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A ‘resurgence’ of pro-EU sentiment, well not quite… but… July 14, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This report in the Guardian from late last week caught my eye. It argued that:

Two weeks after Britain’s EU referendum, Europe has defied predictions that the UK’s vote to leave would inspire a surge in copycat breakaway movements, with establishment parties enjoying gains and populists dropping points in the polls.

And it noted various polls from various polities which indicated a firming up of ‘centre’ right and governing parties as against right wing populists. Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and so on all saw either strengthening poll figures for pro-EU parties, or as in the latter instance an actual rise in pro-EU support. Finland too. Franc and Italy show less change but again, strong support for remaining in the EU. And we’ve seen it in this state too. So I don’t think the thesis is entirely wrong. How could it be otherwise given the financial turmoil encompassing the UK in the wake of the referendum votes. The Phoenix noted that effectively everyone north of the border on this island had just taken a 10% wage cut, and obviously that applies to the entirety of the UK. Hardly any more surprisingly, consumer confidence has taken a battering as stock markets plunge (domestic stocks anyhow), currency fluctuates but essentially declines, news of job losses and so on proliferate. And all this before we get anywhere near actual negotiations.

I can’t blame electorates taking a look at that and resiling from it – not least when, as is now apparent, those most vocal in respect of Brexit has literally on plans as to what to do next. Indeed the argument that a Brexit would inevitably lead to the disintegration of the EU – something often touted by one N. Farage amongst others, has always seemed to me to be bizarrely parochial, one more rather British or perhaps more accurately English-centric prejudice displaying itself, and with that a peculiarly narrow understanding of both the EU and the attractions of stability. Again, and I know this is something that is often said here, but I think it bears restating, the values of stability are often under-appreciated in relation to voters. It’s not that people much love the EU, but replacing it requires something a lot more attractive than economic volatility. And that I think is something that is necessary on the left too. Aspirations are fine, but to really sell people on a alternative model requires that model to be worked out in some detail and means of arriving at it likewise. And it has always seemed to me that the very specific conditions that led to a Brexit of the UK are not necessarily, or even likely, to be replicated elsewhere. The curious self-esteem and arrogance that comes with English history, one might term it a national chauvinism, and a sense of apartness as well as the particular blend of media and other interests pushing to that outcome aren’t in evidence in quite the same strength or way elsewhere across the continent. And I think that observation is in a sense underscored by the fact that in both Scotland and Northern Ireland Remain was in the majority. They provide something of a control group (as does the RoI too, albeit in perhaps different ways) to England (and Wales to a lesser extent).

Comments»

1. Geraldus Galwensis - July 14, 2016

Can anyone who regularly posts on CLR see public signs of enthusiasm in Ireland for the institutions of the EU?

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Gewerkschaftler - July 14, 2016

I don’t think there is any greater enthusiasm for the actually existing EU anywhere in Europe to be seen – but as people see the consequences of Brexit there is less taste for an exit without a plan.

So it’s people who have been theoretically in favour or exit from the EU have now thought about what it would mean concretely, they have reconsidered. Certainly in Germany that is the case with some 10% of the people polled.

Hardly a pro-EU resurgence, more a pro-European status quo.

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2. Roger Cole - July 14, 2016

The EU at the NATO Warsaw Summit just made the military links between themselves even stronger while at the same time continues to crush the Greek people into the ground. While there might be signs of enthusiasm in the Irish Times for the EU and other parts of the corporate media I don’t think is widely shared.

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Gewerkschaftler - July 14, 2016

But remember Roger, Little Britain will remain in NATO, the British ruling class will still be enthusiastic participators in NATO attacks (barring perhaps a Corbynish Labour led government), whether they are in the EU or not.

They will also be enthusiastic participators in Frontex-like crimes against the right of political asylum, I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar.

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WorldbyStorm - July 14, 2016

+1 and just on enthusiasm well, not as such but polls before and after Brexit show massive majorities in this state in favour if remain .

