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European Referendum: A Carnival of Reaction.

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One-Man Carnival of Reaction.

Scenes from British Political Confusionism.

“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”

Counterfire. April 2016.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)

Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”,  notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.

The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire,  the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?

Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.

If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.

Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..

As Labour Movement Rallies Behind ‘Stay’ Vote, Corbyn Makes Socialist Case for EU.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cco8-bRUYAAYPQw.jpg

Labour Movement Rallies for Europe.

 

The country’s three biggest unions –  Unison, Unite and GMB – have announced they will campaign for remain reported the Mirror yesterday.

Unison today became the latest major union to announce it would campaign for the UK to stay in the European Union.

The public sector union joins Unite and GMB, which between them represent more than 3million workers, in deciding to back remain in June’s referendum.

General Secretary Dave Prentis said a consultation with Unison members showed overwhelming backing for the union to campaign to stay.

Top of their concerns were fears that Brexit would see the loss of employment rights such as parental leave, paid holidays and protection for part time workers, the consultation found.

Almost four in five (78%) Unison branches wanted the union to take a stance in the EU referendum, and of these 95% wanted their union to campaign for the UK to stay in Europe.

The BBC is now running this story:.

Jeremy Corbyn is setting out the “socialist case” for remaining in the EU in his first major intervention in the referendum campaign.

The Labour leader said the party “overwhelmingly” backs EU membership despite its “shortcomings”.

And he argued that Britain must remain in, to fight for reform.

He cited protection of workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer safeguards as reasons to vote to Remain on 23 June.

In a speech in central London, Mr Corbyn said: “Over the years I have been critical of many decisions taken by the EU, and I remain critical of its shortcomings; from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services.

“So Europe needs to change. But that change can only come from working with our allies in the EU. It’s perfectly possible to be critical and still be convinced we need to remain a member.”

The Guardian leads with,

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/b33f01099d7f7af9d1c4180cfc979f8ba6be9607/0_235_1523_914/master/1523.jpg?w=1920&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=931c11dcf0f7fb753797054e5b77f732

 

Jeremy Corbyn: leaving EU would lead to ‘bonfire of rights’.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has responded to calls for him to step up the fight for Britain to remain in the European Union with a speech stressing the need for international cooperation to boost workers’ rights, tackle climate change and crack down on corruption.

Speaking to an audience of Labour-supporting students and trade unionists in London, Corbyn repeatedly pointed to the shortcomings of the EU in its present form – but said he wanted to forge alliances with leftwing parties across Europe to reform it.

“You can’t build a better world unless you engage with the world,” he said, urging young people to “make sure you register to vote, and vote to keep the UK in Europe in June”, and warning that a Conservative government would take the opportunity of Brexit to slash protection for workers, in a “bonfire of rights”.
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“We want to strengthen the protection of every worker, all over Europe, not just in Britain,” he said, promising that a Labour government would co-operate with socialist allies to halt the “race to the bottom”.

Corbyn said the EU had helped to underpin “investment, jobs and protections for workers, consumers and the environment”, and working together with European allies offered “the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century”.

He compared the decision to his own choice to remain within the Labour party, even when he had profound disagreements with its leaders. “I’ve had a few differences with the direction the Labour party has taken over the last few years, some people may have noticed. But I have been sure that I was right to remain a member of the Labour party.”

He added, smiling: “Some might say I’ve managed to do something more recently about changing the direction of Labour, and I’m enjoying that as well.”

For arguments against the increasingly isolated Brexit ‘left, see: Shiraz Socialist.

 

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Re-run of 1970s Battle by Tariq Ali and ‘IMG Sealed Knot’ Society.

The real left meanwhile…

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

Netherlands: Geert Wilders and ‘left’ Socialistische Partij celebrate rejection of Ukraine partnership.

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Firebrand Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders casted his vote in a non-binding referendum on the EU-Ukraine association agreement in The Hague

Geert Wilders and ‘left’ Socialistische Partij to celebrate rejection of Ukraine partnership. 

