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The Dead End of Lexit (“Left” Brexit).

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One for the Historically Minded Trainspotters.

Bob has written an excellent survey of the confusionist politics of the ‘left’ Brexit camp aka, Lexit, ‘People’s Brexit’,

Left nationalism and Brexit Bolshevism

I haven’t managed to keep up with the flood of sewage coming out of the nationalist left this past month. The cast of characters: a weird amalgam of Arron Banks-funded trade unionists (Paul Embery), Blue Labour’s Third Way centrists (Lord Maurice Glasman), old Etonian man of the people David Goodhart, the formerly Trotskyist libertarian contrarians of Spiked (Frank Furedi, Clare Fox, etc), media professors like Matt Goodwin, and old school tankie Stalinists at the Morning Star, young Stalinists shit-posting on social media, SWP splinter sects like Counterfire, and hipster leftists at Novara and in the machinery of Young Labour, and even a few ex-anarchists. None of these currents would be particularly significant alone,although some of them are increasingly called upon pundits on daytime TV sofas and Question Time debates. But the alignment of these different formations has become an increasingly toxic force on the left. This toxic force pulls the Labour Party away from internationalist, anti-racist and pro-migrant positions (e.g. promoting pro-Brexit positions and sacrificing our right to freedom of movement). And it is toxic in terms of the culture of our movements too, driving better people away from the left.

Another Europe is Possible published this at the end of last month,

BREXIT, FARCE, AND THE LEXIT LEFT

Neil Faulkner argues that Brexit is the British expression of the wave of nationalism, racism, and fascism sweeping the world – and Lexit is on the wrong side of history.

History repeats itself. First time, tragedy; second time, farce. It was an off-the-cuff remark by Marx, and it gets repeated too often. But how appropriate it seems as Britain’s small, shrinking, sectarian Left embraces Third Period Stalinism ever more completely.

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The Lexit Left, on the other hand, is an alliance of 1970s fossils, unrepentant Stalinists, and former Trotskyists. It represents an abandonment of revolutionary internationalism and solidarity, a retreat into the fantasy-world of ‘socialism in one country’, and a capitulation to the nationalism of the Far Right.

The Morning Star keeps at it:

What would a ‘clean break’ with the EU mean for the economy? Alex Gordon.

Any Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and Theresa May is by definition not going to be acceptable to socialists. The EU wishes to tie Britain into its single market and customs union, which embeds austerity, cuts and privatisation, super-exploitation of migrant workers (and wage depression), a Fortress Europe, racism and a growing far-right across Europe as a consequence.

A “clean break,” managed no-deal Brexit on WTO terms will allow a future Labour government to challenge these policies. Labour’s current policy to embrace “a customs union” with the EU would prevent implementation of its 2017 general election For Many Not The Few manifesto and could lose them the next general election.

As in this prospect:

But, fortunately,  this looks prospect has not won friends inside the Labour Party, today.]

Face the facts, Labour leftwingers: Lexit is dead

(Described as being on the soft left of the Labour Party, with the “Daily Mirror noting Smith’s politics “largely overlap when it comes to policy” with Corbyn’s.)

The key sections are these:

But the Lexiters had one argument that was never completely rebutted. There was a grey area in the law about whether EU competition laws and state aid rules would prevent us from renationalising the railways or subsidising other key industries. Even though most legal experts thought this was surmountable, it was a point that lingered in the public debate. Not any more. In supporting a customs union and a single market alignment, our party leadership is saying it would bind the UK to the very rules the Lexiters are against. And, if we’re outside the political structures of the EU, we will have very limited say in how those rules are made or how they will operate.

As George Peretz QC, co-chair of the UK State Aid Law Association, has said: “In a customs union, we are asking the EU to give up the weapon that WTO rules (countervailing measures) give it against UK subsidies. There were always going to have to be cast-iron state-aid rules in consequence.” The EU has already imposed a state-aid clause in the proposed withdrawal agreement for this very reason.

The truth is there can be no leftwing Brexit. It is an oxymoron. It’s irreconcilable with those values of freedom and equality that are at the heart of what we stand for. There is no freedom without an end to poverty, said Bevan; it is our job is to pursue equality and freedom, said Crosland. To them, a leftwing Brexit could never have been born; to me, Lexit is now dead.

