Corbyn is like the old buses showing up adage – he’s quiet for ages and then a flurry of ill-advised activity is flung at us. So following his decision to hire a former Syriza politician as an adviser, Corbyn takes to ITV last night to tell us that despite sharing the same basic viewpoint as Cameron on Europe, he won’t share a platform with the prime minister. Because they are on opposite sides of the argument, apparently. Huh? As usual, best leave it to Jeremy to explain himself in his own inimitable way:
“We are not on the same side of the argument. He wants a free market Europe. He has negotiated what he believes is some kind of deal over welfare and the ever-closer union, which is apparently legally questionable, according to Michael Gove. I want to see a Europe that is about protecting our environment and ensuring we have sustainable industries across Europe, such as the steel industry, and high levels of jobs and social protection across Europe. His agenda is the very opposite.”
Right, someone should explain to Jeremy that in the referendum on June 23rd, there are only two choices: Remain and Leave. That’s it. You want subtleties on the way the EU functions, leave it to your general election campaign. For now, you’re either for In or for Out. Corbyn, given his appearance on ITV yesterday evening, is apparently for neither.
If this is all about hating Tories no matter what, well for a start that’s a really lame, but actually in that same quote he mentions Michael Gove in a positive light. In fact, take a look at that quote again – it could easily be uttered by a Labour Outer like Kate Hoey with no need to change a word. So is Corbyn for Remain or for Leave then? Truth is, he really is for neither – he doesn’t care that much about Europe, and given his PLP is mostly full of passionate Europhiles, he decided that he would live begrudgingly with a party In line.
So oh the irony involved in getting annoyed with his MPs for not sticking to message discipline when he himself is hopeless at it. Labour is for staying in the EU, Jeremy, remember? Saying your agenda on this topic is the opposite of Cameron’s while proclaiming that Gove might have a point on the legal issue is way, way off message on this one. But I’ll leave it to your new adviser should tell you that.
The worst of it is, Corbyn could have used the platform with Cameron to spell out his wider vision, whatever that is, saying that while he and the prime minister agree on this one thing (that we should stay in the EU) he disagrees with him on almost everything else. Is Corbyn seriously worried that by being on a stage with Cameron anyone in the country is going to think he’s some sort of closet Tory? This whole thing is a massively wasted opportunity for Corbyn and for Labour.