Pacing the streets the length and breadth of London, being berated and welcomed in equal measure, one thing is for sure: Labour voters do not want to see Nigel Farage sitting alongside Marine Le Pen and the far right in the European parliament.
People are certainly frustrated by Brexit. Some are impatient for it to be over; many are hoping for a public vote. I have met those who are angry that Labour has not been ‘full throttle Remain’, while others are almost sorrowful about the challenges of campaigning in a country so clearly divided. But whatever their views on Brexit, they are united against Farage.
Labour is the only progressive party that can stop Farage. A Liberal Democrat or CHUK vote will not halt the spread of the destructive politics of this pin-stripe populist. Any bloody nose given to Labour at the ballot box for ‘not being remain enough’ will pale in comparison to the deep self-inflicted wound from which we will all suffer if we let his divisive and authoritarian politics be further normalised.
So we must mobilise. To do this, it must be made clear to our membership that they count – and to those whose doors they knock on that they count too. So many have said to me that they do not want to vote Labour because they are concerned this will be spun into them having supported Brexit, the way they feel their 2017 general election vote was. We must reassure them that this is not the message we intend to send.
If we mean it when we say – as I believe we do – that only Labour is seeking to unite the country, there can be no post-results attempt to account for those who have supported us on that journey, on either side of the for/against Brexit balance sheet. If we want to transcend the Brexit divide, then we must really do so. And we must offer hope. Regardless of how they voted in 2016, most voters want to know there is a better future ahead for them and their families.
Now that the talks between Labour and the government are over, we need to be crystal clear about the Tories’ agenda. We need to convey a story about how the current Brexit deal – or the plan of those wanting no deal – is a project of the 1% that will benefit Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. We need to explain, as we did in 2017, that only Labour has a radical alternative for both the UK and Europe.
This message has cut through in some places. On diverse working-class estates, a Labour sticker usually elicits immediate support – although many of the most enthusiastic residents I spoke to were unaware of the election.
In most of these households, the London Labour vote is not shifting. That is not necessarily because people endorse Labour’s approach to Brexit. In fact, these are among our most anti-Brexit demographics. They see both the Brexit Party and its project for what it is: an embodiment of racism and Thatcherite economic policy, helping the rich to divide and conquer. We have a duty, as members and supporters, to try and mobilise as much of this vote as a show of solidarity and a message of hope.
The Brexit Party can only win the European elections on a low turnout. By mobilising, we can defeat the apathy that will otherwise fuel Nigel Farage’s victory. I have canvassed with so many amazing CLPs who’ve worked hard to mobilise their members on short notice and with limited resources. Turnout for canvassing in some places has been amazing.
These last two days require us to step up again, and further. If you can, get out and canvass this evening – and on Thursday, do as much as you can to help get out the vote. Across the country, there will be campaigns in your local area – and every vote counts, wherever you are.
The Brexit Party will not win the overall popular vote. But an increase in its seats will be headlined across Europe as a win for Farage. Imagine waking up to that news next week. Then imagine waking up to a Labour win. Both of these things are in our gift, as is the future of progressive politics across our continent.