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3. Ed - July 14, 2016

The shifts in party support they’re referring to seem pretty marginal to be honest. 3% increase for the CDU and SPD put together; 3% drop for the AfD (which they say may be down to internal problems); 3 fewer seats for Wilders; 0.7% (!) drop for the Northern League, but M5S still the largest party. FN support in France still stable. This ‘resurgence’ seems a bit thin, although the figures for in/out votes on EU membership are a bit more substantial. We’re often saying here that Irish journalists talk about massive political shifts between parties when it’s still in or around the margin of error.

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WorldbyStorm - July 14, 2016

Yes, completely agree. The party stuff isn’t convincing at all really. The EU sentiment polling is a different matter.

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4. Jolly Red Giant - July 14, 2016

Rising anti-EU sentiment in Greece and a rising desire to dump the Euro – a positive view of the Brexit vote and falling support for SYRIZA.

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Gewerkschaftler - July 14, 2016

Absolutely – it’s particularly marked in the vicinity of Kings College, London.

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Jolly Red Giant - July 14, 2016

84% of Greek voters are dissatisfied with the SYRIZA government – including 69% of SYRIZA voters

40% of Greek voters support Greece leaving the EU and the same number regard Brexit as positive. 37% favour a return to the Drachma (don’t know how the other 3% feel they can keep the Euro while leaving the EU).

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5. roddy - July 14, 2016

Got confirmed for me again what “a positive view of Brexit” really entails.A local man told me that he had a blazing row with an English co worker on a CO Down building site who has been ear bashing him for weeks about how a halt had now been put to “foreigners taking our jobs”.My friend told him that among other things that he did’nt exactly see a queue lining up for the chicken factory and similar jobs and that many people owed their lives to “foreigners” in the health service.

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Jolly Red Giant - July 14, 2016

I admire your little anecdote efforts roddy – now for some real facts related to attitudes to foreign workers –

270 workers at the Frawley Oil Refinery in Hampshire are on strike in protest at the fact that Italian and Bulgarian workers employed by Nico contractors are paid £48 per day instead of £125 a day for workers employed by other contractors. The strike is being supported by UNITE.

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WorldbyStorm - July 15, 2016

I’m very loath to get between you and your therapeutic compulsion to engage with roddy at every opportunity (I’m pretty sure he can take it) but one protest however laudable does not a red spring or summer make. The broader evidence for both anti-foreigner attitudes in the UK and very pointed xenophobic and racist attacks in the wake of Brexit is incontrovertible. A five fold increase in the first week after the referendum alone. That’s precisely why events such as these were held.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/04/unity-events-held-in-london-after-post-brexit-spike-in-hate-crime

You’ve been able to read on these very pages the accounts of contributors and commenters in the UK who have heard precisely the sort of rhetoric mentioned above during and after the campaign.

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Jolly Red Giant - July 15, 2016

WbS – nobody is disputing that there has been an increase in racist attacks since the referendum – indeed nobody is disputing that some sections of the working class voted Leave on the basis of anti-immigrant attitudes.

But I would argue that it is an utter mistake to 1. argue that the Leave vote was a reactionary vote based on the xenophobic outlook of the little Englanders – 2. that a vote to Remain in the EU (an institution that is profoundly undemocratic) was a progressive vote – 3. that the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee (and austerity) policies of the EU are not very largely responsible for the rise of the far-right and the rise in racist attacks – 4. that if there had been a Remain vote then there wouldn’t have been an increase in racist attacks, an increase in xenophobia attitudes and an increase in support for the far-right – and 5. (specifically in relation to the North) that a Leave vote is somehow going to act to inhibit the prospect of a United Ireland.

The referendum campaign in Briatin was dominated by the xenophobic campaign (and facilitated by the right-wing media) run by Johnson, Gove and Farage in part because the row within the Tories was not between a pro-immigrant wing and anti-immigrant wing but two gangs of xenophobic little Englanders (and right-wing Blairites) arguing about how best to impose controls on the movement of immigrants – and in part by the failure of Corbyn and his supporters to adopt a Lexit position and argue on a class basis against the EU and xenophobia.

The Leave vote included a significant number of people (I would argue a significant majority of working class people) who voted Leave on an anti-austerity, anti-EU basis and to give the Tories and the Blairites a kicking because of the devastation wrought by these hacks over the past 40 years. Part of the Remain vote was a vote, not in favour of the EU but against the xenophic and anti-immigrant, anti-refugee policies of the EU. Presenting the Remain vote as progressive and the Leave vote as reactionary is an utterly false approach.

