Until 1983 the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU was official Labour Party policy. It was Labour who offered the official opposition to our entry into the common market, with the social democrat Labour Leader Hugh Gaitskell warning it would be, “The end of a thousand years of history”. And even after it ceased to be official policy the Labour Left continued to campaign earnestly for Brexit. However, since Corbyn’s accession to the leadership of the party there has been an unexplainable bout of collective amnesia. The question begs to be asked – What happened to the Left’s Euroscepticism?
The established socialist view of the EU was pretty straight forward – A crypto-fascist conspiracy dreamt up by a cabal of malevolent industrialists to further exploit the workers. Of all the fairy tales that the Left has ever believed in this one had more to it than most. The EU has never served the people and its lack of transparency and accountability is an affront to anyone who believes in democracy.
It’s not only the traditional Labour Left that has forgotten this narrative, the tens of thousands of non-aligned socialists and members of the disparate Loony-Left groups that have thrown their weight behind Corbyn without a moment’s hesitation have ignored the fact that the Labour party will campaign to remain regardless of Cameron’s renegotiations. The SNP’s Mhairi Black cited Tony Benn as one of her Signposts in her maiden speech yet she chose to conveniently overlook that one of his most passionately held views was that Britain should renounce rule from Brussels. (How ironic that Benn’s viewpoint boiled down to his belief that his people should be able to govern themselves – supposedly the defining creed of the SNP).
Compare Corbyn’s leadership on Trident. He has doggedly pursued unilateral nuclear disarmament despite most of his parliamentary party being against him and it being about as popular at the ballot box as the Poll Tax, a lesson Michael Fallon taught Ed Miliband less than 12 months ago. Not to mention the fact that scrapping Trident is a ‘Pie-in-the-sky’ leftie pipedream, about as likely as Eton being turned into a comprehensive, the end of gender identifying pronouns or Fidel Castro living to 200.
Whereas if they were to support Brexit they would at last have a platform on which to confront UKIP in the North, underpinning their claims to be a radical alternative to the Westminster mainstream. And there is also the very real prospect of success. Leaving the EU is not some wishy-washy Left wing fantasy, it is entirely realistic. We are months away from a referendum and the polls are encouraging. If Jeremy Corbyn really wants to score a “principled” victory for a traditional left wing cause, and give Cameron a spectacular bloody nose as a bonus, he could do no better.
Corbyn will argue that he is displaying pragmatism, doing what is best for Britain – a curious act of expediency for a man who has made his reputation as a righteous idealist. I suspect the reason is altogether more prosaic and pathetic. No matter what office they hold Corbyn and his acolytes can never shake the mindset of protest politics. It is all they have ever known and all they will ever feel comfortable with. They don’t actually want power; they enjoy being on the outside too much. Creating, building, producing and doing is simply not in their nature. If you’ve been throwing stones your whole life, why would you suddenly become a glazier?
For the Corbynistas the insouciant enlightenment of a Rebel with a Left-Wing Cause is all they ever wanted. Decisions and consequences don’t make good T-shirts. I think they baulked at the idea of having to actually take responsibility for something, to actually have a belief tested in the real world. Life is so much easier carrying placards and spitting at people. I understand that there are Labour MPs campaigning to leave and even the boy wonder of the Left Owen Jones, High Priest of Corbynism, has flirted with ‘Lexit’. However they are a handful of ‘Character’ politicians enjoying a last hurrah in the limelight who have been in the chamber so long they lack the cognisance for a U-turn. And while Jones had come out in favour of leaving, you always got the impression his heart wasn’t really in it and he’d prefer Corbyn to focus on pretty much any other cause, such has been his subsequent reticence on the issue. Now Jones has ended his flirtatious with Brexit and got back in line. Left wing eurosceptics are a drop in the ocean of mindless lLeft wing support for the EU.
The fact is that ‘Brexit’ is simply too toxic an issue for the Left to go anywhere near. The crippling fear at Islington dining tables that middle class Marxists could be seen in any way as narrow-minded and prejudiced has erased a belief the Left held for decades. Political correctness has delineated Euroscepticism as a vulgar, right wing obsession that any self-respecting socialist wouldn’t be seen dead wearing. To jettison a long held principle simply because it has been pigeon-holed as contrary to your virtuous, multicultural persona is further proof of Corbyn’s unsuitability for office.
There is stunning ignorance on the Left of the multiple deficiencies of the EU but it is an ignorance borne of a complete reluctance to examine the issues for fear of what they might learn. And while suburban socialists foolishly panic that ‘Brexit’ could jeopardise their supply of Mascarpone or end their weekends in Tuscany the people of the UK live with the consequences of an organisation that constrains our economy, restrains our lawmakers and prevents our nation from realising its awesome potential.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty