Posts Tagged ‘Nationalism’
McDonnell Drops Internationalist and European Principles for Brexit “Enormous Opportunity”.
John McDonnell backs Brexit as ‘enormous opportunity’ for Britain reports the Politics site.
Labour today promised to get behind Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying they now believed Brexit is an enormous opportunity for the country.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour would not seek to prevent or delay Brexit, labeling those trying to do so as being “on the side of certain corporate elites”.
He told a meeting in central London that Labour “must not try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote,”
“If Article 50 needs to be triggered in Parliament, Labour will not seek to block or delay it,” he said.
He added that: “to do so would put us against the majority will of the British people and on the side of certain corporate elites, who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”
In a shift from Labour’s previous support for the EU, McDonnell said he believed it had been run in the interests of big business.
“While Labour supported remaining in the EU to protect workers’ rights, we cannot hide from the fact that too much of the EU also had aspects of the old model, putting the interests of big business over ordinary people,” he said.
“Labour accepts the referendum result as the voice of the majority and we must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us.”
He insisted that the party needed to change their attitude about Brexit
“It is time we all were more positive about Brexit,” he said.
McDonnell was asked how Labour could have any influence over the Brexit process when he had just ruled out voting against it, or seeking to block it.
He replied that the party would use “moral pressure” to influence the government.
“I think it’s the moral pressure that we’ll be able to exert… I don’t think it will come down to parliamentary procedures…” he insisted
“No government can resist (the moral pressure).”
Labour were accused of “capitulating” on Brexit, following McDonnell’s speech.
“Labour’s premature capitulation on Article 50 leaves those of us who oppose a hard brexit in a weaker position,” Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said.
“As a result we now have less power to persuade the government to give us proper details on their plans ahead of a vote.”
This language, the “British people” and the terms, “certain” (which ones?) “corporate elites”, reflect national populist rhetoric.
They have no place in an internationalist socialist movement.
What exactly are the “enormous opportunities” McDonnell is talking about?
Kicking out European workers, for example?
Negotiating with Donald Trump for a special US-UK trade deal?
The Shadow Chancellor gives no examples.
Nor does he specify what the phrase “moral pressure” means, beyond insulting people’s intelligence with the assertion that, “”No government can resist (the moral pressure).”
One might suppose that McDonnell considers that one only has to think “positive” in front of the mirror, and, hop, positive things happen.
This intervention goes against the grain of the international democratic socialist left:
Left-wing parties across Europe are telling Jeremy Corbyn to block Brexit November the 14th.
Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from left-wing party leaders across the continent to reverse Labour’s Brexit policy and block Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Socialist parties across Europe, including Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), are calling on the leader of the British Labour Party to form a parliamentary opposition to Brexit.
We endorse this recent statement by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.
Labour should vote against Article 50. (9th of November).
On 5 November Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that Labour will vote in Parliament against triggering “Article 50” — the formal procedure for Britain quitting the EU — unless the Tory government agrees to Labour’s “Brexit bottom line”.
That, he said, is mainly continued UK membership of the “single market”, within which customs duties and checks are abolished and trade regulations are uniform.
Better if he had said that the bottom line is freedom of movement in Europe — the freedom of EU-origin workers in Britain to stay here securely, for their friends and compatriots to join them, and for British people to work, live, or study in other EU countries with almost citizens’ rights, including such entitlements as public health care.
Since all sides now more or less concede that Britain cannot stay in the “single market” without also continuing freedom of movement — presumably with European Economic Area membership, or a sort of EU semi-membership, like Norway — it comes to much the same thing.
Then Labour’s right-wing deputy leader Tom Watson intervened to say that Labour would push “single-market” amendments, but would vote for “Article 50” regardless. Corbyn seems to have deferred to Watson.
Corbyn’s initial stance was right, and Watson is wrong. When the judges ruled that Parliament must vote on “Article 50”, that was an assertion of democratic norms.
The Tory government, in its legal dispute with the judges, has taken its stance on “Royal Prerogative”, the most undemocratic feature of British politics, the residue from the old absolute monarchy, the supposed right of the government to bypass Parliament.
The referendum result of 23 June creates no compelling democratic mandate for the abolition of freedom of movement, or for that matter the removal of EU citizen rights from over 50 million people. Or to impose the re-entrenchment of partition in Ireland. Or trigger the erection of a further probable new border between England and Scotland.
