Unite to Remain – Labour Missing InAction

Jeremy Corbyn has been in opposition all his life, even when the Labour Party were in Government..It’s easier to oppose than govern, perhaps that’s why he has failed to give leadership on the vital issue of Brexit

Today has been a very significant day in the course of this election. A partnership of Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru has come together to ensure that only one Remain candidate will present themselves to the electorate in 60 constituencies. Well done Heidi Allen who has been at the helm of the initiative since she quit the Tory Party earlier this year.

In addition, Lib Dems will be standing down against 3 Independents who are similarly pro Remain. Brexit is the defining issue at this election and it is absolutely right that Parties and individuals who have a common belief on this issue should come together. There will be some things that will divide us but I believe that we are united in many policies by more than the EU issue.

Last night I shared a platform at a Liverpool for Europe meeting with the local Green Leader, Tom Crone. On top of Brexit we both made clear our other priorities. My priorities and his were often very similar. I for example believe that climate change is, after Brexit, the most important policy that we need to deal with. We both linked this to the EU issue and made clear that we believed that anything that the UK does to fight climate change is best done with and supported by the legislation and actions of the other 27 EU Countries.

Of the 60 constituencies more than 50 are seats where we are taking on the Tories. In a handful of seats, we have come together to fight a Labour opponent who is firmly supportive of leaving the EU. That must be right given the appalling problems that will arise in our Country should we leave. Every other policy will be affected by the loss of money that will arise from a reduced Gross Domestic Product.

So, we have a right to ask Labour, “If you are so keen on getting rid of the Tories why didn’t you Unite to Remain as well?”  There are about 60 constituencies in England and Wales where a third (or lower) placed Labour vote is less than the majority which could see a PC, Lib Dem or Green person candidate elected. Given our appalling electoral system this is the best and may be the only way to stop a Tory majority.

Of course, given a better electoral system none of this would matter. Lib Dems have campaigned for decades to change our voting system to a fairer proportional one. That would mean that alliances between Parties would be unnecessary. But we have a first past the post system which both Tory and Labour Parties have sought to [perpetuate on the basis that it gives solid working majorities and a stable Government. Not for the last three elections it hasn’t!

By now though we should be used to the Labour Party being Missing InAction! On 17 occasions there have been opportunities to get a people’s vote on a remain versus a withdrawal option of either May or Johnson. Labour failed to support any of them. Only two weeks ago we could have revoked the Article 50 call but Labour would not support us. There were enough in Parliament had Labour been prepared to act but they weren’t

Corbyn has not once addressed a People’s Vote Rally. Indeed, on the day of the last one on so-called Super Saturday he scuttled up to Liverpool to have a meeting with his cronies instead. This failure by Corbyn to lead is a major cause of the exodus from the Labour Party of some of their brightest and most committed members. In Liverpool two Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman have quit. Brexit is only one of the reasons for this but it was an important one.

Almost a quarter of Lib Dem members in Liverpool are former Labour members or voters. They have left because of the total lack of leadership on this key issue. I read in the Daily Mirror today that two former Labour MPs have said they will be voting Tory to keep Corbyn out.

The Jewish Labour Movement, one of Labour’s oldest affiliates, has said that they cannot campaign for Labour because of the danger of Corbyn being elected. This is an important decision in Liverpool where the Jewish community has tended to vote Labour in General Elections especially for Luciana and Louise.

Corbyn was one of the first to call for Article 50 to be enacted after the referendum. The Labour Party as a whole is a remain Party but the Momentum cult puts Corbyn before Country.

I don’t think that Labour’s prevarication on either Unite to Remain or Brexit as a whole will work. I recall the Richmond by-election where the Labour candidate got less votes than the membership of the Party in that constituency.

Corbyn could have given leadership to his voters – instead I suspect that the leadership will come from them as they decided constituency by constituency how to keep the UK in the EU.

Just in case you are not sure where I stand on Brexit you can find out here https://youtu.be/AySWhnDrrbQ

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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