Labour needs to stop playing it safe and offer a real alternative to Theresa May's useless posturing

James Moore

Anyone seen the Labour Party? Is there an opposition still alive outside of Vince Cable?

The prime minister has just had her biggest policy blown to pieces. She’s followed it with a childish hissy fit that would embarrass even the most hormonal of teenagers.

She’s now preparing to stick a switchblade into the heart of her own country so we all get to suffer along with her. Thanks Thezza!

While this goes on, the official opposition is acting like one of those lizards that can make itself look like a piece of tree bark.

Let’s be clear here, Labour didn’t make Brexit.

It is a Tory project. The godawful mess that is being created is one of their making and it is their responsibility, however hard they try to evade it.

But as Theresa May pouts and postures and prepares to skewer her own country with a no-deal Brexit, and the people who sit on the government benches in parliament with her put their own ambitions above a developing national crisis, sitting on the fence like Labour has been doing looks more and more questionable as a strategy.

The cautious manoeuvring, the woolly attempts to keep Leave-backing supporters on board while finding a way to reconcile the desires of both sides of a divided nation into something all can live with? It’s a Labour fantasy just as May donning the mantle of Britannia and finding a miracle that allows her to ride a fiery charger to a glorious finale on a road build of magic moonbeams is a Tory one.

Labour, and especially its leadership, needs to think very hard about this as its conference gets underway, and the temperature of the debate starts to heat up, because a truly brutal reality is looming that will his its people the hardest. And when I say “hit” I’m talking about a combination of Anthony Joshua’s finest.

There are the people like me who have long-term medical conditions and are dependent on the NHS’s imported drugs for our very survival. The lack of attention paid to this makes Britain feel like a hard-faced and callous country.

In addition to us, there are millions more “Jams”, the people who are “just about managing”. Their situation is anything but sweet right now. A no-deal Brexit is going to tip many of them over the edge.

Oxford Economics reckons the economy will be 2 per cent smaller by 2020 if that’s the outcome, which in real money means £44.5bn, or £618 for every man, woman, and child in this country, over and above what we’ve already lost through higher prices and the stuttering economy we’ve experienced over the last two years.

The TUC recently published an analysis based on government figures showing that average household income has been below spending in every three-month quarter of the May premiership.

Now take £618 out of everyone’s pockets and ask yourself what’s going to happen.

Then there are the young, whose futures are going to get wrecked and who, perhaps naively, backed Jeremy Corbyn because they thought that here, finally, is someone different.

If Labour isn’t going to fight for these people, what the hell is the point of the party?

There are some who argue that its leadership has been smart to sit back and vacillate while the Tories have cut themselves to pieces.

Why not leave them to it while carefully following the public down the reality road as the dismal lies of the Brexiteers – and their abject cowardice in competing to see who can win the European Research Group sponsored Running From Responsibility Handicap Stakes – become more and more glaringly obvious.

If we stay away from the spotlight, they’ll do our work for us!

The problem with this is that once people have finished licking their wounds they might very well ask where Labour was and what it thought it was doing while they were getting beaten up. They might very well contrast its gutlessness with that of May’s rabble and then say “a plague on both your houses”.

Sure, the party may have kept some Labour leavers on board. But it shouldn’t kid itself. There are a lot of remainers who will be angry enough to dump it if it continues to hide.

The flip side of this is the survey indicating that Corbyn, whose poll ratings have been becalmed for months despite sitting opposite a truly wretched government, could gain 1.5m more votes net by doing the sensible thing and backing giving the people the final say the Independent has been campaigning for.

Corbyn and Labour are faced with a choice. They can either be the people who wipe Jacob Rees-Mogg’s arse on his nanny’s day off, or they can go out and fight against the bigoted Tory mob in the interests of their people.

The fence they’ve been sitting is rapidly falling to pieces.