Conference delegates put record straight on party policy on Brexit, GE and Corbyn

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Last month, the LabourList site published a letter from a number of conference delegates involved in ‘compositing’ a motion for Labour’s conference on the party’s approach to Brexit and the country’s need for a new general election.

The letter criticised statements by Jeremy Corbyn to the media, claiming they were ‘not aligned with party policy’ and implying that stopping Brexit was an element of Labour policy .

Now a new open letter by other delegates – including one well-known union leader – has set the record straight. Fifteen conference delegates from around the country have signed a letter whose key passage states:

We should be clear about the content passed at conference. It stated that, should Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement fail to meet the six tests Labour has set out, Labour will vote against it and Jeremy Corbyn has been perfectly clear about this.

At that point, if the government cannot get its own deal through parliament, it would be in the best interests of the country to serve a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and trigger an immediate general election.

This is not a pious hope. With the confidence and supply agreement of the DUP having currently broken down, it is far from clear that any Tory successor to May could command a majority in the House.

Only a general election could allow for the formation of an alternative government with democratic credentials to fix the multiple crises playing out across Britain (not only Brexit, but in respect of inequality, public services and a broken welfare system).

The composite did not gainsay our commitment to respecting the outcome of the first referendum. Nor did it insist that we try to “stop Brexit”. It simply pledged us to fight for the general election that we so desperately need. In absence of this, all options remain on the table.

We should therefore not be distracted from our key task, which is a Labour government that delivers for the many and not the few.

(Emphases added)

The unravelling of the Tories’ appalling Brexit performance and the ongoing collapse of the government are testimony to the intelligence of Labour’s – and in particular Corbyn’s – handling of the difficult Brexit issue. This welcome open letter makes it clear that Corbyn has incorporated Labour’s conference declaration into that approach.

The full letter and accompanying article can be read here.

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  1. So that’s all right, then 🙂 – the Party goes into a theoretical general election with no real policy on the key issue of the day – which is firstly, whether the wishes of the majority of supporters (and probably the wider electorate by now) might be fulfilled by representing the desire to back out of Brexit.

    The current record ‘set straight’ is a bit scratched.

  2. Good work, Left delegates. The Blairite demand for a second referendum is all to do with the EU placing their beloved capitalist system on a more secure footing. This is why they are so shrill in their efforts to delegitimise the biggest ‘People’s Vote’ in British history and its decision to leave the EU.

    A second poll would merely end up becoming a fight between the political elite and the general public, in particular working class voters. The demand for a second referendum is imbued with contempt for those citizens.

    And one wonders when the Blairites will demand the third EU referendum to be scheduled if they lose the second.

    1. The demand for a second referendum is being characterised as a ‘Blairite demand’ to taint it with the legacy of the discredited Tony Blair. In fact a second referendum, now that the consequences of Brexit are much clearer and starker, is the ONLY democratic way forward.

      Even if we – Labour win a GE before the Brexit deal is done we must not be funneled into any form of Tory inspired Brexit.

      1. All Brexit is on hold. Now she of the Con’s can’t sign off on it.

    2. The Blairite demand for a second referendum

      Don’t be ridiculous, It isn’t a Blairite demand, it is the demand of a significant majority of the electorate that we have another vote. The vast majority of Labour members and voters also support a second referendum.

      1. Of course it’s not a ‘Blairite’ demand. An idiotic statement. Almost everyone I know personally who are Labour supporters (a) despaired of the Blair government and have consistently voted for Corbyn and (b) want to bin Brexit – and support a third referendum if that’s a way forward (i.e if parliament don’t have the bottle to do the obvious).

    3. The Blairite rump in London, the home counties and on here, who support the Liberal hegemony and are characterised by endlessly repeating remainer polls claiming that a massive majority of Labour voters want to remain in the EU have little in common with the reality that the referendum result has to stay, only the terms of our departure are up for negotiation, or Labour policy.

      1. It really isn’t a good look when because of the paucity of your own argument you have to resort to silly and inaccurate characterisations of the messenger rather than addressing the evidence.

        When is the penny going to drop that you are in the minority now and if you want to change that situation you are going to have to come up with a better argument than Brexit means Brexit and they’re all Metropolitan Elite Blairites.

      2. I’m not arguing. Because the remain campaign has, with near unlimited funding, including a lot of foreign money, been the lone voice on Brexit for the last 2 years, you’ve convinced yourselves that you’ve won the argument and another vote is required. I disagree, I’m sick to death with it all and I want us to leave so we can elect a Labour government that can fulfill its manifesto pledges to the British people without legal challenge from corporate interests. The “minority” was the remain side and there are many arguments to support leaving and the decision was made, it can’t be undone. If you want to rejoin after a reasonable time and the EU still exists, campaign to join again under the banner of the Liberal hegemony.

