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1975 and 2016… January 8, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to me. An analysis from International Socialism on why some of the left in the UK made an error in backing Brexit in 2016 whereas they were justified in 1975 in supporting Out. I don’t entirely buy into all the thinking, but it is thought provoking – not least the crucial point that the talk of a Corbyn government being unable to contest the EU on re-nationalisation’s being a ‘timid formalism’ and that ‘in practice Brussels cannot even preteen much smaller capitals such as Hungary and Poland from defying basic EU tenets of bourgeois democracy’. And there’s an excellent point further in the text about the weakness of the (further) left and the reality that ‘the long downturn, now of historical length, massive de-industrialisation and the failure to unionise the vast number of new workers derived from technological change (in the IT and telecoms industries for example). In this unpromising environment, how likely was it that there would be a viable space for a Lexit given the disappointment of 1975?’. And that last is also central. A Lexit on Tory terms is a contradiction in terms.

There’s other points – that Momentum after some thought supported a Remain position… and this…

It is worth speculating as to why Momentum got this decision right—which I argue is very unusual among the UK left. One factor must be that Momentum is a very large organisation with over 40,000 members and many more supporters. That means its periphery is also correspondingly larger and its members talk to more people. Another is that its members are relatively young. A third factor is that, as a new organisation, its membership looked at the issue with fresh eyes, not from the perspective of 1975.

Indeed it is striking how relatively detached and marginalised are the forces that argued for Lexit, however well-intentioned, as against the situation in 1975. Still, there’s a lot more not least some important thoughts on the supposed radicalising influence of Brexit as against the actual outcomes to date and a salutary warning about the dangers of “attempting to infer the class nature of a political movement simply from the class composition of its members”.

The author argues (implicitly) for a people’s vote or presumably remain and is concerned about the impact a catastrophic Brexit will have on those on the left who championed the project in the first place. We’ll see whether those ships have sailed. At the least the logic of his argument is for an arrangement that constitutes a soft Brexit. Let’s hope so.


1. GW - January 8, 2019

From a ‘former member’ of the IS.

The great leader disagrees.

Liked by 1 person

2. Joe - January 8, 2019

“The author… is concerned about the impact a catastrophic Brexit will have on those on the left who championed the project in the first place.”

Jez didn’t champion it as such but, if the story is to be believed, had to be persuaded to support Remain. But now backs Brexit because the people have spoken.
But the whole thing is so messy, one would be concerned at what will befall Labour under Jez – whatever the eventual outcome.
But then again, Labour under Jez surprised us all with how well they did at the last GE. They may surprise us again, despite whatever the eventual shitty Brexit outcome is, at the next one.

Liked by 2 people

3. Roger Cole - January 8, 2019

Virtually every time Corbyn is mentioned on the Irish corporate media he is attacked or dismissed, which is no surprise as the vast majority of the Irish talking heads on RTE political talk shows are in favour of the transformation of the EU into Federal State like the US, with its own army as advocated by Macron and Merkel. In the UK, groups like Momentum and others on the left that support a second referendum, to my knowledge, ( I am willing to be corrected) have little or nothing to say about the EU Army. The same applies to many on the left in Ireland. It is true of course that the Irish people were forced to vote again on two occasions, but Ireland like Greece are small countries that can be easily intimidated by the EU Empire. In the case of the British people however, the EU Empire Loyalists, in forcing them to vote again, could very well discover that they cannot be so easily crushed. Neither is the alienation from the Empire a purely a UK issue, as witnessed by the Yellow Vests protests in France. The reality is that the drive to create an neo-liberal, militarised EU Empire with its own army is creating an opposition that is growing stronger by the day and the focus of their support is their own nation states. That so many on the left support the Empire and hate national independence means that much of the opposition to the Empire no longer supports the Social Democratic parties and their allies.


Joe - January 8, 2019

“Virtually every time Corbyn is mentioned on the Irish corporate media he is attacked or dismissed.”
You are right there. And the UK media too.


GW - January 8, 2019

Agreed. But only there.


WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2019

+1 GW

I do not understand why people who do not support an EU Army, do not support or are sceptical of a federal Europe, who do support a reform approach to the EU and who do support the ROI’s neutrality should be berated as ‘supporting Empire’ or ‘hating national independence’.


Jim Monaghan - January 8, 2019

Plucky little Britain standing up to the EU? Britain is part of the imperial problem, not a victim of it. It forced and cajoled the EU to take up austerityy politics. Does anyone think the City of London woudl have dealt with Greece any better? Those who support Irish neutrality should know that Britain is a major NATO power. As well as that Britain is the first to obey Trump in upping military spending.

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WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2019

And it’s role in regard to Iraq in the 2000s.


GW - January 9, 2019

To be fair Jim, although Brexitania played a key role in moving the EU towards default neoliberalism and austerity, there were other actors, most notably in Germany – see Kohl, Schröder, Schäuble, Wiedmann & Merkel.

