DAILY Politics presenter Andrew Neil had fun yesterday replaying a clip of Nick Clegg addressing the Oxford Union in December 2015, comparing die-hard opponents of Britain’s membership of the EU to Japanese soldiers on isolated Pacific islands who couldn’t accept that the second world was over.
“They’ll carry on arguing and arguing on while the rest of us will just move on and carry on with the rest of our lives,” Clegg scoffed, anticipating that last June’s referendum would reject the campaign to leave.
Clegg and successor Tim Farron have since adopted honorary Japanese soldier status after the electorate failed to accept the Establishment line.
Farron, whose cohort of MPs was all but obliterated in 2015 as reward for five years’ collaboration in government with the Tories, views the 48 per cent who backed Remain as potential Liberal Democrat voters, enthused by his plan to rerun the referendum.
“You should have your say on the Brexit deal in a referendum and, if you don’t like the deal, you should be able to reject it and choose to remain in Europe,” he said.
But that 48 per cent was last June. Almost seven in 10 voters now favour, irrespective of how they voted in the referendum, honouring the electorate’s verdict and concentrating, as Labour does, on proposing policies to underpin a tolerant, welcoming, progressive, prosperous and internationalist country once Britain is no longer in the EU.
Barely one in five voters now wishes to disregard the people’s clearly expressed preference by holding a second referendum that the Liberal Democrat leader asserts will “give the final say to the British people.”
Final? Not if previous consultations with Irish, French and Dutch voters over the EU are anything to go by.
Either voters were ordered to go back and try again until they get the required result or, as with the unwanted EU constitution, its provisions were simply rolled up into a new binding Lisbon treaty to save the electorate from blotting their copybook twice.
Even lonely Japanese soldiers cut off from their units finally had to accept that the war was over. Liberal Democrats might take a bit longer.
Forging ahead with a left plan
RIGHT-WING media outlets have had a field day in response to Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s speculation about Labour’s likely seats haul if opinion polls are to be believed.
The media frenzy stands as a caution to all pro-Labour activists to be on guard against giving unintended succour to working people’s enemies.
McCluskey’s subsequent more considered comments confirm what is already evident, both anecdotally from canvassing returns and in the polls themselves, that, while the Tories are still ahead, there is time to turn things around.
His clear enthusiasm for Labour’s manifesto, reflecting feedback from Unite members, will be replicated among the electorate as the party’s message is driven home and greater numbers of voters accept that the election concerns working people’s living standards not some spurious “mandate” for Theresa May’s negotiations with the EU.
The EU doesn’t care how much support a government has, as the persecution of Greece makes clear.
Labour accepts that Britain’s voters have decided to leave, just as Remain voter May has.
The real issue on June 8 is what kind of country Britain will be, one based on social solidarity, as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour wants, or the Tories’ vision of a dogeat-dog society favouring the top 5 per cent.