by Iain Donaldson on 2 June, 2016
In the film Brigadoon we are told the tale of a mysterious town that vanished in the mists and reappears once every hundred years.
Today we see the Labour party taking a similar approach to public campaigning on the European Referendum, as it spends more time debating the rights and wrongs of sharing platforms with political opponents in common cause than it does campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union.
Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, Welsh Nationalists and the Green Party have all managed to unite behind the Remain campaign, to share platforms and to express their various differing reasons as to why the UK should remain in the EU. We have been joined on platforms by Conservative and Labour activists alike.
UKIP have similarly manages to largely unite behind the Leave campaign and to share platforms and express their different reasons to leave the EU alongside Labour and Conservative MP’s on the Leave side of the debate.
The Conservative leadership has quite successfully split into two cavalries, one riding with Remain and the other riding with Leave, and although the splits in the party are now more stark than ever, they are somehow managing to retain a degree of civility towards each other whilst this civil war is fought.
Labour, however tell a very different story with Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell this week having made absolutely clear the reason why Jeremy Corbyn must never be Prime Minister of this country.
Any claim by Labour activists that an SNP-Lab coalition (or indeed a Lib-Lab coalition) could ever happen under Labour’s current leadership was laid to rest when Mr McDonnell stated that ‘sharing a platform with the Conservatives “discredits” Labour’, because the reason given was that Labour’s reaons for supporting Remain are different to those of the Conservatives.
When it comes to the question of whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU, the Labour party is in the strange position of having its most Eurosceptic leader in a generation, and furthermore the Vote Leave campaign is chaired by a Labour MP, Gisela Stuart.
Labour MP’s claim to speak for the party, but they can not claim to speak for their leader, and this week’s veiled attack on Sadiq Khan for sharing a platform with David Cameron in a campaign where they share common concern totally undermines Labour’s ability to ever participate in a coalition government.
To form a government Labour would have to work in coalition or partnership of some form with the SNP whose very reason for existence it to break up the very United Kingdom that Labour is sworn to protect. If the Labour leadership can not share a platform with members of another party when they in agreement on an issue, then how could they share Government with a party whose ambition it so fundamentally opposes on a parallel issue of equal importance.
The Labour Party’s Leadership, and many of their members, have given an absolutely clear indication this week that the party is not capable of forming a stable Government whilst Jeremy Corbyn is its leader. This indication comes not through its principles or philosophy, but rather through the attitude it has shown towards sharing a platform with members of other political parties (in this case Sadiq Khan sharing a platform with David Cameron).
If like Brigadoon, Labour is only to be seen in public isolation once every hundred years then it is doomed in the long term to permanent opposition and carping from the sidelines. Like Brigadoon, it may reappear from time to time but it is eventually destined to fade away.