Don’t be fooled by Labour’s posturing on #peoplesvote

In the last few days we’ve had some tantalising hints that Labour may be willing to support a public vote on the Brexit deal. John McDonnell said on Friday that Labour weren’t ruling it out. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Marr that if there were sufficient public demand, Labour might think again.

So should we all breathe a sigh of relief and think that this might happen any time soon?

Not a chance.

For a start, Emily Thornberry’s threshold to determine what might be a suitable level of public demand to get them to change their minds was 80-90%. You don’t get 80-90% of people backing anything. Even the Monarchy at the height of the much loved Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations  was only getting 75% support.

So let’s not hold our breath waiting for the Labour leadership to back a vote on the deal. But why are they doing this? It’s all part of their deliberate tactic of making their policy as ambiguous as possible. This is exactly what the Leave campaign did, too. Nobody understood what Brexit would mean because they tried to make sure that the details were as non-existent as possible.

The reason they’re drip-feeding it all now is because there are some important local elections coming up. A lot of them are in Remain voting metropolitan areas in places like London and Manchester. They must be getting some indication that their stance on Brexit is costing them so they are trying to make it sound like they might just go for the vote on the deal.

Let’s look at their actions. It’s barely a month since Corbyn sacked Owen Smith because of his support for a vote.

So Corbyn’s words are just a a cynical attempt to fool those who think Brexit is a looming disaster into voting for them. Don’t be fooled. Corbyn is not going to come up with the goods on this one.

However, we may not need him to. As the details become clearer, most notably that, as Vince said yesterday, there is no solution to the Irish Border issue that doesn’t involve the customs union, we may end up with a majority in the Commons comprising Labour and Tory Remain leaning MPs, us and the SNP.

If it is important to you to support a party which will give you a vote on the Brexit deal, you have to go for the Lib Dems in any election you get the chance to vote in.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

19 Comments

  • OnceALibDem 22nd Apr '18 - 1:37pm

    “As the details become clearer, most notably that, as Vince said yesterday, there is no solution to the Irish Border issue that doesn’t involve the customs union, we may end up with a majority in the Commons comprising Labour and Tory Remain leaning MPs, us and the SNP.”

    LBJ said the first rule of politics is ‘learnt to count’. Assuming you need 322 votes to pass something in the Commons, Lib Dems, SNP, Greens and PC give you 52. You can probably assume that there wouldn’t be any abstentions except for extreme ill-health.

    That needs 270 Conservative, Labour or DUP votes to support a second vote. Of the 317 Tory MPs, 139 are on the payroll vote (source HoC library), Plus of the 262 Labour MPs, about 30 are in the Shadow cabinet.

    To give some idea of scale the Labour rebellion on Iraq was around 130 (on a much bigger commons party and in circumstances where the outcome of the vote was not really in doubt). There were 72 on tuition fees (government narrowly won) and 49 on 90 day detention (Government defeated).

    If there were to be a rebellion on that scale of Iraq it would (a) be fairly untenable for the leadership – to the point where there position would change and (b) would still need around 140 Tory MPs to rebel – nearly all the non-payroll vote. Just to give that some context, in 2016, 185 Tory MPs were identified as supporting remain.

    The idea that a vote for a second refererendum could be passed once (let alone remain on a bill through subsequent votes) if opposed by the front benches of both the largest parties is a complete fantasy

  • Andrew Melmoth 22nd Apr '18 - 4:20pm

    If you’re correct then it’s game over. Even with Corbyn’s backing the chances of getting a ‘people’s vote’ are slim. Without his support the chances are virtually zero.

  • Corbyn sacked Smith because he went on manoeuvres and wasn’t following current party policy.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr '18 - 6:44pm

    I wouldn’t underestimate the discontent of a majority of MPs about what’s happening. They may well decide that winning the so called people’s vote is preferable to sending the country to the wall. You could have a situation where Corbyn and whatever shadow cabinet the has left and the Tory Eurosceptic right are in opposition and everyone else votes for it.

  • OnceALibDem 22nd Apr '18 - 8:37pm

    Caron – the maths really just don’t add up to that scenario. I wish they did!

    The biggest Labour rebellion to date was 47, the biggest Tory one 11. If you add those to the 52 that gets you to 110. So it still needs 212 more votes. Even if you treble those rebellions (which is a pretty big if) it would STILL need 96 more.

