Nobody move or …

Labour announced, not sure how it decided, that it would call for a confirmatory vote on any Tory deal and campaign for Remain. There are some who still argue that preparing for a no-deal is the only way to get a better one. This is wrong but reminds me of this scene from Blazing Saddles.

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Reasons to Remain (again)

Reasons to Remain (again)

I am arguing again with comrades in the Labour Party about Brexit and have looked at two pieces of evidence calling for Labour to become a full on Remain Party. Paul Mason has written another piece, this time in the New Statesman, “Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour’s election chances are dead”, and on statsforlefties, who writes a blog mainly on psephology. They have both changed their mind and argue that Labour must now  support Remain. Mason deals with the politics of Remain and Party unity, calls out the fractures in the Labour Parties internal coalition and the short and long-term electoral issues. statsforlefties argues about short term electoral issues. (I might write a review on Mason’s article, but it’s not long, so I suggest you read it in full; I have mirrored it here.)

I present my argument below, it was in reply to someone who had used deaths in refugee camps and the proposed appointment of Von der Leyden as President of Commission as reasons for sticking with a Leave position. I attempt as I have usually done to distinguish between true believers and those who just think ambiguity is electorally expedient.

We all accept that the EU is not perfect; if we’d done better last month, it’s possible that Timmermans would be candidate for President of the Commission and not Von der Leyen. For those for whom triangulation and winning towns in the North is key, it is getting to the position where neither Leave nor Constructive Ambiguity can enable Labour to win and that pursuing Leave seriously jeopardises our ability to be single largest party. The Party has a choice of pissing off Leavers or Remainers, and we can’t win without the Remainers, in fact it would seem that we can’t be the largest party without the Remainers.

I assume you will vote to Leave in the next referendum dreaming for the ability to build socialism in one country, thus leaving the refugees in Libya and Lesbos to the mercy of an organisation you despise and will no longer be able to influence.

I can think of nothing more I might say that will persuade you of the overwhelming justice and solidarity in the case for Remain. Leaving is a right wing project, there’s no socialism at the end of Johnson & Farage’s project and being seen to support leave looks like it will kill us before the 31st Oct, but if we are seen to facilitate it, it will kill the Labour Party and the Left in this country for a generation.

I am so tired of it, as a Party we must unite to build a better world; I am tired of the dishonesty and fantasy of true believer Lexiters. (I distinguish between those and the triangulators, but they need to make their mind up too.)

There is no economic benefit to leaving, the EU’s democracy and rule of law is superior to ours and citizenship rights inc. freedom of movement are better within the EU and this is all before we talk of building a peaceful and democratic ever closer union of peoples. But whenever we discuss this with you, you counter democracy with economics, you counter the economics with allegations of being anti-refugee, you ignore freedom of movement and migrants’ rights or even argue that migration is not in the interests of the British working class and you ignore the allegation that you are supporting the worst of the right in our country. (I have never accused you or any Lexiters of being Putin’s fools & puppets, but it’s beginning to look that way.) This is not the behaviour of comrades.

Von der Leyden is not appointed the President yet, but if she gets it, it’ll because the racists and enemies of democracy in Eastern Europe & Italy got their revenge on the man and movement that called out their racism and autocracy. He and they/we stood by the first rule of the EU, to belong you must be a democracy, with an independent rule of law. This is a fight that everyone who ignored and subverted our appeal in the European Elections (and I would include those whose behaviour corrupted the selection process) is on the wrong side of history.

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Trade Unionists oppose Brexit

YouGov have run a poll, on behalf of the People’s Vote Campaign asking Trade Unionists some questions about their opinions on the EU & Brexit, this was done on 20th-23rd June and it reports on the GMB, Unite & Unison, the top three by size. It makes sobering reading for Labour’s “Lexiters”, as all three samples would vote to Remain by significant margins and that ~35% would be more likely to vote Labour if it supported a 2nd referendum, with Remain on the ballot.

69% stated that they would vote remain in a referendum held tomorrow.

Other articles my focus on the General Election implications but I am glad that the GMB adopted this position at their Conference earlier this month. …  …

GMB on Brexit

GMB on Brexit

The national committee of the GMB is called the Central Executive Council, and it produced a statement on  the subject of Brexit. The statement opposes a No-deal Brexit and calls for a final say public vote on any Tory deal to,

.. decide whether this is better than our current deal with the EU.

I was called to speak on the statement and my speech is on YouTube, as is the whole debate.

The statement was made available on the morning of the debate; I wish I’d had more time to consult members & colleagues. …

Europe and Brexit, yesterday & tomorrow

Europe and Brexit, yesterday & tomorrow

It wasn’t a good night for Labour last night and but not as good for the Brexit Party as they might have hoped. This article was written mainly on Tuesday and backdated to Monday 27th. It looks at the impact on the European Union, how the earth moved in the UK,  and the dreadful and inept campaigning decisions taken by the Labour Party. It finishes with a brief look at the immediate reactions in the Labour Party not least the twitter spat between Paul Mason and LOTO.

This is what the European Parliament will look like.

ep-2019-2024-hemisphereFrans Timmermans, the Socialist Spitzenkandat is now appealing for the Euro Liberals (ALDE) to build a progressive alliance in the hope of winning the Presidency of the Commission. How those lost 10 Labour seats would have helped him. This is an important initiative; the European Parliament has been run by the pan-European equivalent of the German grand coalition and while the numbers might have made this necessary, if a progressive majority could establish itself and the German Social Democrats weaned off their alliance with the Christian Democrats then a reform agenda for the EU becomes much easier since the German Social Democrats are both large and influential although. (This reminds me I must write to the Charlottenberg SPD to see what joint work we i.e. Lewisham Labour might do.)

Another good aspect of the results across Europe is that the hard right did less well than they had hoped, although the story in France is less optimistic.

This is the worst result in the Tories history, they have lost big time, their worst result since 1832. The main beneficiaries would seem to be the Brexit Party but some Tories moved to the Lib Dems, Labour and even the Greens. I illustrate the change in seats.

What happend to the votes is best described on Lord Ashcroft’s blog where he presents this chart showing the movement of votes from 2017 to 2019.

It doesn’t make good reading for Labour either. The LibDems stolen slogan, “Bollocks to Brexit” was clearly helpful to them and they have been historically sticky, once people learn to vote for them and they win, they stick with them despite having some disgraceful and unprincipled candidates, although that’s not something they have a monopoly on. (Huhn and Hughes). This was before Clegg & Cable’s tuition fee betrayal and their collusion on the Osborne’s Tory led coalition austerity programme.

If ALDE’s behaviour in the European Parliament repeats this submissive support of the executive committee of the bourgeoisie then this might have some consequences for the Lib Dems & Verhofstadt.

Labour’s hope must be that we have the 2017 manifesto, and many want & need that radical hope. What ever happens Labour needs to be anti-austerity and in my opinion clearer on remaining. Ashcroft In fairness to the Party, we have always believed that Remain is better than a bad or no deal exit.

Another thing that Labour needs to fix is the dreadful campaign. Elements of what might seem deliberate actions are detailed in John Howarth MEP’s letter to his members and published by the Huffington Post who selectively quote him as shall I. He says,

As such it was either phenomenally naive or utterly mendacious to put in place a policy that would knowingly lose votes in remarkable numbers.

From there on the party machine sought to close down any deviation for the suicidal central message. In an unprecedented decision the General Secretary was appointed agent for the entire country. At all other EU election since regional lists were introduced Regional Directors have been agents. They managed the desire of CLPs to promote candidates and help win the elections. The spending limits for these elections are huge, easily capable of accommodating local activity aimed at enhancing the campaign. This time spurious legal grounds were used to clamp down on local activity and even additional union assistance. The much derided nationally produced leaflets which carried no mention of a ‘confirmatory vote’ were presented to MEPs as a fait accomplice that was “already at print” – this turned out to be untrue but it shows how the campaign was run. The eventual product was no better. While it was frustrating to be fighting an election with hands and feet bound and with Labour staff in apparent opposition it is not the fault of junior staff or middle managers – responsibility lies elsewhere.

Howarth elsewhere in his letter talks of the poor role played by the NEC in developing and agreeing the Labour Manifesto.

To his words, I would add the late selection of candidates which delayed the production of election material, ensured there was no trigger ballot and no membership ballot to settle order, the stunningly shit “Fight  Farage” leaflet with his picture FFS and the late delivery of out cards and election addresses; half my canvassing we had no material to leave the very few doubtfuls.

The question I ask is where is the member led party? Conference has been firm that Remain is better than a bad deal! The compromise starts from we oppose a Tory Brexit, tactically we prefer a general election because it’s easier to talk about austerity, jobs, education and the NHS in an election and turnout is better, but elevating the general election to the point of principle and opposing a 2nd referendum is foolish and dishonest.

One silver lining is that the shadow cabinet and Jeremey Corbyn are now arguing that a 2nd referendum is required for any deal; we’ll have to see if the votes are there to push it through. They may have been influenced by Paul Mason’s article and the acrimonious fallout on twitter as he accurately lays the blame at the feet of the Leader of the Opposition’s office (LOTO).

ooOOOoo

Related Posts

‘The people have spoken’: How Remain parties beat Hard Brexiteers in European elections from business insider

Notes From The Cult: After EU. No, After EU from a blog called disappointed idealist, a different take on what happened and what should happen next. He or she starts by looking at who didn’t vote.

Labour’s priority should be helping to build a European socialist left by Sabrina Huck at Labour List

Unhinged by James Butler at the LRB, Labour’s front bench’s room for manoeuvre is constrained by divisions in the PLP and by it’s membership’s enthusiasm. It’s not as free as either side of the debate think.

 

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Vote Labour again

Welcome to the Brexit merry-go-round!

I have been reading the news as have you all. Labour’s promised vote seems to be plummeting, in London in 2017, we got 61% and in the Mayoral election, Sadiq Kahn got 41% of first preferences. Polls are suggesting that Labour is on about 24% in London, although they could be wrong.

Labour supporters should vote Labour.

If you are a Remainer, and we win, these MEPs will sit for 5 years holding a Commission accountable.

Labour’s MEPs will be the Party of European Socialists and will pursue the objects of the PES Manifesto, which is largely influenced by Labour’s agenda of anti-austerity economics and social solidarity. Labour MEPs will vote for the Socialist candidate for the position of President of the Commission.

In London our candidates are good people. Claude Moraes has an exemplary record as European Legislator acting as Rapporteur (i.e. author) for the GDPR which redefined the right of Privacy in Europe. He has been Chair of the Civil Liberties committee, Seb Dance is probably best know for the he’s lying stunt but has been campaigning on environmental rights, Katy Clark used to be an MP and was a strong civil rights campaigner and Laura Parker is an articulate socialist who would strengthen Labour’s parliamentary team; she has been part of the team that has led Momentum to its “remain” supporting decision.

We talk of beating Farage; this is not just important in the UK for our own political health but the number of MEPs in the European Parliament matters. Historically Farage has sat independently with allies but apart from the Fascist parties from France & Hungary. These far-right parties are likely to be joined by the Alternative for Deutschland and the Italian hard right. The idea of an alliance of the political right of such size is frightening and all democrats should do their best to oppose these people. i.e. coming first or second matters in the UK.

The alternative for many seems to be the LibDems. If elected, they will sit with the ALDE group led by Guy Verhofstadt, who has been the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator; he has given up partly because he feels that ALDE will be more powerful without a strong Labour delegation. The British LibDems are no longer part of a British progressive alliance and ALDE cannot be trusted to fight the far-right.

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Labour’s road to here

Labour’s road to here

There has been much a-wailing and gnashing of teeth as the Labour Party NEC decides what Labour’s Euro manifesto should say; they have reiterated Conference ’18 policy, to oppose a Tory Brexit by all means including a Referendum.

I was asked elsewhere when we established and then stepped away from the six tests; The six tests were confirmed at Conference 18 although the phrase “respect the referendum” which was inserted to the 2017 Manifesto presumably through the Clause V meeting, has not been approved. I have over time tracked the development of Labour’s Brexit policy as set out by Conference.  The first is about #lab16  which says we’ll stay if terms set by the Tories are unacceptable and states that we’ll accept any mandate including a vote in Parliament. I cover the  the #lab17 stitchup but while it’s weaker, it’s still fundamentally about no worse than in, (read the comment for the bad news), and I record the words of #lab18, last year,  which opposes a tory brexit by all means, prioritises jobs, the economy and the Northern Ireland border. I also talked about the abandonment of the six tests, in this article, called “Consenus” and the low profile insertion of the Common Arrest Warrant as a requirement. …

Sometimes it’s only the long odds that work

Sometimes it’s only the long odds that work

We have got to a position in British politics, where people will say anything to get what they want. One annoying meme doing the rounds is that Remain voters should abjure Labour because it is a Brexit party. It isn’t. But it is the only anti-austerity party, the only Party that will address investment, jobs, and the labour market, housing and education. Remainers must consider Labour, as the likely alternatives to a Labour MEP are a Tory or a Brexit Party MEP.

To non Labour Remainers, it ain’t going to happen without Labour; you should play your hand to maximise the strength of the Remain cause and voting for likely losers only strengthen’s the hand of Farage & the Tories’ brexit extremists.

I used to read Jeremy Flint’s bridge class, I also used to play a bit but not very well. Flint’s bridge class was a comic and the lesson he repeated time after time was that if the obvious odds meant you failed to make your contract you had to bet on longer odds, and because it was a fiction it always came off. I didn’t really get it until a couple of years later. How come he always bets against the odds and wins? The answer is that if he bet with the odds, he was going to lose. …