by Kevin Meagher
So now we know: 37 per cent of Labour supporters went to the polls to vote to leave the European Union.
Despite all but a handful of MPs, the active support of the trade unions, the pleas of every former leader of the party and Alan Johnson’s battlebus, more than a third of the party’s electoral base jumped at the chance to quit the EU.
Motives varied, but the loudest pained roar was clearly against the iniquities of mass migration, the single totemic issue that has fuelled the Leave campaign’s remarkable insurgency against the political and financial elite.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Remain was flattened by a steamroller. It chose to stand in the way of public opinion and got squashed by it. Does it still need pointing out that immigration is a somewhat vexing issue for the British public? Given the chance to do something about it, they did what they said they would do all along.
Nevertheless, the ramifications for the Labour party are now grave. The fissure between the party’s elite and its base, evident for at least a decade, will now grow wider.
The problem is more dangerous than a conventional left/right split. In fact, the assumptions of the Progress types and Corbynistas are remarkably similar: They both think uncontrolled immigration is acceptable and that it isn’t the role of government to do much to prevent it.
The problem is there aren’t enough coddled public sector workers and right-on middle class social liberals who agree with them.
Labour needs its blue collar working class base to stand any chance of ever governing again, but shows no understanding of what makes them tick. In fact, it doesn’t seem to care what does.