Letters from an encouraged Corbynista #15.

Well, well, I actually agree with something Andrew Rawnsley has written. It is this, from this morning’s Observer:
“Remainers take note: Remain supporters just becoming passionately Remainy is not what matters. What is required to force a rethink among the political decision-makers is clear evidence of second thoughts among a substantial wedge of Leave voters.”
Like many Labour supporters who voted remain, but accepted the EU referendum and agreed with Corbyn and his team that a pragmatic course in negotiating departure was wise, I don’t think banging on about a second referendum so soon after a vote of 33 million people is sensible or particularly democratic.
What matters is two things, both dependent on the progress or lack of it of the EU negotiations: is a deal emerging that protects the interests of the majority of the people; is the public mood shifting?
There is a lot of excitement among some remain supporters generated- irony of irony- by Nigel Farage. Some think, now that the current UKIP leader’s girlfriend is suspended for rank racism, that we could have the third coming of Saint Nige. My position, and I speak for nobody but myself, is that Labour is right to concentrate on a pragmatic course on Europe, defending working class interests, fighting on the NHS, jobs, public ownership, housing and so on. It is also that we exclude nothing. We are not in office, the Tories are. We hold them to account. We do not obsess in the here and now about membership of the single market. We focus on the benefits of a relationship to it.
In the medium term, in spring 2019, if the Commons and the country thinks the Tory deal is inadequate, could there be a second referendum? Possibly. All of this, in the final analysis, is froth. The EU leave vote is not the only political show in town. The political and economic crisis goes back to at least 2008. Understanding the present crisis demands a longer view than post-2016 Brexittery. It is the Tories that have given us the slowest recovery since the 1920s, poor productivity, the lowest wage growth of similar economies, the worst level of economic activity of similar economies, the growth of homelessness and food banks, the crisis in the NHS and housing and so on. These issues are part of the reason so many working people voted leave in fury at their circumstances.
The condition of the mass of the people is the main issue, Europe is part of it and an issue that illuminates the political faultlines. The cutting edge is the attack on austerity. That is what made the 2017 Manifesto so effective in forging a coalition that included leaver and remained. That is what took Labour from twelve points behind to a position where we could deny May a majority. Possibly sixty Labour MPs see Europe as the lever to weaken Corbyn. Their recklessness and obsession with premature red lines over Europe is not principle. It is daft politics. It risks alienating many Labour supporters who are deeply suspicious of an uncritical attitude to the EU.
The Corbyn project has made Labour electable. It must be deepened and broadened, strengthening the community arm launched recently, firming up the alliance with the unions in the workplaces. Single-minded unity behind an increasingly confident leadership can deliver good council results in May and a General Election victory thereafter. That means remaining focussed on the day-to-day needs of the people, not remaining remain-obsessed to the exclusion of everything else.

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