Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘The Full Brexit

Brexit, Whatever Happened to the Lexit ‘Left’?

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British Economic Breakthrough.

 

This is the Brexit News today:

Voters worried that Brexit has been bad for economy, as official figures show massive slump in trade

Independent.

Major shock’ from 40 per cent fall in exports to EU in January

The majority of Britons believe Brexit has been bad for the economy and trade, according to new polling for The Independent.

The findings offer the first indication that the damage caused by leaving the EU’s single market and customs union in January is cutting through with voters.

Official statistics showed on Friday a precipitous 40.7 per cent fall in goods sales to the EU in January, with experts blaming Brexit for a large chunk of the lost exports.

The slump – which also saw imports from the EU decline by 28.8 per cent – represented the largest monthly decline in trade with the UK’s largest commercial partner since records began in 1997.

 

One of the most prominent ‘left’ supporters of Brexit, the Harvard Professor Richard Tuck  wrote in 2017,

I think Brexit would help the Left is more fundamental.  It was that the essential character of the EU, as Wolfgang Streeck has powerfully argued, is hostile to traditional socialism of the mid-20th-century variety. If Britain left the EU, the space available to left wing policies would suddenly expand, and all sorts of possibilities, including such things as thorough-going nationalisation or differential regional taxes, would be on the table again.

In October 2000. this appeared.

In his new book, The Left Case for Brexit, the Harvard-based British historian of political thought Richard Tuck goes even further. Rather than merely finding a silver lining in the referendum vote, he instead presents a full-throated defence of ‘lexit’ – i.e., Brexit for the left – that treats leaving the EU as the opportunity that democratic socialism has been waiting for since its heyday in the years immediately following World War II. By reinvigorating the sovereign powers of Parliament in Westminster, Tuck concludes that Brexit is desirable per se, as it will once again make socialist policies based on nationalisation possible in the UK: ‘The great prize awaiting the Left in Britain…is genuine Brexit followed by a Labour government

 

He is still at it,

 

Here are some tips retweeted by the Red-Brown Full Brexit site.

Sailing, sailing away….

 

H

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Spiked, Shifting the “Overton Window to the Right” from Brexit to Racism.

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Image may contain: 1 person, text that says "Toby Young @toadmeister 3m You lost me when you said the Overton Window has "shifted to the Right" the few years. Where, exactly? Schools? Universities? The media? The civil service? Big tech? Financial services? Retail? The arts? I'm struggling to think of anywhere it hasn't shifted leftwards. Evan Smith @evanishistory. 11h Here is me in The Guardian on the history of the Revolutionary Communist Party, from its ultra-leftism the 1980s to the right libertarianism Spiked nowadays, the journal Living Marxism in the 1990s. twitter.com/guardianopini... Show this thread"

Spiked is also at the heart of a Red-Brown Alliance over Brexit.

 

Heartfield, born James Hughes (he modestly took the name of the great German anti-fascist photomontage artist John Heartfield), was one of many enraged by the colonial upstart’s critique of Spiked.

But the one-time cadre of the Revolutionary Communist Party  soon regained his composure:

Evan Smith’s  argument that Spiked had helped shift politics to the right, and its detailed, well informed, account of the cyber-cadres past in the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has hit the spot.

Coming after Nick Cohen in the Observer we can take stock of the impact of this network.

How a fringe sect from the 1980s influenced No 10’s attitude to racism

Previously dismissed as a fringe group on the outer limits of political discourse, more recently Spiked has become an influential force in shifting the Overton window to the right in the UK.

To understand how it has come to occupy this space and its rhetorical style, particularly concerning issues of race and racism, it is worth looking at the long road from the RCP to Spiked, via the journal Living Marxism (later titled LM).

This is a brilliant account of the RCP (this Blog has a copy of the pre-RCP journal of the faction, then known as the Revolutionary Communist Tendency…). The evolution from Living Marxism to Spiked, and the Institute of Ideas, Smith points out, is a singular one,

the trajectory of its cohort from the far left to the hard right. While the story of former leftwingers becoming rightwingers is not new, the fact that the leadership of the RCP seemed to transition en masse makes it a compelling story.

This is pretty unique. French Maoism, famously, the  Gauche prolétarienne (GP), included individuals who moved rightwards, and ex-activists were at the origin of the anti-Communist and anti-Marxist group of “nouveaux philosophes”, although their leader, Benny Lévy  discovered the Torah and Orthodox Judaism. Their denunciations of the Gulag were however framed in liberal terms, including, in some cases, a defence of human rights. Nobody would say that they were more than a current of ideas, without any formal ties.

The ex-RCP by contrast is often seen as a much more self-conscious network, all railing against what their guru Frank Furdei calls the “countercultural establishment” and the “moral depletion of the West”.

Yet….

As people have pointed out, it is equally odd that,

  • There is, in this respect, no largely ex-RCP group, large, small or micro-splinter, which claims their ‘heritage’ or to continue the battle for Marxism. They had no split, like the original home, IS/SWP into the RCG (and all the others), nothing like the break up of the WRP, or the kind of fragmentation into micro-fragments  left groups normally undergo,
  • That’s right. Very few people who dropped out of the RCP went on to keep up any political involvement — but then this might be related to the fact that we mainly picked up people new to politics. There are some people, pals of mine, who are a ‘Continuity RCP’ in that they still support earlier RCP politics, but they don’t have a group.

With the influence of a prominent figure from the Spiked network on the government’s Commission on Racial Equality,  Munira Mirza It’s their impact on government policies on race and multiculturalism that has come to the fore.

Smith notes,

These preoccupations have proven to be well suited to a moment in which the right has reduced racism to a component of a “culture war” being waged by the “woke” left.Mirza’s previous comments on Spiked about institutional racism, diversity and multiculturalism reveal the mindset in which this new proposed commission on racial inequalities has been cast. They also reveal how the fixations of a contrarian, right-leaning, libertarian website, established by disillusioned leftists, has become part of the mainstream discourse in the UK.

But the impact (however we may measure it) of Spiked has extended not just to the Tory Cabinet, it has extended to what could be called a ‘Red-Brown Front’, that is an alliance of left and national populists, over Brexit.

Whether there is any kind of organised ex-RCP ‘entryism’ or not, nobody can doubt that Spiked has been able to work with a remarkable set of allies in building bridges between national populism and a section of the Lexit (pro-Brexit) left.

These include their own alliance with Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party right up to the ‘Full Brexit’.

The nominally left-wing Full Brexit (“FOR POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY, DEMOCRACY, AND ECONOMIC RENEWAL“) is a much broader initiative. It includes apart from Spiked/RCP James Heartfield and many, many, others, there are Blue Labour figures such as Maurice Glasman, his ally, the FBU, Trade Unionists Against the EU and anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner, Paul Embery (both Spiked contributor),  well-known intellectuals and activists from the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), such as Prof Mary Davis,  Nicholas B. Wright, New Left Review top writer,  Prof Wolfgang Streeck, self-identifying leftists like Prof Costas Lapavitsas…Labour and other national sovereigntists, and a host of odd-balls and ……..

Bob from Brockley outlines its creation,

One LM initiative in the post-Referendum period was “The Full Brexit”, an avowedly left-wing pressure group launched in the summer of 2018 to reframe the Brexit narrative as one about “democracy” rather than just bashing immigrants.

Bob outlines the Spiked network inside this Red-Brown Front.

Alongside a smattering of Blue Labour social conservatives and Lexit Marxists, a good half of its 20 founding signatories are RCP network members. Academic Chris Bickerton has been a Spiked contributor since 2005, when he was a PhD student at St John’s College, Oxford. Philip Cunliffe, Furedi’s colleague at the University of Kent, is another long term Spiked activist. Pauline Hadaway, another academic, is a veteran of the Living Marxism days. James Heartfield was a paid RCP organiser. Lee Jones seems to have been recruited at Oxford around the same time as Bickerton. Tara McCormack is an RCP veteran, as is Suke WoltonBruno Waterfield write for Living Marxism.

