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As Tory Crisis Turns to Jeeves and Wooster Farce Labour Should Fight Brexit in Campaign for Election.

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Tories Debate Theresa May’s Future and Brexit.

Fintan O’Toole considers that the paranoid fantasy behind Brexit has now turned into a Marx Brothers Farce (Brexit looks like it was written by Marx Brothers).

Turning to the classics of the labour movement others would suggest that P.G.Wodehouse offers a better guide.

Aunt Agatha May is still trying the marry the Conservatives to a Mr Withdrawal.

Tory MPs meet today at the Drones Club to decide on the fate of this leader.

Fink-Nottle Mogg (MP, Market Snodsbury) whines that the British newt industry is threatened.

Roderick Spode Johnson wants to build a Giant Collapsible Channel Bridge to stem links with Europe.

Madeleine Basset says,  ‘Today I danced on the lawn before breakfast, and then I went round the garden saying good morning to the flowers.'”

There is not the slightest likelihood of a Jeeves shimmering into view, full of fish suppers, to sort out their difficulties.

As Labour is poised to offer an alternative to the Conservatives the most important thing is to have proper left-wing policy on Brexit.

We have had enough of the Heralds of the Red Dawn of Lexit

We have had enough of those who talk of a “real” working class, the left behind, all, apparently Leavers, to lend support for their ‘raise the drawbridge on Europe.

We have had enough of the belief that a go-it-alone Socialist Britain would be a Beacon for the World.

We are fed up with the pretence that Labour will negotiate a “better deal”, slightly less ruinous than the present one.

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Labour needs to take account of the “other Britain” of urban, multinational poor working class and lower middle class districts, and the majority of the labour movement,, across the country, which opposed Brexit. Not to mention the growing anti-Brexit constituency as a whole.

Another Europe is Possible has called for opposition to Brexit and a People’s Vote to be part of Labour’s campaign and manifesto.

This letter published in the Guardian summed up the stand:

“To quote the official policy passed at Labour conference 2018, we want “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

As the party of working people, Labour must defend all the rights threatened by Brexit – workers’ rights, environmental protections, free movement. With the Tory deal published, the realities of Brexit are clearer than ever. Fighting effectively for a radical Labour government means committing to giving the people a final say, and campaigning for remain in that referendum.

In Europe, just as in domestic policy, Labour must offer a radical alternative to the status quo. Our movement must champion a revolt across the continent against austerity, neoliberalism and anti-migrant policies and for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Labour’s policy is shifting, but is not yet committed to stopping Brexit. We will continue the campaign to win Labour to a vision for a radical government leading the fight to transform Europe from within the EU. To this end, and to provide anti-Brexit Labour supporters with a platform, organising framework and programme of activity, we intend to create an independent campaigning coordination within the campaign for a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Today Paul Mason joins the debate, giving some indications of what our aims should be.

Labour should prepare to fight neoliberalism within the EU – Lexit is not an option

Paul Mason, “The cancellation of Brexit and the election of Jeremy Corbyn would transform the mood in Europe.”

At a Europe-wide level, if the UK remains, Labour should announce that, in government, it would form an alliance of left governments inside the EU pushing for the complete reform of the Lisbon Treaty. The aim would be a new treaty, removing competition rules which promote privatisation and outsourcing, and modifying the state aid rules to allow both a national and a Europe-wide industrial strategy to support high-tech jobs, innovation and growth.

As a non-Euro member, there is little a left government could do directly to counter the way Germany games the Eurozone to promote jobs and growth at home, while maintaining austerity and poverty in the periphery. But it could promote, at Commission level, the policy of fiscal stimulus designed specifically to counteract the misdesign of the single currency.

Here, the recent manifesto published by Thomas Piketty is worth a look. It proposes tax rises of €400bn, mainly on corporations and the assets of the rich, and spending the revenue on innovation, democratisation and the integration of migrants.

This manifesto took up a whole page in le Monde yesterday..((.Nous lançons aujourd’hui un appel pour transformer les institutions et les politiques européennes »)

I did not notice any British signatories…..

Yet.

The upside is that it would create, at a pan-European level, both money and democratic control for fiscal stimulus and a redistributive programme. The downside is that it is explicitly designed to avoid a “transfer union” – whereby rich countries pay for public services in poor ones. But unless it becomes a transfer union, the Eurozone is simply a union for transferring wealth and growth from the periphery to the north European centre.