Netherlands rejects EU-Ukraine partnership deal

Reports the BBC.

Voters in the Netherlands have rejected in a referendum an EU partnership deal to remove trade barriers with Ukraine.

Turnout was low, 32.2%, but above the 30% threshold for the vote to be valid. The deal was rejected by 61.1% of votes, compared with 38.1% in favour.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government may have to reconsider the deal, although the vote is not binding.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insisted his country would “continue our movement towards the EU”.

A foreign ministry official in Kiev told the BBC that the result was disappointing, adding that Dutch Eurosceptics could not take Ukraine hostage to express dissatisfaction with the EU.

The FT reported at the end of March.

…it is another outrage, in the rural countryside of east Ukraine two years ago, that is informing the referendum debate.

Dutch relations with Russia are hugely sensitive in the wake of the July 2014 explosion of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace controlled by Russia-backed separatists. A total of 298 people lost their lives on the flight which departed from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport carrying 194 Dutch nationals.

Until the tragedy the Dutch government was seen as one of the closest EU countries to Moscow, with a huge amount of Russian trade flowing through Rotterdam’s port and scores of Dutch companies actively investing in Russia.

During the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014, the Dutch king was photographed enjoying a Heineken beer with Mr Putin — even as the rest of Europe was distancing itself from Moscow as the revolution in Kiev’s Maidan square reached its climax.

But Mr Putin’s policy to undermine the successors of Ukraine’s deposed Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, who failed at the eleventh hour to sign the EU trade deal, and the subsequent military campaign in the east of the former soviet state has divided opinion in the referendum.

The subsequent moves by Nato to strengthen its presence on the EU’s eastern borders has added to a heated debate about the relationship between the EU and Russia.

“Without giving support to Putin’s vision, we do understand the feeling in Russia that the EU and Nato are moving eastward, because those are the facts,” said Harry van Bommel, a member of parliament and foreign affairs spokesman for the leftwing Socialist party, which is advocating rejection. Ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement “will absolutely lead to more tension with Russia and that is in nobody’s interests — Russia and Europe need each other”.

But such arguments sound like “parroting, almost word for word, the Kremlin line”, said Michiel van Hulten, a former Dutch MEP who now heads Stem Voor Nederland (Vote For Netherlands), a leading pro-EU campaign group.

The Dutch Socialist PartySocialistische Partij,  (a former ‘Marxist Leninist’ group that has now evolved into, what it has evolved into, 9,7% of the vote in the last Netherlands General election and 15 Parliamentary seats*)  played a prominent part in the campaign, as the Russian state funded ‘Sputnik‘  obligingly reports:

The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) launched a campaign on Saturday against Kiev’s association agreement with the European Union as the Netherlands is heading toward a referendum on the deal.

Their view is that “Ukraine is better off as a buffer state between the EU and Russia.

They also add (Socialist Party),

there are a lot more things which serve to offer reasons to vote ‘no’ on April 6th. As a socialist it speaks for itself that I reject the neoliberal character of this treaty, a treaty which is of course fervently desired by international corporate business. The agreement provides for the privatisation of state-owned companies in Ukraine and the liberalisation of markets. It includes a ban on state aids (art.262) and prescribes the promotion of exports to the EU by the EU itself (art 379). Dutch truckers have previously lost jobs to Polish drivers posted here. Those who survived will soon lose out to Ukrainian drivers.

Reaction:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2016 at 11:16 am

Alternative für Deutschland in Electoral Breakthrough.

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They’re Jubilant: Few other People are. (1)

AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) RIDES HIGH reports Reuters.

With a high turnout in all the votes, the AfD, already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional assemblies, succeeded in entering three more.

Its support was strongest in Saxony-Anhalt, where it grabbed 24.2 percent of the vote behind a diminished CDU showing, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin, ZDF television projections indicated.

