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Brexit, Labour and Cameron March 17, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

William Keegan had a good piece in the Observer a few weeks back about the way in which David Cameron may yet require Labour to seal the deal on preventing a British exit from the EU. Actually he has a great quote at the start of his piece which I rather like:

In his Antimémoires, the French writer and politician André Malraux recalls a conversation with President de Gaulle after the second world war in which De Gaulle said he planned to nationalise the banks and public utilities.

But he went on to emphasise that he was going to do this “not for the sake of the left but for the sake of France”.

Just on that French statism is oddly unleftist, and yes, oddly nationalist. But… it abides, just about.

Anyhow. Keegan notes that:

…with so many Tories in the Brexit camp, and every vote counting – the outcome of referendums is not decided in marginal constituencies – much depends on the Labour vote.

Lord Kinnock has been giving a powerful lead in this regard, and it is worth recalling that the Labour leader who preceded Neil Kinnock in the early 1980s, namely Michael Foot, became a strong pro-European in his latter days – manifesting true repentance for the infamous Labour manifesto of 1983.

And there’s this which I like too:

That manifesto included, among other vote-losers at the time, a commitment to withdraw from the European Community. It has become a cliche that Labour’s Gerald Kaufman described the manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”. Less well known is Foot’s rueful private remark: “But he got elected on it.”

Keegan hopes that no one would vote for Brexit simply to unseat Cameron. I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do, but I can understand why some might go that way.


1. FergusD - March 17, 2016

That quote from De Gaulle is interesting. Yes, the right can nationalise for its own purposes (French national power in this case). Which makes wonder about what seems like an obsession with “nationalisation” by the left. Nationalisation isn’t socialisation but sometimes it seems like the left thinks it is, when a capitalist state takes control of an industry or company. Many a British miner was dissappointed with the nature of the NCB. Something we have to think seriously about. Ideas around workers’ control and management seem to have vanished from left think these days.


2. Ed - March 17, 2016

The very, very, very last thing Corbyn and Labour should be doing is campaigning hard against Brexit ‘for the sake of Britain’ or ‘for the national interest’. They already did that in the Scottish referendum, went the extra mile on behalf of the British state, in a way that the Tories never could, and they’ve paid the price for it: they may have lost Scotland for a generation. I’ve no doubt that many of the Labour big-wigs (and Kinnock, forgotten but still not gone) would happily do it again; they’d gladly sacrifice their entire party for the sake of British ‘national interests’, as defined by the power elite. Labour should be ruthlessly realistic and self-interested about it: will the conditions for the left and the working class be better after a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote? That’s all that matters. To hell with the bloody national interest: the people who bang on endlessly about that would happily burn the nation down for the insurance money if they thought they could get away with it.


FergusD - March 17, 2016

The answer is it is crap whether we are in or out. Neo-liberalism and austerity in or out. It is a debate about the direction of British capital between sections of British capital using xenophobia, nationalism on one side and fear of change on the other to mobilise voters.

A pox on both their houses. What Labour needs is an independent working class socialist perspective, not to get drawn in to supporting one side or the other.


Gewerkschaftler - March 18, 2016


The whole thing is a massive distraction from class politics.

As is the question about in or out of the Euro, which treats the two conditions as some kind of timeless abstraction, ignoring the historical processes of entry and of exit.

The idea that the British left should somehow welcome exclusive rule by the elements of capital that identify themselves as ‘British’ has never convinced me. That some parts of the left spend so much time on an agenda set by the right, is plain sad.


3. dublinstreams - March 17, 2016

is the referendum period not started yet but go to he labour site, you won’t find much on Europe only in press releases from MPs http://www.labour.org.uk/search?cx=003398791842430890827%3Ayyeijwya5em&ie=UTF-8&q=europe&sa=Search


4. Jim Monaghan - March 18, 2016

I seem to remember we nationalised a few banks. Mind you they were worth less than nothing.


6to5against - March 18, 2016

…and the certainly weren’t nationalised for the sake of the left.


Gewerkschaftler - March 18, 2016

Not only in Ireland, Jim. And they remain worth less than nothing.

Banks across the world now operate in a ‘public-private partnership’ characteristic of a kind of neo-feudalism – their private owners demand continuing profits, but at the same time expect the public to keep pumping in resources and protecting them from all and any risk.

Left on their own they’d be bankrupt within a few weeks.


5. 6to5against - March 18, 2016

…nor for the sake of Ireland, now that I re-read the quote.


6. Enzo - March 18, 2016

Blair was probably the UK’s first major American-style politician. It was through his savvy use of soundbites in PMQs (“weak, weak, weak) that he really took off with the media etc.

Often wondered what would have happened if John Smith hadn’t died suddenly. He wasn’t much of a socialist either, but at least had a little grounding on the left.

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - March 19, 2016

Re John Smith; labour have never won an election outright with a non English leader have they?


CL - March 19, 2016

“Blair explicitly modeled his 1997 election campaign on Bill Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns (and Clinton’s wider political philosophies), so there are always comparisons between the two.”

“Mass incarceration and the repeal of welfare, two of Clinton’s other major achievements, are the pillars of the disciplinary state that has made life so miserable for Americans in the lower reaches of society….
Clinton made the problems of working people materially worse…
When you take Clintonism all together, it makes sense, and the sense it makes has to do with social class. What the poor get is discipline; what the professionals get is endless indulgence.


Enzo - March 19, 2016

apologies. not sure how this ended up on the wrong thread!


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