Sunday, 26 June 2016

Second That Emotion?

I'm in a Smokey Robinson frame of mind.

Of the 50 counting areas with the lowest turnouts on Thursday, 25 were in either London or Scotland.

Of the five highest demanding a second referendum, two are Camden and Hackney.

Those were among the areas with the lowest turnout at the first one.

Dear God, in Your mercy, spare us a second referendum!

But if there were to be one, then we in the non-Conservative Leave areas that swung the first one could name our price.

Mind you, I for one would still vote to Leave. But a lot of people wouldn't.

And the whole thing would be wondrous to behold.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Not 1642

Not 1776. Not 1789. Not 1848. Not even 1917.

2016 is a truly popular revolt.

Hence its base away from the metropolis.

And not least in the rural and small town North of England, instinctively for Church and King in 1642, and never sold on Whiggish capitalism ever since.

Brexit Bonus

Neither the Remain campaign nor the Leave campaign was a political party, and no vote cast in the referendum was for the campaign, as such.

But now that the idea of a Brexit Bonus of £350 million per week for the NHS has been lodged in the public mind, Labour needs to declare that to be its policy.

We Are The Masters Now

The United Kingdom has not withdrawn from the European Union, nor served any notice of intent to do so. Nor has David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister.

The first will not begin to happen until the second has already happened. That will not be until some time in the autumn.

The more days that pass without an Article 50 notification, the less likely it becomes.

There are lots of days between now and the arrival in Downing Street, either of a Prime Minister who openly did not want a Leave vote, or of a Prime Minister who only pretended to want it in order to become Prime Minister.

The question is which of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove is Vladimir, and which is Estragon.

There is no way that EU citizens already living here are going to made subject to visas, or deprived of the right to vote in local elections, or anything like that, any more than Irish citizens were when the Free State became the Republic.

And for the same reason: there are simply too many of them, and since they have already arrived here without any such restriction, the enforcement of it now would be absolutely impossible.

If people from Rwanda or Mozambique, neither of which was ever part of the British Empire, can stand in British elections all the way up to parliamentary level, then why stop people from France or Germany from standing for the council?

Correspondingly, there is no way that British citizens are going to lose EU citizenship unless they specifically renounce it, something that hardly anyone would ever go to the trouble of doing.

The very large Remain minority, at least, is in a position comparable to that of white settlers or of transplanted Asians when certain African and Caribbean countries became independent of Britain.

Except that the descendants of everyone in the United Kingdom who is currently a European Union citizen will be European Union citizens forever. Just wait and see. It will all be written in. If anything is ever written at all.

This country will either never leave the European Union, which is daily a greater likelihood, or will do so on such terms that hardly anyone will be able to tell the difference.

But that is not the point.

The point is that the political centre of gravity has shifted to Wales, the North and the Midlands, and especially to those sections of their populations which traditionally vote Labour.

Such are the voters to whose satisfaction the big questions now have to be answered. By no means only immigration, of which there is barely any in, for example, the North East. But everything.

A good place to start would be in organising local candidates against those pro-Remain MPs for areas that had voted Leave but who themselves supported Monday's vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

If you don't know, then guess. Frankly, it is likely to be all of them unless we are specifically told otherwise.

You can use the name of a registered political party, or the single word "Independent", or no description. I recommend using no description.

I am already standing for the new seat of Consett and Barnard Castle, where the Labour candidate is highly likely to be Pat Glass herself. She is a friend of mine, but this is politics. Please note the PayPal button on this site.

In the meantime, there is going to be a by-election at Batley and Spen. Someone there needs to get busy.

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Lanchester Review: Brexit As Repoliticised Politics

Matthew Cooper is a very learned man.

To Create A New Settlement

Giles Fraser writes: 

I wanted Brexit and argued for it. But I don’t feel any particular sense of joy now we have won. 

Not because I am having second thoughts. 

But because what this referendum has revealed – not just the result, but how the thing was conducted – is how alienated some parts of this country have become from each other. 

When I wandered over to vote yesterday, I noticed only signs of remain. People wearing little “In” stickers, posters in windows declaring “Better Together”. 

Remain was everywhere. Leave was nowhere to be seen. 

But now we know that was just the London bubble. Outside the capital things were different. 

As if in some parallel universe, the rest of the country saw things differently. They didn’t get the memo. 

