I agree with the point Gary Younge is making (Don’t give up on Labour now. It’s been much worse than this, 17 May). For those lifelong Labour voters who have stuck with the party through thick and thin, Brexit is perhaps an unexpected tipping point.
I am not a lifelong voter, and in fact I left the Labour party when Tony Blair became leader. This was initially more a gut reaction than anything specific, but I felt my instincts had served me well during Blair’s obduracy over Iraq, and I voted Lib Dem because I appreciated Charles Kennedy’s stance on the issue. However, I rejoined Labour when Ed Miliband became leader; he wasn’t the most charismatic, but I felt he showed sincerity and represented a step in the right direction. (This was before the sad tale of the Ed stone.) When Jeremy Corbyn became leader, I felt a renewed commitment, and, regrettably, I blanked out the moments when he expressed something I felt was blatantly wrong – such as his wanting to revoke article 50 the morning after the referendum.
Recently, my hand hesitated over the keyboard many times until, a week ago, I finally cancelled my Labour membership once again. I am a remainer, but, aside from the ins and outs of EU membership, I feel increasingly irritated by Corbyn’s so-called constructive ambiguity, his stubbornness and apparent failure to listen. What felt like a breath of fresh air when Corbyn first became leader now feels like the increasingly stale breath of someone who knows, deep down, his moment in the Glastonbury sun has passed.
North Walsham, Norfolk
• Gary Younge provides a welcome challenge and food for thought to those of us in despair over Labour’s position on Brexit.
Both Iraq and Brexit were founded on lies and deceit and, not overlooking the enormous suffering in Iraq, Brexit is having a far more profound impact upon people in this country.
If pushed, I could at least briefly explain the Labour government’s decision on Iraq to voters on the doorstep – unlike Brexit, which would take at least 20 minutes of their time. Whether you love him or loathe him – and in my view he is tainted by Iraq despite his considerable domestic achievements – Blair was not afraid to lead, unlike Jeremy Corbyn, on the defining issue of our times.
• Gary Younge is mistaken to frame the current position facing the Labour party as a paler version of its disastrous decision to support the Iraq war. As we are facing a possible collapse of the traditional political system in the UK, the Labour party’s current response to Brexit is made in a policy context completely removed from 2003.
Those of us who stayed in the party during the Blair years did so because we recognised then the fundamental truths that Labour was the only mechanism for progressive political change in the country and that Blairism would end.
What faces us now is the complete erosion of the party’s claim to internationalism, solidarity and its ability to put itself on the right side of fundamental questions facing the future of this country. If the party cannot take an unequivocal stance on remaining within the EU, then it faces the probability of being replaced by those who can. From this Labour member’s view, things cannot get much worse than that.
• I voted for Tony Blair in three general elections. I am proud to say so. If it wasn’t for him, the Tories would have destroyed the health service, education, police force and welfare state beyond repair as they are doing now. I don’t remember food banks being the norm, record suicide numbers in young men, teaching staff having to ask parents for donations and doing maintenance works themselves. Waiting three years for a hip replacement, watching the horrific Troubles in Northern Ireland on the news. Plus he introduced the minimum wage (which John Major said would not work). Just a few points people should remember before getting all high and mighty.
• Gary Younge underlines how odd the world can look if it is seen through the prism of Brexit. I stopped voting Labour for a period after the Iraq war. I’ll happily vote for them again now, and will on Thursday. Some of the Labour figures who took a principled stand against that war are now leading the party. Not launching illegal wars seems to me more significant than whether we are in or out of the EU, or somewhere between the two.
• Peter Bradshaw seems to want Ken Loach’s new film about the struggles of those on zero hours and in bogus self-employed work to talk about Brexit (Loach takes a superb swipe at zero-hours Britain, 17 May). But what to say? The film is set in the here and now while we are still members, and the EU has done nothing to protect millions of workers from this exploitation.
Remain voters are threatening to withdraw their votes from Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s tightrope walk over Brexit. I can only echo Gary Younge. A Labour government could improve the promised £10 per hour minimum wage to £15 for those working more than their contractual hours.
• Having just received my EU election communication from Labour, I have decided to keep the option of voting Labour on the table.
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