Friday 7 July 2017

Labour must stand up for parliamentary sovereignty

Next week Theresa May and her three Brexiteers will begin the process of trying to pass an astounding assault on democracy through parliament.

They're calling this attack on democracy the "Repeal Bill", but a more accurate name might be the "Bypassing of Parliamentary Scrutiny Bill" because t
hey're basically trying to push through legislation to allow Tory ministers to rewrite thousands of UK laws with literally no democratic scrutiny whatever.

A "sore loser" campaign would have been a disaster

Labour have adopted a pro-Brexit position because going into the General Election with a Brexit"sore loser" stance would have been electoral suicide.

If a Remain-at-all-costs electoral strategy was a winner, then the Lib-Dems would have surged, rather than slumping even lower than what almost everyone assumed to be their absolute nadir in 2015.

That Labour have adopted a pro-Brexit position doesn't mean that they're compelled to support the Tory conception of a hard-right Brexit conducted in this shockingly anti-democratic manner, in fact it's vital that they now clearly differentiate themselves from the Tories by strongly opposing it.

Parliamentary sovereignty

Of course the Tories and their savagely biased cheerleaders in the mainstream media will attempt to portray any Labour attempt to make amendments to the Repeal Bill as an effort to "sabotage Brexit", which is why Labour need to define a very strong narrative to explain what they're doing.

In my view Labour should seek to amend the Repeal Bill to ensure that no UK law can be rewritten by a government minister without parliamentary scrutiny and debate, and their justification for this move should focus heavily on the concept of parliamentary sovereignty.

Either people voted for Brexit because they wanted British democratic institutions to be sovereign (which means Labour would be absolutely right to demand that parliament should have the ultimate say on proposed changes to UK law) or people voted for Brexit because they wanted a de facto executive dictatorship where Tory government ministers get to rewrite our laws without any democratic scrutiny.

Did people vote for Brexit because they want to have a more accountable political class, or did they vote for Brexit because they love the Tory government so much that they want to give them free rein to rewrite the laws of the land to suit themselves with no democratic oversight?

My guess is that the vast majority of people (Brexiters and Remainers alike) would be very much more sympathetic to the first conception of Brexit than the second, which is why Labour need to emphasise the choice between competing democratic and anti-democratic visions of Brexit at every opportunity.

Time for action

Labour have got away with a very loosely defined conception of Brexit up until now (not that it's any more hazy than the absolutely shambolic Brexit strategy that the Tory government have cobbled together), but the initial proceedings of the Tory Repeal Bill will be their make or break moment. 

Aside from a bit of the usual deliberate wrecking behaviour from the Labour Party right-wingers who still hate him, Jeremy Corbyn has been riding a wave since the election results came in, but now is the time for the Labour Party leadership to make their first big post-election move.

Either Labour decide to stand up for democracy and parliamentary sovereignty with a demonstration that they have a very different, very much more democratic conception of the way to proceed with Brexit, or they meekly go along with the anti-democratic Tory vision of Brexit.

They either move to hold the Tories to account for their cynical effort to wreck parliamentary sovereignty, or they go along with the Tory plan and betray all the people who voted Labour because they strongly opposed Theresa May's conception of a fanatically right-wing anti-democratic Brexit.

Let's see if the Labour leadership make the right decision, and more importantly, if they define a clear narrative to explain why they're opposing this anti-democratic power grab so that they can fend off the predictable right-wing Ukipper-bait accusations that they're doing it to try and sabotage Brexit, rather than to stop the Tories from using Brexit as a convenient excuse to completely bypass parliamentary democracy.

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