And no, they were not being racist – though racism has certainly been out there. They had simply been left profoundly unattended by the political process

Taken for granted, patted on the head – by the Labour party as much as the Conservatives – and dumped upon by a financial services industry that never paid the price for its own recklessness, this was an angry roar for attention. 

The EU felt a million miles away from their concerns. 

And who cares if the pound loses 10% or 15% of its value when you can hardly make your weekly grocery shop anyway? 

As expert after expert patronised people with talk of financial armageddon, outside London people were sick of being talked down to by pundits who had no stake in what they had been going through.

The wonderful thing about democracy is that it doesn’t give some an extra voting power if they are rich or well-educated.

It’s the great leveller. Invented in this country by the Levellers. And things have now been levelled. 

The biggest failure in all this has been the Labour party, often little more than a bystander in so vital a debate. 

If only Jeremy Corbyn had stuck with his natural instincts and led the leave campaign. He could now be the prime minister in waiting. 

And he could have shaped the debate away from immigrant blaming.

Indeed, many of those who voted out were natural Labour supporters, but their anger has been dismissed as bigoted by those for whom some pop-up chai latte liberal individualism has replaced socialism as the dominant creed. 

Tragically, Ukip has been the beneficiaries of this neglect, hijacking legitimate frustration and redirecting it towards the easy target of the outsider. 

With this referendum the gap between the present Labour party and its base has been exposed. 

And this result must jolt them into a rediscovery of their roots. No more sneering at the Gillian Duffys of this world. 

For it was the contempt in which Labour held its own people that precipitated this rebellion. 

We have become strangers to each other and it’s high time we got to know each other again. And perhaps to find some way to like each other a little bit more. 

For this has been one of the nastiest campaigns I can remember, exposing bitterness and deep anger one for the other. 

Now is the time to stop blaming each other for our differences, and to listen a little bit more sympathetically.

With Brexit, we have our democracy back.

The London bubble has burst. The world has been turned upside down.

Now is the time to create a new settlement with each other.

And when we build ourselves back up and regain our economic vigour – and, of course, we will – no one should be left behind this time.

The British Spring, The European Spring

Peter Oborne writes:

Last month Middle East Eye editor David Hearst and I paid a pilgrimage to Sidi Bouzid, the central Tunisian town where street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight on 17 December 2010.

This was the act of desperation which ignited the Arab Spring.

At first it seemed to provide hope that an ugly era of despotism and economic inertia across the Middle East and beyond could come to an end.

The Arab Spring was indeed a great democratic moment.

But it has also led to chaos and horror in Syria, Libya and Egypt – though mercifully not in Bouazizi’s native Tunisia.

The decision of the British people to vote No in yesterday’s European referendum was another revolutionary moment.

We in Britain have been part of an explosion of popular feeling against the morally bankrupt political class which has given Britain the Iraq invasion, the exchange rate mechanism debacle and the banking crisis of 2008.

I voted Leave yesterday because I believe that the European Union was sucking democracy out of Britain.

It has been sucking democracy out of every other part of the European continent as well.

And I expect that the British referendum vote will certainly set off a chain reaction across an economically sclerotic and politically moribund European continent. Large parts of Europe are in distress.

The single currency, dogmatically imposed by an arrogant and out-of-touch elite, has proved a disaster.

This job-destroying euro economic experiment has driven youth unemployment up to a horrifying 50 percent in large areas of Spain, Italy and Portugal.

The Greek economy has been destroyed. Europe is crying out for change, and now Britain has shown the way.

We reformers should brace ourselves for resistance.

Angela Merkel is poised to play the same role as the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Arab Spring. Merkel will be the Prince Metternich of the counter-revolution, battling to restore the existing order.

I don’t believe the formidable German chancellor can succeed. In the wake of the British decision, Greece will surely cease to be part of the single currency.

When it leaves a period of initial chaos will be followed by the return of economic growth.

Almost certainly there will be a chain reaction across southern Europe.

Italy, Spain and other southern European countries will once more be able to stand on their own feet economically.

Politically there will be benefits as well. Remember that the rise of the European Union has paradoxically coincided with the abolition of democracy in many European countries.

Soft coup d’états engineered by the European central banks in alliance with the IMF have removed democratically elected governments in Italy and Greece.

As with the Arab Spring, there is cause for apprehension as well as celebration.

We have every reason to fear the rise of far-right parties across Europe.

Indeed, thanks to the prolonged period of austerity which Europe has already suffered, they are already resurgent in France, Germany, and across much of central Europe.

