "clarified" just hours after to state a referendum didn't form part of their approach, and since then Article 50 was invoked with Labour support and a general election. In that time, Labour have disabused those of us who hoped they might argue for the Single Market and Customs Union. At best they have remained agnostic on these, at worst they have abandoned them altogether (other than in a transitional period.) This lack of clarity was enough to see them gain left-of-centre votes in a two-party contest. What remains to be seen is how long this anti-Tory support will weather a pro-Brexit policy.

**in contrast to the Lib Dem conference where hundreds of delegates turned out first thing on Saturday morning to force a suspension of standing orders and a debate on a motion, rather than just a consultative session.

(This post first made on my Facebook page: )

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