At the very least, a left-led Labour government could constructively join the discussion around Piketty’s manifesto. Events are moving so fast, and uncertainty so high, that people have barely registered what a remarkable change for Europe the withdrawal of Article 50 would be.

A left-wing Labour government, with a mandate to cancel Brexit and reform the EU, would radically transform Europe. Because, whatever happens to Piketty’s plan, it would come to power on a programme of fiscal expansion and redistribution, intending to overcome any Brussels-mandated obstacles to nationalisation and industrial policy. It would change the atmosphere. It would empower the parties of the left at national level, and could immediately engage Labour-controlled cities with the innovative left administrations of Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam.

There are many obstacles to cross: May has to go, her deal has to be defeated, the Tory party has to fall apart and – either in an election or in a second referendum – the xenophobic backlash has to be defeated.

But the British left has to stop dreaming about Lexit. One of the things we have genuinely learned from the process of trying to leave the EU is the extensive nature of its status as a regulatory superpower. Even a Britain ruled by the Socialist Workers Party and the Morning Star would find itself forced to comply with Commission directives. Paradoxically, a left exit from Europe is only possible if Europe itself goes left.

For two-and-a-half years Labour has dutifully and painfully tried to make Brexit work. But parliament has been sidelined, time has run out, and the space for a Labour-designed version of Brexit has disappeared. If anybody has betrayed Brexit it is Theresa May. Once her deal is thrown out, the moral authority of the 2016 referendum evaporates. It’s then either no deal or no Brexit.

And if it’s no Brexit, watch the blood drain from the faces of European neoliberalism: I’ve been with Jeremy Corbyn as he’s hit both Brussels and the Hague with messages of uncompromising clarity: neoliberalism is over, austerity is a catastrophe. But to the stunned audience of centrist social democrats, Corbyn’s words always seemed like a message from afar. If we play this right, we can take it into the heart of Europe.

Exactly.

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UNITE’s Len McCluskey tells MPs ‘people’s vote’ could be seen as betrayal: UNITE members launch counter-petition on Free Movement.

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McCluskey: “Concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour.”

The Guardian Reports:

The Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs the party should have severe reservations about backing a fresh Brexit referendum, saying voters could see it as a betrayal.

The deep scepticism from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest and most powerful supporters is likely to unnerve MPs and campaigners hoping the party is warming to the idea of a fresh Brexit vote.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, hit back at McCluskey’s warning, laying bare the tensions in the party.

“To suggest it represents a ‘betrayal’ grossly distorts Labour’s position and is deeply unhelpful to those seeking a solution to an an issue that is reaching crisis proportions,” he told the Guardian.

McClusky is also reported saying this:

Len spoke about tackling people’s concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour. He said there would be a sense of betrayal among the members if we went for a second referendum.

“He said the party has to take concerns about immigration into account, and that if politicians had done so sooner we might have avoided the current situation. I wouldn’t say that majority of MPs agreed with him at all. But he gave clear examples where the exploitation of immigrant labour has undermined existing wage levels.”

But…

Shiraz carries this story:

Dear Len: this is Unite policy on Brexit – and it *doesn’t* rule out a ‘people’s vote’ and *doesn’t* call for a crack-down on immigration.

Unite members stand up for free movement after Gen Sec’s comments.

As Unite members, we are concerned by recent reports that our union General Secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs that we – his members – want them to vote for a Brexit that clamps down on immigration.

We are proud members of a diverse union that brings together workers of all origins to fight for our common interest. As Labour Party conference voted in September: “stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.” The idea that free movement depresses wages or drives unemployment is a right-wing lie, disproven by the evidence and designed to set workers against one another. As trade unionists, we recognise when xenophobic sentiment is fuelled to divide us, and we expect our General Secretary to reject such harmful rhetoric and stand up for the rank and file members, many of whom are those same migrants!

Clamping down on our freedom to move, live and work across borders will not solve any of the problems we face, which are down to exploitative employers and the right-wing politicians who serve them. In truth, by leaving migrant workers precarious and at the mercy of unscrupulous bosses, it is anti-migrant policies that threaten to undermine all of us. Our union should work to tear down anti-migrant policies, not to build more.

