Can Corbyn save the Remain campaign?

by Kevin Meagher

‘Just exactly what has Jeremy Corbyn done during the EU referendum campaign?’ is a familiar refrain from people inside the unflinching pro-Remain Labour party.

The Labour leader is a long-time euro-sceptic and has seemed reluctant to fully immerse himself in the Remain campaign hitherto. Frankly, he adopts all the enthusiasm of a weary teacher staring at a pile of end of term marking.

But there is something authentic about his reluctance to fully devour his principles and sing the praises of an institution he has spent three decades criticising.

In a bid to maintain party unity, his concession has been to emphasise the importance of the EU in underpinning workers’ and consumers’ rights.

It’s decent enough ground for any social democrat, but Corbyn is clearly not prepared to give the full-throated endorsement of Remain that many in the party want him to.

But here’s the thing: his lack of enthusiasm is actually an asset.

Corbyn is plainly no swivel-eyed euro-enthusiast. But then again, neither are most voters.

They are pragmatists and recognise there are aspects of the EU that are important – worthy even – at the same time, though, they have big reservations about other parts.

They can like clean rivers and beaches, courtesy of the EU’s urban wastewater treatment directive, even if they don’t like the nannying and corruption of the EU.

They can value the ease with which travellers can get around Europe, even if they hate mass migration.

This is now the nub of this referendum campaign. Many voters’ final decision will come down to whether its head or heart that wins out.

After weeks of puerile and increasingly desperate scares and smear by the Remain campaign, it’s clear that public opinion has now hardened and their approach is simply not capable of sealing the deal with the electorate and winning this referendum.

As jaded voters weary of lunatic politicians predicting economic Armageddon chaos and war, Corbyn encapsulate the nuances and doubts that speak to real people.

This is the point in the referendum campaign where he is most potent.

As he proved in the Labour leadership election last year, Jeremy Corbyn can reach parts of the electorate that other politicians can’t.

On 20 June, Corbyn will face a grilling from an audience of young people on Sky News.

Just three days before polling day, it will be one of the last big interventions by a national politician and is certainly the last best chance to enthuse young voters, who, while disproportionately backing Remain, are less likely to turn out and are perhaps most mistrustful of politicians.

How ironic if it’s Jeremy Corbyn, the Bennite Eurosceptic, who saves this referendum and gets Remain across the line.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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7 Responses to “Can Corbyn save the Remain campaign?”

  1. Tafia says:

    An unamed Labour MP is quoted in the guardian as saying that Labour voters in his area are breaking 55-45 for Out. “It’s terrible. The proverbial metropolitan elite has not been recognising the impact that rapid population change has had on the public services. And Labour is ducking this issue.”

    The truth is that the referendum is exposing Labour’s breach with its traditional voters in a way that has profound implications for the country as well as the party. In Birmingham, campaigners were told to take all mentions of immigration out of their literature. Although the local MPs begged to be allowed to tackle local concerns head on, they were banned from doing so by party staff following instructions from the leader’s office. As one former minister says: “It gives the impression that we are completely out of touch with the way people live their lives.”

  2. Tafia says:

    I reproduce a comment from the Gurdian , on the news that Tom Watson is now saying freedom of movemet needs looking at. I reproduce it because I thougt it was hilarious.

    So Labour a few days ago were advocating free movement. Polls say this is bad, today Labour are suggesting looking at free movement. You know the EU would never go near that pillar so you are a duplicitous sack if shit. Bring back New Labour at least they knew how to lie with some elegance.

    Weird how Watson has had an epiphany re free movement rules in the EU 8 days before the referendum.

    I wonder if his commitment to that would last as long as 8 days after a Remain vote.

    So this is the mighty Labour relaunch. You could not make up.

  3. Anon E Mouse says:

    “Can Corbyn save the Remain campaign?”


  4. Peter Kenny says:

    Polling indicates Labour voters 60/40 for Remain.
    Tory voters 60/40 for Leave.
    Maybe in some areas it’s different but that’s the general picture.
    We’ll see.

  5. Tafia says:

    Can Corbyn save the Remain campaign?

    Corbyn couldn’t save a fiver in a post office account. Nice bloke, right ideas – but he lacks the courage to put his Cabinet opponents to the sword. he has no ruthless edge to himself. You won’t last as leader unless you are wiling to kil your opposition – even Claudius learnt that eventually. The only time you need to listen to them is when the scream as the sword goes through them.

  6. Madasafish says:

    Mrs Madasafish and I were discussing how we should vote. We often decide to vote differently. We are not a patriarchal family.

    There have been so many claims form both sides that are clearly exaggerations at best and lies at worst that neither of us feel motivated to vote. (A first time ever)

    As far as I can see, both sides are endeavouring to prove that all politicians are liars. And succeeding..

    Personally I expect whichever way the vote goes we shall have a small recession. But if the country votes “Leave” then the Leave campaign post vote will find themselves hated and unloved a year from now.

  7. michelle says:

    Need we be reminded about how this Referendum came about? An internal squabble within the Conservative Party. It was hardly Jeremy Corbyns battle to fight. Disgusting he , and all of us, were pulled into it at all!

    Referendums have been referred to as ‘a device for Demagogues and Dictators’. We have all been used to serve the purpose of bringing forth a more right wing government.

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