Tendance Coatesy

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Former Corbyn Adviser Andrew Murray on Keir Starmer and the Brexit Fall Out.

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Brexit Derangement Syndrome” Andrew Murray Warns Labour Against ...

Andrew Murray, Former Corbyn Adviser, Anti-Imperialist.

Le Monde Diplomatique, it’s no secret – as we used to say- is no friend of the European Union. Its Director, Serge Halimi,  welcomed Brexit, but has wistfully remarked that it happened too late. In approximate translation he wrote in the March English language edition of the monthly, Brexit hasn’t freed EU of US

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has come too late. Brexit could have been good news for the EU, given that the UK is the state that has incarnated free trade since the 18th century industrial revolution, also alignment with the US since Winston Churchill’s ‘special relationship’, financialisation since the City of London began dominating the economy and politics, and flint-hearted neoliberalism since Margaret Thatcher’s reign. Britain’s departure could, in particular, have served as a reminder that the EU is not a prison: just as new states may join, existing members should be able to leave. On this score at least, the UK’s politicians have, after much delay, respected the will of its people, and that lesson in democracy has value right now.

It has not been too late for the soveriegntist inclined journal to publish – in its French edition – articles from supporters of the red-brown Full Brexit (with no indication of the nature of this alliance of the Lexit left, Communist Party of Britain, Faith Family and Flag, ‘Blue Labour’, former Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Communist Party, now stalwarts of the Brexit Party – members, and elected MEPs)  and assorted odd balls). Pro-Borders New Left Review star, social conservative, and Full Brexit backer Wolfgang Streeck, is another light in this little galaxy of national sovereigntists. 

Thus Chris Bickerton, author at the red-brown Spiked, which is now engaged in a war on the Black Lives Matter movement, has passed from their site to Le Monde Diplomatique. This pundit on Labour’s defeat, (Pourquoi le Labour a perdu. Chris Bickerton. February 2020.) As can be expected the article blamed metropolitan youth and elites’ dominance of Labour for refusing to accept withdrawal from the EU, supporting internationalism at the expense of the ‘real’ people in the Labour heartlands. Continuing the promotion of Brexit contained a lengthy justification for voting Tory, by an alleged Labour supporter and …a backer of the Full Brexit,  a gleeman called Chris McGlade, (« Je suis travailliste, j’ai voté conservateur »).

Such is the august publication which has welcomed Andrew Murray, Former Communist Party of Britain stalwart, leading figure in the, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) , Solidarity with the Anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine, UNITE Staff chief, and ‘adviser’ to Jeremy Corbyn on, amongst many things, Brexit.

The piece – alas not widely circulated in the British media – is titled:

Adieux discrets au corbynisme

There is an English version, but I do not have a sub to this, so the French will have to suffice.

Murray starts well (this bit is available without the sub…)

Starmer urged Labour to move beyond factionalism, probably optimistic given that the party has always hosted a range of competing tendencies, even in the years of Tony Blair’s ultra-centralising neoliberalism; the best Starmer can realistically hope for is to lower the fevered temperature of the ultra-polarised Corbyn years. However, he did not propose to move away from the main policies the outgoing leader had championed — public ownership of railways and utilities, major boosts to spending on public services to be partly funded by increasing taxes on the rich and big business, 

He generously concedes that the Labour membership made a clear choice (translation…)

Mr. Corbyn has given way to Sir Keir Starmer, the former Labour spokesperson, who won 56  % of the vote among party activists, supporters and unionists – a score barely less impressive than that obtained by Mr Corbyn in 2015 (59.5  % ).

Here comes the down side.

The ancient and, present, chair of the StWC laments, nevertheless, the loss of some of Corbyn’s keynote traits,”Le premier de ces traits est l’anti-impérialisme.” Noting that Corbyn would have a job getting through his ideas, indeed a  “scenario in which a parliamentary majority would support nuclear disarmament, much less a withdrawal from NATO.” There is a reference to the Middle East and the problems faced by any attempt to break the ” alliance with Washington or a reversal of British policy in the Middle East”. Whether this refers to the government’s and  Corbyn’s refusal to back opponents of Syria’s President Assad, to concentrate on justice for the victims of Daesh genocide, or to his more vocal backing for the Palestinians, is not clear. What is, is that Corbyn ran up against the “Atlanticist” alliances that dominate British politics – including President Trump’s active support for Brexit.

