The cynical reader may say “this is just a vote Labour blog”. It’s not, I’ve campaigned for tactical voting for the past two general elections running the “ABC” (Anything But Conservative” facebook page. Clearly it needs to be an “Anything but Farage and Conservative leaver” page now - ABFACL isn’t such a snappy acronym but it should be the critical objective of the Euro elections.
Headlines like those in yesterday's Daily Express crying "Brexit was a 99% done deal" have hardened anti labour sentiment in remain community. Tories are claiming May and Corbyn are close to a deal, why wouldn't they? I can't think of a better way of damaging Labour.
It is a deeply improbable narrative. Corbyn would be a poor politician if he failed to realise such a course would be the end of his leadership - and possibly the end of the Labour Party. Remain supporting Labour members would never forgive him, the overwhelming majority of Labour MP's oppose Brexit, and Corbyn's personal credibility relies strongly on his commitment to party democracy, for him, ignoring a conference vote is almost unthinkable. Matthew D'Ancona gives a far more realistic assessment of the story.
Remainers should be more able to recognise the ability of the right to manipulate the narrative than pretty much any other single issue group. We saw the power of untruth, false narratives and media complicity in the Brexit campaign. Get past the emotional shock of the headlines and this looks like another “perfect storm” generated by the same toxic mix of disinformation, social media hysteria and a deeply complicit media that created Brexit in the first place. The other big sticking point is Labour's failure to offer open support for a PV.
I know a lot of remainers find Labour's equivocal policy difficult, I do myself at times, but it is underpinned by a powerful rationale that goes beyond the Labour voter divide on Brexit. Two of the justifications for the “Labour Brexit position” are democratic legitimacy and the fear that outright opposition to the referendum result would drive significant numbers of working class Labour supporters into the arms of the far right, possibly permanently.
Both still hold good. On democratic legitimacy opinions are shifting - but as the local election results demonstrated, Labour suffered most in the strong labour leave areas. Would wholesale support for a PV right now create a backlash, even reverse the softening of of leaver mood? It’s very delicate. Many working class voters teeter on the brink: "do I stick with Labour or to I express my rage with a vote for Farage". These are Labour supporters who vote with hearts more than minds. Once they fall out of love they may well never come back.
Leavers also need to recognise that at the moment a Labour switch on PV serves no rational political purpose. Right now it’s euro election time - not referendum time. Opinion on Brexit is still very volatile and an overt pro-PV policy risks handing Farage even more seats.
What really worries me is that remainers are in danger of turning a “perfect storm” into a full scale clusterfuck. Using the local elections to “send a message” was fine. Carrying the “only the Lib Dems can stop Brexit” line into the Euro Elections will be disastrous. The Lib Dems can’t stop Brexit - anyone who believes this is living in dreamland. Voting Lib Dem without considering if it gives leave candidates seats would be disastrous.
Tactical voting in the Euro Elections is essential. The argument that “seats don’t matter, it’s votes for remain parties that count” is a dangerous delusion. 20 seats or more for Farage would give him a major PR victory. He will be lauded by the media, it would reinvigorate a demoralised leaver campaign and the press will ignore votes cast and focus entirely on seats won. It could even baulk the gradual pro-remain shift of public opinion - and it could have very serious consequences for the political balance of the European Parliament.
This is my desperate attempt to persuade anyone intending to cast their vote for overtly pro european parties "no matter what" is the best use of their vote to think again.
A far more effective strategy is to to support sitting pro remain MEP’s - even Tories. Returning every one of them will be a great moral victory for Remain. After that vote for the remain candidates most like to ensure Farage’s Brexit Party don’t win. Don’t let anti-labour hysteria, mislead you over the euro elections. Their outcome can send a powerful message. Set aside political differences and vote tactically, for pro Brexit candidates and to defeat Farage. Don’t give leavers a landslide and don’t risk giving the far right real power in the European parliament.
Visit https://tactical.vote/ep2019/ - to see the best options in your area