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John McDonnell, Moving “Towards a People’s Vote” on Brexit.

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McDonnell sticks to his Principles.

Labour ‘moving towards People’s Vote’: Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tells of party shift on Brexit

EXCLUSIVE: John McDonnell speaks about Labour shift on Brexit and calls for ‘fiercer’ action against anti-Semitism

He gave his strongest indication yet that Labour is close to backing a second public vote and said he would campaign for Remain if one is held.

“On the people’s vote, we’ve kept it on the table and we’re moving towards that,” he said.

He said an amendment calling for a public vote which is being tabled for debate next week by Labour MPs  Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson “could be a solution”.

The amendment, which was reportedly endorsed by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at a planning meeting this week, would offer Theresa May’s deal an easy ride in the Commons if she put it to a binding yes-no vote of the public.

Mr McDonnell revealed the two backbenchers had been asked to redraft the amendment. And he said that if the Prime Minister’s deal was rejected by the public, Britain would remain in the EU by default.

“If we were going on a people’s vote based on a deal that has gone through Parliament in some form, if that got voted down then you’d have status quo, and that would be Remain,” he said.

….

Mr McDonnell said Remain should be an option in a referendum and said Labour was “moving into implementation stages around our conference decision, around the People’s Vote”.

Asked how would he vote, he said firmly: “I’ve said all along if there was another one I’d campaign for Remain and I’d vote for Remain.”

This is a genuine step forward for the internationalist left.

Comrade McDonnell also responded to chagres of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in a way which will resonate with many activists,

In the same interview, Mr McDonnell criticised his party for moving too slowly and softly against anti-Semitism. “We’ve got to be quicker, and we’ve got to be fiercer,” he said. “I think there’s been a lot of listening but not enough action. That’s the problem.”

I cannot underline too much how more comfortable I and many feel with McDonnell’s way of dealing with these issues then the official line so far.

That’s without the kind of recoil many of us feel at the hyper ‘anti Zionist’ reaction.

The story has echoed widely in the media:

 

The Evening Standard notes that Len McCluskey, leader of UNITE, is opposed to any such vote.

No doubt influenced by the charge that, with company after company announcing shifts in car production, decisions generally said to be influenced by Brexit, that McCluskey he has let his members working in the auto industry down, the UNITE chief is now squirming:

 

Cormade McDonnell has won praise:

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Love Socialism, Hate Brexit – MPs and Meeting Make Waves.

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Anti-Brexit Left.

On Wednesday night a Union boss told the world his pro-Brexit policy.

Len McCluskey has said that remaining in the EU would “not be the best option” for the UK – but called on Prime Minister Theresa May to accept that a soft version of Brexit is the only one achievable.

Talking to ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday night, the General Secretary of Unite, which represents 1.2 million British workers across a wide range of sectors, said that he prefers a softer Brexit with membership of a customs union and tariff-free access to the single market.

He told Mr Peston that he was “vehemently in favour of a people’s vote, it’s called a general election” but said that he was against any efforts that could reverse the Brexit process as a whole.

He said: “My view is that having had a 2016 referendum where the people have voted to come out of the EU, to try and deflect away from that threatens the whole democratic fabric on which we operate… I’m saying that in reality, it is not the best option for our nation.”

The ‘I’.

Yesterday Clive Lewis spoke at “Love Socialism, Hate Brexit” with other Labour MPs to express a different view.

Love socialism, hate Brexit? Labour’s position is crumbling

Independent.

This is a man who resigned from Labour’s front bench in order to vote against triggering Article 50, but has now returned, and claims he has only done so because part of Labour’s Brexit policy involves the possibility of a second referendum, which now looks unlikely to happen.

Clive Lewis warned the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit crowd that the Liberal Democrats were “utterly, comprehensively destroyed for facilitating austerity,” and that the Labour Party risked the same fate by “facilitating a Tory Brexit”.

He told them a new Tory leader would come in, after Theresa May. “And they will say ‘you know what, she was a disaster for this country, she betrayed this country, but so too was the leader of the opposition. He was part of this sorry debacle and I’m now going to move forward to try resolve this situation in the best way I can.’

“And I tell you what, the Tory right-wing mainstream media will get behind that narrative and it is us, the Labour Party, that will pick up a lot of the flack for what happens.”

The Guardian also reports:

Shadow minister says party would never be forgiven as calls for second referendum grow

Labour tensions over Brexit threatened to boil over on Thursday as two shadow ministers broke ranks to call for a second referendum, and others hinted they could quit the party unless Jeremy Corbyn’s position changed over the next fortnight.

Clive Lewis, a shadow Treasury minister, warned Corbyn that Labour might never be forgiven and could disappear from UK politics if MPs voted to facilitate a Conservative Brexit deal.

