Corbyn and detractors

Arun Srivastava

With British Prime Minister Theresa May unable to handle effectively the Brexit issue and the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn emerging as the most favoured candidate for the top job, a section of the Labour leaders opposed to Corbyn’s entry into the office of the prime minister have launched a sinister campaign against him.
They have been creating the impression that the core support group of the party and its voters have been opposed to the party’s current stance on Brexit. They are, in fact, in league with the Tories to stop the ascendance of Corbyn. They also supported a survey, which interestingly found 32 percent of Labour “remain” voters believe Labour is “completely against Brexit” and a further 31 percent of Labour “leave” voters believe Labour is “completely in favour of Brexit”.
No doubt major differences had surfaced inside Labour in 2016 when the referendum was held to assess the mood of Britons on the Brexit. But even at that stage no one challenged Corbyn on this particular issue while he did not come out with a clear stand. He had looked at it from the capitalist maneuverings perspective.
Curiously, during 2017 or even during the election, which of course Theresa May lost, no Labour leader raised the issue of Labour losing support or the possible alienation of cadres.
According to Mark Malloch Brown, a crossbench peer and chair of Best for Britain, “This data shows, clearly, that many more remainers are likely to abandon Labour over its Brexit line than leavers. Labour did so well in the election off the back of pro-European voters tactically voting for them. All that could be at risk if this policy, a calculated policy of ambiguity, continues.” He is a bundle of confusion. While he appreciates the voters’ response, he expresses apprehensions. He did not spell out the reasons for his trepidation.
In the backdrop of this bogey, at least seventy Labour councilors from south London have called on Jeremy Corbyn to be open to giving voters another say on Brexit. In an open letter, the councilors from Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth wrote: “The contradictions inherent in the Brexit project itself should concern the Labour party far more than has been the case up to now. Labour should be open on the mechanism by which voters have their say but the party must be clear that the electorate’s role in this process did not end on 23 June 2016”.
Yes, political actions and lines always need corrections. The developments of past one year make it abundantly clear that Britons have begun the process of giving second thought to their Brexit stand. A demand has also been made to rescind the verdict. In fact, from the very beginning the party’s official position has been that Britain should stay in the single market during transition out of the EU, but it has left most of the issues about the terms of UK’s future trading relationship with the EU “on the table” for negotiation.
Little doubt Labour should provide the opportunity to the people to change their mind. This would be perceived as an act of maturity and principled leadership the country so desperately needs. Labour needs to move from ambiguity in 2017 over Brexit to clarity in 2018. One thing Labour must do: come out with a clear political and ideological line. There is no denying that in the present situation the party is also in a state of confusion. If Labour does not act fast it will inflict damage to its political credibility. The Labour leadership cannot deny that on issues of contemporary politics, different sections of people are receiving different messages from the leadership. If people come to believe that there has been a deliberate ambiguity in the approach of the leadership that would prove to be counterproductive. (IPA/To be continued)

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018