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Posts Tagged ‘Britain

Tory Party News.

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Tory Party Minister

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Something else happened in the Tory party yesterday now what was it?

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2019 at 1:34 pm

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.

 ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ Gains Support: Rally, Thursday June 21.

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Union Moves Towards People’s Vote on Brexit.

In the Daily Mirror it’s been argued by Alison McGovern that,

It’s hard to argue that this disastrous Tory government is doing anything but make a mess of Brexit.

In the past fortnight calls for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal have been getting louder , and in the months to come, I suspect the argument for the public to have their say – in the absence of a general election anyway – will become irresistible.

This follows this decision.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes,

“Our conference last weekend mandated us to campaign against this Tory Brexit which is failing our country before it lands us in even deeper water. We have been instructed by our members to work with others of like mind to put their concerns and those of other workers at the fire of the Brexit debate.

“Our members also made it clear that Brexit should not be used as another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with. For us, a Labour government committed to a manifesto for the many is a far bigger prize than Tory Brexit. I am delighted that we will be hosting voices from across the trade union and labour movement who agree with us that the Brexit squeeze on workers is already not worth the juice and want to formulate a pro-Corbyn Brexit exit strategy.

“Tory politicians got us into the mess of Brexit in the first place as they put their party and political ambitions before country. As the late Robin Cook said, when he rightly resigned over the Iraq War, the longer he spent in Parliament the more he came to trust “the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people”

“Our members believe the British public, now better informed than in 2016, have had a Brexit cooling-off period. The right thing to do now is to trust the collective wisdom of the many by giving them a say on the final outcome of Brexit negotiations in a referendum. No-one wants a continuation of this ruinous Brexit other than the Tory few who are guiding it”.

TSSA

Labour List reports.

Today the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association has announced it will hold a rally to launch its campaign for a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit.

The move suggests a pro-EU stance on the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Left of the Labour Party is gaining traction.

Earlier this week, as reported by LabourList, TSSA became the first trade union affiliated to the Labour Party to formally back a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Delegates at the union’s conference in Leicester also voted in favour of giving 16- and 17-year-olds a vote in such a referendum.

The transport and travel industry union now plans to hold a ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ rally on Thursday 21st June at Congress House in London.

Lord Andrew Adonis, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, Labour MEP Julie Ward, Labour MPs Catherine West and Geraint Davies are expected to speak at the rally, which is set to be hosted by left-wing NEC member Andi Fox.

Commenting on the event, union chief Manuel Cortes said: “We have been instructed by our members to work with others of like mind to put their concerns and those of other workers at the fire of the Brexit debate.

“Our members also made it clear that Brexit should not be used as another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with… I am delighted that we will be hosting voices from across the trade union and labour movement who want to formulate a pro-Corbyn Brexit strategy.

“Tory politicians got us into the mess of Brexit in the first place as they put their party and political ambitions before country. As the late Robin Cook said, when he rightly resigned over the Iraq War, the longer he spent in parliament the more he came to trust “the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people”.

“Our members believe the British public, now better informed than in 2016, have had a Brexit cooling-off period. The right thing to do now is to trust the collective wisdom of the many by giving them a say on the final outcome of Brexit negotiations in a referendum. No-one wants a continuation of this ruinous Brexit other than the Tory few who are guiding it”.The ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ rally takes place on Thursday June 21, at 7pm at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London.

In a scatter-gun  article, A People’s Brexit that unites the left is the only way to confront an increasingly bold neoliberal mafia, Lindsey German, of the group Counterfire which leads the once influential People’s Assembly, argues against this movement.

Amongst her charges against the EU are the following:

“President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, last week insulted Italians for not working hard enough, being corrupt and not being serious. ” “the hero of many liberals, Emmanuel Macron, uses his presidency to launch vicious attacks on workers and students and to attack their rights.”

Apparently because many European countries are led by people whose politics German dislikes this is proof enough that the EU is rotten.

She concludes,

It’s really time to stop trying to reverse Brexit and start organising to deliver the sort of policies which can break the neoliberal consensus and challenge the far right.

