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Posts Tagged ‘Sovereigntism

John McDonnell argues for UKIP Voters’ Veto on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Vetoed by UKIP Supporters, Says John McDonnell.

John McDonnell: Labour wants to push ahead with Brexit

On eve of conference, shadow chancellor defies calls for party to promise second referendum.

The Guardian Political Editor,    cites this,

Earlier, speaking as Labour prepares to gather in Liverpool for its annual conference, with Brexit high on the agenda, the shadow chancellor told the Guardian he would expect his party’s stance to be similar to the one it took in 2017.

“We would be in the same situation there, where we would be saying: we’re accepting that original vote; this is the sort of deal that we want,” McDonnell said.

“I really think people want this sorted. That means negotiating a deal that will meet people’s objectives. So you don’t get hung up on the semantics; you do the deal that will protect their jobs, and address some of the concerns that they had during the referendum.”

He underlined his scepticism about the idea of a vote on the final deal, which will be discussed in Liverpool after more than a hundred constituency Labour parties, and the Labour-supporting unions, called for it to be put on the agenda.

“The debate around the next manifesto will go on, but I really worry about another referendum,” he said.

I’m desperately trying to avoid any rise of xenophobia that happened last time around; I’m desperately trying to avoid giving any opportunity to Ukip or the far right. I think there’s the real risk of that. We’re not ruling out a people’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think people need to take that into account when we’re arguing for one.”

Stewart notes,

Much of Labour’s manifesto, if there was a snap poll, would probably be based on last year’s document, The Many, Not the Few, drafted by Corbyn’s policy chief, Andrew Fisher. But the final version would have to be approved by a committee of senior party figures at a so-called clause V meeting – and would be expected to take party conference resolutions into account.

And, apparently, Labour Policy will have to be approved or least found tolerable by the UKIP and the far-right…

The new Pamphlet from the Left Against Brexit says.

“Brexit is a hard right Tory project – the only way to resist it is from the left. This pamphlet puts forward our distinct, left wing reasons to oppose leaving the EU.”

It’s increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’, let alone a ‘people’s’ or ‘left’ Brexit – and this reality is gradually becoming obvious to millions of people in Britain. Brexit, after all, has always been a right wing project. Ardent eurosceptics from Nigel Farage to Daniel Hannan have long harboured a nationalist dislike for the idea of European unity – a hostility that has always gone alongside an aggressive support for Thatcherism and an extreme free-market ideology that yearns to emulate the US by, for example, abolishing the NHS.

….

There is a distinct radical case for staying in the EU, which starts from the assumption we cannot light a path to a new society through nationalist division. Instead, we need to work together with our allies across Europe to realise a bold and transformative socialism.Radicals need to make an unromantic assessment of the tasks at hand across the continent. The EU has many negative qualities – just look at its treatment of Greece (page 29). But the solution to this can only be brought about – like so many issues we encounter in the twenty-first century – through international cooperation, not ‘going it alone’. Staying in the EU and working across borders to tackle the many problems the continent faces is the best and only viable option. The alternative is to roll the dice on a Tory hard Brexit and hope for the best. Faced with this choice, leadership from the left is now required.

(Introduction, Luke Cooper).

Download this essential Pamphlet!

  • Brexit and the hard right’s American dream . Nick Dearden
  • Free movement: a workers’ right Ana Oppenheim.Railways and the EU: time for the truth Manuel Cortes
  • Austerity and resistance in Europe.Marina Prentoulis
  • The EU, a ‘neoliberal project’? Niccolò Milanese
  • Corbynism and Europe. Mary Kaldor
  • Conclusion: Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum

From the Conclusion.

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment.

This analysis parallels this present Blog’s views on Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen and the French sovereigntist ‘left’. One can add that the Brexit ‘left’, which may be in a  position to dictate these view inside the Labour Party, may be visibly failing, but still needs to be defeated.

The alternative internationalist strategy of the Left Against Brexit needs active support.

As for the far-right, this is the best response:

It’s in this vein that Michael Chessum says that UKIP should not decide Labour Policy.

After May’s humiliation, Labour must seize the initiative on Brexit  (Guardian)

By backing a referendum on the deal, Corbyn can prevent a split in his party and lay the foundations for electoral success.