With campaign slogans such as “Secure the borders” and “Stop the asylum chaos”, it was the first time the AfD had come as high as second in any state.

“We have fundamental problems in Germany that led to this election result,” said AfD chief Frauke Petry.

The AfD’s rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, punctures the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany, and may embolden more European leaders to challenge Merkel on the migrant issue.

The CDU’s leader in Saxony-Anhalt pointed the finger squarely at Merkel for his party’s losses.

“The issue that has brought the AfD into parliaments across Germany can’t be ignored on a federal level any more. We need solutions,” Reiner Haseloff told ARD television.

Charlotte Knobloch, former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, bemoaned a “massive shift to the right”.

“If voters follow the call of right-wing populists and extremists to such an extent, it is a failure of the democratic parties,” she said.

SPD SUFFERS

In Baden-Wuerttemberg in the southwest, the Greens for the first time became the strongest party in a state, with 31.1 percent of the vote, ZDF television projections indicated.

The state was a CDU stronghold for more than 50 years before turning to a Green-led coalition with the SPD in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and CDU support fell by another 12 percentage points on Sunday.

Also damaging for the CDU was the result in Rhineland-Palatinate, the home of former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

There, the CDU’s Julia Kloeckner, who had positioned herself as a future candidate to succeed Merkel, failed to unseat SPD state premier Malu Dreyer.

It was the only bright spot for the SPD, the biggest loser overall. In Saxony-Anhalt, its support almost halved and in Baden-Wuerttemberg it sank by more than 10 percentage points.

Asked if the SPD’s weak showing in those two states would trigger questions about SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel’s future, deputy party chairman Ralf Stegner said: “No, not at all.”

It is still unclear which coalitions will take power in each state, but the splintered vote opens the prospect of deep changes to the political landscape.

Die Welt, presenting a detailed break-down of the vote, notes that the AfD support came above all from former CDU and SDP voters: (Woher die Stimmen für die AfD kamen)

The Süddeutsche Zeitung points out that, the AfD has one central theme: “Es gab ein Thema, das in diesem Wahlkampf, an diesem Wahlsonntag alle anderen überlagert hat: die Flüchtlinge. DieAfD ist gegen “Multikulti”, prangert das “Asylchaos” an, ist stattdessen für “Mut zu Deutschland”, für “kontrollierte Zuwanderung”. That is, refugees. The AFd is against multiculturalism (in their derogatory slang, with echoes of ‘cult’), singles out Asylum-seeker chaos, their “Pride in Germany” and demands for a “control of immigration.”

The paper lists its other appeals as a “protest party”, as a “social-media party” and a party of “donnernden Reden”, thundering speeches, which we would more freely translate as loud-mouthed demagogy, shouting “”Merkel muss weg”, Merkel must go!

Taz reports on the AFD’s jubilation-time, and its satisfaction that it is no longer an East Germany party facing with the “lying-media”:

Jubelzahlen aus der Lügenpresse

Auf der Wahlparty der Rechtspopulisten ist die Stimmung gut. Die AfD sei nicht mehr nur eine Ostpartei, freut sich deren Spitzenpersonal.

 Taz also reports on the results in  BadenWürttemberg

Daniel Cohn-Bendit über Kretschmann

„Es bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün“

Also bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün, die neue Große Koalition.

That is, Cohn-Bendit foresees a Green-‘black’ (CDU) coalition running the state.

The Guardian states,

The German government will stick by its existing refugees policy, a spokesman has said, after the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland made strong gainsin regional elections on Sunday.

Asked if the results in three German states, where support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives dwindled, would lead to a change in policy, Steffen Seibert said: “The German government will continue to pursue its refugee policy with all its might both at home and abroad.”

AfD entered state parliaments in all three regions that voted, winning 24% of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt and over 10% in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The results suggested that German politicians increasingly appear to have two options: rally behind their chancellor, or rail against her.

