Interview with an invertebrate

Submitted by AWL on 30 October, 2019 - 10:53 Author: Jim Denham

What to call those Labour MPs who backed Johnson’s Brexit bill? I tend to the view that the word “scab” should be restricted to industrial strike-breaking.

“Traitor” should probably be avoided in the present incendiary political atmosphere. So how about “invertebrate”?

We surely shouldn’t expect one such invertebrate receiving an entirely uncritical interview in what claims to be Britain’s only socialist daily paper.

Yet the Morning Star’s Lamiat Sabin (23 Oct) made Melanie Onn MP seem almost heroic: “But, where she differs from many of her parliamentary colleagues, Onn is prepared to put her personal views aside to give voice to her constituents in the House of Commons.”

“I intend to vote for it purely in the name of giving a voice to my constituents, whether they are Labour voters or not. They gave a very firm and loud opinion.”

So putting constituents first is the principle? But look at the list of invertebrates: apart from Melanie Onn, we have Jon Cruddas, Lisa Nandy, Ruth Smeeth, Dan Jarvis, and several others who supported Owen Smith’s leadership campaign in 2016.

As going for a second referendum was the central plank of his pitch then, just weeks after the EU referendum, where was the precious will of their constituents then?

Melanie Onn has an explanation: time. She explains to the Morning Star: “We have gone beyond three years since the referendum.” So on the stroke of midnight on 23 June 2019, it became acceptable to vote with the Tories to enable a regression of historic proportions and inevitable attacks on protections for workers, the environment and consumers?

In fairness, the interview was before a government report was leaked to the Financial Times (26 Oct):

“In a passage that could alarm Labour MPs who have backed the Brexit bill, the leaked government document also said the drafting of workers’ rights and environmental protection commitments ‘leaves room for interpretation’.

“The paper appears to contradict comments made by Mr Johnson on Wednesday when he said the UK was committed to ‘the highest possible standards’ for workers’ rights and environmental standards. The document said the UK’s and EU’s ‘interpretation of these [level playing field] commitments will be very different’ and that the text represented a ‘much more open starting point for future relationship negotiations’.

“It added that London believed that binding arbitration would be ‘inappropriate’.”

And it may be that like her fellow Labour invertebrate, Jim Fitzpatrick, Melanie Onn hadn’t actually got round to reading Johnson’s bill before deciding to support it.

Perhaps sensing that Onn’s grounds for supporting Johnson’s bill so far seemed a bit thin, the Morning Star asked: “what examples she could give of the EU negatively affecting ordinary people and how she believes Brexit could change Grimbarians’ [Grimsby people’s] lives — and those of people across Britain who voted to leave the trading bloc — for the better.

“In echoing the rhetoric of late Labour MP Tony Benn, accountability of power featured strongly in her responses…

“Onn cites restrictions on state aid and the rules on the tendering of public contracts as two examples of how EU regulations are affecting the lives of precarious workers and small business owners” — a claim that has been regularly and comprehensively shown to be complete rubbish and is fundamentally undermined by Onn’s next statement:

“Voting to leave the EU in many respects was done on an emotional basis. People are looking around and thinking whether there was tangible benefit of being in the EU”.

But the truth is that facts, logic, and consistency play no part in any of this. Invertebrates like Onn are simply useful idiots for the CPB’s policy of open support for Johnson’s bill:

“The Communist Party of Britain urges MPs to support the swift passage of the new EU Withdrawal Bill which is due to have its Second Reading vote later today (October 22).

“’While we have substantial reservations about aspects of the proposed legislation, the issue of Britain’s membership needs to be settled so that Labour can go into an imminent General Election on a bold, radical manifesto of domestic policies’, Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths declared’.”

Oh yes, about that Financial Times report on the threat to workers’ rights. At the time of writing (28 Oct) it hasn’t even been mentioned in the Morning Star.

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