    The scenario you posit – Shadow cabinet + Tory eurosceptic right plus – you’d also need to include the payroll vote gets to 30 + say at least 50 + the 139 payroll vote gets to 219 so just over 100 short so would need 4/5ths or so of the non hardcore Eurosceptic right Tory MPs to effectively be willing to cast a vote of no confidence in their own government.

    If we were to be at a point where that could happen then it would be a scenario where the government was calling an election. I’m sure there is a lot of discontent among MPs but the evidence of past rebellions doesn’t suggest it will materialise into enough votes. It would not just be a large rebellion it would be something on the scale Parliament has never seen before (well certainly not since the Norway debate)

    As it stands the numbers are nowhere near sufficient to win a vote on a second referendum and time is rapidly running short to build that coalition. Passing a second ref vote in the teeth of government opposition would not be a quick parliamentary process either, so you would be talking months to do that. It needs Labour to come on board otherwise this idea is dead in the water. (Though intriguingly if you have Labour voting for a second ref that would give 314 so with the 11 Tories who rebelled on the Parliament having a final vote amendment…….)

  • Arnold Kiel 22nd Apr '18 - 8:48pm

    Dynamically viewed, the first step must be defeat on the customs union. That looks entirely possible and would destroy the Government’s Brexit-“strategy”. The following debate would become interesting: Fox dead and all other Brexiters severely damaged; even their fictional Brexit-upside gone.

    Most people would quickly conclude that this paves the way towards Brino, which makes no sense at all, neither materially nor logically. Many more Tory rebels, even some Brexiters as well as the PM might start to look for a double or quit move that would supersede this Brexit dead-end.

    In such a context, McDonnell’s and Thornberry’s opening might become meaningful, and even Corbyn might conclude that the chaos of another referendum is his best chance to accelerate his PM-bid. His shine is already fading and likely to disappear by 2022.

    Then the arithmetic changes, and the customs-union majority could stand for the bigger showdown.

  • In a BRINO scenario it could be die hard Brexiteers who might support a second vote. See Nigel Farage’s comments of a couple of months back.

    The numbers still don’t add up with out Labour front bench support though. Which could happen if they think there is a credible chance of defeating the Tories.

  • William Fowler 23rd Apr '18 - 7:15am

    Labour will say almost anything to get into power, no idea why people think they have a new kind of politics. If you see Gibraltar, for instance, vote to leave UK and become EU state in its own right, and then see a majority in NI to become part of Ireland to stay in EU and then have the SNP leaping up and down in a frenzy… might just get Tories in full U-turn mode.

  • Martin Walker 23rd Apr '18 - 7:50am

    I agree with every word. However, I don’t think that Corbyn’s position is just down to the wish to be ambiguous to avoid alienating some of his own voters. He has been a hard core leave supporter for over 40 years, whether that be voting leave in 1975, being taken under the wing of Tony Benn in the 1980s, his office sabotaging the Labour remain campaign while he was on holiday, arguing to invoke Article 50 within 24 hours of the referendum, or three line whips supporting Article 50. That is why Owen Smith was sacked, Barry Gardiner wasn’t. He is, and always has been, a hardcore little Englander Bennite who fantasises about socialism in one country and regards the EU as a capitalist, monetarist plot. He just knows he doesn’t have the votes in his own Party to support his own position, so he is frustrating the wishes of most Labour members rather than enabling the internal Party democracy he has been banging on about for decades.

  • In the last few days we’ve had some tantalising hints that Labour may be willing to support a public vote on the Brexit deal. John McDonnell said on Friday that Labour weren’t ruling it out. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Marr that if there were sufficient public demand, Labour might think again.
    So should we all breathe a sigh of relief and think that this might happen any time soon?
    Not a chance……………….

    Why, “Not a chance”…Parties including our own (I won’t go into detail) have changed tack to a far greater extent…The current Tory party have had umpteen complete U-turns and, as I write, a change on membership of the ‘Customs Union’ (a ‘Red Line’ just days ago) is being discussed…

  • Without a doubt Caron is right when she says Labour is cynically playing the situation to keep its pro remain support in London on board. You shouldn’t expect any thing else. Likewise the Tories are making interesting noises, not totally in accord with their Brexit rhetoric.

