Labour Must Commit to the DIEM25
A European “Green New Deal” is the only way forward
Labour is currently maintaining a holding pattern, it is frozen in a place of relative unity compared to recent years.
It looks likely that most if not all our MPs will vote down May’s deal and the aim, it seems at the moment, is to maintain the electoral coalition of Leave voting supporters in Northern and rural constituencies and the Remain supporters largely concentrated in urban areas.
Thus far, the leader’s office has been treading carefully trying not to rock the boat, which perhaps has meant taking the remain voting segment of the coalition a bit for granted, but generally has been a decent plan from a tactical perspective.
The six tests say all the right things, though most of us know there is little substance behind them, they are there to trap the government. They are there to make their hard Tory version of Brexit unpassable, although obviously, that can’t be the message to the country, most party members recognise what they’re for.
This is fine, Brexit is their problem, it was a wise tactical move to let them tear themselves to shreds over it. This is a good strategy, while Brexit is their mess. This is a good strategy until it is our mess too.
At some point, a thaw will take hold and Labour will have to unfreeze from its position of ambiguity and pick a side.
This may occur due to a general election if the government, teetering as it currently is, reaches a complete impasse, cannot pass legislation then falls.
This may occur to the mounting pressure for a People’s vote on the deal which would have to include at minimum two options but, in my view would more likely contain three. Remain, Deal and No deal on a ballot with a single transferable vote would be disastrous for everyone that is not Theresa May.
Remainers vote remain and then for the deal, leavers vote leave and then for the deal. With three options it is unlikely that any one path would achieve a majority given how tight it was last time between two. So, we default to the awful deal the government has struck which is designed to hamstring a future Labour government through state aid restrictions and ominous refusals to safeguard workers’ rights and environmental protections.
In the event of a People’s Vote, which seems like it will have to happen at some point, Labour must have a strategy for every outcome.
John Mcdonnell recently said he would back remain in this case. He was right to do so, and there is a positive message they can give for remaining prefabricated for them should this come about.
Despite a eurozone crisis, a stagnant political culture and a democratic deficit, Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic chose to campaign for remain. This is because Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister whose left-wing government was battered into submission in part by EU institutions persuaded him that it was the right thing to do.
I think Varoufakis is one of the pre-eminent thinkers of our times. His movement DIEM25 is challenging the European establishment from the left with the aim of reforming the EU to give Europe a green new deal and democratise the project.
“Job’s first Brexit” is a negative message, it is a tacit admission that jobs need safeguarding from the monstrous jaws of the Brexit leviathan. It is not something that is likely to animate people in support of a deal that Labour delivered if we got the chance.
We cannot accept May’s deal and No Deal is a catastrophe that would ruin lives and create a vacuum in which the misanthropic forces of the far-right would flourish.
Once again, remaining because all other options are too difficult or too bad is a negative political message, it is a reminder of our impotence in the face of global capital and international institutions. It is this feeling of impotence that led to Brexit in the first place.
Another major influence on Jeremy Corbyn is the luminary of the British left Tony Benn. He liked to say that to achieve change you need “the burning flame of anger at injustice and the burning flame of hope that you can build a better world”. The Labour Party has always kept the first flame alive, but if Brexit goes wrong, we could snuff the second flame for an entire generation.
Yanis Varoufakis and Diem25 offer us the fuel to keep the flame of hope burning.
In the event of a People’s Vote, Labour should back remain and then commit to the agenda of Diem25 for a Green New Deal for the people of Europe.
Written for Politicalists by Olly Haynes (https://medium.com/@ollyhaynes360)