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Posts Tagged ‘Lexit

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

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Image result for bookmarks shop britain great peoples charter

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.

..

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.

 

 

 

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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.

American Jacobin Magazine Advises UK Left to “embrace Brexit” and National Sovereignty.

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Image result for jacobin magazine Winter 2018

 El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Why the Left Should Embrace Brexit 

THOMAS FAZI WILLIAM MITCHELL.

“A progressive, emancipatory vision of national sovereignty radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals – one based on popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and  effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society – is not only necessary; it is possible.”  What Is Needed Is A Progressive Vision Of National Sovereignty  

In the article the authors argue,

The Left’s anti-Brexit hysteria, however, is based on a mixture of bad economics, flawed understanding of the European Union, and lack of political imagination. Not only is there no reason to believe that Brexit would be an economic apocalypse; more importantly, abandoning the EU provides the British left — and the European left more generally — with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible.

Fazi and Mitchell knock down a straw man, that the Remain left considers that Brexit “will lead to an economic apocalypse. Their arguments are based on the idea that the pro-EU left’ accepts the idea that markets are optimal, that “free trade” is the basis of pro-Remain economics, and that we agree that, ” A crucial tenet of the Single Market was the deregulation of financial markets and the abolition of capital controls.”

The authors, one safely based in Australia, conclude,

Indeed: a democratic socialist government led by Corbyn is the best option for the majority of British citizens and for the British economy. This leads to an obvious conclusion: that for a Corbyn-led Labour government, not being a member of the European Union “solves more problems than it creates,” as Weeks notes. He is referring to the fact that many aspects of Corbyn’s manifesto — such as the renationalization of mail, rail, and energy firms and developmental support to specific companies — or other policies that a future Labour government may decide to implement, such as the adoption of capital controls, would be hard to implement under EU law and would almost certainly be challenged by the European Commission and European Court of Justice. After all, the EU was created with the precise intention of permanently outlawing such “radical” policies.

That is why Corbyn must resist the pressure from all quarters — first and foremost within his own party — to back a “soft Brexit.” He must instead find a way of weaving a radically progressive and emancipatory Brexit narrative. A once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity has opened for the British left — and the European left more in general — to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible. But it won’t stay open forever.

They ignore this:   New report: the Corbyn moment and European socialism.

Today we are launching a major new report, outlining a fresh strategy to “Remain and Reform” in the EU.

8th March 2018

Transnational institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change, and only if the UK remains in the EU can Corbyn have the necessary influence to achieve these aims.  The report identifies a number of key areas where a Labour government could use the EU to implement its radical programme. These include:

  • Taxing multinationals, including harmonising corporation tax rules and clamping down on tax avoidance.
  • Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax
  • Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions
  • Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate
  • Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies
  • Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis
  • Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one
  • Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it

A strategy based on National Sovereignty ignores the fact that no country alone is a “sovereign” of the economy, that pooling sovereignty in the EU is the means  to promote these objectives.

If the EU is, as they assert, a “de facto supranational constitutional order “,  what is the British constitutional order? The body administering these processes, the State, is ‘capitalist’, that is, is institutionally wrapped around the existing power structure. It is organised to promote the interests of business. We do not need an elaborate theoretical framework to see this nor can we wish it away by appealing to ‘real’ sovereignty.

The left has to grapple with this problem, just as it would have had to deal with the limits that “pooled sovereignty” creates.

Our strength does not lie in the nation state but in our popular support and the labour movement: expressed by how far we can condense this power in the administration, not just by legislation but by grass roots backing. It would, we hope, be expressed by Parliamentary representation.

What could a Labour government negotiate within a probable framework after an election?

John Palmer has argued (Corbyn Should Stop The UK’s Drift Out Of The EU January 2018)

Labour should drive home the message that being part of a stronger and reforming EU is an essential means for advancing its programme for radical economic and social reform at home. Social democratic, socialist and green parties in the EU believe this is the real basis of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach which is one reason why he was so warmly received during recent meetings in Europe.

If Corbyn is elected PM before the die is cast on the final shape of the UK/EU relationship, he should seek immediate negotiations of his own with the EU. As the incoming PM, leading a government with a new mandate, this would be very unlikely to be denied.

If, however, Labour does not take power until the UK is fully outside the EU, a Corbyn-led government should unilaterally pledge to fully match all future progressive economic, social, labour and democratic reforms agreed at EU level, coordinate closely with the EU on a new Europe-wide economic recovery strategy and serve notice it will seek renewed full membership of a reforming EU at the earliest opportunity.