It is hard to see, given the clashes she sketches between “populists” (from the furthest right to their allies such as the Movimento 5 Stelle ) and “liberals”, and the concessions of the latter to the former, what exactly this “consensus” is.

It is even harder to say what remains today of neoliberalism’, with its keynote free trade, and , minimal government intervention in business,  when Donald Trump has just announced another front in his trade wars, imposing 25% tariffs on Chinese goods followed by Beijing’s retaliation.

In fact it can be said with some certainty that the antics of those promoting a ‘People’s Brexit’ were a factor in boosting the British hard right, their ballot box allies.

German cites the sovereigntist economist,  Costas Lapavitsas who in an article (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour vs. the Single Market) in the US publication Jacobin “demonstrates how the EU regulations would prevent the development of policies which would benefit us all.”

Martin Thomas has dealt a death blow to these arguments.

The economist Costas Lapavitsas, who has done important work on financialisation, has written a widely-cited article for the US magazine Jacobin (30 May) to argue that Labour should back Brexit after all.

ndeed, his article systematically cites the “hardest” sort of Brexit — where Britain has no arrangement with the European Union to reduce economic barriers other than that given by general World Trade Organisation rules — as preferable.

Up to now, very few pro-Brexiters, outside a few right-wing nationalist Tories, have described that “no deal” Brexit as anything other than an admittedly damaging “worst case”.

Lapavitsas was a member of Syriza, one of the left-wingers who quit after the Syriza-led government capitulated to the EU-ECB-IMF impositions to form the Popular Unity party. Popular Unity’s line of agitating for “sovereignty and independence… against the new colonialism”, rather than for explicit socialism or a Europe-wide working-class policy, has proved unproductive. Although PU started with 25 of Syriza’s 149 MPs, and other prominent Syriza figures, it lost all its MPs in the September 2015 election, now polls between 1% and 2%, and has not rallied a large part of Syriza’s former left-wing base.

….

But “hard Brexit” cannot be a left-wing policy. The struggle for socialism is an affair of workers vs capitalists, not of Britain vs a “Europe” identified solely with neoliberal Brussels officials. Consider four points.

First: EU rules would not block anything in Labour’s 2017 manifesto. Domestic capitalist power would try to block some measures, and might try to draw the European Commission in on it, but by far the main obstacles to those measures lie within Britain.

Second: The frontline measures which the socialist left wants to see added to that manifesto would not be blocked either.

Restoring union rights to solidarity action, to quick responses, to picketing, would not be against EU rules. In fact, France has wider, better union rights than Britain had before Thatcher.

Restoring NHS funding would be against no EU rule. Both France and Germany spend markedly more on health care, as a percentage of national income, than Britain.

Restoring local government autonomy and funding, and thereby reviving social care and libraries, would be against no EU rule. Ditto for restoring welfare benefits.

Large measures on those lines would face domestic capitalist resistance much more than any hindrance from EU rules.

Third: the Single Market rules have become neoliberal not because they are “European” and “foreign”, but because they represent a trend of capitalist development pioneered… in London.

“Europe” in Lapavitsas’s picture, is just the neoliberal officials in the European Commission and the ECB. Workers? Labour movements? The argument proceeds as if no such things exist anywhere in Europe except in Britain and Greece.

Labour should certainly be pushed to policies which really would contradict Single Market rules. If the British labour movement rouses itself that far, then it can and must rouse labour movements elsewhere in Europe to do similar.

The reaction elsewhere in Europe to socialist mobilisation in the labour movement in Britain (if Britain happened to go first) would not just be anger from neoliberal officials in Brussels. Workers and labour movements across Europe would be inspired and energised.

The outcome would depend on the conflict between capitalists and workers right across Europe, not on legal battles between the British government and the European Commission.

Fourth: right now we face the danger of a real “hard Brexit”, not Lapavitsas’s imaginary “socialism in one (British) country”, or rather “‘industrial policy’ in one country”.

That Tory, or modified-Tory, “hard Brexit” will set us back in many ways. We should fight it, not accommodate to it by way of telling ourselves tales about it mutating into “semi-socialism in one country”.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 16, 2018 at 11:22 am

Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. The Must-Read of the Year.

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Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. Atlantic Books. 2018.