The anti-imperialist writer continues. Starmer has no record of backing social movements – movements Murray locates in mass demonstrations, such as the ones held by the StWC and anti-austerity protests, heavily backed by his own union, UNITE. 

The crunch moment came when the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the Labour membership, ignored the advice of Murray to accept Brexit (a cause he, too modest to mention, embraced fervently).

The “notables of the party did not cease thereafter wanting to reverse the verdict of the referendum, by demanding a second ballot rather than the negotiation of a soft Brexit”. This opened up a division between,

….parliamentarians and most members on the one hand and the majority of working class voters. somewhere else. The difficulties of the left in imagining a world outside the European Union ended up sounding the death knell for Mr. Corbyn’s project.

If only we had the will and the imagination to dream of a real People’s Brexit!

If only Labour had ignored the mass protests against Brexit – just as Tony Blair had the StWC demonstrations against the Iraq War .

Instead the party listened to its ranks, in which “the elites of North London” were over-represented.

For Murray Brexit was, and continues to be, not a conflict between internationalists and sovereigntists,. It’s between these ‘elites’ and  the “majority of working class voters”.

The present piece eschews the colourful description of pro-EU internationalists, infected by “Brexit derangement syndrome” , the malady of “human rights” and  “rancid identity politics”, see Andrew Murray. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Verso, 2019.).

But even so…

Casting aside his own claim to be neutral in this Brexit ‘culture war’ Murray declares, 

The fracture within Labour, between the proponents of liberalism and the partisans of democracy, got the better of Corbynism.

So it is said. Liberalism is against democracy – a sentiment that without a doubt warmed the hearts of the editors of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Commenting on the Coronavirus crisis, with justness, that, “The United Kingdom is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, “

In conclusion Murray states,

In this sense, the crisis of today merges with that of yesterday. No matter how much Mr. Johnson claims he will overcome it, the promises of right-wing populism are likely to prove no less hollow than those of neoliberal centrism.

The contribution of Murray’s allies in the Full Brexit to the triumph of right-wing populism – their support for the illusion of a “people’s Brexit’ – is left unmentioned.

7 Responses

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  1. “The UK’s decision to leave the EU has come too late. Brexit could have been good news for the EU, given that the UK is the state that has incarnated free trade since the 18th century industrial revolution, also alignment with the US since Winston Churchill’s ‘special relationship’,”. There are some inside the EU who agree with this. That the EU would have stayed more social democratic (for lack of a better word) if Britain had stayed out. Slightly different stress than your take. Even now, if Brexit had not happened, the noxious alliance of the miserable Dutch bourgeoisie and the German one, opposed to a financial stimulus, woudl have had Britain as a leader.

    Jim Monaghan

    June 5, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    • Le Monde Diplomatique reflects a long-standing view of the sovereigntist left, or what passes as left nowadays since they have become more “republican” than socialist in any shape or form, that the UK is a Cheval de Troie, Trojan Horse of the USA (I heard this from members of the Mouvement des cityons in the 1990) and – this appeared in the new millennium ‘neo-liberalism’.

      No doubt the UK could be a pain to deal with in the European Union.

      But this is a reflection of a much older tradition – anglophobia.

      Andrew Coates

      June 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm

  2. There is no evidence whatsoever for the myth (perpetuated by Murray) that the majority “of the working class” supported Brexit. In fact, the Ashcroft poll (beloved of Brexiteers like the Morning Star) makes it clear that the majority people in full-time and part-time work voted to remain. The only Marxist definition of “worker” is people who live by selling their labour power – it’s their relationship to the means of production that defines them as workers, not sociological factors. For a supposed Marxist, Mr Murray (like the Morning Star) seems to be using a definition of “working class” that was drawn up by the marketing industry (“C2” etc) and isn’t even proper bourgeois sociology. The Leave vote was an alliance of ex-working class retired people, the lumpen proletariat and the most reactionary sections of the bourgeoisie, who narrowly outvoted the majority of the working class.

    Jim Denham

    June 5, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    • Thanks Jim.

      It’s been repeated so often by those who managed to believe in ten impossible things before breakfast, that I genuinely think they believe it is true.

      “Here are five key findings from the results (IPSIS,MORI).

      The referendum vote revealed huge differences in voting intentions by age, class, education level and ethnicity – if anything, more apparent than that seen in the general election. Younger, more middle class, more educated and BME voters chose to remain; older, working class, less educated and white voters opted to leave.

      Age and class both have an effect on people’s views. A majority of 18-34 year olds in every social class voted to remain, while a majority of those aged 55+ in every class voted to leave. But within each age group the middle-classes were more likely to vote to remain, and the working classes more likely to vote to leave, and within each class younger people were more likely to vote remain, and older people more likely to vote to leave. The crossover point was among the middle-aged: middle-class 35-54 year olds voted to stay, working class 35-54 year olds voted to leave.

      A very small majority of women voted to remain, while men voted to leave. The biggest gender differences were among the AB social class and among those aged 35-54, among both of whom women were eleven points more likely to vote to remain than men.

      People in work (full or part time, public sector or private sector), students, mortgage holders and private renters voted to remain. Those who own their home outright, social renters, the retired and those looking after homes all voted to leave.

      There were clear differences along party lines, but a majority of those who did not vote in the last general election choose to leave. 2015 Conservative voters voted to leave by roughly the same margin as 2015 Labour and Liberal Democrat voters voted to remain; 99% of UKIP’s 2015 support voted to leave. Among those who did not vote in 2015 (but who were not too young to do so), there was a 16-point lead for leave.

      How Britain voted in the 2016 EU referendum

      Andrew Coates

      June 5, 2020 at 5:17 pm

  3. Doesn’t it bother you guys that communism now has such a ban reputation that it hd to change its name? And the new Antifa name chosen is shortened from “Demokratic” East Germany’s name for the Berlin Wall portion of the Iron Curtain?


    June 7, 2020 at 9:35 pm

  4. Chris McGlade ? The new working class hero of Le Monde Diplomatique is well known to many of us on Teesside. He is a clown (both professionally as a self-styled stand up comedian) and as a….well….clown. He is an obsessive conspiracist. In the 1990’s / early 2000′ I was the leader of the local unitary council. In that period he was obsessed by what he saw as huge conspiracies involving developers, local councils and secretive quasi masonic bodies. He first battened on to me with a series of comments that I was in receipt of huge back handers from industry and builders – all handed to me in the time honoured fashion of A4 sized brown envelopes. (I did point out that if I was getting such bungs, I’d want it done electronically, and (b) if it had to be brown envelopes, then the passing on of the goodies must not, as he alleged, be done in the lounge of the largest pub in the town………) He dwells on his past as a steelworker, although I have no memory of him putting in any shifts anywhere on South Tees, and being a fervent leftie and working class Labour supporter. Again, if he was, I, and others, would remember all those leafletting sessions and canvassing that was the lot of us all then……. but memory in a funny thing. Still, he now neatly fits the needed narrative for our times if you are from the Lexit, Brexit Spiked / Red Brown Front, so the working class hero is made flesh and blood. BTW Welcome Back

    david walsh

    June 11, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    • Thanks, immense thanks for that- McGlade seems a very recognisable type – painted three times larger.

      We all know, “I always voted Labour…..but..not like they were, working class, (new one here), look at ’em, “metropolitan elite” “Islington”.

      We all know the people with a “thing” about the local council.

      We all know (another type) some “son of the people” who’s run around in different parties – there’s one here who’s been in the CPGB, Labour (Councillor), Liberal Democrats (councillor after defection, then would-be councillor), lone-man Brexiteer, Brexit Party, and so it goes..

      But this is the first one taken seriously by Le Monde Diplomatique.

      Andrew Coates

      June 11, 2020 at 10:09 pm

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