There is no time to waste when you’re a real alternative government – and that is what Labour has now become.
But they need to sort out their EU strategy. They already seem to have said that they want to have the same benefits outside the customs union as inside it (which seems a tad unlikley) but they too, seem to have bought the meme that free movement of people is a problem. Immigration may have been on Nigel Farage’s infamous poster but it wasn’t on the ballot paper. So the idea that the Brexiteers were all voting against immigration is purely speculative.
It is equally likely – well I’d say even more so – that people were voting against austerity. The government was happy for the press and people in general to conclude that when the schools were full up with, say, Syrians it is was the Syrians’ fault, rather than the fault of that same British government for failing to allocate adequate resources to education.
The Labour Party appears happy to accept this Conservative and Daily Mail interpretation of the referendum result. This is a profound mystery for a party of Labour. It leaves them arguing for the strict control of the movement of Labour – while at the same time proposing the completely free movement of Capital.
Some form of Capital control is one of the few advantages of Brexit, though it seems never to be mentioned – and, I fear, that is rather indicative of those who favour Brexit. Capital is the real citizen of nowhere and needs to be controlled to improve financial stability. (Chile has, if I remember correctly, a scheme where capital is taxed at 50% if it leaves sooner than six months after it arrived.)
If Labour decides it must have controls on migrant labour then at the very least it must control migrant capital as well.
They should really be taking on board the ineptness of the Conservatives. They gave the Article 50 notification in March. Why? There was no plan. Elections in both France and Germany were due. The incompetence is staggering and unnerving. It is our futures, but the so called will of the people will pertain even though the referendum was on a majority so slim that it was unlikely to be enough to change the constitution at one of their true blue golf clubs.
In due course the Conservatives, so used to success falling into their laps, have discovered that one against 27 doesn’t engender the sense of entitlement that is their norm in life. Obsessing over their own Party’s future they had no concept of the country’s future. And they still don’t.
There is now not even the appearance of strength or stability – quite the reverse. The EU is watching on as Britain’s Brexit strategy turns out to be a recipe for self destruction – with the Irish question added in for good measure. It is incompetence on a grand scale. It is so inept that it is likely that Britain will be ‘Taking back control’ to such an extent that it will be isolated rather than independent.
Labour should be able to do better without much thinking.
Indeed a more radical strategy would be to formulate a policy with other European left leaning parties on reform of the EU. If a consensus for reform were put together then there would be a good reason for holding another referendum. Given that most European countries would prefer Britain to stay (largely, I suspect, because of our financial contribution, the lack of which is likely to prove problematic for other EU members) there is some reason to hope that reasonable reforms of the EU might be accepted.
So a proper alternative strategy is likely to be vote winning as well as of benefit to Britain – and could also be of benefit to the EU as a whole.
Rather like the election manifestos, there is no hope from the Tories. It is an all too realistic prospect that Conservative Brexit negotiations will self destruct, and in so doing will do for the prospects of all of us in the UK as well.
It is now Labour’s responsibility – as they have so often done – to give us all hope and vision.