    Both are trying to play the game to maximise the political advantage to their party both short and long term, and if necessary they will sell out the hardline Brxiteers, by stealing any or all of our ideas to save their own skins and pretending they are their own. However, we should not be so naive as to regard this to be a triumph for Liberal Democracy, but instead must ensure that it is seen for what it is, a flagrant attempt to maintain themselves and their corrupt system in place, taking Britain to the very edge of disaster and sacrificing whatever is necessary en route to maintain themselves in power – the European Banking regulator (160 jobs to Paris), the EU Medicines agency (900 jobs to Amsterdam) being just two examples.

  • Martin Walker 23rd Apr ’18 – 7:50am……Martin 23rd Apr ’18 – 9:12am…..
    David Evans 23rd Apr ’18 – 10:11am…..

    Regarding Labour trying for political advantage?

    For heaven’s sake; it’s what political parties, including our own, do…

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Apr '18 - 11:44am

    @David Evans

    One of the regular commenters on the UKPR web site (Catmanjeff) also publishes time-series analysis of YouGov polls. Here is his latest analysis:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yq3lF9FZE5_J3xCCvJj1NBLYcttw12CV/view

    It is apparent that Labour’s support has been declining steadily since shortly after the 2017 General Election with most of it going over to Don’t Know. Because opinion pollsters typically remove Don’t Knows and Won’t Votes before publishing their headline figures, this has concealed Labour’s weakness.

  • Martin 23rd Apr ’18 – 11:51am……..
    “Regarding Labour trying for political advantage?
    For heaven’s sake; it’s what political parties, including our own, do…”
    You miss an important point. Usually this is what Labour does, even to the extent of voting against its own policies…………….

    Martin, it is you who misses the point…”Glasshouses and Stones” come to mind. Two words “Tuition Fees”…

  • Peter Watson 23rd Apr '18 - 3:30pm

    @expats “Regarding Labour trying for political advantage? For heaven’s sake; it’s what political parties, including our own, do…”
    I’ve often thought that the Lib Dem strategy since the EU Referendum has more to do with seeking party political advantage (by courting the votes of Tory Remainers in particular) than it is about actually trying to stop Brexit since that would require a far more coordinated and cooperative cross-party approach.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Apr ’18 – 3:30pm……[email protected] “Regarding Labour trying for political advantage? For heaven’s sake; it’s what political parties, including our own, do…”
    I’ve often thought that the Lib Dem strategy since the EU Referendum has more to do with seeking party political advantage (by courting the votes of Tory Remainers in particular) than it is about actually trying to stop Brexit since that would require a far more coordinated and cooperative cross-party approach……

    I don’t know…However, I note we have gone from “75% of coalition policies are LibDem” to “There are 16 million potential LibDem voters” without pausing for breath…

  • Rebecca Taylor 27th Apr '18 - 9:40am

    It is quite possible that any final Brexit deal from this inept Tory government or prospects of it start to look very obviously damaging to the UK even to the casual observer. In such a situation, you may find MPs shifting their position on a people’s vote if only to avoid being blamed for a disaster (aka self preservation!).

    Before such a situation arises, the only thing that will make Labour & Tories listen is being punished electorally. Once Brexit can be seen as a vote loser, some politicians will rediscover their previous Remain supporting sentiments. I’m a little afraid however that the timing of this will be too late to #StopBrexitSaveBritain ☹️.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRob Parsons 19th Dec - 12:21pm
    The sentence that reads "However, it has its" should read "However, it has its own food bank".
  • User AvatarP.J. 19th Dec - 11:55am
    @Mark Argent @John King I agree entirely. Problem is that we have to be realistic. Given the human condition, it is unfortunately, quicker and easier...
  • User AvatarWilliam Le Breton 19th Dec - 11:33am
    Of course I welcome the fact that we have finally come round to the obvious course of tabling (almost) our own vote of no confidence...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th Dec - 11:26am
    @David Raw ! I am not as you know saying that PCSOs are equivalent to full-time police officers. To say that is to completely and...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:32am
    On second thoughts, perhaps that sentence should have read ‘Intellect 1 Common Sense 0’. And no, I’m not going to name the MP, although I...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:13am
    @Jayne Mansfield The trouble with all Representatives, from Parliament down (or should it be ‘up’) to Parish Council, is that you don’t need any qualification...