What exactly is a break with ‘neo-liberalism’?

Only those gifted with immense “political imagination” consider that a  ‘sovereign’ UK  can negotiate a break with capitalism with the WTO and the EU.

The rest of the Fazi list of idées reçues, , “progressive, emancipatory vision…radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals…. popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity,….the socio-ecological transformation of production and society” is long on rhetoric, short on specifics.

The final rupture with capitalism is, nevertheless, clearly off the cards.

A Labour government would face, inside or outside the EU, a hard task in untangling the multinational ownership of  “mail (Postal services), rail (ways), and energy firms.” Capital controls is a vague term, but it hardly looks an easy objective to carry out on the world stage, a kind of Bretton Woods of one.

Would Labour, having avoided a “soft Brexit” be in a position to reach trade deals with the ‘soveriegntist’ Trump government, or any other, that favour these objectives?

The key issue for a Labour government is austerity. It will face challenges with tackling the under-funding of the NHS,  public services and social security.

Would it be able to wrangle a way of making arrangements with the EU that untie all the legislation regulating the production and trade flows of companies and rebuild them to its wishes in the British Isles?

What kind of socialism aims for ‘national’ sovereignty other than one which restricts this power to this one nation’s people?

The goal of socialists is not a vision of national but international emancipation.

The irony of a US publication being the vehicle for a lecture to the British left on how to embrace sovereignty cannot have escaped many.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Labour, the Customs Union and a Marxist Case against Brexit.

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Image result for Communist Party Lexit

Lexit Mythomania.

It has been said that Trotskyism is noted for ‘mythomania’. (1)

Whether on not that is true for Trotskyists the word fits the myth-spinning Lexit’ – pro-Brexit – left to a T.

Recently the leader of Counterfire asserted,

Labour should stick with its People’s Brexit strategy argues John Rees”.

I can’t recall Labour ever campaigning for or deciding in favour of a ‘People’s Brexit’, although few would doubt that Labour is in favour of a “A new economic settlement that works for the many.”

And Rees’ wish list of “better than the EU not worse than the EU.” is an interesting suggestion coming from a faction that supported leaving the EU under a Tory government that was bound to make things worse.

As Catherine West MP has written in the Independent (30.1.18),

It has often been argued by advocates of “Lexit” that a hard Brexit will allow a future Labour government to end austerity. That by leaving the single market and customs union and shaking off the shackles of Brussels we will have more freedom to invest in the economy.

This is nonsense. The reality is that austerity in the UK has been a political choice, made by this Tory Government, and has nothing to do with the EU or single market rules. EU rules impose no restriction whatsoever on the level of public spending. Its strictures are about deficits, that is, how much, in normal times, governments finance their spending by borrowing instead by taxation. Crucial is that the rules allow governments the flexibility to deliberately spend in a Keynesian manner during a recession and to invest.

Let’s be clear: a hard Brexit, whereby we leave the single market and customs union, will cause an economic loss that will reduce tax receipts and therefore risk an extension or intensification of austerity.

All credible economic analyses of the long-term cost of Brexit have found broadly the same hierarchy of effects: the further Britain travels from the single market, the greater the economic loss. Indeed, the Government’s leaked analysis, published by Buzzfeed, of the impact of Brexit says that the UK would be worse off under all scenarios. Furthermore, most estimates of the cost of Brexit may well be conservative and do not include uncertainty, business confidence and flight of EU workers, which will have a negative effect on the UK’s productivity.

She concludes,

for as long as the Conservatives remain in power, leaving the single market risks the extension of austerity for years to come, on top of the last decade of public spending cuts.

This is the report the article is based on: Busting the Lexit Myths.

The choice is clear. We can sit back and wait for the consequences of a hard Brexit to become so severe that it topples this terrible Tory government. Or we can stand up for those who will be worst affected and fight for membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Future generations will not forgive us for inaction or for perceived complicity in a Brexit that damages our country and our economy. Those of us on the left who believe in building a more equal, more prosperous and sustainable country must not be duped into supporting a Tory agenda that would do the opposite.

This brochure comes highly recommended from the guardians of Parliamentary Sovereignty in the Communist Party of Britain, as the product of  “Forces set on subverting the Brexit vote (who) have targetted the labour movement.”

Perhaps Counterfire, who campaigned for Brexit, alongside Trade Unionists Against the European Union (recently embroiled in controversy over their funding from hard-right millionaire Arron Banks), could bear this in mind and take a look at the real political debate over the EU.

