Labour’s splits over Brexit and Corbyn are threatening to spiral out of control

by Trevor Fisher

Brexit has been driven off the front pages by Covid 19. This has created what can only be called The Reality Gap. The real world of the negotiation on the Withdrawal Agreement has been overlaid by the determination of the Johnson administration to walk out on January 1st whatever happens. A sensible government would have extended the deadline until after the Pandemic was beaten, but sense and sensibility are absent in an increasingly unreal world where debate is minimal.

The negotiations are clearly posing serious threats, either of a thin agreement – still the most likely outcome – or a No Deal. The slogan which won the 2019 election of an Oven Ready Deal was never realistic. A deal likely to keep the same terms as the UK now enjoy was not on the table. As the pandemic has done major damage to the British economy, a thin deal could create a major recession. No Deal would be worse. But as the British cannot deal with two major threats at the same time, Brexit has become invisible.

The risks were underlined in mid-November by the BBC report that Felixstowe – Britain’s major container port – was blocked and imports were stranded, some having to go to Rotterdam and come in by other ports. The delays will continue through December and into the New Year – withdrawal is not going to help the situation.

In Kent the lorry access through Dover and the Channel ports after January 1st is so problematic that lorry parks for up to 7000 lorries are being built. For the companies that rely on imports and exports, on top of the pandemic, the financial consequences of the Felixstowe bottleneck are already very serious.

Since problems with trade have such major risks, the Labour Party should be putting all its energies into holding the government to account. Sadly it is in danger of lapsing into civil war over the EHRC report and the removal of the parliamentary whip from Jeremy Corbyn. As this could involve legal action -hopefully this will not happen – any discussion of this is inadvisable and could be sub judice.

Indeed some elements of the Left – including Jon Trickett – believe Labour should apologise for backing a confirmatory referendum and not lining up with Farage, Johnson and Cummings in regarding the 2016 vote as the last word. Their views were set out in an article on Labour List on November 12th demonstrating continued fault lines in the Party over the successful attempt by the Tory Right to split progressive forces. However this does not mean that Labour should ignore the problems coming in six weeks time. Certainly the current internal ructions are a further distraction, and if unions do withdraw election funding the next five months up to the May elections this will threaten the basic function of the Labour Party – to fight and win voter support.

The Party is starting to spiral out of control.

Trevor Fisher was a member of the Labour Coordinating Committee executive 1987-90 and secretary of the Labour Reform Group 1995- 2007. He was a member of the Compass Executive 2007-2009


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79 Responses to “Labour’s splits over Brexit and Corbyn are threatening to spiral out of control”

  1. A.J. says:

    If the so-called ‘Conservative Party’ wins the next election – and even the trendy leftie papers are inferring that they will, even if it happens to be with a slightly reduced majority – and the EU nasties have slunk off into a corner to lick their wounds, this country – by which I mean England – should administer to the Scottish and Welsh assemblies something very much like a lethal injection. It is impossible for us to carry on in the way we do now, kowtowing to the SNP and to Drakeford. Enough of this chatter about ‘the four nations’. A wide-awake Labour Party would never have countenanced devolution. Labour will only make new gains in Scotland by knocking Sturgeon off her perch.

  2. A.J. says:

    A suggestion in the ‘New Statesman’ that the EU might actually prefer a ‘No Deal’ situation. And why not? This would enable them – not to mention their cheerleaders in the UK, who basically despise Britain – to keep on occupying the moral high ground. After all, that’s about the sum total of what the Left across the world has going for it nowadays.

  3. A.J. says:

    Good to see that Jeremy Corbyn has found himself something interesting to do. Perhaps a new political party is in the offing.

    News from ‘The Guardian’: Leave voters are beginning to warm to Sir Keir Starmer.

    Funny old world.

