“Maybe Brexit one day, but not under a Tory government” – the Left’s stunning disregard for democracy makes a mockery of Jeremy Corbyn’s New Politics
The refrain is already familiar to us: But if we leave the EU, the current Conservative government might do the kind of things that they pledge in their manifestos! The only way to stop the democratically elected Conservative government from actually governing conservatively is to stay in the European Union, where it doesn’t matter which party holds power in Westminster!
One assumes that the Remain campaign have done some focus group testing on this sentiment and found it to be effective, but to many people this will sound like a chilling and cavalier disregard for democracy rather than an expression of the supposed best traditions and instincts of the Left.
And yet leftist Remainers are doubling down on this line of attack, trying to paint Brexit not simply as a matter of whether or not to leave the European Union, but as a purely Tory initiative, no doubt part of the Evil Tory government’s heartless, genocidal campaign against the sick and disabled.
This attempt to sully the Brexiteers’ campaign to reclaim democracy as a purely partisan Conservative Party initiative is summed up in a new phrase being trialled by Labour’s John McDonnell: “Tory Brexit”.
Stephen Bush reports in the New Statesman:
John McDonnell has a new catchphrase: “Tory Brexit”.
It may sound uncomfortably close to the name of a new character in Star Wars but it’s what McDonnell and his team believe is the best route to turn Labour voters out for a Remain vote in the coming referendum.
Shadow ministers and Labour MPs are increasingly worried that Labour voters don’t know what the party’s stance on the referendum is – and even more troublingly, they don’t much care. That much of the media has covered the contest largely through the prism of the Conservative succession has only made matters worse. The government’s message about the dangers of Brexit, too, are calibrated towards the concerns of Tory voters: house prices, security, and the economy.
Tony Benn must be turning in his grave. For Benn was a Labour politician of principle and patriotism, one who realised that the gnawing short-term fear that the opposing party might get to implement some of their own policies when in government is not sufficient reason to neuter Westminster altogether by making it subordinate to supranational EU institutions.
By contrast, the leading lights in today’s Labour Party – including the Corbynites, who in many cases have been so sanctimonious about how the are the sole custodians of political principle, unlike those sellout New Labour types – couldn’t give a damn about democracy. They really couldn’t. And like John McDonnell, they openly boast about a Remain vote being key to thwarting the supposed actions of a democratically elected British government.
It also has the added bonus of keeping open the idea that Brexit under a leftwing government mightn’t always be the worst thing in the world, which, depending on your perspective, either defangs the minority of Labour politicians who are pro-Brexit, or allows McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn to keep the party united while not closing the door on supporting a Leave vote at a later date. Either way, it’s canny politics.
Stephen Bush might call it canny politics. Anybody who really cares about democracy would call it appalling, craven political posturing bordering on constitutional vandalism – being willing to “switch sides” on an existential question like Britain’s future in the EU based purely on which party is currently enjoying a five year term in government.
It is also base scaremongering of the worst sort. In the event of a Brexit vote, the Conservative government which enters into secession negotiations with the EU will – regardless of who leads it – be comprised of many Remainers, if not a majority. And in order to get the terms of that renegotiation through Parliament, the deal must also attract a sufficient number of Remainers, including some in the Labour Party for the figures to add up. Immediately this means that all of the most apocalyptic Brexit scenarios being bandied about the media by disingenuous Remainers are out the window. And what remain will be a much more easily negotiated “off the shelf” interim solution which maintains political and economic stability – in other words, exit to EFTA in order to continue access to the EEA, also known as the Norway Option.
The trouble for Remainers is that this form of Brexit is incredibly benign. It ensures Britain’s continued unimpeded access to the Single Market, preserves freedom of movement (with a better “emergency brake” on immigration than is available to Britain as an EU member) and ensures maximum stability in every area, while removing us entirely from the antidemocratic, authoritarian political union of which most Britons want no part.
If this most likely form of Brexit was properly understood by the public (and Vote Leave shoulder the blame for failing to grasp the importance of adopting such a plan upfront), the Remainers’ case would be utterly blown apart. All of their apocalyptic doomsday scenarios would be invalidated, and they would be forced to fall back on their “real” arguments for wanting to remain in the EU – because they do not believe that Britain, the fifth largest economy and second most powerful nation on Earth, can prosper outside of a political union with our neighbours. Or because they genuinely feel more European than British, and are terrified of being torn away from what they have come to see as their true country.
But fighting a campaign purely based on hatred and pessimism about Britain and/or wanting everyone to be European citizens first and foremost would be toxic to many voters, and so is hardly a very solid path to 50%+1 of the vote in the EU referendum. Thus Remain have engaged in a constant campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) from the beginning, always assuming the most unlikely and traumatic of Brexit modes in their “analysis”, and now by trying to portray supporting Brexit as essentially voting for a turbo-charged Tory government.
These are the lies and evasions of a side which has lost the core argument on democracy and self-determination, which cannot state its real reasons for wanting to stay in the EU for fear of alienating the voters, and which has consequently decided to pummel the electorate into acquiescence by subjecting them to wall-to-wall scaremongering.
The “Tory Brexit” line may gain some traction, particularly among the credulous and those with a particularly flimsy grasp of how democracy is supposed to work. But those who claimed to represent the New Politics, the kinder and more honest way of conducting oneself in public life, will have their halos irrevocably tarnished by their participation in this grubby pro-EU campaign of fear, distortion and deceit.
Top Image: BBC
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Interesting (academically speaking) article to bring into consideration. Referendum mendacity is really just a Tory thing. The public need to be protected from it.
Interesting indeed. Funny to hear the depth of Dawkins’ outrage at being asked to offer his own opinion. He falls into same trap of assuming that Brexit/Remain is simply the sum of warring economic arguments, rather than a relatively simple case of whether we want to be sovereign and independent or part of a soon-to-be common European state. And nobody requires expert knowledge in order to answer that question – just a heart and a brain.
(So actually much closer to his fox hunting referendum analogy than he realises).
This is the modern style of campaigning where people are encouraged to vote against something rather than vote for something. The most recent example was the Conservative campaigning strategy for the London elections. It can also be seen in the US presidential campaign.
Both Leave and Remain are using these tactics in the referendum. Anybody who cares about democracy should be concerned about this trend as it infects all elections and not just the current referendum
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I quite agree – the politics of revulsion (or the lesser of two evils) is no way to run a great country.
I really hate that Leftist argument of “we have to say in the EU because we (the Left) can’t win elections at the moment”.
As you said, any Brexit agreement going through Parliament has to pass – otherwise it’s WTO time and we’re screwed. So the agreement has to be balanced to persuade a majority of MPs to vote for it.