If you didn’t desert Labour over the Iraq war, why give up on it over Brexit? | Gary Younge

Those who stuck with the party after its worst decision are now inexplicably drawing a line in the sand

In 2002 I accompanied Tony Benn for a short while on his lecture tour around Britain, watching him speak to packed auditoriums and outselling the magician Paul Daniels in Cornwall by three to one. It was a peculiar time that in many ways presaged the moment in which we find ourselves now.

A year earlier, Labour had just been returned with a huge majority and the steepest slump in postwar voter turnout to date. A BBC survey, Beyond The Soundbite, prompted by concern about that decline in participation, found that, while voters were neither “de-politicised” nor “uninterested”, they were “disillusioned” and “disconnected”. When asked to finish the statement “I would get more involved if … ” more than a third of respondents ticked either “I thought my contributions made a difference” (24%) or “I thought anyone would listen” (12%). And that was before the Iraq war.

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