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Crucially, Jeremy is fighting for a significant extension of the Brexit deadline with the EU. This additional time is needed not only to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU but also to scrutinise any new deal and allow for a confirmatory referendum so that the people, as well as MPs, can have their say. Labour is finally making the right case for its values of equality, internationalism and freedom. Our party can remind the country the Brexit right doesn’t have to have its way. If we stay in the EU, we can work with other socialist parties to build a fairer and more democratic Europe.

Lexit is dead. Democracy is alive. Labour is waking up. Now the British people know the real facts about the costs of leaving, that many of the promises made for Brexit will be broken and that any deal will not give clarity – just a crisis that goes on and on – our voters deserve a new say.

The wind is turning.

The letter was organised by the Love Socialism Hate Brexit campaign.

The fight continues:

If a deal is passed, Brexit never ends. We must put a stop to it

Brexit threatens all of the progress we have made. The public rightly regards this episode as an exercise in politicians wrangling over a chaotic process and neglecting the real issues. Unless it offers a sharp alternative on Brexit, Labour will not be immune to that sentiment. Meanwhile, our national discourse is becoming increasingly poisonous. Racists the far right are on the rise, feeding off the idea that the 2016 EU referendum put them on the winning side of history.
The two MPs continue,

We have now joined with a host of other radical and socialist Labour MPs to form Love Socialism Hate Brexit. Together, we are campaigning for the socialist Labour government we all need. And we are taking a stand with Labour members, and with the communities we represent, to fight against the disaster that is Brexit. We, and other members of Love Socialism Hate Brexit, will write a column every Thursday for LabourList.

We want to turn this from a moment of stagnation and frustration into a moment of hope. By uniting, Labour can end the Brexit chaos, bring down the government, and rebuild and transform Britain. We can live up to our role as an internationalist party, leading the left in Europe to fight climate chaos, bring forward a compassionate refugee policy, and combat and regulate capital. We need to remain and transform the EU.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2019 at 10:36 am

“Britain should leave the EU on WTO terms” – the Story Behind the Communist Party of Britain’s Call.

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Communist Party of Britain Brexit Sub-Committee.

Britain should leave the EU on March 29, liberating a future Labour government from EU Single Market rules and trading with EU and other countries on WTO terms if necessary, Britain’s Communists declared at the weekend.

At the first meeting of its new Executive Committee elected at the 55th Congress, the Communist Party said that the ‘pro-EU Tory minority regime’ and the EU Commission could not be trusted to reach any withdrawal agreement that did not serve the interests of big business and the capitalist class.

‘Locking Britain into the EU Customs Union would make any such agreement even worse’, Robert Griffiths explained, ‘because it would outlaw import regulation to protect strategic industries such as steel, while also impeding a mutually beneficial fair trade policy with developing countries’.

Britain’s Communists urged the labour movement to reject ‘anti-democratic manoeuvres’ to extend Article 50 in order to delay and possibly cancel Brexit. Instead, the CP executive called for a ‘People’s Brexit’ to leave the EU, its Single Market, Customs Union and new pro-NATO military structures so that a left-led Labour government will be free to pursue left and progressive policies that benefit the workers and the people by investing in transport, the environment, housing, productive industry and public services.

‘Britain should leave the EU on WTO terms’, Communists propose

Communist Party calls for Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms (The independent Daily Paper of the Left, the  Morning Star).

The Morning Star has  yet to track down the insider’s account of the reasons for this call, and even the highly rated Skwawkbox has not, so far, published the ‘low down’

But the Newshounds of Tendance Coatesy are hot on the story that has rocked Britain’s left.

Our investigative reporters suggest that the announcement may be a sign of these possibilities:

  • The CPB has made the barking announcement so that anything, absolutely anything, Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne suggest for  Labour’s Brexit plans,  will look reasonable.
  • The Party has decided to follow Chantal Mouffe’s Left Populist strategy of hegemonically uniting  Gammon discursive articulations, with the most advanced sections of the labour movement,  through a chain of equivalences, in a People’s Brexit.
  • The WTO, as identified by cde Aaron Bastani, is the most advanced form of capitalist accelerationism whose rules will ensure the swift coming of total luxury communism –  faster than Novara Media’s Griffin farms in Norway.
  • Roger Griffiths and his mates have never got over the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy and its protectionist proposals.
  • The CPB actually believes this load of old cobblers.

The Central Committee of Tendance Coatesy is in permanent session debating our response.

