Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Everybody In The Labour Party (I Hate)

 I'm not usually stuck for words but I find myself completely lacking the vocabulary to express my anger at the current state of Brexit. I'm obviously angry at the Tory Party for creating this entire mess but I've made space for a special kind of contempt for Corbyn and McDonnell. In fact, my contempt for the inner circle dictating Labour policy is even greater than it is for Jack Straw. The election presented the Labour Party with the perfect opportunity to act as a genuine opposition to clearly harmful Tory policy but what have they done? What they have done? Well, they're propping up Theresa May and enabling her and her spineless puppets to carry on with the most extreme form of Brexit.



During the 2015 General Election both Labour and Conservative campaigned on a pro-EU policy. The EU referendum result pushed both parties to immediately reverse a policy that had been maintained without question over a period of several decades. They did this without properly asking their membership or their MPs. The Labour Party didn't even bother debating Brexit at their recent party conference. What kind of democracy is this? This is the unstructured logic of taking back control. It's bizarre to think that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both campaigned to remain in the EU but are now fervent supporters of leaving the EU. In these circumstances it was right to have an election on the topic. In fact, it was the only democratic response. Obviously, they should have asked the electorate for their support before starting the exit process but that's the crazy world of Brexit for you. It might have been better, too, if the election had properly discussed the options and costs of various different approaches to leaving the EU. Oh well, another one will be along soon enough.

The electorate have rejected the form of Brexit proposed by Theresa May. She was quite clear that she sought a mandate for her policy and took the view that an increased majority would signify the will of the electorate. She didn't get that mandate but she's pressing on regardless. How can she do this? How is this possible in a mature democracy? After all, there are plenty of pro-EU MPs on the Tory benches who could easily derail any government that attempts to walk away from the Brexit talks. In fact, the Scottish Tories alone should be enough to bring hard Brexit to an end. In normal times this would result in government defeat and quickly lead to a vote of no confidence. Are we in normal times? No, because there is nothing normal in the illiberally stupid views of Corbyn and McDonnell. Instead of delivering a bloody nose to the government they are lending their support to the hardest possible Brexit. On their current path they will go down in history as the party that took the United Kingdom to a legislative and economic abyss.

The Labour manifesto on Brexit was vague and confused and, depending on your view, promised nothing to nobody or everything to everybody. It talked elliptically about "access" to the Single Market without ever specifying how that might be achieved. What about immigration policy? Nothing. Customs Union? Well, it is to be a "jobs-first" Brexit. Does that help? How about a policy on the continuing role of the ECJ and European technical agencies? Zilch. Farmers?  Dunno but something about "benefits" and "putting the economy first". Apart from a few pages of cheap sloganeering, it presented a world in which Brexit was barely important and was just another issue like council housing or police funding. None of this should be too surprising from the party that didn't even bother to debate Brexit at party conference. Did I mention that already?  From their relaxed attitude it would be easy to believe that Labour have a more positive view of Brexit and that they have left more options on the table. Anyone thinking that would be completely wrong.

It's easy to conclude that Corbyn is no fan of the EU. In fact, we only need to compare his limp efforts during the EU referendum with his animated campaigning during the General Election to understand that he doesn't much care for EEA membership. Viewing the entire world through a prism of outmoded class politics means he can only ever see the Single Market as a political fix for greedy capitalists.  He's also a politician so he's probably arrogant enough to think that he can single-handedly make it all better if only the UK would give him a chance to implement his policies on social and economic reform. Maybe he will make it all better (no, he won't) but eventually he'll be replaced by a Blairite or a Tory who will proceed to undo everything he just achieved. In this regard EU membership is the single mechanism that protects the UK from its own bungled attempts at legacy democracy. It provides a set of inviolable standards that are granted in perpetuity and cannot be reversed by the sudden swings from left to right and back again that are delivered by the FPTP system. Fall out of the EU and that is all gone.  In reality, the EU is the closest the UK will ever get to a constitution that sets out the rights and obligations of citizens and state.

We don't need to look for behavioural signals from Corbyn in order to conclude that Labour will support the Tories in facilitating hard Brexit. They didn't write down their policy anywhere but it certainly all dripped out over time. First, Kier Starmer made it perfectly clear that the ECJ would have no role in resolving disputes arising from citizens' rights. I can only guess that he means the UK will completely leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ. That position is perfectly aligned with Tory policy. If the UK leaves the jurisdiction of the ECJ then it also leaves  every EU initiative from Horizon 2020 to the Open Skies Agreement. Yup, that is also perfectly aligned with Tory policy. How about the Single Market? Well, McDonnell said he would never accept the freedom of movement of people. He said that about 9 months ago and he's still saying it now. That's right, a Marxist in the Labour Party is prepared to give more rights to capital than to working people.  Is that also perfectly aligned with Tory policy? Do I need to answer that one?

The Labour Party are useful idiots, which makes them dangerous idiots. If the Tories want to take us back to the 1950s, then Corbyn wants to take us back to the years of socialist reform of the years immediately after the end of the war. I have no desire whatsoever to travel backwards in time. That's bad for me because the gloomy choice of historical decade is all that separates Labour from Tory.


