Thursday, 26 January 2017

Dear Labour Party...

Back in the middle of January I wrote to the Labour Party to ask them to clarify their policy on the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  I don't know about anyone else but I have absolutely no idea what the Labour Party actually do these days.  I have no idea what they stand for or what kind of political philosophy drives their inaction.   They are quite clueless and offer no parliamentary opposition whatsoever on almost any topic you care to imagine. On Brexit, however, they are a true shambles: cowardly, indecisive and disorganised.  Did I already mention that they are clueless?  Yes, I think I did.  Anyway, I emailed them for clarification on a point of policy. Actually, I asked for clarification of a single sentence in a single speech by Jeremy Corbyn. Amazingly, that one sentence revealed almost every nuance of his ineptitude.  They never wrote back. Of course they never wrote back.

He keeps his policies under his hat where no one can ever see them.
I hereby present my email of 15 January, 2017.  I had to fill out a little webform to send the email.  Instead of typing it out in a proper text editor and pasting the text into the form,  I stupidly persevered with the crappy webform.  That's a roundabout way of saying, "please excuse the typos".  Please also excuse the howling category error in the first paragraph where I confuse Switzerland with the EEA. I know people in glass houses shouldn't throw policy clarifications at deluded political parties but that's exactly what I did.  I added hypertext for all the links I added to the email to make it easier to read in this blog.  Obviously, I couldn't do that in the crappy webform on the Labour Party website. Enjoy.

Dear Labour Party,

I am a registered UK voter last registered at the above address but currently living in the EEA.  I am obviously worried about the effect that Brexit will have on my rights to live and work in the EEA, particularly with all the current speculation of a "hard" Brexit that sees the UK leave  the EEA and Customs Union.

To be perfectly honest, I find that the Labour Party has a slightly incoherent and confused Brexit strategy.  I genuinely don't want this to be the case.  Can you please convince me otherwise?  For the purposes of openness I should mention that I run a blog laying out the enormous complexity of Brexit here.

Here is an example of my confusion. On 10th January, Jeremy Corbyn made a speech outlining Labour policy on Brexit.  I am particularly confused by a single excerpt of the speech.  Here it is:

"We will push to retain full access to the single market and take back powers to develop a true industrial strategy"

This exact quote was retweeted without comment by the Fabians. It is certainly a bold statement but for me it only leads to more questions and more confusion.

Which powers exactly will be required to formulate an industrial strategy?  I'd really like to know specifics of EU Regulations or Directives that work against the UK formulating an industrial strategy. 

How is it that Germany has an extremely successful industrial strategy yet, if anything, is a more eager participant in the EU? In terms of EU powers, what is Germany doing that isn't possible for the UK?

Can you define "full access to the single market"?  This sounds like being a member of the single market because only members participate fully in it.  In my mind, anything less than membership is only partial access. I'd really like a clarification on the meaning on "full access", is possible.

Membership of the EEA requires agreeing to the obligations imposed by the market. The market is defined by the 4 freedoms and is governed by various rules and regulations.  As a consequence, "full access" and "repatriation of powers" sound incompatible.  Could you outline how this might work?  For example, is there precedent for this in the EEA?  Are there EEA rules that could allow the UK to neglect a sub-set of regulations and directives? Has any EEA leader indicated that this might be a possibility?  Again, which specific powers would the Labour Party seek to repatriate?

I realise that I've asked a lot of questions. I'd really appreciate clarify on this to put my mind at rest. Brexit is a complicated topic and media reporting on has been rather clumsy so far.  Anything you can do to cut through this confusion will be greatly appreciated.
          Yours sincerely,
My real name.

Well, that was that.  They're not going to answer now.  You know, I actually voted for that shower of losers back in 1992.  I have very few regrets but that is definitely one of them.

Over and out,



  1. Trying to make sense of the Labour Scottish Branch office position on the EU is also impossible. Kez the Muppet is currently going around saying that she is the only one who really represents the "wishes of the Scottish people" in wanting to remain in the
    EU and the U.K.
    Everybody and their dog and their dog's fleas knows that is impossible, and that May and co have rejected out of hand The Scottish government's attempts to find any kinds of separate deal compromise for Scotland, even on the single market.

    Scotland's only Labour MP will "daringly" defy London leadership policy and vote against article 50, a futile gesture mainly aimed at preventing him being hanged from an ornamental lamp post in South Edinburgh by his pro EU constituents.

