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Brexit has robbed Labour of its insurgency. It’s time to claw it back

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The supposed iron law of British politics – back when an economy dominated by Big Finance seemed to be a never-ending fountain of growth and tax revenues – used to go like this: you had to present yourself as a steady pair of hands, pro-business, competent, exuding stability, not someone to rock the hull of HMS Britain. Tony Blair, speaking of Margaret Thatcher, once described his political formula: “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.”

But whether you’re a politician of left, right or so-called “centre”, insurgency has become the iron law of our time. Labour has been robbed of that sense of insurgency by Brexit: its political fortunes depend on reclaiming it.

This new iron law began to emerge during the Scottish independence referendum, which – in hindsight – foreshadowed the tumult that later gripped the rest of the UK and much of the western world. Although the yes campaign did not triumph, it led to the SNP sweeping almost every Westminster seat and virtually destroying Labour in one of the party’s cradles. Thanks to Better Together – the miserably negative anti-independence campaign in which Labour and the Tories held hands as they warned of impending doom – the SNP could portray the two parties as an establishment cartel who needed to be swept away. Scotland was an early example of what could be called insurgency contagion. Those of us who originally made the case for Jeremy Corbyn to become Labour leader pointed to Scotland as an example of how a party positioning itself to Labour’s left had succeeded – and how anti-establishment........

© The Guardian