We call on our General Secretary to clarify whether the reports of his comments are accurate. If so, we call on him to withdraw them and instead to stand up for defending and extending free movement and the rights of all his members.

You can sign here.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm

The Socialist Party and Socialist View Split in the PCS Union Grows.

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The PCS Internal Dispute Grows.

The world may have forgotten about the Socialist Party, although it is said that copies of Militant by Michael Crick (1984) are still selling and valued like gold dust.

This week they made a raft of demands including the following, a call for

An emergency labour movement conference, open to all genuinely anti-austerity forces to discuss the transformation of the Labour Party along democratic, socialist lines. This should include discussion on: restoring the policy-making power of Labour Party conference – including the trade unions playing a full democratic role; the introduction of a new socialist ‘clause 4’, replacing the one introduced by Tony Blair with one committing to democratic public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; the opening up of the Labour Party to all socialist and anti-austerity forces to participate on the basis of a renewed, federal structure.

This prospect, sure to be welcome across the labour movement and in the Labour Party, for those who’re interested, part of their, “Editorial of the Socialist issue 1020. For a socialist alternative to the EU – mobilise to kick out the Tories!“.

Some may relish the prospect of solving the present politics crisis by, “mass action, including organising an emergency national demonstration to kick out the Tories.”

Alas, what most people are interested in is something that concerns people, active and solid people on the left, active in the civil service Trade Union, the PCS.

When the present row began the Socialist said,

The dispute within the left of Britain’s largest civil service union raises key issues for the whole labour movement.

After the left won control of the union, there have been important moves to democratise and transform PCS. Unfortunately, however, we now see the danger of that process being thrown into reverse, with power increasingly concentrated in the hands of unelected officials. Pressure in this direction is inevitable, given the difficult period the trade union movement is going through, but it is vital it is resisted.

PCS: the real issues at stake 20th of August.

In the course of this comradely debate the SP said,

Unfortunately, it is typical of some of Janice’s supporters’ false methods of argument to put up straw men in order to attempt to bombastically smash them down.

Despite the outrage expressed at the concerns we raised about the undermining of the democratic traditions of PCS, the SV reply repeatedly confirms this danger.

……

The SV authors accuse us of lying when we said that “arguments for affiliation [to Labour] will be put” in the new consultation on political representation that was agreed at this year’s PCS conference. We never suggested that the consultation would call for affiliation. This is clearly unlikely given the response to the last, 2016, consultation which raised affiliation as one option. Mark was sympathetic to looking seriously at that, arguing in a Policy and Resources Committee paper (published on 5 October 2015), “I’ve been approached by a number of people inside & outside PCS on the question of affiliation to LP… I do believe that we have a duty to consider this question.” However, “responses did not support” it.

In a woeful attempt to denigrate Chris’s record, the SV authors write: “Chris doesn’t take the average wage of a skilled worker”, and add that Janice has committed to do so. They and Janice turn their fire on Chris, but what demands have they made on Mark Serwotka? When Chris first stood for AGS he pledged to move to London, relocating his family at considerable expense and upheaval, in order to be based in the union HQ and be able to do his job effectively. Despite the financial demands of relocating, he pledged in his election address – with the agreement of other Socialist Party members including Janice Godrich – to repay part of his salary to union funds and make regular donations to strikes and labour movement causes in Britain and internationally. Chris has consistently met that pledge.

…..

They have not formally resigned from the Socialist Party, but the SV article, written by one Socialist Party member and one non-member, makes clear that they no longer see themselves as part of our party. It is not accidental that at one stage they refer to the Socialist Party as “their party”, meaning Chris and his supporters. They suggest that the Socialist Party’s “end objective” of “winning the leading positions in the union for their party justifies any actions, no matter how dishonest those means may be”.

PCS: the real issues at stake – a reply to Socialist View

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary

Recently qualified Leftist Trainspotter, Howie, posts this, keeping us up to date:

Socialist Party lose first stage of PCS Assistant General Secretary Campaign.

The influence of the Socialist Party begins it’s final decline as incumbent PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh failed to win the Left Unity nomination. Janice Godrich as expected won. Only the interim result has been published though as you guessed it the Socialist Party are contesting the result.

They are indeed,

Throughout the campaign and emphasised by Chris at a number of debates, a fighting strategy and positive approach has been given that can take the union forward. Chris won a majority in three of the five election debates that he took part in, with Martin Cavanagh and John McInally deputising for Janice Godrich. This included London, which was attended by Mark Serwotka who argued against Chris.

We thank all those Left Unity members who took part in the debates, particularly those who supported our candidates.

On the AGS election, the interim report indicates 139 votes for Chris Baugh and 167 votes for Janice Godrich. However, Left Unity members are still waiting for the final results. This is because a whole number of votes have been ruled out – some postal ballots and those cast at three voting meetings, including London.

Despite this, the ‘interim’ results were published. Many Left Unity members are shocked and angry that this was done when there are issues still outstanding. Despite the claims of Janice’s supporters in Socialist View, the ruled-out votes could materially affect the results of three key positions: AGS, Left Unity chair and Left Unity editor.

The only way to clarify this is for the full report to be published, with all the results included, along with explanation for those omitted. This is not an attack on the integrity of the scrutineers, as Socialist View claims, but a call for transparency and democratic processes.

Comes the response from Socialist View,

Socialist View Statement on PCS Left Unity elections 2018

Following a long campaign to decide the nominations for the Left Unity slate for next year’s PCS national elections the LU Scrutineers Interim Report was published on Sunday 25th November.

 

The report confirms the result of the ballot for all contested elections, including the Assistant General Secretary and National President. We are pleased that the results show both Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote have been successful in their attempt to secure the LU nomination for the posts of AGS and President respectively. Alongside Janice and Fran all other nominees, supported by the Socialist View campaign, have also been successful.

 

This clear result is testimony to the campaign which has been run by Janice and her supporters, and to the difference in strategy put forward via the Socialist View throughout this campaign.

 

The difference in policy and strategy between those of us supporting Janice, and the supporters of the incumbent Chris Baugh, have become increasingly polarised in recent weeks especially in relation to national pay campaign. The choice between building our union’s capability to improve our organisation in every workplace to win on pay, proposed by Janice and her supporters, versus the strategy, argued for by Chris and his supporters, of disaggregated group ballots linked to other employer based issues, has been a key strand to this campaign. The outcome of this election reflects the positive campaign ran by supporters of Socialist View and indicates wider support for the belief we have in our members ability to win, against the conservative approach of our opponents.

Some  have commented that only a few hundred people voted in the ballot.

It is not unusual for Leninist groupuscules to have ferocious splits.

This one, apparently, involves a far from exceptional degree of personal rancour

It is, however, out of the ordinary to see these disputes played out in public inside a trade union with around  185, 000 members, in an important sector of employment,  and inside an organisation which enjoys wide respect for its work.

The PCS Independent Left meanwhile have their own candidate:

John Moloney to stand for PCS Assistant General Secretary

At its Annual General Meeting, the PCS Independent Left nominated John Moloney as our candidate in the Assistant General Secretary elections next year.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Corbyn claims EU is willing to renegotiate Brexit deal for “Sensible Jobs First Brexit”.

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Corbyn, “Brexit should be catalyst to invest, bringing good jobs and real control to local communities and people.”

It was heralded as a key speech on Labour’s plans for working with business and on its Brexit strategy.

Speaking to business leaders at the CBI’s annual conference in London, which will also be addressed by the prime minister, Corbyn will claim May’s deal, published last week, would “leave the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say over our future”.

Instead, he will say, “a good Brexit plan for this country is not just about what can be negotiated with Brussels. It must also include a radical programme of investment and real change across our regions and nations.

“Brexit should be the catalyst to invest in our regions and infrastructure, bringing good jobs and real control to local communities and people.”

Sunday. Guardian.

Labour List reproduces the speech in full.

Key sections on Brexit:

“Labour has an alternative plan for a sensible jobs-first Brexit” – Corbyn’s CBI speech

Labour has set out an alternative plan for a sensible jobs-first agreement that could win support in parliament and help bring our country together.

First, we want a new comprehensive and permanent customs union with a British say in future trade deals that would ensure no hard border in Northern Ireland and avoid the need for the government’s half-baked backstop deal. Businesses and workers need certainty. The Tories’ sticking plaster plan for a temporary customs arrangement, with no clarity on how long it will last and no British say, can only prolong the uncertainty and put jobs and prosperity at risk.

Second, a sensible deal must guarantee a strong single market relationship. Talk of settling for a downgraded Canada-style arrangement is an option popular only on the extremes of the Tory Party. It would be a risk to our economy, jobs and investment in our schools, hospitals and vital public services.

Third, a deal that works for Britain must also guarantee that our country doesn’t fall behind the EU in workers’ rights or protections for consumers and the environment. Britain should be a world leader in rights and standards. We won’t let this Conservative Government use Brexit as an excuse for a race to the bottom in protections, to rip up our rights at work or to expose our children to chlorinated chicken by running down our product standards.

A good Brexit plan for this country is not just about what can be negotiated with Brussels. It must also include a radical programme of investment and real change across our regions and nations. Brexit should be the catalyst to invest in our regions and infrastructure, bringing good jobs and real control to local communities and people.

The Guardian noted this crucial point.

Our votes in parliament will be to attempt to stop this deal and to say to the government, ‘You’ve got to go back and negotiate something else’. There is time to do it. By the way, when the EU says there isn’t time, the EU has a long history of 11th hour negotiations. Even the Lisbon Treaty was renegotiated several times.

Speaking after consultation with EU negotiators and on behalf of the Nation, UNITE leader Len McClusky pointed yesterday to a different Brexit deal already on the table.

McCluskey said: “If the Prime Minister would only stop listening to the hard-line rump on her own backbenches, she would realise that there is a different deal available.

“That it is perfectly possible to secure a natural majority in parliament for leaving the European Union, as the British people mandated in June 2016 but in a way that unites the nation.

Huffington Post.

Word from President Macron is that France  is anxious to renegotiate another Brexit arrangement.

“Anybody who’s a friend of Jean-Luc Mélenchon  is more than welcome at the Élysée. It’s time to ditch all that tiresome Theresa May paperasse” said an Official Spokesperson.

Sounded out, many other European states welcomed the Labour Leader’s announcement.

Some already have their negotiator support teams working on a favourable response.

Jim Denham offers a guide to the details of Corbyn’s speech.

Labour would get a better deal in three months than the government has managed in two years by asking more nicely, but if we needed longer we could use the transition period to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement that must be agreed for the transition period to come into effect and we don’t like the Brexit deal agreed by Brussels, because it doesn’t provide the exact same benefits of EU membership which I disliked because of state aid and competition rules, but remaining is not necessarily better than leaving with no deal at all, and the outcome of the referendum must be respected but all options remain on the table, but a second referendum is not an option for today but could be tomorrow, and if it was I don’t know how I would vote.

Corbyn’s position on Brexit summarised

In case this is too complicated the position of the Brexit Bolsheviks is on offer, as set out by Socialist Worker:

Our alternative is to leave the EU and simultaneously begin transforming the whole basis of a society based on capitalist policies and priorities.

As Brexit chaos continues – grab this chance to push the Tories out

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm

McDonnell’s “traditional British Compromise” over Brexit.

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Should These People Dictate Labour Policy?

John McDonnell has backed a Labour colleague who warned that a second Brexit referendum could lead to social unrest.

The shadow chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he agreed with Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, that anything seen as an attempt to undo the result of the EU referendum could embolden the far right.

But despite those reservations, McDonnell insisted that the Labour party was not ruling out a second referendum and that another vote remained an option if parliament was deadlocked in the autumn.

Guardian 24th of August.

Last Night:

Lindsey German of the groupuscule Counterfire and the Stop the War Coalition (one of whose allies is a McDonnell adviser) gave advice to Labour in this vein on Monday.

The stakes are very high in the Brexit argument. If the Labour right and the centre get their way, there could be a second referendum or an aborting of the referendum vote. That would immediately fuel the rise of the far right, with Tommy Robinson, Gerald Batten and Nigel Farage being some of the unpleasant political figures who would benefit from such a move. That might lead to fissures within the Tories, and with a further recomposition of the political centre pulling in remain Tories, Lib Dems and social democrats, and the right flank of Labour, into a new party.

These are exactly the mirror of pressures on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, where there is growing clamour among large sections of the party for a second referendum. This is now being taken up by trade unions, including the GMB and the TUC itself. This week’s TUC congress will see further moves in that direction, motivated largely by people who are hostile to Corbyn.

The pressure is therefore increasing on Corbyn to abandon his people’s Brexit campaign. Far from helping him win the next election, this would be a suicidal move which would lose votes for Labour, most obviously to right wing formations. It would also strengthen his enemies in the party who have been on a relentless attack against him throughout his three years of leadership.

Counterfire.

It would be interesting to hear more about this “People’s Brexit’ campaign, its rallies, its leaflets, its marches, the workers who’ve occupied the factories to “take back control”…..

It is all very well to set out a list of demands for the best possible Brexit, beginning with “No deregulatory bonfire”, and ending with this, directed at the major partner most Brexiteers are wooing, “We reject a foreign policy based either on a special relationship with Donald Trump’s US…”

It is all fine and good to talk of a Universal Basic Income and backing for worker co-ops….

How can these plans, and overall ambitions for “capital regulation”  deal with the boss of Jaguar, Ralf Speth’s warning that, “friction at the border could jeopardise production to the value of £60m a day. He also warned that traffic jams on the approach to Dover meant that “bluntly, we will not be able to build cars”.” (Guardian)

Socialist Worker rails in the same vein as Counterfire  against the TUC backing for the option of a People’s Vote this week,

Trade unions join call for ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit. Tomáš Tengely-Evans

A second referendum would be a gift to the far right, which will claim betrayal.

The TUC General Council statement was deliberately broad enough to be all things to all union leaders who are split over Brexit.

The various sops in it guaranteed O’Grady could push through her support for the EU’s neoliberal single market and the People’s Vote.

Only the RMT rail workers’ union—and two rebel Unite delegates—voted against the statement.

The composite motion on Brexit kept support for the EU single market and the option of a People’s Vote.

But it had more emphasis of forcing an early general election in order to win over the leaders of unions with members who voted Leave.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the People’s Vote option “must be left on the table”.

But he said the “vote we will need above all is a general election that can deliver a Labour government”.

The issue is not just one for the sidelines, from where Germain and the SWP are comfortable shouting from.

It is of concern that anybody “compromise” agreement looks entirely one-sided: giving in to Brexit.

The worst possible way to try and shut down debate is to brandish the scarecrow of the far-right, populism, and UKIP> 

There is still time to call for a pause in the negotiations over British withdrawal.  

There is a need to have a vote on the issue of Brexit.

Could demanding a General Election, a gift not in Labour’s hands, be an answer out of these difficulties?

No: the issue of the EU will not go away.

 

 

Morning Star Warns Against Trade Union Influence and Support for a People’s Vote on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.”

UNIONS could undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda for change if they back a referendum on the EU exit deal, Mick Cash warned today.

TUC 2018 Backing ‘the people’s vote’ could undermine the Corbyn project

RMT’s Mick Cash issues warning against joining the Blairite’s call.

The piece notes (see above) that “delegates at TUC Congress voted to ratify a general council statement saying the option of a “final say” referendum should not be “ruled out.” and the general union GMB has publicly backed a vote on the Brexit deal, but other unions would prefer to push for an early general election.”

Mr Cash warns, in the light of this decision, against the TUC and trade unions having an influence on Labour Party policy on Brexit.

“The RMT leader said the labour movement should refuse to “line up” with Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.””

Mr Cash, whose union represents transport staff, seafarers and oil workers, said: “We need to understand those in the Westminster bubble are calling for a people’s vote for the sole reason of a second referendum on the EU. They are your Chuka Umunnas, your Chris Leslies, your Peter Mandelsons your Tony Blairs, the Lib Dems.”

In other words the Left Against Brexit, part of the campaign for a People’s Vote, and the much broader section of the Labour party in the over 200 Consistencies which have backed motions supporting Labour for a People’s Vote, are all in the ‘Westminster bubble”.

Worse it seems we are acting to thwart Jeremy Corbyn.

He said these politicians “want us in the EU so that the EU can stop Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for nationalisation and for state aid and for workers’ rights.”

He stormed: “We, the trade union movement, will be lining up with people who are seeking to force the hand of Jeremy Corbyn and with people who want to attack the socialist leadership of the Labour Party and who want to attack socialist policies.”

The RMT is not affiliated to Labour.

In the 2009 European Elections they aligned with fringe groups (such as the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party) to stand against Labour as No2EU – Yes to Democracy

The won a handsome 153,26 votes nationally  – below 1%.

