Saturday, March 23, 2019
On missing the People's Vote demonstration (again)
Regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Blogger) will know that I am awaiting treatment for prostate cancer. Brexit isn’t the only thing that got delayed this week – so did my radiotherapy.
However, at least in the latter case this was on the basis of a sound and worked out alternative plan – and I won’t have to wait for a vote in Parliament before receiving treatment!
In the meantime though I am not really up to demonstrating, otherwise I would (this time) have been on the People’s Vote demonstration in London (taking just one day off from the local election campaigning which, again were I fit enough, would be taking up much of my time).
Brexit was never going to do any good for working class people – it is the (peculiarly) English manifestation of the reactionary tide rising around the world, and the only sane socialist position is to oppose it.
That said, Labour’s leadership have had – and still have – a tightrope to walk, as is evidenced by the geographical spread of signatures on the petition to revoke Article 50 (or which I am one of the more than four and a half million signatories).
Seven of the ten Parliamentary constituencies where the largest numbers have signed this petition are Labour held, as are eight of the ten where the smallest numbers have signed. Brexit divides, across the country, the people we need to unite in support of a socialist Labour Government.
Labour does therefore have to try to heal the divisions between our supporters in West Bromwich and West Bristol, which were exposed by the 2016 Referendum – and that helps to explain why the Party leadership weren’t on today’s march (although the constituencies of the Leader and the Shadow Home Secretary are both in the top ten constituencies for signatures on the petition).
Working-class remain supporters in Hackney, Brighton and Islington have more in common with working-class leave supporters in Wolverhampton, Easington and Rotherham than we have with the Tory backers of the “People’s Vote” – just as those leave supporters have more in common with us than they have with Nigel Farage or Jacob Rees-Mogg.
We do therefore need continually to assert the importance of the class issues which can unite our side in politics and which divide us from both Anna Soubry (and her new “independent” chums) and Boris Johnson. In Brighton and Hove we can do this by campaigning for Labour’s progressive programme for our City, which will emerge in increasing detail over coming days.
However, when it comes to the crunch (as it now has) – and when decisions have to be taken about Brexit - we need our Party in Parliament to come down on the progressive, internationalist side of the divide among our own supporters, not least because either May’s deal or a “no deal” will make it materially harder for any Labour administration, nationally or locally, to implement policies in the interests of our people (than either Labour’s “softer” Brexit plans or the better option of no Brexit at all).