Labour NEC: Playing with Fire
Labour’s ruling body reaffirm their conference commitments. Demonstrating they are both party before country and the obstacle socialism always becomes to those needing to protect against far-right surges
The day started ominously, Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party left the crucial meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee at the start of the day because of a lack of hard copy of their European Elections manifesto. Then that afternoon, came the crucial piece of news most Remain campaigners were waiting for.
This came as a blow to almost everyone in the Remain camp, who were holding out hope that Labour’s NEC would force Labour to back a referendum in all circumstances. That wasn’t to be. Reaffirming that Corbyn’s position at the TIG defections was of course, just rhetoric.
For me, I’m not that bothered. This was always expected and my position on the use of Labour as deadwood in a street-fight hasn’t changed.
I’ve written before about the risks of deserting Labour in these times. We are not up against just Labour, we are up against the Tories, UKIP and the Brexit party. All of the latter intent on disrupting operations in the European Union. They also have a lot of support. Hungary in particular, is a worrying sight, albeit they aren’t everyone.
Yet, Labour’s problems don’t begin here. Obviously, after the 2015 general election, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader was a huge mistake. One that at the time, I was concerned would never bring the party together. That’s proven to be the case, but more importantly, people who went to conference last year, let him get away with murder! Despite being apolitical (or anti-political) I have friends, Remainers, who paid their £3 to join Labour and went to the 2018 conference. When I heard what they’d done I was absolutely livid!
What was so bad?
Where’s the good? This is the worst motion you could ever hope to design as a Remainer. Gifting Labour a number of get-out clauses.
Those who understand what a SMART objective is, will note a few key deficiencies in the new NEC policy, that has changed since conference:
- It isn’t specific to Remaining — There are lots of activities which deviate from the main goal of Remaining for them.
- There is no Time limit — Labour could now campaign for a General Election forever. Indeed, they are guaranteed to get one. Fixed term Parliament’s Act has it every 5 years and we are due another no later than 2022.
- It isn’t Realistic or relevant now — The talks [with the EU] did not end in No Deal, as the deal is on the table. It was just voted down in Parliament, and Labour’s vote of no confidence in the Government didn’t oust May. So they failed there too.
It should be party policy now, but it is not. Which is obviously dodging democratic commitments (ironic, given Corbyn’s view that the EU has a democratic deficit — when he is the one with a democratic deficit).
Crucially, there is also no revocation! Where is Labour’s policy on revocation in the event a No Deal is on the table? The two Private Members’ Bills waiting in the wings, but that itself doesn’t mean they’ll pass. Even if they did, after the European Elections, the far-right MEPs we send over will not be rolling over.
Expectation become Reality
I’ve talked…. errr… ranted about this being a math problem on twitter before. The recent local elections are in danger of lulling Remain supporters into a false sense of security because of the excellent performance of the Liberal Democrats, who picked up a number of seats, but crucially still lag well behind the main parties and gained much fewer councils. Remain, who are happy with the loss of Labour votes, forget that Labour only lost 4% of their councillors in that vote. This isn’t anywhere near enough to send the necessary messages to Labour and of course, isn’t anywhere near enough to take seats when scaling up to European election regions.
Yet, this failure may well be a saviour for Remain. Remain should never get complacent with this and importantly, if significant seats are lost to the Brexit Party, Conservatives and UKIP still have enough seats to crush Remain and the country in its entirety. Lending both Labour and Conservatives the crucial ammunition that the British public sent a message to the two main parties that they voted for Brexit, and it will have to be hard if needed. Which, together with the MEP’s we send over, mean an October extensions is at risk and so is the operation of the European Union itself. The practical consequences of voting “for” Brexit parties, by voting for Remain parties and not understanding the D’Hondt seat allocation system.
The reality is the Brexit Party is surging in the polls. Even with it splitting the Leave vote, it is still likely to gain a very significant proportion of seats in the European Elections. If remain get this wrong, they send the disruptive set of MEPs to try to shut down Remain from the other side of the channel.
What has become apparent over the last couple of weeks on social media, is Remain campaigners, and party members have been pushing their agendas without thinking. Dividing the votes and the messages. I’ve stepped out of Remain campaigning pretty much for that reason. Campaigning for Remain is not like campaigning for political parties. It couldn’t be further from the experience. Since those cases are competitive, these are cooperative. Most traditional political campaigners are liabilities in this sort of environment. Labour, LibDem and Green included. Arguably meaning their understanding should be ignored or at least, given much less weight. As it is frankly dangerous.
There really is a solution to this, but it must account for the reality that it is 3-way battle, not simplified to two. Remain, Fascism (and hard Brexit) and Lexit. Simplifying it to two sides is not only extremely dangerous, it’s simply wrong. Yet, it is the comfort zone of anyone educated in the British education system, or plays team sports. This deficiency in reasoning bleeds into the political sphere and is the prime reason people think Proportional Representation is a panacea.
As you can see, it very definitely is not!