The Brits alone wouldn’t have managed it.

And Fx and Irish Labour did their bit.


Jim Monaghan - January 9, 2019

Of course, the entire EU rulingclasses (note plural) were and are guilty. The EU is terrible. What should replace it. A Socialist United States of Europe. Not a return of increasingly xenophobic states and statelets. Brexit won by using an increasingly anti-migrant thrust.
Now the idea that Britain is some kind of oppressed nation is utter nonesense. It is a major member of Nato. Now I support Corbyn, and if across the water, I would join Labour. But has Corbyn explicitly said he woudl withdraw Britain from Nato. Now, I think we should all worry about PESCO and efforts to draw the neutrals into Nato type structures. But NATO is the problem.
How do we combat neo-liberalism. With a sovereign state with its own currency. That would solve some problems. Eg Devalue and reduce wages by international comparisons. 10% wage rises all round, gfollowed by 12% devaluations sort of stuff. Every Labour government across the water, faced runs on the pouind, inside and outside the EU.
Brexit has paralysed a necessary debate on reforming thew EU. It has paralysed the creation of a pan EU Left front for the EU parliament elections. This front, backed by trade unions and otehr people’s organisations with support on the streets shoudl have a major Marshall Aid type plan at its heart to put people back to work, end austerity and it should be directed at the periphery. And, in case I forget, opposition to the demand of Trump to increase military spending. Indeed opposition to increased military spending should be a demand here.


makedoanmend - January 9, 2019

Leaving aside the hyperbole (of which I am also a practitioner) and playing devil’s advocate, might R Cole have some substantive points?

The EU and its practices, as currently constituted, are problematic for many people – whatever their political orientation. Beside the obvious neo-liberal direction, the entire project seems becalmed and without any vision beyond the immediate. And we have to recognise that the UK may not only become an economic competitor, but given its history, downright antagonistic to the EU and, by extension, Ireland. (Being Irish, I think behoves us to think about the rise of English nationalism and what its repercussions might be in the long run for Ireland.)

While the details of Brexit are certainly important for us now, I think too much time has been spent looking at the slow motion crash of UK politics across the water and not enough on how the EU operates and what we as citizens should expect from the union. Given the multiplicity of views across the European political landscape, it shouldn’t be all that hard for European Left, allied with certain groups in the “middle”, to influence the political process to produce more democracy and accountability – nudging rather than looking for absolute victories.

Brexit should have given us the opportunity to debate these topics across Europe.

[The Euro and the continent-wide mechanisms to make it viable are, on the other hand, of immediate concern. Such an important topic needs to be addressed now and not left in the hands of bureaucrats, of which our politicians have become through their inability to make any policy decisions other than those that concern the wealthy.]

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GW - January 9, 2019

I agree with all of that MDAM.

But, possibly unlike you, I don’t see such points are made usefully within the framing of an ‘EU Empire’.


makedoanmend - January 9, 2019

I agree with you re the hyperbole, but it has some considerable traction amongst sections of the mittel stand of the UK – if only as a convenient myth.

OTOH didn’t Jose Manuel Barroso when President of the European Commission once claim that the EU was more like an empire? That erstwhile being who began as a communist, became a socialist and now works for Goldman Sachs!

With comrades like this, who needs enemies?


WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2019

Agree completely – and hyperbole definitely has its place- but I’m not sure that the focus in this instance is the way to win friends and influence people. I also completely agree – never more important to critique and criticize and work for genuine change at European level. And I’m still v taken by a parallel structures approach even if only to highlight the deficits of the EU


4. CL - January 8, 2019

Corbyn “is a lifetime opponent of the EU….

Some 73% of people currently identifying as Labour supporters think that the UK was wrong to vote to leave the EU. That rises to a whopping 89% among Labour members….
The Labour leader is not making any effort to prevent Brexit because he doesn’t want to prevent Brexit.”

” The Labour leadership is rowing in behind Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill, which if passed, would mean that the government could not use its financial powers to implement no deal without first extending Article 50 or seeking a vote in the House of Commons….but… it won’t, in and of itself, prevent no deal. The only way parliament can do that is to agree to either go ahead with Brexit or to stop it.”

“The Irish government has said it would not “stand in the way” if the UK asked to extend the Article 50 negotiating period, following reports that British officials have sounded out the possibility with their counterparts in Brussels.”

Looks like they might extend the road so they can have more can kicking.


5. CL - January 8, 2019

The Cooper amendment has passed by 303 votes to 296. A defeat for May, but its implications are unclear.


CL - January 8, 2019

‘This vote is an important step to prevent a no deal Brexit.
It shows that there is no majority in parliament, the cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement. That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in parliament to prevent no deal.
Theresa May must now rule out no deal once and for all.’ says Corbyn.
Only question is how not to have a no deal exit; the UK political system seems incapable of agreeing on an alternative to May’s WA deal.


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