This should be a moment of opportunity for Labour and the wider left. The Tories’ Brexit agenda was never about restoring sovereignty to ordinary people – its purpose is to deregulate the British economy and bring us more in line with the American mode, permanently shifting the balance of power in society. By deploying a narrative about the economic crisis that blamed immigration falling living standards, the Brexit project aimed, via the means of a popular vote, to be on the winning side of history.

..

The Labour conference is likely to be dominated by this debate. After a summer in which Unite, the GMB and the TUC have slowly moved towards backing a fresh referendum, 150 motions have been submitted on Brexit. In spite of attempts to weaponise the issue against Corbyn, this is now a campaign led by the left – a grassroots surge centring on the need to defend migrants and free movement, protect the rights and prosperity of working-class people, and push back against the ideological project that Brexit represents.

Everyone now recognises that defeating the Tories’ Brexit agenda is Labour’s only path to government before 2022. There is a consensus that Labour should vote against May’s deal, if there is one, when it is presented to parliament. There is also a consensus that a general election and a radical Labour government is the goal of the strategy. But Labour needs to clarify what it would say about Brexit in any manifesto, and it needs to be clear about its demand if, as is likely, no general election happens. On both points, there is an inexorable logic that points towards a referendum on the deal.

This is a difficult time for the Corbyn project. On one flank, it faces the prospect of an SDP-style split that would fatally undermine Labour’s electoral prospects. On the other, it faces a support base that is up in arms about attempts by unions and the leadership to block open selections and enforce a higher threshold for leadership elections.

There is an alternative to a split, and to using the “party management” machine to crush the left’s own grassroots. By backing a referendum and endorsing a roadmap out of the nightmare of Tory Brexit, Corbyn can kill off the political pretext for a split from the Labour right. Instead of horse-trading with union leaderships and placating the parliamentary party, Corbyn can stick to his principles and make the case for democracy – in the party, and, ultimately, in the country.

We heartily endorse this analysis and these views.

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Frank Furedi (ex-Revolutionary Communist Party) Gallantly Defends Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

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Furedi: “democratic and very human.” culture of Hungarian regime.

In Europe it striking that, in the face of right-wing ‘populism’, some on the left have taken up the same right wing themes.

The German aufstehen movement, which claims inspiration from both Momentum and La France insoumise of Jean Luc Mélenchon has taken up the themes of harder controls over immigration and a hard-line on law and order. Apart from creating an almighty row in the party a couple of days ago (Wieder Streit bei der Linken: Sammlungsbewegung Aufeinanderlosgehen)  the echoes have been felt in France.

Both elements within LFI and the ‘left’ of the Parti Socialiste. Emmanuel Maurel, who is said to be about to join Mélenchon, have praised this stand on borders,. Maurel, who cites  Régis Debray, Éloges des frontières (2010)) says, “La gauche ne doit pas avoir honte de parler de nation, de frontière, de laïcité” The left should not be ashamed of the Nation, of frontiers, and of secularism.” (le Monde) The leader of LFI now repeats his hostility to EU principle of freedom of movement, the latest occasion only being a few days ago. (“Jean-Luc Mélenchon a réitéré, à plusieurs reprises cet été, son hostilité à la liberté de circulation et d’installation.”Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières. 9th of September). Some of his team openly admire the positions of Aufstehen: “ La gauche allemande anti-migrants saluée par un proche de Mélenchon (8th of September) 

It would not be difficult to find similar views, from Blue Labour stalwarts, to Trades Unionists Against the EU, and, in a more mute form on other parts of  (by no means all) the Brexit left’

The drift to ‘sovereigntistism’, that is the centring of politics on the issue of National Sovereignty, borders, law and order to the fore, is widespread.

No doubt after the Swedish election it will grow.

But the destination reached by the ex-Revolutionary Communist party, now present in Spiked, and reproduced by their writers for the Sun, broadcasts on Radio Four, and the Sky News Press Review – for the moment -stands out amongst the others.

THE EU’S SHAMEFUL CRUSADE AGAINST HUNGARY Frank Furedi

For some time now, Hungary has been the target of a witch-hunt led by an alliance of Euro-federalists and cosmopolitan politicians. The aim of their propaganda campaign has been to delegitimise the Hungarian government by portraying it as a xenophobic, quasi-fascist entity that threatens to undermine democracy across the continent of Europe.