Aside from the facts that 16 and 17 year olds were excluded; that EU citizens living here were also excluded (though they can vote in local authority elections); that the referendum was run on poor electoral registers; and that opinion polls now show a Remain majority, the referendum could create no mandate for any particular form of Brexit. The Brexit campaigners were definite only on promises which they would scrap on 24 June (£350 million more each week for the NHS) and vague on the hugely different post-Brexit models (Norway? Switzerland? Canada? Albania? Singapore?)
It is more democratic for Parliament to decide the terms of Brexit negotiations than for May’s Cabinet to do it behind closed doors.
May has given secret assurances to the Nissan bosses. Labour should demand she give public assurances to migrant workers, and to workers and students who may want to migrate.
Maybe the combined votes of Labour, Lib-Dems, SNP, and Europe-minded Tories will be able to win terms to “soften” Brexit. That will be good.
If May refuses to trigger “Article 50” on “softened” terms, insists on “hard” Brexit, and can’t get it, then that’s her problem, and Labour should not help her out of it. It will be good, not bad, if the government cannot pass “Article 50” through Parliament — that is, if Parliament, in one way or another, upholds the rights of migrant workers.
Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that he welcomed the prospect of May calling an early general election. Activists should prepare for that possibility.
Under the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, passed by the Cameron government, May can call an early election only by engineering two successive votes of no-confidence in her government — not a good ploy — or by getting a two-thirds majority for it in Parliament, that is, only by getting Labour to vote for it too.
In circumstances like the present, where the Labour right’s relentless sabotage has given the Tories a not-yet-diminishing average 11% lead in polls over the last three months, Labour has an interest in gaining time to sort out the saboteurs, and a right to do so.
We have no interest in helping May to get a mandate from a snap election which she’d be fairly sure to win (despite “Remain” now having a majority in opinion polls), and which she could then cite as a “mandate” for hard Brexit.
Labour should fight every inch of the way to minimise barriers and divisions which the Tories want to raise with Brexit.
Heroes of Europe Against Hitler’s European Union.
What is it about former London Mayors and Hitler?
A few weeks ago we had Ken Livingstone’s comments about Zionists and Hitler.
No sooner had the din died down after Ken’s kenspeckle kiddy krap, than we have Boris’s bumptious borborygmi.
In a dramatic interview with the Telegraph, he warns that while bureaucrats in Brussels are using “different methods” from the Nazi dictator, they share the aim of unifying Europe under one “authority”.
He claims Winston Churchill would be joining him on the Brexit bus; he warns that the EU shares the same flawed ambition to unite Europe that Hitler pursued, and he challenges the Prime Minister to a proper “democratic debate” about the referendum live on television.
(Boris) sees parallels between the choices that confronted his beloved Churchill, and Britain, during the Second World War and the decision facing voters next month.
“This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting in my view out of control,” he says.
Johnson claims to be a real European.
Apart from his mastery of all the living tongues and cultures, he is a native speaker of Ciceronian Latin, and is said to be the only person alive who has read enough of the Emperor Claudius’ lost volumes on the Etruscans to be fluent in their speech.
He may be interested to read how his rancid rhetoric has gone down in the rest of Europe.
The DW article – one of a whole page of similar instant German reports – is content to outline Johnson’s rant.
The French reaction is more forthright.
Pour appuyer son argumentaire contre l’UE, l’ancien maire conservateur de Londres n’a pas hésité à effectuer un parallèle surprenant.
To back his arguments against the European Union, the former Conservative Mayor of London has not hesitated to draw a surprising parallel.
We will be more forthright still.
Johnson is known for his talk about ‘piccaninnies’ and black people’s ‘watermelon smiles‘.
Not to mention his description of President Obama and the “part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire…”
Johnson has not only joined the Carnival of Reaction amongst those leading the Brexit campaign: he is now leading it.
As Mack Wrack General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, says,
A Brexit vote at the EU referendum will benefit Boris Johnson and his pursuit of power, Mack Wrack warned, as his union threw its support behind the Remain campaign on 12 May. The 37,000-strong Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is the latest in a growing list of trade unions joining the battle to stop the UK breaking away from Brussels.
“It’s not our referendum,” Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU, told around 200 delegates to the union’s annual conference in Blackpool. “The referendum is taking place because of wrangling amongst the Tories. It’s a result of pressure from the right-wing of the Conservative Party and the threat from Ukip.”
He added: “The outcome of a Brexit vote is likely to lead to a change in prime minister, and we could end up replacing one Old Etonian for another.”
“[Johnson] is the man who forced through the worst cuts in the history of the fire service, anywhere in the country, ever… So far the referendum debate has largely been a feud between elites over the best way to exploit workers.”