Another shadow minister, Paul Sweeney, also backed a second referendum on the final Brexit deal for the first time on Thursday.

The high-profile pro-EU backbencher Chris Leslie said he was “clinging to hope” that the Conservatives would back a fresh poll in the next fortnight, suggesting that he had lost faith in his own party.

Leslie accused Corbyn of “regressing” from the party’s conference policy to pursue a public vote when other options had been exhausted. “I certainly feel we are being played for fools by the leadership of the Labour party on this particular issue. By now we should have reached the stage of a public vote. Nobody can explain to me seriously … why we are not at that particular stage right now.”

Leslie is among several backbench MPs rumoured to be considering quitting the party in the coming weeks, as concerns mount not only over the party’s Brexit policy but also how it has dealt with cases of antisemitism.

The shadow minister, a prominent supporter of Corbyn, made his comments at a Love Socialism, Hate Brexit rally promoted by the pro-referendum group Another Europe is Possible.

Lewis, who resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2017 to vote against triggering article 50 but returned to the frontbench last year, said Labour could face electoral annihilation similar to that of the Liberal Democrats after the party entered a coalition with the Tories.

The Socialist Workers Party makes a bold counter call:

The left should put forward an anti-austerity, anti-racist vision of Brexit that rejects the neoliberal single market and defends freedom of movement.

Labour Party Marxists (Weekly Worker, Communist Party of Great Britain Provisional Central Committee) , ignores the issue of Europe altogether,

Heading to a Split?

Amazingly, there are still people ostensibly on the Labour left appealing for ‘party unity’. But the last few weeks will have done wonders to convince most Jeremy Corbyn supporters that, in fact, there can be no unity with the right in the party. Corbyn and his allies have certainly launched plenty of appeals for ‘unity’ in the past three and a half years – trying to appease the right by bending over backwards to accept most of their demands. But we are seeing signs that, perhaps, the policy of appeasement pursued by Corbyn’s office might finally be coming to an end.

Instead,

the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is very much part and parcel of the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn and the left.

Meanwhile back on the internationalist left:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 15, 2019 at 1:19 pm

National Populism. Roger Eatwell, Matthew Goodwin. Review: A Feast of Gammon.

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Image result for National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018.

A Feast of Gammon.

National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018.

Gammon: This word probably derives from the same original as ‘game’ and gamble, but in Victorian and later slang it meant to impose upon, delude, cheat, or play the game on.”

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Millennium Edition.

Gammon:  term used to describe a particular type of Brexit-voting, europhobic, middle-aged white male, whose meat-faced complexion suggests they are perilously close to a stroke.

The term ‘gammon’ is linked to the unhealthy pink skin tone of such stout yeomen, probably because of high blood pressure caused by decades of ‘PC gone mad’, being defeated in arguments about the non-existent merits of Brexit and women getting the vote.

Gammon often make their appearance on BBC’s Question Time jabbing their porcine fingers at the camera while demanding immediate nuclear strikes against Remain-voting areas, people who eat vegetables and/or cyclists.

When gammon appears en masse it is often referred to as a “wall of gammon”.

The first known usage of the term ‘gammon’ to describe the complexion of men of an overly-jingoistic fashion dates from as far back as 1838 in a description of Mr Gregsbury, a Member of Parliament, in Charles Dickens’ novel, Nicholas Nickleby.

Urban Dictionary.

In George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman novels the word gammon crops up. As Tom Brown’s bully bluffs and wriggles through life, his career is gammon itself. A red-faced liar, and cowardly racialist, the ardent Imperialist is the forebear of today’s British cured ham populists and patriots.

National Populism refers to, in Eatwell and Goodwin’s view, movements that “prioritise the culture and interests of the nation, and promise to give voice to a people who feel that they have been neglected, even held in contempt, by distant and often corrupt elites.” (Page ix) The authors consider what national supporters “feel” about “corrupt elites”, and movements that promote these themes,  have to be taken at face value. They are not going to be called out as gammon, dismissed as irrational, uneducated, racists. They “see their own arguments as moral.” (Page 171)

From UKIP (which has never held direct political power, The French Front National (now Rassemblement National) – also never in government – to President Trump, Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, Matteo Salvini’s La Lega, in power in Italy with the ‘populist’ , Movimento 5 Stelle, the Freedom parties in the Netherlands and Austria, and others, there are common traits. They are populists in the sense that they wish to “make the popular will heard and acted on”, defend the interests of “plain, ordinary people” and wish to replace “corrupt and distant elites”. To these vague, not to say vacuous, words – thin enough – national populism adds one strong term, nationalism. National populists stand out with a “strong emphasis on immigration and ethnic change” (Page 80). Behind this diversity there is a “fairly broad alliance of people without degrees who share traditional values and a cluster of core concerns about their lack of voice, the position of their group relative to others, and in particularly immigration and ethnic change.”(Page 39)

