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“Taking Back Control”: Brexit, Putin, to Free Trade in Public Services, and Low-Quality Food.

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Boris Johnson urges Brits to vote Brexit to "take back control ...

Getting Brexit Done means “Taking Back Control”……

During the EU Referendum those who backed Leave talked of “taking back control”.

There were those on the left who denounced the EU as a “capitalist club”. They wanted a “People’s Brexit”, a ‘Left’ Brexit.

The former Labour MP Ronnie Campbell spoke for his camp when he said he wanted to “take back control of UK laws, taxes, budgets, and public spending”.

For the alliance of Blue Labour, the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Lexiteers, members, and supporters, of the Brexit Party, The Full Brexit, the phrase  gave voice to a “popular revolt against the status quo”.

“The Leave campaign’s slogan, “take back control”, resonated with millions of people whose interests are no longer represented in British politics.” Brexit, and the restoration of National Sovereignty, gave the UK the “opportunity to reshape Britain for the better”.

After the result the Lexit (pro-Brexit left) campaign issued this statement.

It began, 

The Leave vote is above all else a rejection of the entire political establishment by millions of working class people who have been left to suffer austerity for decades with few defenders among the mainstream parties.

The Leave-Fight-Transform (Pro-Brexit) campaign from the same stable asserted in August 2019 that,

the left must ensure the 2016 referendum result is implemented, so that the UK breaks with the treaties, institutions and laws of the EU as well as the structural racism of Fortress Europe.

Locating the origin of racism in the EU was a bold move, one yet for Brexit Britain to challenge.

But it looks as if the break with what is left of the its treaties, institutions and laws is underway.

In a statement on Brexit Day (3rd of February 2020), the pro-Brexiteers issued a statement on the ” likely terrain for the battle”.

They predicted a “crisis in Britain’s ruling class”, a phrase battle-hardened leftists find handy for any time in history.

A trade deal with the US looked fraught “with tensions”. But some light for the left was there, “Johnson wants to be free to engage in state investment. That requires a ‘Canada-plus[i]’ deal with the EU.” A step forward. “This new vision, brought on by economic necessity and the wishes of a section of British capital, as well as by the political reality of how Johnson won his majority, is rather different from the delusional, harking back to empire vision beloved of Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group.”

Things were not so bad (compare above “crisis”). Indeed, “…much of British capital is confident that it can cope with whatever happens in post-Brexit Britain, providing the City of London’s banking and financial interests are kept safe.The EU, they predicted, would negotiate a way out. The Tories would try to respond to the “concerns” of those who voted for them.

The Brexit left claimed that conditions for a real struggle looked bright: “What couldn’t be done has been done: a major country has broken with the largest trading bloc in history.” After Labour’s historic election defeat, the post-Brexit terrain offered an  “opportunity for the left.”

Today there are two major news stories about “taking back control” Brexit-style.

The first is on the post-EU trade negotiations, 

MPs have defeated an attempt by Tory backbenchers to ensure parliament has a vote on any post-Brexit trade deal.

An amendment to the Trade Bill currently going through the Commons would have given MPs and peers a say on any new agreement signed by the government.

Jonathan Djanogly, the Conservative MP who led the rebellion, had argued that the US congress approves similar deals.

 

He accused the government of taking a position of “less scrutiny than we did as a member of the EU”, because EU trade deals are subject to a vote in the European Parliament.

Free of EU ‘neo-liberalism’ the government can agree with Donald Trump to open up UK public services to US businesses, and our shops to low quality American food.

Brexit is said to offer many more such opportunities.

It seems that Jeremy Corbyn had the clairvoyance – along with hundreds of anti-Brexit commentators – to foresee this.

Yet, as this tweet indicates…

Then we have this:

This story is still developing.

We note that Arron Banks, who gave money to ‘Trade Unionists Against the EU”, a campaign led by Paul Embery, a supporter of the Full Brexit, and promoted during the Referedum by the Socialist Party, gets a mention,

Government rejects ISC’s call for inquiry into Russian interference in Brexit referendum.

Here is the statement from the Committee itself.

Press release from the Intelligence and Security Committee, July 21:

There have been widespread allegations that Russia sought to influence voters in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU: studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’, as evidence.


The actual impact of such attempts on the result itself would be difficult – if not impossible – to prove. However what is clear is that the government was slow to recognise the existence of the threat – only understanding it after the ‘hack and leak’ operation against the Democratic National Committee, when it should have been seen as early as 2014.


