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After Progressive Patriotism Long-Bailey backs “Working-class Aspiration”.

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Image result for the blair revolution

Now Selling Like Gold-Dust Amongst Long-Bailey Supporters.

In the latest Private Eye Craig Brown talks, exclusively, to Rebecca Long-Bailey.

But the parody of the “life long socialist”has already been better done by the ‘left candidate for the Labour Leadership herself.

To begin with there was the “progressive patriotism” movement at the end of December

Long Bailey differentiates herself from Corbyn by saying that as Labour leader she would champion “progressive patriotism”. She says: “From ex-miners in Blyth Valley to migrant cleaners in Brixton, from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford, we have to unite our communities. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built upon unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone.

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain.”

We all had a hearty laugh about that one, before it disappeared without trace into the pages of the Morning Star.

Then there was the reference to Labour as “the party of the Lever brothers and Ralph Miliband” (a claim which reminds some of us of a member of the Weekly Worker group claiming that Miliband “said” the party “grew out of the bowels of the tradeunion movement‘” – Ernest Bevin, TGWU general secretary, 1935).

A couple of days ago Rebecca Long-Bailey announced that Labour should support “open selection” of candidates for election – after the populist Jacobin owned Tribune suggested she did so.

Well-wishers were quick to point out that, apart from opening up wounds in the Party, in the detail she appeared to be be also downgrading Labour Conference,

On our policy making. I have always believed that it is our members and trade unions who should shape our vision, but there has to be a more open and democratic way of developing our vision.

“Trying to clunkily mesh together the wording of various motions from constituency parties in a sweaty room at conference is not dynamic and it is not using the vast wealth of talent our members bring.”

The rows have already begun:

Now the Labour contender is going for the “aspirational” vote of hard working workers,

The shadow business secretary, who is widely assumed to be Corbyn’s chosen successor, cited a couple she met while canvassing in her home seat of Salford who told her they thought Labour just offered handouts.

“They were working class but they’d bought their own house, they’d worked hard, they felt they should be rewarded for working hard, they didn’t want to think that other people were getting handouts,” she told the Guardian as the leadership race kicks off in earnest.

“Whatever people’s incomes are, a lot of the time people don’t see themselves as destitute and struggling, and they don’t want someone to come along and say: ‘I’m going to remove the scales from your eyes, and save you from yourself’. It’s like, ‘I’ve got a job, I don’t need saving from myself, I just want to do a little bit better, thanks!’” she said.

She was keen to downplay criticism of Blair…..

At a packed rally for Long-Bailey in a Hackney bar on Tuesday evening, some of the loudest applause came when she backed open selections for MPs – with one enthusiastic audience member shouting, “banish the Blairites!”

Confronted with the comment, Long-Bailey insists: “We don’t want any of that … this goes right to the heart of what the party is supposed to be about, and this is what upsets me so much.

“The only way we ever win, is where we represent those elements of the centre-left. That’s why we were created: to bring together all those left groups,” she added.

The Guardian observed,

Long-Bailey’s anecdote about canvassing the aspirational couple in Salford was reminiscent of one told by Blair in his 1996 conference speech, when he said that while campaigning, he had met, “a man polishing his Ford Sierra, a self-employed electrician,” who had told him, “as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too”.

Blair said: “That man polishing his car was clear: his instincts were to get on in life, and he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.”

Candidate seen as successor to Corbyn says party needs to back working-class aspiration

It may be that the new turn draws on this by Simon Heffer  the New Statesman.

Today’s working-class Tories are defined by their determination to improve themselves and their way of life, and, I think, not to be contained by an idea of welfarism or a paternalism. One needs only to look at some of the working-class Tories elected to parliament in north-eastern seats such as Redcar, Bishop Auckland and Blyth to see this social phenomenon in action.

Rise of the new working-class Tories

Heaven forfend if this time she, or her advisers and spinners, have been reading this:

Most British people are living ever more enriched and enriching lives, even as under-35s are finding it harder and harder to start making their own way. They’re going to the football and the theatre, reading more and buying more books; they’re doing their gardening; going running and cycling; watching box sets at home; going to the pub; knitting, jam making, birdwatching and rambling. Just as British people’s very dense and associative lives insulated them psychologically from the Depression of the 1930s, hampering Labour’s progress then, the party’s basic emotive case just makes no sense to most people. They don’t think Britain’s broken. Labour should stop talking like it is.

