Labour MP Chuka Umunna came out today in open defiance of Labour’s manifesto, demanding that Britain remain a member of the single market. Labour’s enemies are going to love it. They will undoubtedly construe it as further example of why Labour ‘can’t be trusted’, of their ‘inconsistency’, the ‘chaos within its own ranks’, the party at war with itself etc. Whereas supporters of Corbyn will likely despise Umunna for seemingly taking a swipe at the entrenched leader.
Another disaster for Labour, weakening the party, right?
Perhaps it isn’t. Or doesn’t need to be, any way.
Perhaps what we need to do is adjust our perspective, how we look at political challenge. It occurred to me, and for the first time, perhaps ‘mutiny’ can be a good thing? Maybe what Umunna has done is to give people a reason to vote for Labour, whether Remainer or Brexiteer?
This challenge from Umunna is quite different from, for instance, that of Labour donor Michael Foster (which I wrote about recently). Foster is someone very obviously challenging Corbyn as a vendetta, he makes the attacks personal, and is clearly looking to advance his own position. Umunna at least stands for something that means a great deal to him, and also represents the views of a great many others. It’s not just political ‘currency’, or simple opportunism. He genuinely believes in his cause.
Whichever side you’re on RE: the Brexit debate, nobody could honestly deny it’s altered the political climate in Britain. Or that it’s divided and upended the traditional support base of political parties, and pretty much nuked any conceived notions of what was traditionally thought left or right wing in this country. But no party has been as affected by the divisiveness of the Brexit issue as the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.
I dunno about anyone else, but I’m sick to death of the whole thing. And while I’d sell a kidney to reverse Brexit if I could, I’m now honestly far more worried about the prospect of Brexit Britain being a one-party far-right state under Kim Jong-May. That’s the truth.
I’ve seen comments from pro-Remainers suggesting Labour should amend their manifesto, to fit more with the pro-Remain, Chuka Umunna perspective. I would like to offer an alternative.
Yes, many passionate Remainers make the case that they positively cannot support Corbyn, a man who has agreed to back Brexit. I felt very let down myself, and personally will be voting Lib Dem. (But that is as much about where I live in Surrey, as it is about policy.) What I also recognise though, is Jeremy Corbyn might very well be the only hope for this nation now. And I really do think voters need to appreciate that he’s caught in a nigh-on impossible situation.
Let’s just say he did come out strongly for cancelling Brexit. He’d lose vast swathes of support, particularly among the working classes; it really would be political suicide. The forces stacked against him would be even greater. (If that’s even physically possible.) Whereas on the contrary, Remainers are coming round to the idea that Brexit is now unavoidable. We’re the more reasonable and pragmatic bunch generally as well, so it stands to reason we’re less likely to kick off.
In other words, I see why Corbyn made the choice he did.
Is it a bluff? And does that even matter?
(NB: Close your ears, Brexiteers.)
I think there’s another important aspect for ‘Remainers’ to consider though. Whatever else Jeremy Corbyn is, he’s a man of democracy, and of decency. IF he got into power, and a strong enough case was made for us not leaving the EU after all… or enough people were still desperate to stop it, public opinion had turned, or the economy was tanking etc, don’t you think he’d at least have a conversation about it, and put it to the British people?
I do. I think that’s exactly his style. And maybe, just maybe Corbyn can’t drop even the slightest hint he’d ever consider stopping Brexit (certainly not right now) because if he did, he’d unleash the sword of Damocles and destroy his chances utterly. Such is the fervour of Brexit enthusiasm.
So maybe we need to trust in a decent man to do what’s right for the people of this country – irrespective of the Brexit debate.
Brexit or Remain, Corbyn’s the better choice
It’s ironic that Conservative and UKIP supporters often shout loudly about the beauty of democracy, respecting the “will of the people” etc. And yet they support a leader who actively wanted a General Election specifically to “crush the saboteurs” – to remove any notion of scrutiny or challenge within the political process.
Instead Theresa May thinks the country does deserve another shot at rethinking a decision not to brutally massacre animals for sport – because she’s personally in favour of it – but not a second referendum or say in the biggest geopolitical/cultural and economic decision of our lifetimes. It’s madness.
The bottom line is, many members of the Labour Party still want to have a conversation about Brexit, far more so than within the Conservatives. So if you’re a Remainer, there’s still a better chance of it being stopped under Labour than in a Tory landslide. And if it can’t be stopped, if it is indeed unpreventable, let’s pray to God Jeremy Corbyn is in charge and not Theresa May. That woman will lead all of us to hell, I’ve never believed something so strongly in all my life.
But if on the other hand you’re a Brexiteer, you should still see the value in voting for Corbyn. He wants to back the result of the referendum. The difference is he at least wants it to work for all of us – not just the top 5% of earners.
A party divided? Or is that just democracy?
A party divided, they shall say. Good. I would rather see a party divided at the helm; a party with free-thinking individuals – able and willing to question their leader, able to follow their conscience and present balanced arguments. Far more so than the kind of sycophantic Yes Minister! government May is trying to create. Dissent is the very essence of democracy, not something to be feared.
So in a sense, perhaps this particular Labour ‘mutiny’ by Chuka Umunna symbolises something we should actually all be grateful to have: a party that represents more than one type of person and opinion.
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