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Corbyn had a golden opportunity to unite his party and he blew it

Corbyn had a golden opportunity to unite his party and he blew it

Corbyn has sacked Labour frontbenchers who voted to amend the Queen's speech. The amendment, backed Labour MP Chuka Umunna, pushed for continued membership of the single market. Corbyn should have allowed a free vote, acknowledging that Brexit has become a matter of conscience. Left wingers can berate the opportunism of Umunna, but what have they got to say about the three members of the shadow cabinet who defied the whip - are they to be similarly labelled? Corbyn should have been more forthright in calling for an all-party approach to what is the defining issue of our time and allow space for grown-up debate. 

This issue is not a left-right issue, nor is it a poor-rich one. It has become, however, a proxy war for the soul of the Labour Party, and Corbyn has made it more so thanks to his beligerance. In his own way on this issue, he is no better than the Tories, who saw the EU issue as an opportunity, a political football with which to win over one constituency or another, or in Cameron's case, an unsuccessful job-saving exercise at the expense of the national interest.

The recent election might have vindicated Corbyn's antipathy towards the EU, since his opaqueness allowed a pathway for the Breixty working classes to come home to Labour. But what is good politics for now is potentially ruinous for the future of the Labour movement.  In the same election, Labour became a vehicle of protest for the young and for city-dwellers who count themselves as the 48%. Yet this coalition of voters, which propelled Labour to a 40% vote share, is fragile to say the least. Such coalitions are held together by flexibility, not by an iron grip. How many of those young voters will come out and vote again, and in the same way, for a party that has a surprising lack of identity on the EU, despite its strong stances on all manner of other things from abolishing tuition fees to taking the railways into public ownership?

And then there is the economics of the thing. Even loyal members of Corbyn's shadow cabinet, like Barry Gardiner, admit that the UK will be poorer when it leaves the EU. So it is awfully strange to have a three line whip against stating the obvious, that the best course of action would be to try and stay. When this affair is done and dusted, and the UK leaves with a shoddy deal, the electorate will not reward a party that voted to make the country poorer, or at best did very little to make things less worse.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter if Corbyn's stance will come to haunt him. I think it will, but who can predict anything these days? The more important point is that it will do nothing to help the people he wants to help - those young people and working people who so desperately want things to change. 

 

 

Women of the KKK

Women of the KKK

No deal is better than a bad deal

No deal is better than a bad deal