Corbynistas continue to gnash their teeth about the local election results, alternatively blaming Blairite sabotage, the MSM, and the Tories piloting voter ID (which probably affected 0.0000000001% of the electorate, but never mind). What they may wish to consider is how bad the party’s position is on Brexit. While the fudge may have been seen to have been convenient given the 2017 general election result, I would argue Labour’s deliberately fuzzy stance is now adversely affecting them – and this tendency will only increase if they continue to be hazy on the issue of Brexit.
Think of it this way: remove the idea of Labour as the official opposition for the moment and open your mind to any possible official opposition in the House of Commons. I’m doing this to temporarily remove the baggage the Labour Party and brand has so this can be envisioned as objectively as possible. Now, imagine that the opposition in question was vocally Eurosceptic: sort of like UKIP if they were run by sane grownups instead of dipshits who compare themselves to mass viral plagues. This opposition would have torn to Tories apart on the issue by now. May’s continual backsliding combined with the Rees-Mogg contingent agitating the whole time could have been blown wide open by such an opposition party, if handled well. Every backslide could have been signposted and labelled a betrayal; every bad statistic about what different Brexit deals would look economically could be used to beat the Tories with. This opposition could have beat the drum for “The Tories are betraying Brexit”, which probably would have worked.
Now imagine the opposite: an opposition that was vocally anti-Brexit. It could highlight every backslide as proof that no one, not even the Brexity Tories, can make this all work. It would hammer the Tories on every Brexit detail, change of heart and capitulation to the European Commission as proof that Brexit cannot be done without massive self-harm to the country.
The problem for Labour is that having taken an intentionally wishy-washy pro-Brexit but with some caveats (I guess we’ll live with a Customs Union out of need) has meant they cannot really have a go at the Conservative Party’s handling of the issue in any meaningful way. This has several consequences. One, it makes the Tories’ current problems seem not that bad; if they were really that awful, wouldn’t the opposition be all over them for it? It also makes May seem more competent and in control than she otherwise would seem to the public. It makes the Tories winning the next general election much more likely, which is surely terrible from a Labour perspective.
As seen in the local elections, the advantage conferred onto Labour for pursuing this strategy on Brexit is starting to melt in front of them. UKIP voters overwhelming switched to the Conservatives, as the Tories hovered up the pro-Brexit vote; meanwhile, Remainers are finally figuring out that Corbyn is pro-Brexit and voting for anti-Brexit parties instead. This wouldn’t make that much of a difference in London in a GE situation; but you cannot get into Number 10 if only London votes for you. The 0% strategy is starting to look like the 0% strategy once again, less than a year after the 2017 general election.
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