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The Wind is Changing to Internationalism: Labour Representation Committee (LRC) Backs “Remain and rebel”. stand.

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Image result for Tariq Ali Lexit meeting

Lexit is dead, but considering the state of the left, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which its shadow will be shown.

The prospect of a Boris Johnson government enforcing a No Deal Brexit by decree (through “proroguing” Parliament) is concentrating minds.

The LRC has come down on the right side, or as they put it on Brexit, there is “Only one principled side to come down on – remain. Socialists do not fudge the issues of racism and workers’ rights.”

Things have indeed changed.

The following document was adopted by the National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee on June 29th. It should be noted that this was before the Labour Party National Executive shifted the Party’s position, though we have been regrettably slow in publishing our change of attitude. It should also be noted, that, unlike the official Party view, we argue for the Party to support Remain and Rebel in all circumstances, including in the manifesto for the General Election, whenever it comes, and will be arguing for proposals to this effect at Party conference in September.

The LR is the biggest ‘hard left’ organisation in the Labour Party.

July 16th Remain and Rebel

This is a long statement which should be read in full.

Extracts:

It is increasingly clear that until the Brexit issue is resolved, there can be no return to “normal” politics”.

Hence, we should take up the call for “Remain and Rebel”, rather than simply Remain. That means developing a programme, together with the left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism, including the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and Fourth Railway Directive (intended to “liberalise” rail services across the EU). It means opposing `Fortress Europe’, which has led to the horrendous scenes of migrants dying and being held in dire circumstances at Europe’s borders. It means arguing for free movement. It means supporting those fighting neo-liberalism across Europe, something which failed to happen when the Greek working class was under sustained attack. In response to those who argue that employers use migrant workers to undercut wages and strikes, we argue for campaigns to unionise migrant workers and combat racism.

Not only does the current division mean that we can no longer fudge the issue, but the idea that we can instead talk about class politics is dangerous. Racism and attacks on workers’ rights ARE class issues. And we should also point out that if the Tories were to impose a no deal Brexit, the idea that discussion on Brexit would be over would be pie in the sky; we would be discussing as well as fighting against the disastrous impact of this for years – potentially generations – to come.

Key points:

  • As in the original (2016) referendum, if we are to come down off the fence and drop the fudge, there is only one principled side to come down on – remain. Socialists do not fudge the issues of racism and workers’ rights.
  • However, that does not mean we are uncritical EUphiles, like the Liberal Democrats and the likes of Watson in the PLP (who often appear to be more concerned with using this issue among others to attack Corbyn, rather than serious discussion of the questions involved). Despite the exaggeration by some (such as the claim that the drive for the privatisation came from the EU rather than Britain’s own neoliberals), we recognise that the EU is currently wedded to neoliberalism, and the need for socialists to fight it. The fact that the Leave campaign want to leave to allow even less regulation does not make us uncritical of the EU. On the contrary, we recognise the need to link up with socialists and trades unions across the EU and beyond to fight neoliberalism. That such a fight can succeed on national territory is the myth it always was. International capitalism will attempt to undermine any fight against neoliberalism whether we are in the EU or not.
  • Hence, we should take up the call for “Remain and Rebel”, rather than simply Remain. That means developing a programme, together with the left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism, including the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and Fourth Railway Directive (intended to “liberalise” rail services across the EU). It means opposing `Fortress Europe’, which has led to the horrendous scenes of migrants dying and being held in dire circumstances at Europe’s borders. It means arguing for free movement. It means supporting those fighting neo-liberalism across Europe, something which failed to happen when the Greek working class was under sustained attack. In response to those who argue that employers use migrant workers to undercut wages and strikes, we argue for campaigns to unionise migrant workers and combat racism.
  • In response to claims that to argue for Remain is to ignore the referendum and fly in the face of that decision, we respond that, while this might have been a legitimate argument in the immediate aftermath, it cannot hold forever, particularly in the light of the way Brexit has become bogged down over the last 3 years. We also point out that there were many problems with the first referendum particularly the exclusion of EU nationals and 16-18-year olds – both of whom had a particular stake in its results. We would argue that both these groups must have a vote in any future referendum – or indeed in a general election. At the same time, sharpening our political and economic offer will allow us to reach out to communities where leave had a majority in the referendum. However, any reversal of the referendum decision will need democratic legitimacy, either by a further referendum or a General Election in which Labour makes support for remain and rebel a central aspect of our manifesto.
  • In response to those who say that a reversal of the referendum decision or a rerun would give more grist to the mill of the far right, we can only argue that they have already been strengthened by the first decision, and little Englander nationalism will be further strengthened if we actually leave the EU. We will not defeat the far right by pandering to their prejudices.
  • There are several routes by which the UK could remain in the EU – revocation of article 50 (probably followed by a general election); a general election in which it was clear where the winners stood; or a confirmatory vote. In the current situation, any of these is likely (or not) and there is no overwhelming preference for any one over the others. We would, however, point out that even if a referendum were to take place and the decision to leave be reversed, we would obviously still want to force a general election to get rid of the Tory government.
  • It is not enough for the Party to come out for a confirmatory vote “whatever the deal”. The Party has to commit itself to fighting for remain to be an option in such a referendum and to campaign for a vote for remain on the basis of `Remain and Rebel’. Similarly, `Remain and Rebel’ has to be in the manifesto for a general election. And any campaign for Remain and Rebel this time round must and can be driven by the left – not by people like Alan Johnson who were part of the reason remain did not win last time round. Winning is not a forgone conclusion – but if we do not grasp this nettle the slow car crash McDonnell has predicted may well be.

