After a still unexplained period of silence on Brexit following the 29 January parliamentary votes on the subject, the Morning Star has found its pro-Brexit voice again.
Mind you, there’s been no repetition of its editorial support for no deal and the attractions of trading on WTO terms. Presumably that policy is just a little embarrassing for a publication that prides itself upon its unwavering support for Jeremy Corbyn, whose only consistent policy on Brexit is opposition to no deal. No, rather than tell us what it’s for (i.e. no deal), the Star prefers to tell us what it’s against. And it’s most definitely against a new public vote on Brexit.
“The ‘people’s vote’ has already taken place — and the people voted Leave” bellows the Morning Star, taking the Telegraph/May/ERG line that the democratic process reached its apogee on 23 June 2016 and any form of public reassessment after that date is a betrayal that may well result in street riots. The problem for a supposedly labour-movement publication peddling that line is, of course, that, despite all the bureaucratic manoeuvring at the last party conference, Labour party policy is to keep a public vote “on the table” if a general election cannot be achieved.
It has become increasingly apparent that the Stalinists who populate Corbyn’s inner circle have no intention of allowing Labour to campaign for its own policy. The Morning Star, eager to help, last week carried a lengthy article (“investigation”, indeed) over two successive days, denouncing the People’s Vote campaign as a right wing “conspiracy” and “clearly a plot.”
Interestingly, the article equates the campaign for a new referendum solely with the People’s Vote campaign and conveniently ignores the left wing Another Europe Is Possible, never mind the still more explicitly left-wing Labour for a Socialist Europe. The author, one Sam Edwards (“ a Labour and Momentum activist in south-east England”) rather shoots himself in the foot by asking us to: “Consider for a moment a key basis upon which Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have staked their legitimacy — Corbyn’s decades of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy membership and adopting political positions that are consistently more representative of the membership and much of the base of Labour than many in the PLP and successive Labour leaders.
“The Labour right, using the People’s Vote campaign, now turn this to their advantage — trumpeting that the man who was the embodiment of the membership is now finally out of touch with the rank and file, who they describe as being overwhelmingly in favour of a second referendum.”
Poor comrade Sam never quite manages to wriggle out of that conundrum, set by himself. The best he can come up with is (a) the lack of a parliamentary majority for a second referendum (what do you think campaigning’s supposed to be about, Sam?) and the fact that the recent ESRC poll of Labour members shows that while 88 per cent of Labour members would vote Remain in any new referendum, 47 per cent still support Corbyn “stance towards Brexit”. Sam, like his Stalinist pals at the Morning Star, simply can’t get his head around this apparent contradiction. In fact (as I’ve had cause to remark before in this column), there are two clear — but not actually contradictory — facts about the Labour Party membership, gleaned from good quality evidence in the ESRC study:
(1) The membership still largely supports the Corbyn leadership — and, by implication are willing to go along with the present actual policy position, and allow room for tactical manoeuvring.
(2) In the longer time frame, they are clearly and overwhelmingly against Brexit, and, if there is no general election, want to see another referendum. They are clear where the tactics should lead, and show no evidence whatsoever that they support going into a general election on a “Leave” ticket.
Finally, comrade Sam comes up with conclusive proof that the aim of the “People’s Vote conspiracy” (as he calls it) is, in fact *not* a second referendum or stopping Brexit, but “stopping Corbyn from reaching Number 10 and splitting the party base.” The evidence? “Instead of addressing the leadership’s concerns ... the campaign focuses instead on the Labour membership.” Again, one has to ask comrade Sam, what do you think campaigning is actually about?
Still more entertaining in last week’s Morning Star were the letter from Fawzi Ibrahim of the Arron-Banks-funded Trade Unionists Against the EU and the reply from Alex Gordon of the People’s Brexit Campaign backed by the Communist Party of Britain. As letters do not appear on the Morning Star’s website, I consider it my duty to preserve this exchange for posterity. You can read it here. Note that when all the verbiage is cut away, Ibrahim supports May’s deal and thinks being a British worker in the EU is comparable to being a slave in civil war America. Gordon wants no deal on WTO terms, as well as going full-on ERG-conspiratorial, calling May “the Remainer-in-chief in 10 Downing Street” and describing an “insidious continuity remain campaign” led by “The British Prime Minister and her Whitehall mandarins” with the Irish backstop a “Trojan horse”. Note how these two clowns’ disagreement exactly mirrors the split in the Tory party.