  4. A.J. says:

    I see that ‘The Guardian’ and its readership are renewing their calls for the abolition of FPTTP and the introduction of PR; also some form of ‘Rainbow Alliance’, involving Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and possibly the Scots and Welsh nationalists. Is this not an admission of defeat? Does anyone suppose such a strategy would work? How long would it be before someone in the Labour Party threw a spanner in the works by reminding all and sundry that the LDs (and the old Liberal Party before them) took an opportunistic position in 2010? Does Labour not remain intensely tribal? Still, it is a habit of a newspaper like ‘The Guardian’ to have its journalists write more in hope than expectation. And its readership seems to me far less intelligent than was the case forty or fifty years ago. Abuse and pro-EU posturing seems about their limit.
    Just re-reading, after about thirty years, Kenneth Morgan’s ‘Labour In Power, 1945-1951’. Sobering stuff.
    And Labour is still far from resolving its issues with the Jews, Israel and Palestine.

  5. John. Reid says:

    In 1996 a northern working class labour constituency Secretary union leader said to Tony Blair
    “I’ve worked out what you’re trying to do..“ shocked he said you’re trying to get tory voters to vote for you, the people who voted for thatcher!!” , “ if we have to go to the depths of getting people who vote Tory and have people like that vote for us, then we’ve failed as we are not better than the Tories and we might as well not be in power if we have to be like the Tories “

    This is Labour’s fault position now just try to get libdems votes
    Now with Blair in 97 it wasn’t just the skilled C2ES professional working class voters who bought their council homes , it was white collar private sector middle class
    Who had never voted labour, if they were in their mid 50’s in 1997, they’d have been old enough to have voted since 1964 and voted labour for the 1st time in 1997
    So the middle class werent needed to help labour win in 1964 or 1974 they’d voted liberal as a protests and labour has won with less votes than they’d got in the previous elections that they’d lost
    So Labour’s views has been we don’t need tory votes
    But the people who’s voted labour feel they don’t need aren’t the middle class who voted liberal in 64/74 it’s the working class who now vote Tory
    , and Labour’s only hope Is thinking the working class who now vote Tory would vote for Farages party or abstain
    labour have become the libdems of Simon Hughes or Polly Toynbee or Afua Hirsch when she endorsed the libdems at the Guardian in 2010

  6. A.J. says:

    There’s a rather peculiar article by Nesrine Malik in ‘The Guardian’ today (14th December), loading blame for what I suppose you would call anti-immigrant policies onto the shoulders of anyone who will stand still long enough, be it Nigel Farage on the one hand and Ed Miliband on the other. Well, you can buy yourself a mug for Christmas that says on it ‘Enoch Powell Was Right’. Why didn’t, Malik might try asking himself, anyone pay sufficient attention ten years before Powell’s famous speech? Malik, needless to say, is actually trying to tell us just how disappointed (to say the least) he feels over Brexit. But I’m sure he could find a shoulder to cry on in the mens toilet. Not too many Eurosceptics on the staff of ‘The Guardian’, I should imagine. Anyway, just how many blunders and missed opportunities were there early on? Malik could probably find the answers if he tried hard enough – although I don’t suppose he’ll bother. What he’s evidently wanted all along is to be able to support a political party that welcomes everyone who staggers onto our beaches with open arms, doubtless finding them a roof over their head and gainful employment in the twinkling of an eye. Labour, for Malik, is evidently not that party. For others, well, they may have drawn a rather different set of conclusions.

  7. A.J. says:

    Yet more hilarious rubbish in ‘The Guardian’, this time concerning Keir Starmer’s failure to respond to some rather nutty-sounding woman on the radio. Clive Lewis claims he should have unpacked what the woman was saying – as if it was a bag of shopping. Perhaps Starmer was a bit like Obama when questioned about ‘non-binary’ something or other: sincerely and understandably puzzled. The Chinese, in the meantime, must be rubbing their hands with glee, wondering just how much more inane western society can become. Quite a lot, I should imagine.

  8. A.J. says:

    Polly Toynbee it seems does not much like Boris Johnson. This is the same Polly Toynbee that used to describe David Cameron’s lot as the most vicious, corrupt right wing government since, well, the last vicious, corrupt right wing government; presumably that of John Major.
    I was delighted, though, to read in ‘The Observer’ about someone called Keith Starmer.
    Probably a relative of Terry Blair and Engelbert Miliband.