As a result the government did not take action to protect the UK’s process in 2016. The committee has not been provided with any post-referendum assessment – in stark contrast to the US response to reports of interference in the 2016 presidential election. In our view there must be an analogous assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum.

Observers predict that the Morning Star is about to carry a story attacking ‘anti-Russian hysteria” and “Putin Bashing”.

(1) Report: 

Case study: the EU referendum

Keir Starmer: Poll Boost for 100 Days of Leadership.

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Starmer is doing better in the polls than his predecessors.

Net scores for leaders at around 100 days: Ed Miliband -21 Jeremy Corbyn -32 Keir Starmer +24 First impressions matter in politics, and Starmer has made a good one. (Chris Curtis).

Today sees many accounts of Keir Starmer’s first 100 Days as Labour Leader.

On Labour List Sienna Rogers writes (100 Days of Starmer) that,

The new leader has adopted a softly, softly approach to opposing the government and a ruthless one for internal party politics.

He has forged a slim but reliable majority on Labour’s national executive committee, replaced Jennie Formby with a general secretary who is widely considered to be on the party’s right, and sacked his Corbynite leadership opponent from the shadow cabinet. The Labour frontbench has been thoroughly overhauled, both in terms of who’s on it and the tone that they take in interviews. The leadership has slowly ramped up criticism of the Tories over Covid-19, but caution is still the watchword for media engagement.

She continues,

The core objective of Starmer’s team appears to be ‘detoxifying’ the Labour brand. If we’re assessing these 100 days on that basis, the leader’s brilliant personal approval ratings certainly give cause for optimism – but the party has some catching up to do, still lagging behind the Conservatives in voting intention despite their calamitous response to the crisis.

Faced with the divisions on the Labour Left, with a substantial fringe unable to accept Starmer’s legitimacy, it looks probable that the Labour leader will consolidate support on the National Executive Committee after the forthcoming internal party elections.

Toby Helm in the Observer yesterday (100 days on, Keir Starmer’s quiet revolution takes hold) accurately reflects the reactions on the wider left  to Starmer’s “ruthless” actions inside the Party..

Laura Parker, who has backed the internationalist Another Europe is Possible campaign, is cited,

.”….there has been no mass resignation from the membership, says Laura Parker, the former national coordinator of Momentum, because Starmer stood on a leftwing programme which he has stood by.”

She asks, 

Why would people leave when the centre of gravity has shifted? It may not have shifted as far to the left as some people want. But it is an anti-austerity, pro-common ownership party. It is a pro-peace party, and it is not a ‘relaxed about the filthy rich’ party – far from it,” said Parker.

She believes it is probably too early to judge Starmer, as Covid-19 has drowned out everything else and given the new Labour leader no real chance to show his true policy colours. But she sees definite signs that the entire movement wants to come together under him if it can.

“The vast majority of people do want to turn a page,” she said. “That does not mean the left is about to abandon all its principles, but there is an appetite for building more harmonious relationships.”

Indeed. We could do without the contrived attacks on Starmer’s “Blairism”and the claims of a wave of activists leaving, instead of a few individuals and a a hostile mood amongst those who placed high hopes in Corbyn.

But there is room for the kind of strategic questioning offered by Peter Kenyon in the left journal Chartist,

Peter Kenyon looks forward to a dismal future for Britain and its children post-Brexit

Labour remainers are engaged in one last bid to persuade Labour Party leader Keir Starmer to speak out about Brexit. It is a difficult ask. The new leadership wants the Tories to own the issue. But how to fix that in the minds of voters?

…..

Starmer needs to make a statement, without necessarily calling for an extension, about the consequences of Johnson’s plate-spinning. Lastly, now is the time to remind voters that there is no sector of the economy that will benefit from maximum divergence except the disaster capitalists represented by the current Cabinet.

In framing a starker set of messages about the future, they will need to be targeted at those newly-elected Tory MPs from so-called ‘red wall’ seats. Make them squirm. Unbelievably, they won their seats with promises of hope. What hope can there be for their constituents and their children when their local manufacturing base is having its heart ripped out by the Tories? Divergence from the EU means just-in-time supply chains will be wrecked with delays at ports, and the risk of tariffs. This is just one of the consequences of Johnson’s ‘fuck business’ policy. Agriculture is similarly at risk.

On the more radical left (also from the internationalist Another Europe is Possible anti-Brexit campaign) Michael Chessum also appears in the Observer Toby Helm article.

He says, 

For now, though, the party, like the country, is getting to know Starmer. Michael Chessum, a former member of Momentum’s steering group, says the sacking of Long-Bailey and appointment of Evans have split the left and caused irritation.

