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Who is to blame for Labour’s lacklustre ‘In’ campaign?

13 June 2016

10:29 AM

13 June 2016

10:29 AM

Gordon Brown is busy trying to reset the Remain campaign with a rather leftier tone today. As Tom writes, Labour voters are far less solid in their support for Britain staying in the European Union than the party had hoped, and so the campaign is being handed over to the party so that it can have a proper go at telling its voters that it supports staying in (something not all of them have yet noticed). A group of 20 Labour MPs has also penned a letter pleading for more airtime for Labour voices. It argues:

‘The impact of a leave vote will be catastrophic for the British people. Mainstream Labour voices in the debate must be given more airtime if this catastrophe is to be avoided.’


So whose fault is it that Labour voices have been frozen out? It is rather tempting for Labourites to point the finger of blame at Jeremy Corbyn, particularly after he spent the end of last week striding about in a fur coat and joking about his low level of enthusiasm for the campaign on a comedy show. But the reason mainstream Labour voices have been frozen out of the debate is largely because the Tories have been busy tearing chunks out of one another. And that isn’t just the fault of angry eurosceptics: David Cameron has either attacked the honesty of his Conservative colleagues himself or sent colleagues such as Amber Rudd out to do it on his behalf in the most personal terms.

And even when Labour does get the opportunity for more airtime, the party’s Labour for In operation is astonishingly low profile and laid back. Alan Johnson has been almost invisible, and he is supposed to be the exciting leader of the campaign. Corbyn may be pretty unenthusiastic about persuading Labour voters to turn out for Remain – but his colleagues on the same side, both Labour and Tory, are hardly helping him.

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