Distrust of politicians, “rapid ethnic change” a fear of relative deprivation, under the effects of “neoliberal globalisation” (whose economics are left hanging in the air) feed national populism. But the perception of a threat of “ethnic destruction” is the pillar of the demand for “national independence and identity”. Concerned to demolish “misleading myths” Eatwell and Goodwin give legitimacy to fears about “hyper-ethnic change”, or in the words of famous polemicist they do not refer to, Renaud Camus, “le Grand Remplacement” (Révoltez-vous! 2015). This is not the biological racism of the 1930s far right or modern race-war fascism. It is more cultural. To use a word already taken into English, it is “identitarian”; “We do not think the term “racism” should be applied solely because people seek to retain the broad parameters of the ethnic base of country and its national identity, even though this can involve discriminating against outside groups. “(Page 75)

Angry White Men.

There is a history to be written about the writers and academics with a taste for the pink meat, the Gammon left and right. Eatwell and Goodwin began by refusing to scorn national populists as “crude bigots and old white men”,  far -from-well-off, uneducated, and marginalised from society. They point out that many of these parties have a degree of backing from the respectable middle-class, women indeed vote for them, as well as workers. France indeed has a whole array of intellectuals on the national populist side, some of whom, like Michel Onfray, Emmanuel Todd, and Jean-Claude Michéa, still claiming a wavering leftist thread, even a belief in ‘common decency’ for their sovereigntist dreams, others, Éric Zemmour at their head, clearly on the nationalist right.

Reviewing National Populism for – inevitably – Spiked, Jon Holbrook misses that point and rejoices at a counterblast against “the elite’s dismissive response” to “angry white men”. (Populism is a struggle for democracyJanuary 2019). Gammonry’s French cousin, the Beauf, the American Jacobin might add, is equally the much-maligned target of loaded put downs. Populism is a fight for democracy against “supra-nationalism”, the “transfer of power to transnational organisations”. Gérard Bras talks of the contempt expressed by liberal opponents of populism. For them it expresses the irrationality of the people, their ignorance and their characteristic whims. (“ exprime l’irrationalité du peuple, son ignorance et son caractère velléitaire”) Citing Jacques Rancière he asserts that the charge of “populism” expresses the contempt that, the ruling “politically correct hold for the ruled, (“le politiquement correct dominant tient les dominés”). As Holbrook puts it, “political correctness empowered liberalism to double down on its traditional fear of majority opinion….” (1)

Image result for beauf cabu

 

There is widespread awareness of what National Populism calls the “dealignment” of politics, the drift away from life-long political loyalties, and the decline of social democratic and left support in Europe. No doubt with this in mind the rival ‘left populist’ Chantal Mouffe has protested against the “demonising of the enemies of the “bipartisan consensus. They express opposition to this globalised neoliberal “oligarchy”, to what she dubs, “post-democracy”, and a push for popular sovereignty – whose limits and shapes remain to be defined. Inheriting strategic thinking about populism begun by her late partner Ernesto Laclau the interlocutor of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and some of the leaders of the (presently splintered) Podemos, proposes a political response. The red-faced masses’ “Xenophobic language”, writes Chantal Mouffe, “could be formulated in a different vocabulary and directed towards another adversary”. (2)

“Critics of the neo-liberal order” welcomed the UK leave vote, the “rising of the North” from the anti-EU “rust belt regions”. This was an authentic working class that turned it back on the Trade Union majority and the Labour Party’s official position. That is the ‘Lexit’, pro-Brexit, lament against internationalists, the “cosmopolitans’ from nowhere. But this book should give food for thought for those crying over the fate of the left-behind.

The message of National Populism,  is that, taking this into account, “we need to talk about immigration”.  How can, Éric Fassin has commented, the same “affects”, the emotions that fuel this conversation amongst supporters of national populism be retranslated into a left-wing populism? The chances are slim. I would say close to zero. What is their demand? Ending migration would come, if not at the top, at least close to it. National ‘preference’? Putting our ‘ain folk’ first, and, above all the Nation’s Sovereignty,. above class and ‘elites’. But then I have met national populists. They were, are, and will be, gammon. And who is leading them? Flashman Farrage, Flashman Rees Mogg and Ultra-Flashman, Boris Johnson. (3)

***

  1. Populisme: une enquête philosophique sur un concept insaisissable Review and synopsis of Les Voies du peuple (2018)

  2. Page 23. For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Verso. 2018.

  3. Page 73 Populisme. Le grand ressentiment. Éric Fassin Textuel. 2017 The term ‘affects’, emotions,  an abomination in both English and French, comes from a reading of Spinoza (a small part of his writings) on the emotions in Frédéric Lordon, La société des affects. 2013. In this context, “By affect I understand affections of the body by which the body’s power of acting is increased or diminished, aided or restrained, and at the same time, the ideas of these affections.” Affect (philosophy).