    Meanwhile the branch leadership will not even consider voting for another independence referendum, and will campaign against independence if one takes place, even in the face of the hardest of hard Brexit. Bubbling underneath is a faction who would support independence, and the leadership don't whether to let them or have them shot.

    Kezia comes out with some daft bilge about a New Act of Union, and is immediately rubbished by Jezza, who, by the way, seems to know as little about Scotland as it is possible for a sentient being. There are probably remote Amazonian tribesmen with no outside contact who understand Scotland better than Corbyn does.

    They are a worthless shambles, failing in all ways, and particularly in opposing the horrendous right wing Tory UK government.

    They cheered the no vote of 2014. Labour Yes voters then left them in droves for the SNP, and ironically many labour no voters felt the might as well vote Tory now.

    They is only one hope for a new left of centre party arising in Scotland, and that is he evolution of politics that would take place in an independent Scotland.

    1. I don't understand Scottish Labour's position at all. Totally muddled. Labour are just a mess right now. Have you seen the campaign by Labour in the Midlands to "take back control"? That involved killing the Barnett Formula to direct more money to the shires. They can't even agree with themselves on the most basic UK policy. Useless UKIP copyists.

      I didn't know Ian Murray would vote against A50. He's not on the list of MPs compiled by the Independent. Well, at least he's doing something in the interest of his constituents.

      I had a lot of sympathy for Corbyn when the PLP abandoned him last summer. I'm starting to think they had a point - he is a terrible, terrible leader. Do they have a better one? I don't know the answer to that. It's not at all clear if there is anyone less unsuitable for the job. Anyone who might at first appear to be less of a clown has been eager to jump on UKIP policies instead of defending their position at GE 2015. That is not a good look. Owen Smith is actually making a principled stand on the EU. He's just not a very convincing leader, either. I can't imagine him uniting the party behind his vision of opposition, not when half of them want to adopt UKIP policy on immigration. The problem with Labour can't be fixed by a leadership change. The problem is actually the people in the party. Pretty much all of them, from MPs to activists. They all want different things and can't unite around a single policy.

      I would hope that politics could re-centre itself after independence. Labour are unable to make their UK and Scottish policies form a coherent whole. Freed from that confusion maybe they could do a better job, just not with the current lineup. Jeremy Corbyn just doesn't get Scotland at all.

    2. "Owen Smith is actually making a principled stand on the EU"

      Actually, he's only doing that because it's the exact opposite of what Corbyn is doing. If Corbyn was gung-ho for remaining, Smith would be complaining that "Corbyn is not accepting the political reality of Brexit". It's just another chance of the Red Tory Brigade to get at Corbyn.

      Yes, the Labour Party is dead. In Scotland certainly, in England shortly.

    3. That might be true about Owen Smith. He hasn't actually voted on A50 so perhaps my judgement is a bit premature. I do think that Smith is solid pro-EU. Compare that to Kier Starmer who was quick to change his opinion about freedom of movement. They all jumped pretty fast to adopt UKIP's policies, except for Owen Smith and a few other exceptions. Maybe he has ulterior motives. OK, he's a politician so of course he has ulterior motives.

  2. Labour is polling at ~26% UK wide, 15% in Scotland. They're slipping in Wales too - it's not-a-coalition with the single Lib Dem elected becoming a minister.

    Whether or not Corbyn ever had a chance went out of the window when all but 40 of his own party tried to get rid of him. He should have tried to force those rebels through a mass resignation and reselection process, however damaging, as it'd at least be on his terms.

    Because it's happening anyway. Copeland will probably fall to the Tories as Labour is putting up a former Scottish MP(one of the casualties of 2015). Stoke on Trent may actually fall to UKIP according to a leaked Labour poll showing UKIP on 35%.

    As for Corbyn and Scotland - well, it's easier to be sympathetic when you realise the most contact with Scots he had in a long career were members of Scottish Labour. His briefings on Scotland come from whom? Either London Labour's Scottish advisor or Scottish Labour.

    Worst of all, as Scottish Labour is a liability to Corbyn, his team obviously has no interests in regaining our votes or seats. He needs 100 seats and guess what? We haven't even got 60.

    However, it's more or less an open secret that the SNP would HAVE to provide a Labour minority government with supply and confidence votes in lieu of allowing the Tories in. That ~56 is on side no matter what.

