Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

On Polling Day, Voting Labour and the European Election that saw a (small) Red-Brown Front Back the Brexit Party.

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The European elections today have led,  to misery in company, for all the major parties.

They are predicted to see a revival of the Liberal Democrats, the swift descent into the bin of the new ‘Change’ party, a consolidation of the Green party vote, the Labour campaign for excellent Euro-MEPs that has barely taken off, and the Conservatives trailing down amongst the also-rans. UKIP, trying to establish itself as the voice of the pure far-right, is hard to predict, but there is little doubt that the National Populists of the Brexit Party, will be the winners.

Communist Call for Boycott set to get biggest Support.

It is expected that the Communist Party of Britain will claim, following the lead of the Sparticists (“Down With the EU! No Participation in Its Pseudo-Parliament!) abstention will get the biggest numbers, at projections that put the no-vote percentage at possibly over 50%

While the CPB’s Morning Star prepares to spend Sunday evening celebrating this is perhaps the most significant consequence.

Without much direct political power, but bound to be seized on the Conservative contenders in their looking Party leadership election the Brexit Party is now the nearest British equivalent of Marine Le Pen national populist Rassemblement National in France, Italy’s la Lega, of Matteo Salvini.

Everybody, not least Labour strategists will now be already beginning to digest this change in the political landscape.

One approach will be to ‘learn’ from Farage.

Outside those who – like the Lexit Left – who have a mobile app that tells them what the ‘working class’ Brexit thinks if it backed the Brexit Party, they might begin with those a few paces closer to National Populism.

In a somewhat shamefaced article, reflecting the fact that the ‘forum’ that originally published it,  the ‘left wing’  Full Brexit which contains supporters of Farage – Lee Jones, whom we cited a few days ago says,

Lee Jones – The Brexit Party: Creature of the Void

To become anything more than a single-issue protest party, TBP would need to develop a more substantive policy platform, but this would be highly likely to intensify the party’s internal contradictions, and push TBP further to the right. Like its singular appeal to democracy, TBP’s ability to field candidates from the left, right and centre is a short-term strength, maximising its electoral appeal. However, it is also a long-term difficulty, because it is not clear that the party’s founding cadre share anything beyond their common concern for democracy. The more the party seeks to develop a concrete platform, the more these divisions will expose themselves.

The thesis that thieves will fall out runs up, the academic informs us, against this.

The party’s internal character, moreover, makes it highly unlikely that leftist forces can triumph in a struggle to define what TBP stands for.

First, as noted earlier, the left is mostly conspicuous by its absence. There are some noted far-left figures standing, but the bulk of the candidates are essentially petit-bourgeois types and middle-of-the-road professionals.

Second, the money and organisational heft at the centre of what has so far undoubtedly been a slick, professional campaign are unlikely to be converted to progressive causes.

Third, and most importantly, TBP completely lacks any internal democratic structures. The party’s 85,000 registered supporters are not party members; they have no say over how the party is run. This is a deliberate design by Nigel Farage, based on his experiences battling UKIP’s internal factions, which he blames for being unable to professionalise the party. Although TBP is brand new, and arguably its institutional structures, like its policies, are potentially up for grabs through internal struggle, it is unlikely that Farage, or party chairman and business magnate Richard Tice, will gladly relinquish their domination. If not, then they will remain the ultimate arbiters of any struggles over the party’s future.

Many readers of this Blog, not living in Britain or Ireland, will not be aware that, “some noted far-left figures” include people like Claire Fox, who has been a prominent broadcaster on the BBC, and that the network around Spiked, beginning with Brendan O’Neill, are also constantly in the mass media, from the Sun, to Sky Press Review, and – well, let’s say a lot more. If anybody knows about the infinite ability of Gramscian strategies for hegemony reduced to the simulacra of news, opinion, and large gobs, it is them.

So he is plain wrong to push the existence of this red-brown front to the margins. In terms of political perception Fox citing Shelly has an importance, just as Marine Le Pen’s claim to the legacy of Jean Jaurès  in the days of the Front National did.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "jean jaures Front national"

Yet, Sovereignty Jones is right on the limits of this kind of political influence a network like the Spiked/RCP or any other internal group could have.

Farage, we note, has already avoided, despite pleas from the red-brown George Galloway, having the wheezy crook  on his team – a man who could, potentially be a real rival.

Does anybody honestly think that the loud-mouths of Spiked (ex Revolutionary Communist Party have the bottle to stand up to the milkshaked man?

Jones opines,

The lack of internal democracy is not only a glaring contradiction for a party claiming to stand for democracy; it also compounds the lack of accountability associated with an absent manifesto. For all of these reasons, it is most likely that TBP will develop as a populist party of the centre-right, or what Eaton and Goodwin call a “national populist” party. Ironically, and regrettably, this would deepen the convergence between British and continental European politics.

Note the next,  final, sentence,

To call this “far right” is hysterical, immoral, and deeply insulting to many millions of people. It distracts attention from the true source of the current crisis, which is not Nigel Farage’s political wizardry, or slavering hordes of xenophobes, but the reluctance of the political establishment to accept an instruction that they themselves solicited.

This is clearly a call to “listen” if not “artculate” the Brexit Party’s demands through other vehicles.

Populist Politics and Democracy.

There are some points to add on the lack of democracy in populist parties built around a leader, whose necessary charismatic ‘function’ is (problematically) a pillar of Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason (2004).

This seems to operate regardless of formal party structures.

Lee Jones would benefit from some further references about how “internal struggles” end up in National Populist Parties, even ones with more  internal voting democracy and ownership than the Brexit Party.

There is a famous recent case in France.

When he expressed serious differences Florian Philippot,  an out gay man, once Marine le Pen’s right-hand (“directeur stratégique de la campagne présidentielle de Marine Le Pen), got short shrift and was turfed out the Front National, (now the Rassemblement National), in no time at all.

His views  were “social sovereigntist”, against privatisations and for leaving the Euro (considered to undermine national monetary authority) not too far from some of the Full Brexit.

Philippot’s micro-party, Les Patriots, is an extreme right group – tough on immigration –  that is anti-austerity  backs gay marriage, Frexit, defending welfare benefits and raising the minimum wage.



After the results on Sunday.

We predict with the certainty of a sage, that some of the themes of the Brexit Party’s, “instructions”, that is the need for Brexit, will get into the ears of labour strategists.

What they make of them, whether Labour will try to full  the “floating signifier” of Brexit around the wishes of the Brexiters of all shapes and political colour, will be up for grabs.

This will be the crucial moment for the internationalist anti-Brexit left to make its mark and offer a clear alternative.

We will have to argue against those aligned to groups like the Full Brexit who continue to argue for sovereigntism and a conservative cultural ‘Somewhere people’ programme.

There is also another aspect of this election.

It is this

Milk floats as well.



Written by Andrew Coates

May 23, 2019 at 5:00 pm

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