  9. A.J. says:

    So, now we know from some ‘expert’ at UCL called Michael Marmot that Covid is the result of this new bogy ‘structural racism’. A good hefty dose of ‘social justice’ is what is needed to ensure it never happens again. This means – needless to say – spending huge amounts of cash on the same worthless ‘projects’ we’ve been spending huge amounts of cash on for the past half century, without seeing much return on our investment. Good to know, though, that ‘experts’ like Marmot are onto it.

  10. A.J. says:

    All seems quiet on the Corbyn front. I suppose the run-up to Christmas is as good a time as any for burying bad news, ostrich-behaviour and simply hoping that Jews have short memories.
    As for Brexit, I suppose Starmer and his closest associates are simply playing a game of ‘wait and see’ while Boris Johnson drops his Churchill act and morphs into Rab Butler and Harold Mac. Who can blame them? It may not be bold but it is neither stupid nor especially timid as an approach.
    Then there’s Covid – in its new ‘mutated’ version. A pity Matt Hancock cannot be somehow ‘mutated’ – perhaps into a human being. Some anonymous ‘Tory’ claims to be suffering sleepless nights. I usually find a couple of glasses of port to be the answer.

  11. A.J. says:

    Might this not be a good time for an article on the so-called ‘Red Wall’/’Blue Wall’ constituencies? A year on from the election both ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Independent’ have published fair-minded and readable articles on the subject. We might also expect something from John Harris.
    I was interested to see Derby North mentioned as a former ‘Red Wall’ seat. Greg Knight held it for the Tories back in the 80s and its changed hands a few times since. I suspect it has a big student population, some of whom will be registered to vote there, but also contains some of Derby’s more affluent suburbs. It elected Chris Williamson a few years ago; some anonymous female Tory now.
    According to Anthony Wells, the shift from Red to Blue was in the making years ago, as the demographics changed. George Brown held our local area from 1945 until, I think, 1970. The place is now stuffed full of new estates and trendy shops, yet Labour still has a strong presence here. It’s a very middle-class Labour Party, though, and very pro-Corbyn. The ones I’ve met – the activists – are sodding awful. The present constituency is mostly suburban or rural so you can imagine which way it votes.

  12. Anne says:

    Either put more articles on Labour Uncut or closer it down. Sadly this site is giving a platform to some shall we say strange comments that have nothing to do the the article Some articles have been interesting and deserve constructive comments, but the editors have lost control of the comments – the site should be better controlled – possible with a review and a better forum introduced.

  13. A.J. says:

    Keir Starmer – a bit of a snake himself if truth be known – is currently demanding a meeting of COBRA, to interfere with our Christmas arrangements. How these non-entities must love all the glamour and excitement that goes with calling a meeting of self-important civil servants (my wife knows someone in the Cabinet office; must be due his gong any time). But at least it gives us a strong impression of how it would be if Starmer instead of these clueless, so-called Tories was in charge. Barely a Brexiteer would be able to fart without a COBRA meeting. Labour – as joyless and out of touch as always.
    Yet it seems only days ago that a certain Jeremy Corbyn was being knocked by some smart-arse journalist for wanting to ‘spend money and ban things’. Sound familiar?

  14. John p Reid says:

    24hours since the watered down grooming gang report on Asian Muslims mainly targeting white girls to rape and police told by Muslim labour councillors we’ll call you racist if you investigate it
    So Cops were too scared to investigate

    And not a word from the Labour Party in their institutionalised anti white racism
    Or the head of the DPP a bloke called keir starmer who choose not to prosecute

