Guest Article, By Sebastian H.
I was at the big poll tax demo on 31st march 1990, which started the chain of events that lead to Thatchers resignation. On that day, before all the fighting started, there were speeches in Trafalgar Square where Tony Benn said (I’m paraphrasing) ‘it’s a shame Labour and the TUC aren’t backing this event because if they were there would have been a million people here.‘
Ok so Labour didn’t turn up, who cares, we didn’t need them. It merely served to illustrate how a mass movement of working class political activism can exist completely independently of the Labour ‘Movement’. Indeed we see history repeating itself today – right now Britain is witnessing the largest mobilisation of political activism by ordinary working people in its history, and where is Labour? Have they learned their lesson? Have they turned up this time? Nope, they’re not just absent – they are actually campaigning with David Cameron, the CBI and the forces of austerity and neoliberalism! Even with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm they don’t seem to have noticed there’s revolution taking place!
But let me presume that I am addressing Labour supporters who actually think the EU is a moral and ‘progressive’ institution, and that there is no point in trying to appeal to your ethical sensibilities because you are absolutely convinced the EU is benign. Ok, you want to win the 2020 general election don’t you? Well then maybe I can appeal to your raw naked desire to beat the Tories? The only way Labour has a hope of winning the next general election is by campaigning flat out for Brexit. This is why:
If Britain doesn’t vote for Brexit then UKIP will continue to exist, and they will be prime beneficiaries of the biggest and most passionate political debate Britain has ever seen. (Imagine the Scottish referendum times 20!) When the SNP lost their referendum (September 2014) they were polling around 30% at the general election (May 2015) it was nearer 50%.
If a parties’ support goes from 30% of the electorate to 50% that is a 60% increase in popularity. Labour supporters, I invite you to imagine the political landscape with UKIP 60% more popular than it was in 2015 … that’s right, we are talking ‘Labour-geddon’. Think it can’t happen? Well it just did in Scotland.
At the last general elections UKIP was still a toxic brand, but now with so many moderates, economists and trade unionists espousing the virtues of independence it’s entirely plausible to suppose that, if the referendum is lost, UKIP will be on about 20% of the popular vote. Furthermore, because UKIP only got a paltry one MP for their four million votes it means that they are near ‘tipping point’ in lots of constituencies so even a small increase in popularity could equate to many many seats. And where are those seats? That’s right – the North of England. We really are looking at a scenario in which Labour could simply cease to exist as a national party!
The baffling thing is that Labour actually has a silver bullet to do something about it, and that silver bullet is called ‘Brexit’ but do they see it? Do they get it? When they observe the working class political activism sweeping the country do they twig it’s what they have waited for all their lives? How could Labour get such an easy decision so wrong? How could they be so naive as to take Cameron’s side? What suckers they are, that even now, on the biggest issue of all, they are with Tony Blair rather than Tony Benn? And how could they be so credulous as to think the EU gives us better progressive legislation than we could write for ourselves? For Labour, to campaign aginst independence isnt just morally wrong – it’s an act of baffling political suicide.
Oh well, their choice, but just like with the poll tax, I’m not going to sit around waiting for the ‘Labour Movement’ to turn up. While Jeremy Corbyn attempts to explain why he is siding with David Cameron because he completely disagrees with him, I’m getting on with the serious job of declaring independence and ‘Brexterminating’ Cameron’s premiership.