The comments come after the Trades Union Congress, Unite, Unison, the GMB and other major unions backed a Remain vote at the 23 June ballot. The FBU recently voted to re-affiliate with Labour after Jeremy Corbyn’s shock leadership election victory in September 2015.
SWP Predicts End of Tories if Brexit Comes.
It’s probably hard to make a good speech when you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re communicating.
That’s why Jeremy Corbyn made such a dull and uninspiring presentation launching Labour’s pro-European Union (EU) campaign last week.
The SWP National Secretary has his own unique theory as to why Corbyn calls for a Remain Vote:
It turned out the way to make Corbyn back the EU was to elect him Labour leader. He compromised to keep at least some of the right vaguely on side.
The reappointment of Pat McFadden as shadow minister for Europe was seen as the first victory for Labour’s right under Corbyn’s leadership. The announcement that the party would campaign to stay in the EU followed.
McFadden eventually resigned, but was replaced with another strongly pro-EU figure.
Kimber accuses Corbyn of being pivotal in moblising the ‘Remain’ vote.
If Corbyn backed Leave, it is highly likely that the vote would be to break from the EU. Polls suggest that Corbyn is far more trusted on the issue than Tories on either side.
His support would banish completely the myth that only the right wants to exit. He would particularly appeal to young people who presently see the EU as a left wing project.
In place of any argument about workers’ rights, social Europe, or internationalism, or whatever the SWP used to dredge up as ‘principled’ reasons to stand for Little Britain, Kimber places this centre stage
Corbyn insists a Leave vote would boost the right. But with the political feeling in Britain at the moment it is more likely it would see Cameron’s resignation, turmoil in the Tory party, the loss of their parliamentary majority and an early election. This offers the hope of the end of the Tories before 2020, surely something to be grasped.
In other words, don’t vote just against Europe, but to get rid of the Tories….by replacing Cameron by a more right-wing anti-European Tory.
One can imagine the SWP National Committee…..
The comrades are respectfully silent.
Kimber is gazing into the dialectical crystal ball.
The Leave side has won!
The Organiser sees movement, a hideous Tory party, a gnashing of teeth, resignations, fights, disarray, messages of international support to Socialist Worker.
A new regime, perhaps of the hardest of hard rights.
Outrage, strikes, divisions: the regime falls.
Kimber continues his divination. An election, which will….. – here the prophecy grows dark: only the shifting shapes of masses of workers and protesters can be seen.
There’s a glimmer….
2,000, perhaps 200,000 thousand copies of Socialist Worker sold!
Lowestoft recruits ten new members!
The comrades smile: the Seer of Socialism has Seen!
In French this is known as la politique du pire: the worse the better.
After the exalted visions the SWP cannot resist a sharp, but more mundane, attack on Barack Obama.
Chief SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos finely analyses the speech of the Monarch of the global Empire,
Obama’s intervention stops anyone pretending any longer that they haven’t noticed where global capitalist interests are lining up. The Emperor himself has told them in words of one syllable that Brexit will harm his empire.
Meanwhile the Carnival of Reaction from the Leave camp continues:
NIGEL Farage has given his most rousing speech to date by declaring that a vote for Brexit will become Britain’s Independence Day.
Galloway Evokes Battle of Britain Spirit in London Mayor Bid.
This nationalistic posturing reminds me of what’s been happening in France.
While there are admirable protests about the projet de loi Travail (El Khomri) and the interesting Nuit Debout movement anti-Europe nationalism.
They call it “souverainisme“, demands for national sovereignty, migration, border controls, security, the constitution and cultural identity.
Most of those associated with this trend are clearly on the right, if not the extreme right.
But some on the French left have also been attracted by these themes.
This article from last year describes how some have passed over to the French nationalist right:
PARIS — When the newspaper Libération last month accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and best-selling author Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.
Onfray, who declined a request for comment for this article, went on to accuse France’s successive governments of “being contemptuous of the people” — what he calls, using the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners. As for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as much as I resent those who made her possible.”
The first is the fate of France’s poor and working class – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the right and the left alike. In that vision, the governing left’s policies favor the globalized elite and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.
The second theme is the visceral hostility towards Europe and the euro, seen as constraining economic and social policy and a fatal blow to the infamous “exception française,” a large and costly welfare state that’s supposed to shield the French from the turmoils of the global economy.
The drama is being played daily in the court of public opinion. Think of it as “the people vs. the euro.”
Onfray is well known for this vein of rhetoric.