  15. A.J. says:

    Oh dear. Scarcely a day goes by during which the Labour Party advertises itself as being unlikely to win anything more than a couple of extra council seats in some obscure suburb. Is Sir Keir ‘Stormzy’ Starmer a patriot or not? If so, where does the knighthood bit fit in? Does he like being ‘Sir’ or not? Then we are told he’s keen on ‘downsizing’ the Royal Family, as if they were the employees of, say, Norwich Union. The absurd Lisa Nandy would apparently go even further, by squandering the public finances on a referendum – the idea being that someone far more ‘progressive’ or ‘forward-thinking’ (Nandy herself) might find a berth at Buckingham Palace (or that the palace and other royal residences should be turned into cosy apartments for ex-trade unionists). No less a figure than Paul Emberey has warned the Labour Party against persisting with this spiteful stupidity – but will they listen?
    Remember, too, it’s the joyless, po-faced Starmer who is keen on you not seeing ‘granny’ on Christmas Day or, presumably, singing carols with your children should you choose to wander into a socially-distanced church.
    Apparently, in grim-faced puritan Scotland, the TV might be on in the pub (when actually allowed to open) but the sound is turned down so that no singing can take place (or even lively discussion, one presumes). Sturgeon is considering allowing people around Glasgow to breathe a little on Christmas morning on condition they smother themselves before Hogmanay.

  16. A.J. says:

    ‘Labour will be judged for its Covid opportunism’.

    Tom Harris in the ‘Daily Telegraph’.

  17. A.J. says:

    Sir Bernard Ingham offers seven reasons in the ‘Daily Express’ as to why Labour have been, and remain, unelectable.

    Only seven reasons!

  18. A.J. says:

    I do like Owen Jones, don’t you? Every time he opens his mouth or gets tapping away he makes it just that little bit more certain Labour remains in the wilderness. He and certain Labour MPs must have a lovely time together, drinking too much and seeing who can come out with the most Inane Comment Of The Year. Suzanne Moore wasn’t much cop but she could run intellectual rings around Owen.
    In the old days, the Left kind of ‘got it’ sooner or later; up until about 1952 when the Bevanites began pissing in the social democratic/Gaitskellite soup and opened the floodgates to the kind of dreamboats that Kenneth Morgan acknowledged were floating around trying to steer and manipulate party policy by 1966. Now, what’s Starmer going to do? What does he have to fall back on? We’ve had ‘New Labour’. Will we now be presented with ‘New New Labour’? ‘Old New Labour’? ‘New Old Labour?’ The options are running out – whilst the Conservative Party at least remains the ‘Conservative Party’, an animal that frequently changes its spots and colouring.
    Why is the Left so keen on lockdowns? Are they the feeble representatives of the rather dippy members of the public who think saving lives is more important than economic activity? That’s the equivalent of cowering in the air raid shelter instead of turning out the munitions. We’re all part of ‘the economy’ from cradle to grave. How do they suppose any medicine or piece of medical equipment becomes available? Is it a case of the Left wishing it into existence? I suspect the answer lies with ‘cheap’ or – better still – ‘free’ money. Labour is all too often seen as being the something for nothing party. Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Dalton, Bevan, Shinwell etc. must all be rotating in their graves.

  19. A.J. says:

    A bit of news in ‘The Guardian’ concerning Labour offering a bit of an olive branch to British Jews, accompanied by a photograph of a grinning Keir Starmer. He looks like the best man at your wedding, about to tell you he’s lost the ring and hopes you won’t be too cross with him.
    Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s chums are still jolly peeved about the old chap sitting out in the cold. But what do they intend doing about it?

  20. John p Reid says:

    Remember when the Labour Party after the grooming fang inquiry admitted police were to scared to arrest Muslims as labour would’ve called them racist if they did
    And labour had a article in it
    No me neither

  21. A.J. says:

    Andy Beckett in ‘The Guardian’ is offering Keir Starmer quite a nice Christmas cuddle. The Guardianistas, however, carry on fuming and spluttering as usual. Some still carry a torch for ole Jeremy, others are already making references to ‘New New Labour’ (a witticism?) Fewer now perhaps are making themselves appear quite absurd by tagging this rather odd, so-called ‘Conservative’ government ‘far-right’. I’ve known a couple of genuinely far-right people in my life and you would not have wanted to give them a Christmas cuddle, only a firm(ish) handshake lest they decided to deposit you in the gutter. These were your genuine Combat 18 types, not the likes of Gavin Williamson.

