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John McDonnell October 13, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Interviewed in GQ no less. And by Alastair Campbell. Whatever about the latter I’ve a lot of time for McDonnell, socialist, republican and thoughtful. Thanks to BH for the steer towards the interview.

Two observations, to the credit of both of them, they discuss Ireland, the GFA and the contradictions of Brexit:

JM: I don’t think there is any way Brexit can happen without undermining the Good Friday Agreement, unless, for example, you had a solution that was permanent membership of the customs union. That is what we’ve put forward and what was at the back of my mind in negotiations with the Tories and they wouldn’t budge – and still haven’t.

And just on the political situation in the UK, check this out from the interview.

JM: I think it is very difficult to see anything between them, I really do. I find the whole thing really worrying. Johnson needs to understand and be worried about the forces he’s unleashing. When you go into that political climate where actually you are lying through your teeth, and when you’ve got a crony media in large sections of it, you have the potential then of unleashing forces that you lose control of. I think we’re on the edge of that. I’ll just give a local example, OK? The Daily Mail did a number on me. The usual stuff. Photographs of the street, knocking on doors of neighbours and stuff like that. Within three days of that, a children’s nursery with a big white wall at the top of my road, Nazi swastikas painted all over it. “McDonnell out.” “Leave means Leave.” We’ve not had that in this constituency in maybe 40 years. Those are the sorts of forces Johnson’s risks unleashing and I think he needs to realise the dangers there are in that.

Comments»

1. Dermot M O Connor - October 13, 2019
WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2019

Excellent analysis as always by AVPS.

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2. Saints and Scholars - October 14, 2019

Customs union is only a component of a solution rather than the solution. Single market participation critical.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2019

At least on some level like Norway.

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3. Saints and Scholars - October 14, 2019

Yes. I don’t follow the evolution of BLP policy closely but it seems to be moving crablike in that direction which, if the UK feels it really must do some kind of Brexit, has to be the better way. For the composite good, out but close might be a better world than in but fractious. The immigration/freedom of movement dynamic could be the sand in the engine though.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2019

Completely agree. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion there’s no way the UK polity could function with a Remain or a second referendum. It’s just too divided. And I’m not certain they could even arrive politically at either of those two outcomes, whereas an exit is more likely. So least messy an exit is probably the optimal situation. That said even getting to that is going to be nightmarish.

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tafkaGW - October 15, 2019

The UK polity isn’t functioning now.

And does ‘the UK’ feel it should exit?

This polling suggests that, since the end of 2018, those who think it is a mistake to leave the EU outnumber those who still think it is a good idea by a consistent 5%.

This is why ‘crab-like’ isn’t good enough, and may unfortunately cost the the BLP a chance to form a government.

McDonnell and his people have recognised this but there are still too many Lexiteers in the Labour Leader’s office.

Whatever happens, there will be political division on the issue, in whatever remains of the UK, for decades. Whether there is a further referendum or not. Why not have a referendum to at least clarify the issue?

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2019

In a way though that’s the subtle genius of Brexit. It managed to divide all those who are against it, or even only partly for it, as against those who absolutely love it, and worse in the context of the Tories it meant that the only path was one that continually moved away from a soft version to the hardest one possible. I do agree that the Lexit is strong, and very stupid, in some in the BLP, and very dismissive and ignorant re this island, but in a way that too is a function of the overall problem.

And I don’t know would a 5% stay vote (by the way, stay, better than remain, or in? I think in has better connotations) really be sufficient to carry the day? I’m not entirely convinced tbh.

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tafkaGW - October 16, 2019

I’ve no idea whether that 5% will carry the day. It depends on whether the faces of the remain campaign are the likes of John McDonnell or Alistair Campbell.

But even if leave (on some or no terms) wins a referendum, at least those who wish remain in the EU couldn’t claim that that referendum was not in some sense definitive, for at least a generation.

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Alibaba - October 16, 2019

I mulled over the thoughts of S&S and WBS on Brexit and I have to disagree. What might ‘carry the day’ or be winnable generally is not the issue. Who would have thought Corbyn could win when he was deemed to be ‘unelectable’? The Left must ask itself what is required and fight for it ruthlessly. To my mind that means Remain as distinct from Corbyn’s Lexiteers dealers.

A second referendum is hard to justify. I get it. The vote once, vote twice, till you get it right baggage could come with it. However, more than three years after the first one and mayhem caused, the time for reconsideration has arrived. Too many options in the referendum is ill-advised. Keep it simple to avoid confusion.  

