Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Last Gasps of the Pro-Brexit left.

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Lacks “a sense of humility and appreciation” for Farage that ‘Left-Wing’ Full Brexit says is needed. 

With the Brexit Crisis fueling unprecedented voting shifts in the European election campaign the Pro-Brexit left ‘Lexit’ as they like to call it, (nobody else does) often feels to get away from the tiresome drag of cloud cuckoo land and escape to somewhere less mundane.

Time indeed to ihgnore the haemorigging of Labour votes to anti-Brexit parties, starting with the Liberal Democrats.

It’s there that the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) has finally found an echo for its Boycott Labour Campaign.

We need a People’s Brexit and a general election that can return a left and Labour government, which can begin to rebuild Britain for the people, not the bankers.

Respect the vote – SUPPORT a ‘People’s Boycott’ on 23 May 2019.

From the self-identifying  “Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants“.

The Socialist Party, which is thoroughly enjoying its trip away from the harsh world,  says of the European Elections.

Unfortunately, however, at this stage Corbyn and the left Labour leadership are not conveying a clear message to working class voters. A central reason for this is their continued mistaken attempts to compromise with the pro-capitalist Blairite wing of Labour – whether that is the local Labour councils cutting public services, or the Blairite MPs fighting for Labour to be seen as the party which defends the EU bosses’ club.

No mention of the pro Brexit Bosses’ Club.

No mention of the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit campaign which has captured people’s imagination across the left.

On the talks with May they say,

… reports from the talks have focused overwhelmingly on the Blairite demand for a second referendum, inevitably giving the impression to many Leave voting workers that Labour is not fighting in the interests of working class people and is instead focused on ‘reversing Brexit’.

No mention of Remain voting workers or the Remain supporters in the Trade Unions.

No mention of how to vote in the European election.

No mention of the Labour voters going head over fist to the anti-Brexit parties, which some polls suggest have pushed the party into third place.

Or this, somewhat optimistic claim,

A clear and unambiguous pro-Remain position from Labour would give the party a resounding 27% lead over the Conservatives, an 8% lead over the Brexit Party and a 14% increase in their overall vote, new research has revealed.

New European.

But apparently.

Bosses fear revolt against capitalism

At least the People’s Brexit dreamers of Counterfire say,

Tory collapse is only half the story; Corbyn’s Labour needs to sharply recalibrate around anti-austerity and class politics, argues Lindsey German

Farage understands he can only win the level of support he has by channelling the huge amount of anger about the failure to carry out the decision of the referendum. To do so he is prepared to downplay his racism, and he has some cover from erstwhile lefts who now support the Brexit party, but we can be sure that a campaign where he and Johnson are in competition (and with a myriad of fascist and extreme right parties spewing their filth) will have racism and scapegoating at their centre.

……

The only tactical vote is for Labour, because they are the only people who can beat Farage, and the higher Labour’s vote the stronger its left leadership will be. The alternative is strong Lib Dems – which will help Watson and Starmer.

How might they ‘channel’ this anger?

By joining Counterfire’s voyage to a People’s Brexit….

Note, Comrade Keir Starmer’s first appearance as an enemy of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire.

The Morning Star with one toe in the carnival of reaction that’s taking place, dismisses worries about the far-right across Europe and Farage’s likely real political impact in the EU.

As indicated in this valuable article:

The far right is no great shakes

The European Union is proving to be a less reliable instrument for resolving contradictions among its member states and competing elites than either centre right, liberal or social democratic opinion has hitherto hoped.

In addition, although these right-wing populists are something of a problem for the big business and finance circles that stand behind the likes of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron they lack the long-term cohesiveness or numbers to reshape the institutions of the EU.

Like those leftwingers who think the EU can be transformed by populating its structures, they too will find out that the real decision-making ever eludes the grasp of forces outside the charmed circle whether they come from the left or the right.

Oddly, or not so oddly given reports that some of the hard line Brexit Bolsheviks will do more than follow the Communist Party of Britain’s call not to vote Labour the editorial concludes,

The populist right – in or out of the EU – cannot meet the needs of working people. Almost uniquely our country has a Labour government in waiting that can.

The Full Brexit, supported by prominent members of the Communist Party of Britain, and ‘Blue Labour’ Family Faith and Flag patriots, not to mention Spiked ex-Revolutionary Communist Party, (and Green Larry O’Nutter, better known under his pen name of Larry O’Hara)  tweets  about this article:

Lee Jones is Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London.

Note these words well,

It is deeply lamentable that this crucial channel for political expression is being supplied by a party led by Nigel Farage. However, the explanation for this lies not with Farage’s unique talents, or the supposed far-right proclivities of millions of British citizens, as many now claim. Farage is only able to claim leadership of a pro-democracy movement because the left has utterly failed to do so. Despite admitting the EU’s many faults and being unable to mount a positive case for it, the left bottled the referendum, clinging to a discredited neoliberal edifice. The opportunity subsequently to return to its foundational principle of democracy and lead Brexit in a progressive direction has been squandered. Most so-called leftists have merely doubled down on their ludicrous insistence that only racists and fascists can oppose the EU.

He continues,

TBP ought to be a left-wing party. By failing to reclaim the banner of democracy from the Eurosceptic right, the left has created the opportunity for Farage to return.

Despite its important short-term contribution, however, in the longer term, it is doubtful whether TBP can help resolve the problems of British political life. While the most obvious limitations stem from its leadership, the deeper problems lie in the populist form of political organisation itself.

Accordingly, whatever Nigel Farage may or may not be, TBP is simply not a “far-right” party. It has only one policy, to defend democracy and uphold the referendum result, and there is no reasonable way to define this policy as “far-right”.

The academic opines that one should approach Farage’s start-up party,

…with a sense of humility and appreciation for the important role TBP is playing in the immediate crisis of British politics.

Jones concludes,

At present, TBP stands exclusively for the enactment of a democratic majority decision – no more, no less. To call this “far right” is hysterical, immoral, and deeply insulting to many millions of people.

The Brexit Party: Creature of the Void

At least the Socialist Workers Party says:

Vote Labour in the European elections – and increase the Tories’ crisis

Hold on…

The next few days matter. Labour could still launch a real fight that brings together the call for an anti-austerity and anti-racist Brexit with action over the NHS, housing, climate chaos and other urgent issues.

Back from the sidelines:

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21 Responses

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  1. This paragraph was spotted, and is the most relevant possible,

    “The typical leaver is a working-class Labour voter of the north whose unchangeable and righteous wrath is more important and “authentic” than that of any remainer, whatever their class. As a result of their influence, the party finds itself in the absurd position of leavers thinking it is pro-remain, while remainers think it is determined to facilitate leave. Corbyn’s pledge to ensure the party unites leavers and remainers has been fulfilled, but only in one regard: none of us believe he’s truly on our side.”

    Why remainers should keep the faith and vote Labour on Thursday
    Zoe Williams

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/21/remainers-faith-vote-labour-corbyn-brexit

    Andrew Coates

    May 21, 2019 at 4:42 pm

  2. I find this blog useful for getting inside the minds of left remainers.

    If remain represents internationalism and socialism and leave represents a carnival of reaction, we have a unique situation where left and right both define themselves as orienting towards the same political question albeit taking polar opposite sides.

    Previously the right might have oriented towards nationalism or even race or religious sect but now can take on the mantle of democracy while the left might have oriented towards class but now simply has to define itself in opposition to the manoeuvres of the right. We used to say class not race, we used to try to change the terms of the debate. Now we enthusiastically accept them. And that is the real danger of left remainerism.

    Eric

    May 21, 2019 at 6:52 pm

  3. But the position on the EU *is* a class question, Eric!.

    Our movement has a clear-cut choice:

    It can reject the advances of the bourgeoisie out of hand and look to a reversion to the previous conditions.
    As long ago as the Communist Manifesto (1847-8), Marxists defined some of those who took that choice — the well-meaning ones, who among other things objected to the degradation of the working class — as “reactionary socialists”. All of them were historically regressive and reactionary.

