There’s been a bit of a fuss over the Labour Party’s decision not to prioritise i.e. choose to discuss motions submitted by the membership and affiliates on Brexit. There were proposals to support the single market/customs union and to support free movement of labour. The Trade Unions agreed to ensure debates on the economy, Grenfall and industrial policy took place and it was left to the CLP delegates to determine if Brexit would make it to Conference floor. CLPD & Momentum, claiming to be supporting the Leadership, asked that four, admittedly important, subjects were debated and not Brexit. Many of my friends argue that the Brexit debate was being engineered by Corbyn’s opponents to embarrass him. It’s not true of all who argue for Labour’s current policy, defined in Lab16 Composite 1, of defining red lines and obtaining a second mandate if those lines were not met, are looking to embarrass the leadership.
The policy is that Labour will argue to remain if the terms are unacceptable.
We are in opposition, and so we don’t need to state how we’d leave since we cannot negotiate those terms. One of the single market motions was proposed by my constituency party and I supported it at Branch and Constituency level. It was moved shortly after Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr show where he stated that the UK would have to leave the single market. I disagree! The front bench has moved away from that, although they still talk of outcomes not mechanisms, and seem to think that with a transitional period we can negotiate an alternative, equally beneficial agreement to the single market. This seems awfully like having one’s cake and eating it. Admittedly Corbyn and Starmer are prepared to agree to free movement so it won’t be so hard for them as it is for the Tories. Fortunately even if the next election takes place in October, a Labour Government won’t have time to negotiate anything better than the EEA. Frankly the terms offered to David Cameron are beginning to look to be the best available to the right wing brexiteers.
Returning to the Labour Party’s issues and its democracy. at least the priorities ballot was undertaken by conference delegates rather than stitched up in the CAC, although they did their best, by ruling over 80 motions out of order.
A lesson to all is that we must respect Conference or not. Composite 1 of Conference 2016 cannot be wished away!