Labour as we knew it is no more

Labour Leave’s Brendan Chilton on this day of Brexit betrayal.

Brendan Chilton

Topics Brexit Politics UK

In an extraordinary and unprecedented u-turn, the Labour Party announced today that it would campaign for Remain in a future EU referendum. This is despite the 2017 manifesto promise, written in ink, to accept the outcome of the original 2016 referendum. This follows three years of campaigning by those within the Labour movement who refused to accept the referendum result. They piled enormous pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to change Labour’s stance. Today he buckled to those very same people who a few years ago were challenging him for his leadership of the party.

Today is a tragic day in the Labour Party’s history, and a fatal day for British democracy. It is, potentially, the beginning of the end of the Labour Party as we know it. Labour continues to spiral downwards in the opinion polls, despite Labour MPs from the Leave-voting Midlands and north making a gallant last stand in the defence of democracy, and for the preservation of Labour as a party of the working man and woman. Their efforts may be too late to save Labour from a possible catastrophic defeat at the next election.

The British people voted for the Labour Party in their millions in 2017, in the knowledge that the party accepted the outcome of the referendum. Labour was able to deprive the Tories of a majority in part because of the stance it took on leaving the European Union. Four million Labour Leave voters stayed loyal to Labour, and despite great concerns about the party’s commitment to Brexit, they voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. A Europhile Labour Party has now discounted their loyalty and trust. Many will now be looking elsewhere, seeking political representation through other parties that share their views.

The victorious Remain campaign within the Labour Party will be celebrating today, but its jubilation will be short-lived. The Brexit Party and the Boris Johnson leadership campaign will be the other people celebrating today. They probably cannot believe their luck. Having already breached the outer perimeter walls of fort Labour in the European elections, the Brexit Party will now march full speed into the void left in the Labour heartlands. There is nothing there to stop them. Swathes of constituencies, dominated by working-class Leave voters, are now ripe for the picking as Labour finally abandons its core.

Seventy per cent of Labour constituencies at the time of the 2016 referendum voted to leave the European Union. Support for Brexit was highest among the lowest socioeconomic classes within our society. A majority of Labour’s most marginal seats voted Leave and a majority of the seats Labour needs to win in order to form a government also voted Leave. Those seats are now beyond reach, as Labour returns to the protective shield of the M25. Who will stand up for the working classes of England now? Who will represent the millions of our poorest people who voted in the hope of a better future outside the European Union?

We are witnessing the splintering of party politics in the United Kingdom. Labour’s old alliance of middle-class professionals and working-class voters is broken. It is, perhaps, now beyond repair. That century-old party that brought about great social, economic and political advances for ordinary men and women has succumbed to the will of the British Remain establishment. So many European social-democratic parties who pursued the same metropolitan demographic and political agenda have fallen into history. Labour, following this same path now, risks its very existence as a major party in British politics.

The Red Flag, the old and famous symbol of labour social democracy, internationalism and working-class representation has been tattered and torn down. In its place, the blue flag studded with yellow stars has been hoisted over the Labour and trade-union movement. Capital has beaten labour. The bosses have beaten the workers. Europe has beaten democracy. The establishment has won. When history is written, it will record a peculiar paradox: that the party that was established to challenge the elites was ultimately the party that knelt before our masters and propped up the old order.

Brendan Chilton is director of Labour Future and co-author of 30 Truths About Leaving on WTO Terms.

Picture by: Getty.

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John Millson

11th July 2019 at 1:03 pm

What has ruined Labour is the ideology and lack of political smartness and statesmanship. Instead of getting Brexit done with the government, they tried playing the game of weakening it, in an attempt to trigger a general election, by voting against May’s WA deal. They effectively colluded with the real political enemy: elite right-wing neo-Thatcherites in the ERG.
Ultimately I blame ‘remainiac’ elements in the party. It is because of their intransigence that we have the current scenario – one that could have been predicted 18 months ago.

James Knight

9th July 2019 at 5:51 pm

Like Syriza, they are the useful idiots of the establishment.

Steve Roberts

9th July 2019 at 5:40 pm

A vacuous sob story from a solid labourite, one of many he has written here.Now his fears have been realised, too late.
You have been given a lifeline Mr Chilton by your political beloved Corbyn no less, no need for doubts or interpretation now or fairy stories of what if’s, he has has made it as plain as possible yours is an anti working class party, like a good captain he is giving you all a chance to jump ship before it goes down.
Lets have a little bet what you do, go on prove me wrong ,show some political leadership among the working class, denounce this party, leave it and its history of betrayal behind and take sides.
Your “..tragic day..” is a day to rejoice, the dead weight of labourism on the working class is been revealed by itself for what it truly is, this is a day to rejoice, to shed the old and begin anew only then can your own question begin to be answered ” who will stand up for the working classes now ..” we know who won’t and though it is hard to accept, it never really has, it’s always been the establishments plaything, a brake on radical transformative democratic politics. Good riddance to bad rubbish as the saying goes.

gershwin gentile

9th July 2019 at 4:26 pm

“Labour’s old alliance of middle-class professionals and working-class voters is broken.”

For working class it should read “Union reps, who didn’t ever do any physical labour, but made out they were working class because they were in a union”. Like Corbyn. Who was middle class. (Even if he doesn’t like to admit it.)

Richard Austin

9th July 2019 at 8:21 pm

I was a Union Senior Steward in the days of Scargill at British Leyland. All the main union leaders came in wearing shirts and ties. Sat all day in th eunion office, got paid overtime if anyone was on site. They never did a thing. We were in the EETPU and we worked a full day alongside the guys we represented, any overtime we got we earnt. I can remember going to a meeting, two of us, in overalls and covered in muck. We were 5 minutes late for the meeting and the Union guys looked at us like we were pieces of shit because we weren’t dressed up. As I said, “We work for a living and you get mucky when you work”.

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