“But,” he said, “most members are probably willing to tolerate this, as long as the new leadership honours its promise to maintain Corbyn’s radical policy platform. The question is whether Starmer can really do this while at the same time completely changing Labour’s personnel and tone.”

Michael delicately refers to the self-righteous blasts that followed Long-Bailey’s dismissal,  a reaction that has only served to isolate the professional anti-Starmer current further.

This is how some of them reacted:

Today they are reduced to this:

Susan Press, a long-standing activist on the left of Labour, reflects a more widely shared take.

The anti-Starmer left, many of them from groups  inside and outside the Labour Party favourable to Brexit and whose campaigning against the EU helped bring Boris Johnson to power,  have struggled to find more than a role.

They are reduced to this kind of snipping:

Today Labour supporters and activists are beginning to digest this in full.

Conner Ibbetson writes,

Starmer vs Corbyn: how does Labour’s new leader stack up?

Since taking office as leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer has been presented with a tough set of challenges; unite the party following a crushing general election defeat, tackle the issue of antisemitism, and win back Labour’s key voters. Add to that list the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting surge in support for the Government, and you’ve got a truly monumental task ahead of you – so what do Labour voters and the general public make of him 100 days in, and how does he stack up against his predecessor?

This is a crucial point:

Distancing himself from Corbyn could prove a winning strategy for the new Labour leader. When compared to Corbyn, Starmer is seen as universally more appealing to both Labour voters and general voters, by both the general public and Labour voters themselves. Overall, 60% of the public think Starmer best appeals to the general voter, compared to 56% who think he appeals to Labour voters more than his predecessor.

Among Labour voters, 73% back Starmer as most appealing to the general voter, while only 7% still hang on and say Jeremy Corbyn had a better appeal.

When it comes to who Labour voters think best appeals to the party, the majority still side with Starmer (65%) however 14% of Labour voters still opt for Corbyn.

Looking at younger adults under the age of 25, while a sizeable portion back Starmer in both cases, the group is split (40% and 39%) on which leader they see as most appealing to general voters and labour voters respectively.

Ibbetson concludes by saying that voters consider that Starmer has moved the party to the right, “a third (35%) of the general public thinking Starmer has already moved the Labour Party more towards the political right, with only 3% saying he has shifted the party towards the left. Approaching a fifth (19%) say the Labour Party has remained in the same place for now.

This will doubtless crop up frequently, “Among Labour voters, two fifths (40%) say Keir Starmer has shifted the party towards to the right, with 18% saying the party has stayed the same under his leadership.”

A poll is not a political analysis, and one would hesitate to call all of Corbyn’s policies, or rather his lack of clear ones on issues like Universal Credit or foreign policy, the gold standard of left wing politics. 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Far-Right Fringe Protests: Will the Culture War Still Take Place?

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Evan Smith (see, Toppled statues and the free speech culture war) asks:

 

Yesterday’s clashes in London centred on the antics of a few thousand far-right piss-heads.

London protests: More than 100 arrests after violent clashes with police

They behaved true to type.

For those reading this Blog who are not familiar with the name Keith Palmer, the man was a true hero in every sense of the word.

Keith PalmerGM (1968 or 1969 – 22 March 2017) was a British police officer who was posthumously awarded the George Medal, the second highest award for gallantry “not in the face of the enemy“. Though unarmed, he stopped a knife-wielding terrorist from entering the Palace of Westminster during the 2017 Westminster attack; he died from wounds he received in this attack

The BBC states,

MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave first aid to PC Palmer as he lay dying after being stabbed in the grounds of Parliament by Khalid Masood in 2017, said the image of the man urinating next to the memorial was “abhorrent”.

He told the BBC: “He was fully aware of what he was doing, he should step forward and apologise.”

For many people, beginning with leading figures involved in the Black Lives protests, and extending to the left and  independent anti-fascists, it was not a good idea to engage in confrontations with the far right rabble.

PM Boris Johnson had been inciting opinion against BLM protests and the left.

It seems as if the Tories are more than willing to engage in a US style “culture war” – at a time when a massive recession looms .

The Guardian headlined on its front page yesterday, “Boris Johnson ‘stoking fear and division’ ahead of BLM protests

Critics say PM’s claim that George Floyd protests ‘hijacked by extremists’ is dangerous”.

In the same daily, Johnathan Freedland offered an account of how these cultural clashes work in the very different political culture of the US, and how they might develop in the UK,

The right loves a culture war, because such a battle changes the subject – almost always shifting from ground on which they would lose to ground on which they can win.

