For a man prepared to stick to his principles over decades, no matter how unpopular they make him, Jeremy Corbyn has changed his mind a remarkable number of times today. His latest stance on freedom of movement is as follows:
‘Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.’
This makes the party’s infamous ‘controls on immigration’ mug from the 2015 election look like such a simple, wholesome proposition. Here is the evolution of Corbyn’s stance:
Last night: Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle.
This morning: Labour isn’t going to restrict the rights of people to move to the UK.
Now, the party isn’t going to die in a ditch over freedom of movement, but neither is it abandoning its support for it. Corbyn’s position is that the single market trumps restrictions on freedom of movement. And neither is it going to impose a strict wage cap, but is now considering looking at the ratio of top to junior pay levels. It is odd that Corbyn seemed so up for a fight on pay for rich people this morning, yet backed away from it this afternoon. Such a fight would be populist and part of his New Year Donald Trump appeal, even if it is unworkable. Could it be that Corbyn is thinking deeply about the real world impact of his proposed policies? If so, he might find things run a little more smoothly if he does this thinking before giving the radio interview and delivering the speech.
Now, it may be that in both cases, the policies Corbyn has now arrived at are the right ones. But the problem is that the dithering over what he actually wanted to say now means that no-one is happy. And it makes it rather difficult for us to listen to or read with a straight face the words ‘the government is in disarray over Brexit’.
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