It’s been a long time coming, but it’s welcome


It gives me a deal of pleasure to be able to resume my weekly blog on a positive note. At long last there has been some shift in the Labour leader’s position. Now we are in favour of continued customs union membership. To quote from his Coventry speech:

“Labour would seek a final deal that gives full access to European markets and maintains the benefits of the single market and the customs union… with no new impediments to trade and no reduction in rights, standards and protections.”

No one should underestimate the extent of the shift and the opportunity that this provides for avoiding the Brexit catastrophe. Well done to all those who, over time, persuaded Jeremy Corbyn to shift his position.

I can’t include myself in that number, although at one time I knew him moderately well. I was a very active Labour Party member in Corbyn’s North Islington from the mid-70s to 1987 and did not hold him in high regard – I am sure that this feeling was reciprocated. In fact my Islington period covered the year when Corbyn was alleged to have consorted with a secret agent from the Czech republic. The idea that, at that time, anybody would have told him anything that mattered and that he would then have remembered it is absurd. However, in fairness, he has developed skills since becoming leader and is now pointing in the right direction.

The next challenge is to get him off the hook that the referendum vote must be treated as a considered and definitive decision that cannot be reversed – whatever the subsequent facts that have come to be light. In the course of a New European podcast published as recently as February 23rd , just three days before the Coventry speech, he was asked if Labour’s position on Brexit was shifting. He replied: “What we have said is that we accept the result of the referendum. We are leaving the European Union… We can’t be members of the single market because we won’t be members of the European Union”. *

The EU negotiators will not allow us to cherry-pick (or, as the Spanish apparently call it, sherry-pick) in this way. Signing up to everything that matters while pretending you are leaving may get the Labour Party through the next two years but it is not a strategy for Government.   Sooner or later political leaders must tell the electorate that they got it wrong. However let’s be thankful for some progress after a dreadful 2017.

*Listen on


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4 thoughts on “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s welcome

  1. It is bringing to the fore the ideas of what is a major governing unit, what control you might have to compromise on with your neighbouring governing units and that Taking Back Control means power to the likes of Rees-Mogg, Johnson and co (not you) — and Kate Hoey being willing to throw away the Good Friday Agreement indicates little understanding of the concept of agreements between major governing units and other influential parties


  2. It’s great to have you back!!!! Think the spy stuff was ludicrous, however I remember the stance of many on the lazy left on the communist dictatorship was “they have full employment and good childcare so why are the dissidents sounding off about free speech” Sadly the full employment was chronic under employment and much of the childcare would today be seen as abuse. Corbyn was in this number. You are very generous to him over the EU. It’s Starmer we have to thank for this, if he hadn’t been in the shadow cabinet I have little doubt Corbyn would still be spouting the SWPs capitalist club nonsense.


  3. The question is whether Corbyn will hold the line – he’s been all over the place on this and one wonders whether he really cares about it at all


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