Although AfD enjoyed considerable momentum, the majority of votes still went to parties who support Merkel’s pro-refugee stance. In all three states, incumbent premiers held on to their seat. In Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Green and Social Democratic (SPD) candidates managed to increase their vote after resolutely backing the chancellor’s open-border position.

(1) Except perhaps this man: Wie Putin die rechten Parteien in Deutschland hofiert.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Corbyn: Labour to Campaign for Yes Vote for a “real social Europe”.

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Jeremy Corbyn says Labour will campaign for a ‘real social Europe’

Labour will campaign for a “real social Europe” that has greater public ownership and stronger workers’ rights, Jeremy Corbyn will tell supporters.

The party wants the UK to remain part of the European Union because it brings jobs and investment as well as protections for employees, but it wants “progressive change” in the 28-member bloc, the opposition leader will say.

Reforms secured  by Prime Minister David Cameron that curb benefit payments for low-paid migrants “won’t put a penny in the pockets” of British workers or stop their wages being undercut, Labour members will be told.

Mr Corbyn, a long-standing critic of the EU, was earlier this week forced to defend his campaigning role after criticism from backbenchers that the vote could be “lost” unless the party made a more “passionate” case.

He will tell the Labour North conference in Newcastle : ” We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers.

“But we will also be campaigning with our allies for reform and progressive change in Europe: for more democracy, jobs and sustainable growth, public ownership and workers’ rights – in other words, a real social Europe.

“The North East is the only part of Britain that still has a trade surplus and over half your region’s exports go to Europe. The good jobs and quality apprenticeships here in the North East make the case for staying in Europe.

“Let us be clear too, taking benefits off low paid migrants won’t put a penny in the pockets of workers in Britain or stop the undercutting of UK wages through the exploitation of migrant workers.

Shropshire Star.

Corbyn: Labour to campaign for ‘progressive change’ in EU. ITN.

Labour will campaign to keep the UK in the EU but wants “progressive change” in the union, the party’s leader will say.

Jeremy Corbyn will tell a party conference in Newcastle later today that he wants to see a “real social Europe” that has greater public ownership and stronger workers’ rights.

He has come under some criticism recently from backbenchers who warned the EU referendum vote could be lost unless the party made a more “passionate” case for remaining.

The opposition leader will say reforms secured by David Cameron which curb benefit payments for low-paid migrants “won’t put a penny in the pockets of workers in Britain”.

We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers.

But we will also be campaigning with our allies for reform and progressive change in Europe: for more democracy, jobs and sustainable growth, public ownership and workers’ rights – in other words, a real social Europe.

– Extract of speech Jeremy Corbyn is expected to make later today

Ahead of next week’s budget, the Labour leader will insist the Conservative’s austerity measures are a “political choice not an economic necessity” and call the cuts “both brutal and unnecessary”.

“In 2010 they said that their ‘long-term economic’ plan would sort all this out, that the deficit would be eradicated by now.

“Their long-term plan has turned out far longer than they imagined, but subject to short-term revision when it fails again and again. It is a blueprint in deepest Tory blue to shrink the state, to shrink people’s security, stability and opportunity.”

Jeremy Corbyn will also dismiss Chancellor George Osborne’s so-called Northern Powerhouse policy as “southern hot air”, saying most of the investment for infrastructure projects in going to London and the south-east.

Why stay in the EU?

Free movement of people

Your right to work and study in other European countries would be at risk. There are 1.8 million British people living in Europe who currently benefit from these rights.

Workplace protections

Limits on weekly hours, guaranteed breaks at work and minimum amounts of annual holiday – these key rights are protected at a European level.

Human rights

Membership of the European Convention on Human Rights secures precious freedoms. Leaving the EU places our human rights at real risk because many of those who advocate British exit also want to abandon the European Convention.

 

Environmental safeguards.

 

Key safeguards protecting wildlife and tackling climate change have also been won at a European level. By establishing a level playing field they stop a ‘race to the bottom’ on environmental standards.

