Austin “Maverick” Mitchell has treated us to his latest views on Labour and Brexit
“It’s difficult to know which of Labour’s three main problems, Corbyn, policy blow out, or Brexit were most ruinous. All were wrong but intertwined into the disaster. Corbyn was bullied into a baffling Remain strategy he didn’t believe in. The bonanza of promises was a pathetic attempt to buy back Brexit voters. We offered negativism and gloom against Boris’s boundless optimism.
“But Brexit was the most important. It widened the gulf between a party of metropolitan trendies and its regional class base. I always thought that the job of the Labour Party was to lift up the workers not lecture them and it doesn’t help to tell the people that they’re racist, stupid and un-educated in voting Brexit. Yet defeat can teach lessons, leaders can be changed and policy revised. So Labour’s main problem now is Brexit. It’s going to happen, however much Labour dislikes it. So having blundered into our naive folly on this issue, the crucial question is what are we going to do about it?
“Sadly our political Bourbons seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Some still preach listening to the people when we manifestly didn’t. Benn and the Blairites still believe they were right to have held up the nation’s wishes for so long. Second referendum addicts won’t admit that the election was it, and it’s gone against them. The failed trick of opposing a hypothetical “no deal” to make any deal impossible is already reviving and will become hysterical as Boris’s takes on his Sisyphean task of getting an acceptable settlement from a stultifying EU. On the other side of the argument more Labour MPs have now grown the guts to vote for Boris’s bill as the party, as a whole should have done for Theresa’s.
“The consolation is that Remainer warnings of death and hell fire haven’t happened and having failed in their efforts to delay their influence in encouraging EU obstinacy will be weaker in Brussels and actively resented in Britain. The strength of national feeling has been demonstrated. The people have voted to get it done. It’s time to stop standing in their way. So the real problem is not a revival of internal clan warfare but the attitudes of the leadership contenders.
“Two candidates have already declared themselves pro Remain. Two others look like Corbyn continuity candidates. Blairites have been damaged by self harm but others will try and pander to the assumed pro-European instincts of party members and Momentum. The real need is for a candidate of stature, but they’re few on the ground today. So Labour needs to settle on one who’s not strenuously committed on either side of an EU argument which is, after all, secondary to the party’s purposes. Such a candidate can do a Harold Wilson job and pull the Party together.
“So what do we do? Common sense has never played much part in Labour’s arcane policy processes but now it suggests going quiet on Brexit. Let Boris fulfill his mandate, back him when he runs against EU intransigence and stop affronting the national feeling demonstrated by the election. Protesting against a hypothetical “crash out” is really a cover for objecting to any form of Brexit and now dead in the water. The people have spoken. Boris has a majority. The time for stopping him, obstructing his efforts and hoping he’ll fail has passed.
“It will change only if Boris gets a bad deal and begins to bluster and betray. Britain has voted to give him his chance and he’s no longer vulnerable on Brexit. But he is if he fails to live up to his wider promises of a new deal, one Nation Toryism, ending austerity, boosting the North and building a better, fairer society to go back to the old grind Toryism of cuts for the poor, bungs to the wealthy and pathetic half measures. Then he becomes not just vulnerable to a full scale Labour attack but he’s failed and our volatile electorate will punish him for letting them down, as it punished Labour for the same reason this time. Until that happens shut up on Brexit”.