The best possible outcome is to make known red lines in advance, and respecting the first referendum result, see what deal can be cut. Furthermore in circumstances where there is a Parliamentary inability to resolve this crisis, resort to a second referendum, not forgetting that over a million people asked for this in demonstrations, whilst being clear about what Labour stands for.  

To do otherwise is to alienate all those progressive and internationalist forces that brought Corbyn to power. It will sow demoralisation and strengthen the anti-Brexit nationalists, the Liberal Democrats and last but not least the Blairites. Clever McDonnell spoke directly to the right-leaning Labour members when he availed of the Campbell interview.

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Joe - October 16, 2019

“To my mind that means Remain as distinct from Corbyn’s Lexiteers dealers.”

Corbyn may be at heart a Lexiteer just like he may be at heart an Irish republican. But in fairness to him he has shown some willingness for compromise and to do politics. I’m not sure what ‘Corbyn’s Lexiteers dealers’ means but as I understand it, Corbyn’s Labour’s policy on Brexit is:
1. Vote in Parliament against any Tory-made exit deal – on the basis that any such deal will by definition be anti-worker and bad for the working class. 2. Win a general election. 3. Negotiate the best possible exit deal with the EU – best possible in terms of Britain’s economic interests and what’s good for British workers and the British working class. 4. Put that deal to the people in a Referendum – the choice to be that deal or Remain. 5. Implement the will of the people as expressed by that vote.
Simples.
Now, do what Jez sez.

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Alibaba - October 16, 2019

‘Now, do what Jez sez.’ Come on, Joe. 

A key problem with BLP leadership Brexit platform is that it hasn’t got a clear one. Jeremy-I will/I won’t-do this-do that-and the other-Corbyn is responsible for this. His strategy was called a “credible Leave deal”. He seeks to have a soft Brexit as an option, even though Brexit is overwhelmingly a reactionary process with special mention to immigration. I choose to argue for Remain (or Stay if people prefer that formulation) and Corbyn to his credit always recognised the rights of people to argue contrary views. The majority of Labour members, especially the young ones, who voted Remain and carried Corbyn to power may show their disgust in due course.

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WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2019

That’s a very good point about the new BLP membership Alibaba, that fudge, or not even fudge, but evasion, will come home to roost sooner or later. I think is why McDonnell is so resistant to it.

I guess my problem is that at this point it’s too late for the BLP really to make a convincing case. At least that is how I see it. Particularly given that the show has moved on and the EU seems happy enough for the UK to leave and there’s no sense of a countervailing Stay/Remain focus.

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Joe - October 16, 2019

Friends. The UK is leaving the EU. Accept that reality. The question now is do they leave with a Tory deal or a Labour deal.

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WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2019

I think you’re right Joe, it certainly looks like the deal is almost there. Be interesting to see how he DUP stomach it but I can’t help but think somehow somewhere their bluff has been called.

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Alibaba - October 17, 2019

Hey Joe, what you argue is possibly right. But I’ve always refused to make a prediction about the Brexit deal outcome on the grounds that the political landscape is too complex to make a call. I am more convinced than ever about this. Anything repeat anything could happen.

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Joe - October 17, 2019

Anything could happen. You are right there for sure Ali Baba. Let’s hope what happens is the British people cop themselves on and vote in a Labour government. Otherwise they are doomed. And us too maybe.

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4. Jim Monaghan - October 15, 2019

Already the Lexiters are briefing against McDonnell. McDonnell knows that throwing out the Blairites would destroy Labour. Undoing decades of Blairite and Kinnoch damage will take a lot of time. I found the McDonnell speech at the Labour conference inspiring. 32 hour week etc. About time.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2019

+1 he’s genuinely excellent. And your point re keeping the BLP together facing into an election is crucial – reworking it is an essential project but one that will take years – throwing people out is a guaranteed way to diminish its resources at the point when it needs to be as large as poss to win as many votes as poss. Moreover reselectiobs have thrown up oddities with many more rt wing MPs holding on. And this reminds me of my WP days where MacCartan was candidate and later TD – many didn’t exactly have huge faith in him but knew he was the only person who the party could field in DNE who at that pointcould win a seat so the key thing was that he was signed up to the programme.

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pettyburgess - October 15, 2019

In retrospect it’s not obvious to me that the Workers Party or the wider left benefitted from winning that seat.