If it’s not too much trouble

The BBC reports today,

Labour and customs union: Evolution not revolution. 

The Labour position has been to argue that “a” customs union was “a viable option” and that the government should “keep all options open”.

What we are likely to see on Monday is wording that makes plain that “a” not “the” customs union would have distinct benefits and is the most logical way to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border.

It won’t just be a viable option but a viable end point. And the policy is likely to evolve in another way too.

Currently Labour recognises that when we are out of the EU, we are out of the single market.

So it is arguing that it wants to retain the same benefits as single market membership – such as tariff-free trade.

I’m told the same formulation could be applied to “a” customs union, that in the long term a future Labour government could sign up to one, if the UK got the exact same benefits as it gets from “the” customs union – frictionless trade and a say over the external tariff on imported goods.

As Labour has talked about the benefits of some form of customs union before, this would be an incremental not dramatic move forward.

However party insiders say that Jeremy Corbyn can’t guarantee that a future Labour government would definitely be in such a customs union because it would have to be negotiated with the EU.

But one insider said that people listening on Monday will have no doubt where Labour is headed: That a customs union is the preferred option.

Speaking on LBC radio, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry gave credence to this by saying: “We have to negotiate a new agreement. That, we think, is likely to be a customs union that will look pretty much like the current customs union.”

On the strategy to take the New Statesman carried this article a few days ago,

A Marxist case against Brexit: Trade union leader Manuel Cortes on what Labour should do.

The TSSA General Secretary  states,

Cortes has called for the UK to remain in the EU. “Any Brexit deal that introduces friction and borders will finish off the job that Thatcher started because our manufacturing industry will just dwindle away,” he warns. A “soft Brexit” (remaining in the single market and the customs union), meanwhile, would condemn the UK to “vassal statehood” by making it “a rule-taker, rather than a rule-maker”.

Will Labour listen to this pro-EU view, one which many on the left (outside fringe groups like Counterfire or the Sovereigntist Morning Star) share?

But Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged to end free movement and Corbyn has refused to endorse a new referendum on Brexit (Cortes was said to be “furious” when the issue was not debated at last year’s party conference). “The Tories are having a conversation with themselves, I think we need to have a conversation with the country,” says Cortes. “Labour is ideally placed to start that conversation.”

Does he believe that Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic, could yet change his mind? “My view is that Jeremy listens to people and he will continue to look at what the facts are,” Cortes says. “And as those facts change, and he continues to listen to people, I’m sure he could change his mind. I see no reason why he would be fixated on any position.”

The AWL certainly agrees,

The resignation of the Blairite Lord Adonis from his position as adviser to the Tory government has shown the issue of Brexit, and whether or not to try and stop it, is not over in the Labour Party.

A new survey has suggested that allegedly 78% of Labour members want Brexit to be stopped or at least want a second referendum.

Up until last year’s election the right-wing of Labour (notably Progress) had only half-heartedly taken up the issue of stopping Brexit. They avoided directly opposing Brexit because they feared the electoral power of nationalistic sentiment.
They couched their opposition to Brexit primarily as the need to retain membership of the EU single market, aware that there was considerable cross-party concern about the impact of withdrawal on business.

For the left in the Party, issues of migrant rights and the growth of political nationalism were the major concern. Last autumn the Labour Campaign For Free Movement collected hundreds of signatures on a statement calling for the Party to be unambiguous in its defence of migration.

For Workers’ Liberty, opposing Brexit required taking the issue of defending migrants into “Leave” sections of the working class. These were often poorer sections of the class: unorganised and politically demoralised by decades of austerity.

Our positive case should include developing real links with the rest of the radical workers’ movement in Europe and transforming the EU.

Moving toward government, a radical Labour Party can energise the European labour movement. We can stop Brexit, challenge austerity on a cross-European basis and stop the nationalist narrative trapping British workers.

We need a working-class campaign to stop Brexit.

 

(1) A term which is something of a leitmotif in Christophe NickLes Trotskistes, Fayard, 2002,

Defend Freedom of Movement Against Draconian UK Brexit Plan for ‘National Preference’.

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Image result for latest tory plans on immigration post brexit

British Government Plans to Introduce ‘National Preference’ in Jobs Market.

Leaked document reveals UK Brexit plan to deter EU immigrants reports the Guardian.

Exclusive: Home Office paper sets out detailed proposals including measures to drive down number of low-skilled migrants from Europe

It proposes measures to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants – offering them residency for a maximum of only two years, in a document likely to cheer hardliners in the Tory party. Those in “high-skilled occupations” will be granted permits to work for a longer period of three to five years.

The document also describes a phased introduction to a new immigration system that ends the right to settle in Britain for most European migrants – and places tough new restrictions on their rights to bring in family members. Potentially, this could lead to thousands of families being split up.

Showing a passport will be mandatory for all EU nationals wanting to enter Britain – and the paper proposes introducing a system of temporary biometric residence permits for all EU nationals coming into the UK after Brexit for more than a few months.

The determination to end free movement from day one and drive down lower-skilled EU migration, end the role of the European court of justice in family migration and extend elements of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” measures to long-term EU migrants without residence permits is likely to please hard Brexiters.

The paper updates with this comment,

Analysing the document, Alan Travis, our home affairs editor, said:

It proposes that after Brexit day all newly arrived EU migrants, unless they are highly skilled, will lose their rights to live permanently in Britain. At a stroke they will be turned into temporary workers with a maximum two-year permit.

The Independent,

Brexit: Tory government EU migration plans labelled ‘economically illiterate’ and ‘plainly cruel’ amid angry backlash

Ministers accused of planning ‘cruel’ restrictions which would damage the economy, split up families – and allow rogue bosses to exploit workers

Draconian post-Brexit curbs on immigration revealed in leaked Government proposals would wreck public services and fuel an “underground economy”, Theresa May has been told.

The plans – which would strip all newly-arrived EU migrants of their rights to live permanently in Britain, including the highly-skilled – triggered a furious backlash within hours.

Ministers were accused of planning “cruel” restrictions which would not only damage the British economy and the NHS, but allow rogue bosses to exploit migrants and undercut good employers.

Those who follow French politics will recognise that in the scheme is a policy of National Preference, close to the demand of the far-right Front National, for jobs to go to first of all to UK Nationals.

p46 - Potential measuresp40 - we are clear

 

Criticism of the ideas is pouring in:  4 things wrong with the goverment’s Brexit immigration plans  COLIN YEO

It is to be hope that the majority of the left will respond to these plans along the lines advanced by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

Ana Oppenheim, a spokesperson for the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and an international students’ representative for the National Union of Students, said: “Our party should stand for a system of free movement. This is in the interests of all workers, by giving everyone the right to work legally, join a union and stand up to their boss without fear of deportation or destitution. Migrants’ rights are workers’ rights.”

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement was launched on 4 August by trade unionists and Labour Party members and supporters. Prominent signatories to its founding statement include MPs Clive Lewis, David Lammy, Geraint Davies and Tulip Siddiq, and the General Secretaries of the TSSA, BFAWU, UCU and UVW trade unions. Over 2,300 Labour members and supporters are already backing the campaign, which intends to bring proposals for free movement policy to next month’s Labour Party Conference.

With these measures on the cards those on the left who voted Leave, and who claimed that the vote paved the way for a ‘socialist’ Brexit are in disarray.

How they ever imagined that a  few street protests would change the Cabinet’s course is hard to explain, even for those accustomed to the mythomania of some on the left.

A specific dilemma is faced by those within the labour movement and Labour Party who are hostile to freedom of movement.

The small ‘Trotskyist’ Socialist Party is representative of this current.

The organised workers’ movement must take an independent class position on the EU free movement of labour rules that will be raised in the EU negotiations.

The SP has written this,  “The single market and free movement

The socialist and trade union movement from its earliest days has never supported the ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’ – or labour – as a point of principle but instead has always striven for the greatest possible degree of workers’ control, the highest form of which, of course, would be a democratic socialist society with a planned economy. It is why, for example, the unions have historically fought for the closed shop, whereby only union members can be employed in a particular workplace, a very concrete form of ‘border control’ not supported by the capitalists.

It will be interesting to see what kind of ‘closed shop’ they and others of this opinion would offer as an alternative – if any –  to the latest Tory plans.

Boost for ‘Another Europe is Possible’ Remain Campaign: Varoufakis, McDonnell, Lucas and Clive Lewis Join.

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Ex-Greek finance minister will help launch nationwide campaign alongside John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will join the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and Green party MP Caroline Lucas for the start of a tour to persuade leftwingers to vote to stay in the EU.

The senior figures from the political left are teaming up as part of the Another Europe is Possible campaign, in which they will make a progressive case for the UK to stay in.