In 2014 they got 31,757 – 0,2%.

The Morning Star then cites the opinion of another union leader.

Citing something they call the “consensus position” they refer to Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

(he) told the hall: “I understand the argument for a so-called ‘people’s vote’ on the deal — not on leaving the EU. That people’s vote has already happened.”

Can the People can only vote once?

No: because,  McClusky adds,

He said the referendum option “must be left on the table,” arguing: “Let’s focus on the prize — sweeping this government away in a general election and giving a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn the chance to repair two wasted years of Tory wrangling.”

The article tries to marshal another recruit to their fading cause:

“…public sector union PCS leader Mark Serwotka argued: “We are not with Chuka Umunna, but neither are we with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“We are an independent working-class movement.”

As the PCS is also not affiliated to the Labour Party it is by definition independent of the debate at the Labour conference.

Addressing Congress earlier in the day, TUC leader Frances O’Grady described EU laws as “the rock that national laws and union agreements build on.”

She said the TUC would “throw its full weight behind a campaign” for a “popular vote” if the government “come back with a deal that doesn’t put workers’ first.”

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said he wanted “a people’s government” rather than a “people’s vote,” warning: “We have got absolutely no reason to support a second referendum that re-runs the debate that divides our country at the moment.”

Royal College of Midwives policy director Jon Skewes suggested an election was unlikely, arguing: “They will change the guard rather than do that.”

At a fringe meeting, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union official Sarah Woolley said: “We need to embrace that the UK is leaving the EU. A decision was made and we need to be proactive and make sure that our members are protected.

“The only thing that is certain is that next April we won’t be a member of the EU.”

She said unions should threaten PM Theresa May with a general strike “if you are not going to do the deal we want.”

No doubt a helpful suggestion.

We shall contact Seamus Milne again offering the services of the Ipswich workers’ militia to help ensure workers’ defence,  but what of the People’s Vote?

Mick Whelan, who leads train drivers’ union Aslef, told the same meeting that the EU Fourth Rail Package could enforce British-style privatisation across Europe.

“We don’t apologise for being protectionist about where we want to be for our railway,” he said.

Was the nationalisation of the East Coast line stopped by EU rules?

And what business is it for Brexit protectionists what policy the EU adopts?

And economist Costas Lapavitsas, a former Syriza member of the Greek legislature, said: “There’s a considerable ignorance in this country about what the European Union is.

“[The] Maastrict [treaty] basically created a union which is a neoliberal machine.

“We need an internationalist position on this … but internationalism of labour is not the same as internationalism of capital.”

An “internationalist” position is precisely the Left Against Brexit’s position.

What is the opinion of union members?

Perhaps the Morning Star could have asked McDonnell to explain why he wants a debate that answers the concerns of this section of the ‘Westminster Bubble’?

Here is the ‘Blairite’ Labour for a People’s Vote motion,

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

It is far better to back the Labour for a People’s Vote motion than the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy one, which many believe is more subtle attempt to ward off commitment to opposing Brexit.

Brexit: living standards and jobs must remain Labour’s priority

Conference notes:

1) that following the UK/EU talks on 16/17 August the government still has no agreement on departure terms from the EU, despite the departure being scheduled for March 2019.

2) on 23 August the government started publishing some ‘technical notices’, advising people what to do in the event a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit.

3) the 6 August publication of ORB’s poll, indicating disapproval of the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations has reached an all-time high of 76%.

Conference deplores the Prime Minister for prioritising negotiations within the Cabinet over those with the EU and her ministers for talking up the possibility of a ‘No-Deal’.

Conference notes any agreement the government negotiates is unlikely to protect the economy and people’s rights.

Conference continues to support Labour’s six tests, the commitment to a customs union and seeking full access to EU markets.

Conference calls on the Shadow Cabinet to continue with its policy of securing living standards and jobs, which requires free trade between Britain and the EU.

Conference agrees that Labour should vote against any agreement the government reaches with the EU which does not secure this objective, and how Labour achieves its objective should be decided in light of the situation at the time of the conclusion of any agreement negotiated between the government and the EU. At this stage in the UK/EU negotiations Labour should not exclude in advance any means or tactics to prevent a Brexit outcome which hurts jobs or living standards.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Burston Rally 2018: a Report.

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Ipswich Trades Council’s New Banner on the Burston March.

The annual Burston Rally (“to commemorate the longest strike in history and to celebrate the people who continue to fight for Trade Union rights, working class education, democracy in the countryside and international solidarity” on Sunday was well attended (See: Eastern Daily Press. Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk.)

Eastern Daily Press.

Arriving on the full Ipswich/South East Suffolk Coach the Village Green was already full of stalls.

There were all the main trade unions and linked organisations – Norwich Trades Council had an impressive display – a long list of Norfolk and Suffolk Labour parties (although many IPswich Labour councillors were apparently filling out the sparse ranks of a local Temperance event in Alexandra Park), and campaigns (Amnesty, Palestinian Solidarity, Norfolk anti-fracking group) and fringe groups, such as the Communist Party of Britain,  the SWP the Socialist Party and the Jewish Voice for Labour.

In the morning we were entertained by bands and by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite.

Trade Unionists, such as Sean McGovern (UNITE) angrily attacked the anti-Labour media campaign, and concentrated on the injustices faced by the disabled, and the hard time imposed on workers and consumers by those in charge of the privatised public services.

There was comradely atmosphere, only occasionally spoilt by SWP activists attempting to gather support for their ‘Defend Jeremy Corbyn’ petition, and to raise backing for their autumn anti-racism demonstration.

It was noted that a Momentum group, calling itself  Norfolk Momentum, displayed material in support of a policy backed by other break-away bodies, such as Camden Momentum, against Labour’s National Executive taking a position on the 4 September, to oppose the adoption of the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism (IHRA definition) of antisemitism.

I bought the highly recommended  The Village in Revolt: The Story of the Longest Strike in History.  Shaun Jeffery.

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I also got  the – very far from esteemed  – Britain in the World Front, Palme Dutt, (1942) from the CPB bookstall.

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The march, around the village in the tracks as the original school strikers’ first protest, was enlivened by trade union bands.

In the heat of the early autumn sunshine we returned to hear the afternoon addresses to the crowd.

Mick Cash (RMT) followed earlier speakers was rightly angry at the way the media had run down Jeremy Corbyn, stirred up division in the Labour Party, and diverted attention from the disaster of privatised companies. Concentrating on the policies of his rail union he called for nationalisation and a the creation of a genuine public transport service.

It was unfortunate that a divisive speaker from Jewish Voice for Labour (recently founded – 2017)  was called.

He outlined his group’s position on the Israel Palestine conflict.

While people are dying in next-door Syria, amid mass murder and torture, and millions have been made refugees this appeared as if it were the sole issue in the Middle East.

Denouncing Israel, whose policies he compared to apartheid, he advocated opposition to  the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

There were other contributions, more in line with labour movement traditions of unity.

The best speaker of the day was, without a doubt, John McDonnell.

Beginning with references to the Middle East (though not Syria) he called for justice in the region.

But the heart of his talk was – and the words are weighed – a brilliant outline of Labour’s plans to bring serious change in the economy and public services, from education to local government.

McDonnell pitched his plans as an effort to transfer wealth and power to ordinary people. His plans for nationalisation, of the utilities and transport, did not include a return to old style Morrison-style administration, but democratic bodies under Parliamentary, consumer, worker and community control. Tackling ‘Magic Money tree’ – that is the money pumped out to tax shelters on the Paradise Islands – would provide some of the basis for the funds the project would need.

Finishing, the Labour Chancellor raised the issue of a People’s Vote on Brexit. After cries from the audience in support of the campaign against Brexit (there were campaigners for the Left Against Brexit present all day), McDonnell defended the Labour Line of attempting to defend the best possible deal that could be got at present. He added, that while the best People’s Vote would be a ballot  to remove Theresa May, he did not rule out a future referendum on EU membership.

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John McDonnell hears the Tendance Line.

To  the chagrin of those trying to divide the labour movement this has just been published,

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC will adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism after a crunch meeting.

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months.

He told BBC Radio Kent: “I think what will happen, I’m hoping what will happen is exactly what people are saying is an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples, that’s what people are pressing for.

“But also to ensure, exactly what Rabbi Sacks said yesterday, that there’s freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians but at the same time make sure it’s done in language that’s acceptable.