Protecting these things doesn’t mean settling for Europe as it is.

A different Europe is urgently needed – one that breaks with the free market economics that have caused so much damage to our societies. With 1 in 4 EU citizens at risk of poverty and social exclusion, we can’t afford to accept the same broken economic thinking.

Building ‘another Europe’ means working to strengthen social and progressive movements across the continent and pushing for democratic change – not walking away from the EU. It’s clear that an exit at the current time would boost right wing movements and parties like UKIP and hurt ordinary people in Britain. Join the campaign that says, ‘Stay in Europe, to change Europe’.

There is of course this ‘campaigner’ for Brexit to show us where that leads:

Galloway Organises ‘Left’ Brexit Campaign Day of Action with Nigel Farage, Kate Hoey MP, and Grassroots Out

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Kate Hoey: Now Part of Team Galloway-Farage. 

‘Grassroots Out!’ Galloway & Farage team up for massive Brexit campaign day of action

Activists campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union (EU) will take part in the biggest ever day of leaflet distribution in referendum history on Saturday, the Grassroots Out (GO) campaign has announced.

GO is one of three main anti-EU groups vying to represent the official ‘Leave’ campaign. It has the support of London mayoral candidate George Galloway and UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The group says March 5 will be the “biggest single coordinated” action day in the history of British referenda, when they drop more than a million leaflets, the IBTimes UK reports.

Meanwhile this is being touted:

George Galloway, Respect Mayoral candidate, makes the left-wing case to leave the EU, and rejoining the world with London ideally placed as the world capital city.

Doors open at 6.30.

Bring copy of ticket.

When
Tuesday, 8 March 2016 from 19:00 to 22:00 (GMT) Add to Calendar
Where
The Hellenic Centre – 16 Paddington Street, London W1U 5AS, United Kingdom – View Map
Tags

Team Galloway 4 London

Organiser of #LEXIT: The Left Case To Leave The EU

This event is a joint production of Team Galloway4London and the Grassroots Out (GO) Campaign.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 5, 2016 at 4:18 pm

In Defence of George Galloway.

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From John Rogan.

This heartfelt letter has been circulating on the left.

In the interests of free-speech and pluralism we reproduce it without editing.

Comrades!

A couple of weeks ago our study group, The Left Against Europe, was working flat out for our campaign to vote No in the coming European referendum.

We have rescued unjustly neglected masterpieces from the workers’ movement: Henry Hyndman on The German Menace, and the need for a powerful Navy to defend “political liberty as against German regimentation”, Blatchford’s Britain for the British, Belford Bax on Prussian Militarism as well as his path-breaking exposé of the “shibboleth” and Fraud of Feminism, Charles Péguy on the internationalist “infection jaurésiste“,  Engels on ‘non-historic nations’, and Karl Radek’s Leo Schlageter: The Wanderer into the Void.

With our researches into the archives we were prepared for anything to defend the interests of the British working class against the cosmopolitan capitalism of Brussels.

But now comrade George Galloway has aligned with Nigel Farage .

Everything is in turmoil.

We stood shoulder to shoulder with George as he built a powerful liberation movement, Respect. It united the left, Muslims, anti-imperialists, and anti-Zionists.

It was the best of times.

We saw comrade George cold-shouldered in Bradford in the General Election.

It seemed it was the worst of times.

Now George is under attack.

George Galloway has announced that Respect will join the Grassroots Out campaign to leave the European Union.

The Respect leader appeared as a ‘special guest’ alongside speakers from a number of political parties on Friday at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster to put forward the ‘Lexit’ case for voting in favour of leaving in the June 23rd Referendum.

Evoking the memory of Tony Benn, Galloway pressed home the need for Britain to regain its democratic power.”

Is Respect alone?

Will we come to George’s side in this hour of need for our nation?

Stand up for the British working class and the Commonwealth against the Brussels Bullies!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2016 at 11:39 am