If ‘Remain’ wins, what will really bug me is that David Cameron will take the credit for it. He will have been the saviour of Europe, a fitting successor to the great Ted Heath. Labour will get no credit, of course. The soil has already been prepared for that, with the constant accusations from Remainers that Corbyn has been half-hearted in his advocacy, and almost invisible during the campaign. (See https://bernardjporter.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/corbyns-fault/.) That’s a lie. He has given dozens of speeches supporting Britain’s membership of the EU, culminating in a fine one in Manchester today. But they haven’t been reported in the tabloid press or on television, which are virtually the only means of achieving public visibility today. I was surprised to find Corbyn’s Manchester speech broadcast live this morning on both the main TV News channels: but only to be interrupted, at length, just before his peroration, by a piece of ‘breaking news’, which was of the conviction of a child-murderer. Good; but that could have waited. It remains to be seen whether the print press cover the speech tomorrow.* In general the mainstream media are ignoring him in this contest, either because they think him to be a hopeless case, as they have from the very beginning (the Guardian especially); or because he isn’t such good copy or television entertainment as the other combatants.
I’d go along with that. Corbyn has been making a measured, reasonable, truthful and balanced but still highly persuasive argument for Remain, which is very different from Cameron’s and Osborne’s: emphasizing as it does what the EU has done and can do for working people, through the Social Chapter, and so on, which is what both Tory Remainers and Tory Brexiters specifically object to; and so hopefully reaching the parts – Labour voters – that the Tories can’t reach. But this Left-wing case for the EU is a subtle and nuanced one, as well as being anathema to the right-wing press, which is probably the main reason why it’s ignored. Subtlety and nuance, especially from the Left, are not nearly so newsworthy as the clownish soap-opera like rows that are splitting apart the Conservative party over this; and visions of economic Armageddon in the future (Cameron), or of regiments of bashi-bazouks descending on Europe over the Bosphorus in their millions (Farage). So these are what makes the news. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, especially, seems to be blind to subtlety. After the Manchester speech she was still asking Corbyn why he was so ‘lack-lustre’ in his advocacy. Good God.
In fact he’s been doing a good job – or at least trying to – with his constituency. This is the point. It’s important to get both constituencies on board if Remain is to win. Cameron can deliver the bankers; Corbyn the plebs.
And then of course there’s always MI5. According to a report on today’s Guardian website,
almost half of those planning to vote Leave believe that the referendum will be rigged against them, according to YouGov poll findings reported by politics.co.uk. This won’t surprise the Economist’s Jeremy Cliffe. In … this week’s edition he says that “at a recent Leave event your columnist witnessed Tories and Kippers urge their supporters to take pens into the polling booth on June 23rd to prevent the intelligence services from doctoring their votes”.
So, if anything looks like going wrong, the Remainers will still have the spooks there as a long-stop. Yet another conspiracy theory for the Brexiters to fall back on if they lose, to go with the ‘false flag’ one I mentioned a day or so ago. Either way, it surely won’t all be settled on the 24th; for Britain, Europe, or the Tory Party. Hardly a saviour, then, eh, Dave?
*Wednesday. Not the Guardian – unless they’ve hidden it away.