This blog was written towards the end of a thoroughly depressing week. It will be my last for some time and a sad note on which to take a break. I can only hope things will improve before I resume.
Wednesday marked the failure to make any significant changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill – shortly to become the Withdrawal Act. This was most disappointing, not least because of Labour’s deliberately ambiguous position in the Parliamentary debates that took place. I was deflated even further when I attended a meeting of my local North Norfolk Labour Party the following day.
The local meeting was held to give our Labour Member of the European Parliament, Alex Mayer, the opportunity ‘to answer questions on the Brexit process and how she sees the Labour position’. I did not envy her this task. She is in a very tricky position, not least because she will lose her job next year, and she deserves some sympathy.
Alex Mayer voted Remain, is aware of the damage that withdrawal will cause, and has publicly committed to the single market. She must also be conscious of the dismal performance of Labour in Parliament and the cynical opportunism of the Leadership’s current position on Europe; doubtless this dominates discussions with socialist colleagues in Brussels, both from the UK and the other EU members. However most local Labour Parties are in the hands of people who are infatuated with Jeremy Corbyn and this certainly true of North Norfolk. Like most doomed love affairs there is nothing to be done beyond letting events run their course.
How I wondered would Alex Mayer cope?
She is a competent person, thoroughly in command of her facts, and had hit on an ingenious solution to navigate the political challenge. This was to adopt a fatalistic acceptance that Brexit is going to happen, coupled with a vague hope that the length of the process might mean that things could improve over time. She mentioned Jeremy Corbyn and his ambiguous stance just once. Her performance was capable but detached, almost an academic lecture, and offended nobody but it wholly lacked passion. Brexit is bad but, like the weather, we should make the best of it. Our local members seemed wholly satisfied with this defeatist attitude. So long as Jeremy is not threatened, it seems they will go along with anything.
I can only say that this is simply not good enough. A casual acceptance of something that will damage economic prospects for the next decade is a sign of a complete absence of political virility. As we used to say on the football terraces, there is more life in a bottle of pop.
I do so hope that my mood will be lifted when I join with three generations of my family at the March for a People’s Vote on Saturday. Jeremy Corbyn should, of course, be leading this march. Every local Labour Party should be out in the shopping centres and on the doorstep collecting signatures for a People’s Vote petition. This would have massive long-term political advantages: it would consolidate the votes of many remainers who voted Labour in 2015 but are drifting away; Labour would be positioned at the centre of the debate on employment. Above all Jeremy Corbyn should be leading the march because it is the right thing to do.
I WILL NOW TAKE A BREAK FROM BLOGGING (though continuing to tweet at @eugrandparents). If you would like to receive email notification of future blogs when I resume, please press the ‘followleftyoldman’ button on the left hand side above.