      3. It is self evident that the deal, as you put it, can be undone.
        Do you have any credible evidence to support your ‘assertions’.

      4. lundiel, even a cursory Google shows that “without legal challenge from corporate interests” is already a pipe dream.

        We can try to convince those governments who’ve already been mugged by corporations and their filthy lawyers – and those countries under threat – to join us in a global coalition of mutual support and boycott of those corporations.

        OTOH universal enlightenment may come with the first global AI/robotics redundancy (drivers or GPs probably) – or maybe the next market crash will open the eyes of both the 1% and the S*n readers.

        Or we might choose my preferred option and recycle the rich.
        Wait until you try my Soylent Squishy – I’ve got dibs on driving the liquidiser though so don’t ask…

      5. I firmly doubt that anyone in this country has a clue as to what people think, because in reality they will turn on a sixpence from all the scaremongering that they hear repeated throughout the media.

        The reality is what we don’t hear much about in Europe demonstrated by the violence we see on our TV screens coming from Paris, portrayed as against the Fuel Tax when it much more far reaching – meaning Macron and the Neo-Liberal agenda throughout Europe that has created poverty levels not seen since the last war.

        Anyone wanting to cling on to the sinking ship of Europe really hasn’t done the research themselves and just follow media claims as to how we will suffer come out. Will there be difficulties of course, is there an alternative to the Tories Brexit of course there is, but do people understand that alternative, NO, because the media is only interested in peddling the idea that only the Tories can negotiate a deal.

        The other factor of course is whether the Neo-Liberals in Europe will accommodate proper renegotiations, or will be hell bent on making us suffer, and in consequence make Europe suffer – as we have a large trade deficit with Europe.

        The Tories here don’t care about the actual outcome one way or the other as all they want is a trade deal with Trump which has already been stitched up waiting for the green light as we exit Europe.

        That is our serious problem and that is why the only real solution is to get rid of the Tories in an election, another referendum will be another disaster and a world trapped in the Neo-Liberal nightmare we need to extract ourselves from.

    4. Danny, the ‘political elite’ are few and the ‘general public, in particular working class voters’ are many.
      If your theory of your enemy’s composition is correct you can’t possibly lose, can you?

  3. An excellent and welcome statement by those delegates.

    Yesterday and today, RH made reference to “The problem for the party…” This should not be underestimated. Most of the focus currently has been on May’s plan, but the alternatives? If parliament rejects May’s deal then it surely won’t be her ‘easy target’ deal that The LP find’s itself contending, will it?

    In the absence of a successful snap GE result and in the event of a second referendum, what should the party be campaigning for?

    Campaigning on their current, un ratified Brexit plan could rightly be dismissed as constituting what was wrong in the first place: asking the electorate to vote on an unknown, on something that may never be ratified. An off the peg e.g. Norway deal might have some credibility, perhaps. But, then there would surely be a pretty sizeable, cross party chunk of the electorate: leavers, remainers, left and right, who would dismiss it for the same reasons that May’s deal is being scuppered: it’s Brexit in name only; it’s a damage limitation exercise; it doesn’t empower the LP manifesto; we’d be better off remaining, etc.

    And it would be the LP plan versus what? Surely not a deal that would already have been rejected by parliament?

    OTOH, performing an embarrassing U turn on their current soft Brexit policy position for Remain is hardly a great look either and leaves them with potentially a very damaging future electoral issue in the Labour heartlands.

    If the LP were to win/form a minority govt. after a snap GE then fine: They could take up Barnier’s suggestion of an extended deadline, to negotiate their version of a deal, whilst pledging at the same time to go back to the country on the package arrived at. In the extraordinary event that they achieve a deal, then perhaps they could lessen the civil strife and calm the waters:

    – by having shown leavers that they have done their best to respect the first referendum in attempting to offer a leave deal that works, for a majority of the electorate,

    – by giving the remain lobby what it has asked for,

    – by not irrevocably and humiliatingly tying themselves to a deal that may fail – and which, in its current form, offers, IMV, appeasement value only.

    Chance would be a fine thing, I know.

    DavidMc.N and others have offered a persuasive viewpoint about the trap of a successful early election. Yet, for the LP, a snap GE may be not just preferable, but essential.