    The other approach is to acknowldge that what the bourgeoisie has done in this case has been progressive, try to reform and reshape it, and build on it.

    That second choice, fundamentally, is our approach to capitalism itself. The entire Marxist tradition, that of Marx and Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, points us to the second approach — to build on what the EU has developed, to fight to transform it, to strive to realise adequate bourgeois democracy within it, to cut down the smothering tendrils of its bureaucracy, to build workingclass unity within the frame of the EU (and beyond it, of course), and finally to put the working class in control and create the Socialist United States of Europe.

    Brexit on any terms involves regression to a walled-off British bourgeois nation-state. It counterposes that to the unity which the bourgeoisie has achieved over the last 60 or 70 years, since the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

    It also risks destabilising other EU countries’ integration, and the EU itself.
    It is to realise some of the program of the chauvinist, racist, and even fascist far right, and to encourage them in their foul work.

    The Labour Party and most trade unions urged people to vote against Brexit in 2016. After the June 2016 referendum result, the British labour movement should have turned itself into a great campaign for European unity, and for working-class unity.

    It should have lined up behind the call for a second, informed, public vote.

    Jim Denham

    May 22, 2019 at 10:50 am

  4. Regardless of whether Britain leaves the EU and regardless of what some far right fantacists might say, economic isloation is not on the cards. Not even vaguely.

    There are pragmatic reasons for the left to support remain (and other pragmatic reasons to supply leave). What alarms me are those who have no word of criticism of the EU and who depict what is in reality just a debate about treaties between bourgeois states as an epic battle between good and evil.

    Eric

    May 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm

  5. We have spent years doing just that Eric.

    There were alternative economic strategies (before the Banking Crisis) plans for a ‘Social Europe’ that would upgrade benefits and social rights, and campaigns for them.

    Ken Coates was important in a number of European initiatives while was an MEP,

    “Coates pioneered a number of initiatives to help focus the institutions of European civil society beginning with a very successful Pensioners’ Parliament, and also including a special Parliament of Disabled People, and two Europe-wide conferences of unemployed people (the European Appeal for Full Employment). He strongly supported the Delors programme for full employment in Europe, and became rapporteur of the Parliament’s Temporary Committee on Employment, which carried two major reports with almost unanimous support of the European Parliament.”

    See: Full Employment for Europe
    By Ken Coates & Stuart Holland

    Full employment is off the agenda, out of fashion, and out of sight – except in some of the institutions of Europe. Why?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Coates

    Meanwhile this has happened.

    Andrew Coates

    May 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm

  6. Eric: I think what I’ve written in my last comment shows that for us Marxists this is not a “pragmatic” decision but a matter of the upmost principle based upon the Communist Manifesto.

    Jim Denham

    May 22, 2019 at 2:22 pm

  7. @Jim Denham – are you the Marxist pope now?

    what upmost principle are you talking about? do you even have any principals?

    you should have a debate with Sargon of Akkad.

    George Galloway has an indefatigable record on the left.

    Dean

    May 22, 2019 at 3:03 pm

  8. Jim Denham – are you the Marxist pope now? No, just someone who’s read and understands Marx.

    Jim Denham

    May 22, 2019 at 3:15 pm

  9. Jim – that you have elavated this to some sort of deep principle is exactly the problem. With or without the EU, capitalism is firmly trans national. With or without the EU, capital’s interests get expressed in terms of the national interest. So within the EU it is (arguably) the national interest to preserve trade and customs deals. While outside the EU capital will attempt to globalise by using the opportunity to establish deals outside the EU. We have to oppose the “nationalism” versus “globalism” narrative of the far right by pointing out its incoherence not by embracing it and taking the opposite side. Just as we don’t accept narratives on race.

    Fwiw, I agree with Andrew’s pragmatic points but there are also democratic problems with the EU.

    Capitalism has already created the material conditions for socialism. It is not playing a progressive role here.

    Eric

    May 22, 2019 at 4:16 pm

  10. I general terms though, since he refers to the Marxist tradition, rather than particular Marxists, or the variety of Marxism*s*, this is still right though,

    “The entire Marxist tradition, that of Marx and Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, points us to the second approach — to build on what the EU has developed, to fight to transform it, to strive to realise adequate bourgeois democracy within it, to cut down the smothering tendrils of its bureaucracy, to build working-class unity within the frame of the EU (and beyond it, of course), and finally to put the working class in control and create the Socialist United States of Europe.

    Brexit on any terms involves regression to a walled-off British bourgeois nation-state. It counterposes that to the unity which the bourgeoisie has achieved over the last 60 or 70 years, since the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It also risks destabilising other EU countries’ integration, and the EU itself. It is to realise some of the program of the chauvinist, racist, and even fascist far right, and to encourage them in their foul work.”

    Sean Matgamna

    https://shirazsocialism.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/brexit-labour-should-lead-not-meekly-comply-or-manoeuvre/

    I could add that the form of Marxism I draw from, which comes from the French new left PSU, the TMR, and theorists and writers like Étienne Balibar, would also begin with the principle that forms of democratic internationalism, in however imperfect a shape in bodies like the EU, are better than a “walled-off British” state.

    “Our future requires a European frame, therefore, for geopolitical reasons, but also because of our position in the world-economy, and – most importantly – because of planetary environmental issues. Between early modernity and the middle of the twentieth century, Europe was able to impose on the world its domination, drawing from there its prosperity (even if very unevenly distributed) and its universalistic civilization (even if brutally imposed on others). Today, in Dipesh Chakrabarty’s words, it has become “provincialized”. And more precisely it finds itself located in what I would call in Wallersteinian terms a semi-periphery of the world.”

    It’s not without problems, as we all know.

    “There is an obvious reverse side to this ungovernability, which is authoritarian “de-democratization”, and this has its own chain of effects. We should inscribe here the universal backlash of nationalism: this is absolutely not a privilege confined to Eastern Europe (Istvan Bibo’s petits Etats d’Europe de l’Est, which were also, in Arendt’s terms, subjected to “continental imperialism”, before falling prey to Nazism and Soviet totalitarian hegemony). It emerges just as strongly in the West, everywhere activating a combination of anxiety about the disaggregation of the community or the historical “We” with feelings of social demise and collective powerlessness.”

    I disagree with some of the following, and admit it’s a bit abstract, since National Populism perfectly sums up the likes of Farage and the Brexit Party, to cite only one case.

    But this is the present condition we face.

    It’s one that Brexit and those on the left who’ve supported it in the mistaken belief that they could shape it into a “people’s Brexit”.

    “The outcome is not only “populism” (a misleading category), but actual xenophobia, hence potential violence, and a rebirth of fascism – or, if we want to avoid mechanically transporting categories from one historical situation to another, it is a constitution of neofascist movements in Europe, with more or less aggressive detachments everywhere on the continent, now close to power or accessing it in some countries. I insist on using this term on purpose: not only is neofascism a danger to the levels of tolerance and exercise of liberties in our societies, it is different from past nationalism and more than its recreation.”

    Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’? Étienne Balibar.

    December 1, 2017.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation/

    Andrew Coates

    May 22, 2019 at 5:38 pm

  11. “No, just someone who’s read and understands Marx.” – Jim Denham

    You may have read Marx but you are far from understanding him.
    you’re just a wannabe kautsky.

    Dean

    May 22, 2019 at 5:50 pm

  12. OK a lot of Marxist name dropping but no applications of anything they actually said.

    Marxist brass tacks – the EU superstructure and its instability is a product of its economic/social base not the other way round.