Elect and appoint more plausible leaders. Stop promising everything to everyone. Admit that you got it wrong, and allow yourself a truly honest and affecting self-examination. Speak optimistically. Get yourselves straight. Stop it with the hate and the jibes. Stop walking around like you’re the big I am. Break out of your bubble and take credit, not brickbats, for your achievements. Stuff like that. If this sounds like Politics 101, it is – it amounts to just saying ‘sort yourselves out’. It’s a mark of how far Labour has fallen that most of this needs to be said at all.

So what should Labour do now?

The classic strategic book on the need to align Labour to hard-headed hard-working aspirational workers, by hand and by brain, was made in this book: The Blair Revolution: Peter Mandelson and Rob Liddle. Can New Labour Deliver? Faber, 1996.


Blair began to do this by accepting the Thatcher Political Settlement.


Tony Blair said in 2013,


 “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.

“Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability(sic).”


Will Long-Bailey accept the hard right Brexit settlement and concentrate on appealing to those who feel they should be rewarded for working hard?

The problem is that Long-Bailey’s incontinent flow of new catch-phrases, policies, and woolly ideas lack any credibility whatsoever.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour Leadership Ballot left factionalists attack.

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Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, possible text that says 'm 20% Tweet 05:49 @KJ_Pnoenix1o Replying to @andrewfeinstein Starmer was the main reason we we lost the GE So if we want to win the trust of the Heartlands and ex Lab Leavers, there's no way on God's earth we will win a GE with Starmer as Leader (nor Thornberry nor Phillips) And even MORE leavers will leave the Party! #Richard4Deputy Tweet your reply'

Guilty Man Starmer.



As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour leadership ballot his left factionalist opponents are upset.

Some Corby supporters refuse to accept that Corbyn “really” lost.

Many think that Labour’s defeat was largely due to the media.

A  popular theme amongst the movementist supporters of Corbyn is that Labour failed because it stopped being an “insurgency”. He had become (how is not explained) seen as “just another politician”.

Labour apparently could, by an act of will, stop playing at being politicians and launch itself on the barricades.

Now, as the Tweet heading today’s Tendance post above indicates, there are voices claiming that the election disaster was caused by …..Starmer.

The site of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire, offering advice to the Labour Party, carries this article.

If Labour wants to win back the working class, it has to reject Keir Starmer.

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg.

Electing a man whose chief political actions, during the past five years, have been to try to defenestrate Labour’s radical leadership, and to try to turn Labour into a Europhile party. If Labour aims to fight as a radical vehicle for working class interests, then its members need to reject Keir Starmer.

Faced with these reactions. the small circulation – relaunched – Tribune,  writes on Starmer, why is winning support (including from left wingers like Simon Fletcher) and the problems his possible victory could pose.

The Starmer Illusion  Tom Blackburn

Blackburn makes some important initial points.

What is the core of Keir Starmer’s pitch for the Labour leadership? It is, essentially, that as leader he would uphold the bulk of present Labour policy, using something like the 2017 manifesto as his baseline. The implication is that Starmer would be able to take the current Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) with him, reconciling them to these left-wing policies by providing them with a more conventionally acceptable and presentable leader – a sharp-suited former Director of Public Prosecutions at that – than Corbyn.

Clearly, there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who might well be receptive to such a pitch. Contrary to common misperceptions, there are very few Labour members who relish internal factional warfare purely for its own sake, and Labour members could be forgiven for being tempted by someone who comes along apparently offering them most of the policies they want, and the chance to implement them, without even more years of upheaval and aggravation.

The Tribune writer warns,

However, this appeal is a fallacy. The unfortunate reality is that a substantial proportion of the PLP is likely to be either outright hostile to any left-wing platform, or lacks the will and determination to reliably defend it in opposition and carry it out in government, in the face of the relentless press attacks these policies would inevitably attract. The popularity of existing party policy, as the recent polling already noted has indicated, is not the issue. The bind Labour finds itself in is that anyone advocating such a programme can expect to be vilified in Britain’s overwhelmingly reactionary press.

The first sentences have the ring of truth.

There is a battle to be waged, by the left, to defend radical democratic socialist policies and party democracy.

But is the “press” the problem, or is it that the stream of policy promises that put off the electors?

Michael Walker in Novara media (repeating unsubstantiated claims by his local opponents) makes more dramatic claims about Starmer’s claim to unite the Party.