  22. A.J. says:

    It’s good to see that the Labour Party in Wales is leading the fight against the scourge of Coronavirus. Some, however, might argue that Mr. Drakeford is not going far enough and that the offence – and offence it is, let’s be quite clear – of walking the wrong way down a supermarket aisle should be punishable by a fine not exceeding £10, 000, or possibly sixth months hard labour (reading Gordon Brown’s memoirs, say, ought to just about do it). If, of course, the miscreant should contact Coronavirus whilst incarcerated, well, firstly it’s their own fault for walking down the supermarket aisle the wrong way, secondly, ‘robust strategies’ will be put in place by Welsh Labour to see that it doesn’t happen again. Some of these ‘robust strategies’ could include closing down Tesco, Aldi, Asda etc. indefinitely.
    I expect Nicola Sturgeon will soon catch on, and Matt Hancock will be studying with interest the additional crime of popping into someone else’s house to say something rather than standing outside in the freezing rain. For heaven’s sake, why can’t people learn to carry a pencil and paper round with them or simply shout through the letter-box?
    Meanwhile, here is a YouTube clip of Welsh nurses performing traditional dances during their coffee-break…

    Vote Labour. Vote Drakeford. You Know It Makes Sense. In The Long Run.

  23. Anne says:

    As I have said Labour Uncut have lost control of this platform – giving a forum to, mostly Tory Trolls, to write utter rubbish and make up stories – comments have become ridiculous. The idea is good – presenting articles for Labour members to comment is a good idea, but there now needs a review of how this is being presented. Please think about a rehash on the structure. Thank you. Merry Christmas.

  24. John p Reid says:

    Can’t seem to find 10 from comment 40-50 on the previous page
    He’d Anne yours right
    But AJ Dec 17 1012 am in Owen Jones is spot on

  25. Tafia says:

    On a more cheery note, the number of nurses working in the NHS in England has increased by 13,313 in the last 12 months to a record of 299,184, and the number of doctors rose by 6,030 also to a record 122,446. A further 29,740 student nurses are in training and a record number of student GPs – 3,793, are also in training (bet you still can’t get an appointment though.).

  26. A.J. says:

    The likes of Owen Jones keep on about Labour creating a ‘transformative’ programme. Is this anything other than just wishful thinking dressed up as meaningless waffle?
    Some reader of the amusingly named ‘Independent’ trotted out the smoking ban, civil partnerships and the minimum wage as wonderful Labour achievements. But, for the relatively well-off heterosexual smoker that isn’t going to mean very much – certainly not necessarily enough for him to cross the box for the Labour candidate in any impending election.
    Some of us thought Starmer was ineffectual until we got within earshot of Rachel Reeves. Hardly Barbara Castle, now, is she?
    But we really must have elections in the spring of 2021 (no lack of enthusiasm, I think, on the part of the SNP, who are becoming increasingly foolish in their demands and presumptions). Keir Starmer must have an opportunity to test the water.

  27. A.J. says:

    One opinion poll has Labour slightly ahead of the ‘Conservatives’, a second slightly behind. Is there any value at all in opinion polling? The English are scarcely an informed lot, are they? Owen Jones said something recently about the average person engaging with political issues for about four minutes in any given week (though how he knows this, or even pretends to know it, I remain uncertain). I’m surprised it’s as much as that. I sometimes take a great, almost malicious delight in asking people I know why they vote Labour. ‘Because it’s fairer’. That’s about as far as it goes.
    I think Starmer might get a brief, clammy handclasp from the electorate in May – providing some super-super-variant doesn’t ensure every aspect of life is eradicated once again – and Jones, Tonybee and O’Grady will exult – before getting a firm kick in the pants at the next General Election.

  28. John P Reid says:

    AJ on the polls if a different company doesn’t highlight Farages new reform party as a replacement for Brexit party then disillusioned tories haven’t a party to vote for, it’s like

    labours on about 40% and the tories are on 41% with ukip party on 1% in another poll
    or
    labours on about 40% and the tories are on 37% with Brexit party on 5% in another poll

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