Let’s imagine the initial focus had remained instead on a demand to tackle discrimination in policing and criminal justice, expanding to include the higher death rates from Covid-19 among black Britons. Johnson and others in power would now be on the defensive, forced to promise action.

But once the focus shifted, they could exhale with relief. Not only is a debate about statues or faulty TV shows a handy distraction from the specific injustices at the heart of all this, it also splits the coalition, even the consensus, that had, remarkably, formed in revulsion at Floyd’s killing. Once statues of Gandhi and Mandela are also boarded up for their own protection, as they now are, it means precious unity has been lost.

Boris Johnson’s polarising statue tweets are pure Trump

In France the Comité Adama has taken up issues of discrimination in policing and the legal system, focusing on justice against the police (Death of Adama Traoré) See also, yesterday: Comment le comité Adama est devenu le fer de lance de la lutte contre les violences policières. BFMTV.

ITN carries the story:

Assa Traoré wears a t-shirt which says “Justice for Adama, without justice you will never have peace.”

She knows the price of peace – Adama is her brother.

He died four years ago detained by French police after running away from them because he wasn’t carrying his identity documents.

She has been campaigning ever since.

All these years on, the officers involved in his detention have just been cleared of any involvement in Adama’s death.

That decision has triggered protests across France and led to her brother being dubbed the ‘French George Floyd’.

Yesterday they also demonstrated.

Not without difficulties, as this self-policing against would-be ‘casseurs’ (those who attack and smash after marches)  illustrates.

Far right ‘identitaries’ tried to disrupt the protest.

 

David Lammy has taken up one of the issues  Feedland highlights:

Lammy takes an approach to the statue issues which many will agree with:

After the scuffling and fighting it is unlikely that anybody is going to want to side with yesterday’s would-be defenders of Churchill.

Yet there are those who not only wish to fight the culture wars but to oppose the far-right (on this issue) in the streets,

Weyman Bennett, co convenor Stand Up To Racism said

“It is right to take a presence on the streets – we should not let the fascists go unopposed. For the past two decades we have been told when Nazis march ‘ignore them and they will go away’. This simply is not true.

“Without the encouragement of Boris Johnson pretending that the issue of Bkack Lives Matter is reduced down to statues. He has not engaged on the key point about racism and its systemic nature in this society.

“Johnson’s callous disregard for black people’s lives in the current Coronavirus crisis and also for the mistreatment by the police and the court system, is an other attempt to reinforce racism and we must reject reject this and demand justice. No justice no peace”.

Weymann Beynett is a leading member of the SWP.

Here is his plea during the EU referendum, when the SWP and the ‘Lexit’ left stood on the side of the hard-right and backed the Johnson, Cummings and Farage Brexit project and opposed internationalists.

SocialistWorker

Stand up to Racism: Keep racism out of the EU Referendum – Weyman Bennett

His party paper reports today:

 

Around 5,000 Nazis and racists gathered in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday. Hundreds of the thugs tried to carry out a violent attack on Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.

It’s a warning of how the British far right is hoping to initiate a right wing backlash against the BLM movement.

But they can be humbled. That was underlined late in the day on Saturday when several thousand people who had seen the pictures of the far right answered calls from musician Megaman and others to come to central London to oppose them.

Up to 300 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) joined a counter-protest in Hyde Park where they faced abuse and intimidation from the far right.

..

The fascists’ 5,000 was small compared to the 50,000 that came out last Saturday and the monster march last Sunday.

BLM organisers had planned another central London demonstration for this Saturday. But called it off out of fears of clashes with the far right and coronavirus concerns.

The far right may feel confident after their protest. But seeing tens of thousands of people—black, white, overwhelmingly young, and militant—on the streets is the best way to demoralise them and make sure they cannot regroup.

There are others who take an even more forthright position.

These responses do not look like calls for unity:

And there is this:

The Malcolm X Movement has a web site.

Its last pubic event was in 2017.

Here is one in 2016,

The Malcolm X Movement proudly hosts the premier of a hard-hitting, informative and inspiring look at African and Libyan popular anti-imperialist resistance entitled Nato War on Libya (53mins). We are also hosting at the same event a book launch of a collection of writings about the martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi entitled On the Martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi: 21st Century Fascism and Resistance. One of our MXM coordinators – Sukant Chandan is the editor of the book and the filmmaker of the doc.
The event takes place this Sat 29th Oct at 6pm at Marx Memorial Library,  EC1R 0DU (£5 suggested entry). The Libyan community are kindly and generously providing free Libyan snacks and refreshments at this event.