According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, a show of hands is a “vote at a meeting, taken by those present raising their hands for or against a motion”. Nothing in there about it being a bit of a stitch-up at a Labour conference.
Yesterday – and yesterday is so yesterday, as we shall discover in a moment – Jeremy Corbyn saw off a grassroots attempt to turn Labour into an out-and-out Remain party.
At the party’s conference in Brighton, Wendy Nichols, the chair, appeared to say a pro-Remain motion had been carried. Then she had a hushed conversation with Jennie Formby, Labour general secretary and Corbyn fixer (thumbscrews may or may not have been involved), and declared the motion had been lost.
Calls for a card vote, a more accurate way of counting than hands shoved in the air, were rejected. So Labour delegates stuck a seal of approval on a box of Mr Corbyn’s Exceedingly Dodgy Brexit Fudge.
When an election is called, Labour will now adhere to Corbyn’s preferred plan, codenamed For God’s Sake Whatever Happens Don’t Mention Brexit.
The party will decline to make up its mind about which side Labour would take in a referendum, until after an election.
If you take a deep breath and dive into the comments sections on Twitter, you will find plenty of pro-Corbyn types saying Jeremy’s solution is the only mature and sensible one.
Much as a dip into the Facebook comments on the Yorkshire Post’s page the other day revealed plenty of people saying they were “100 per cent behind Boris”. Well, better than standing in front of him, as he’d push you over that cliff without a second thought.
Corbyn’s neutrality on Brexit risks being an electoral liability for Remain-minded Labour voters. This Labour voter of many decades standing is starting to feel at best neutral about Jeremy Corbyn.
How this Brexit Fudge will sell on the doorsteps is a mystery.
Canvasser: “Are you going to vote Labour?”
Householder: “What’s your party’s position on Brexit?”
Canvasser, putting fingers in ears: “We’re not saying…”
Ahem, that’ll win them round. You can’t please all the people all of the time – but you can have a good go at pissing off as many of them as possible.
Yes, Brexit is interminable; yes, Labour MPs represent Remain and Leave voters; yes again, as Corbyn says, we are more than those labels, and there are more important, deeper matters at hand. But Brexit isn’t going to go away just because it’s an ideological inconvenience.
Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t have anything useful to say about Brexit, so he’d rather not say anything at all. At heart you suspect he backs Brexit as he probably regards he EU as a capitalist conspiracy, or something.
But his Brexit fudge doesn’t taste good to me, especially before an election in which the other parties will all take firm positions.
Just as this blog was being tapped into life, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was illegal. As was his attempt to rule without Parliament, and his conniving of a premature election.
Parliament will now sit tomorrow, although without Prime Minister’s Questions, perhaps because Johnson doesn’t fancy answering any of those. The prorogation of Parliament always looked like an underhand Johnson plot to stop MPs debating Brexit, and now the highest court in the land agrees.
So damning is the verdict from Lady Hale and ten other justices that the next episode in the Brexit soap of WestEnders will contain calls for Boris Johnson’s resignation.
That would be a plot twist to cherish, but for now Labour should concentrate on opposing the Tories instead of sinking into a bog of internal conflict.
A week that started with an attempted assassination of deputy leader Tom Watson – a man much hated by Corbyn supporters – and then moved on to a show of hands stitch-up needs to find a better ending. But I’m not betting the house on it; and I’m not buying any of that fudge.