Over the weekend it was reported that last year there were just 79 strikes, the lowest number since 1893. Union membership continues to decline.

The GMB, meanwhile, stated that ambulances had been called to Amazon warehouses at least 600 times in the last 3 years. On half of these occasions patients had to be taken at hospital. The union put some of the blame on the severe working conditions that company enforces on its employees.

James Bloodworth begins Hired in an Amazon warehouse – the size of ten football pitches – in Rugeley, “a place with the atmosphere of what I imagined a prison would be like”. Feel-good slogans were plastered on the walls saying that everybody was having a wonderful time. The workers, mostly Eastern European, were brought there by agencies, who hammered home that they could be sacked the instant they made any trouble. The work as “pickers” – in hard shifts – meant, “dashing around”. There was no real contract and no there were no real rights. People were under a full-time “cloud of suspicion”. Wages – for the author £227 a week but regularly underpaid, or involving tax shambles – barely kept up with ordinary expenses. Not to mention the rent to rapacious landlords.

Bloodworth got to know some of the migrants, from Romania. Life in their country was “bullshit”. If they were slaves in the UK, they still had money. These “anonymous foreign drudges” were like H.G.Wells’ Morlocks, while the customers dwelt, like the Eloi, enjoying cheap products.

Hired  is about  a world in which very few people are real Eloi. In Blackpool working for a company supplying care workers as council services have crumbled over the years, Carewatch, Bloodworth comes across the homeless. He sees an old man “buried under a pile of corrugated cardboard and bin liners”. In Blackpool’s main library there are people “who had been sent like badly behaved children to ‘job club’. There were the down-and-outs there too, “holding filthy carrier bags”, some falling asleep to be thrown back onto the streets. At moments like this you realise that only a comparison with George Orwell’s best writing will do.

The home caring job with the elderly came with heart-rending incidents. A colleague who told of having to deal with a client “with basically her bowels hanging out”. Payments, as with Amazon, were again a problem. Some migrant workers employed found the English needed for the job near impossible.

South Wales.

Bloodworth explores the Welsh Valley based Call Centre Admiral in cafés and drinking in Ebbw Vale Wetherspoons he hears the rancour of people left behind by the closure of the mines. As in Rugeley there is fear of migrants, and the targeting of Europe for the “pain inflicted over recent decades.”

Hired comes across many Leave voters. But “taking back control”, was not just a product of resentment at migration, unemployment, precarious jobs, and minimum wages. It was, we could note, promoted by the Sovereigntists of the left, and those who considered it a “transitional demand” to install the chaos that would lead to a left Brexit (Brexit). This was not just against the interest of the South Wales communities, whose remaining social projects were funded by the EU. For many workers, and all the major unions, this disruption would snarl up the supply, production and distribution chains that keep what is left of the country’s industry going. The present state of Brexit proves the case for Remain. The right-wing nationalists, who were its real promoters, have drowned any Lexit  (Left Brexit) voice out.

The book concludes with first-hand experience with the ‘gig economy’ of Uber and others in London. Here the workers, in the shape of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) were fighting back, establishing a collective bargaining agreement with Deliveroo.

Trade Unions.

A major theme in Hired is the contrast between the strength of the trade unions before Thatcher and today’s deregulated (that is, regulated by the managers of companies) labour market. Perhaps the example of former mining communities is too strong tot transport to London. My friends in 1970s London worked for cleaning agencies where conditions were not too far off today’s poorly paid posts under heavy surveillance. And the gig economy is not that new. I myself spent a Christmas period as an (illegal) stallholder flogging puzzle rings in Oxford Street., paid cash in hand. Nor were unions that powerful. A shop-steward friend of my parents got sacked from a big engineering company in the Lee Valley for union militancy. The AEU did not get his position back.

The book is the first I have read about modern Britain that talks about the world I live in. It speaks about people I know working in warehouses, to those catching what they can in short term jobs, the experiences of care-workers, the treatment of the out-of-work, to the lives of migrants.  There are cheap stores, like B & M, both where people work for another group of grinders and where we often shop. Bloodworth maps up the incomes and costs of how people get by, the constant worries and the little hopes and pleasures that keep them going. If he is perceived as an outsider, he has clearly touched ground. To those who might question how Bloodworth knows the details of their difficulties one can only say: this is what people talk about.

