Brexit may mean Brexit, but Brexit doesn’t mean May’s Brexit

It has been a week where what the public actually voted for in the EU referendum was finally, albeit slightly, revealed through Theresa May’s 12 point Brexit plan. Finally, we have some level of understanding of what a ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ signifies. These twelve points, which I will not discuss in detail here as it is not the purpose of my writing, are the backbone of what May hopes to achieve through her enacting of article 50 and the leaving of the European Union. But in summary, it makes Britain defy all laws of economics and sociology and become a centre of free trade.

However, what caught my eye was that, in spite of her pathetic attempts to stop it, May has agreed to let parliament vote on this issue. Democratically elected representatives will actually get a say on what constitutes such issues such as national sovereignty and will be allowed to debate the Brexit strategy. Despite the wishes of at least 48% of the nation there will be, and probably should not be, a repeal of the plebiscite that pushed the UK into Brexit, but a debate in parliament has the benefit of vetting the leaving plan and strategy. It allows parliament to check that this strategy does work in the UK’s favour, to the best of its ability.

With this in mind, what strikes me as odd is the complete nonchalance shown by Jeremy Corbyn by enacting the party whip in making sure his MPs vote in favour of the Article 50 trigger. By saying this Corbyn is essentially saying that what the Conservative government wants to happen in regards to Brexit will happen. Corbyn is making his MPs neglect their own constituents, the members of his party who mainly voted in favour of Remain and those people who may not oppose Brexit as an idea, but reject Theresa May’s vision of Brexit.

But to me, this is synonymous of the problems that embody Corbyn as the leader of the opposition. In the wake of Brexit, the Conservative party was in disarray, the Prime Minister had to step down and there was chaos. As much as the coup within the Labour Party did not help (and no it was not just the work of ‘Blairites’ and ‘Red Tories’ there are legitimate reasons from socialists such as myself why they had lost faith in Corbyn) absolutely no effort was made to try and make political gains from the self-destruction of the Conservatives, instead Labour self-destructed too and has not rebuilt at all in the same way the Conservatives have managed to. Corbyn cemented himself as the leader, but he has done little to actually oppose.

The media are partly to blame, as always, it is hard for Corbyn to get good press when he levels himself as someone who opposes the press. But press is not the issue, as we inhabit the world in which people are increasingly accessing news that only agrees with their opinion, not once have I seen Corbyn actually pressure the Government. Brexit would be a perfect time to state what he would do differently, how a Labour Government would handle Brexit. To oppose Article 50 in the commons, not because he wants to vote against the people, but to show the people that he does not agree with May’s Brexit. That he wants a Brexit that works for the people, rather than letting Phillip Hammond speculate that Britain may become a tax haven for the wealthy.

If Corbyn so drastically wants a rebrand to a more populist image, a man of the people for the people, then he should start listening to the people because at the moment people are rejecting him. If he wants to ‘respect the decision of the British People’ then he should also start respecting the opinion polls of the British people that put him behind Theresa May. That show a growing Liberal Democrat party whose leader is actually making and pushing the point of opposing Brexit.

There is cause for hope, as much as the dreaded rise of the far right is occurring through candidates such as Trump and Le Pen, the success of Bernie Sanders in the US Democratic primaries and Benoit Hamon recently surging in the polls in France shows that maybe it is dramatic change that people want rather than Fascism and Right Wing intolerance. Corbyn surged to Labour Party leadership because of these reasons. But unlike the aforementioned candidates, Corbyn has not been able to get his message out to outside of his own party. The issue is not so much what he stands for, but getting his message across.

Opposing Article 50 being triggered would show his leadership skills. It would send a message the Media could not ignore and one that would appeal to about 48% of the nation. In a world that is looking for alternatives, it is time that Labour, and by extension Corbyn, show the UK that Brexit can mean Brexit, but it does not mean May’s Brexit.

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Because the world needs another opinion on the US Presidential Election

A question that is asked at the end of every election is whether the victor won the election or the loser lost it. Ultimately it is always somewhere between the two, the victor did things to win the election and the loser did things to lose it. But as the world prepares for the dawn of the age of President Donald J. Trump, I think the progressive Left can look for hope in a belief that it was not Trump who won the election, but Hillary Clinton who lost it.

2016 will be remembered in history for two votes, The EU Referendum and the US Presidential election, with their common ground being a rejection of the status quo. Both the UK and the US voted for change, a change that personally I feel is more detrimental than beneficial to both nations but a change nonetheless. Unfortunately, I believe that this change is no more than a desire by some of the people who voted for them as a return to an era that does not and cannot longer exist, with desires of Making America Great Again and Taking Back Control in a world where that is increasingly impossible and actually counterproductive on a global stage. However, the desire for change from the status quo is admirable and one that I can back.

Obama promised “Change we can believe in” and captured an optimism and desire for progressive change. A desire by the people to make an African American president, a desire to create affordable healthcare and a desire for social changes. The jury is out on if he succeeded here and what his legacy will be. Hillary tried to recapture this hope of progressive change by trying to become the first woman president but that was not enough against a man who claimed he would provide real change. Trump was arguing for a complete change to the establishment, the dismantlement of the political juggernaut families and the like, (he beat a Bush in order to become republican nominee) whereas to many Americans Clinton was the embodiment of establishment politics.

This election could never have been about anything else than anti-establishment politics. When Clinton faced Sanders in the primaries, in an election that I believe to have been rigged by the DNC in favour of Clinton, she was constantly attacked for being a member of the establishment. Sanders galvanised a progressive movement in the US similar to the one that Corbyn represents in the UK and created a group of people who described themselves as “Bernie or bust.” Democratic, left-leaning supporters who wanted the dismantlement of establishment in a similar way that Trump’s supporters desired. They could not wholeheartedly vote for Clinton because she was in many ways the enemy, any vote for Clinton would be one of reluctance and in many ways, in a parallel of what the media has accused Trump of on many occasions, fear.

Trump opposes almost everything I stand for. His stances on immigrants, minorities, abortions and almost every other social policy I can fathom are despicable and in many ways something to fear. However, fear of Trump alone is not enough to start a movement (Although recent events in America may soon prove this wrong), especially when it is being spearheaded by someone who people in her own party see as untrustworthy and dishonest. Trump harnessed fear in a direct sense, he picked up on the fear of immigrants, fear of job losses and fear of America losing its premier position in world politics. Clinton tried to fight a campaign on fear too, however, this was the fear of what Trump could do and thus more hypothetical. There is undoubtedly reason to be fearful of Trump when being a minority in the US, and for some this would be reason enough to vote for Clinton, but for many this was not. This is reflected in the overall results where Trump got approximately the same votes as Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Hillary got 10 million less than Obama in 2008 and 5 million less than in 2012.

In that sense is it possible to say that Trump won the election? Trump managed to maintain a core Republican base, even when being such a divisive candidate, but Hillary did not manage to get out the voters that Obama did. Hillary did not manage to connect with millennials in a way that resulted in increased turnout like Obama did. Hillary did not create a movement like Sanders did. To that extent, this election is less about Trump beating Clinton and more Clinton (and the DNC) failing to connect with America.

So why has this given me optimism? In many ways it cannot be argued that the right is growing, votes and turnout did not drastically improve in this election. It could be argued that the left is dwindling, however, I would argue that the fall in turnout was more due to the apathy of establishment politics. Both Republicans and Democrats want a change to the norms of the establishment as witnessed by the meteoric rise of Sanders. Trump was an outsider, no experience of public office and woefully underequipped and prepared for the job, but to Republicans, this did not matter he was better than the democratic candidate. To many people, swing voters, and democrats alike, Clinton was the lesser of two evils* but not something worth voting for, or making the effort to vote for. Essentially these people were less Pro-Clinton and more Anti-Trump whereas Trump’s supporters were Pro-Trump making them more likely to vote Trump. Ultimately fear of Trump was not enough. What gives me optimism is that establishment politics is under attack from both sides. It saddens and distresses me greatly that it is the Right and a man who’s few endorsements are from groups like the KKK and NRA who is in control of the most powerful nation on earth, but I am heartened by the fact that more and more people want change to a system that is not working for them. I hope that this encourages the Left to create movements for progressive and more worthwhile change that is based less on fear, like both sides peddled this election and more on hope optimism and real reform of a world that right now is working for the few, such as Trump and Clinton and not for the many such as you and me.

* I do wish to add as a footnote that this lesser of two evils argument has come under attack from people who claim that this argument was damaging to Clinton. People are free to think whatever they want, both candidates were terrible options for America just one was worse than the other. In my opinion, this is damaging to Clinton but the truth.