Saturday, 3 August 2019

Brecon Shows Remain Now Has a Clear and Significant Majority

The Brecon and Radnor By-Elections shows that Remain now has a clear and significant majority. The By-election also shows that Farage's Brexit Company has suffered a similar infant mortality as that experienced by the Chuka's. It also shows that unless Labour comes out clearly as the most militant anti-Brexit Party, it is doomed, and Boris Johnson is on course to call an early General Election and win. 

In the 2016 EU Referendum, 52% in Brecon voted to Leave, mirroring the national result. In the By-election, the combined votes of the Tories and Farage's Brexit company, and UKIP came to 50.3%. But, the poll represented only 59.7% of the electorate. Many Labour Remain voters, seeing that Labour had no chance in the seat undoubtedly stayed at home. That can be compared with Peterborough, where Labour not only had a chance to win, but did win the seat, and where the result showed that the votes for clearly Leave supporting parties, in the seat, fell by 10 percentage points compared to the referendum. 

Farage's Brexit company could not have hoped for a better seat and time to have been standing. Brecon was a Leave voting seat in 2016; it was a Tory seat, and the Brexit company draws its votes from the Tories; the sitting Tory MP had been recalled, and yet stood again; Boris Johnson has not yet had chance to settle into his new position; Labour had no chance of winning. But, the Brexit company was smashed, getting just 10% of the vote. We can only expect – and hope – that on the back of this result, votes for the Brexit company in further elections will be even more derisory, and quickly consign this bunch of Red-Brown populists to the dustbin of history where they belong. 

But, the fact that the Tories were able to recover most of their votes from the Brexit company, shows what I have been arguing for many months. The Tories only needed to make such a sharp right turn so as to consolidate that reactionary nationalist vote once more, so as to dispatch the Faragists, in order to be able to win a General Election, against a fragmented opposition. In Brecon they lost, just, but elsewhere, conditions will not be so favourable to the opposition. Elsewhere, the Tory candidate will not have been recalled, and it may not be so easy to create a Remain Alliance to stand united against the them. 

In reality, creating a Remain Alliance should never have been necessary. It should, for the last three years, have been Labour that represented, within its own ranks and coalition of electoral support, that alliance. It should have been Labour, for the last three years, that was leading an active militant struggle against Brexit, and for socialist internationalism, for remaining in the EU, and for building a Workers Europe, for free movement and so on. Labour has wasted the last three years in what amounted to Blair-right triangulation and fence sitting, which has let the Tories off the hook, and allowed the Liberal corpse to rise from the grave once more, and, indeed to suck the lifeblood from Labour itself. The Liberals, and their Blair-right allies can offer no real alternative to the reactionary, nationalist agenda of the Tories, and the problems facing workers, but, here and now, it is they that are providing the actual immediate answers, on the ground, in relation to the most pressing issue of the day, and for this generation, which is the question of Brexit. 

Unless Labour wakes up and makes a bold and decisive turn to become the most militant opponent of Brexit, which means, now, not simply wishy-washy Liberal demands for another referendum, but a decisive commitment to Revoke Article 50, to commit to taking Britain back into the EU, if the Tories take us out, to committing alongside that to a programme of radical, progressive social-democratic reforms to provide the real solutions to the problems of workers in the towns and suburbs of Britain, and for a similar programme across Europe, fought for in conjunction with the workers of Europe, then it will become irrelevant. It will be the Liberals, Greens, SNP, and Plaid that will fill the void, but with the consequence that with a split vote, the Tories will win a clear majority in parliament. 

We cannot allow that to happen. 

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