Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is trying hard to restore the party’s electability, by distancing himself from Jeremy Corbyn’s far left. Earlier this month, Labour moderates dealt Corbynites a crushing blow, as they installed David Evans as general secretary. Mr Evans worked for the party under Tony Blair and saw off stiff competition from Andrew Fisher, one of Mr Corbyn’s former advisers.
The appointment came after an already wide-ranging Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. which saw a string of Corbynite frontbenchers including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon replaced with figures from the party’s soft-left.
However, despite Sir Keir‘s efforts, this might not be enough.
Former Labour Foreign Secretary and SDP co-founder Lord David Owen recently told Express.co.uk that the Labour leader’s view on Brexit will likely damage him in the long run.
He said: “I hope he doesn’t spend this whole time using the same language and discussions as he did these past four years.
“He did great damage to the Labour stance by forcing the London view to be the majority view.
“That is not the majority view in the Labour Party and he has got to be very careful about that.”
Brexit shock analysis: Left’s bizarre misjudgement in supporting EU membership laid bare (Image: GETTY)
Sir Keir Starmer (Image: GETTY)
Lord Owen’s comments were echoed by Peter Ramsey – a prominent Professor of Law at the London School of Economics (LSE), who explained why EU membership, or a pro-EU stance effectively undermines the left.
In a 2018 entry for the LSE blog, Mr Ramsey argued that it is left-wing Remainers who are stuck in the past and that a “fetishism of the supranational and the cosmopolitan is the real problem for the left”.
Mr Ramsey criticised an article written by Professor of Public Policy Peter Verovsek, who reminded Britons that “since Marx, the left has been a self-consciously international movement that seeks to transcend both the nation and the state”.
However, Mr Ramsey noted, it is leaving the EU that challenges and disrupts the British state in its contemporary form.
He explained: “Remaining in the EU means not challenging or disrupting the smooth operation of the actually existing political form of capitalist rule in Britain today.
“The EU is not a foreign superstate that rules over Britain. The EU is a political form through which the British government collaborates with other European governments in order to govern Britain.
“The other EU member states do the same for their own populations and territories.
“They collaborate with each other by constitutionalising various restrictions on economic policy, and by making law in intergovernmental forums.
“This intergovernmental process means that European governments are more accountable to each other than they are to their domestic legislatures. The capitalist nation states of Europe have been transformed by EU membership into capitalist member states.
“Brexit represents a serious blow to this form of remote and unaccountable government, the one by which we are actually ruled.”
This blow is experienced as such by the British state’s political, bureaucratic and academic cadres, Mr Ramsey added, who have been relentlessly negative about the vote to leave, and the prospect of implementing it.
He noted: “And it is why the support of so much of the left for Remain is profoundly conservative.”
The Professor concluded: “The EU has systematically undermined solidarity within its own borders, pursuing policies that have created a northern core and a southern periphery with disastrous consequences for the states in the periphery.
“Its approach to the migration of Africans and Asians across its borders is about as far from internationalism as you could get. This is not an accident.
“Once the nature of the EU is grasped it is apparent that the chief obstacle to the development of a genuine internationalism – of political solidarity between the peoples of different nations – is not the moribund British nation state, but the counterfeit of internationalism that is liberal supranationalism, and its chief institution, the EU.
“Brexit is not the end of the left’s aims, but the beginning.
“For real international solidarity to have a chance in Europe we need democratic movements for Grexit, Fraxit, Deutschxit and all the rest.”
Former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan (Image: GETTY)
In 2016 BBC debate with former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan and former Shadow Secretary of State for Communities Emma Reynolds, the prominent Brexiteer also argued Labour members should not feel comfortable in supporting the “elitist” and “antidemocratic” EU.
Mr Hannan asked Ms Reynolds: “We have in this country and you are an example of it, a very high-minded radical tradition that has been very good at dispersing power away from oligarchs to the general population.
“As an heiress to [John] Wilkes and [Thomas] Paine and the Suffragettes and the Chartists, do you feel comfortable backing an elitist, antidemocratic project where supreme power is wielded by people who are immune to the ballot box?
“Where we have to pay more to wealthy French farmers than to poor African farmers?
“Where we have inflicted joblessness and misery on tens of millions of working people around the Mediterranean while eurocrats fly around in private jets?
“Does it feel comfortable as a person on the centre-left lining up with those policies?”
Ms Reynolds rebutted: “I feel comfortable because I think the EU has been a force for good in terms of employment protection for workers in a way that a Conservative government never has.
“I feel comfortable because we elect our MPs and we elect a government that sends ministers to Brussels who have their final say on European regulations and I feel comfortable as an MP in the British Parliament that over the vast majority of policy areas whether it’s health, housing, education, policing we have competence in those areas.”
Mr Hannan then asked: “What do you think is the strongest argument for voting Leave?”
Ms Reynolds immediately responded: “I don’t think there is one.”
Launching an attack on the majority of “close-minded” remainers, the former Conservative MEP fired: “I think this is one of the things that puzzles people trying to make up their mind.
“I can see arguments on your side.
“What is extraordinary to me, is people who think of themselves and make an issue about being open-minded and reasonable struggle to think there is another point of view at all.
“They just can’t put themselves in the shoes of people who the EU is not benefitting – the majority of people in this country.”