Earlier today I read a comment on FB along these lines: “I enthusiastically supported Corbyn in the beginning, but my support waned with his half-hearted support for Remain. But now he’s supporting Brexit, that’s it, I’m done.”
This is my reply.
Jeremy Corbyn’s half-hearted support for Remain, as you put it, persuaded myself and many other left Euro-sceptics to vote Remain. If he’d patronised me with the ‘EU is perfect with bells on’ pitch I would have voted out. Two thirds of Labour voters voted remain, the same ratio as SNP, yet no one accuses Nicola Sturgeon of half-heartedness. That was a line spun by the PLP plotters to justify their damaging coup. The same plotters who are threatening to veto the referendum result because they say we should stay in the single market, whilst condemning Corbyn for not speaking out more strongly against immigration; a totally incompatible position. Still it ties Corbyn in knots which is all they care about.
Corbyn deserves our respect and support as he tries to negotiate a political minefield for any Labour leader, let alone one who threatens the establishment. Labour are caught between a rock and a hard place over Brexit. To disrespect the referendum result is to wave goodbye to any seat which resoundingly supported Brexit. To cheer on a hard Brexit is to lose support of any seat that voted Remain. The Lib-Dems will mop up the votes of disaffected remainers, and capitalise electorally. But tempting as it is, we should not emulate them. All we can do is highlight the hypocrisy of their outrage over Brexit, when their outrage over the needless and damaging cuts implemented with zeal by their Tory coalition partners, was conspicuous by its absence. Nor should we emulate UKIP or their political allies the Tories, with their scapegoating rhetoric. We have to carve our own path, which is not an easy task when our supporters, like the electorate at large, are so torn.
What we definitely shouldn’t do is turn against the first socialist leader we have had for many decades. At a time when the future is scary and uncertain, we need Corbyn at the helm. Who else will give their all to ensure a fairer future for ordinary struggling people whatever happens post-Brexit? A right of Labour leader who wants us to stay in the single market while validating UKIP’s stance on immigration? A right of Labour leader who will shun the potential freedoms afforded by Brexit, such as the freedom to nationalise certain industries, because they prefer the path of more privatisation not less? A right of Labour leader who recoils at the idea of reversing corporation tax cuts to fund our ailing NHS or set up a national education service because they won’t say boo to big business? Because if we don’t back Corbyn and empathise with the difficult position he’s in, that’s what we’ll get. One day we will find ourselves on the other side of the Brexit minefield, but only if we stand by Corbyn. We must not let this precious resurgence of socialism become a Brexit fatality.
One final point…Jeremy Corbyn said from day one he’d respect the referendum result and that’s what he’s doing. That’s democracy, and Corbyn is a democrat. But he’s also a socialist…unlike the vast majority of Labour MPs who want him gone.