Media spin focusing on idea of Labour losses to LibDems and comments from pro-referendum MPs but simple graphic shows a different reality
Inevitably, the media – and a coterie of remain-supporting MPs in and out of the Labour Party – have spun last night’s European Parliament election results to support a claim that results for pro-referendum parties, primarily the LibDems, mean Labour must abandon its manifesto commitment to enacting the 2016 Brexit result and commit to a ‘new referendum with remain on the ballot paper’.
But if a picture paints a thousand words, the one below speaks volumes. Taken from the BBC’s EU vote results page, it combines two colour-coded results maps, one showing the density of LibDem votes across the country – and the other the density of Brexit party support in the same election:
While last night was a relatively good night for the LibDems as one of the parties campaigning on a polar position, it’s clear at a glance that their heaviest support is concentrated in a few areas – primarily in the south and south-west, where they traditionally do well anyway.
By contrast, the map of Brexit party support covers almost all of England and Wales in a heavy blanket of dark blue-green, reflecting a high vote share.
And that blanket includes almost all of Labour’s traditional strongholds.
In the clearest of terms, this straightforward comparison shows that it would be electoral madness for Labour to set itself against its heartlands. But not only that, it would be wrong to do so.
The Brexit party performed well in Labour heartlands because Labour’s ‘hard remain’ MPs gifted Nigel Farage with something he should never be allowed – the moral high ground on democracy.
Farage is an unreconstructed Thatcherite who would never appeal to most working-class voters under normal circumstances. His appeal should have been limited entirely to disgruntled Tory voters and a small number of hard-right nationalists.
But Labour’s remain fanatics’ frequent – and knowingly damaging – media appearances misrepresenting Labour’s policy and claiming that ‘Labour is a remain party’ allowed Farage to present himself as defending democracy against an ‘elite’.
To working-class leave voters who voted leave because they were sick to death of feeling ignored and discounted – and who feel even more ignored and discounted by media and politicians looking to prevent the enactment of their vote – that message resonated and the map above shows the consequences.
Far from owning their responsibility for those consequences, centrist ‘remain ultras’ are – all too predictably – attempting to blame Labour’s leadership for them.
Corbyn and his core team continue to do the right thing in attempting to bring people together instead of dividing. It’s a message that will ‘cut through’ in a general election where it had no chance of doing so in the polarised ‘proxy referendum’ of the EU elections.
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