Perhaps this article is damaging. Possibly it makes sense to keep quiet and hope for a strong Labour showing. Maybe Brexit with Labour will be better or at least not so bad.
But we have to be honest, at the head of Labour is Corbyn & behind him are the hard left figures who’ve been there since he was first elected. So what can we say about this man who displays “integrity, honesty & clarity”?
Clearly, the key to Corbyn’s appeal is that he is an honest, decent, different kind of politician. A man of integrity. Yes, he may not be polished or media friendly but he means what he says. He’s someone you can believe in.
However, there has also been the persistent rumour that he wasn’t really a Remainer at all but a secret Leaver who fronted a lackluster Labour Remain campaign. This is particularly important as many of his supporters were young, ardent Remainers who have the most to lose from Brexit.
This rumour has been dismissed by these same supporters as agitation by bitter “Blairite” MPs. Lets consider some of the evidence:
We now have the Labour Manifesto, and this comment from Ian Dunt on it’s contents:
Is this fair? Has Corbyn always been in the 3rd anti-single market camp?
This was a comment from Sept 2016 made by a Corbyn aid. It’s a confusing message (not least because it fundamentally misunderstands the single market) however it clearly mentions Corbyn’s issues with State aid & nationalisation with regards to the EU & the Single Market. He was “campaigning against” these “aspects” of the EU in the middle of a campaign to stay in the EU.
How can you be for the EU if you have always wanted to engage in significant nationalisation & state aid programs? If Corbyn believes that the new Manifesto would be incompatible with these aims, then how could he be a remainer?
We need to cast our minds back to September 2015, when Corbyn had his first surprising leadership win. His historical anti EU stance was well known & the PLP knew the referendum was coming so they all met him to question him on his plans and thoughts. He’d been elected by a significant number of new Labour supporters however these supporters were overwhelmingly pro-remain & he had no support in the PLP.
If it became clear that he was still as anti EU as he had been his entire political career, what impact would this have had on his new support base?
However, following the meeting almost all of the PLP were convinced (or let themselves be convinced) that he really had adjusted his views on the EU (they quickly changed their minds after the result but that’s another story). One however, Chuka Umunna, wasn’t. He resigned the bench, saying this:
It is my view that we should support the UK remaining a member of the EU, notwithstanding the outcome of any renegotiation by the prime minister, and I cannot envisage any circumstances where I would be campaigning alongside those who would argue for us to leave; Jeremy has made it clear to me that he does not wholeheartedly share this view
But OK, perhaps he’s seen sense since that point nearly 2 years ago, perhaps he did learn to embrace the EU?
Well, lets look at this tweet:
And lets consider the 3 major campaigns we’ve seen him in, 1 leadership, 1 General Election and 1 for remain. We know that against considerable hostility, in his leadership campaign & the GE we saw him get his message out and show real enthusiasm and be passionate, even inspiring. Huge crowds, great oratory, even genuine leadership.
However, on the campaign that wasn’t about his own personal success, Remain, he was barely seen. Few TV spots, lackluster performances. In fact if you go back and watch his 2 TV appearances for Remain you’ll see him being glum, qualified, tired.
And now he’s the strongest voice in Labour for a complete break with Europe. He’s whipped his party to an unconditional Article 50 passage and his manifesto is full of economic nationalism. His speeches about British Steel show his deep commitment to state aid and a managed economy, impossible under the EU.
So no-one can seriously, honestly compare & contrast the last few weeks of the election with the Remain campaign and say he was equally passionate for Remain as he was for his own personal success. At best, he didn’t care, at worst, well.
So, did Jeremy Corbyn really change his mind on the EU in 2015 (whilst maintaining all of his other 40 year old beliefs, including those on state aid & nationalisation but on this one issue lining up with his new supporters), lose the referendum with sadness, ask for immediate Article 50 invocation “by mistake” and then think “well, there’s no chance of staying in the SM so we may as well put in place all the nationalisation & state aid programs the EU was stopping us doing”?
Or was Chuka Umunna right?
Because if he was right, then Corbyn was never really a Remainer.
And if he wasn’t, then he misled all those thousands of new supporters at the worst possible time.
And if that’s true, then the whole persona of a “decent man of integrity, not like all the other politicians” comes crashing down. And ultimately that’s all he has. He’s not politically skilled, he’s not particularly brilliant and he’s certainly not worldly wise. The whole pitch is a simple man of honesty & integrity.
Of course I can’t look inside his head and see if it’s got “Leaver” or “Remainer” running through it, I can only consider the evidence. Barring a few speeches he gave off camera to the faithful there is little proof that he was actually for Remain and, as mentioned, the contrast between the 3 campaigns is frankly startling.
But if he really was always a leaver, and if you’re a Corbyn supporter (as opposed to perhaps a Labour supporter) then surely you have to re-examine this. Because if Corbyn really is a true Leaver it will be seen as one of the greatest political betrayals in British history, a committed Leaver supported by an army of staunch remainers, who worked to move us away from the EU in order to implement a 40 year old socialist program.
And who was also, by the way, careless or disinterested about the effects it would have on the people he’s supposed to care about.