Last week, John McDonnell and whole Shadow Cabinet agreed that Labour’s conference decision on Brexit/referendum must be followed – while Jeremy Corbyn asked MPs to moderate language on Brexit issue
Earlier this month, the SKWAWKBOX reported complaints by senior Labour figures that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had attempted a coup to isolate Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from his closest aides – and that this was driven by a desire to push Labour into a ‘full-remain/referendum-now’ position.
Such a position is absolutely incompatible with Labour’s official policy decided by member and union delegates at last month’s annual conference in Brighton: that Labour will only present a credible deal for any public vote after the general election – and will only decide its position on the deal after the details of its deal with the EU are finalised.
It is also incompatible with the 2017 general election manifesto upon which every Labour MP was elected.
McDonnell denied the move and his allies heavily briefed the media to whitewash it – while Labour members unable or unwilling to imagine disloyalty rejected the very idea.
But only days after the SKWAWKBOX exclusive, McDonnell asked Blair adviser Alastair Campbell to rejoin the party – and two days later McDonnell and other hard-core remainers in the Shadow Cabinet were trampling on Labour’s official policy with declarations that a referendum must come before a general election.
Furious Shadow Cabinet members and other MPs representing leave-voting constituencies pushed back, objecting that such moves to hold a referendum first and campaign for remain were a blatant breach of the conference vote – and that any referendum on Boris Johnson’s poor deal would in effect rig the outcome.
Corbyn made two things clear last week:
- that Labour must stick to the party’s overwhelmingly agreed conference policy: a credible EU-UK Brexit deal put to a new referendum without prejudice or favour
- that he wanted MPs – and their allies in the ‘blue-tick’ left media – to use conciliatory language to opponents and not incite against them
Labour’s Shadow Cabinet agreed.
But yesterday – just a few days after that agreement, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer all told a rally of the so-called “People’s Vote” campaign that Labour is a ‘remain party’ and that a referendum must be held on Boris Johnson’s deal:
This shameless breach, not only of front-bench ‘collective responsibility’ but of their personal commitment only days earlier, was greeted with cheers by the “People’s Vote” ‘true believers’.
But it is poison to Labour’s standing and electoral prospects in the leave-voting areas that represent a majority of Labour’s parliamentary seats – and a sign of gross contempt toward the working-class people who live there and voted heavily to exit the EU.
It’s also untrue – as the party’s policy makes clear and party chair Ian Lavery pointed out this morning on social media:
At the same time as McDonnell and co flushed away collective responsibility and their agreement to stick to policy, their allies and cheerleaders in the blue-tick media ramped up their attacks on any MPs trying to carry out the wishes of their leave-voting constituents.
Journalist Paul Mason, for example, shamefully attacked the supposed ‘lack of moral fibre’ of Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell, who was working in a mine aged fourteen and whose local voters overwhelmingly voted to exit the EU:
Mason is entirely wrong as well as offensive. As a source very close to Ronnie Campbell told the SKWAWKBOX this morning:
Ronnie would vote no confidence against Boris Johnson in the morning. This has absolutely zero to do with supporting the Tories and everything to with respecting democracy and his constituents.
The impact of such blue-tick incitement to dogpile was expressed this morning by another northern MP, Lucy Powell:
Powell is correct that any vote in Parliament to institute a new referendum will fail, with the current make-up of the Commons.
The ‘Watson Plan’ to force a referendum before a general election cannot succeed – and McDonnell, Starmer and co are shredding the democratic policy of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s huge membership – for a gimmick that is damaging Labour’s electability.
Jeremy Corbyn is dismayed:
McDonnell had softened his approach a fraction for this morning’s Ridge programme on Sky News – but still insisted, against party policy and his concession at last week’s Shadow Cabinet meeting, that Johnson’s deal must be put to a public vote.
Those Labour members who could not accept the idea of McDonnell disloyally moving to isolate Corbyn and take control of the party’s direction – against the express wishes of Jeremy Corbyn and the votes last month of Labour’s members and unions – are now confronted by reality.
Such denial of the obvious can only be maintained by ignoring the evidence right before their eyes.
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