    PS If anybody has glanced at my tardy comment in the “BBC comes last in poll thread” – apologies for a reworking of a similar comment re the difficulties of a televised debate.

  4. I have just read this excellent link from Maria, after earlier posting my longer comment below:

    ” … there is no case whatever for giving up the benefits of remaining without obtaining the benefits of leaving…”

    This applies just as forcefully to the current LP position, Starmer’s compromise, as it does to May’s plan – I totally concur.

    “Preparations for Brexit based on trade under WTO terms should have started in 2016, immediately after the referendum, as I said at the time. Britain needed a fall-back position — it is foolish to negotiate without one — and that was the form it should have taken..”

    Can’t disagree with that one either.

    It’s interesting how many economists argue implicitly/explicitly that a “real” Brexit, one that seeks a free trade deal, doesn’t have to be the end of the world as we know it.

    And my favourite bit:

    The Remain camp will continue to argue, correctly, that to align the country indefinitely with laws over which it has no influence is madness, and a second referendum is vital to escape from this continuing nightmare. And the Leave camp will argue, also correctly, that it is intolerable for the fifth largest economy in the world to continue indefinitely as a fiefdom.

      1. Lol.

        I am trying to avoid getting involved in hyperbole and unhelpful emotive comment.

  5. That’ll piss off Chukka Uppa , great . Take a look at his Twitter account and there is little to NO mention at all of the crisis playing out now with the Tory Govt , just Peoples Vote , People vote etc etc ad nausea . What a twat .
    NO I don’t want to go back to the status-quo by cancelling Art 50 , that will stop the Nationalisation of our utilities and a good many other of JC ideas .

  6. Never mind the 6 tests, as far as Labour is concerned any deal with the EU must allow the party to implement its manifesto in full, not in competition with corporations, their willingness to take governments to court and their lobbyists…but privatisation of monopoly utilities and transport systems in full, without challenge along with an investment bank and the right to give government assistance where necessary. These policy commitments must be set in stone…the people of this country have the right to reject neoliberalism and supply side economics.

    1. That would be a pretty stunning outcome, very sceptical that, under Starmer’s plan, they could achieve all, or even some of this. Who knows?

    2. That about sums it up broadly.

      Any trade deal these days has to be approached with great care and caution to avoid trade becoming a vehicle for corporate extortion of the public purse and sovereignty.

    3. “Never mind the 6 tests”

      … and how will implementing policy (a) be helped by a failing economy produced by Brexit and (b) a situation where an isolated UK subservient to the US, will be negotiating from weakness in any other trade deals?

      Certainly, the current economics of the EU is predicated on ‘free’ market principles. But it doesn’t make public control impossible.

      Any alternatives will also be predicated on much the same basis, since the global economy at present operates on the same principles. The opportunities for change are much better within a larger co-operative block.

      1. “…and how will implementing policy (a) be helped by a failing economy produced by Brexit…”

        Any economist, worth their salt, will tell you that the economy was failing long before Brexit and by the way Brexit hasn’t happened yet. All that’s happened, so far, is incompetent negotiations and uncertainty.

        There’s some truth in your other comment though: that “the global economy at presents operates on the same principles”.

      2. The EU is wholly committed to the “Liberal hegemony” in control of the western world. Implying that Europe could be an economic (?) Power to counter US influence is ridiculous, they wholly rely on monstering Russia and Iran. The westward expansion is driven by US/EU geopolitical agreement. The UK leaving the EU removes some American power over us, as we will no longer be America’s voice in the EU. We don’t have to change our relationship with the USA, we can carry on with the current WTO trade with them. Having removed our importance as “their voice at the EU table”, we stand more chance of ending the fake ” special relationship” and trading with the rest of the world and one day ridding ourselves of American nuclear weapons and being a target of Americas many enemies.

      3. lundiel 04/12/2018 at 7:30 pm

        Is this a wind up. Surely you can’t believe such a load of complete and utter bollocks

      4. Paulo – you say :

        “Any economist, worth their salt, will tell you that the economy was failing long before Brexit and by the way Brexit hasn’t happened yet”

        Agreed – of course the economy was failing before Brexit. It’s an economy that has major structural weakness – and far to much dependence on the funny money of the finance sector. It is in a parlous state.

        This means that it is an economy that is totally unequipped to sustain the shock of Brexit, and the concept that the UK can become an exporting entrepreneur by wishful thinking and no infrastructure is delusory. Brexit will emphasize the weakness.

        Indeed, Brexit hasn’t happened yet. But already there is noticeable decline. The incompetent negotiation was hard-wired into the whole Brexit project. Remember – it’s a Tory project for Tories.

        The Brexit project is beloved of extreme neoliberals – deceptive right-wing advocates who came together in ‘Britannia Unchained’. That’s a key indicator of what the future holds. I don’t need to list them – you know them, and you wouldn’t talk to them without feeling that your wallet is still in place. They must laugh their socks off at the naivety of ‘Lexiteers’ who see Ayn Rand as the prophet of the New Jerusalem.

        And lundiel – I’m sorry, but your narrative is a rag-bag of unsustainable assertions. To take one example, the ‘special relationship’ is a domestic fiction, not something imposed. The designers of Brexit are intimately involved in nurturing American supremacy – and, of course, their UK will be begging for trade agreements in an even more unequal relationship.

        Russia and Iran ? Two very different countries – different situations and histories. Global politics isn’t going to go away just because the UK floats pathetically irrelevant in mid-Atlantic as a declining economic power – and guess which super-power is going to turn the screws on the relationship between trade agreements and foreign policy?

        And do you *really* think that Russia – the well-known neoliberal kleptocracy – is a nation to be simply embraced because it is regarded as a rival power by the US …. I could go on, but in summary : “In your dreams”

      5. RH – Thank you for expressing what I, on this occasion, just couldn’t be bothered to do.

      6. “Certainly, the current economics of the EU is predicated on ‘free’ market principles. But it doesn’t make public control impossible.”

        We’ve been over this before. Unless the 27 agree to rewrite the Maastricht Treaty and unpick every treaty since then there is no chance of the EU permitting public control of anything.
        Face facts, the EU is a neoliberal construct.

    4. Oh yes, those bloomin Russians, they just don’t know how to do neoliberalism properly… the British, EU or Yankee way like in the western supervised Yeltsin shock therapy era… they just keep treading their own path… it just wont do will it.

      Will you lot listen to yourselves.

      1. What do you admire about the Russian state and its leadership?

        What aspects of Russian political system do you think the UK should adopt?

      2. Steve H, you are doing exactly what RH did… going off on your own imaginary path of twisted logic extrapolating from something I didn’t say..

        Britain should adopt what suits the British public, culture and society and things better be made to change sooner rather than later or much more suffering will ensue. It’s up to Russians to sort their government and systems out, not us!

      3. My apologies if you feel I have put words in your mouth. I got the impression from your post that you were speaking out in defense of Russia. If this wasn’t the intention of your post then what was its purpose?

      4. My frustration at the circular arguments bubbled over. We can’t even sort out our regimes but…. Russia, Iran etc.

        It really gets my goat that ‘we’ always feel we have the right to judge others especially when we are in such a parlous state ourselves.
        We do far too much judging and demonising others and that usually leads to sanctions, threats and war…

      5. Yes, extrapolation, too much of it and too much knee jerk. I think when you become a Brexiter or a Lexiter or a Russophile you have earned that badge as a campaigner, rather than someone interested in the multiple points of view that the current dilemma entails. On the road and can’t comment in detail – that’s a blessing probably!

      6. “Will you lot listen to yourselves”

        I’m listening, Maria.

        I’m listening to you amongst others. And, even after ‘listening’ again, I’m not sure what exactly you are saying in response to a number of arguments made. Could yo clarify?

      7. It seems to me that Maria was being characteristically understated when she referred to hyperbole, distortion, and emotive comment, earlier in this thread.

  7. Anyone with any kind of intellect – and that includes everyone here – recognises socialism’s enemy as neoliberalism.
    They’re everywhere – truly a global infestation. In or out of the EU we on the left are for the moment a small force surrounded and we need somehow to persuade the people of the field that we fight for them against an enemy they haven’t even noticed yet.
    I’m as guilty as anyone of brexit factionalism but at this point of possible opportunity maybe we could set that aside and think about what we can do to unite behind JC when this particular skirmish is over.
    Yeah, woke up grumpy again. Long night.

    1. ‘…maybe we could set that aside and think about what we can do to unite behind JC when this particular skirmish is over.’; and that is, Remain and Reform.

      The question is how likely are we going to successfully reform the EU? I will say very likely. Even the most ardent supporters of the current neo-liberal EU are beginning to acknowledge one of its most negative and damaging consequences: the rise of the far right, both in Europe and here in the UK. And we all know what happens when Europe turns to right-wing populists. Could this be “The Gathering Thunderstorm Mk-2”?

  8. Getting into a pretty pointless argument about whose fingerprints are on any policy initiative is pretty useless on a day when a general election now seems so near – fixed term parliament act or no fixed term parliament act

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