In low-wage Britain problems do not comes from an “ill educated working class” – terms that, given the intelligence of my mates, would make them laugh. Increased social mobility, meritocracy, is not the answer. The heart of the inequalities generated by the economy has to be tackled. They are fostered by deliberate political choice. The first response lies in exactly the daily grind of trade union politics, for rights, for good conditions, and, above all, for solidarity between diverse groups in their common interest. A Labour government would have to begin by strengthening union power. 

I expected Hired to be good. 

It exceeds that.

It is the essential read of the year.

Every trade unionist and socialist should get hold of it.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2018 at 11:29 am

Stop the War Coalition cites 9/11 Truther Nafeez Ahmed to Explain Crisis with Russia.

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Nafeez Ahmed: 9/11 “alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA.”

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) asks, Has the West Provoked the Crisis With Russia?

Fired up by anti-Russian hype, many commentators seem to have forgotten the need to question basic facts about the Skripal incident, let alone to probe the official account of the crisis between Russia and the West. They might do well to read a recently published US army study ominously titled ‘Is the Next Global Conflict Imminent?’.

The Newshounds of the StWC have found the  answer: Yes.

The report shows that US military experts understand perfectly that it is Western foreign policy that is the main driver of tension and confrontation with Russia.

Knock me down with a feather!

This is the low-down,

Dethroning Putin?

Mostly however, the document concentrates on further actions that could be useful in destabilising and undermining Russian power. In places it goes as far as suggesting regime change. Russians, the document observes:

“…may soon feel the pressure of the domestic downturn. They will become increasingly vulnerable as the ruble weakens and the purchasing power at home erodes. Are the west and the US poised to take advantage of this or will we miss another opportunity?”

And later:

“The US and the West need to determine what they want Russia to look like, how they want it to behave and if they care if Vladimir Putin is president.”

Nineham concludes

This combination of military threat and great power manoeuvring has created the most dangerous geopolitical standoff in a generation. Not really the moment then for the kind of posturing and point-scoring we have seen from Theresa May, the Tories and elements of the Labour right in the last few days.

Thanks to Nafeez Ahmed for unearthing this document.

And what did this Newshound find out?

Army document: US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines might provoke WW3Nafeez Ahmed

Senior DIA, Air Force and Army officials admit that NATO expansionism and US covert interference in Russian internal politics may trigger “next global conflict”…

Here are some more of Ahmed’s recent ‘investigative journalism’.

The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia

Official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia discredited

By Nafeez Ahmed.

He also cites this,

According to former British diplomat Craig Murray, for instance, it is more reasonable to cast the net of suspicion onto Israel for many of the same reasons cited by the British government.

He concludes,

The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.

Let us go a little further back into Ahmed’s past.

There is this:  How Islamist rebels engineered Israel’s oil grab in Syria (2015)

Israel’s ambitions to conquer the Golan Heights and western hopes to topple Assad raise questions around the discovery of oil in the Golan

Then there is this: (Wikipedia)

Ahmed’s later book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism, follows up from his first book, with a critical evaluation of the findings of the 9/11 Commission. In The War on Truth, he argues that the United States government was involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington and Ahmed has asserted that the “alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA.”

He also argued this,

the pre-9/11 intelligence failure was not simply because of a lack of reliable intelligence, or because intelligence bureaucracy was hopelessly incompetent (which it was and is), but ultimately because the Bush administration made political decisions that obstructed critical intelligence investigations and ongoing information-sharing that could have prevented 9/11. Those decisions were made to protect vested interests linked to US support of Islamist extremist networks like the Taliban and their state-sponsors, such as the Gulf kingdoms, rooted in Western oil dependency and intersecting financial investments. The inadequacy of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in this regard, is an open secret to many intelligence experts.

Apart from the dubious method of citing the above Ahmed as an authority, with all his hints about UK government skullduggery, it is hard to see how the document the StWC relies on, concerning  “great power  manoeuvring” proves anything whatsoever about the Salisbury poisonings.

Still less that this is part of a plan for “destabilising and undermining Russian power”  and “regime change”.

Such are the political straws the StWC is clutching to these days.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Purging Mania Sweeps Tory Factionalists and ‘left’ Sovereigntists foam as Parliamentary Sovereignty Asserted.

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Purging mania.

No-nonsense Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has called for Remoaner MPs last night who secured politicians a veto on Brexit to be deselected and barred from standing for the Tory Party again. Westmonstor. 

The one time Revolutionary Communists of Spiked on Line  set the pattern for fellow sovereigntists.

MPs’ ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit is a blow to popular sovereignty. Brendan O’Neill. 

The Remoaner joy over the meaningful vote captures brilliantly how ridiculous and elitist the pro-EU side has become. First, there’s their treatment of an incredibly tight vote in parliament as some kind of historic win for the institution of democracy. In their minds, 17.4million people voting to leave the EU – the largest number of Brits that has ever voted for anything – is a mistake, a cry of hatred, a crime, and definitely not ‘the will of the people’, but pro-meaningful-vote MPs beating anti-meaningful-vote MPs by a poxy four votes – 309 to 305 – is a ‘great day for democracy’. These people are hilarious

The great man pauses, the Remoaners,  the ridiculous poxy anti-meaningful elite aside, it is time for some reflections on what is going on behind the hilarity “in their minds”.

O’Neill has the knack for getting the low-down behind the vote,

Secondly, there’s the small matter that these people have not the remotest interest in defending parliamentary sovereignty. If they had, they would not be fighting tooth and nail in defence of an institution – the EU – which is almost entirely devoted to weakening parliamentary sovereignty.

At the risk of running out of stale metaphors O’Neill continues.

The EU and its apologists are only cheering parliamentary democracy now to the extent that it might be wielded to undermine popular democracy; because they think it can be used to slow or scupper that decision made by the largest group of people in British democratic history. This is the level of cynicism they have reached: they increasingly see parliament, not as a true tribune of the people, but as a possible counter to the people, the sensible, cool restraint on the masses’ dangerous anti-EU passions. They are setting up parliament against the public, which is a very sinister thing to do..

The ghosts of the English Civil War are rising,

 …..we defended an ideal that the English fought a civil war over and which millions of Brits marched and fought for against an EU elite and a British parliament that had become cavalier about this ideal; we offered parliament the backbone, the authority, that it had lost. We saved parliament, we saved representative democracy. And what thanks do we get? None. Less than none, in fact. We now have parliamentarians who spy in the ‘meaningful vote’ a chance to slow or wound the people’s historic defence of parliament, of them. They do not deserve us.

A cruel and thankless world indeed.

Poor ‘us’.

But History will surely absolve Spiked-on-Line’s offer of “backbone” that “saved Parliament”.

Bang on cue Labour Leave retweeted this:

Not forgetting the supporters of Nationalist Chaos Theory.

Note Paul Embry is Paul Embery is the Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and National Organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU. He has written for the far-right Westmonster site:  TRADE UNION MOVEMENT MUST RECONNECT WITH WORKING CLASS POST-BREXIT

 

A different view:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George Monbiot. A Socialist Review.

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Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George Monbiot. Verso 2017.

A feature of some left wing groups, which persists well beyond adolescence, is the imaginary friend. For decades this companion has been The Working Class. Uncorrupted by bureaucrats (that is, elected trade union leaderships), the proletariat, is not so much a collection of people whose needs and demands are the springboard for socialist politics, as a byword for all the virtues.

More recently, the daughters and sons of toil have been joined by a new comrade, the Nation, or rather certain Nations. The last months have seen Catalonia occupy centre stage. According to a recent article in Red Pepper the Catalans are blessed with not just a run of the mill ‘civic nationalism’ but “The opposite of nationalism” participatory democracy with a “project for social transformation.” (Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte)

George Monbiot is the author of The Captive State (2000). That book was one of the first to offer systematic criticisms of the growing influence of corporate power on British public institutions. Long before it became the fashion he signalled the faults of the Private Finance Initiative, introduced under Tony Blair, which transferred “control and ownership of the nation’s critical infrastructure to private business” (1) Monbiot concluded that governments should reassert their control over corporations, leaving it rather vague as to how exactly “troublemaking” would achieve that goal.