Over and out,


Terry

PS Class struggle is a fascinating topic. During Tommy Sheridan's libel trial I had lighthearted discussions with friends in which I would defend Tommy and his honour. I argued that Tommy had been stitched up by enemies he had made in the socialist movement. After all, socialists are always making enemies and falling out with each other. When he won his libel case he stood on the steps outside the court and said something like, "The working class members of the jury found me innocent of all charges". At that point I instantly knew he was guilty because instead of accepting the result as a triumph of the legal system he could only express it through it through the prism of class politics. Objective truth meant nothing in the face of class struggle. If we've learned anything from GE2017 it's surely that class politics are as irrelevant as a dial-up modem.

PPS Why are young people voting for Corbyn?  The one thing he shares with Theresa May is that his worldview is gloomy, depressing and outmoded.  I would genuinely welcome a leadership challenge. 

6 comments:

  1. Yes, sadly I have to agree with all that.

    Except I seriously doubt that the UK is a mature democracy. In fact I'm not sure it's an immature one. Royal head of state, privy councils, statutory instruments, house of lords, FPTP, whipping... What kind of a democracy has so little regard for what the people want?

    But certainly, Labour are useless about Brexit. They just aren't an opposition. May doesn't need the Troglodytes from Ulster to back her on Brexit. She has Labour.

    I'm aghast as the about turns that the politicians make.

    It's the same in Scotland. Ruth and Kezia were both ardently pro-EU. Now they are ardently against it.

    From all politicians points of view I can see that there's an argument that, there having been a majority for Brexit in the referendum, it was fair to get behind it in some form or another.

    But I'd have expected some big speech from at least the prominent politicians saying that whilst they had been very much anti-Brexit, they were mindful of the will of the people, and would now do their best to get a good deal out of a bad deal. But no.

    Of course that might be hard for Kezia and Ruth given the overwhelming remain vote in Scotland. Unless they are saying that they support the views of the people of England and Wales more than those of the people of Scotland. Which I suppose they do, but wouldn't want to say out loud.

    But they about-turn to whichever political position they think will best advance their careers. Ruth, in particular bends with whatever her hapless boss says.

    And that makes me sick.

    I wonder how May will get on when she meets a real winner in Paris today.

    "Good afternoon Mr President. Congratulations on Sunday's emphatic win in the Assembly elections."

    "Ah Bonjour, Madame May, et bienvenue. Uuhhh hmmm, il fait beau, aujourd'hui, non?"

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    1. I'd say that the UK was a mature democracy but had a system that is not fit for the 21st century. Brexit has lobbed a spanner in the works and now nobody knows how to react. They've all rejected their manifesto pledges but can't work out what the electorate want. As a result, they are scrabbling around trying to guess the will of the people. Parliamentary democracies aren't about they will of the people - they are exclusively about the will of parliament. We let them know if we're no longer satisfied. That system has broken down now because MPs chose to discard it. As a consequence, Brexit is a serious threat to UK democracy and we can see our political leaders as the cowards and self-servers that they really are.

      Ruth Davison and Kezia Dugdale don't really belong in their national parties. They strike me as having liberal, centrist instincts but have opted for the chance of power over principle. Difficult to watch at times.

      I suspect May will attempt to bend Macron's ear one time about the order of the exit talks. Oh no, that would be just too embarrassing.

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  2. O/T I don't know how much insight you will gain from this article, Terry, but I take it as a sign that some in the media are starting to wake up to reality. Not sure what that will achieve however...

    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/06/10/britain-the-end-of-a-fantasy/

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    1. Thanks for the link. Interesting article.

      I do disagree with it on one point: I think May was a reluctant remainer rather than a reluctant leaver. That's the one thing she has in common with Corbyn. She has grasped the decision to leave the EU as a means to finally reduce immigration. I've read plenty of articles that indicate this is an obsession for her and that it completely clouds her judgement.

      I'm with you that rational discussions of Brexit no longer matter. It is far too late for that now.

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    2. I'm inclined to agree. She had to be instructed by Cameron to get out and talk about the benefits of the EU.

      But, if she is obsessed by reducing immigration (and I'm on no way disputing that), she's been singularly crap at it.

      Still, I suppose, she's been singularly crap at pretty much everything.

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    3. She is certainly crap at reducing immigration in any kind of managed way. It does, however, look as though EU migration is reducing. That has been achieved by making the UK such an attractive prospect that nobody wants to live or work there. The problem with such a blunt metric is that it presents genuine failure as success. It also obscures all other metrics like waiting times in the NHS, GDP, unemployment, poverty etc.

      The first Thatcher government had an interesting approach to their metrics. They would tell everyone to watch some specific measure of the economy. When it didn't go as they expected they would abandon that and focus on another. That went on until the whole monetarist experiment was abandoned after just a few years. May is different in her utter lack of pragmatism. She has one metric and will not let it go. This is not good government.

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