Heroic Failure, Brexit and Politics of Pain. Fintan O’Toole. A Review from the Internationalist Left.

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Heroic Failure, Brexit and Politics of Pain. Fintan O’Toole. Apollo. 2018.

“L’existence d’une nation est (pardonnez moi cette métaphore) un plébiscite de tous les jours, comme ‘l’existence d’un individu est une affirmation perpétuelle de la vie.”

The existence of a nation (you will pardon me this metaphor) is a daily referendum, just as the continuing existence of an individual is a perpetual affirmation of life.

Ernest Renan. Qu’est-ce qu’une nation 1882.

No ! penury, inertness and grimace,

In some strange sort, were the land’s portion. ‘See

Or shut your eyes’ says Nature peevishly.

‘It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:

‘It’s the Last Judgement’s fire must cure this place,

Cacline its clods and set my prisoners free’

Childe Roland. Robert Browning. 1855.

The Irish writer Fintan O’Toole begins Heroic Failure on the “phantasm” that drove the Brexit vote with a meditation on the delights of English self-pity. In the years leading up to Brexit, he remarks, E.L. James Fifty Shades of Grey (2011), a “fantasy of domination and submission”. This, he suggests could be rendered into a political fantasy “in which Christian Grey is the European Union and Anastasia Steele an innocent England seduced into entering his Red Room of Pain.” (Page 21) A friend tells me that flipping through its pages he found it full of un-erotic Americanisms (‘ass’). This might be a further metaphor to explore in that. Amongst the Brexit ultras, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have not only taken their politics from the US neoliberal right, but the latter seems sufficiently at home alongside Donald Trump to talk in Disney speak of “that’s all folks.”

Ernest Renan, who considered the Nation to be a “soul” a “spiritual principle”, left the decision-making about this make-up to popular choice. O’Toole equally echoes Renan is describing just how much of the British imperial past Leave supporters forget during our own Referendum. In this present the UK is a plucky land, ill-rewarded for holding the fort against Hitler, and under the boot of an alien superpower run by Teutons in a new Holy Roman Empire. In this picture Brexit as a “genuine national revolution against a phoney oppressor. It has the form of a moment of liberation without the content. The people get out of the Red Room of Pain only to find themselves in the Red, White and Blue Rooms of Pain. (Page 141)

Brexit Bollocks.

In the absence of real oppressors a variety of substitutes were found. Food was an issue from the start. Heroic Failure cites E.P. Thompson’s dyspeptic attack on middle class enthusiasm for the Common Market’s well-garnished menu. By the 1990s Mr Podsnap returned to defend our national Cuisine. Boris Johnson pursued the millennium with a crusade against a Brussels-led “humiliation of British democracy” – a threatened penury of prawn cocktail flavoured crisps. Johnson stood firm. Against a bossy female bureaucrat he declared, “As part of the balanced diet of a British child, – two packets Quavers, three chocolate Magnums, 2 oz dog shit a day – the prawn cocktail flavour crisp was thoroughly nutritious” (Page 112) Magnum ice-creams, few will fail to notice, are now being stockpiled to guard against the no-Deal Brexit Final Judgement.

It would take from the pleasure of reading Heroic Failure to recount more of O’Toole’s  not at all tall-tales of Brexiteer Bollocks. Nor would be appropriate to cover his fine account bonds between the Irish and British are bound together, from the centuries of national oppression and prejudice, to the deep ties of affection and descent (this writer is, apparently, genetically around 37% Irish) that bring us perhaps closer than any other nationality outside of the United Kingdom. Given this background it is all the more surprising that the Leave campaign showed an “absolute refusal to countenance any discussion of Ireland.”(Page 88) The importance of the ‘backstop’, which may be translated into English as “safety net”, for the border with North, has turned out to be more important than the nippers’ right to eat dog shit.

Behind the “sadopopulism” and the nationalist “dreamtime” lies the hard free-market right. When the boss of Wetherspoons, Tim Martin, came to Ipswich he evoked fish, no doubt under the impression that East Anglia prosperity was assured, as from mediaeval times until the beginning of the Twentieth Century, by the Herring Catch. Campaigners for Leave may have spoken in other antiquarian language of the country’s ‘Vassalage’ to the European Union. O’Toole gives a reminder of the English Royals’ scorched earth tactics during the 100 years war, which he compares to the mass murders of warlords in today’s failed states. Les Anglais ont débarqué, which originated during this period, can still signify the flow of menstrual blood.

