As the general election approaches, the Tories, Lib Dems and SNP all have clear messages about Brexit – in contrast to the Labour party, writes Gina Davidson.
So glad Halloween is over and the general election bunting can go back up. Feels like it was only yesterday it came down, but I guess these things come round quicker as you get older.
Don’t know about you, but mine is reversible so can also be used for referendums. It’s come in terribly handy.
For here we are again. Another snap election, needed, apparently, to wipe the slate clean, to rid us of the “zombie Parliament” which cannot come to a decision on Brexit, and to finally have a government which can actually govern. And yet, will that be where we end up? It feels unlikely, and that come Christmas we’ll be back in the same place; an endless round of political squabbling over what people actually voted for in 2016, what manifesto pledges really meant, and what our future relationship with the EU should look like.
Brexit is the curse of our times, and on All Saints’ Day it has not been lifted. It has divided the UK, in the same way as independence has divided Scotland, and it is hard to imagine a time when Britain will ever get over it. Certainly it won’t be during this election campaign as it will be front and centre of campaigning.
Already it’s clear what the Scottish party messages are: vote SNP for a second independence referendum and take Scotland out of Brexit Britain, vote Conservative to get Brexit done and stop a second independence referendum, and vote Liberal Democrat to stop Brexit and stop a second independence referendum. Labour is doing what it does best – muddying its message.
Saving NHS from Trump
The Labour Party wants to campaign on other issues, it wants to expound on increasing the minimum wage, investing in education and health and “radically transforming” the economy. It wants to, but it won’t be able to. We are all now in a world where the constitution is all.
It’s clear that Brexit attacks – such as saving the NHS from a Trump trade deal, which it claims is being lined up by Boris Johnson – will be a major theme for the party, and likely a successful one. But it’s a constitutional argument, hitched to people’s emotional pull to the health service.
Then there’s Labour’s own Brexit stance. The party has, after much pushing and shoving, agreed that a People’s Vote is the answer. Yes, it’s the only party saying vote for us and we’ll give you another EU referendum (but only when a Labour Brexit deal has been thrashed out). So that deal, plus Remain will be on the ballot. But which then would Jeremy Corbyn campaign for? Why, if no deal could ever be as good as the one Britain currently has with the EU, would Labour ever campaign for any deal, even it’s own? It is a nonsensical position and the vast majority of the party knows it – especially the poor sods who will be on the doorsteps trying to deliver that message.
Meanwhile, there’s already huge focus on a Labour government granting the SNP a section 30 order for a second independence referendum. Yes, vote for us, and we’ll give you not one, but two referendums! It’s no longer a case of if, it’s when – which is not Scottish Labour policy and leaves its leader Richard Leonard floundering over just when is when, and what constitutes an SNP mandate. Instead of being able to simply say Labour is a party which believes in political unions for the economic and cultural benefit of all – be that the UK or the EU.
Predicting election outcomes is for fools, or for Professor John Curtice. However I do predict it’s going to be a long six weeks for us all, but for those with red rosettes I fear it will be truly interminable.