Labour and Brexit: Beyond the Crisis

Labour and Brexit: Beyond the Crisis

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

David is joined by Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke to try to get beyond the current crisis and work out where British politics is heading. How different is Starmer's political programme likely to be from Corbyn's? Can the Labour party become the party of the workers again? And is Brexit really going to happen without an extension and without a deal? Plus we explore the renewed influence of the trade unions and ask what it means for the political choices ahead.

Talking Points:

What kind of Labour Party is Keir Starmer looking to create?

He never presented himself as a Corbynite, though there are some significant leftward moves policy wise.Labour is a more recognizably a social democratic party than it was during the new Labour era.We probably will see party management return to something that is more familiar from Ed Miliband’s era. Starmer seems to be moving away from a Green New Deal kind of Labour politics.

Does moving back to being a workers’ party move you away from being a students’ party?

Once you have enough people going to university and acquiring a lot of debt to do so, the question of separation between workers and students starts to fall away.The nature of work is changing.The current crisis may give Starmer a chance to cut across these divides. 

Issues about unions and workplaces go to the top of government policy at the moment.

The unions will be pushing health and safety issues as far as they can.The unions can make a better case that they’re on the side of ordinary people.

The universal basic income question has emerged again.

Starmer doesn’t seem to be that keen.Public opinion isn’t fully behind UBI.A lot depends on the medium-term economic fallout, especially the employment damage.So far, the biggest hits have come in the service sector.

Starmer is trying to move on from Brexit.

Is this just tactical? The government will have to make decisions on Brexit. The virus could be easier for the government to move towards a no trade deal exit.From the point of view from the EU, negotiating a trade agreement with Britain is even less of a priority now.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Starmer’s column on VE dayPeter Sloman’s book, Transfer State

Further Learning:

The New Statesman on Keir StarmerUnion leaders sound warnings about the return to workIs Keir Starmer like John Smith?

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:

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