Behind this lies a wish for, O’Toole suggests, Jacob Rees Mogg’s “sovereignty of the super rich and their right to escape.”(Page 172) “Buccaneering capitalism”, national sovereignty in the service of commerce, the right to a no-Deal Brexit under WTO rules, the project is for,  as Luke Cooper says, “a Britain ‘unchained’ from the shackles of European regulation, in other words, even more of a capitalist dystopia.”(The Left Against Brexit. Another Europe is Possible. 2018).

The Rise of English Nationalism.

Heroic Failure concludes with thoughts on the English nationalism that has become the motor of Brexit politics. Renewed English identity – 60% of the country’s population now identify themselves as English instead of British – partly mimics “the gestures of small-nation ‘liberation’ movements…”(Page 187) The self-pity on show is not an exclusive national trade mark, if at least Hugh MacDiarmid is to be taken to heart, ”Puir Auld Scotland’ bleat wi’ pride…. A thorn in a’ the wide world’s side” (A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926) But few, very few, countries have resembling the “unfinished psychic business of both the Second World War and the End of Empire.”(Page 92)

O’Toole would like to see the back of the Tory eccentrics and chancers who have pushed Brexit. He is not at his strongest when he suggests that English nationalism, “so poorly articulated and self-contradictory” is up for grabs”, by “progressives” (Page 200). In the century following Ernest Renan’s definition of a ‘Nation’ another Frenchman, Henri Barbusse, writing in the midst of the brutalities of the World War that preceded the Second declared that nationality was the business of poets and dreamers. Patriotism can be respected. Yet it carried grave dangers when it became the basis for politics. (Le Feu. Journal d’une escouade.1916).* Left-wing politics may recognise wish to wrest our common feelings and imagination, our humour and our decency, away from the Brexiteers and isolate the far-right. But a political strategy built out of a national identity is unable to respond to the ‘real issues’ (that is, those not stemming from hatred of foreigners) said to be behind the vote to Leave by the left-behind, and their attraction to the wank-bank dreams of the Hard Brexit Right. 

This can be seen in the dismal fate of “leftist anti-Europeanism”. Efforts to harness the ‘national popular’ from those claiming to be on the left have led nowhere. They have run with the Brexit hounds, and not their opponents. There are claims that ‘the’ ‘real’ working class, not by virtue of what they do but on *who they are*, mustered behind ‘national liberation’ from the EU.  During the Greek crisis they would have volunteered to be Lord Byron’s Jackals and fight for Hellenic independence from Brussels. Some on that left now back a Brexit on WTO terms. More live in the ‘dream-time” of a People’s Brexit, a Beacon of Hope to the World, brought in on the backs of a break with the EU. It shows few signs of appearing. A few relish the thought that Brexit will lead to the break up of Britain. This will, by allowing nationalists free reign in Scotland, pave the way for internationalism. Some just wallow in chaos. One of New Left Review’s leading intellectuals, Tariq Ali, leapt for joy at the Big kick up the EU’s backside” after the Referendum result.“

There is another left. “Ours is a future of solidarity between people and across borders”, “to end Fortress Europe, push back against the neoliberal economic consensus and build unity between workers across the continent” “building an internationalist left that can turn the ride in Europe and beyond” (Alena Ivanova. Michael Chessum. The Left Against Brexit. Another Europe is Possible).

We are in the middle of the Battle………..

“Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, And blew. ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.’

***

*”Out of patriotism–which can be respected as long as it remains in the domain of sentiment and art on exactly the same footing as the sense of family and local pride, all equally sacred–out of patriotism they make a Utopian and impracticable idea, unbalancing the world, a sort of cancer which drains all the living force, spreads everywhere and crushes life, a contagious cancer which culminates either in the crash of war or in the exhaustion and suffocation of armed peace.” Under Fire.The Story of a Squad. Henri Barbusse

Morning Star Warns of “subterranean” communications between “elements” in Labour and “EU powers that be”.

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Morning Star Warns of “subterranean” pro-EU Labour.

On Thursday the Morning Star carried this Editorial.

Brexit delay endangers democracy

The danger is clear. Every suggestion, explicit or subliminal, that exit from the EU is an option that can be deferred, either for now or infinitely, threatens Labour’s hard-won credibility with its core electorate of working people.

The serial undermining of Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to respect the referendum result has many seats of subversion.

