Friday, 14 July 2017

Chauncey and the Politics of the Bleeding Obvious

You know it's almost as if Labour are divided and have no settled policy on Europe. Asked repeatedly  yesterday what his stance would be on staying in the Single Market or customs union Chauncey resorted to the sort of platitudes he accuses the Tories of using. At his slightly absurd and very presumptuous meeting with Michel Barnier Chauncey used the kind of evasions you might expect a normal politician who is avoiding the question to use rather than the straightforward and honest chap we all know him to be because that is what his supporters always tell us.

Labour, he told us, in those measured tones that some people seem to find reassuring rather than throw-something-at-the-television-infuriating, wants a trade relationship with Europe that enables our manufacturing and services industries to continue trading with Europe. Got that? So Labour's policy is to continue trading with Europe. This is a statement of the bleeding obvious that even Diane Abbott could have remembered without looking it up on her iPad. Perhaps that's why he took her along with him to Europe. As Guido has said, does Chauncey even understand the difference between the Single Market and customs union? It's not clear that he does. His answer claims to have set something out when he has set absolutely nothing out. He is using the form of words the Government used just after the referendum. This has now evolved because that was a year ago. Labour still has no position on this.

For the record even if Britain were to walk away having told Brussels to go whistle for their money and got no deal at all we would still be able to have our industries continue trading with Europe. It is whether or not we do so with tariffs, without tariffs, setting and levying our own tariffs on non European nations or not and what this means for freedom of movement that is the issue being discussed. So what is Chauncey's answer? He doesn't have one, or at least not one he is prepared to share with us because it would infuriate half of his fractious party. Or more than half.

Or perhaps they genuinely haven't got a policy. After all it worked for them during the election and they seemed to get away with it and so they seem intent on doing so for as long as possible. They are a government in waiting, they keep telling us, it's just that they haven't decided what they would do on the single most important and difficult issue to affect this country in a couple of generations. They just hope that they can keep stating platitudes and that nobody notices. Well we have noticed. And we mean to keep asking the question.

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