The simplest route for Starmer to “end factionalism” would be to freeze out the left. His opposition in the parliamentary party would be weak, and Labour’s leftwingers wouldn’t be offered slots on Britain’s TV screens as liberally as Chuka Umunna or Jess Phillips. It would certainly be the path of least resistance in Westminster, and given a new leader would shift the balance of power on the National Executive Committee (NEC), if the membership were to object, there would be little opportunity to protest.

There is evidence that this is a route Starmer would consider. Some leftwing members of his local party complain he’s organised to exclude Corbynites from positions of influence, and his appointment of Labour First’s national organiser to his team will do little to assuage any fears he’d seek a nationwide purge.

This would be a disaster, not just for the left, but for Labour. Unless Labour kowtows to the demands of our billionaire press, Starmer will, like Corbyn, Miliband and Brown before him, get a hammering. And just as 2019 shows a mobilised membership isn’t enough to win an election, 2010 and 2015, and even 1987 and 1992, show the traditional soft left strategy of presenting a professional image with a social democratic message, detached from social movements and oppositional demands, is also doomed to defeat.

Keir Starmer’s Call to End Factionalism Must Not Mean a Return to the Status Quo

This speculation – and we would like evidence that Labour, with its present structure, could be absed on “social movements”, or that this would be a plausible route to power in Britain today – however in the air.

The issue that remains is that If people reject Starmer what of his main contender?

Blackburn looks at Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation.

In her combative opening pitch, written for this publication, Long-Bailey rightly acknowledged popular discontent with “the British state’s distant and undemocratic institutions”, but the labour movement has some distant and undemocratic institutions of its own. She is also on record as having previously expressed scepticism about open selection of MPs, for fear of reselection battles “diverting their attention away” from their work at Westminster.

This is an opinion Long-Bailey would do well to reconsider in this leadership contest. In any case, diverting MPs’ attention away from Westminster – and all the stultifying chumminess and fetishism of ritual contained therein – is part of the point. Open selection is necessary both to allow for greater harmony between the party leadership, the membership and the PLP, and more importantly to ensure that these MPs are held effectively to account by their constituency party, one of the few ways working people can exercise some semblance of genuine accountability between elections.

So, if Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation does not extend to his plans for ‘open selection’ (a process which most doubt would bring any form of  harmony) what are her merits?

Blackburn is a champion of the Triumph of the Will,

Though some have derided her for it, Long-Bailey is right to insist that complex, long-term processes of deindustrialisation and consequent class recomposition have made a crucial contribution to weakening the party in many of its old, now former post-industrial heartlands. Only a drastically changed, campaigning Labour Party with bold and firm socialist leadership can hold out any serious hope of addressing these weaknesses, and in doing so pave the way for the far-reaching social, political and economic transformation which is so badly needed across Britain.

As if any but the most purblind fails to recognise the changes in British class structure, as if the Labour Party does not ‘campaign’ and as if more of this will turn the tables…




On Labour factionalism this is an important article.

Social movement or factional machine? Momentum’s future hangs in the balance Sabrina Huck


Momentum’s aim to consolidate Corbyn’s leadership and tighten the grip of the left on the institutions of the party was fairly successful. But on the flip side this meant that the ‘Labour left’ never really defined itself politically. Most of us who have been active in Momentum at some point, either locally or nationally, will be aware that it is a broad church within a broad church.

Membership ranges from revolutionary socialists, Morning Star devotees, middle of the road European-style social democrats, social liberals, old-school trade unionists and ex-anarchists turned radical reformists drawn to a left populist agenda. The one thing that united this coalition was its belief that Corbyn was the best bet to achieve a turn in British politics to put us on the road to socialism and a better world.


Momentum’s failure to become a social movement, and not just a factional machine, is the reason why the swing of the former Corbyn vote to other candidates is now so unclear. Momentum never became the member-led organisation it promised to be. Internal democracy and opportunities to debate ideas were shut down and replaced with a centralised organisational structure. For example, the national coordinating group (NCG) made decisions on what policies to endorse at last September’s party conference without giving members the opportunity to submit ideas or vote online on priorities.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm

This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Review: The Internet and the Liberties of the Moderns.

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Image result for This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality.


This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber & Faber. 2019.

“L’information, le surcroît d’information sur nous-mêmes, est une sorte d’électrocution. Elle produit une sorte de court-circuit continuel où l’individu brûle ses circuits et perd ses defences. ” Information, the overabundance of information, is a kind of electrocution. It creates a kind of continuous short circuit, in which the individual burns up its circuits, and loses its defences. Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.).

“The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism” wrote Peter Pomerantsev in Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia (2005) is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” The son of Russian dissident exiles he was struck then, and in the present work, by the way that “facts” has ceased to matter.

In this new book on “influence campaigns”, “what might be causally be referred to as ‘propaganda” Pomerantsev explores “the wreckage”, the “dark corners of the Internet where trolls torture their victims”. “We are” he writes “becoming subjects of our own data, as if the data is rearranging our relations and identifies with its own logic”. On a wider canvas than Putin’s Russian Federation, whose “social media squadrons” still haunts the landscape, the writer’s adventures take him to where politics has become a “struggle to control the construction of identity.”

This is not Propaganda comes amongst other studies of how what Jean Baudrillard called the “simulacra” of information in today’s social media. Far from burning out identity it is claimed that the world of hyper-reality has come to play a key role in politics, and, above all, elections. Richard Seymour, it is said considers that this planet, the Twittering Machine, is managed by ‘fascist technology’ that cuts people off from society, a “stand in” for community. By showing the political effects of social media, Pomerantsev both indicates that Seymour would be out of his depth in a puddle, and that Baudrillard’s prediction that postmodern hyper-reality – the digital society – would absorb political passion into ‘post-politics.’ (1)

In the Philippines Pomerantsev finds that that political use of social media illustrates something very different to a mass escape from the material world. Visiting Manila he meets Maria, the creator of Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news site. For reporting the extra judicial killings ordered by the country’s president, Duterte, they began to receive death threats, at the rate of ninety an hour. A cascade of smears followed. An organised form of warfare, with the real menace of being killed, was conducted through cyberspace.

Efforts by the Kremlin to stir up civil war, an even more flagrant case, in the Ukraine draw Pomerantsev. It was “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg.” This fight, in which Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray participated on the Russian side, portrayed the 2014 Ukrainian Orange Revolution and protests in the Maidean as a “neo-fascist US-orchestrated conspiracy”. This “information war” was an important part of “next generation warfare”.

Syria is another front-line. The activist Mary Ana who ran humanitarian medical aid to the country, along with human rights groups, like the White Helmets, and the Syrian Network for Human Rights, illustrates the way Assad regime used the Internet, “When she punched ‘White Helmets’ into YouTube” she found “wall-to-wall coverage claiming that they were actually terrorists, or that they were actors and everything they did was staged, or that they were a British secret service psy-op, or that they didn’t actually exist at all..” (Page 178) Assad’s murders are hidden behind these torrents of lies, propaganda treated with indulgence by political figures such as the former British MP Chris Williamson.

Populism and Identity.

After the disinformation spread by genociders This is not Propaganda turns to “Pop up Populism”. The transformation of the many and “the people”, he argues, can be seen in the Brexit vote. Against a “well-identified enemy”, the EU, not just the hard right who initiated the Leave project, but, one could add, parts of the British left adopted the “guiding fairy tale” of taking back control. Meeting Chantal Mouffe, and without academic deference for her and Ernesto Laclau’s theories of populism, he is struck by how flexible her claim that “identities are the result of political construction” can be. Playing in this game – a play in which ‘charismatic leaders’ can be an instrument of ‘left’ and right politics – Génération Identitaire, the language of “freedom of speech, democracy, openness to new ideas” can be used to bolster right wing fringe parties. It is the basis for national populism, a far from a marginal force.

At the forefront of this politics stands, Russian “political technologists”. Gleb Pavlovsky, the author recounts, has been able to “unite utterly disparate groups around a rotating enemy; oligarchs ar first, then metropolitan liberals, and more recently the whole outside world” (Page 223). Putin can, “stimulate global influence by purposefully leaving the fingerprints of his hackers and information operations all over the world”.

Will companies like Cambridge Analytica, who study “behavioural change” through social media, determine the political future? Are left and right being washed away by using people’s Facebook and Google preferences to harness them to new identities? Is China’s heavily controlled Internet and model of how identity can still be shaped and controlled by a one-party state in the age of technological innovation?

Modern and Ancient Liberties.