Some can be found in the shadow cabinet, even among those charged with implementing conference policy. Some on the back benches where unfulfilled ambition ends in speculation about forming a new centre party of class collaboration or reconstituting a Blairite tendency to the same ends.

There are many subterranean channels of communication between elements in Labour and the EU powers that be.

The Communist Party of Britain run daily advised the Labour Party,

It needs to see beyond a full Brexit on March 29 to the next stage in the struggle for a people’s government.

Labour should support the “full Brexit” first, of course.

Last night Channel Four carried a report by  Michael Crick with David Aaronovitch on the Four Ms, Corbyn’s key advisers.

These are, Corbyn’s strategy and communications director Seumas Milne, his chief of staff Karie Murphy, her friend Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, and Andrew Murray, adviser to Mr Corbyn and chief of staff to Mr McCluskey.

Crick referred to the background of Milne and Murray in the 1980s Communist Party of Great Britain faction, Straight Left.

Aaronovitch has written in the Times on this in this article Corbyn’s clique are the old guard Brexiteers

The Times journalist made, the accurate, observation that these, and others, remained stuck in the mid-70s ‘Broad Left’ (from Michael Foot, Tony Benn, to the old Communist Party of Great Britain and much of the Trotskyist left) opposition to ‘Common Market’ and all of its works.

The Times piece also contained paragraphs on Andrew Murray’s  views on the Ukraine and the way he blamed the ‘EU’ for intervening against Russian President Putin’s plans to destabilise the independent country.

One could add that there was this campaign which Corbyn’s adviser on Brexit helped launch in 2014

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London

Last night (2 June 2014) saw the founding meeting of the ‘Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ campaign, which was hosted by the Marxist Student Federation in SOAS, London.

Over  150 people attended the meeting to hear Richard Brenner (Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine), Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

This is what Murray, apparently somebody taken seriously in UNITE and the Labour Party, said,

Andrew Murray explained that “fascism is as fascism does” and that the recent attacks by fascist thugs, such as the brutal murder of protesters in Odessa, show that we are talking about real fascism, not just the equivalent of UKIP in Britain. He also warned against prettifying the intervention of the EU as if “over there” it is a good thing whilst “over here” it is not. He also stressed that the Left should be united and put pressure on the British government to cease its support of fascism in Ukraine.

Having the past brought up sent the Morning Star into a rage.

Nick Wright, who does media work for the Communist Party of Britain, wrote this,

David Aaronovitch follows in the footsteps of Paul Mason

“The befuddled Times journo takes a swipe at Corbyn.”

Leaving aside the details of this spat between old chums,  and the reference to Paul Mason that few will grasp, the column concludes,

For Aaronovitch the aim is, as he states without equivocation, to win over Corbyn or “to neutralise” Corbyn.

So again the target is not the praetorian guard but Corbyn himself.

Nick Wright is proud enough of his scattered broadside to put it on his blog.

Nick Wright was also a member of Straight Left.

The ghosts of the 1970s left, with its backing for the Alternative Economic Strategy, put into place outside the ‘Common Market’, complete with import controls – no doubt still a popular demand – continue to haunt many minds.

The Lexit Left demanding the “full Brexit now”  has some influence outside of the Corbyn inner circle.

But not much.

There are no doubt those who take the views of  those supportive of Tony Blair (at the time) who now wish to see the UK remain in Europe to promote their vision of “stakeholder capitalism” (Saving Britain by Will Hutton and Andrew Adonis. 2018).  The case against Leaving is never more valid than now, when the details of the dire economic and social effects of Brexit emerge every day. But warmed up ideas for stakeholding and “transforming our economy”, policies that included worker and wider social participation in a reform of how companies operate , that were not implemented under either Blair now Brown, lack credibility.

As Aaronovitch said, the mainstream left, in Labour and the Unions, moved to a more supportive position on the EU during the 1980s, when Jacques Delors began as president of the European Commission (1985 – 1995) for more pragmatic reasons. European labour and social legislation are seen as a bedrock for people’s rights.

Much of the radical left these days is behind Another Europe is Possible, from the centre-left Open Labour, the democratic socialist  Chartist,  Marxist groups, like Socialist Resistance and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, the Left Unity party, Greens, and many people of no direct affiliation.

This has a much a more radical agenda which can be seen here:

THE LEFT AGAINST BREXIT – AN INTERNATIONALIST CASE FOR EUROPE

“Brexit is a hard right Tory project – the only way to resist it is from the left. This pamphlet puts forward our distinct, left wing reasons to oppose leaving the EU.”

This is a serious grass-roots alliance that, this week, had this coup:

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Podemos Splits between the Errejón Camp and Iglesias’ as ‘Left Populism’ Fractures.