    The bourgeoisie cannot wall off the UK even if they wanted to – and they most certainly don’t want to. Nor can some amorphous force of reaction (which incidentally should have a class basis if we are being good Marxists). An economically isolated UK is not on the cards. Brexit does not mean the UK is about to go self sufficient Khmet Rouge style. What is happening is an attempt at realigning international trade and integration. With a bit of luck this will lead to the disintegration of the bureaucratic clot that is the European parliament and European commission, but decomposition wil be followed by a recomposition of one form or another.

    Eric

    May 22, 2019 at 7:13 pm

  13. PS That was in response to the Matgamna piece not the Balibar piece. I am in broad agreement with the latter.

    Eric

    May 22, 2019 at 7:36 pm

  14. Eric: OF COURSE “The bourgeoisie cannot wall off the UK even if they wanted to – and they most certainly don’t want to” … which is why the entire Brexit project is a reactionary nonsense. Any idea of a “Lexit” socialism in one country scenario is even more of a nonsense.

    Eric” With a bit of luck this will lead to the disintegration of the bureaucratic clot that is the European parliament and European commission, but decomposition wil be followed by a recomposition of one form or another”:

    “In one form or another”????? A reversion to WTO trading rules? Bilateral treaties? The kind of European alliance envisioned by Salvini, Le Penn, Orban &co? What the hell are you on about and what motivates your utopian/reactionary wishful thinking?

    “Nor can some amorphous force of reaction (which incidentally should have a class basis if we are being good Marxists)”: it’s not “amorphous”: it’s embodied in the existing European and UK nationalist/populist far right, based upon the most reactionary and backward sections of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the lumpen proletariat.

    Go back and read the Communist Manifesto and Marx on free trade, Eric.

    Jim Denham

    May 23, 2019 at 9:19 am

  15. The worst scenario is that the UK will have to operate under WTO rules for a time. The best scenario would be that the UK starts the ball rolling giving Europe a chance to break up the EU and recompose in more favourable democratic terms. In any case there are all manner of possible treaties the UK could make in or outside the EU. We don’t have a chrystal ball.

    The EU is of course a protectionist bloc and Brexit is not about protectionism. And the material conditions for socialism have long been met. There is no progressive wing of the bourgeoisie.

    Eric

    May 23, 2019 at 1:57 pm

  16. Eric: “the UK starts the ball rolling giving Europe a chance to break up the EU and recompose in more favourable democratic terms”: this is sheer fantasy with no basis in reality whatsoever. Given the present balance of forces the breakup of the EU would mark a major victory for the racist far right: can you *really* not see that?

    Jim Denham

    May 23, 2019 at 3:33 pm

  17. Brexit means the taking away of the right to live and work in the UK for over 3 million EU27 citizens. By a certain time, after we leave the EU, they will have had to *apply* and be allowed to continue staying here. This means either by getting citizenship (expensive – £1300 (yes £1300) just to apply to the Home Office plus other costs, just over £200) or (the cheaper, less secure) settled status where there have been various problems already.

    When Article 50 was debated in the House of Commons, Labour put down amendments to guarantee the right of EU citizens to remain here (good!). When that failed, the Shadow Cabinet imposed a three-line-whip to vote through Article 50 knowing that they were leaving over 3 million people to rely on the “hostile environment” Tory Govt to look after their immigration status (bad!).

    In other words, *all* MPs who voted for Article 50 knew what they were voting for – even the most “left-wing”.

    Brexit is, in essence, an anti-immigration, anti-migrant movement. Lexiters are part of it.

    John Rogan

    May 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm

  18. I had assumed that we all agreed on the necessity of changing the balance of forces. You can’t use the EU as a crutch in the fight against the far right. You can’t use gasoline to put out a fire.

    Eric

    May 23, 2019 at 6:26 pm

  19. Eric: you can’t use Brexit as a crutch in the in the fight against the far right. You can’t use gasoline to put out a fire.

    Jim Denham

    May 24, 2019 at 9:55 am

  20. Jim – I agree!

    Eric

    May 24, 2019 at 4:46 pm

  21. Glad to hear that Eric: so no more nonsense about Brexit being somehow ‘progressive’, eh?

    Jim Denham

    May 24, 2019 at 10:59 pm


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