The parliamentary party will pay dearly for pursuit of power for its own sake, writes Brian Monteith.
Political manifestos are worthless. To borrow from Sam Goldwyn, they are like verbal IOUs – not worth the paper they are written on. As evidence I merely cite the behaviour of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party since the general election of 2017 – although I could just as easily use Theresa May’s Tory government of 2017-19 (RIP).
Likewise, many commentators and politicians make the misleading assertion our democracy is somehow lacking because the UK does not have a visible constitution.
It does, it’s just that it’s made up of many laws erected over time and buttressed by precedent, all of which may or may not be successfully challenged in court – rather than relying on a single written document like the United States started with (but subsequently amended over and over again).
It is an exemplar of hypocrisy that those same people who decry the lack of a constitution are often so keen to now present themselves as guardians of the constitution they do not believe exists.
Thus the claim that the proroguing of parliament in order for the new Government to present a Queen’s Speech is unconstitutional or in some way a coup, even metaphorically, is so wide of the mark it suggests a distraction is being presented to disguise an altogether more real threat to our representative democracy. Indeed this is the case. Our largest ever democratic act of epic and historical proportion – when 17.4 million people voted in favour of the UK leaving the EU, defeating the 16.1 million who wanted to remain – continues to await endorsement and delivery, more than three years later.
That is what you call a threat to democracy, for it causes people to question the value of voting at all.
It is being conveniently forgotten that we are where we are because Corbyn’s Labour Party ignored its manifesto commitment to respect the referendum result. Labour’s opposition to Brexit has thus become the real threat to our constitution and our democracy.
We can see from the way the referendum result has played out that parliamentary rules are not enough, they can be ignored, twisted and perverted.
The opposition’s sole motive has been to bring the Conservative minority government down – taking advantage of the hands-on indulgence of Speaker Bercow – and the many Conservatives who have gone rogue (against their manifesto, their party and their constituency electors).
Democracy relies on checks and balances between different vested interests to be in rude health. For instance it requires an independent judiciary and a free press to hold to account those that might say, falsely and with mendacious intent, that they are defending democracy.
Again, that brings us back to Corbyn’s Labour Party, for there can be no greater example of a revolutionary threat to our country than that posed by the Labour leader.
Corbyn’s Labour Party is not interested in respecting the referendum result, he is not and never has been bothered about defending the British constitution in all its evolutionary wonder, he simply wants to seize power, after which the referendum will be betrayed further and the constitution turned on its head in true Bolshevik fashion.
If there is any doubt about this readers should simply ask why do Corbyn, Keir Starmer and the rest, say that once in power they would renegotiate a “new deal” with the EU – and then hold a confirmatory referendum in which they would campaign to remain in the EU against the deal they would have procured?
Had Corbyn taken up the offer of negotiations with Theresa May with any genuine sincerity her abominable Withdrawal Agreement would by now have passed. The reason he could not afford to allow that to happen was not because May’s draft treaty would have locked our country in perpetuity into economic and judicial subservience without any say – it was because if he allowed May to deliver Brexit, even Brexit in Name Only, he knew she would then be able to see her full term out and she or another Tory leader could beat him in a general election.
The parliamentary Labour Party, will pay dearly for this pursuit of power for its own sake.
There has been much focus on the pressure the Brexit Party has been putting on Boris Johnson and his government.
This is not without justification.
Were it not for the Brexit Party winning the European Parliament elections Theresa May would not have been forced out by her own party and Boris elected by its members. It is a fair claim to say the Brexit Party is the midwife of Boris Johnson’s premiership.
What is being missed, in covering all Johnson’s blood and thunder, fast-paced initiatives or visits to Berlin, Paris and Biarritz is that the Brexit Party has been announcing some 250 prospective parliamentary candidates as it prepares to fight all 650 parliamentary seats – possibly within the next six weeks. While the threat to the Tories is real it has masked the probable evisceration of Labour MPs in constituencies that voted to leave, especially in the North of England.
This will be the price of Corbyn abandoning the once solid working class vote that Labour was built upon in preference to courting the professional classes he rubs up against in the Metropolis. The outrage that Labour has been fomenting, with Momentum’s calls for manning the barricades on bridges, is no ordinary protest but an amalgam of the usual anarchist mob and myWaitrose loyalty card holders the likes of which are unlikely to be seen in Redcar or Hartlepool, Barnsley or Wigan.
The likelihood of a general election becomes stronger every day, but Jeremy Corbyn should be careful what he wishes for. If Labour frustrates Boris Johnson’s government from delivering a no-deal Brexit (if that’s what it takes to get out of the EU) then Johnson will seek to go to the country – pointing to the unwillingness of the EU and Corbyn to agree a deal that can pass through parliament.
It will be Labour who will be most at risk – on the one hand from the Brexit Party attracting Labour leave voters – and a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party attracting Labour Remain voters.
A Labour victory is by no means a certainty, and before voting to wrest control of the Commons Order Paper Labour MPs must look to themselves and ask will they become Corbyn’s latest abandoned victims?
• Brian Monteith MEP is chief whip of the Brexit Party in the European Parliament