Dear Keir Starmer,
I’m a Labour member and a strong supporter and admirer of your leadership. I am sending this email message – and will upload a copy on my blog – fully aware that there is no prospect that you will read it. But, maybe, one of your team will.
I can see, of course, that a Brexit Deal would be better than a Brexit No Deal. But should Labour therefore actually support a Deal, (assuming that Johnson’s oven will eventually cough up some indigestible mess or other) ? Doing so would of course be seen and used as a statement of the Party’s support for Brexit, making it available to share the blame, when the true consequences at last hit home. This is an extremely difficult call to make. But I think that for Labour to support any Brexit at all would be both wrong and politically unwise.
I don’t always agree with Alistair Campbell, but respect him ; he knows his way around and, writing recently on this issue, was at his most disciplined and impressive ; he was also simply right (his piece was in “The Independent” and may not be accessible to a non-member. But I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it) : https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/labour-boris-johnson-brexit-deal-b1763806.html
And I agree wholeheartedly with Neil Kinnock here : https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/04/neil-kinnock-backing-brexit-deal-politically-lethal-for-labour Let Johnson and the Tories be made to own the disgrace and disaster they have brought on this country. They alone. That way lies the nation’s best hope of recovery.
These two pieces make the points better than I can and with rather more authority. I would just add the following : Brexit is not really an argument at all, not a policy, not a strategy, not an answer, not a sustainable future. It is delusion land, lie land, regressive escapism and scapegoating, a going rogue, out of which some dishonest or deluded politicians and press barons are seeking to make profit. Yet the nation is split on the issue, and Johnson is consequently Prime Minister, as if Brexit and “Global Britain” etc belong in the real world, the light of day, among the adults. Like Trumpism, they don’t. They are chaos running loose. And Labour should not engage with the present puerile “deal or no deal” theatricals, because doing so would just add to those shadows on the wall, those phantom shapes playing in the nursery, claiming to belong under the sun. Brexit will disappoint at best, deal or no deal. Then at last we shall meet reality, rather than continue to waste our energies arguing over a bunch of projected shadows. Let reality do the talking. And let Labour have its powder dry for when that reality has sunk in and people can see it for themselves, see the lie and the fraud and see the liars and the fraudsters. Then there will be work to do.
One other thing. That “Red Wall” argument. Erstwhile Labour supporters have joined the delusion, bewitched by this Etonian pied piper, with his wearisome smirk and hair akimbo. And it is almost certainly they who will be hit hardest of all by Johnson’s wretched take-away Brexit wrapped in his fantasies. But Labour’s role is absolutely not to join this ghastly dance among the shadows. That would not be true “listening,” nor “Democracy.” It would simply be betrayal. Betrayal of the truth. Betrayal of what Labour really stands for. Betrayal of all its supporters.
In conclusion, here’s a proposal I have made before : we have surely seen by now what the Lie can do, in the mouths of unworthy “leaders” like Trump and Johnson, felon chancers, leathery narcissists rising to the surface in these times of (highly justified) anxiety, when people are perhaps more prone than usual to follow the false. Let Labour make it policy for lying in politics to become illegal. The Nolan Principles are essentially toothless. Let at least the sixth principle be given teeth. There is no sufficient alternative and, post-Brexit, this would surely be a vote-winner.