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Image result for podemos

Podemos in Major Split.

Left wing populism’ in Europe is fracturing.

The strategy of unity the ‘people’ against the ‘elite’ the ‘caste’ is has not succeeded in unifying the left in the European countries where it has had the greatest impact.

In France we have this:

Now in Spain Podemos, which unlike La France insoumise has a real democratic internal life and national political leaders of some independent statue, has split.

(From Mike P)

Íñigo Errejón, best known to English language readers as the subject of an interview-book with Chantal Mouffe (In the Name of the People.  2016) stopped belonging to the Unidos Podemos parliamentary group on Monday afternoon. (El País. 22.1.19)

The division was announced a few days ago,

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

El País, which few would suspect of sympathy for Podemos, also publishes a  column which announces that

La ventana de oportunidad que alumbró el nacimiento de Podemos se ha cerrado definitivamente

The window of Opportunity opened at the birth of Podemos has closed definitely.

Del 15-M al 26-M 

The above article, which refers to game theory and the Prisoner’s dilemma, point out that in these conditions the lack of co-operation may mean that neither will win.

Here are some extracts from an overview of this dispute:  (El País, 18.1.19)

Podemos founders go their separate ways ahead of Madrid elections

Pablo Iglesias confirms party split and says he is saddened by the surprise news that his colleague Iñigo Errejón will run with the Madrid mayor in May

On January 17, the fifth anniversary of the creation of Podemos, two of its leading founders publicly confirmed the fracture of the left-wing party.

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

Podemos Secretary General Pablo Iglesias said he was “saddened” by the surprise news, and wished Errejón “good luck building his new party.” He also confirmed that Podemos will be running with a candidate of its own at the May election, in direct competition with his former colleague.

A Marcos notes that their disagreements go back some time.

The differences between Iglesias and Errejón go back to 2016, when the former decided to join forces with the United Left (IU) in the general election. A few months later, in February 2017, Podemos held a congress to renew the party leadership and Errejón headed a current defending different political goals from those championed by Iglesias, whose views ultimately won out.

Then, in May of last year, Errejón ran in party primaries to find a candidate to the Madrid regional premiership. He won the nomination, but new problems arose when his first choice as a running mate was overlooked and a different person named without his prior knowledge or approval.

With four months to go before Spain holds local and regional elections, Madrid is not the only place where Podemos is running into trouble. In the northwestern region of Galicia, its En Marea coalition is breaking up. In Cantabria, the party is currently headed by an interim management committee. And in Barcelona, primaries will determine whether Podemos runs in the municipal elections with Mayor Ada Colau once again.

In May of last year, Iglesias survived a confidence vote when he put his leadership to the test after being heavily criticized for purchasing a €600,000 country house in Galapagar, a town northwest of Madrid, with his partner Irene Montero.

English version by Susana Urra.

There is more on this here:

From best pals to rivals: Merciless duel rages over the future of Podemos

(2017)

And here:

In the meantime today Podemos has seen fit to cause trouble for the Socialist led government by refusing to vote for legislation on housing and rents.

Podemos complica la vida al Gobierno en el Congreso

This development casts doubt on the ideas put forward by the best known theorist of Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe,

..this is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

It cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. Unlike the struggles characteristic of the era of Fordist capitalism, when there was a working class that defended its specific interests, resistances have developed beyond the industrial  sector. Their demands no longer correspond to defined social groups. Many touch on questions related to quality of life and intersect with issues such as sexism, racism and other forms of domination. With such diversity, the traditional left/right frontier can no longer articulate a collective will.

To bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

We find such a political strategy in movements such as Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, or Bernie Sanders in the US. This also informs the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, whose endeavour to transform the Labour party into a great popular movement, working “for the many, not the few”, has already succeeded in making it the greatest left party in Europe.

 

Populists are on the rise but this can be a moment for progressives too 

Many would say that the first basis of constructing a “collective will” is to have some unity on the left.

To construct a left.

This is obviously not the result of the politics of either La France insoumise or, now, Podemos. Podemos, naturally, as the Spanish press points out, has its own concerns, and difficulties, in recent electoral contests, such as in Andalusia.

More broadly Éric Fassin has summed up the central problems of ‘left wing’ populism during this debate (extracts).

Left-wing populism A legacy of defeat: Interview with Éric Fassin

 Is it a good strategy? Does it work?

……

The problem with the populist strategy, for the left, is that it’s neither left nor a winning strategy. It was even less so during the latest presidential campaign in France: everyone played that same card at the same time, including Macron, with a rhetoric of ‘centre’ populism! Of course, my argument is not just about France. The same considerations apply to the United States. But another dimension becomes apparent there, thanks to the availability of racial data. Trump’s success is not so much among working-class voters in general, but more specifically among the white working class. In a left-wing populist strategy, the racial dimension of the Trump vote is underestimated, and the class dimension is overestimated – whereas it now seems clear that his critique of the establishment was always just an illusion.

….

Beyond differences, left-wing populisms share the same premise: replace the opposition between right and left by the one between ‘us’ and ‘them’, people from below and elites from above. Obviously, the caste is less numerous than the people: ‘we are the 99% and they are the 1%.’ Indeed. But then, how come it’s so difficult for left-wing populists to reach a majority in elections? This is why we need to differentiate sociology and politics – and not conflate them as populism tends to do. If the working class voted according to their common interest, clearly the left would be flourishing today. That is not the case.

….

Politics is not just about elections. But I think that populism itself is defined by an electoral project. Mélenchon is first and foremost a former and probably future candidate running for presidential elections. So, indeed, there is more to politics than elections; but my little book was written in a context of elections, as an attempt to reclaim the opposition between right and left at a time when the populist illusion seeks to define the terms of debate far beyond elections.

 

The discussion, which is much longer, has to be read as a whole.

I highly recommend Éric Fassin’s clear and short, Populisme: le grand ressentiment (2017) which Radical Philosophy says is being translated into English (the point above about constructing a left “construire une gauche” is taken from the conclusion).

Image result for Populisme: le grand ressentiment

For a broader international starting point the Wikipedia entry  Left-wing populism is good.

 

‘Plutocrats’, ‘Elites’ “Oligarchy’, how Brexit backers from Left to Right poison political language.

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Image result for soros plutocrat cartoon

The Poisonous Language of ‘plutocracy’: Soros, Rothschild and ‘elites’. 

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

George Orwell Politics and the English Language.

The EU plutocracy’s hopes of being able to get a Labour administration to back a second referendum are not wholly misplaced.

John Ress. Counterfire September 2018.The Salzburg shakedown

The people are being betrayed by Britain’s elite in collusion with the European plutocracy.

Austin Mitchell, one time Labour MP. Brexit Central July 2018.

A large segment of opposition MPs and a small band of Tory EU loyalists thus began openly agitating for “the people” to have a “final say” on the Prime Minister’s deal, with the option of staying in the EU after all if they voted against it.

This campaign has been organised under the cross-party “People’s Vote” banner and bankrolled in part by billionaire plutocrat George Soros ..

Breitbart. November. 2018.

Plutocrat – not just a billionaire, but a plutocratic one!

Elites, not to mention oligarchy……a quick google shows how  the language of Brexiter politics has become infected with words which most people, about ten years ago, thought was exhausted.

The whole Brexit row is apparently about “elites” against “the people”.

No prezzies for guessing which side the hard-Brexit lot claim to be on.

Never mind that in English the people rarely takes the definite article.

Never mind that elite, no more than it does in its French original, is no more something you could speak about in ordinary speech.

Never mind that in politics these terms originated not from the left from that curious mixture of former leftists  and outright fascists, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, and Robert Michels.

To put it simply they thought elites inevitable , and in Pareto’s case, describable (sometimes known as the “the vital few and trivial many”).

The actions of the ‘elites’ described in the citations above are also very different from that of the New Leftist C.Wright Mill’s The Power elite (1956).

Not only did he try to outline (contentiously) a whole set of overlapping and often competing groups, but they had no conscious purpose. “Mills explains that the elite themselves may not be aware of their status as an elite, noting that “often they are uncertain about their roles” and “without conscious effort hey absorb the aspiration to be … The Ones Who Decide.” 

PLutocrats may well be the title of a book about the super-rich by Chrystia Freeland. (Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich. 2012).

But it hardly needs adding that “plutocrat” is a word clearly associated with the far-right infamously with the Nazis.

See the source image

It also goes back to the anti-Semitic side in the Dreyfus affair who talked of “notre ploutocratie républicaine.” (Le vocabulaire de l’antisémitisme en France pendant l’affaire Dreyfus)

Mill’s idea that the US ‘elite’ is a nevertheless a semi-hereditary caste is pretty dubious when we look at Trump today, who has little caste about him.

In short, it is today not a genuine sociological or political concept – pitting  Farage (anti-‘elite’) against the elites it all about sending a signal, not a real criticism of the way power if organised in society.

More to the point the way the language of ‘elites’ is used by national populists and Brexit Boslevikcs is all about conscious organised groups out to thwart the ‘will of the people’.

This is poisonous talk in itself: not about the clash of real interests or class, but putting evil on one side and virtue on the other.

Those who claim to be on the left do themselves no favours by indulging in this rhetoric.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2019 at 12:33 pm