Now the fallout of referendum is not a victory for the right and the xenophobes. It has caused a schism in the Tories – Johnson got shafted, Gove got shafted, Farage shafted himself and despite the the efforts by the Blairites, Corbyn is still fighting. Furthermore, if Remain had won the Blairites will still have moved to shaft Corbyn and could well have succeeded.

What is happening now is that the political debate has dramatically moved on. Much as the establishment would like to focus on the ‘stability’ of the Tories and the conflict in the LP – the reality is that the Tories are still at one another’s throats and the blood letting is far from over. Moreover – the leadership battle in the LP is shifting political discourse to the left and will be fought out as a conflict between left and right for the heart and soul of the LP. The contest is politicising significant numbers of working class people (interestingly there is anecdotal evidence that many joining to support Corbyn voted Leave) and the fallout from the referendum has opened up the potential for a split by the Blairites from the LP and the opening up of the possibility of a left-wing LP led by Corbyn, with 1million members and growing, and becoming an active campaigning party.

The battle to defeat the xenophobes and racists will not be determined by membership of the EU – it will be determined by the ability of the left to confront these attitudes and to build a mass anti-austerity left-wing party. A victory for Corbyn in the battle for the LP will have a profound effect, not just on the British working class, but throughout Europe. It will raise the prospect of further growth in anti-austerity forces across Europe and it will raise the prospect of rising support for leaving the EU – but this time from a left basis (and this is assuming that Corbyn doesn’t start arguing for a new referendum which would be a serious political mistake).

Last point – a Corbyn victory would have a big impact in Ireland – but there is a serious danger inherent in the political situation. The call by SF for a border poll is predictable and expected – but it is a serious mistake. It is predicated on the false belief that the when there is a Catholic majority there will be a majority vote for a United Ireland and Protestants will meekly accept their fate, hold their hands up and walk into such a situation without a whimper. The reality is that the Protestant working class would treat a border poll with exactly the same contempt that Catholic working class people treated the border poll in 1973 and, furthermore, it woul open up the prospect of a renewed and vicious sectarian conflict.

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Ed - July 15, 2016

“The Leave vote included a significant number of people (I would argue a significant majority of working class people) who voted Leave on an anti-austerity, anti-EU basis and to give the Tories and the Blairites a kicking because of the devastation wrought by these hacks over the past 40 years.”

65% of Leave voters had voted for the Tories or UKIP in 2015. Remarkable how quickly they must have swung around to an anti-austerity position. The idea that leaving the EU would mean an end to austerity didn’t even register in the campaign, I’m afraid (except in the mendacious form of the Johnson-Gove poster talking about ‘£350m for the NHS’).

“the failure of Corbyn and his supporters to adopt a Lexit position”

JRG, I’ve pointed it out before and I’ll do so again: your arguments about Corbyn’s alleged ‘capitulation’ were knocked down several weeks ago, you beat a retreat while still claiming that you were right and everyone else was wrong, but you still keep popping up repeating the same lines as if that discussion never happened and we all have goldfish memories. You’ve now changed ‘capitulation’ to ‘failure’ – let’s just say ‘decision’. Judging by the polls, if Corbyn had taken a pro-Leave position, he would have put himself at odds with two-thirds of Labour supporters, two-thirds of Asian voters, three-quarters of black voters and the majority of people from all social classes under the age of 45. Taking up a Remain position certainly caused problems for Corbyn and Labour; taking up a Leave position would also have caused problems, and arguably greater problems. There was no good or easy position for them to take, in a referendum that was called at the behest of right-wing forces, just a choice between evils.

Since the figures you give yourself above suggest that, even after all they’ve been put through, 60% of Greeks are still opposed to leaving the EU right now, that leads me to wonder how much the British Leave vote actually represents a rebellion against the undemocratic, neoliberal character of the EU. Greece (and other countries like Ireland and Spain) really have had that poison forced down their throats by Brussels and Frankfurt. Britain hasn’t (the poison has mostly come from London, whether it’s Westminster, the City or the Bank of England).

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WorldbyStorm - July 15, 2016

+1 Ed

I’ve other thoughts JRG which I’ll make when I’ve a bit more time this evening but an immediate one which I’ve made before but never heard an answer to is the issue if Corbyn wresting the LP in a Lexit direction against the clear wish of a majority of its members both old and new. What Democratic legitimation would there be for that?,

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oconnorlysaght - July 15, 2016

Our big friend’s contribution is more suited to our good news slot than to this one. It is indeed an excellent example of proletarian internationalism, but what has it to do specifically with brexit?? Did these militant workers march to the polls behind a Brexit/Lexit banner? Are they paid up members of UKIP? All I see is a light shining in an increasingly murky environment.

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WorldbyStorm - July 15, 2016

Yes, it does seem an unduly optimistic analysis when the actuality suggests anything but optimism. Not least in the manner the Tories are reshaping their rhetoric precisely to attract former LP voters while solidifying their leadership to include almost all Leave figures bar Gove who is now clearly persona non grata after his somewhat too obviously ambitious positioning.

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Alibaba - July 15, 2016

“The Leave vote included a significant number of people (I would argue a significant majority of working class people) who voted Leave on an anti-austerity, anti-EU basis and to give the Tories and the Blairites a kicking because of the devastation wrought by these hacks over the past 40 years.” Really? I have to dispute this. Any idiot could recognise that a significant number of working people supported Brexit and its reactionary baggage. People believed the lies they were told. To say that “a majority” did so “on an anti-austerity” basis is frankly delusional.

Moreover, to suggest that a successful Leave vote would defeat the efforts of the ruling class, as Lexit did, is a proven nonesense. What has it resulted in? A new government led by right-winger Conservative supremos with a mandate to do whatever-the-hell they wish in the name of “sovereignity” and making UK a “global power”. Watch out for the racism and chauvinism run riot as austerity-stricken workers are invited to blame all their miseries on immigrants.

“40% of Greek voters support Greece leaving the EU and the same number regard Brexit as positive.” So what? As noted, they suffered because they “had that poison forced down their throats by Brussels and Frankfurt.” This applies to other counties too. Don’t take any consolation from this. You could take this as a rational response by disillusioned people or one based on imaginary reasons. I’m not up for defending EU or damning it as a panacea. That’s why I would have spoiled my vote. What’s needed now, desperately needed, is united left counteroffensive. If Corbyn can inspire that, I take hope. Whether this is possible is for another post.

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6. Roger Cole - July 15, 2016

Absolutely agree with you Gewerschsftler, I have never been a supporter of British Imperialism and I am hardly likely to do so now. Since Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party its membership has increased to over 500,000 and if he defeats the Blairites who also totally support Trident and NATO, I think the number will continue to rise. Tony Benn was a opponent of the EU because it transferred power away from the British people to the EU which as we can see from the Warsaw decision just part of the NATO structure. Corbyn was a long standing supporter of Benn and he has accepted the decision of the people. Unlike Gilmore he is not telling the US Ambassador the exact opposite of what he tells his people. I think one possibility of Brexit, if Corbyn wins (which is not certain as the Blairites will fight harder this time) then there will be a Labour led government which will finally end its imperial culture. I accept this is a very optimistic judgement, but sure what the hell, one has to be optimistic in a world dominated by neo-liberal militarists

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7. Jolly Red Giant - July 15, 2016

The Blairite HQ has suspended the 6000 strong Brighton District Labour Party after Corbyn supporters won control of the district executive on Tuesday following a ballot that involved 2/3 of the party membership in Brighton.

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gendjinn - July 15, 2016

Between banning CLP meetings prior to the leadership election and this, they must be getting pretty desperate in the bunker.

Entryism – when the wrong sort of people start voting. Usually supporters of your opponents.

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8. Jolly Red Giant - July 15, 2016

A council by-election in Bradford yesterday saw the LP win with 51% and an increase of 9% over the last election. UKIP’s vote dropped by more than 11%.

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9. roddy - July 15, 2016

“SF’s call for a border poll ” -bad . Half your Dail party’s support for border poll -not bad! Corbyn – great but not so great if he does not take SP’s neo unionist line on Ireland.! Why do you go on ad nauseum “supporting” Corbyn when he totally opposes your line on what is still a massive issue with regards to the future of this Island?

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