Skip to main content

The significance of being neutral

Being 'neutral' in any people's vote may be a game-changer.

We suspect there is a nervousness creeping into the Tory party election HQ.   They have, it seems, a commanding lead in the opinion polls.  It should see them through.  Could Jeremy Corbyn's Labour pull it back?

If you set out to paint your opponent as 'unfit' to be prime minister, this creates a problem when the more voters see him, he comes across as eminently reasonable.   This is what happened with Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.  It could happen again, and the next week will indicate whether this is happening.

Since the election was called,  Labour has been closing the gap, slowly.   Their manifesto launch went well, and Jeremy Corbyn has performed well in both the head-to-head debate with Boris Johnson and on  BBCQT.   Boris bumbled his way through.  There wasn't exactly a knock-out blow, but focusing on Brexit is wearing thin when voters are beginning to express concern about other pressing issues.

No doubt, Corbyn will be attacked for announcing he would be 'neutral' in a new Brexit referendum.  "How could a leader be neutral on such a big issue?"

Yet, it is a perfectly reasonable position.  Labour in this election is reaching out to both sides of the Brexit divide.  Corbyn is adopting the Harold Wilson strategy.

If Labour forms a government under Jeremy Corbyn, then they would negotiate a customs union with the EU and alignment with the single market to protect jobs and standards.  This deal would then be put back to the people to decide if it is what they want.

There is every indication that such a deal could be negotiated reasonably quickly.   During the three years of Tory failure to find an acceptable settlement,  Labour also has been talking to EU counterparts.  A customs union would be a reasonable way forward.  It solves the problem of Northern Ireland without separation from the rest of the UK.

But when faced with the choice between that and remain, voters may well decide that the UK is better off in than out.  At least they will have that say.

This reaches across the divide and has at least some chance to begin pulling the UK back together.  It is in all our interests.

For those who have called for a People's Vote, the choice is now simple.  Only Labour can deliver it. For those who wish to remain and revoke article 50, then they also will have a chance to put their case.  For those who want to leave, they will also be able to make their case.

If Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister remains 'neutral' it would mean that the massive civil service machine will also remain neutral.

It will not seek to influence the decision with figures or claims on either side.  It could only provide the details of any deal.  That is reasonable.  The so-called 'scare' tactics evident in the 2016 referendum where the treasury was producing figures that appeared off the cuff would not happen again.

This is why being 'neutral' is so vital in reaching a result that the country could accept and move forward with.

But Labour would negotiate a deal that could reasonably be put to the British people.  It must be one that we could live with and which does not further divide the country.

The reasoned choice on Brexit in the election became clearer by Jeremy Corbyn's clear declaration on BBCQT that he would remain neutral on any deal put back to the people.

The significance of that is more than a personal position.  It speaks to the heart of fairness in any people' vote.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

A time for every purpose

All life moves. Or, more precisely, all life moves purposefully.  This is true even for trees and plants.  Movement is essential for maintaining life.  Animals migrate; plants disperse.  Some form of migration is an ingredient of all life.  For many organisms, it is a key function of reproduction.  We don't reproduce merely to create a new organism, but also to disperse the population - finding new fertile ground, or resources. Reproduction is a form of migration. Reproduction isn't merely to replicate. Reproduction produces change and diversity.  While we may have strong resemblences in families, we also have differences.  Creating a difference is how evolution works.  In this sense, nature is a continuous exploratory process, finding what works best.  Nature senses change and responds.  Some of this is immediate and physiological or behavioural; some of it is over generations.  If we look at a forest over long periods of time, we would see that it shifts. There is a movement

A weaver's tail - the harvest mouse

Living in the grass is a tiny mouse: the tiny harvest mouse, with a wonderful scientific name that sounds like the title of a Charles Dickens Novel,  Micromys minutus.   It is the only British mammal with a prehensile tail. It uses its tail to hold on to the slender grass stems, at the tops of which it builds a nest. Photo: Nick Fewing These tiny mammals (just around 5 cm long) build a spherical nest of tightly woven grass at the top of tall grasses, in which the female will give birth to about six young.  In the fields, we see cows and horses brushing away flies with their tails; often they will stand side-by-side and end-to-end, and help each other.  Two tails are better than one!  In nature, tails are put to good use.  Just as a tight-rope walker uses his pole for balance, so for some species, a tail provides balance. When running, a squirrel uses its tail as a counterbalance to help the squirrel steer and turn quickly, and the tail is used aerodynamically in flight.  But many anima