Rash of articles last few days claiming Corbyn and Labour are the only force that can ‘stop Farage’ – and must back a new referendum to do so. But what’s their motivation – and are they right?
There has been a spate of articles in the media over the last few days that loudly proclaim that, in spite of the slew of centrists pushing themselves forward as candidates, only Jeremy Corbyn can ‘stop Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’ – and that he and Labour must back a new referendum to do so:
But Labour already has backed a new referendum. Parliament has held four votes on a new referendum:
- 29th Jan (tabled by Corbyn)
- 14th Mar (tabled by TIG)
- 27th Mar (indicative vote #1)
- 1st Apr (indicative vote #2)
Acting in line with the party’s conference policy, Labour has backed those motions with a three-line whip – the strictest form of party discipline – on three of those occasions.
And on all four occasions, the motions were decisively defeated.
Labour has fulfilled its conference commitment – and saw a seven percent fall in its ‘Westminster voting intention’ share. As informed commentators and Labour insiders have long predicted, backing a new referendum damaged Labour electorally – even as the Tories collapsed further.
Most of the articles written this week saying only Corbyn can ‘stop Farage’ and telling him what he ‘must’ do to achieve it have something in common – they are written by people who told us equally emphatically not too long ago that Jeremy Corbyn was too weak to win elections or change the UK’s political landscape – and that he must stand aside to do it.
Andrew Grice, for example, wrote this not long after the 2016 referendum result:
Tom Watson, as virtually all SKWAWKBOX readers will be aware, tried to persuade Corbyn to stand down after the referendum and gave a speech six months later about the urgent need for Labour to take on board concerns about freedom of movement – and to recognise the “many gains” offered by Brexit.
Suddenly both, at the same time, are all about Corbyn being the one to stop Farage – and telling him he must do it by backing a new referendum, conveniently forgetting Labour already tried it.
Setting up for a fall
The tactic of talking up Labour’s prospects to make the party look a failure is not exactly new. After the 2017 general election showed that rubbishing Corbyn’s electability was a non-starter, his opponents and the Establishment media set about telling everyone that Labour would and should romp home in the 2018 local elections.
In the end, Labour’s performance was strong and would have made Labour the biggest party in Parliament if replicated in a general election – and the Tories were clinging to any crumb of comfort they could – but the false set-up allowed Establishment commentators to paint Labour’s performance as disappointing. It couldn’t have been more transparent as a first step in trying to lessen the ‘Corbyn surge’ in the public mind.
Something similar is underway now.
The about-faces on Corbyn’s power and influence are embarrassing to those who wrote off Corbyn when the independent media were predicting correctly that Corbyn’s Labour is a force to be reckoned with.
Those who distrusted the doom-mongering of those right-wing politicians and commentators then were proven absolutely right to do so. Distrusting them again now, when they’re claiming the European Parliament elections are all about Corbyn, is absolutely logical.
Especially when the Establishment is, again, desperate to divert attention from Theresa May’s Brexit incompetence and from the intellectual and political bankruptcy of the so-called ‘centre’.
Corbyn’s job is to change the UK – not just ‘stop Farage’ and leave everything else as the Establishment would like to keep it. And he’s admirably on track to fulfil that function – which is why this threadbare Establishment tactic is getting another airing.
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