Other signatories aren’t part of the network but have been promoted by Spiked: Paul Embery and Thomas Fazi for example (Fazi is also connected to the 5 Star Movement and recently retweeted an antisemitic tweet from someone with “Nazbol” in his user name). Many are also involved in Briefings for Brexit, which has several RCP veterans on its advisory committee, and some are involved with Civitas.

This is a peculiar form of left-right crossover politics.

Cross-over is a mild statement.

What other political initiative would be publicised in the Morning Star and Spiked?

Video: The Full Brexit in conversation – the British left after Brexit.

Morning Star January 31st 2020.

Trade unionists and academics from the socialist left met in London, January 28, to discuss the political prospects after Brexit – and after the disastrous 2019 election result.

Spiked 14th of March 2019:

Why we’re campaigning for a Full Brexit

Meet the leftists making the case for Brexit’s transformative potential.

Today Spiked ploughs its anti-woke furrow,

Multiculturalism is fuelling division

Ferdie Rous.

We need a shared identity and sense of history to make politics work.

Yesterday on Spiked Heartfield chanted his old refrain,

Labour has finally admitted it lost the working class

spiked and others have been pointing this out for decades. But Labour activists would not listen.

But let’s not forget the active help of Spiked, and their left allies in the Red-Brown Front, the Full Brexit, in swinging British politics to the right, and sowing the seeds for a Get Brexit Done victory by the Tories.

Why I’m standing for the Brexit Party  James Heartfield. (May 2019).

In the event Heartfield bottled out and did not stand in the January General Election..

His national comrade Claire Fox (ex-RCP, and a Spiked Stalwart) became a Brexit Party MEP in that month…

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2020 at 11:15 am

Former Corbyn Adviser Andrew Murray on Keir Starmer and the Brexit Fall Out.

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Brexit Derangement Syndrome” Andrew Murray Warns Labour Against ...

Andrew Murray, Former Corbyn Adviser, Anti-Imperialist.

Le Monde Diplomatique, it’s no secret – as we used to say- is no friend of the European Union. Its Director, Serge Halimi,  welcomed Brexit, but has wistfully remarked that it happened too late. In approximate translation he wrote in the March English language edition of the monthly, Brexit hasn’t freed EU of US

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has come too late. Brexit could have been good news for the EU, given that the UK is the state that has incarnated free trade since the 18th century industrial revolution, also alignment with the US since Winston Churchill’s ‘special relationship’, financialisation since the City of London began dominating the economy and politics, and flint-hearted neoliberalism since Margaret Thatcher’s reign. Britain’s departure could, in particular, have served as a reminder that the EU is not a prison: just as new states may join, existing members should be able to leave. On this score at least, the UK’s politicians have, after much delay, respected the will of its people, and that lesson in democracy has value right now.

It has not been too late for the soveriegntist inclined journal to publish – in its French edition – articles from supporters of the red-brown Full Brexit (with no indication of the nature of this alliance of the Lexit left, Communist Party of Britain, Faith Family and Flag, ‘Blue Labour’, former Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Communist Party, now stalwarts of the Brexit Party – members, and elected MEPs)  and assorted odd balls). Pro-Borders New Left Review star, social conservative, and Full Brexit backer Wolfgang Streeck, is another light in this little galaxy of national sovereigntists. 

Thus Chris Bickerton, author at the red-brown Spiked, which is now engaged in a war on the Black Lives Matter movement, has passed from their site to Le Monde Diplomatique. This pundit on Labour’s defeat, (Pourquoi le Labour a perdu. Chris Bickerton. February 2020.) As can be expected the article blamed metropolitan youth and elites’ dominance of Labour for refusing to accept withdrawal from the EU, supporting internationalism at the expense of the ‘real’ people in the Labour heartlands. Continuing the promotion of Brexit contained a lengthy justification for voting Tory, by an alleged Labour supporter and …a backer of the Full Brexit,  a gleeman called Chris McGlade, (« Je suis travailliste, j’ai voté conservateur »).

Such is the august publication which has welcomed Andrew Murray, Former Communist Party of Britain stalwart, leading figure in the, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) , Solidarity with the Anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine, UNITE Staff chief, and ‘adviser’ to Jeremy Corbyn on, amongst many things, Brexit.

The piece – alas not widely circulated in the British media – is titled:

Adieux discrets au corbynisme

There is an English version, but I do not have a sub to this, so the French will have to suffice.

Murray starts well (this bit is available without the sub…)

Starmer urged Labour to move beyond factionalism, probably optimistic given that the party has always hosted a range of competing tendencies, even in the years of Tony Blair’s ultra-centralising neoliberalism; the best Starmer can realistically hope for is to lower the fevered temperature of the ultra-polarised Corbyn years. However, he did not propose to move away from the main policies the outgoing leader had championed — public ownership of railways and utilities, major boosts to spending on public services to be partly funded by increasing taxes on the rich and big business, 

He generously concedes that the Labour membership made a clear choice (translation…)

Mr. Corbyn has given way to Sir Keir Starmer, the former Labour spokesperson, who won 56  % of the vote among party activists, supporters and unionists – a score barely less impressive than that obtained by Mr Corbyn in 2015 (59.5  % ).

Here comes the down side.

The ancient and, present, chair of the StWC laments, nevertheless, the loss of some of Corbyn’s keynote traits,”Le premier de ces traits est l’anti-impérialisme.” Noting that Corbyn would have a job getting through his ideas, indeed a  “scenario in which a parliamentary majority would support nuclear disarmament, much less a withdrawal from NATO.” There is a reference to the Middle East and the problems faced by any attempt to break the ” alliance with Washington or a reversal of British policy in the Middle East”. Whether this refers to the government’s and  Corbyn’s refusal to back opponents of Syria’s President Assad, to concentrate on justice for the victims of Daesh genocide, or to his more vocal backing for the Palestinians, is not clear. What is, is that Corbyn ran up against the “Atlanticist” alliances that dominate British politics – including President Trump’s active support for Brexit.

The anti-imperialist writer continues. Starmer has no record of backing social movements – movements Murray locates in mass demonstrations, such as the ones held by the StWC and anti-austerity protests, heavily backed by his own union, UNITE. 

The crunch moment came when the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the Labour membership, ignored the advice of Murray to accept Brexit (a cause he, too modest to mention, embraced fervently).

The “notables of the party did not cease thereafter wanting to reverse the verdict of the referendum, by demanding a second ballot rather than the negotiation of a soft Brexit”. This opened up a division between,

….parliamentarians and most members on the one hand and the majority of working class voters. somewhere else. The difficulties of the left in imagining a world outside the European Union ended up sounding the death knell for Mr. Corbyn’s project.

If only we had the will and the imagination to dream of a real People’s Brexit!

If only Labour had ignored the mass protests against Brexit – just as Tony Blair had the StWC demonstrations against the Iraq War .

Instead the party listened to its ranks, in which “the elites of North London” were over-represented.

For Murray Brexit was, and continues to be, not a conflict between internationalists and sovereigntists,. It’s between these ‘elites’ and  the “majority of working class voters”.

The present piece eschews the colourful description of pro-EU internationalists, infected by “Brexit derangement syndrome” , the malady of “human rights” and  “rancid identity politics”, see Andrew Murray. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Verso, 2019.).

But even so…

Casting aside his own claim to be neutral in this Brexit ‘culture war’ Murray declares, 

The fracture within Labour, between the proponents of liberalism and the partisans of democracy, got the better of Corbynism.

So it is said. Liberalism is against democracy – a sentiment that without a doubt warmed the hearts of the editors of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Commenting on the Coronavirus crisis, with justness, that, “The United Kingdom is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, “

In conclusion Murray states,

In this sense, the crisis of today merges with that of yesterday. No matter how much Mr. Johnson claims he will overcome it, the promises of right-wing populism are likely to prove no less hollow than those of neoliberal centrism.

The contribution of Murray’s allies in the Full Brexit to the triumph of right-wing populism – their support for the illusion of a “people’s Brexit’ – is left unmentioned.