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Joe - October 15, 2019

Yep. We thought it was a good idea at the time. And we thought that those among us who didn’t think it was a good idea, were wrong. We were wrong, I think.
Good times, though.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2019

I have a slightly different take – to me the simple fact that during the high Thatcher phase with the PDs getting 14 odd seats in 1987 and both FF and Fg reiterating right wing economic policy the WP got 7 seats two yrs later was a clear political message above and beyond the WP itself that there was an appetite for a push back by the working and parts of the middle class. That might be diffuse but it was far from unimportant in pointing to the potential and actual political power in play. I don’t think it conincidental that there was such an emphasis on partnership (from 87 onwards) whatever we think of that later. For the left in Ireland as such in a narrower definition that wasn’t sufficient of course but more broadly there was an effect and I don’t think it was negative.

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pettyburgess - October 15, 2019

Hmmm. I can see the validity of your first point, WBS. 7 seats probably did have an important symbolic effect, indicating that the working class was a force politically. But on the second part, I think partnership was a total disaster for the labour movement, rotting it from within in a way that did just as much damage as the outright defeats suffered by the unions in Britain.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2019

I wouldn’t disagree re your second point at all, it led to a passive union movement that refused to push for the extension of union rights into the private sector, retreated to the comfortable fiefdoms of the public sector, didn’t even bother with the new technologies area, etc, etc, I saw a lot of that first hand and feel very angry about it.

But I brought that up (partnership) in the sense that the right and ‘centre’ realised they had to do something in the face of political challenges that might develop from the left as the WP was at that point. So that was their response for better and really for worse.

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AdoPerry - October 15, 2019

The problem is that by allowing the right wing Labour MPs to remain, Labour will not move forward. These Blairites would rather see an election lost than Corbyn become PM. They are and remain tories in the Labour Party.

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5. tafkaGW - October 16, 2019

I think what has particularly riled the Lexiteers, is that people like Rebecca Long-Bailey, a possible left leadership contender, and previously seen as a ally of the Lexiteers, have moved to on to support a third referendum on any (or no) deal. As she said in a recent Andrew Marr interview:

“I’ve been on a journey, to be honest, in relation to a public vote or a referendum. At the start of this process I was completely against a public vote, I thought it would be very divisive.

“However, after three years of drama and pantomime antics from the Tory government and the fact that we’re facing a no-deal, I think the only option we’ve got now is to let the people decide and that’s what our party’s position is.

“I know that many colleagues are of a similar position to me, they’ve been on a journey, they weren’t in favour of a referendum to start off with, but now we realise that it has to be put before the people, any final deal, and they have to make the final decision as to whether they’re happy with that relevant deal or whether they want to remain in the European Union.

“Now that’s the case if we’re in a general election and Labour renegotiate a deal, and equally I think it should be the position if we’re faced with a deal that’s passed through the House of Commons by an unelected Tory Prime Minister that could potentially be damaging for our economy.”

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6. CL - October 16, 2019

“Lapavitsas, like many others, emphasizes the significant constraints that EU membership places on the potential for radical transformation of the UK economy, echoing Wolfgang Streeck’s wider restatement of “the way in which the European Union’s de facto constitution limits the political space for any anticapitalist or even pro-labor program”…..
In reality, would a Corbyn-led (or similar) government be able or willing to seize the left opportunities Brexit, in theory, might afford?”
-Andy Storey.
https://monthlyreview.org/2019/10/01/navigating-the-brexit-strait/

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tafkaGW - October 21, 2019

Andy Storey: it figures.

Lapavitsas’ and Streeck’s claims over to what extent the EU would in fact stand in the way of a large economy like Britain going a long way towards genuine social democracy within the current EU treaties is disputed by many others. Especially one with it’s own

The question is as much political as one of international law. A large member country aggressively going in this direction would bring changes within the EU in it’s wake.

Otherwise all you have is the chimera of socialism in one country and some kind of rhetorical ‘internationalism’, rather than a concrete transnational context that could be bent towards a political will.

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tafkaGW - October 21, 2019

…one with it’s own currency.

A slight of hand often employed by Lexiteers in the British context is to impute the real power the ECB has in this context to non-Euro countries.

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WorldbyStorm - October 21, 2019

And that supposedly ‘socialist’ state isolated by its own hand from the EU. Agreed the supposed limitations of EU membership are completely overblown and ripe for being tested.

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7. gypsybhoy69 - October 20, 2019

Am I right in thinking that Caroline Flint – Lexiteer, who I also think even voted against the Letwin amendment was Tony Blair’s preferred candidate against Corbyn. Maybe I’m imagining it because if I was right surely the Guardian would have said something about it.

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WorldbyStorm - October 20, 2019

I think so.

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