Sunday, 3 July 2016

A letter to the Nottingham Post

On Friday 1 July the Nottingham Post published this letter which I sent to them. They published it in full.

Dear Letters Editor

I share Anna Soubry's disappointment with the result of the EU referendum last Thursday. I live in her constituency and happily admit to never being a Conservative voter. I suspect that I also qualify as one of her 'white working class', being 72, leaving school at 15 and without any qualifications. If only life was as simple as opportunistic soundbites.

Ms. Soubry supported the referendum and cannot complain about the result, nor can she blame it on the 'white working class'. The Conservative Party with its referenda promise was fighting for UKIP votes across England and won enough MPs to form a government, whilst Labour, to its credit opposed UKIP.

Of course some Labour supporters voted out, as did Conservatives and voters of all ages, and I understand why. I suspect for a good few it was a protest vote and they never expected to wake up on Friday morning having helped the 'out' campaign win - that is certainly my take on conversations I have had over the last few days.

As far as I understand it, the referendum was/is 'advisory'. If so, Ms Soubry and all the other MPs who are pro-EU could start earning their keep and choose to ignore the decision, buying some time until the next general election, when 'out' candidates can try to get a majority. I think they will fail.

What is unacceptable is Ms Soubry blaming the white working class for her own failure to take responsibility. I will vote Labour given the chance, for a party preferably led by Jeremy Corbyn and with candidates who share his agenda, but that is another argument for another day.


Robert Howard

Reading it again, it may seem to say that I think the decision to leave the EU should be thwarted and I don't believe that. My point was that Anna Soubray and all the other MPs in the remain camp could do something about the decision to leave the EU had they a mind to. Ms Soubray has already decided to support Theresa May in the Conservative Party leadership election. In other words she is happy to leave it to a pro-remain candidate to negotiate the best deal for Britain. I have no problem with her choice, but I will be amazed if Britain can still be part of the EU common market whilst restricting access to EU citizens.

I do not fall into the camp that believe Britain has suddenly become a racist country, but Susan and I are long-time friends of the HOPE not hate charity and campaign, and I used to deliver leaflets for them in Lenton. I share their concern at how the Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was verbally abused at the launch of the Labour Party report into anti-semitism within the Party. Ruth Smeeth has published a damning statement of what happened on her website (click this link). Jeremy Corbyn's behaviour was a big disappointment. He should have told her vile critic to leave the meeting and told him is attitude has no place in the Labour Party. Instead he actually spoke to the man at the end. Jeremy Corbyn is under a lot of pressure right now, but then so are Labour MPs and all of them are, in part, responsible for what is happening to them.

By any measure, these are sad sad days for the Labour Party, when we should trying to offer Britain a positive post-EU vision. The Labour Parties in England, Scotland and Wales have to have their own visions. Northern Ireland is SDLP territory and we should respect that. Of course, all the national parties need to work together, but there has not been a better opportunity in decades to campaign for a fairer, better England.

All those Labour MPs who championed the cuts in local government led services (led by Blair, Brown and Darling lest we forget) at a time when more and more people we coming to Britain from Europe to work are discredited.

The cuts were dressed up as necessary austerity measures at a time when, instead of funding more public housing and improving public transport, the same MPs were supporting HS2.

Blair and Co. blocked East Europeans from coming to Britain for two years whilst cutting local services. Labour politicians are as much to blame as Liberal and Conservative MPs for the cuts — which is why the electorate may well turn on them, having tasted blood so to speak in the referendum result.

Corbyn and a few others, like Alan Simpson, spoke out and vote against the cuts and this is something we should remember when voting for a new Labour Party leader, as we will have to.

Right now, Corbyn holds on, maybe in the hope that the Chilcot Report will remind the electorate of how right he was to oppose the Iraq war (and our earlier intervention in Afghanistan). A lot of Labour MPs must be squirming right now at how the focus will shift to them on Wednesday and I have heard it suggested that it was the real reason for the attempted coup by Labour MPs after the referendum.

A leadership campaign post-Chicot will sink Eagle and open the door to Owen Smith who, according to the media, has increasing support among Labour MPs. Perhaps he will emerge as a 'unity candidate'. Who knows?

I am not committed to Jeremy Corbyn and how he treated Ruth Smeeth makes me question his stength to manage the far left (for the record, I have never been a member of any Labour Party faction).

The coming days, weeks and months and years are going to be interesting. I hope I have another ten years in me to see what happens. I will be 82 then.


  1. I too am white, working class, have never voted for any party other than Labour in all the time I have been eligible to vote (45 years) and I voted to 'Remain in the EU' last Thursday. I'm not a very political person and have never been a member of a political party but I made my mind up as soon as the Tories won the last election that when the time came for the referendum I would vote to stay in Europe and I haven't wavered from that decision. My biggest fear is the backlash against pensioners. I read an article in the I last week which in a mass generalisation blamed 'over 50's voting to leave' not some, or a few or many but all. I object to those kind of statements as I certainly don't fall into that category and they can incite anger, resentment and worst case scenario, violence. I know of 80 and 90 years olds who voted to remain and 30 and 40 year olds that voted to leave. It all seems so confusing at the moment with no real leadership to sort out the chaos and fear that has been caused. It seems to me that there is no one to turn to whilst the two main political parties get their acts together and stop their internal squabbles. I hope that soon there will be light at the end of the murky tunnel we have been plunged into.

    1. A lot of young folk are understandably upset and need to rant against someone or something. Us oldies are no more to blame than 'Northerners'. Younger voters will come to realise that their generation is as much to blame as any other. There is light I promise. Lifelong Labour voters are proven optimists and that includes you.

  2. Replies
    1. How I agree. Referenda are the last resort of MPs who do not want to accept responsibility.