On a serious note, it seems that the CPB is prepared to throw the Irish people to the Unionist wolves.

 

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

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

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

George Orwell Politics and the English Language.

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

John Ress. Counterfire September 2018.The Salzburg shakedown

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

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

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

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

Breitbart. November. 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2019 at 12:33 pm

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.

Brexit, Racism and the Far Right: what some new anti-Fascists ignore.

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Hard-Line Brexit Right.

“The fight against racism is indivisible – which is why the left has always made it central to its politics.”

Lindsey German.  of the Left pro Brexit group Counterfire. August the 13th.

Brexiteer Arron Banks wants to mobilise Leave supporters to join the Tory Party and vote Boris Johnson as leader reports the Tendance’s favoutie daily print paper, the ‘I’.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon says Johnson has potential to be a ‘great prime minister’

Brexit-backing businessman Arron Banks is planning an attempt to ensure that Boris Johnson becomes prime minister by flooding the Conservative Party membership with his anti-EU supporters. The former Ukip donor, who gave £9m to the Leave.eu campaign in the 2016 referendum, has proposed a digital advertising campaign to encourage backers of his Brexiteer movement to join Tory ranks and back Mr Johnson in a future leadership election.

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Trump adviser In the immediate aftermath of Mr Trump’s election victory, Mr Banks travelled to meet the president-elect along with close political ally and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s former political strategist and architect of his White House victory, yesterday reiterated his support for Mr Johnson, saying he has the potential to be “a great prime minister”. Mr Bannon, who is attempting to sway Mr Johnson towards supporting his plans for a populist anti-EU movement, insisted that Mr Johnson had “nothing to apologise” for over his remarks on the wearing of the burka. The US right-winger told the Sunday Times: “Boris just needs to be Boris – true to his nature and his calling – and I think he has potential to be a great prime minister, not a good one.”

In her account today of the Johnson’s Burka scandal Germain discusses racist coverage of Muslims, Islamophobia, and Boris. She defends women’s right to choose their oppression with the Burka. (Boris Robinson and Tommy Johnson: two sides of the same racist coin – weekly briefing)

For a second one’s attention is caught by this curious sentence, “Islamophobia in the 21st century targets women heavily, reproducing all sorts of issues to do with fear of sexuality, or of independent women. “

But disappointingly the role of the Burka and Niqab in promoting sexual independence is not developed.

After rushing around to mention media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, she then ends with the one phrase which makes some political sense in the whole overladen adjective-strewn, rant against “toxic” “scapegoating”,

There is a deliberate process here where fascists and the far right hitch themselves to mainstream politicians, and use them to further spread their doctrine of hate and division.

Now how did we come to a political scene in which these highly funded, media, Net obsessed alt-right can have an impact?

Why is there a cross-over between the far right and ‘mainstream politicians’?

How is that when the SWP bookshop, Bookmarks, was assaulted recently members of the vehicle of this cross-over UKIP, were involved (Ukip suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack) ?

Why is Boris the favourite of these forces?

The answer is the Carnival of Reaction that fed into and broke out after Brexit.

This was and is itself based on racism and xenophobia, the motor of that form of alt-right-driven populism which focuses on defending national sovereignty against the foreign EU and migrants.

While some on the left keep imagining that a People’s Brexit will be magicked out of economic and political thin air this continues to develop.

As observers have stated:

UN: Racism has risen since Brexit vote 11.5.2018.

The UK’s Brexit referendum has caused a growth in the acceptability of racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, the UN special rapporteur on racism said Friday.

After finishing a two-week fact-finding mission in the UK and Northern Ireland, Tendayi Achiume said in a statement that she found a “growth in volume and acceptability of xenophobic discourses on migration, and on foreign nationals including refugees in social and print media.”

Racial and religious-based intolerance was also noticeable in political discourse on both the left and right to the point that it has gained ground in mainstream political parties, she said.

DW

Perhaps one reason why Germain does not want to talk about this is because a part of the pro-Brexit left was heavily implicated in the process that has led to present conditions.

Paul Embery, National Organiser, Trade Unionists Against the EU. (a body given publicity and support by the Morning Star, the Socialist Party, and parts of the trade union left)  expressed (the  Sun 4th of May 2018)  the view that the left should be against uncontrolled migration permitted by EU rules on freedom of movement.