They despised the common folk:
Les gens qui vont voter Non à la constitution européenne sont des crétins, des abrutis, des imbéciles, des incultes. Petit pouvoir d’achat, petit cerveau, petite pensée, petits sentiments. Pas de diplômes, pas de livres chez eux, pas de culture, pas d’intelligence. Ils habitent en campagne, en province. Des paysans, des pécores, des péquenots, des ploucs.
The people will will vote to the European Constitution are cretins, morons, imbeciles, uncultivated. They are hard up, small-brained, narrow mined and inward looking. They have no qualifications, no books at home, no culture, no brains. They live in the country, in the provinces. They are peasants, rustics, bumpkins, yokels.
Clearly Onfray hopes to repeat the result of the referendum on the European Constitution.
He however faces a nebulous target.
But British nouveaux réactionnaires have a unique opportunity: the UK Referendum on the European Union.
Brendan O’Neill takes up the Onfray challenge:
Railing against those “a Byzantine system of governance largely beyond the reach of Euro-plebs” the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and writer for Living Marxism muses, for the anti-elitist Spectator magazine, on The strange death of left-wing Euroscepticism
The further removed the left becomes from everyday people, the more it views the public as an obese, probably racist blob to be re-educated rather than as political citizens to be engaged. The left’s turn from hating the EU to at least wanting to stick with it is directly proportionate to its loss of faith in the masses. Democracy is no longer seen as a tool of progressive change. Lefties now trust EU suits more than they do the loud, odd locals of their own towns.
This comment from Briançon’s article sums up the empty nature of this stand,
““Europe here serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of “adding fuel to the fire.” “I call it the defeatist wing of French intellectual life: There’s no chance we’ll be able to make it, so let’s retract and retreat.”
Will others, hostile to ‘capitalist’ EU but more specifically to the free movement of labour, a substantial group inside the so-called Lexit camp, follow their French counterparts and align, like Galloway, with the hard right?
Allied with UKIP for the European Referendum Galloway looks a trail-blazer.
They’re Jubilant: Few other People are. (1)
AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) RIDES HIGH reports Reuters.
With a high turnout in all the votes, the AfD, already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional assemblies, succeeded in entering three more.
Its support was strongest in Saxony-Anhalt, where it grabbed 24.2 percent of the vote behind a diminished CDU showing, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin, ZDF television projections indicated.
With campaign slogans such as “Secure the borders” and “Stop the asylum chaos”, it was the first time the AfD had come as high as second in any state.
“We have fundamental problems in Germany that led to this election result,” said AfD chief Frauke Petry.
The AfD’s rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, punctures the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany, and may embolden more European leaders to challenge Merkel on the migrant issue.
The CDU’s leader in Saxony-Anhalt pointed the finger squarely at Merkel for his party’s losses.
“The issue that has brought the AfD into parliaments across Germany can’t be ignored on a federal level any more. We need solutions,” Reiner Haseloff told ARD television.
Charlotte Knobloch, former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, bemoaned a “massive shift to the right”.
“If voters follow the call of right-wing populists and extremists to such an extent, it is a failure of the democratic parties,” she said.
In Baden-Wuerttemberg in the southwest, the Greens for the first time became the strongest party in a state, with 31.1 percent of the vote, ZDF television projections indicated.
The state was a CDU stronghold for more than 50 years before turning to a Green-led coalition with the SPD in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and CDU support fell by another 12 percentage points on Sunday.
Also damaging for the CDU was the result in Rhineland-Palatinate, the home of former chancellor Helmut Kohl.
There, the CDU’s Julia Kloeckner, who had positioned herself as a future candidate to succeed Merkel, failed to unseat SPD state premier Malu Dreyer.
It was the only bright spot for the SPD, the biggest loser overall. In Saxony-Anhalt, its support almost halved and in Baden-Wuerttemberg it sank by more than 10 percentage points.
Asked if the SPD’s weak showing in those two states would trigger questions about SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel’s future, deputy party chairman Ralf Stegner said: “No, not at all.”
It is still unclear which coalitions will take power in each state, but the splintered vote opens the prospect of deep changes to the political landscape.
Die Welt, presenting a detailed break-down of the vote, notes that the AfD support came above all from former CDU and SDP voters: (Woher die Stimmen für die AfD kamen)
The Süddeutsche Zeitung points out that, the AfD has one central theme: “Es gab ein Thema, das in diesem Wahlkampf, an diesem Wahlsonntag alle anderen überlagert hat: die Flüchtlinge. DieAfD ist gegen “Multikulti”, prangert das “Asylchaos” an, ist stattdessen für “Mut zu Deutschland”, für “kontrollierte Zuwanderung”. That is, refugees. The AFd is against multiculturalism (in their derogatory slang, with echoes of ‘cult’), singles out Asylum-seeker chaos, their “Pride in Germany” and demands for a “control of immigration.”
