Don't Be Awkward, Be Proactive
What Labour Leavers can do
So, the General Election was sprung upon us a week ago. It seems a gamble by Theresa May, albeit one with the odds well in her favour. Nevertheless one feels if she were a Brexiteer at heart, she would not have risked the process by allowing even the possibility for her majority to shrink. Every seat counts here, and the Lib Dems could well win some.
Labour also have embraced the 'every seat counts' mantra. There is dogged determination - and optimism even - in every CLP right now, in spite of the nadir the party finds itself in. New and old supporters are getting involved, some driven by Brexit revenge, others by opposition to austerity and privatisation.
Labour Leave supporters will find themselves in a rather awkward position. Although they would never (here's hoping) vote Conservative, they will certainly find difficulty in mustering campaigning enthusiasm, especially in heavy Leave areas or where their Labour candidate is an ardent remainer.
But apparently the ardent remainers of Labour are also in an awkward position. Using all his barrister skills, Tony Blair has implied without explicitly saying so, that Labour supporters could tactically support Lib Dems or even 'open minded' Conservatives. The organisation Blair is working for and funds, Open Britain, has announced they will be targeting 20 seats with pro-Brexit MPs, and piling in campaigners there. They will also campaign for 20 pro-remain MPs.
Blair and Open Britain are not the only ones who can be tactical. Pro-Leave Labour members can help to counteract this move by the pressure group, without breaking any party rules. Here are Open Britain targets where Labour Leavers should campaign for Labour, in most cases because it will split the Lib Dem vote.
Seats they are opposing MPs:
Vauxhall (only Labour MP target - Kate Hoey) - Oxford West & Abingdon - Kingston & Surbiton - Lewes -
Brecon & Radnorshire - Hazel Grove - Thornbury & Yate - Wells - St Ives - Eastbourne
Seats they are supporting MPs:
Brighton Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) - Sheffield Hallam (Nick Clegg) - Carshalton and Wallington -
Other seats with pro-Brexit Labour MPs to support:
Blyth Valley (Ronnie Campbell) - Leyton & Wanstead (John Cryer) - Birkenhead (Frank Field) -
Birmingham Hall Green (Roger Godsiff) - Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) - Bassetlaw (John Mann) -
Bolsover (Dennis Skinner) - Blackley & Broughton (Graham Stringer)
Take on four English and Welsh Liberal Democrat seats - Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), Leeds North West, Richmond Park (Sarah Olney) and Southport.
In Scotland, take on the 54 SNP seats, appealing to those who do not want a second Scottish referendum.
So canvass, phone-bank, leaflet, put up posters, post on social media - all the usual stuff. We have 6 weeks.
Because of the short notice, CLPs are not being consulted about candidate selection. The NEC is picking them, although Labour members have been allowed to apply. When yours is selected, gauge where they stand on Brexit, and try to persuade them to your point of view. Make clear that an approach which upholds the referendum result is important, and pose questions about the ambiguities in Labour's Brexit stance. Keir Starmer had plenty in his speech on Wednesday, sometimes sounding as if aspects of remaining could be considered.
Another way to navigate your difficulties is to get behind candidates that have a local background and strong local focus. Affability helps as well, of course. Remember that an ex-remainer does not necessarily mean a bad MP. So long as they are pragmatic on the issue, give them support. And failing that, campaign where your support seems more appropriate, as they will likely not be short of help from others.
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