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Feb
2017
Friday 10th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn had a storming Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, ambushing Theresa May over leaked emails concerning a government stitch-up with Surrey County Council.

Yet the news media was obsessed with the resignation of Clive Lewis from the shadow cabinet and fake news suggesting that Corbyn has notified close comrades of the date he will pack his bags.

Even after Corbyn pointed out on BBC Breakfast that the nonsense about him standing down was from “I made it up yesterday dot com,” shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner was put through the same pantomime four hours later on the Daily Politics show. This orgy of fake news was blended with Lewis’s ever-so-polite explanation of why being “Norwich’s voice in Westminster, not Westminster’s voice in Norwich” meant that he could not vote to trigger article 50 to leave the European Union.

His position changed nothing about article 50 any more than the other 51 Labour MPs who said they were putting their electorate first — even when their own constituencies plumped to quit the EU.

It simply meant that a fifth of Labour MPs provided background accompaniment to Nicola Sturgeon’s relentless offensive against Corbyn.

The Scottish first minister called Corbyn “utterly pathetic” for supposedly giving May “a blank cheque” over Britain leaving the EU.

In reality, Labour made clear from the outset that, whatever the fate of amendments that it, the SNP and others moved, it would respect the democratic decision made by the electorate.

Sturgeon’s “blank cheque” sneer and her claim that only the SNP provides real opposition to the Tories at Westminster are empty rhetoric. She implements in Scotland the austerity agenda that her MPs berate in Westminster. The SNP leader has a vested interest in joining with Tories, Liberal Democrats and their media to undermine Corbyn as a means of protecting her party’s pre-eminent position in Scotland. Sturgeon covers up her undemocratic refusal to accept the referendum verdict by a mixture of bravado and self-delusion.

“I’m determined to ensure that Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU and dragged off that hard Brexit cliff-edge against its will,” she declares, asserting that her election manifesto trumps the electorate’s verdict.

The referendum was held on an all-UK basis and the result applicable to all countries and regions within it.

That’s not only the Supreme Court decision. It was confirmed by the SNP leader’s participation in referendum debates outside Scotland. If and when Sturgeon succeeds in having a repeat referendum on Scottish independence and wins it, would she demand that this decision be binding on the whole of the country or accept that regions taking an opposing view should escape coercion?

The SNP is fearful that voter concentration on its own neoliberal policies could be problematic, so it directs its attentions to Westminster and Brussels.

Corbyn’s announcement that the real fight begins now is entirely reasonable, proposing that an active extraparliamentary resistance movement against the Tories’ austerity agenda could dovetail with concerted efforts by opposition MPs to hold the government to account.

May’s government is vulnerable over the NHS, residency rights for EU citizens and social care for starters. If Labour’s internal opposition could drop its fixation on weakening the party leader to the extent of inviting extinction by snubbing democracy, there are victories to be won. The referendum campaign showed that the Tory Party is not an impregnable monolith. It can be splintered and defeated.

Anti-leadership Labour MPs have, like the SNP, to decide whether their main enemy is Corbyn or May.

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