A Plea to Fellow Remainers – Our Best Chance Lies In Jeremy Corbyn
If you are a hard-core Remainer, it might present a depressing prospect that the Labour Party officially “accepts the result” of the referendum, but ask yourself this question: under which government – Labour or Conservative – will it be easier to defend the rights and privileges of EU membership once the dust has settled after 8th June?
Just a few weeks ago the progressive movements of France suddenly woke up to the reality of a possible Fascist takeover of their government and united around the only man who could stop them: Emmanuel Macron.
Never mind the fact that Macron is the protégé of the previous President, Francois Hollande – who may well be the most despised and unsuccessful President of the French Fifth Republic (if not since the fall of the ancien regime). Never mind that he was a banker and remains a champion of the existing failed economic order. Liberals, socialists and communists of all stripes rallied around him because they knew that the alternative meant the likely destruction of the EU, empowerment of the most vicious and racist movements in the country (and abroad), and that Marine le Pen’s election held the real risk of sounding the death knell for progressive politics in France, and possibly all of Western Europe for years to come.
Theresa May is not Marine le Pen, of course, and Jeremy Corbyn is no bland centrist (in fact, the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto is far more in line with the mainstream British left than Macron’s vapid neo-liberal pitch.) Neither will the threatened “Hard Brexit” destroy the EU – Europe can geographically, politically and economically get on perfectly well without us. And yet for us Brits, a hard Brexit commanded by Theresa May and her cronies will be an unequivocal disaster. Even the business sector – traditionally the stalwart base of Conservative support – has reacted “coldly” to May’s return to the idea that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
Whether your concerns primarily lie in environmental protection or action against climate change, protection of civil liberties and human rights, electoral reform, retaining workers’ rights or in the wholly unexpected attack against pensioners– the Conservative Party Manifesto is a Charter of Chaos that has something that will appal every section of the British left and confirms that this General Election is about “taking back control” only for the very wealthy, leaving the rest of us in the lurch.
Despite this very blatant power-grab in the wake of Brexit by the extreme right, there is still a reluctance from some on the left to unite around the one man who can stop it: Jeremy Corbyn.
The parallels with the French election are irresistible. While the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto may not allay the fear of some liberals, who worry about Corbyn’s middle-of-the-road stance on Brexit, or Greens who are concerned that the Labour Party is not strong enough in prioritising climate change (though the Party is, for example, firmly committed to banning fracking, where the Tories wish to encourage it), the hard truth is that while there are some constituencies where the Conservatives are little threat, it remains the case that the vast majority of seats will be won either by a Labour candidate, or a Conservative one.
In this election, voters cannot afford to equivocate. If you are a hard-core Remainer, it might present a depressing prospect that the Labour Party officially “accepts the result” of the referendum, but ask yourself this question: under which government – Labour or Conservative – will it be easier to defend the rights and privileges of EU membership once the dust has settled after 8th June? For starters, remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union is in the Labour Party Manifesto (both of which the Conservative want to abandon) as is protection of EU citizens’ rights living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU. True, there is a commitment to ending Freedom of Movement, but surely having a smaller number of issues which could be fixed after the election would be easier than fighting against a full-throated and electorally-empowered isolationist government under Theresa May?
But I wish to make another point. This piece isn’t just a plea for tactical voting (which you will no doubt have read about ad nauseam over the past few months) – it is a plea for solidarity. Every facebook post, leaflet, or speech by an opposition politician slagging off Jeremy Corbyn, mocking Tim Farron, or patronising Lucas and Bartley is another boon to the Conservatives and damages our chances of electing a progressive government. Fair enough, where there are fair fights in constituencies where the Tories are no real threat, you must have a sensible debate about the priorities for your community. But nationally, if the left is seen to be fighting amongst themselves, while the “lost tribe” of Tories of UKIP slink back to the mother Party from whence they came, then it becomes ever more likely that this election will see the rise of a dangerous, backward, anti-social and illiberal government which will be extremely difficult to overturn and we will all lose out.
So don’t just tactically vote in this election. Just for these last few weeks, stand in solidarity with the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. Herein lies the opportunity of a lifetime to turn around the previously irresistible tide towards totalitarian government and extreme neo-liberal economics.
And when on June 9th Jeremy Corbyn is in No. 10, the fight for Britain’s place in Europe can begin again with fresh hope and the British people, not wealthy Tory plutocrats, in the driving seat.