The paper lists its other appeals as a “protest party”, as a “social-media party” and a party of “donnernden Reden”, thundering speeches, which we would more freely translate as loud-mouthed demagogy, shouting “”Merkel muss weg”, Merkel must go!
Taz reports on the AFD’s jubilation-time, and its satisfaction that it is no longer an East Germany party facing with the “lying-media”:
Jubelzahlen aus der Lügenpresse
Auf der Wahlparty der Rechtspopulisten ist die Stimmung gut. Die AfD sei nicht mehr nur eine Ostpartei, freut sich deren Spitzenpersonal.
Taz also reports on the results in Baden–Württemberg
Daniel Cohn-Bendit über Kretschmann
„Es bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün“
Also bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün, die neue Große Koalition.
That is, Cohn-Bendit foresees a Green-‘black’ (CDU) coalition running the state.
The Guardian states,
The German government will stick by its existing refugees policy, a spokesman has said, after the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland made strong gainsin regional elections on Sunday.
Asked if the results in three German states, where support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives dwindled, would lead to a change in policy, Steffen Seibert said: “The German government will continue to pursue its refugee policy with all its might both at home and abroad.”
AfD entered state parliaments in all three regions that voted, winning 24% of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt and over 10% in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.
The results suggested that German politicians increasingly appear to have two options: rally behind their chancellor, or rail against her.
Although AfD enjoyed considerable momentum, the majority of votes still went to parties who support Merkel’s pro-refugee stance. In all three states, incumbent premiers held on to their seat. In Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Green and Social Democratic (SPD) candidates managed to increase their vote after resolutely backing the chancellor’s open-border position.
(1) Except perhaps this man: Wie Putin die rechten Parteien in Deutschland hofiert.
Labour will campaign to keep the UK in the EU but wants “progressive change” in the union, the party’s leader will say.
Jeremy Corbyn will tell a party conference in Newcastle later today that he wants to see a “real social Europe” that has greater public ownership and stronger workers’ rights.
He has come under some criticism recently from backbenchers who warned the EU referendum vote could be lost unless the party made a more “passionate” case for remaining.
The opposition leader will say reforms secured by David Cameron which curb benefit payments for low-paid migrants “won’t put a penny in the pockets of workers in Britain”.
Ahead of next week’s budget, the Labour leader will insist the Conservative’s austerity measures are a “political choice not an economic necessity” and call the cuts “both brutal and unnecessary”.
“In 2010 they said that their ‘long-term economic’ plan would sort all this out, that the deficit would be eradicated by now.
“Their long-term plan has turned out far longer than they imagined, but subject to short-term revision when it fails again and again. It is a blueprint in deepest Tory blue to shrink the state, to shrink people’s security, stability and opportunity.”
Jeremy Corbyn will also dismiss Chancellor George Osborne’s so-called Northern Powerhouse policy as “southern hot air”, saying most of the investment for infrastructure projects in going to London and the south-east.
Why stay in the EU?
Free movement of people
Your right to work and study in other European countries would be at risk. There are 1.8 million British people living in Europe who currently benefit from these rights.
Limits on weekly hours, guaranteed breaks at work and minimum amounts of annual holiday – these key rights are protected at a European level.
Membership of the European Convention on Human Rights secures precious freedoms. Leaving the EU places our human rights at real risk because many of those who advocate British exit also want to abandon the European Convention.
Key safeguards protecting wildlife and tackling climate change have also been won at a European level. By establishing a level playing field they stop a ‘race to the bottom’ on environmental standards.
Protecting these things doesn’t mean settling for Europe as it is.
A different Europe is urgently needed – one that breaks with the free market economics that have caused so much damage to our societies. With 1 in 4 EU citizens at risk of poverty and social exclusion, we can’t afford to accept the same broken economic thinking.
Building ‘another Europe’ means working to strengthen social and progressive movements across the continent and pushing for democratic change – not walking away from the EU. It’s clear that an exit at the current time would boost right wing movements and parties like UKIP and hurt ordinary people in Britain. Join the campaign that says, ‘Stay in Europe, to change Europe’.
There is of course this ‘campaigner’ for Brexit to show us where that leads: