Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Corbyn is wrong about Article 50

I voted twice for Jeremy Corbyn to be Leader of our Party and support his leadership, but I was disappointed to receive his email seeking to justify the decision to vote in favour of the Bill triggering Article 50 on the spurious grounds that we should respect the Referendum outcome.

I prefer the militant position adopted by Lambeth UNISON at our Annual General Meeting. When we lose a General Election we don’t shut up for the next few years and let a hostile Government attack us – and there is no reason why we should show greater “respect” for the outcome of a consultative referendum than we do for elections.

There is no prospect of a “People’s Brexit” in current political circumstances. The departure from the European Union being planned by this Government will be irredeemably racist and reactionary – the bigots who have been empowered and encouraged by the referendum result know what they achieved (and only the small number of deluded leftwingers who are in denial about having chosen the wrong side in such a critical moment doubt this).

The policy of the Labour Party was agreed at Conference – and it not simply in favour of leaving the European Union come what may.

Labour Party policy is that Conference;

  • considers that full access to the single European market for British goods and services is vital for jobs and prosperity in Britain;
  • Calls for the rights and workplace protections enshrined in EU law to be maintained in the UK;
  • insists that the rights of residence of EU citizens already living in Britain and the rights of British citizens already living in other EU countries should be preserved;
  • recognises that many of those who voted to leave the EU were expressing dissatisfaction with EU or national policy and were voting for change, but believes that unless the final settlement proves to be acceptable then the option of retaining EU membership should be retained. The final settlement should therefore be subject to approval, through Parliament and potentially through a general election, or a referendum.

It is difficult to see how this policy is consistent with voting for Theresa May’s “Article 50” Bill on the second or third reading. It would certainly be inconsistent to vote for the bill on the third reading unless amendments had achieved the objectives set out above by Party Conference.

There would be nothing to prevent Labour Parliamentarians opposing the Bill on the Second Reading and then still pursuing amendments – so there is no good reason for the three line whip to oppose the previous position of the Party, the views of the large majority of Labour voters and the policy adopted at Party Conference.

The lamentable nonentities of the Parliamentary Labour Party who seek any excuse to oppose Corbyn may use this episode to attack his leadership but socialists who wish to defend our socialist leadership need not defend the grave error which is being made in supporting Theresa May’s Bill to trigger a process which will attack the rights of workers in general and migrant workers in particular.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Freedom of movement is a capitalist wet dream. Pin your flag to the EU and the working class will desert you in droves.