Now in Out of the Wreckage the author, whose works include A Manifesto for a New World Order (2003), that proposed more concrete measures to regulate international trae, and to create a World Parliament,  has discovered a friend. This is The Community. We are faced with the ravages of neo-liberal globalisation, a system that “puts a price on everything and a value on nothing”, and promotes economic development above human welfare. Our connections with our “neighbours and neighbourhoods” are weakened to point where there is an epidemic of loneliness. There is “social breakdown”.

Togetherness and Belonging.

What could be the answer? Two “great healing forces – togetherness and belonging” should make way for a “thriving civic life” animated by “altruism and mutual aid”. (Page 25) Our new best mate is “community life”, aka, Good Fellowship.

In Out of the Wreckage there are flashes of Monbiot’s perceptive approach to the destructive influence of business culture on public life. He describes many workplaces where people are dominated by a “humiliating regime of impossible requirements, meaningless exhortation and panoptical monitoring”. Those on benefits are subject to similar rules (Page 59).

But does he seriously think that social media, that is Facebook, has the following effect: “It intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves”? (Page 63) That our friends’ FB photos (which personally I enjoy seeing) are some kind of competition between “idealised images”?

The merits of Monbiot’s advocacy of Community Ownership, Universal Basic Income, Participatory Budgets (for municipalities), Electoral reform – he advocates The Single Transferable Vote, can no doubt by discussed. As can some kind of post-Proudhon world federalism, though one suspects that the era of Cosmopolitan Democracy is not about to dawn.

Sanders’s Giant Live Experiment.

Far less clear is the idea that European social democracy, and the British Labour Party in particular, has much to learn from the Bernie Sander’s Campaign, a “gigantic live experiment”. Sanders did not grapple between principle and election. He did not stand for the Presidential election, and his programme would, in European terms, put him somewhere on the right wing of most of our left parties, not far to the left of Progress in the UK.

Sanders’ Big Organising – the US talent for marketing is undisputed – is surely a good technique. Readers who have helped put on or attended demonstrations over the years, or decades, will be impressed by suggestions about shorter speeches and adding musical entertainment  with an “energiser”. We learn too that marches ought to be “against the forces we oppose” and, apparently, to show “the better future we envisage”. (Page 174) The ordinary goal of drawing attention to a stand on an issue looks rather humble now.

Despite reference to early 20th century British socialism, the themes of Out of the Wreckage are close to another US approach, communitarianism. That is, the line of thought developed by, amongst others, the political philosopher Michael J Sandel, which envisages an alternative to  the distributive systems of markets by bringing people closer together though a ‘thick’ communal life (What Money Can’t Buy. Michael Sandel. 2012).  Monbiot scorns comparison with David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ of busybody Lords and Lady Bountifuls. It will be based on the Common Weal, “self-motivated networks of volunteers”, grounded upon our “innate urge to cooperate”. Yet to achieve that end, “enlarging the commons” there will probably be “conflict with both the state and corporations.” (Page 99)

So, Monbiot wants co-operation but the path to it can only be through fights. Does this stop after we Have Come Home to Ourselves? Chantal Mouffe has observed that politics are not just a transient clashes but are marked by “the permanence of conflicts which cannot have a rational solution”. It does not take much thought to see that this ‘agonistic’ aspect of politics applies to communities – let us begin with religious groups…- as much as to the elected institutions of pluralist democracy (2)

We do not need a new made up friend, Community. The democratic socialist position on the free market erosion of democracy and equality is simpler. It is to advance public provision for public goods, in conditions of equality, through the democratic institutions which we can influence. That is, not just communities outside the state, but through it. That is, secured if need be, against the opposition of the ruling forces, the political embodiments of one class interest, by those very far from imaginary forces that make the left, the labour movement and the Labour Party.

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(1) Page 91. Captive State. The Corporate Takeover of Britain, George Monbiot. Macmillan. 2000.
(2) Page 138. Agonistics. Thing the World Politically. Chantal Mouffe Verso. 2013.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm