His speech sounded like a compromise. That's a strength, but eurosceptic left-wingers won't like itby Alex Dean / April 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Jeremy Corbyn can lead the Labour Party back to power
“You can’t build a better world unless you engage with the world.” So argued Jeremy Corbyn today at Senate House, London, in a speech in which he laid out his case for Britain remaining a member of the European Union. The speech wasn’t terrible, but will it convince left-wing Eurosceptics? Probably not. The type of arguments that Corbyn made—pragmatic ones—may well just not get through.
We should be grateful that Corbyn gave the speech at all: it is a huge improvement on his previous lukewarm support for the Union. A recent poll showed 40 per cent of voters didn’t know whether he supported Britain remaining a member of it.
Alan Johnson, Head of the “Labour In For Britain” campaign, spoke before Corbyn today. Until this morning he had been far more vocal in his support for the EU than the Labour leader—it was as though Corbyn had been left behind altogether. Indeed, many Labour MPs have been passionate in their support of the EU over recent months—some of them in Prospect. It is absurd that while for them the issue is a matter of urgency, Corbyn has waited until now to make his case.
He will now at least have generated headlines that state his pro-EU position. And the speech started unequivocally: “The Labour party is overwhelmingly for staying in—because we believe the European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment, and offers the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century.”
He then issued a warning: “It wouldn’t be a Labour government negotiating a better settlement for working people with the EU. It would be a Tory government, quite possibly led by Boris Johnson and backed by Nigel Farage, that would negotiate the worst of all worlds: a free market free-for-all shorn of rights and protections.” There would be a “bonfire” of workers’ rights, he claimed.
The question is: will this convince anyone? One might argue that he has the power…