Exactly.

We will neither defeat national populism by “understanding” the racism that pits the “somewhere” people against the “nowhere” cosmopolitans, the North against the South, the “real” working class against the metropolitan workers and migrants, the genuine British poor against the good-for-nothings.

Socialism brings people together for democratic and social rights. It is internationalist, it is based on co-operation across the world. The EU is a structure within which we rebel, reform and change. That is to join with “left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism” 

Outside the EU we stand alone against Trump and the rest of the WTO.

Long live solidarity! 

This Monday meeting is still sending out waves: Rick Parnet, the Clarion (read full article through link).

Love Socialism MPs’ rise shows we can turn the tide on Brexit

The ‘Love Socialism’ anti-Brexit meeting in Parliament last night, 15 July, was packed – maybe 120 people in a small committee room with many more who failed to get in – and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Unsurprisingly: among the 20-odd Labour MPs present were not only the original Love Socialism Hate Brexit people but new additions which included Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott and various other senior figures. All made strong – to one degree or another – anti-Brexit and pro-Remain speeches. John McDonnell, who was at an Stop Heathrow Expansion meeting in his constituency, sent a message which was also pro-Remain.

Love Socialism Hate Brexit has rebranded as Love Socialism, Rebuild Britain, Transform Europe. While the relationship of the shadow cabinet big hitters to the new group isn’t clear, they are clearly tilting towards it. There was talk from LSHB founder Clive Lewis of having held the foxhole and reinforcements arriving.

It is positive that Labour MPs feel the need to talk in a leftie way, and even talk about socialism; no doubt some of them have shifted left and no doubt some of them are giving their own, previously more suppressed, inclinations free rein. But we should not get carried away. While building a broad left movement against Brexit, we should try to draw out policy issues (including on free movement and migrants’ rights), promoting radical left policies and workers’ struggles, and encourage discussion about what socialism actually is.

Secondly, there will undoubtedly be differences in assessment of Labour’s new position and how much there is a need to push further. For all kinds of reasons, and whatever the tactical issues about encouraging rather demoralising the movement, I think we cannot be content. In what was generally an excellent speech Clive Lewis struck an off note for me when he concluded by saying – or sounding like he was saying – we need to get behind the policy and not criticise.

The work of the MPs has been important to shifting Labour as far as it has gone. But the work of grassroots left anti-Brexit groups and activists, in the push for Labour Party conference and on the streets, will be critical in turning the shift into victory. Whatever about his wider politics and what he meant by it, Keir Starmer was surely right when he called for activists to keep up the pressure on the leadership.

From the Red-Brown Front, the Full Brexit, the wails and groans continue from the caverns of darkness.

Long read | Labour’s Brexit capitulation is the end of Corbynism

Dr Lee Jones is Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and a co-founder of The Full Brexit network.

Corbyn might have delivered a different outcome if he was a better strategist and properly understood Brexit as a pivot for democratic transformation, rather than a distraction from his anti-austerity agenda. He might have supported grassroots deselection campaigns rather than cutting off Momentum at the knees. He could have developed a positive, socialist platform for Brexit, to win over metropolitan voters and prevent the hardening of Remain as a political identity. But he did not. Perhaps he and his advisers understood that they would always have been fighting an uphill battle against the interests of his base in the party, and so they ducked it.

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