off with their head
Well what a bank holiday that was – the sun shone and the populist UKIP vote sank without a trace. I don’t know which I enjoyed the most. Mind, the major parties would be wrong to read anything overly significant into the local election results apart from the majority of the UKIP vote naturally defaults back to the Tories. Nothing to see here, please move on.
What does continue to endure however is the manner in which leave vs remain polarises opinion and decision. Broadly speaking, the Conservatives did pretty well in ‘leave’ areas and struggled in ‘remain’ ones. Labour did OK with the young vote, the educated elite and the urbanites, those traditional remoaners. Somewhat surprisingly they did manage to largely hang-on, admittedly by the skin of their teeth, to the Brexit-supporting northern territories. Labour’s confused ambiguity, together with their ability to seemingly back both horses has paid off, but, I fear it’s about to take a tumble at the next fence.
Time waits for no man, neither leaver nor remainer, and time is pressing. Crunch decisions are fast approaching and there’s no longer time for Labour’s okey-cokey in-out-in-out, vacillate all about. Will Labour support the imminent single-market amendment? Are they for or against a customs union? As a bona-fide pro-European party (albeit led by an avowed, lifelong Euro-sceptic) Labour fully appreciates that leaving the main institutions of the EU, including both single-market and customs union (AKA customs partnership) would sound the death-knell for this country. At the risk of alienating their Brexiteer supporters, they need to come down off the fence. Even though Emily Thornberry again stated this morning that we need a bespoke deal, not an adoption of Norway++, it remains the only feasible way forward.
And before anyone gets on their high horse with regards to Labour railing against the Great Unwashed’s referendum decision let’s take a look at the history books and work out how the modern parliamentary constitution came into being. It was in direct response to a monarchy that ruled absolutely, one claiming that power came from God on high and therefore answerable to no man. Oliver Cromwell and his roundheaded pals put paid to that and helped establish a body that served the populace but was elected to take decisions in the best interests of that nation. Almost immediately the majority of that populace wanted to install Cromwell as the new monarch, the next king. Realising the perversity of this desire, OC rightly pointed out that this would not be in the interests of the country, politely declined and parliament took the subsequent, necessary actions in governing the country. Phew.
If Joe Public ain’t happy with those actions he has both the legitimacy and mechanism to remove both his Member of Parliament and, ultimately, with the voting system we currently employ, the in-office government of the day. The pickle we’re now in comes directly from David Cameron and his cabinet deciding to actively relinquish this responsibility and, as a sop to their own in-fighting euro-sceptic right-wing, allow for the referendum to take place. This highlights the most serious abdications of Parliamentary duty and the least the Labour party owes us is to act in the manner that they have been elected to do so. Do what is right for the country, stand-up and be counted.