This campaign of vilification against Hungary has to some extent proved successful. Hence a significant section of the European Parliament voted today to punish Hungary. For the first time ever, this institution has unleashed the EU disciplinary process, known as Article 7, against a member state.

After some attempts to portray the Obran government as just like all the others:  “like other countries it has its share of problems, of course. Some of the policies pursued by Viktor Orban’s government can be criticised.” we come to gritty kernel of Feurdi’s argument: 

The Hungarian government’s values are very different to the technocratic outlook of the EU federalists. The best way to describe the Hungarian government’s outlook is conservative, traditional and Christian. It is also democratic and very human. These are values that the EU oligarchy is determined to abolish, to erase from the European landscape and history, in order that it might replace them with its own technocratic cosmopolitan outlook.

the EU parliamentarians who voted to punish Hungary should be ashamed of themselves. They have betrayed the real values of Europe: those values of humanism and tolerance that were best expressed by the Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers.

Perhaps the Emeritus Professor of Sociology could find an appropriate  quote from Voltaire on the necessity of tolerating the intolerable and intolerant…….

We will surely need all we can get to save us from the “cosmopolitans” out to erase so much that is precious from  the European landscape and history.

 

European Far-Right Sovereigntists to be led by US Steve Bannon’s The Movement.

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Image result for Raheem Kassam, Tommy Robinson

Raheem Kassam, Bannon’s Man in the UK.

The Daily Beast reports,

LONDON—Steve Bannon plans to go toe-to-toe with George Soros and spark a right-wing revolution in Europe.

Trump’s former White House chief advisor told The Daily Beast that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.

The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.

Bannon’s ambition is for his organization ultimately to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Society, which has given away $32 billion to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984.

Over the past year, Bannon has held talks with right-wing groups across the continent from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East.

He envisions a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament that could attract as many as a third of the lawmakers after next May’s Europe-wide elections. A united populist bloc of that size would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement.

….

After being forced out of the White House following internal wranglings that would later surface in the book Fire and Fury, Bannon is now reveling in the opportunity to plot his new European empire. “I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heaven,” he said, paraphrasing John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost.

The Movement’s headquarters are expected to be located in Brussels, Belgium, where they will start hiring staff in coming months. It is expected that there will be fewer than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elections, with a polling expert, a communications person, an office manager and a researcher among the positions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 people post-2019 if the project has been a success.

Bannon plans to spend 50 percent of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brussels office—once the midterm elections in the U.S. are over in November.

The operation is also supposed to serve as a link between Europe’s right-wing movements and the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was its envoy to Bannon’s operation in London.

Bannon and Raheem Kassam, a former Farage staffer and Breitbart editor, set up shop in a five-star Mayfair hotel for a week while Donald Trump was visiting Europe. Between TV appearances as Trump surrogates, they hosted a raft of Europe’s leading right-wingers at the hotel.

This comes as the Sunday Times reports,

Theresa May is facing an unprecedented political crisis, according to a new poll that reveals voters are implacably opposed to her Brexit plan and are prepared to turn to Ukip or parties of the far right.

In a survey that will spark unease in Downing Street, the YouGov poll found that the public believes Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, is better placed to negotiate with Brussels and lead the Conservatives into the next election.

It highlights how voters are polarising, with growing numbers alienated from the two main parties. About 38% would vote for a new party on the right that was committed to Brexit, while 24% are prepared to support an explicitly far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party.

One in three voters are prepared to back a new anti-Brexit centrist party.

Tory donors and allies of Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, are now plotting to raise £10m to set up a new hard-Brexit party — a move that could make it impossible for the Tories to win the next election.

A close ally of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, told The Sunday Times he aimed to raise £1m from British and US sources to create a right-wing “mass movement” to rival Momentum on the left.

It can also be revealed that Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, was holding talks on the creation of a new centrist party when he failed to turn up for a crunch vote last week.

The poll will prompt Tory MPs to demand changes to May’s Brexit proposal thrashed out at Chequers earlier this month. Just one in nine voters (11%) would support her plan in a new referendum and only 12% think it would be good for Britain, while 43% disagree.

By more than two to one, voters do not believe her plan keeps faith with the referendum result.

May’s position will be further eroded by public support for Johnson, who resigned to oppose the Chequers deal, which would lead to the UK permanently accepting EU rules on the sale of goods. Just 16% of voters think the prime minister is handling Brexit well; more than twice as many (34%) think Johnson would do a better job (!!!!!!! – or sarcasm….)

With the Tories on 38%, a point behind Labour, a Conservative party led by Johnson would be neck and neck with Labour, while his main leadership rivals — Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt — would all be trailing Jeremy Corbyn’s party by between 10 and 12 percentage points.

Johnson’s support is likely to grow if he is seen by MPs as someone who could prevent votes leaching to populist parties.

Bannon said yesterday he was setting up a foundation called the Movement, to lead a right-wing revolt at next spring’s European elections. He held meetings in a Mayfair hotel last week with senior figures on the European hard right and far right, including Farage and the vice-president of the French National Rally, formerly the National Front.

Raheem Kassam, a former adviser to Farage and employee of Bannon’s, said the post-Chequers chaos was “massively an opening for the right”.

Hardline Eurosceptics warned Tory whips last week that they would vote to bring down the government in a confidence vote if May watered down Brexit.

The only good news for May in the poll is that, while voters as a whole would like to see her resign, Tory voters still think she should fight on by a margin of 58% to 32%.

The prime minister has ruled out a new EU referendum on the grounds that it would be undemocratic to revisit the 2016 vote. The poll shows that if voters were offered a new vote they would overturn the referendum result, with remaining in the EU beating leaving with no deal by 54% to 46%.

 

RT (Russia Today) is a willing megaphone for Bannon.

Its French language site states today,

Un Soros du populisme ? Steve Bannon, l’homme qui voulait mener la révolte de droite en Europe.

Banon, they state, has meet the following people already, “Depuis un an, Steve Bannon a rencontré de nombreuses personnalités de droite sur le Vieux continent, de Nigel Farage, l’ancien dirigeant de l’UKIP et fer de lance de la campagne pour le Brexit, au Premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban dont les positions anti-immigration en font un opposant de premier ordre à George Soros, en passant par la présidente du Rassemblement national (RN) Marine Le Pen.”

RT in Spanish repeats the same message but manages to call his movement’s allies the “far right”.

Un exestratega de Trump planea crear una fundación para impulsar la extrema derecha en Europa

Dutch media also reports on the move:

Steve Bannon wil met ‘rechtspopulistische supergroep’ derde van Europees parlement innemen

And German: (Deutschlandfunk).

Bannon will Einfluss auf Europawahl nehmen.

Der Spiegel:

‘The Movement’ Steve Bannon plant offenbar rechtspopulistische Revolte in Europa

And Italian:

Bannon lancia l’internazionale populista europea. Si chiamerà “The Movement”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 22, 2018 at 12:18 pm

The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Review.

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Review: The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Hurst & Company. 2017.

A golden opportunity for commentators like the Brexit vote does not often come. For some on the left, the EU ‘neoliberal elites’ were given a welcome shock. Dismissing the role that organised fear of migrant workers played during the vote the ‘People’s Assembly’ sagely observes that racism played a part “in both sides” of the referendum campaign. In New Left Review, which has begun to dabble in British politics, Tom Hazeldine, declares that while the “rhetoric of Leave was anti-immigrant; the anger that powered it to victory came from decline.” (North and South. NLR 105. 2017) An unlikely mouthpiece, the Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, is recruited to express the view that it was a “vote against London”, “them down there”.

In words which could not doubt be taken from the Morning Star, Trade Unionists Against the EU, Spiked on Line, or the Socialist, and other anti “Brussels” outlets, we learn from Hazeldine that the “golden triangle of Whitehall, Westminster, St James” and the media “megaphones of the Remain Establishment”, were not strong enough to silence the voice of the authentic ‘rustbelt’ Northern proletariat, albeit – sotto voce – allied with “affluent Tory pensioners in the Tory shires.”

David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere shares many of the themes of these illustrious organs. It is billed as an essay on the faults of “metropolitan elites” and reflections on the reaction to them, the “populist revolt”, “a “socio cultural and identity phenomenon”. But the meat is in the emotions, above all the recoil from the EU. Preferring Charles Leadbeater to the Lexiters, he cites the fellow commentator, suggesting that the Brexit majority was also support “for pride, belonging, community, identity, and a sense of ‘home’ – it was rejection of the market…”(Page 53)

No doubt this is how some people think, though how many embrace the full list of opinions stuck together is hard to gauge. Goodhart makes a telling point against those who consider that a nationalist-led break up of “Ukania” (one-time New Leftist, Tom Nairn’s unfunny name for the United Kingdom, a joke so hoary I will confine it to a footnote) might escape this outpouring of glutinous sentiment, “Brexit was a movement to reclaim control/sovereignty from a supranational EU and the SNP is a movement to reclaim control/sovereignty from a multinational United Kingdom (though happy to cede sovereignty to and even more remote Brussels).”(Page 53) (1)

Somewheres and Anywheres.

The framework of The Road to Somewhere is set down by Goodhart’s distinction between “Anywheres” and “Somewheres”. The former, London urban based, university educated,  have “ a worldview for more or less successful individuals who also care about society”. They value autonomy and mobility and little interest in  “group identity, tradition and national social contracts (faith, flag and family)”. Set in contrast to such enthusiasts for “restless change” are those who are “more socially conservative and communitarian by instinct” who are not ease with contemporary cultural and economic transformations – ‘globalisation’ “mass immigration, an achievement society in which they struggle to achieve, the reduced status of non-graduate employment and more fluid gender roles.” For some this is a pronounced geographical identity that Hazeldine claims. For others they have something in common with the constituency called in France, the ” périurbain”, at the edges of cities, and the countryside, poorly served by public services and often, ‘disconnected’ rather than rooted, linked populist voting, and the Front National. Then there is the ‘left behind‘ feeling of many UKIP supporters, amply documented (Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. 2014) This suggests a much more fragmented set of reasons and potential electoral reservoirs for ‘revolts’ against the ‘system’, often  less identity affirmation than resentment against others.

Put simply, this capitalised distinction enables Goodhart to draw lines between the core constituencies for Remain, and those who backed Leave. That is between those who are willing to “dilute the claims of national citizenship” in a “borderless Europe and the language of universal rights”, “and those who pushed by “Anywhere overreach” are both unwilling to “relinquish most national control over economic life” and wish for, “greater respect for national citizen protections”.

While Goodhart claims that the referendum debate largely pushed these concerns away from public debate, which was between two versions of ‘Anywheres’, a claim he does not pursue in detail, the Somewheres largely plumped for Leave. He, as an “apostate Anywhere” who claims to have supported Remain, can still find the better sides of the Somewheres. Some may be xenophobic and authoritarian, but there may also be support for – oddly not unlike his own favoured policies, “localism” in a globalised world, the importance of community and duties. There is need for dialogue with a “decent populism” that respects others and strives for social solidarity. Progressives, above all Labour,  wedded to metropolitan Anywhere elite ideas, needs to go out to the left-behind Somewheres; hooking up again with issues of economic justice to form national social contracts. 

Too Diverse.

Without any surprise the author of  Too diverse? (2004) which warned of that mass immigration erodes “feelings of mutual obligation, reducing willingness to pay tax and even encourag(es)  a retreat from the public domain.”does not try, as leftists do, to duck this issue. The founder of Prospect sees the Referendum result as the occasion to underline “concern about ethnic diversity”, and, EU sanctioned, “mass immigration”, which is “in-your-face-globalisation”. This is central area for a new social contract. The time has come, Goodhart asserts, to recognise the fears of “decent populists”, “to return to lower levels of immigration, place more emphasis on stability, and also renew the national social contract, especially in post-school education and employment.”(Page 233) He goes somewhat further in suggesting a diluted form of Marine Le Pen’s ‘national preference’, “In the future, temporary citizens should have more limited social and political rights – corresponding to their own transactional relationship with the country – and should leave after a few years.”(Page 126)

These ideas are straightforward proposals for re-creating the old German Gastarbeiter system. “Temporary citizens” will not only have fewer rights abut  will also be easy to use to undermine the very pay and conditions that ‘left’ critics of EU migration already complain about.

The Sovereigntist Impasse. 

The Road to Somewhere is riddled with unresolved difficulties. How limited with these grudging rights be? And how does Goodhart propose that this will deal with the ethnic segregation and ‘parallel lives’ of existing, often third or fourth generations from previous migrations? It is wrong to dismiss the idea that to at least set out common ground in “ethnically heterogeneous societies” might lie in the appeal to universal rights that have the great merit of transcending religious and national difference?

The new social contracts are another exercise in rhetoric. Does Goodhart seriously believe that national ‘sovereign’ control over the economy is going to be created by Parliamentary fiat? That the “will of the people”, the General Will, is going to come alive, take flesh, and reside in Westminster? That, in short, that the Labour Party should embrace the ‘sovereigntism’ of the nationalist left in some European countries? In other words is “listening” and giving space to the Somewheres just a pretty cheap means to justify supporting such a  turn? 

A more grounded, left, not ‘liberal’  approach would not take as given the idea that globalisation is a political decision of elites. It is equally, if not more fundamentally,  a financial and economic process that would take global measures, beginning from the decisions of the pooled sovereignty of bodies like the European Union, to transform? That it up to the organisations of civil society, starting with the trade unions, to agitate and to bring social justice in the workplace, challenge wage and condition undercutting, and to work for a Labour government that makes these goals part of law, and, as would be the case were we part of the EU, building blocks of a social Europe, Another Europe….

One wonders how the game of reading the runes of Brexit will end. There are those now stating that Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France is the result of a (voting) majority in favour of the market and neoliberalism. Others, keen to read so much oppositional potential into the British Referendum result seem suddenly to have discovered the merits of explaining election victories by Establishment hoodwinking Goodhart, no doubt, has his explanation-kit ready to hand: Anywheres won…..

*****

(1) “Nairn uses the term ‘Ukania’ to suggest the irrational and Ruritanian nature of the British constitutional monarchy. His original source for the term is the nickname “Kakania” that Robert Musil uses for the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in The Man Without Qualities. ” The term Kakania was coined by Musil using the stem Kak – shit, cack. How we laughed! 

Reports that Labour Plans Regional Immigration controls as Sovereigntist Left Emerges in UK.

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Sovereigntism: a  Dead End for the Left. 

Tom Watson: Labour plans ‘liberal’ immigration policy for London but tougher controls in other parts of UK HATTY COLLIER

The Independent reports,

Labour plans regional immigration system to tighten controls outside London

The system would likely require some kind of work or housing permit to be introduced.

Labour is planning a regionalised immigration policy that would allow higher immigration to London but tighter restrictions on moving to other parts of the country.

Deputy leader Tom Watson said on Sunday morning that Brexit presented the opportunity to fine-tune the UK’s border controls and that the plan was under discussion by the party.

Asked whether he thought immigration should be higher or lower across the UK, Mr Watson said: “I don’t think you can say that. I think you can actually say London requires more liberal immigration policies but there are other parts of the country where immigration may be putting pressure on public services like schools and hospitals.

“That’s why I think when we come out of the EU we can have an immigration policy that maybe addresses both those issues.

“These are nascent ideas, we’re not ready to make them robust in a manifesto yet but they’re certainly the debate that is going on in the Labour party right now and in wider circles.”

The approach could help resolve Labour’s dilemma of keeping both its metropolitan support and its support in former industrial areas happy on the issue.

The idea would likely require some kind of work or housing permit system to be introduced as the UK has no internal border controls to stop people settling where they want.

A policy tailor made for electoral gain?

We sincerely hope that this policy, – requiring perhaps a line to be drawn around ‘open city’ London for ‘foreigners’ who wish to work and live in the UK – is not going further than these news stories.

Indications are however that this could well be part of “a national popular politics”.

Like many countries, notably France, Britain is now seeing the development of a “sovereigntist” left that seeks to base politics on the Nation, or ‘national renewal”. In France it is said that this strategy is needed to answer the Front National’s appeal to, frankly, racist roots of national populism and “the” people, wrapped in moralistic politics.

