A socialist post-Brexit vision from Jeremy Corbyn would highlight the hypocrisy of Labour’s Remainers

A socialist post-Brexit vision from Jeremy Corbyn would highlight the hypocrisy of Labour’s Remainers

According to a recent YouGov survey, the number of 18-24 year olds who indicate a voting intention for the Labour Party has fallen by 12 percentage points since the beginning of the year. What was described as the ‘youthquake’ in the 2017 general election, with a significant increase in young people turning to the Labour Party, is sliding backwards. The verve and excitement which Jeremy Corbyn brought to many first time voters, and young people, was extraordinary. So, why is this changing – and should the Labour Party be worried?

Although the Labour Party did not garner a majority in the 2017 election, there is no doubt that they did vastly better than was expected and that was largely down to Jeremy Corbyn and young activists. There was an energy to the campaigning which had arguably not been evident in the party for decades, and definitely was not nearly as present within the grassroots of the Conservative Party. The rise in youth activists, and increased interest amongst young people in politics, is a defining feature of Corbyn’s leadership. So why the shift?

Brexit, as seems to be the answer to most of the country’s issues. Brexit is a major stumbling block in the policy and tone of the Corbyn’s leadership. As is obvious to anyone with a memory of more than two years, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been staunch Brexiteers for decades. In fact, it only takes a brief look through old footage or documents to find anti-EU statements from much of the Labour leadership over the years. However, they lead a parliamentary party and membership which is overwhelmingly pro-Remain. Although this may seem like a classic political conundrum, in which the rule of the members and MPs must overrule the leadership, the voters are being forgotten. With 40% of the 2017 Labour vote having voted to Leave, this is no small issue. The Labour Party, however much individuals such as Chuka Umunna and Stephen Kinnock may wish, is not and can never be a Remain party.

Confusion surrounding the view on Brexit from the leadership of the party has clearly led supporters to falter in their support. Young, left-wing voters are yearning for a positive post-Brexit vision. Whether they voted Leave or Remain, there is a vacuum within the left of our political discourse surrounding an independent Britain – and the Labour Party need to fill it. If Jeremy Corbyn were to put forward a positive, socialist vision of Britain after 29th March 2019, young socialists would be able to see the hypocrisy of Labour Remainers. But this vision and argument has not been put forward by more than a handful of Labour MPs, so the choice has not been given.

A change in course is necessary, and if Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit narrative changed, so would the polls. Instead of merely being reactive, the Labour Party needs to be proactive and highlight what a genuinely socialist government could do outside the tentacles of the European Union.

It is disingenuous for those who have stood on the 2017 Labour manifesto to simultaneously support Remaining in the European Union. Policies, such as the nationalisation of the railways, which is hugely popular amongst 18-24 year olds, would not be possible while inside the EU. It is false to portray otherwise. And if the Parliamentary Labour Party were not so sceptical of Jeremy Corbyn and his vision for Britain, it is likely they would not be so fervently be pushing to Remain. They fear that a genuine Brexit would enable a Corbyn-led government to implement truly socialist policies which would dramatically change the nature of our society.

Leadership must be shown, and courage must be had, if Corbyn’s vision is not to die a death.