Tendance Coatesy

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After Corbyn’s Peterborough Speech: Unity Possible on Brexit Around our Pro-Brexit Programme: Communist Party of Britain.

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Image result for communist party of britain Lexit

CPB Seers’ Predictions.

Left Unity Possible on Brexit Around our pro-Brexit Programme: Communist Party of Britain.

Today the news is full of Donald Trump’s welcome for Brexit and a promise for rapid trade deal with the UK. This comes as Teresa May is reported to be in favour of a Hard Brexit. In response to the latter Labour MP Caroline Flint has given priority support for a two-tier immigration system for EU citizens, giving free access to better off, qualified workers over the unqualified.

Where does the left stand on the current state of Brexit negotiations?

A few days ago Jeremy Corbyn spoke on the issues around Brexit at Peterborough. He said, “Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, you voted for a better future for Britain. One thing is clear, the Tories cannot deliver that. So today I want to set how Labour will deliver that vision of a better Britain.”

People’s Brexit.

Over the weekend Communist Party of Britain General Secretary Robert Griffith welcomed Corbyn’s speech (Unity for a People’s Brexit from the EU). He welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s declaration. To Griffith, “It offered a united way forward for the labour movement on the divisive question of Britain’s exit from the European Union.”

The Communist leader noted that, “It’s hardly a secret that the left and labour movement have been divided on the issue of EU membership”. Corbyn however bolted down one continued source of division: he opposed a second referendum. This, Griffith claimed, answered “powerful forces” who wish, “to keep us enmeshed in membership of the European Single Market with its rules requiring the “free movement” of capital, goods, services and people across the EU. That free movement of capital.”

In his address Corbyn took up four issues: “First, people want to leave the EU in order to “bring control of our democracy and economy closer to home.” Second, they want the promise kept of extra investment in the NHS from money saved by cancelling Britain’s contribution to the EU budget. Third, people have had enough of an economic system and an Establishment that work only for the few and not the many.
Finally, they want their concerns about immigration to be addressed.”

Above all the Labour leader, was, it is implied, recognised that, “detailed polling analysis shows that democratic sovereignty was the single biggest reason why people voted Leave last June — and that a slight majority of people who regard themselves as anti-capitalist (30 per cent of the electorate) also voted Leave.”

It is hard to see exactly how a ‘transfer’ of EU budget contribution to funding the NHS can take place, unless Griffith imagines there is some magical system ring-fencing for government funds for this or that objective.

The key issues are sovereignty and immigration.

The Peterborough Speech.

Corbyn announced, “People voted for Brexit on the promise that Britain outside the European Union could be a better place for all its citizens. Whatever their colour or creed. A chance to regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives.” This assertion, unsupported by evidence, would imply that people voted for Brexit because they want to manage industry and commerce themselves. That leaving the EU was perceived as a means to “regain” (how exactly was it lost?) control over democracy and their everyday existence is also highly ambiguous. No socialist would consider that quitting the EU means leaving capitalism, the world market. Exactly how will this challenge the role of the City? The protection of its privileged position is at the very centre of negotiations – with not a word from Labour to challenge it.

The idea that ‘democracy’ is extended by abandoning pooled sovereignty for national sovereignty is unsupported by any specific examples other than a vague commitment to taking “back real control and putting power and resources right into the heart of local communities to target investment where it’s needed.” This is a declaration made by every government for the last twenty years.

On the issue of “colour or creed”, Corbyn avoided the left’s concerns that calls to restrict EU migration are fuelled by xenophobia. His wobbling over free movement of labour aside the only specific statement the Labour leader made was that, “Labour will demand that the Brexit negotiations give us the power to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being used and exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work.” Nevertheless proposals to deal with this, for example by insisting that recruitment agencies are compelled to take on only the unionised, have been shown to be impossible to enforce.

Labour Movement.

For a party that prides itself on its roots in the labour movement the CPB General Secretary failed to talk about the key issues the Trade Union Congress has raised. These include not just plans to protect jobs, reform fiscal and monetary policy, and promote industrial planning, investment in infrastructure but “protections for working people’s employment rights, pay and pensions.” (Working people must not pay the price for the vote to Leave. TUC).

Instead of looking at Brexit as an opportunity to reaffirm national sovereignty we should be considering its implications for the labour movement.

It is possible that post-Brexit the former, enfeebled by the loss of transcontinental framework, may be reconfigured. But the latter, that it rights at work, will be irredeemably harmed by Brexit. The more so in that May is reported to wish to sever even the tie to the (non-EU) European Court of Justice. More direct threats include not only the loss of working hours directive and a hist of other legislation, but the end of cross-continental Works Councils, which play a key role in strengthening the hands of trade unions in negotiations.

It is clear that any deal with Trump – a TIPP writ large? – will reinforce the right-wing ‘neo-liberal’ agenda that the CPB claims to oppose Unable to leave the world market the claim, by those forces on the left that Brexit would offer a better way forward than membership of the capitalist EU, will turn out to be hollow.

Finally, there remains “concerns about immigration”.

Griffiths sheds tears that “Too many EU supporters on the left and in the centre have spent the past six months smearing Leave voters as gullible, undereducated, narrow-minded racists. Some critics have become so unhinged as to accuse the Communist Party of being in bed with nationalists, racists and neonazis, although we conducted an anti-racist, internationalist campaign against the EU, wholly independently of all sections of the political right.”

That’s as may be, though the more common change was the CPB’s sovereigntism led to nationalism it is hard to see exactly what is anti-racist about calling for immigration controls. Or how a two-tier migration system is anything other than a class based attempt to regulate entry into the UK and pander to hostility towards foreigners.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

8 Responses

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  1. A new initiative “Brexit Together” has been set up to “unite” the Brexit and Remain camps. Their manifesto is below.

    Caroline Flint MP was giving interviews backing it and Andrew Harrop (a leading Fabian) is one of the signatories. A letter appeared in the Times today supporting it.

    Toby Young backs it too along with luminaries of the Adam Smith Institute.

    We are how headed towards a Hard Brexit unless there is a major change in the outlook of the Labour Party leadership (both Left and Right). Initiatives like this “Brexit Together” (for an “inclusive” Brexit) is just meaningless waffle and any Labour people supporting it are just giving a cover for the “small state”, anti-Welfare, anti-NHS Brexit which a Hard Brexit will bring. I’m not going to say they are “traitors” just, I believe, they are conning themselves into thinking that there can be anything “positive” or “inclusive” about Brexit.

    As for a “People’s Brexit”, gimme a break.


    John Rogan

    January 16, 2017 at 2:57 pm

  2. The mere mention of the name Toby Young…..this stinks to high heaven.

    Andrew Coates

    January 16, 2017 at 5:02 pm

  3. Nice poster. Thanks for the publicity.

    Nick Wright

    January 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

  4. The poster remains a warm testimony to the clairvoyants at the CPB.

    Andrew Coates

    January 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

  5. The wretched Stalinists of the Morning Star seem to be having the beginnings of some doubts (ie slight signs of actually thinking) about the inevitably progressive nature of Brexit: https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-3dad-Brexit-means-Empire-and-Huber-freed#.WH1T5btijwo

    Jim Denham

    January 17, 2017 at 12:19 am

  6. “The poster remains a warm testimony to the clairvoyants at the CPB.”
    It takes no special powers to read what the class enemy says which is why, when Osborne’s special advisor and a city financier fear wages will rise and profits will fall we can understand why the dominant section of our ruling class so fiercely opposed Brexit.
    More of a mystery is why sections of the social democratic left, the union bureaucracy and the dafter elements of the ultra left campaigned for the same objective.

    Nick Wright

    January 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm

  7. “dafter elements of the ultra left”: you mean those of us who’ve read – and understand – the Communist Manifesto, Nick?

    Jim Denham

    January 18, 2017 at 3:11 pm

  8. Will wages rise after Brexit?

    Stuart Rose (leader of Remain) suggested this in March last year [1] but other reports have indicated otherwise.

    The Guardian wrote this in August 16 [2] –

    “A report by the Resolution Foundation thinktank said there would be a small pay increase to native-born employees in sectors such as security and cleaning if there was a big cut in the number of workers arriving in Britain from overseas.

    But it estimated that these benefits would fail to compensate for the reduction in real incomes caused in the short term by the higher inflation triggered by a falling pound, and in the long term by a slowdown in the economy’s growth rate.”

    Another report [3] from August in the Independent stated this –

    “Bank of England projections for inflation to reach 1.9 per cent next year leave real-wage growth at about 1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, down from as much as 3.2 per cent last year.

    If the more aggressive inflation forecasts of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research prove correct, real pay may turn negative for the first time since 2014.

    “Consumer spending and investment are the clear losers” in the post-Brexit environment, said George Buckley, chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank. “Higher inflation will erode purchasing power, and if you’re worried about your job, the likelihood is that you’ll start to save more. Plus there will probably be a rise in unemployment.”

    As for City profits falling, well is that really a good thing to celebrate?

    If they were falling due to increases in tax which was going into the NHS, then, ok, that would be good. However, as they are more likely to be falling because the economy is tanking due to the economic and social chaos caused by Brexit, then, no, it would not be good. The Tories (and, yes, they would still be the Govt) would just use it as a reason to inflict further cuts as tax revenues would collapse. I’d go as far to say it really could be the death knell of the NHS (£10 per visit to your GP, anyone?).

    As for people imagining that this “crisis of capitalism” will lead to a rise in socialist consciousness, well, these days, it’s more likely to see a rise in “we’ve got to look after our own first” nationalism. Part of this nationalism is, of course, believing that your particular nationalism has it bad, others are getting advantages that you are being denied and it’s not fair how you are treated.

    But, you may answer, we have the Labour Party being led by its most left wing leader for years (perhaps ever!). Labour can put out a Bold Socialist Message which cuts across this destructive nationalism and play a part in uniting the workers of the UK if not Europe.

    Not if the UkipLite leaflet being put out in the West Midlands is anything to go by, I’m afraid [4].

    [1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12181385/Wages-for-British-workers-will-rise-in-the-event-of-a-Brexit-head-of-in-campaign-says.html

    [2] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/15/brexit-damage-to-uk-economy-will-outweigh-wage-gains-study-finds

    [3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-inflation-rate-pound-sterling-effect-on-pay-rises-a7208596.html

    [4] https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2j2ET7WEAAACYO.jpg

    John Rogan

    January 20, 2017 at 11:20 am

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