In words that could come straight from this current, Jonathan Rutherford  wrote in yesterday’s Labour List (Labour can respond to Brexit by leading a popular politics that completes the shift away from Thatcherism)

The first is to define a British sovereignty and restore control of our borders and law making. The nation state, accountable to its population, and working through treaties, partnerships and alliances, remains the best means of managing globalisation in the interests of its own citizens. Britain needs constitutional and political reform of its union and its governance. The Brexit vote was an English vote and so the renovation of self-government in England should be a priority in a more federal UK. The free movement of labour must end and immigration brought under national democratic control. It is a case made by Tom Kibasi  and by Chuka Umunna.

It is hard to find a better definition of sovereigntism than these lines: the position that supreme power should be exercised by  nation state,  that ‘pooled sovereignty’ – that is the European Union – is a weakening of its force, that

The Labour ‘interest’ is apparently redefined,

‘ Labour must recast itself as a party of national renewal and reconstruct a broad national coalition around a sociologically changed labour interest. It is the only means by which it can take on populism, transcend its own cultural divisions, and regain its credibility as an opposition and a government in waiting. A national popular politics speaks for the labour interest within the culture of the nation. It means a Labour Party that represents the diversity of working people in the country defining their own interest and so their own shared common identity.

Since Rutherfod considers that Brexit is a “democratic  moment” those who opposed it are cast into the darkness of   the “minority, metropolitan interest”, not the “real” People.

“Those who voted to leave the EU are a moderate majority of mainstream England “who will respond to “national popular politics.”

The words about globalisation and so on should not fool us into thinking this is any way ‘anti-capitalist’. Who are the first targets of this critique? As can  be seen, a key part of this version of sovereigntism  is the assertion of control of the free movement of labour.

Inside London, freedom of movement, outside, restriction, passes, permits.

Not only would this be unworkable but frankly it is an insult to those who prime responsibility is to defend the cause of labour, the cause of all working people.

Internationalism is not the preserve of ” a tiny revanchist Marxism and the dried-up old bones of the hard left. The vacuum is filled by a small minority” with egalitarian identity politics.”

Once you give priority is given to ‘British’ control, “our” border and “our” law making you have to define who this “our” is.

How exactly this relates to ‘English’ power and the idea – floated and not yet sunk – of ‘federalism’  is left in the air.

A federal’ system would, perhaps, also weaken the Nation’s unifying power generating capacity….And what could be a purer example of ‘identity politics’ than tossing the word England into the political game?

Internationalism, that is not just defending universal rights, an injury to one is an injury to all, is the only practical way of standing up for the labour ‘interest’ when Capital weakens our living conditions, our wages and our ability…..to move freely.

We have common interests beyond the ‘national popular’.

But let that detail pass in the lyrical nationalism that is the hallmark of the sovereigntist left.

Amongst ” free nations and democracies.” Britain has a special place in Rutherford’s heart.

We stand, in fact, at the very point of junction, and here in this Island at the centre of the seaways and perhaps of the airways also, we have the opportunity of joining them all together. If we rise to the occasion in the years that are to come it may be found that once again we hold the key to opening a safe and happy future to humanity, and will gain for ourselves gratitude and fame.

Another is a belief in the special place of the nation, coincidentally the home country of those supporting this vision, in History.

The “special relationship” with the US is a sentimental one. In reality it is transactional and rarely reciprocal. So be it. Britain must use the genuine affection of the American people and find its points of leverage and use them profitably.

The third circle was once empire, then it became the commonwealth, and now Britain must reinvent this sphere of influence as a democratic moral leader, social connector, trader, ideas maker, and culture creator, in order to build relationships with other creative powers who know how to project themselves onto the world stage. It is in this sphere that Britain can play a role contributing to rethinking the global order.

Jonathan Rutherford ‘s national Messianism apart, this is populism, not any form of social democracy or democratic socialism.

On the one side are the ‘real’ people, moral, hard working, whose wishes Rutherford had a talent to divine.

On the other, the “dried up” hard left and identity politics, the “minority, metropolitan interest”.

There are more experienced populists out there who are likely to beat Rutherford at his own game, in the growing nationalist right of the Tory party to begin with.

A pluralist democratic left should not go down the same dead end.

 

 

 

European Referendum: A Carnival of Reaction.

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One-Man Carnival of Reaction.

Scenes from British Political Confusionism.

“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”

Counterfire. April 2016.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)

Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”,  notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.

The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire,  the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?

Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.

If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.

Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..