Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The EU Referendum: The Left Faces a Descent into Irrelevance.

with 47 comments

No2EU:Rising?

The debate on British membership of the EU is the next big issue for the left.

This is a major story today,

The vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union may still be months away, but already the scare stories have started. One that is particularly revealing is the question about who should be allowed to vote in the in/out referendum. The Mail on Sunday reported Tory concerns that one million Europeans who are not UK passport holders could be allowed to cast their vote. Conservative MP Philip Davies told the paper that there was “massive concern that the referendum could be rigged to deliver a desired outcome. But it would be unjustifiable if EU nationals were allowed to take part in this vote”.

Guardian.

Expect loads of gobshite in this vein over the coming months.

As Cameron set out his stand this morning it would appear that the major renegotiation on the UK’s relation with the EU will over such issues as the right to cut EU migrants’  benefits.

Last night on Question Time Owen Jones came out with curious idea that the EU was all about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

He expressed the opinion that it was right to have a referendum on EU membership – no doubt on the basis that a non-EU UK would magic itself away from TTIP.

And no doubt global capitalism.

If Owen is ‘pro-E’ he has already conceded too much to the right by (1) Starting his comments in this way, without mentioning any social benefits of the EU and (2) Agreeing that somehow we need this referendum.

We predict that the left, having indulged Scottish nationalism against the UK ‘Imperial’ state, is about to take the same line on the ‘Imperialist’ EU.

That if Cameron ‘renegotiates’ a deal involving hitting at EU migrants, those voting for the EU will be accused of abetting  the Tories, and being racist to boot.

We also predict that the dead hand of No2EU shall rise from the grave.

No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights stood 46 candidates in seven regions in the May 22 euro election including London, North West, Eastern, Wales, Scotland, Yorks and Humber and West Midlands.

Electoral results of this lash-up, 2014.

Constituency Candidates Votes %
East of England Brian Denny, Eleanor Donne, Steve Glennon, David Goode, Leonardo Impett, Teresa MacKay, Emily Thompson-Golding 4,870 0.3
London Edward Dempsey, Alex Gordon, April Ashley, Annie Ngemi, Mary Davis, Paula Mitchell, Natasha Hoarau,[22] Michael Carty 3,804 0.2
North West England Roger Bannister, George Waterhouse, Jacqueline Grunsell, John Metcalfe, George Tapp, Mark Rowe, James Healy, Kevin Morrison 5,402 0.3
West Midlands Dave Nellist, Pat Collins, Joanne Stevenson, Sophia Hussain, Paul Reilly, Andy Chaffer, Amanda Marfleet 4,653 0.3
Yorkshire and the Humber Trevor Howard, Mary Jackson, Carrie Hedderwick, Adrian O’Malley, Steven Andrew, Iain Dalton 3,807 0.3
Scotland John Foster, Andrew Elliot, Murdo Maclean, Gail Morrow, Brian Smith, Ritchie Veitch 6,418 0.5
Wales Robert Griffiths, Claire Job, Steve Skelly, Laura Picand 2,803 0.4
Total 31,757 0

 

We say: Yes to the EU! Yes to Internationalism! Yes to working with our sisters and brothers in Europe to change the EU!

 

 

47 Responses

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  1. Well said Mr Teadance

    Boleyn Ali

    May 22, 2015 at 11:07 am

  2. There are plenty of us out there who do not like the EU as it is, and do not like what it is becoming, who are not hostile to “Europe” in principle. The EU-philes of left and right almost never try to put forward an alternative vision of what the EU should become. They almost never address questions such as the glaring democratic deficit within the EU, the problems inherent in trying to deepen and broaden its structures at the same time, the question of its relationship to NATO and Atlanticism, the problem of a common currency without common fiscal structures, and how the political cultures of the various EU members can be harmonised enough to make a stronger democracy viable within it. Instead, they generally just come out with those tired old “appeals to the pocket” (we’ll all be poorer outside it, you know!), and sneers at the alleged backward-facing nature of the EU’s critics. The ELP does its best, but it suffers from the same problems as the EU itself – it’s dominated by the larger national parties within it and consequently does not have much internal democracy of its own. The sad case of SYRIZA in Greece illustrates the democratic deficit very well – the policies they were elected on cannot be carried out in Greece, and in effect they are being thwarted, not so much by any democratic strictures within the EU, but by Germany, where Merkel’s government has to appeal to its own German constituency.

    Any realistic EU-phile projects to rectify this sort of situation will be eagerly listened to. Otherwise, I’m with No2EU.

    Francis

    May 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

  3. There is a large grouping, the Party of the European Left, which you cite Francis, and which I happen to support that does indeed set out alternatives:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_of_the_European_Left.

    Their policies are set out here: http://www.european-left.org/fr/free-bus-brussels-paris-brussels-participate-european-forum-alternatives

    European Forum for Alternatives:
    Saturday May, 30th:

    Andrew Coates

    May 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

  4. I like the ELP, and was even an individual member of it for a few years when it looked as if it might try to develop seriously as a party of individual members. But, for probably good internal reasons, the ELP has not gone down the route of becoming a genuinely transnational party. Instead, it is essentially an umbrella group. An interesting aspect of the ELP is that it has affiliates in non-EU states such as Switzerland, Belarus and Turkey. That is exactly as it should be. Inside or outside the EU, socialist, communist and labour movement organisations should be coordinating their activity and engaging in solidarity.

    Francis

    May 22, 2015 at 12:39 pm

  5. no2EU is right, I hope for a no vote! OK, it is true that no2EU seems a bit pathetic, in the same way that most of the far left seems to be, but that is not the point. The point is about democracy, and the EU is not a democratic organization. Enoch Powell and Tony Benn ran together against the EU before, but now we only have a poundshop Enoch Powell but no bargain basement Benn for our side. Benn is still worth listening to.

    I think democracy works best in small countries or territories, not massive groupings such as Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia run by unaccountable and appointed leaders, witlh a system that most people don’t understand and have been misinformed about. I find it hard to look at Syriza in Greece, and not see the problems with the EU generally. if it was a different kind of EU then that would be a different question. The EU we have is not democratic, and I suspect even if the NO vote wins, it will not make much difference. It didn’t in Ireland, France etc.

    it is quite odd that it is the far right and far left on agreement on this issue. so in Greece, the KKE communists and the Golden Dawn Nazis are the only ones openly against the EU. stalinists and hitlerites turn out to be the most democratic! This is calling for a red/brown, left/right alliance. Where’s George Galloway when you need him?

    No2EU!

    sean

    May 22, 2015 at 2:04 pm

  6. The EU referendum will be huge test for us but also, perhaps, an opportunity. The Europhobic Right will fall out with the pro European wing of their party and their class – which is not insignificant, even if the Tory rank & file are largely Europhobes. If the left cannot build any kind of campaign against the Tartan Tories and their idiotic fellow travellers then at least let us unite against the Little Englander Xenophobes. The AGS National Committee will probably debate a United campaign for a YES vote tomorrow but a tiny organisation like that cannot be left to mobilise a socialist campaign for Europe on its own. The SWP position is unknown but who would trust them enough to work with them anyway?
    A socialist campaign, by definition, excludes the CBI etc. who will have a well funded campaign of their own (which may include the Labour Party who are still trying to regain the franchise to be the capitalists preferred agents in government. A socialist campaign will be poor and starved of media attention but it might appeal to many, especially younger people without a clear political ideology but who are put off by the Europhobes. The sooner we start to build this campaign the better.

    bashtheblues

    May 22, 2015 at 2:06 pm

  7. The AWL will, I hear, back an independent left campaign for Europe.

    There are other groups, such as Chartist, which are pro-EU.

    I agree Bash that the sooner we start the better.

    Andrew Coates

    May 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm

  8. This debate looks completely different from the perspective of Eastern Europeans. They know full well what actual domination by others feels like. I think they understand democracy better than us. They understand the Russian project to break up the EU and how a continent of nation states rather than a united continent is a benefit to Russia.

    It will be a shame if the debate revolves entirely around economics rather than the ideal of Europe and the reasons why the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize. Those ideals have strong progressive components but I fear that Andrew is right. Mark this down alongside ‘free speech’ as another great ideal which some of the left will undermine.

    Paul Canning

    May 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm

  9. Sean asked, “Where’s George Galloway when you need him?” re the eu referendum.

    Respect, while being in favour of a referendum, are actually in favour of a “Yes” vote –

    “We are in favour of an EU Referendum, in which we would campaign to remain a part of Europe.”

    http://www.respectparty.org/national/immigration/

    So, as with the Scottish Referendum, Galloway is not on the same side as his on/off chums in the rest of the Far Left. Even, on this occasion, the Morning Star/CPB.

    I can just imagine the scenario, though. As with the Scottish vote, the anti-EU nationalism will be held by the SP, SWP etc as an “unconscious” anti-establishment, anti-banker vote.

    The main political beneficiaries, of course, will be the likes of Ukip and the Tory Right. The main losers will be immigrants, whether they be EU or not.

    john r

    May 22, 2015 at 4:46 pm

  10. This is going to be utter poison on the left.

    As Paul indicates, there are wider issue involved: personally like a lot of people I feel very deeply European for reasons too obvious to repeat.

    Thanks for the information on Respect John, I was not at all aware of this.

    Andrew Coates

    May 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

  11. The left MUST get behind the No2EU campaign. Thank you for the disappointing news about Galloway. He’s a twat though isn’t he. The Nobel Prize isn’t worth much, and Russia is not the issue in this case. There is nothing wrong with feeling deeply European, or feeling deeply British, But that is not the issue. the issue is democracy.

    The SNP are the biggest bunch of pseudo nationalists. they advocate for an independent Scotland in the EU! Not independence at all, but ruled as a province from Brussels.

    Up yours Delors!
    Say NO to EU austerity!
    Say no to the Fourth Reich!

    sean

    May 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

  12. Up yours Cameron!
    Say NO to UK austerity!
    The fourth reich bit is even more mental. Sean, have you forgotten to take your tablets?

    dagmar

    May 22, 2015 at 8:05 pm

  13. down with the EUSSR
    down with the fourth Reich

    these are slogans from Greece, i thought they were quite good. I agree with you on Cameroon.

    sean

    May 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm

  14. The anti-EU idiot-“left” (actually, there is no real anti-EU “left” – just would-be leftists who dress up little-Englandism in leftist rhetoric) should read this:

    Dear comrades,

    The possibility of a serious unravelling of the patchwork, bureaucratic semi-unification of Europe, slowly developed over the last sixty years, is more real today than ever before. The decisive push for unravelling, if it comes, will probably be from the nationalist and populist right.

    Right now in France, an economic and political crisis is rocking Hollande’s weak, pro-capitalist socialist government and with the mainstream right also in crisis, there is a real possibility of Marine Le Pen of the Front National winning the 2017 presidential elections. Her recipe is for France to leave the EU, close its borders to immigrants and to embark on policies of economic autarky in the name of patriotism. Le Pen presently leads in opinion polls.

    The EU could not survive the departure of France and would collapse into beggar-my-neighbour economic policies, competitive devaluations, trade protection and slump. Inevitably, wages would be driven down and workers’ rights would go by the board.

    And that calls the bluff of a whole swathe of the British left.

    For decades, most of the British left has been “anti-EU” as a matter of faith. In Britain’s 1975 referendum on withdrawing from the EU, almost the whole left, outside AWL’s forerunner Workers’ Fight, campaigned for withdrawal. Since then the left has hesitated explicitly to demand withdrawal. It has limited itself to “no to bosses’ Europe” agitation, implying but not spelling out a demand for the EU to be broken up.

    The agitation has allowed the left to eat its cake and have it. The left can chime in with populist-nationalist “anti-Europe” feeling, which is stronger in Britain than in any other EU country. It can also cover itself by suggesting that it is not really anti-European, but only dislikes the “bosses’” character of the EU.

    As if a confederation of capitalist states could be anything other than capitalist. As if the cross-Europe policy of a collection of neo-liberal governments could be anything other than neo-liberal.

    As if the material force behind neo-liberal cuts were the relatively flimsy Brussels bureaucracy, rather than the mighty bureaucratic-military-industrial complexes of member states. As if the answer is to oppose confederation and cross-Europeanism as such, rather than the capitalist, neo-liberal, bureaucratic character of both member states and the EU.

    As if the EU is somehow more sharply capitalist, anti-worker, and neo-liberal than the member states. In Britain more than any other country we have seen successive national governments, both Tory and New Labour, repeatedly objecting to EU policy as too soft, too “social”, too likely to entrench too many workers’ rights.

    As if the answer is to pit nations against Europe, rather than workers against bosses and bankers.

    When Socialist Worker, in a recent Q&A piece, posed itself the question, “wouldn’t things be better for workers if Britain pulled out of the EU?”, it answered itself with a mumbling “yes, but” rather than a ringing “yes”.

    “Socialist Worker is against Britain being part of a bosses’ Europe”. Oh? And against Britain being part of a capitalist world, too?

    Britain would be better off in outer space? Or walled off from the world North Korea-style? “But withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t guarantee workers’ rights — the Tories remain committed to attacking us”. Indeed. And just as much so as the EU leaders, no?

    As recently as 2009, the Socialist Party threw itself into a electoral coalition called No2EU. Every week in its “Where We Stand” it declaims: “No to the bosses’ neo-liberal European Union!”, though that theme rarely appears in its big headlines.

    The RMT rail union, in some ways the most left-wing union in Britain, backed No2EU and today backs the “People’s Pledge”. This “Pledge” is a campaign to call for parliamentary candidates to demand a referendum on British withdrawal from the EU, and support them only if they agree.

    It was initiated by, and is mostly run by, right-wing Tories, but fronted by a Labour leftist, Mark Seddon. It is backed by many Tory MPs — and by some Labour left MPs such as Kelvin Hopkins, John Cryer, and Ronnie Campbell, and by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

    The referendum call is a soft-soap demand for British withdrawal, based on the hope that a majority would vote to quit. (In a recent poll, 55% of people agreed with the statement “Britain should remain a full member of the European Union”, but 55% also agreed with the statement “Britain should leave the European Union”, so…)

    Even the demand for withdrawal is a soft-soap, “tactical” gambit. In principle Britain could quit the EU without disrupting much. It could be like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland: pledged to obey all the EU’s “Single Market” rules (i.e. all the neo-liberal stuff) though opting out of a say in deciding the rules; exempt from contributing to the EU budget but also opting out from receiving EU structural and regional funds.

    That is not what the no-to-EU-ers want. They want Britain completely out. They want all the other member-states out too. A speech by RMT president Alex Gordon featured on the No2EU website spells it out: “Imperialist, supranational bodies such as the EU seek to roll back democratic advances achieved in previous centuries… Progressive forces must respond to this threat by defending and restoring national democracy. Ultimately, national independence is required for democracy to flourish…”

    For decades “anti-EU” agitation has been like background music in the left’s marketplace — designed to soothe the listeners and make them more receptive to the goods on offer, but not for attentive listening. If the music should be played at all, then it should be turned up now.

    But do you really want the EU broken up? What would happen?

    The freedom for workers to move across Europe would be lost. “Foreign” workers in each country from other ex-EU states would face disapproval at best.

    There would be a big reduction in the productive capacities of the separate states, cut off from broader economic arenas.

    Governments and employers in each state would be weaker in capitalist world-market competition, and thus would be pushed towards crude cost-cutting, in the same way that small capitalist businesses, more fragile in competition, use cruder cost-cutting than the bigger employers.

    There would be more slumps and depression, in the same way that the raising of economic barriers between states in the 1930s lengthened and deepened the slump then.

    Nationalist and far-right forces, already the leaders of anti-EU political discourse everywhere, would be “vindicated” and boosted. Democracy would shrink, not expand. The economically-weaker states in Europe, cut off from the EU aid which has helped them narrow the gap a bit, would suffer worst, and probably some would fall to military dictatorships.

    Before long the economic tensions between the different nations competing elbow-to-elbow in Europe’s narrow cockpit would lead to war, as they did repeatedly for centuries, and especially in 1914 and 1939.

    The left should fight, not to go backwards from the current bureaucratic, neo-liberal European Union, but forward, towards workers’ unity across Europe, a democratic United States of Europe, and a socialist United States of Europe.

    Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

    Jim Denham

    May 22, 2015 at 8:48 pm

  15. Yes! All the criticisms of the EU are justified and based on genuine and appalling faults within the EU. Tthe undemocratic bureaucracy; the drive towards harmonisation of economic policies in the interests of big business; the promotion of policies to help monopolies mop up the smaller enterprises and control and dominate markets (while pretending to do precisely the opposite) plus a host of other crimes. However, awful though the practices and culture and objectives of the EU are, the alternative is not the freeing of Europe’s individual nation states from the clammy hand of Brussels in order that they may pursue more progressive and environmentally sustainable policies but the triumph of petty nationalism (with all the squabbles and the rise of reactionary domestic movements that would accompany it. Look at the former Soviet SSRs and the remnants of Yugoslavia (Ukraine has armed fascist militias fighting in its current civil war and has outlawed the expression of views that do not accord with a nationalist version of its history and aspirations for its future). For all its faults the EU is better than the alternatives and the openings to ally ourselves with working class movements across the continent in common struggles would be greatly reduced outside it. In addition, a Europhobe victory would provide a huge boost for themost reactionary elements in the UK (notably the English nationalists who are already benefiting from their de-facto alliance with the SNP and its hangers-on) and drive our own political culture even further to the right.

    Tony Benn was a decent bloke in many ways (although personally never forgot or forgave his acquiescence with Wilson’s gutless pro-US line re. Vietnam) but he also talked a lot of shit sometimes. A UK (or England) outside the EU would be a nastier as well as a poorer place. No2EU (it was meant to include “Yes2Democracy” in the title but that got conveniently dropped from the start) is merely a means by which some elements on the so called ‘left’ may end up siding with the worst factions within the Tory Right wing.

    bashtheblues

    May 23, 2015 at 12:43 am

  16. Yes! All the criticisms of the EU are justified and based on genuine and appalling faults within the EU. Tthe undemocratic bureaucracy; the drive towards harmonisation of economic policies in the interests of big business; the promotion of policies to help monopolies mop up the smaller enterprises and control and dominate markets (while pretending to do precisely the opposite) plus a host of other crimes. However, awful though the practices and culture and objectives of the EU are, the alternative is not the freeing of Europe’s individual nation states from the clammy hand of Brussels in order that they may pursue more progressive and environmentally sustainable policies but the triumph of petty nationalism (with all the squabbles and the rise of reactionary domestic movements that would accompany it. Look at the former Soviet SSRs and the remnants of Yugoslavia (Ukraine has armed fascist militias fighting in its current civil war and has outlawed the expression of views that do not accord with a nationalist version of its history and aspirations for its future). For all its faults the EU is better than the alternatives and the openings to ally ourselves with working class movements across the continent in common struggles would be greatly reduced outside it. In addition, a Europhobe victory would provide a huge boost for themost reactionary elements in the UK (notably the English nationalists who are already benefiting from their de-facto alliance with the SNP and its hangers-on) and drive our own political culture even further to the right.

    Tony Benn was a decent bloke in many ways (although personally never forgot or forgave his acquiescence with Wilson’s gutless pro-US line re. Vietnam) but he also talked a lot of shit sometimes. A UK (or England) outside the EU would be a nastier as well as a poorer place. No2EU (it was meant to include “Yes2Democracy” in the title but that got conveniently dropped from the start) is merely a means by which some elements on the so called ‘left’ may end up siding with the worst factions within the Tory Right

    bashtheblues

    May 23, 2015 at 12:46 am

  17. If you want to cheer yourself up check out hashtag #hometovote

    For a good laugh see this eediot comparing gay marriage to the holocaust, and, ne’est ce pas. quoting Brendan O’Neill http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/exorcism-lgbt-christians/#pq=F0tiSg

    Non discrimination in employment, goods and services for the gays is 1 EU requirement/value.
    #gayropa as the Russians would have it.

    What other EU requirements/values would some lefties have us drop?

    Paul Canning

    May 23, 2015 at 12:47 am

  18. There is no such thing as a “left-wing” anti-EU position: only a little-England position put forward by an idiot using “leftist” rhetoric.

    Jim Denham

    May 23, 2015 at 1:21 am

  19. oh yes, Tony Benn was a ‘little-englander’? half of Syriza are little-englanders?
    oh, yes, anti EU means homophobia?

    come on now. that is not good enough.

    sean

    May 23, 2015 at 9:38 am

  20. Jim gives the background and I can only totally agree.

    Andrew Coates

    May 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

  21. An EU withdrawal and the break up of the EU. sounds good to me. As if the EU isn’t an expansionist force in Ukraine pushing towards war. as if the EU hasn’t already defined all opposition to it as ‘fascist’ in advance.

    No2EU!
    Yes2Democracy!

    sean

    May 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

  22. A referendum about the EU will not be a referendum about the EU.

    It will be about immigration.

    The main focus of Ukip, the Tory right, etc will be about “protecting Britain’s borders” and “protecting British jobs for British workers”.

    The choice will be between supporting open borders in Europe or erecting them. There will not be an option to say “we are against the evil capitalist EU but in favour of open borders”.

    The majority of the Far Left will therefore be calling for more restrictive immigration controls, no matter how they try to spin it.

    John R

    May 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm

  23. Sean, time for your ovotine and a lie down.

    The statement posted by Jim above is entirely correct. I fear it will only attract a tiny minority of those who consider themselves to be ‘on’ and ‘of’ ‘the left’. Which, as so often in recent years, leads me to ask: am I part of ‘the left’, and should I want to be?

    dagmar

    May 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm

  24. As I recall No2EU were all for ‘British jobs for British workers’, as exemplified by that traindriver twat. There are a lot of people with very limited and strictly national horizons. There’s an expectation that whatever comes after the EU/neo-liberalism will necessarily be better. As Žižek has said, capitalism can get on perfectly well without the liberal, bourgeois democratic bit — it accomodates itself quite happily to authoritariansm and barbarism. Nationalism is a poison. The last thing humanity needs is more sates and more borders.

  25. “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. ”

    I really believe in stuff like this.

    Andrew Coates

    May 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm

  26. So David Cameron is pro workers? come on mate!
    here is the great Peter Hitchens on the EU:

    sean

    May 23, 2015 at 5:36 pm

  27. Watching – moist of eye – the Irish referendum.

    We also need a positive campaign, not one driven by fear, matching fear with fear. We also need to campaign for the future, not the past. We need to link up with people all over Europe to sell the benefits of being together, being inside rather than outside. We need to listen to those battling the likes of the FN.

    I think of my friends living here from Eastern Europe. What on earth do EU opponents have to say to them? What do they have to say to the hundreds of thousands of young British people making a future for themselves elsewhere in Europe?

    For me this is about what the Irish referendum was about – what sort of country do we want to live in. I want one welcoming of new people, open to the world, internationalist with equality for all. I’m sure we can all add to that but it is beyond me how we get it in any sort of ‘little England’.

    Paul Canning

    May 23, 2015 at 6:58 pm

  28. “think of my friends living here from Eastern Europe. What on earth do EU opponents have to say to them?”

    i would say 1) its nothing personal. I wish you well and have no problem with you working or living here.
    2) in your own countries, there is mass opposition to the EU. Why do you think they are objecting? the issue is democracy, not eastern european migrants.
    3) you foolishly believed that eastern europe became ‘independent’ with the collapse of the USSR, but in reality, eastern europe simply became absorbed into another similar entity to the USSR, the EU.
    4) you should also vote NO! here and encourage your countrymen to do likewise.

    that’s what i would say.
    i suspect the Yes vote will win, because like the gay campaign in Ireland, the pro EU have the backing of the establishment.

    sean

    May 23, 2015 at 7:24 pm

  29. I am fairly certain in Ireland, of all countries, that there is popular opposition to the EU, It has made things worse in that country, and even when they voted NO, it was not accepted, and the Yes was passed through anyway.
    Do any of you have a problem with this? that is, if there is a no vote, do you think that at least the decision ought to be respected? It wasn’t in Ireland. there is no reason it will be in Britain. So, you really have nothing to fear.

    sean

    May 23, 2015 at 7:32 pm

  30. sean

    May 23, 2015 at 10:12 pm

  31. There are so may things that needs to be said that to answer all the points would take too long (it’s midnight after all) and run to many thousands of words: so just a few points.

    Democracy is a poorly defined and much misunderstood concept. The UK is one of the least democratic countries in Europe, in part because our corrupt electoral system allows a party to be ‘elected’ into governing office even though a majority of voters voted against them – and even if the largest opposition party gets more votes than them (as has happened more than once). In any case, referenda (…dums) are not democratic in any real sense (for reasons so bleedin’ obvious that I’m not going to list them all here). In reality, referendums are more commonly used by those seeking to ratify or reinforce attacks on real, participative democracy (the welcome result of the recent Irish referendum notwithstanding). I have voted in two referendums in my lifetime but in two other referendums on issues I cared deeply about and which had the potential to affect my and the country I live in (the UK) greatly, I and the great majority of my compatriots were excluded from the ballot merely because we are English. Was that democratic?

    Comparing the EU to the former USSR is just ludicrous on so many levels.

    If the UK leaves the EU it will hasten the dissolution of the Union (already looking more likely than not after the disasters in Scotland) and leave us English living in a very nasty, unpleasantly intolerant place indeed: where racism and xenophobia will be exacerbated by probable economic collapse. In such an England I would not want to be an immigrant – especially of a different skin tone to the white majority who will still be encouraged to look for scapegoats once the EU is no longer available. As an exit from the EU would almost certainly be accompanied by our exit from the ECHR there would be no legal protection or recourse for the hundreds of thousands of people (mostly Europeans) who would be deprived of any security here and effectively driven out of the country. “British jobs for British workers” means ejecting non-British workers from the labour market, or at the very least putting them in a second-class situation.

    Where are the great British public going to get the information on which to base an informed decision on the EU – from our mass media?

    The referendum will split the left and the right. Personally I do not want to ally myself with the CBI and the ‘big business’ lobby who will campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote (perhaps with the Tory and New Labour leaderships) so I will be looking for a specifically leftist pro-European campaign to support.

    bashtheblues

    May 24, 2015 at 12:46 am

  32. Sean: out of touch with the Irish working class aka ‘the establishment’. Who’d have thought?

    I guess you want the opposite of “welcoming of new people, open to the world, internationalist with equality for all”. Well, I guess I’m not guessing, you’re arguing for it!

    This seems apt >

    Paul Canning

    May 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

  33. “welcoming of new people, open to the world, internationalist with equality for all”

    these are vague. new people? open to the world? you mean immigration i guess. internationalist? a national government, by definition, cannot be internationalist unless it were in fact an international power such as the British Empire once was. equality for all? I haven’t got anything against gay marriage as such, but neither am i for it. I don’t care either way, to be honest with you. I respect the will of the people of Ireland. Its a pity the EU doesn’t, and didn’t accept Ireland’s No.

    The fact is, the working class are not so keen on unlimited migration, and have shown this consistently. Its time to stop and consolidate, give the existing migrants time to integrate, without that, its going to be chaos. I am a political realist, and words such as ‘open to the world’ can mean different things.

    ie what if with more immigration from Islamic societies leads to more and more Islamic identity politics such as Tower hamlets. Is this really what you want? Yet this is being open to the world. this is internationalism. this is welcoming new people.

    sean

    May 24, 2015 at 1:11 am

  34. Been waiting for this to youtube. This from one of my all time heroes and when I heard it I thought immediately of you Andrew :}

    Paul Canning

    May 24, 2015 at 2:12 am

  35. Islamism is dying ‘Sean’.

    The death throttle of the Islamic State, is ghastly, but it it is just that, a death throes.

    Kant predicted that despite all the reverses – the slaughter and terror – that we will see that ultimately the cause of Enlightenment will triumph.

    “Enlightenment comes gradually, with intermittent folly and caprice, as a great good which must finally save men from the selfish aggrandizement of their masters, always assuming that the latter know their own interest. This enlightenment, and with it a certain commitment of heart which the enlightened man cannot fail to make to the good he clearly understands, must step by step ascend the throne and influence the principles of government.”

    “The impact of any revolution on all states on our continent, so closely knit together through commerce, will be so obvious that the other states, driven by their own danger but without any legal basis, will offer themselves as arbiters, and thus they will prepare the way for a distant international government for which there is no precedent in world history. Although this government at present exists only as a rough outline, nevertheless in all the members there is rising a feeling which each has for the preservation of the whole. This gives hope finally that after many reformative revolutions, a universal cosmopolitan condition, which Nature has as her ultimate purpose, will come into being as the womb wherein all the original capacities of the human race can develop.”

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/universal-history.htm

    I really believe this.

    Andrew Coates

    May 24, 2015 at 3:13 pm

  36. Why do you keep saying ‘ I really believe this’, unless you don’t really believe it deep down? You know its not true at some level and you need to convince yourself of it. I don’t know whether Islamism is dying or not. However, identity politics based on Islamic identity are not dying at all.
    you should believe this:

    sean

    May 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm

  37. Just out of amusement we’ve had some jolly time baiting on this on Facebook.

    Andrew Coates

    May 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

  38. ‘Dean’, I think you will find it was the ebola that died.

    pinkie

    May 26, 2015 at 6:02 pm

  39. How on Earth did a discussion on the forthcoming EU referendum become a discussion on the nature of the Islamic State and the mayoral election in Tower Hamlets? I suppose our host is largely responsible for posting a comment on the death throes of ISIS here (did he get the pages n his own blog mixed up…?) but now he has confused the issue and allowed others to follow then some statements need to be challenged.

    In particular the demands that the Left declare its support for the candidacy of Ms. Khan in Tower Hamlets needs to be answered, and rebutted. I am a socialist and an anti racist who has fought racists and fascists all my life (including on the street around Brick Lane in the seventies) and I will have nothing to do with Khan’s campaign (and not just because I no longer live in London).

    Dean gives us a link above to a piece on the RS21 website by Sybil Cock and Andrew Ward which makes a number of points and arguments about the deposing of Mayor Lutfur Rahman. Several of these points are very telling, particularly about the unjust and undemocratic nature of UK election law (an area in which I have some experience) but none of the points they make provide a sufficient defence for Rahman or convince me that he is not a corrupt little crook who has exploited religious and racial divisions to get himself elected. Insofar as Ms. Khan is his successor (chosen by a wonderfully opaque method that no one is willing to explain) then she must share the opprobrium which Rahman has earned.

    Cock and Ward make the following statement in their article:

    “…In an equalities context, “minority” refers to power, not numbers. It does not have to mean a numerical minority.”

    What complete bollocks! ‘Minority’ is a word that has a clear meaning in the English language and it is not up to these arrogant tossers to simply redefine it. A majority may be oppressed by a minority but that does not change the meaning of the word. According to Cock and Ward’s new political lexicography, black Africans were a minority in South Africa under the Apartheid regime…!

    If we look at the politics and ideology of Rahman and the Tower Hamlets First organisation we find some interesting omissions. Firstly, Tower Hamlets First – the party which claims to speak for the working class of this East End borough – does not have a website. Instead its policies, such as they are, are put over by Lutfur Rahman’s personal website. This means that it is impossible, or at least extremely difficult, for most people to discover what THF’s political principals or ideology is, what its detailed policies are, what its organisational structure is or how its leaders are elected or held accountable. This invites the obvious suspicion (which I share) that it has no political principles or ideology, that it is entirely undemocratic and exists primarily as a vehicle for the unprincipled careerist (Rahman) who was largely responsible for foisting the undemocratic Executive Mayoral system on Tower Hamlets in the first place for reasons of personal ambition rather than political principle as far as I can see.

    The fact that Rahman (and his nominated successor, Khan) promote some populist, anti-austerity policies which the left supports does make either of them socialist or even progressive. Their claim to renounce sectarian religious influences in politics is undermined by the attempt to co-opt the local imams to mobilise support for them and everyone who takes an interest in the politics of the Asian communities knows that the imams always demand payment one way or another. The corrupt auctioning of Asian (especially Muslim) ‘block votes’ , whereby ‘community leaders’ and male heads of households promise the votes of those they influence or control in return for seats on the council or funding for their organisations or other special considerations, has long been a feature of politics in West Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire. I have seen nothing in Tower Hamlets to indicate that it is not happening there as well. I recall a National Front election manifesto years ago which pledged support for the Palestinians’ right to self determination in the face of Israel aggression – I’ll leave it to the reader to draw the parallel.

    I accept that the Evening News and the Tory press will have mounted targeted campaigns and smears against Rahman but that does no mean that his links (even tenuous ones) with the IFE are not a cause for concern. The IFE is a Clerical Fascist organisation and progressive or socialist political figures or organisations who ally themselves with or associate with fascists deserve to be shunned and ostracised by the left (SWP please take note).

    I do believe that Rahman has used the slur of ‘Islamophobia’ as a weapon and this term has become so meaningless now that anyone who adopts it brings suspicion down on themselves. Muslims are not a race (even if racists like the BNP/EDL do use the term Muslim as a code for black/Asian) but people who share beliefs and ideas and – to some extent – culture. We are perfectly entitled to take a view on someone based on what they believe or the social attitudes they espouse and I am not impressed by the constant harking by Ms. Khan and her supporters about the fact that she is a Muslim. I would be far more impressed if she declared that her religious belief or background was irrelevant. Khan is a photogenic young woman who knows how to present herself but in the interviews I have seen (especially the soft ones with supportive leading questions posted on the RS21 website) she sticks to the simple issues and avoids difficult questions This might be understandable in appealing to her core voters but if she is seeking support from the left then she needs to explain herself a damn sight better than that.. She makes noises about mobilising women but makes no reference to challenging the inferior role assigned to her gender by the oppressively patriarchal culture she grew up in. I have not seen or heard her say anything about the segregation of women and girls or the racial segregation of services caused by funding ethnic or religious groups to deliver basic services. I would also point to the gallery of Rahman’s cabinet on Tower Hamlets Council: every single seat was held by a Bengali… every single one. Now it is quite reasonable that politically active Bengalis should be prominent in the leadership of Tower Hamlets Borough Council but there are only a limited number of reasons for this one ethnic/cultural/religious group to be so overwhelmingly dominant and none of them reflect well on Mr. Rahman and his organisation.

    Sadly it seems to me that there is no one standing for the mayoralty in Tower Hamlets who is worthy of progressive support and this says a lot about the abysmal state of left politics in the UK and London in particular. Oppressed and discriminated against groups do not automatically turn to progressive politics to fight their oppression and sometimes they turn the other way instead – towards reactionary positions. It is also an undeniable fact that Muslim communities across the UK have been ill-served by their community ‘leaders’ over decades as careerists, opportunists and reactionaries have sought to reproduce the same political culture that they grew up in back in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Nothing I have heard about Rahman or Khan or Tower Hamlets First indicates that they have broken from this depressing tradition.

    bashtheblues

    May 26, 2015 at 9:55 pm

  40. …because obviously a ‘physcian’ who has seen EBOLA (as the Express likes to spell it) at close quarters would send random biohazards through the mail to punish the voters of Bradford for having voted for the spiv *last* time. It all makes perfect sense.

  41. @gato rojo – I suspect a “zionist physician” using harvested childrens organs.

    Boleyn Ali

    May 27, 2015 at 10:49 am

  42. Marge is even reading about George and his Ebola virus. (I’ve always found him to be curious too.)

    John R

    May 27, 2015 at 12:16 pm

  43. Oh dear! Writing (over) lengthy blog posts late at night invites mistakes and there is one in the first sentence (line 2) of the seventh paragraph in my post of last night where the word ‘not’ was accidentally omitted. The sentence should read:

    “The fact that Rahman (and his nominated successor, Khan) promote some populist, anti-austerity policies which the left supports does NOT make either of them socialist or even progressive.”

    Sorry about that.

    bashtheblues

    May 27, 2015 at 11:25 pm

  44. @headless_queenie

    a “zionist physician” using harvested childrens organs stored in a refrigerator powered with gas from the ground of a palestinian kitten cemetery

  45. In the 1930s Europe was all about race. The Pan Europa movement wanted a mass migration of Africans into Europe and a Jewish aristocracy (See for instance Practical Idealism). The fascists and Nationalists reacted very badly to this but did offer the prototype for the EEC. Having read Practical Idealism I thought “thank goodness we have got past all this idiocy about race and immigration”, then I turned on the radio news.

    John Sydenham

    June 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm


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