I, like many Remainers, are a little weary about the idea of a second referendum and do not possess the confidence some younger pro-EU campaigners have about victory the next time out. Still, they have been pretty much the only game in town if you hold out any hope that Brexit can somehow be thwarted, so I have been supportive of the campaign even if a little weary of their stated outcome at times.
However, having watched them closely, I must say that their biggest mistake has been a doozy. It’s that they have expected Corbyn to come around to their way of thinking and openly support the campaign at some point and further, have made this the ultimate goal of the campaign with the flipside being that they have convinced themselves that it cannot succeed without Corbyn’s open support.
This mistake is understandable – a lot of the young people who desire a second EU referendum are the same who fell under Corbyn’s spell. The ultimate expression of this was the “Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit” bags being given out at the last Labour conference; it has just felt impossible in the minds of many young leftist activists that their hero really does feel almost completely the opposite way about Brexit than they do.
The People’s Vote campaign needs to get over this idea and quickly if they wish to succeed. A much better tactic would have been to have made an enemy of Corbyn from the get go and been a force threatening the stability of the Labour Party in the process. “Give us the referendum or the party gets it”, basically. Again, this might have been impossible simply because of the political feelings of those most central to the People’s Vote campaign.
However, we are where we are and the People’s Vote needs to give up on Corbyn. As I’ve said many times, he doesn’t want another EU refernedum. Corbyn does not want a People’s Vote because he is in principle against it as a Brexiteer, and secondly because it would be politically disastrously for him personally. If you want another referendum in the name of reversing Brexit, Corbyn is your enemy whether you like it or not. The campaign has given him room to come around and he’s simply used it to manoeuvre around them – the trick he pulled at Labour conference, leaving a People’s Vote “on the table” but nothing more, is the best example of this.
A better target of the People’s Vote referendum is actually May. Okay, she’s pretty openly against the idea. But think about this: it is the one route she has had since losing the first deal vote to get her deal done without having to change anything within it. The fact that she had to accept the Brady amendment pretty much proves this to be the case. Plus, a lot of present cabinet ministers are secretly (or not so secretly) in favour of another EU referendum.
The People’s Vote campaign could have tried to woo the Tories a lot more than they have done. They could have tried to breathe some life into the Lib Dem corpse. They could have tried to push Labour much harder on this topic. They could have done a lot of things that had a much better chance of success than trying to win around Corbyn and in the process making it a truism that if he wouldn’t support them, then they had no chance of success.
A lot of pundits are pronouncing the People’s Vote dead. They’re wrong – so long as May’s deal hasn’t passed parliament, it remains, as Corbyn would say, “on the table”. But it needs to realise that Corbyn isn’t the answer to their hopes.
Summer, 2018. Noah Hastings, the most famous pop star on the planet, takes to the stage to perform a concert. After singing his latest hit, Noah detonates a bomb strapped to his chest, killing himself and ninety-one of his fans. Speculation about the pop star’s motivation for the crime runs riot until the authorities pin the blame on fundamentalist Islam. But what happens when Noah’s inspiration turns out to be another ideology entirely?
Nina Hargreaves, an investigative journalist, travels around America searching for the real story. She gets close to the truth – but risks losing everything she has in the process.
This is the plot for my new book, “Pop Star Jihadi”, which is really about the decline of truth in the media we’ve witnessed over the past several years. It is a satire of both mainstream media outlets and the blogosphere, taking them from right after the tragedy at the heart of the book happens to five years later. I’d love to know what you all think. It’s available on Amazon here: