Jeremy Corbyn’s supporter are not a cult. We are divided but have no problem with this. Of course we need a broad church. It is not the Labour leader who rejects this. He is openning up the gates of the party to those formerly witch hunted. All the exploited and oppressed have a home inside Corbyn’s big tent. But that means give and take. It means compromise on all sides. We will all lose votes from time to time, including Jeremy himself. We will accept defeat when it comes and leave those who outvoted us on good terms. With handshakes. We’ll debate with respect, trying to persuade each other with logic, facts and offering each other a fair hearing to make their point rather than heckling each other while waiting for our turn to speak.
What divides the left inside and outside Labour? Two things in particular: Brexit and Israel. I want lines of communication kept open to those who seem keen to go to war with each other on both of these issues. Extremes on all sides need to calm down and accept the right of everyone to make their case rather than demanding expulsions. The truth is often not black and white and when it comes to Israel and Brexit there are shades of gray and we need to help each other agree a united line that defends the democratic rights of everyone. I’ll leave Israel for another day. Now let’s discuss Brexit….
Theresa May’s days are numbered. Her Chequers proposal was an abortion. As leading Tory remainers accept it is more unpopular than the Poll Tax. She continues to pin her hopes on it despite knowing all this does is lowers the electoral prospects of all her MPs. If she refuses to come to her senses they’ll unite to dump her regardless of their inability to know if they’ll hate her replacement even more than they hate her.
The reality is no deal on Brexit will be accepted by today’s MPs. They’ll vote everything down. What happens then? There are two conceivable options: general election or a second referendum. It’s impossible to know which is more likely. Tories are united in their terror of the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn government. Alas, it’s not just Tories. The same is true of Vince Cable’s Lib Dems and almost every Labour MP. Most of today’s PLP might vote for a general election if they were sure enough of them got reelected to frustrate Corbyn’s hope of becoming Prime Minister or of voting down everything he voted for. Unfortunately for them they now fear their CLPs will deny them any hope of being selected as the official Labour candidate. So today’s PLP fear their own leader and their 540,000 members more than they fear Theresa May and Boris Johnson. That is why they want a so-called People’s Vote. However I think it will be very hard to get a second referendum this side of the general election. And the left should not help the Lib Dems get that vote. But we need to appreciate why this is.
The reality is that a second referendum on Brexit is deeply problematic. Firstly it would be illegitimate in most voters eyes unless there was just two options and if most people agreed the two options were the right ones. I think this is next to impossible. Firstly, if Theresa May’s Chequers Plan is one of those options the other one will win by default. This creates problems for everyone. If a No-Deal-Brexit is not one of the options the Brexiteers may boycott the referendum. Even if they didn’t they’d refuse to accept it and would try to form a government with a mandate to hold the third referendum on Brexit within a few years. Can we really tolerate such a situation? Regardless, there is likely to be mass civil disobedience if the Brexiteers feel they were robbed.
To stop mass civil disobedience and years more of division over a third referendum on Brexit a No-Deal-Brexit would have to be on the ballot paper, but in almost every circumstance it is likely to win unless the alternative was a straight rejection of Brexit. But that is a very high stakes game. The nightmare of No-Deal-Brexit was used by those who lead the first referendum and it failed spectacularly. If it’s lost in a second referendum when the stakes are spelt out explicitly it will be impossible to reverse No-Deal-Brexit. That is not the nightmare we face right now. Because there is no explicit mandate for No-Deal-Brexit the forces of democracy can mobilise to stop it. That’s why gambling everything on a referendum when both sides would be lead by reactionary idiots is a terrible idea.
Thirdly, the left has to expose the reactionary politics of those saying deal on the ballot paper should be one negotiated by Theresa May. Some ‘socialists’ are saying a deal can be negotiated with the employers but it has to be put to the union members before being accepted. So in this scenario we’ve elected Theresa May to be our union rep? When? No one voted for her to do this. The reason this matters is because the Brexit vote is a hodge podge of contradictory forces. Maybe half of it wanted the opposite of what the other half wanted. This vote was delivered by the Morning Star as well as the Trade Union and Socialist Coaltion. Within Labour supporting constituencies these are the people who got the vote out, not Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. What the left-wing Brexiteers want is more nationalisation, more regulation. What the Tories in charge on all wings of this government party wants is a race-to-the-bottom tax dodgers dystopia. We can get that message across in a general election or in any People’s Vote set up after Jeremy Corbyn has negotiated a deal with the EU. So, to cut a long story short, we need a general election with hundreds of candidates who share the values of Jeremy Corbyn and 540,000 Labour members. Any People’s Vote prior to this is a con manipulated by Tories and the left should not touch it with a bargepole.