THE TIME IS NOW: LABOUR CAN WIN WITH CALL FOR SECOND REFERENDUM

by Sunetra Senior

With 100,000 people having marched on 23rd June, converging from different corners of the country, in the passionate call for another referendum, and David Davis and Boris Johnson walking away from May’s cabinet shortly afterward, the public’s stance on Brexit and party politics became fortuitously aligned. The Tories are breaking apart just as national apprehension for Brexit reaches its peak and support for the Labour Party increases. As murmurs of another general election hover over the governmental rift, Labour could significantly strengthen its standing by explicitly promising to hold a second referendum as part of a game-changing manifesto.

Let’s look at the finer facts. In the last general election, Labour unexpectedly gained seats while the Conservatives continued to lose councillors, even after an already devastating hung parliament in the recent local elections. As a corollary to this, a poll taken by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, showed that ‘more than one in three people who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum want a second poll on the Brexit deal’ in 2018, while The Guardian/ICM survey ‘of more than 5000 Britons’ shows Remain now leading by 51% compared to the 49% who want to Leave. Yes, there was a similar polling outcome before the last fateful referendum, but one must consider that these surveys come after the series of fake facts that was the mendacity of the Leave Campaign have been part way debunked. This includes the infamous myth of Britain haemorrhaging £350 million when those funds could go to the NHS.

Though we must still proceed with caution, it’s fair to say that a larger portion of the silent or swing voters, this time round, would be leaning towards the other side of the EU debate. Another promising sign is the fact that the right-wing newspapers that sold such a large portion of the population these warped truths are also turning on the favoured Brexit party: their headlines having openly attacked PM May and her increasingly likely outcome of a No-Deal Brexit, and delighting in the blue infighting. Thus, in a rare event, the broadcasting climate has become favourable for the left-wing. What was once an ideological faux pas that would disrespect the nation is now a political asset.

Furthermore, the shift from support for Leave to the Remain camp is definite, albeit small. This mirrors the transition to a Labour lead over the last couple of months. There seems a latent social desire for Corbyn’s party to challenge the direction of Tory rule. However, this is not to ham-fistedly suggest a direct cross-over between those who are abandoning the Conservative Party, losing faith in leaving Europe and consequently voting Labour. Rather an opportune moment for Labour to step forward, and make the most of its growing honest reputation — thank you, Jeremy.

In the worst-case scenario, at least the final outcome would be more accurate, wherein a conflicted nation could share a sense of closure.

With the nation clearly expressing uncertainty about the fast-approaching Brexs***, it is absolutely possible to announce a second referendum as part of an updated policy pledge that would really be the ‘People’s Vote’. The party would remain true to current social concern, providing Brits the emotional security that they’re asking for, while offering a much-desired alternative to the Conservative mess. It would not even be necessary to deviate from Labour’s adept stance of a so-called ‘soft Brexit’, which looks to placate both its Remainers and Leavers, as such a referendum can be announced as an additional option that thoroughly represents the wishes of the people. Proposal for a second referendum could even net more supporters, both those passionately invested in keeping Britain’s relationship with EU, and Leavers who wanted to switch or reinforce their vote. Let’s not also forget the passive liberal minority who did not go out to vote that day, who I bet would jump at the chance to have a hand in recasting history.

In the worst-case scenario, at least the final outcome would be more accurate, wherein a conflicted nation could share a sense of closure. However, Labour proposing a unifying vote on whether to stay or leave the EU would also transcend mere PR strategy. Let’s face it: the UK has needed a progressive party to take ethical responsibility in leading and protecting Britain for a while now, and with May’s catastrophic hard Brexit on the horizon, this political event is coming to cement a darker moral age. As well as the continued negligence of economic security, the Tories had recently ruled that they didn’t believe animals to have feelings, just over a month ago, as the UK begins to divorce itself from the EU’s Human Rights charter. This would sanction animal testing and fox hunting in the future under independent UK law, and is as horrific as it is idiotic. It is, of course, basic science that animals can feel pain as well a whole spectrum of complex emotions.

A post-truth time is morphing from hearsay and verbal influence into concrete law. Add this to fact that May appallingly blocked the parliamentary Meaningful Vote which would have allowed MPs to safeguard the economic health of the country in the event of a No Deal scenario, and even Corbyn, initially a Eurosceptic, cannot deny a moral duty to oppose what the completion of Brexit means. More than an international separation, Brexit would be a surrender to fascist dogma. And this is not just a matter of high concept. Recent reports already talk of potential food and medicine shortages, in the advent of a no deal, at a time when the state is already financially stretched under austerity. This will have devastating every day, pragmatic impact on average incomes, public services and amenity prices. To preserve their power and elite circles, the current government is formally sacrificing the emotional, intellectual and physical wellbeing of its people, not only lying and harming them in the process, but legalising that as right.

Thus, as Labour is the only party to be able to realistically win against the Conservatives, Corbyn must now boldly fly the starry blue flag in favour of reintroducing real democracy. As well as properly representing the voices of the people – the relevant facts having come to light and enough time having passed to adequately assess the outcomes – he would be actively resisting the damaging cultural tide. As a corollary to this, because social consciousness and the financial stability of the country have become so closely aligned, the political climate has also become friendly towards Labour and its particular values. Historically, the red party have struggled to reconcile the needs of its liberal votership with that of its traditional working-class support, but through the chaos of Brexit, social democracy and the concept of people’s everyday security have been naturally yoked together.

In addressing the impending economic doom, Corbyn can easily link and emphasise the importance of the NHS, affordable housing and living wage in the onset of leaving the EU, maximising trust among the socially vulnerable.

In addressing the impending economic doom, Corbyn can easily link and emphasise the importance of the NHS, affordable housing and living wage in the onset of leaving the EU, maximising trust among the socially vulnerable. Interestingly, The Independent yesterday announced that a significant majority of the North East, predominant Leavers and a particularly fiscally hard-hit part of the country, would support a second vote.  In a previous article of mine, How Labour Could be the Real Life Red Pill, I talked on the power of the party’s sincerity in reaching respective individuals. Labour has been sensitively appealing to the aforementioned separate groups that the Tories have divided and ruled, creating an unconscious network of support ready to be tapped. Brexit, once a distractive, peripheral publicity stunt and site of progressive frustration, could then really be turned around and utilised as a lynchpin in a new set of Labour policies, which would attract a wealth of voters.

The party wouldn’t just be getting left-wing backing, including from Green and Lib Dem supporters who are part of a progressive alliance already set on challenging the insidious Tories, but from a working-class Britain responding to Labour’s addressing of social care and immediate and local financial realities. No doubt, a redemptive Brexit option would also appeal to SNP voters who want to stay in the EU and typically support government funding. Finally, the idea of Labour having a dormant, mutually affirming voter base tied up in Brexit is evident in the sacred youth vote. Of course, Corbyn’s party appeals to students who want to abolish university fees, but the rise in Remain voters is also due to more young people becoming eligible to vote each year. Announcing a second referendum would also galvanise support from younger people with an overlapping stake in both issues. Combine this with Labour’s promise to protect pensions and care for older people after retirement, and again there is the potential of another internal bridge formed: this time between generations. Thus, the current fractious socio-political climate can be used to Labour’s advantage. From their side, the Tories have been systematically exposed in their manipulative and farcical approach, and the more organic and virtuous methodology of Labour has never been so strong by comparison. The time is now for Labour to actualise its promise, and take that long-awaited, assertive stand.

Featured image EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN via news4europe

 


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