Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on elitism, social mobility and Kaminski

1. The brazen cheek of brazen elitism

Dave Osler argues that the Tories' latest education proposals miss the point. So long as the rich can buy their children one-way tickets to guaranteed privilege, the system will remain unfair.

2. Are these now going to get really squeezed?

PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson considers the latest polls and says support for minority parties finally appears to be falling. He predicts that the Tories will be the main beneficiary.

3. Labour should stand up for egalitarianism, not social mobility

Over at LabourList, Rebecca Hickman says that the government must realise that social mobility is at odds with core Labour values of equality, co-operation and inclusion.

4. Cameron: some of the charges against Kaminski are "absolutely not true"

Left Foot Forward's Shamik Das reports that David Cameron has again defended Michal Kaminski over allegations of homophobia. But he reveals that Kaminski's Law and Justice party is planning a new crackdown on gay websites.

5. Save general election night: the saga continues

The Labour MP Tom Harris offers an update on the Commons campaign to make sure election night runs to order.

 

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.