The tour will start with an event in London with Varoufakis, who was severely critical of the EU’s dealings with Greece’s debts when he was finance minister but has recently warned that Brexit could plunge Europe into a 1930s-style depression.

Other rallies will involve trade unionists, as well as the Labour MP Clive Lewis, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, at cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.

Lewis said: “This referendum will define relationship to the world for decades, and we will be joining together with progressives across Britain and Europe, not just to make the case that we are better off in Europe, but also to talk about the kind of society we need to build.

“Capital long ago fled national borders. In order to build a society which is fair for everyone, we need an international response to austerity and the financial crisis. That’s why we are campaigning on an unapologetically progressive platform – for social justice, the environment and freedom of movement.”.

This follows last week’s decision by the Fire Brigades Union,

Fire Brigades Union conference says, ‘Stay in Europe to change Europe’

National conference agrees to support campaign for Britain to remain a member of the European Union. But brilliant speech from General Secretary Matt Wrack rejects status quo Europe and calls for alternative

Delegates at FBU conference debated EU membership at length both in a fringe meeting on Wednesday and in a plenary debate today, but ultimately decided by some margin to remain and campaign for change with trade unionists across Europe.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, gave a fiery speech, critical of the current EU but strongly in favour of staying in to defend workers’ rights and change the union from within.

In particular, Wrack passionately defended the free movement of workers, saying that problems such as unemployment and housing crisis were caused by banks and the failure of markets, and not by migrants.

Kieron Merrett, trade union officer for Another Europe Is Possible , who spoke at a conference fringe meeting the evening before the vote, said:

“It’s terrific to see one of Britain’s best organised trade unions back the workers’ case for ‘In’ with an explicit ‘stay in Europe to change Europe’ line. It was an excellent debate that we were delighted to participate in. But the message must now go out, not only to every firefighter, but also every trade unionist in the UK. There is only one way to vote in this referendum to defend the vital interests of working people. That’s to vote to remain inside the European Union.”

Supporters of leaving the Union are also holding a rally this week.

Lexit: London left leave rally WEDNESDAY

All London meeting this Wednesday 18 May – 7pm:

The Internationalist Case against the EU – Friends Meeting House (Small Hall) 173-177 Euston Road, NW1 2BJ.

Speakers: Philippe Cordat (CGT union confederation France), Brid Smith (TD (member of parliament for People Before Profit, Ireland), Quim Arrufat (international secretary of the left wing Catalan party CUP), Lindsey German (Counterfire), Argyri Erotokitou (Greek doctor and leading member of Antarsya, Alex Callinicos (Socialist Workers Party) and Rob Griffiths (Communist Party).

In the Morning Star today Alex Gordon Lexit convener on the Left Leave Campaign writes on the present conflicts about new labour laws in France.

French Trade Unions Fight EU Attacks on Workers’ Rights.

Startled by this link between the EU and the El Khomri Law?

It’s backed by the following extraordinary claim.

LAST week France’s Socialist government issued an emergency decree to weaken workers’ rights at the behest of the European Commission.

Last Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls imposed the hated “El Khomri” law — named after Minister of Labour Myriam El Khomri — using an emergency constitutional mechanism (Article 49.3) to prevent a debate or vote that his government would lose in the French parliament.

Gordon repeats this assertion,

President Hollande’s decision to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution to comply with radical measures the European Commission demanded in November 2015 brutally exposes his own government’s weakness.

Article 49.3 of the Fifth Republic was designed to prevent repetition of the chronic instability that characterised France’s Fourth Republic (1946-58), which famously saw 22 governments come and go in a mere 12 years.

In other words, it’s French Sovereignty which is is being used to……obey Brussels.

Every single report indicates that the El Khomi law originates in the demands of the French employers’ organisation, the MEDEF (” le basculement idéologique dans lequel François Hollande et Manuel Valls, inspirés par le Medef. Liberation. Passim). The Communist Daily, L’Humanité noted the same in February, “le Medef est devenu extrêmement offensif pour remettre en cause le modèle social français, pour réclamer des baisses d’impôts et de cotisations sociales, pour exiger la remise en cause du droit du travail. S’appuyant sur son vaste réseau de médias et d’économistes, il prétend cogérer l’État en imposant la réduction de la protection sociale, le report de l’âge de la retraite, la baisse des dépenses publiques..).

This is the first I’ve heard of an involvement of the European Union in the El Khomri law.

But, you’ve guessed it, the news hounds of  RTRussia Today, have sniffed it out for the benefit of all, no doubt including the Morning Star,

Bruxelles, discret chef d’orchestre de la loi El Khomri.

Brussels, discrete Chief Conductor of the El Khomri law.

The author of the RT article, Pierre Lévy, is in charge of the journal Ruptures that claims to be, “progressiste et iconoclaste”. It is to say the least, a strange mixture of ‘communism’,  anti-globalisation rhetoric, and French nationalism. In other words it’s a ‘sovereigntist’ project, an assertion of French nation against the European Union. (1)

Instead of this claptrap, for a serious account of the long-standing employer pressure to get red of labour law ‘red tape’ see the Blog de Gérard Filoche

Or this article by Filoche, an expert in French labour law, from his experience as an Inspecteur du travail: Un nouveau bouquet de lois sur le travail en janvier 2014.

Meanwhile in the UK a ‘sovereigntist’ connection runs through Alex Gordon’s ‘Lexit’ rally.

Amongst the speakers we note Philippe Cordat  Cordat is “Secrétaire du Comité Régional de la Cgt Centre, that is a region of the French trade union federation, not the national CGT. He appears to have conflicts with the CGT union leadership –  as outlined in this Front Syndical de Classe.

Cordat has strong opinions on the ‘super-national’ forces at work in the European Union.

The« idée européenne » a été historiquement portée par deux forces : la social-démocratie et le Vatican.”

The European ideal has historically been carried by two forces, social democracy and the Vatican. (Here)

Cordat also has views on the activities of the Socialist Party, the NPA and other far-left groups, as well as Freemasons and religious networks not to mention bosses’ influence inside his union ,

A bien y regarder la déferlante anti-communiste qui marque le débat public dans le pays depuis plus de quarante ans a conduit de nombreux syndicalistes à faire une fixation sur « la mainmise de Moscou » sur la CGT sans ouvrir les yeux sur les pratiques du PS, de la LCR devenu NPA, des autres structures de l’extrême-gauche des réseaux maçonniques et religieux, du patronat qui s’activent dans et autour la plus importante organisation syndicale française.

The successive waves of anti-Communism that have marked public debate in this country over the last 40 years, we can see,  has led many trade unionists to be fixated by the ‘hand of Moscow’ in the CGT, without opening their eyes to the activities of the Socialist Party, the LCR which has become the NPA, and other far-left  structures, Freemasons and religious networks, as well as the bosses, operating in and around the most important trade union body in France.

Réflexions d’un syndicaliste de la CGT  Philippe Cordat. (2011)

These opinions form part of Cordat’s wider complaints against the the CGT’s own version of Another Europe is Possible (whose details are too similar to the UK campaign to need repeating).

He stated in 2012 (Front Syndical de Classe) that this strategy is completely wrong.

Elle ne remet en cause ni les fondements, ni même les principes pour lesquels l’UE agit en ce moment : effacement des souverainetés, remboursement des dettes au profit des marchés …

It does  not question the foundations and the principles which drive the present EU: the iblteration of soveriegnties, the payment of debts to the profit of the markets…..

This emphasis on the importance of national sovereignty is shared by the Communist Party of Britain as one can see here: Why the EU is a negation of parliamentary sovereignty and democracy. argues Robert Griffiths.

It is to be wondered if the ‘revolutionary’ speakers at the Lexit meeting, from Counterfire and the SWP, not to mention Antarsya, or even the ‘municipalists’ of the Catalan CUP, share this sovereigntist vision.

Or indeed if they have the slightest concern about this project:

Iain Duncan Smith says workers’ rights should be ‘flexible’ after Brexit in epic on air tantrum.

 

(1) Fondé par Pierre Lévy, ex-journaliste à L’Humanité, ex-militant du PCF et de la CGT Métallurgie1, BRN compte ainsi dans son équipeLaurent Dauré (UPR et Acrimed)2, Dominique Guillemin (UPR)3 et surtout Bruno Drweski, militant anti-impérialiste entretenant un réseau d’amitiés et d’alliances tant à gauche qu’à l’extrême droite4. Il est à noter que le directeur de la publication de BRN, Hervé Berbille, a participé ès qualité à une réunion de l’Action française à Bordeaux en 2005 visant à promouvoir le « non » au TCE, comme le relate le compte-rendu publié sur le site de l’organisation d’extrême droite5. Confussionnisme Info. “RUPTURES, NOUVEAU MENSUEL SOUVERAINISTE.”