Brendan O’Neill

Kate Hoey’s exit will be a big loss to Labour

Kate Hoey’s exit will be a big loss to Labour
Text settings

Nothing better sums up the intolerance and sheer meanness of the hardcore Remainer set than their loathing for Kate Hoey. These are the kind of people who solemnly shake their heads when women in politics or business are subjected to sexist abuse on the internet. But such concerns fly full-speed out the window where Hoey is concerned.

For her, no insult is off limits, no abuse out-of-bounds. She’s a traitor, a Faragist, a fascist, a hag. All those words, and worse, have been used about Hoey in the numerous media assaults and Twitterstorms she has been subjected to for the crime of standing by her principles. Especially her principled belief that the European Union is an anti-democratic oligarchy and Britons’ vote to leave it must be upheld.

The chattering class’s Hoeyphobia will no doubt be on full display again following her announcement today that she is stepping down as Labour MP for Vauxhall after 30 years. Shrill critics and the Momentum mob will holler, ‘Good riddance!’ Indeed, Momentum has already cheered the exit of this ‘no deal supporting’ MP who ‘shared a platform with Nigel Farage’.

She’s hung out with Farage? Lock her up! Bit rich of people who worship Jeremy Corbyn, who once shared a platform with Hamas, whose leaders have said Jews are ‘the most despicable’ people to ‘crawl upon the face of the Earth’, to moan about who Hoey rubs shoulders with. But here we are.

There has always been a profound irony to the cult of Hoeyphobia. Consider all those Vauxhall Labour luvvies who go around saying ‘she’s out of touch!’ when in truth it is they who are out of touch. That Vauxhall voted for Remain by 78 per cent suggests many of its inhabitants are massively disconnected from public sentiment in the country at large, where of course 52 per cent voted Leave.

Vauxhall Labourites and Momentum agitators claim Hoey’s backing of Brexit shows she is out of touch with her constituents. It’s on this basis that they have continually threatened to deselect her and subjected her to a no-confidence vote last summer. Now they will be crowing and laughing that she has jumped before she was pushed.

But anyone with even a tiny shred of understanding of what democracy means will appreciate that the 2016 referendum was not a constituency vote — it was a national vote. It was the entire nation taking part in the largest act of democracy in our history. And therefore every democratic representative, regardless of where he or she comes from, has a duty to ensure the enactment of the result.

Hoey’s dogged defence of the British people’s cry for Brexit confirmed she is a champion of democracy. It is her haters, the Hoeyphobic People’s Vote types in Vauxhall and other parts of bubble-wrapped London, who are truly anti-democratic, what with their increasingly shrill efforts to thwart the largest democratic vote in history. Hoey is in touch with the majority of people; they are utterly adrift from them.

The other irony is this: the supposed radical Labourites of Momentum moan about and insult Hoey all the time and yet she has done far more to defend the legacy of their hero Tony Benn than they ever will.

Indeed, one of the most disturbing things about the Labour party today has been the keenness with which it has trashed its own tradition of Euroscepticism; the way it has cravenly traded in its own historic opposition to the Brussels machine in return for the support of the pro-EU, pro-status-quo metropolitan elites.

From Barbara Castle to Tony Benn, from Peter Shore’s stirring Oxford Union speech of 1975 to Labour’s own election manifesto of 1983 — which proposed leaving the EEC — Labour has a long, honourable tradition of standing up to the undemocratic globalism of the EU elite and defending ordinary Brits’ right to have a real say in political affairs. For certain Labour people to call Hoey a traitor and a right-winger for defending this tradition is utterly perverse. It is as perfect an inversion of reality as one is likely to see in politics today. 

Hoey’s exit will be a big loss to Labour and to Parliament. Politicians who stick with their beliefs even in the face of incessant abuse are a rare breed these days.

Worse, the political class will become that bit less representative of the people. The most staggering political statistic in 21st-century Britain so far is this: just five per cent of Labour MPs voted for Brexit, in comparison with 52 per cent of the public. When Hoey goes, a key part of that five per cent will disappear, and Labour’s journey away from public sentiment and towards a more aloof, elitist form of political thinking will intensify.