He went further than talking about competition over jobs and social resources, or employers’ use of (un-unionised) migrant labour to threaten wages and conditions.

Migration has created a cultural threat:

“The demographic convulsions meant stable, settled Barking and Dagenham found itself in the eye of the storm of the debate over mass immigration. The indigenous population cried out for respite. The letters page of the local paper was filled with correspondents begging to be heard. But nobody in power took a blind bit of notice, other than to patronise them with trite arguments about improved GDP and cultural enrichment.”

Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

Embery’s defence of what he calls the “indigenous population” and their “their sense of order” ““faith, family and flag” against the “liberal elite”.

If this sounds like a call for something like the politics of Arron Banks (who donated £54,000 and gave other help to the Trade Unionists Against the EU) that is because beyond being the right-wing of Blue Labour it teeters on the fringe of the hard right.

There are wider issues about the relationship between Brexit and racism and the far right.

One way to look at them is through this emerging coalition of mainstream Tories and the far-right.

But it’s still important to look into the background.

In the lengthy article below Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism argues that the pro-Brexit left has ignored or tried to explain away the role of racialism in the Brexit vote.

It is not necessary to agree with the author’s support for Marxist-Humanist ideas on non-state social liberation (they took no official position for Leave or for Remain) to see that,

“If the Lexiteers are aiming to lead the working class, then they are invoking the working class to advance some other  project—such as promoting parliamentary sovereignty, justifying immigration controls, promoting social cohesion or building the Party. They are not immersing themselves in, and learning from, the struggle for human freedom.”

Left Brexiteers Evade the Charge of Condoning Racism

‘It was a popular revolt, not an anti-immigrant vote’: Left Brexiteers evade the charge of condoning racism

by Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism

The majority vote to leave the European Union (EU) has been celebrated by many on the Left (Lexiteers) as a revolt by the ‘left-behind’ working-class. The same vote has been condemned as enabling substantial racism and anti-immigrant sentiments. This article critically examines various Left attempts to defend the ‘Leave’ vote against the accusation of racism. According to these defences, a vote to leave the EU was in the interests of the working class, or of human liberation more broadly. The article highlights some contradictions between the goal of human emancipation and the defence of the Leave vote against the accusation of racism.

The article is divided into four main parts. The first part points to the ample evidence that anti-immigrant sentiment was a significant factor in the Leave campaign and vote. (This part also provides a substantiation of the assertion, in the MHI document Resisting Trumpist Reaction (and Left Accommodation), that: ‘In the UK, the surge of support for Brexit last year, which secured the victory of the “Leave” forces, was driven largely by anti-immigration backlash’ (p. 49).) The second part outlines a number of different attempts to evade the ‘it-was-racism-that-won-it’ argument. The third part provides a critique of Goodhart’s defence of Brexit voters from the accusation of racism. The fourth part does the same for Bickerton and Tuck. The article concludes by noting the importance of challenging racism as part of the broader struggle for human emancipation.

Amongst the many important  sections this is particularly telling:

Studies conducted after the referendum confirm that immigration control was a crucial issue. A poll conducted on the day of the vote, for example, found that a third of Leave voters who were polled (33%) said that the main reason for their vote was that leaving ‘offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.’ An analysis of data from the British Election Study survey of referendum voters concluded that the data suggested ‘that the decision taken by the Leave campaigns to focus heavily on the immigration issue … helped to drive public support for leaving the EU while also complicating the ability of Remain campaigners to “cut through” and galvanise support for continuing EU membership’. A study of the British Social Attitudes survey used the data to test two popular explanations for the Brexit vote: firstly, that it reflected ‘the concerns of more “authoritarian”, socially conservative voters about the social consequences of EU membership—and especially about immigration’; and secondly, ‘that the vote was occasioned by general public disenchantment with politics’ (a version of the ‘revolt against the elite explanation’). The study found that the survey data provided more evidence to support the first explanation than it did to support the public-disenchantment one.

Until people like Germain recognise this link between Brexit, racism,  and the growth – still very far from a mass movement – of the far-right in Britain, it is unlikely that those outside their limited circles will take their calls for anti-fascist and anti-racist unity seriously.

 

 

 

Counterfire Pats Itself on the Back for Backing Brexit.

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Image result for LOndon says Lexit Tariq Ali

Pro-Brexit Left Tries to Rise from the Grave.

How is the left reaction to the present stage of Brexit developing?

Counterfire, a weather-vane on the pro-Brexit left offers indications of how those opposed to the growing class for a Second Referendum on the left think.

For those not familiar with who and what Counterfire is, it is a revolutionary socialist groupuscle that split from the Socialist Workers Party in 2010 (Why we are resigning from SWP: an open letter.) They protested against the “authoritarian internal regime” of the SWP and its inability to create and work with, “a broad left response to the recession”.

They were the group most associated with George Galloway’s Respect, both inside the SWP (as the ‘left pltform’) and outside:Coutnerfire leader JohN Rees for example stood  for the Respect list in the WEst Midlands for the 2004 European Elections and was the Respect candidate for the Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election. He also stood for Respect in the 2006 local elections in the Bethnal Green South ward of  Tower Hamlets.

Counterfire worked with Galloway in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC). Lindsey Germain from the orgisation is their best-known figure in the  the StWC. This alliance became notorious for  its “anti-imperialism of fools”. In 2015, following the murders at Charlie Hebdo and the Porte de Vincennes Hypercacher the organisation stated, “Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East”. It has played no active part in defending the population of Syria against the Assad regime’s violence, or in standing up for the Kurds fighting the genocidal Islamists of Daesh.

In domestic politics Counterfire was involved in the Coalition of Resistance (2010)  against Austerity, and is the leading force in the People’s Assembly (founded in 2013), whose national personal they have effectively provided. These are, in their own view, long-term strategic ‘united fronts’.

Counterfire itself promoted a Leave vote during the European Referendum.

Following the Leave victory Counterfire  has been prominent in what was known for a while as the “People’s Brexit” – that is a programme for a left government constructed outside of the structures of the EU (The why and what of a People’s Brexit John Rees)

The problem with this strategy is that trying to “block” the Conservative government’s policies without challenging Brexit has proved hard to do.

There is no movement in political or civil society to ‘take back control. There is no industrial unrest or indeed any other other forces demanding a left platform. There is only a Labour Party without political power. Unless Labour confronts the economic and social consequences of Brexit,that is opposes it, the labour movement lets  May and her hard Brexit opponents act as they wish.

This is the context for the present post:

Brexit and the left, two years on.

“The left should not avoid political struggle, it should actively work to shape the outcomes of political crisis argues David Bush

This article, which admirers  have compared to Mao’s On Contradiction, continues,

 It has been just over two years since Great Britain voted to leave the EU. With the final leave date set for March 29, 2019 Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU have revealed deep divisions within the Tory party and the broader ruling class.

………

In the runup to and shortly after the Brexit vote in the summer of 2016 many on the left sounded the alarm about the dangerous potential of Brexit for the UK, Europe, and even global politics.

Brexit was going to usher in a revanchist carnival of reaction. For the last two years, people have linked Brexit and the rise of Trump, using them as a sort of shorthand to describe the dangerous rise of rightwing populism across Europe and North America. Is this linkage warranted? Two years on what has been the actual effect of Brexit?

Apparently the Carnival was largely overshadowed by the good (but not winning) electoral performance of Labour in the last (post_Brexit0 eleciton)

The result of the election was a stunning near-victory for Labour. Corbyn’s Labour Party won 40 percent of the vote, drastically increased their seat count and took away the Tory majority. The Lib Dems, Greens and the SNP – which all backed Remain – lost votes.

And what of the reactionary side of the Brexit vote? Bush reassures us:

For many voters, living in forgotten communities, where jobs and hope have long disappeared, Brexit was seen as a way to reject the establishment.

One can only sight with relief that didn’t trundle out guff about “metropolitan liberals” “anywhere”.

But I dirgess.

Above all,

 The Lexit position was clear, there were no prospects for the working class inside the EU. It was argued that a Brexit vote would cause a crisis in the ruling class in the UK and in Europe and create better conditions in which to battle both the bosses and the far-right.

Er……?

It is not that the Brexit vote was destined to automatically lead to a decrease in anti-immigrant sentiment, rather that the Brexit vote opened up a political space in which those ideas could be shifted via political struggle.

Counterfire has shifted from arguing for a mass movement behind a People’s Brexit, to the view that Brexit offers the best conditions in which to fight  the expression of far-right prejudices and the bosses.

No evidence is offered for this claim

Except a thought experiment what might have happened if the Remain vote had won.

Looking into his vision of an alternative future the Counterfire Guru writes,

Two years on it is clear that if Remain won, there would more barriers than openings for the Left. David Cameron would still be the Prime Minister in a Majority government, the Tories would not be racked by political crisis, UKIP would be much more popular and able to harness frustration with the establishment more easily, British and EU capitalists would not be staring down a political crisis, Corbyn would not have had an election that would have put his internal critics on their back foot and shifted the political debate in the country.

Would it have offered the prospect of fighting an emboldened hard-right?

Obviously not.

Would it permitted a fight against the bosses?

Well, Yes it would!

Still, as it is, prospects are rosy:

When faced with business fears about Brexit, Tory MP Boris Johnson stated fuck business. Clearly, all is not well in the ruling class.

And,

Brexit from the outset was full of contradictions. Political struggle is and will always determine which side of the contradiction emerges from a political event. Too many on the Left forgot this basic outlook and retreated to moralism and fear. The Left should not dread shake-ups in ruling class institutions. It is messy, but that is the nature of political struggle – a shifting political terrain create openings, but it is also fraught with new dangers. The role of the Left is not to shirk from this struggle, to pine for institutional and political stability of capitalism, but to work to understand the potential, and actively shape the outcomes, of a political crisis. Two years on that is the lesson Brexit.

So in other words all Counterfire is left with is gloating at the “shake up” of “ruling class institutions” by internal squabbling amongt the Tories.

These, as Mao might have said, are “secondary contradictions” amongst the class enemy…..not to mention whatever mischief the pro-Brexit lot can stir up in the Labour movement.

But let the thought sink in: all they can show for Brexit is a bleeding big row.

****

An important reply (which is by no means in the same vein as the above)  is offered by Neil Faulkner: Lexit and the Left: a comradely response to Dave Bush (Left Unity).

Extracts:

The argument that socialists should support Brexit because the bulk of the British ruling class opposes it, because it has thrown the ruling class into crisis, and because the EU is a bosses’ club is no better. It breaks down at so many levels. Underlying it, I suspect, is the absurd notion that, in the hyper-globalised capitalism of the early 21st Century, there might be some sort of ‘British road to socialism’ – presumably under a Corbyn-led Labour government implementing some sort of ‘alternative economic strategy’. Is it not obvious that the state-managed welfare capitalism of the immediate post-war period broke down in crisis in the 1970s? Is it really credible to imagine some sort of social-democratic ‘new deal’ today, to be achieved in one country, in defiance of international finance-capital, and in isolation from the international working class?

..

The Tory regime is in deep crisis. The anti-Trump demonstration showed the potential to turn that crisis into collapse. We won a historic victory on 13 July. The British state, hosting the most important foreign leader in the world, could not guarantee security on the streets of its own capital, so was forced to move Trump around the countryside in a helicopter. The people controlled the streets and turned what was meant to be a state visit to honour a fascist supporting US president into a carnival celebration of our diversity, tolerance, and solidarity. The British Establishment was forced to mute its customary welcome – limiting it to  parades of Redcoats, tea with the Queen, holding hands with May – while the British people told the truth to the world that the man is scum. If we turned that into a mass social movement against Brexit and the Far Right, we can and will defeat them.

Brexit: A Requiem.

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Image result for turds

Did Magna Carta Die in Vain for this?

“The Brexit dream is dying” Boris Johnson.

As “we are truly headed for the status of colony” spare a thought for those who dared to dream.

There is a thorpe in England, Bell End, Bertywoostershire.

Nay but a hamlet, but full, in every nook and herne, with  platoons, little and large.

In the ale-house, on the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frock’d boors sigh heavily o’er their loss.

The day is weary but they recall the merry match when Lord Tariq, wi’ sturdy northern folk from Counterfire, played the cricket team, and took a Beamer from Sir Arron, while wrinkled Vicar Giles smiled gently on.

The Squire, Sir Farrage, and his valet, Mr Galloway, would have many a cream tea at the neighbouring Big Boris Mansion.

Once a mouser was stuck high in the oldest Oak tree, the Lord of the ancient holt, and Yeoman Embery came a-runnin’ to save the feline.

The innocent of the village, Brendan O’Neill, made a tasty stew with that moggie….

The Very Honourable Ress Mogg with his Morris Players…. a sight to behold!

Alas.

Now gone.

Brussels ad portas.