The 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant, (De la liberté des anciens comparée à celle des modernes. 1819) claimed that in the ancient Roman and Greek world people led public lives, that as citizens they were free, in at least the sense that they decided on war and peace, while as private individuals they were subordinate, watched, and oppressed. In modern times, he claimed, it was the private sphere that was free, the site of individual independence. One can doubt the liberties of ancient republics, and efforts to replicate them following the French Revolution. But he offered an important insight. To simplify, in today’s liberal societies have been seen to offer a “private” domain, separate from public politics. Constant equally  warned, two centuries before theorists of “post-politics”, that in a commercial society people could become so absorbed in their private lives that they would neglect public duty.

One of the main political effects of social media has been to abolish the distinction between public and private politics. Not by making the “personal political”, but by breaking down the space between our emotions, identity, and politics. This is not the full story, since neither is everybody absorbed in social media nor is it without a liberating potential in networking politics from the ground up. It is equally not proven that the “political technologists” like the far right  ‘Bot-herders’ in Nizhny have mastered the art of shaping everybody’s electoral choice. Boris Johnson’s Get Brexit Done cannot be put down to Internet influencers, nor is it clear that the Conservatives are now about to use identity populism to rule by.

Can these forces wash away the push for autonomy and human rights that has also marked the ‘modern’? The latest book by “rooted cosmopolitan” Peter Pomerantsev, which should have as many readers as possible, should firmly indicate that there are many out there with a different story to tell.




(1) Oliver Eagleton. MIND-FORGED MANACLES? Review. Richard SeymourThe Twittering Machine. New Left Review No 120.Nov/Dec 2019.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year (2019).

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Related image

Many things have happened since 1980…

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year.


1) George Galloway made  headlines after the General Election when he created the Workers’ Party of Britain, with close involvement of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

The CPGB (M-L), its Eternal Honorary Chairman of the Party and his daughter, Joti, are the scions of which dynasty.

  • The Rabbits of the Br’er.
  • House Targaryen.
  • Brar.

2) The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) split this year over the issue of ‘Mandelism’.

What is Mandelism?

  • A  sweet almond based cake.
  • The ideas associated with much liked and respected Ernest Mandel, the Belgium Marxist economist.
  •  A deadly political virus which brought women’s and gay liberation – political correctness gone mad -into Trotskyism

3) Gilles Fraser, darling of the Occupy Movement outside St Paul’s and fellow traveller of the SWP, has now announced that he is a Tory.

He is the Vicar of which parish?

  • Bray.
  • Dibley.
  • Brexit.

4) Who were the  Socialist Labour Group and why did they resurface during, and after, the Brexit vote?

  • They are doughty champions of national independence and the rights of Rochdale.
  • They are Lamberists,  the deadliest enemies of socialist internationalism.
  • They are part of the Red-Brown front.

5)  The  International Socialist Organization dissolved this year.

What was the name of its respected  paper?

6) James Heartfield was a leading cadre of the Revolutionary Communist Party and has close links to Spiked.

Before bottling out he was going to stand for the Brexit Party in the General Election.

What is his  original name?

  • James Field of Hearts.
  • James Heartfelt.
  • James Hughes.

7) In which European election did the CPB, in the pages of the Morning Star, (wholly owned by the Co-Op), advocate not voting Labour?

  • 1918.
  • 1945.
  • 2019.

8) Anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery is a member or associated with the following?

  • Blue Labour
  • ‘Trade Unionists’ against the European Union.
  • Spiked.
  • The Full Brexit.
  • Kate Hoey.

9) Who is the UK’s most celebrated political vegan?

  • Lord Voldemort.
  • Sauron.
  • Chris Williamson.

10) Pabloism has been in the news again.


Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2019 at 11:22 am

Brexit Party Charts Uncertain Future as National Populist Banner Taken by Tories.

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Brexit Party polls

Brexit Party Polls at 2% to 3%.

The Brexit Party were out in Ipswich yesterday, with a stall by the old Post Office building on the Corn Hill.

They were overshadowed by the much larger group of People’s Vote campaigners.

The Brexit Party is in the doldrums.

Polls put them at 3% to 2% of the vote.

The hard-right national populists in control of the Conservative Party have taken the wind out of their sails.

Farage’s Falange are now flailing around with stunts as former Revolutionary Communist (RCP) Claire Fox reminds us,


One hopes that they still do maximum damage to the Tory vote in the constituencies where they are running against Labour.


A once  leading cadre of the RCP tweets bitterly.

General election 2019: Farage promises Reform Party after Brexit

The Brexit Party will change its name to the Reform Party after the UK leaves the European Union, leader Nigel Farage has said.

It will campaign for changes to the voting system and the abolition of the House of Lords, he told Sky News.

Mr Farage, who has already registered the new party name, said it would “change politics for good”.

The announcement comes after a week in which the Brexit Party lost four Members of the European Parliament.

One of the MEPs, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, warned that “the Brexit Party are permitting votes to go away from the Conservatives, providing us with a Remain coalition that will do anything not to honour the Brexit referendum”.

And Conservative chair James Cleverly has previously said the party could “frustrate” Brexit.

Perhaps the Brexit Party’s work in drawing people to national populism is done.

Another former frothing Revolutionary Communist states,

Sorry, Hugh Grant, but the era of smug tossers is over.

Brexit is a revolt against this smug set; against that 1990s reduction of ordinary people to bit-part players in the cultural elite’s political fantasies; against Blairisim and Clintonism and Brussels and fucking Love Actually. No wonder Curtis, Thompson and Grant hate it — it rips up everything they stand for. Look, Hugh, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and not a smug tosser at all, but the gig is up. The days when infinitesimally small numbers of cultural bigwigs could set the agenda are over. We all want a voice now. The millions matter. The tea ladies matter. Our votes matter. There’s a new force in town: it’s not love — it’s Brexit actually.

Brexit, Actually. Brendan O’Neill.

The brown side of the RCP red-brown front with the Brexit Party have become prominent.

There are still worries that pro-Leave ‘left-wing’ campaigners and ‘People’s Brexit’ groups may hurt Labour’s chances as they confuse the dividing line with the Brexit Party.

The far-right has become normalised as comrade Paul Mason reminds us,

But it looks as if the Brexit Party is no longer a real player in the election.


“Lenin inspired” Corbyn under Fire. A Defence of Labour’s Radical Democratic Socialism.

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Image result for labour party rally december 2019

Democratic socialist alternative.

“History” Max Beerbohm should have said, “does not repeat itself. Columnists repeat one another’s stories.” One topic each pundit has grappled with, and recycled each other, is the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.  In the last few days Labour’s critical policy towards NATO has been added to the chain of stories about the Leader’s ‘Leninism’, extremist socialism, and anti-semitism, to prove his unfitness to hold High Office.The New Statesman has published this hand-wringing non-endorsement: The New Statesman‘s Miserable Editorial

As public opinion hardens, and the Labour vote with it, a spirit of malice amongst these elevated circles has developed. Better Johnson than Corbyn, a threat to national security, a crank full of the wrong kind of enthusiasm, an associate (as one less publicly famous commentator puts it) of “anti-Semitic mongrels”, and dimwit. Some ask for ‘real’ Labour, true to workingmen’s clubs of the period shown in the film Funny Cow (2017), and chip butties. Give us Family, Community and Flag. The rickety campaign of the Liberal Democrats is foundering. Perhaps there is a chance for the wider centre with a revamp of the 1980s ‘little Caesars’ of the Social Democratic Party, capable of offering a “compromise political solution” to the Brexit crisis, reached by negotiation from above. Some pine for the return of the Third Way. Give us a leader with the moral stature of Tony Blair, and the human warmth of Gordon Brown. Alas, Chuka Umunna has not risen to the occasion. (2)

The fly in the ointment is that Labour is a membership, one member-one-vote, party. Corbyn has been elected, twice, by the overwhelming majority of card-carriers and backed by the trade unions. Few of them seem attracted to the above alternatives.  The enthusiastic campaign that led to this victory is described in detail, in The Candidate by Alex Nuns, (2018). A talented team has drawn up a radical democratic socialist manifesto. The results of contributions and debates in the Labour policy documents that led to the Manifesto, from social policy to social ownership, the result of agreement on the basics, are available for all to see.

Labour and Lenin.

Has Lenin “inspired” Corbyn’s world view,? Has Labour been overrun “dead-eyed communist fanatics“?  by Those looking for a Short Course chapter on the Liquidation of the Bukharian-Trotskyist Gang of Spies, Wreckers and Traitors in Corbyn adviser, Andrew Murray’s The Fall and Rise of the British Left (2019), will not find an entry by the former leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. They will however discover in Murray’s book the hope that there is a consensus on the “new economic and social policies” and an admission that this agreement does not exist on foreign policy. There are equally many divergent opinions on what the pro-Leave campaigner calls ‘Brexit Derangement syndrome”. (3)

Labour has an attractive programme. It is an outward looking party. It has to grapple with a changed national and international landscape. The world is no longer called to tune by Market Worlders. “Capitalist realism”, as Mark Fisher suggested, meant “subordinating oneself to a reality that is infinitely plastic, capable of reconfiguring itself at any moment.” (4) But the “mental paralysis” that followed the Credit and Banking Crisis of 2008 did not lead to social democracy or dystopian authoritarianism. A deeper grounded national populism has emerged, with some echoes of the 1980s authoritarian free-market liberalism of Margaret Thatcher. Politically anti-liberal populists like Donald Trump pursue national neoliberal economic, using economic power to put their country first. Xenophobia, the motor behind the Brexit vote, poisons politics.


Some politically active people in Britain are attracted to a democratic socialist alternative. They have gone beyond hostility to “capitalist realism” to campaign for a governing left party that can reshape the country. They do not trust the hard-right Brexit project, or the good will of the American President to rescue a Britain adrift in the world. A wider constituency not only wishes to stick with Labour but to see the social reforms the Party offers on social security, on housing and the world of work, come about.

Nobody begrudges journalists the pleasure of running down their political enemies. Only those who have spent their time working hard as activists, or in local and national elected bodies, to further their party’s cause, will be annoyed at the yelps of glee that follow every shred of evidence that Labour has a conspiratorial fringe with sometimes unpleasant anti-Semitic overtones. Only a life-long factionalist would recognise the spite of student anti-left hackery at work……



  1. “History does not repeat itself. The Historians repeat one another.” Page 155. The Prince of Minor Writers. The Selected essays of Max Beerbohm. 2015.
  2. The ‘Little Casers of Social Democracy’. In The Hard Road to Renewal. Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left, Stuart Hal Verso. 1988.
  3. Page 203. The Fall of Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray Verso, 2019.
  4. Page 54. Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher. 2009. Zero Books.


Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Boris Border Clampdown Seals National Populist Tory Drift as Pro-Brexit Left Founders.

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Image result for regis debray eloge des frontiers

In Praise of Borders, and…..European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain?

One of the divisions opened up by Brexit on the British left has been between the internationalists and those who imagined that leaving the European Union would pave the way for a ‘People’s Brexit’.

Sometimes this has been a straightward affair, those supporting ‘Lexit’, a ‘left Brexit’ want to create a version of the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy that relies on an autonomous economy under social ownership and unshared national sovereignty.

Other times groups add freedom from the Nato imperialist war machine. They pontificate, ” Rather the wars, interventions and occupations of the past nearly two decades have helped to fuel terror and make it a more frequent occurrence in countries like Britain.” (Lindsey German. Counterfire today).

Recently German has also been concerned with the views of Leave voters,

…any report of canvassing in some of these areas tells a story of bitter disillusionment among Leave voters, all too often combined with the belief that some traditional Labour voters will switch to the Tories.

She continued, saying that it’s part of “the fallout from the 2016 referendum. These areas tended to vote Leave at least partly in protest at decline, and against the perception of being ignored and taken for granted by politicians.”

The Counterfire/Stop the War leader lays the blame on Remain supporters,

..the poll underlines the damage Labour Remainers have done with their relentless drive towards ignoring the vote of three years ago in favour of an new referendum in which they would want to back Remain. Jeremy Corbyn has been vilified for sitting on the fence, being neutral and so on, but his stance has been a response to precisely the feeling in the Leave areas. What has happened in this election is simply that Labour has found it much much harder to win back Leave voters than Remain voters.

Even some people who voted Remain are furious that Labour is ignoring the referendum result – and certainly that has been my impression in talking to people from different parts of the country.

Who knew: 52% of the population matter? – election briefing 29 November

Like others German does not look into the issues fuelling this fury, or what exactly this 52% is made up of, HIgh Tories to High Stalinists included.

Perhaps migration, perhaps ultra-strict border controls may be things that “matter” to them?

Polls indicate that’;taking back control’ means frontier controls above all.

Some of us have certainly not ignored this, we have argued against the Brexit concentrated hatred, and Brexit itself, lock stock and barrel.

It’s hard to deny this, and I too have been “talking to people”.

No doubt we are guilty of standing up for internationalism

Yet I have not heard anybody call for a People’s Brexit either…

The impression is widespread that the supporters for Brexit on the left have legitimsied the right-wing drift of some voters. That is that there is on result of German and friends’ activities. It is Lexit Cover for National Populism.

One thing that’s been striking over the last few years is the growth, across Europe, of those promoting nationalism, in a sovereigntist guise, on the left.

The ‘globalists’, the Blairite cosmopolitan elite, the Clinton Global Initiative,  ably described in Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas (2018), the philanthropists claiming to make the world a better place, the principal enemy today?

It’s not hard to believe that the Ford Foundation, TED talks and  MarketWorld  are a serious obstacle.

But Giridharadas also notes towards the end of his book the xenophobia racism of the Trump electorate, and one can extend this to one of the reasons for the Brexit vote – one that the Lexiters ignore, or try divert attention away from by whataboutery on EU migration policy – never mentioning the German decision to admit around 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

New Left Review, however, if not as directly as its promotion of the likes of anti ‘Jewish elite’ writer Norman Finkelstein, has soft spot for those prepared to defend borders. The left-wing critic of ‘neoliberal globalisation‘ and now national populist advocate of “a strengthening of national borders and immigration controlsWolfgang Streeck, is a leading contributor. He is a member of the Red-Brown Full Brexit front that brings together Brexit Party supporters and the ‘left’.

Régis Debray may not have got the book pictured into its pages, but his musings  have appeared, if only in extract from Civilisation. Comment nous sommes devenus américaines. 

It is full of self-pitying nationalism that marks out this current of thought.

Perhaps I am over-attached to this bizarre country where you can recite a poem in a meeting, where not everyone considers capitalism as the final stage of human history, where we do not fear dreaming of having an independent foreign policy, and where the writer has a role they do not have elsewhere. This particularity is fading away. I do not take any joy in this, but no one will stop me in my own corner from continuing to write in French.

Macron, or the coronation of America: A conversation with Régis Debray

It has been up to a New Left Review founding figure, Tom Nairn, to wallow fully in the Debray vision of the world.

Frontiers: a re-evaluation Tom Nairn.

Frontiers have become awfully unfashionable. The ideology of “globalisation” responds with its sternest frown: historical relics, left-overs from the age of competing nationalisms, they have  had their day and should be ignored, if not put down. Régis Debray is characteristically scathing about all this in his recent polemic Éloge des Frontières (Gallimard, Paris 2010). In the concluding chapter of this ‘Praise for Frontiers’ he points out that globaloney has as its fatal culmination what one might call ‘All-the-Sameism’ – to which a proper answer can only be “the right to frontiers”, or (more strongly) the duty of maintaining them, and where necessary creating new ones. Not ‘walls’ but (as Scots like to say) borders, gateways to and from differing cultures and outlooks.

Things have changed.

The left is no longer confronted, as the principal enemy, by globalists, by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

We live in the age, where we are confronted  as argued, by Justine Lacroix, with national populism,  and national neoliberalism (“Mais nous sommes ­confrontés à Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Orban ou, en Pologne, à Droit et justice, sans même parler de la Russie et de la Chine).

Nairn’s borders are being reinforced…..

And now, with Boris Johnson and Brexit Project, Domnic Cummins and all.

European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain after Brexit in a fresh border clampdown to be unveiled by the Conservatives today.

In a move to shift the election debate to immigration the Tories will outline plans to make all visitors to Britain receive additional security clearance before they travel.

There is expected to be a charge for the checks, similar to the American Esta system. This requires visitors to gain clearance to enter the country three days before their arrival or be turned back at the airport.

The European Union is expected to introduce a similar scheme in 2021, meaning that after Brexit all travellers between Britain and Europe will face additional scrutiny and costs.

The Times.

Politics Home.

Under a raft of promises the party claims will improve border security if it wins the election, the Tories said a new visa waiver scheme called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be brought in for EU citizens wanting to travel to the UK.

Under current EU free movement rules, travellers from the bloc only need an ID card to gain entry.

But the new regime will see them asked to bring passports and fill in an online form before travelling, a move the Conservatives said would allow officials to “to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK”.

The Tories are also pledging to gather more data on goods being brought into the UK in a bid to clamp down on smuggling – a move the party claims could save £5bn a year in lost taxes.

They are also promising to bring in new immigration regulations with “far broader powers” for the Home Secretary to stop EU foreign nationals with serious convictions from entering the UK.

Unveiling the plans, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “When people voted to leave in 2016 they were voting to take back control of our borders.

“After Brexit we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm