Opinion Politics

Grassroots grovelling: Vote Leave Watch is an insidious ploy

Vote Leave Watch
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At best, the newly launched Vote Leave Watch campaign is an overweening attempt by a group of right-wing Labour MPs to override the Labour leadership.

At worst, it is an insidious ploy to co-opt many of the 75% – the brunt of 18-24 year olds who voted to remain – into acting against their own interests.

Under the guise of holding the Tory Brexiteers to account, this is nothing more than a duplicitous, hackneyed attempt at appropriating frustrated Remainers (like myself) into accepting the end of freedom of movement as not just a necessary compromise, but an inevitable one. I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in stating that limiting freedom of movement was not something I, nor any of the over 16 million “48 per centers” voted for, least of all under the guise of “security”.

In fact, I’m absolutely certain it wasn’t.

For those of us determined to rally against both the overt and covert fascist rhetoric creeping its way into the post-Brexit debate, it is time that we state unequivocally that we do not support (tacitly or otherwise) moves to arbitrarily restrict immigration. Not least because the discourse surrounding it is shrouded in semantic pitfall after semantic pitfall.

This does not mean to say that we should not debate immigration. We absolutely should. However, we should endeavour to conduct this particular conversation via forums that are inclusive, and above all intolerant of xenophobia and racism. This I cannot stress enough.

Anything other than this would be folly of the most irresponsible, negligent kind. Inadvertently pandering to the far right is indefensible – period. As such, we must not partake in the pre-established autologic currently being peddled by both the mainstream press and the Labour ‘moderates’, calling for a “progressive case against freedom of movement”. If we dare entertain such politicking for even the briefest of moments, the consequences will surely be disastrous. To me and many others, this is unconscionable.

Masquerading as a dynamic crowdsourcer and advocate for young people, Chuka Umunna claims that his “grassroots” campaign seeks to “spend every day scrutinising Boris, Gove, Andrea Leadsom and the rest of them, and let you know if they aren’t delivering”.

The reality is that this lacklustre exercise in paltry PR is about as grassroots as a Fabian Society shindig, and that’s being generous. You don’t need to be a spin doctor to know that this is a pathetic, halfhearted attempt to tap into Brexit disillusionment and channel anti-Conservative dissent into the usual Tory vs Labour Westminster sideshow.

Umunna’s agenda with VLW is nauseatingly obvious. With the imminent NEC elections taking centre stage, it is clear that he wants to entice (or rather, appropriate) many of the thousands of new Labour youth members whilst testing the water and garnering support for a centre-right party platform.

In his Facebook announcement post, Umunna bemoans the Brexit camp reneging on promises to “negotiate an exit deal with the EU based on ‘free trade and friendly co-operation’ which would allow Britain […] to simultaneously restrict immigration from Europe” (the latter rather cunningly inserted like a mere afterthought).

Could he possibly be any more out of touch with the youth of this country? The short answer being: is the Pope a Catholic?

The fact of the matter is, if he really wanted to mobilise Labour and hold the Tories to account, Umunna would have surely thought better than to defy the will of the membership and join the hapless, highly toxic “Chicken coup”, let alone take petty pot-shots at his leader during last week’s fatuous Home Affairs Committee.

Oh well. At least he’s consistent in his casual disregard for the concerns of the membership, unlike a certain colleague of his. #WatchThisSpaceNoReally.

With all the premature aplomb of an un-Baked Alaska on GBBO, Vote Leave Watch will most likely implode before it’s even entered the oven (to all the “bakesters” out there, yes, I know this is an otherwise obsolete remark).

Yet jokes aside, it is vital that we assert our own Brexit-era* agenda. We can only do this by remaining level-headed about immigration – itself an intrinsically multi-faceted issue – and refusing to acquiesce to both the demands of the right as well as the entreaties of members of the ‘moderate’ wing of the PLP.

Whether you’re a Labour member or not, it’s vital that none of us are swayed by yet more false promises.

Irrespective of our voting patterns, we have to come together and channel our own dissent collectively; not under the auspices of yet more top heavy, faux-representation leveraged so typically by Vote Leave Watch.

That’s why I’d advise you to refrain from liking or sharing any of Vote Leave Watch’s posts on social media.

Unless you’re predisposed to ‘dragging’, in which case you should Retweet and share like there’s no tomorrow.

*I say “era”, because Brexit (and I can’t stress this enough) is clearly far from a done deal, but more on this in my next piece. #WatchThisSpace.

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