Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Labour should be careful what they wish for

Labour have made it clear: they want a general election. They claim that is the way to break the logjam if Parliament rejects whatever final Brexit deal is on offer. A general election however will solve nothing. Labour are simply putting forward the same basic approach as the Conservatives (keep the benefits of membership while leaving the club). So there will be nothing significant to differentiate between Conservatives and Labour in a general election in terms of Brexit. A change in government from Conservative to Labour will produce nothing new in terms of negotiations. And if the Conservative Brexit rebels reject the Brexit deal as well, Conservative voters will understandably be confused as to what they would be voting for in a general election. And those Labour voters in constituencies represented by Labour dinosaur MPs (Ronnie Campbell in Blyth Valley instantly springs to mind) will also face a significant degree of confusion as to what exactly they will be voting for. A general election will never clarify the will of the people on a single issue when parties are divided and a vast range of other political issues which are nothing to do with Brexit are also being considered by voters. A referendum got us into this situation. A referendum is the only way to settle on a final decision.

Labour however should be careful what they wish for. A poll out today shows that only one in five voters believed Corbyn is capable of negotiating a Brexit settlement. That's barely half of Labour voters have confidence in their own leader to do a deal. And currently, most opinion polls show the Conservatives ahead of Labour. The lead is not big, but is typically around 2-3%. At a time when Labour should be well ahead in the polls, they are actually behind. If the Conservatives fail to get a Brexit deal through Parliament, there is still time for the government to get the new boundaries through Parliament. The unfair advantage in terms of constituency sizes enjoyed by Labour will be wiped out. A general election in November (unlikely) or spring 2019 (possible but I'll believe it when it happens) is more likely to result in a Conservative majority rather than a Corby government.

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