    The only place Labour can find the other seats - 50 or 100 - it needs? England. His strategy, as it was for almost every incoming Labour government ever, has to be to win England.

    1. That's exactly right - his strategy has to be to win England. The tensions between Scottish and English Labour are a consequence of that.

      I don't really have any sympathy for Corbyn over the EU. It's clear he was forced to play a role of being a EU supporter during the referendum. His real view of the EU closely follows Tony Benn, who thought the EU was a business club that stood in the way of socialist progress. Does Corbyn really think he can form a government that will make socialist progress? He can't really believe that, can he? If he does, he deserves to be deposed. He was also quick to decide that immigration was a hot ticket item and must be stopped, stopped, stopped. It's all just so spineless. Not asserting his authority after last summer's rebellion was another disaster for him.

      Labour deserve to lose. They really do. I don't want them to lose to UKIP but they've failed to provide any opposition whatsoever so nothing will actually materially change if they do lose the seat. I just wish they would get it together and behave like a party with a clear set of political goals.

  3. Good letter raising legitimate points.

    It seems that what Corbyn has been doing is trotting out meaningless platitudes designed for people who aren't giving any real thought to the matter.

    It sounds good to demand that "control" return to England (and I mean that because "England" is how they see it). But, as you point out, if you have "control", you're not in the club that allows the accesses we so desperately need. If you are in that club and you can "pool and share", then you have to "pool and share" everything. And basically that means being in the EU.

    We know that alternatives, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, etc, are possible, but they all involve the one thing the English public seems to be so dead set against (and yet which the country needs): Freedom of movement of people.

    I was behind Corbyn too. I thought he represented Labour. Real Labour. Not the ridiculous version of Labour dreamed up by Blair, Mandelson and Brown...Tory lite to appeal to the southern counties.

    I too felt sympathy for him when they tried to overthrow him... and at the same time I was certain that he would re-win with a bigger majority. (I'm often...usually... wrong in my political predictions, but in this case I was bang on.)

    When Benn gave his warmongering Tory speech I just reckoned he should take his right-wing Tory apologists across the floor and sit on Mr Hammond's knee. (What his dad would have thought...)

    But you are right. Corbnyn is a nice man. He'd be good, and interesting as a companion down the pub. He's a pathetic leader. He's finished after the next election, or Labour is, or, more likely, both.

    Of course, Dugdale is useless too. And their relationship is beyond repair. He seems to simply disagree with everything she proposes,a dn seems to have no compunction about disagreeing publicly with her.

    I imagine that in May they will lose seats by the dozen. Whether the SNP will gain, or the Tories will gain I don't know. Both, I suspect. But Scottish politics is already realigned. Tories to the right, SNP/Green to the left. And I suppose there's always Wee Willie being wherever Tom Folly tells him to be.

    If Labour in England get rid of Corbyn, I guess the PLP will become a right of centre party again, but I wonder if anyone much will bother to go out chapping doors and delivering leaflets on their behalf. There's already the right wing Tories and the hard right Kippers. Who needs more of the same?

    We are destined to be, if we remain in their united kingdom, a right wing state in the shadow of the USA.

    Does your computer company need a bloke who makes a damned good cup of coffee?

    1. That's a spot-on description of the mess they find themselves in: two entirely separate parties under one banner.

      How low can Labour sink in Scotland? Could they go under 10%? They just seem utterly awful - totally unable to properly engage in local politics without the spectre of head office scaring them into some weird policy statements. Whether its the EU or Trident or welfare cuts, they are all over the

      The future of the UK seems really worrying right now. Leaving the EU is much more about what replaces it than the act of departure. I find it almost impossible to see anything positive at all in human rights, the social model, the economy, education, public infrastructure investment, or the NHS. Without an opposition and the rules enforcing the EU social model, the Tories can do exactly what they want.

      I'm afraid we have an extremely fancy coffee machine in my office. I'm just waiting for the machine to replace all of my duties.

  4. I see that since you wrote that piece the Labour Party has fallen further apart.


    1. Why he would do that? He must know that quite a few will rebel, leaving us the spectacle of a re-run of last summer's debacle. There's just no need for a 3-line whip because we all know it will get voted through anyway. What a prize plum. Labour are a total disaster.

    2. Oh and there's this:

    3. Words fail me. There is nothing more to say about Labour now.


Bark, lark or snark