I am sure you are familiar with the old expression, “This changes EVERYTHING”. Suddenly, straight from left field, something so utterly startling occurs that everything you thought you knew, understood and believed in turns out to be untrue. In every single election of any kind since 1979, I have voted Labour, even when my candidate was Tony Benn who oversaw its collapse in 1983, but now, thanks to Keir Starmer’s confirmation of what we already suspected, that Labour really does support Theresa May’s hard Brexit, what do I do now?
One reason I stuck with Labour, until the ill-timed invasion of Iraq, was because it was truly internationalist. Labour’s hard left always hated the EU because they saw it as a “rich man’s club” and because Winston Churchill was always a fierce proponent of the concept, Indeed, Margaret Thatcher opposed the EU so much she helped create the single market and took us deeper into Europe than anyone else. Thatcher was horribly wrong about so many things, but not about the EU.
Theresa May is taking the country to a damaging hard Brexit and the least I expected from Labour was a serious fight about what kind of Brexit we should have to endure. May is the first PM in our history who is committed to obtaining a worse deal than we already have on Europe and today Starmer effectively said that Labour agreed with her.
Labour has now accepted the end of free movement which will have profound effects not just on those pesky Europeans who want to come and work here, but to our citizens who want to live, love, work, study and just abroad. They want to come to an early deal regarding people who are already here, but to hell with everyone else. Labour, through Corbyn and John McDonnell, have already conceded we must leave the single market which will have a serious impact on both our imports and exports. And they accept leaving the customs union. This is exactly May’s agenda. It’s breathtaking. I am wondering how I can even consider voting Labour after this and my job was made even more tricky when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said he wasn’t as homophobic as we thought he was.
Now I like Starmer. He’s a smart operator, more a safe pair of hands than a charismatic Macron, Trudeau or, yes, Blair but in these dangerous times maybe a safe pair of hands is better than the alternative. But in committing Labour to the end of free movement and leaving the single market, that goes against everything I stand for and believe in. It’s not Starmer’s fault that he had to deliver such a clunking, incoherent speech because the blame lies firmly at the top, the useless comrades around the top table who haven’t the faintest idea of what they are doing.
Right now, as I have said before, I am becoming politically homeless. The far right has been invaded by May’s Tories, thus rendering Ukip irrelevant, and Labour has lurched the hard left fringes, leaving the Lib Dems. But really?
I still see the Lib Dems through the prism of their taking seats in the last Tory government, enabling David Cameron to attack the sick and disabled, enabling the Tories to bring in the Bedroom Tax, raising VAT and of course lying to the country about tuition fees. It would be a massive step for me and I am, for once in my life, that swing voter, undecided as to what I should do. “None of the above” is currently in front.
Imagine a Labour Party supporting the end of the free market and leaving both the single market and customs union, things that will damage the lives and prospects of the very people Labour is supposed to represent, the very people Labour was formed to represent.
By Christmas of this year, someone will have written a definitive book about how Labour set about committing electoral suicide and allowing the country to live under an elected dictatorship for a decade, maybe longer, maybe forever. Just when I thought Labour couldn’t sink any lower, they sank lower. What am I going to do now?