It’s no coincidence that Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, who takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on 1 July, is a bigot who wants to ban Muslims.

In Britain too Muslims rightly fear Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party which has frequently demonised law-abiding Muslims.

But so did David Cameron, Britain’s soon-to-be former prime minister.

It is completely wrong, as many advocates of the European Union assert, that racism and bigotry is confined to the anti-European Union cause.

It’s alive and well inside the EU too.

So we all need to be careful in the very difficult months and years ahead.

I believe that the restoration of democracy and prosperity to Europe can make the entire continent a freer, better and more stable place.

The Second Peasants' Revolt

Neil Clark writes: 

The first Peasants' Revolt in Britain occurred 1381. The second took place on Thursday 23rd June 2016. 

On the Remain side in the EU Referendum campaign stood the giants of US finance capital — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were among those who funded the campaign — and NATO, the IMF, The Times newspaper, The Economist, 1280 "business leaders" of multinational corporations and almost the entire British Establishment. 


The multimillionaire children's author JK Rowling, changed her Twitter name to JK RowlIN to encourage a Remain vote, while the billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson took out a whole page of newspaper advertising on Tuesday (June 21) to warn us not to vote for Brexit. 

"Although I've been living in the British Virgin Islands for some time now, I have never stopped caring passionately about the UK and its great people. I truly believe that leaving the EU would be devastating for the long-term future of Great Britain and the future of Europe," said the Virgin supremo.

Meanwhile, the pro-Remain multimillionaire rock star Sir Bob Geldof did his bit by sticking two fingers up at Brexit-supporting fishermen on the River Thames. 

The Establishment operated "Project Fear" for most of the campaign and attempted to frighten the "peasants" — because peasants is how they regard us — with tales of austerity budgets and swingeing cuts to pensions and services if they dared to disobey their masters and vote Leave. 

We were even told we had to stay in the EU to keep us safe from terrorism (did I imagine the Brussels and Paris bombings?), and from the Russian "threat." 

After the tragic murder of pro-Remain MP Jo Cox on June 16, Project Fear became combined with "Project Grief." 

Despite a call from Cox's friend Rachel Reeves, for the killing not to be linked to the referendum campaign, some EU supporters did just that. 

In a leaked recording featuring Will Straw, executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, and son of a former Foreign Secretary, Straw is heard to say:

"We need to recognize that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox's death and it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK. That is something we must all do…" 

David Cameron was also accused of trying to exploit Cox's death. 

As referendum day dawned, the Remain side must have felt very confident that their tactics had worked. Late opinion polls showed Remain back in the lead. 

It seemed that Labour voters, horrified by the murder of Jo Cox, were going to do what was expected of them. 

At 10.00 clock on Thursday (June 23) night, when the polling booths closed, the bookmakers odds of a Brexit had drifted to 9-1, from 9-2 earlier in the day. 

The pound surged. In the City, champagne corks were popping. Remainers got ready to party.  

And then the peasants spoke. 

The people who had been talked at and patronized for years, but never listened to, started to make one hell of a noise.

The first result that told us that the Establishment might be in for the shock of its life was Sunderland, when Leave won by a much wider margin (61-39) than predicted. 

UKIP MEP, Diane James, said there had been much anger after management at the local Japanese owned Nissan car plant had written to workers expressing the company's preference for a Remain vote — after being "effectively asked" to do so by the Prime Minister David Cameron. 

Then the Newcastle result came in. Remain had expected to win this quite comfortably but only scraped to a very narrow win by just 1%. 

By now the bookies odds on a Brexit had come in to 4-1, but Remain were still the odds-on favorites. 

As district after district flashed up as a Leave win, with a turnout higher than at last year's general election, it was clear that we were witnessing something quite extraordinary. 

The Establishment, who would have been so confident of success earlier in the evening, were being given a big thumbs down from the "peasants" in the North, the south-east, the east, the south-west, the Midlands and Wales. 

The hostility towards direct democracy from some liberal-left "democrats" came out into the open. 

Tony Blair's former spin doctor and Remain supporter Alistair Campbell was called "arrogant" after he declared: "I have always thought it was a bad idea to have it (this referendum). I want politicians to be elected and lead." 

Meanwhile, the BBC gave airing to the view that Brexiters were less educated than Remainers. 

Of course, the "peasants" could only have voted the way they did because they aren't as bright as us — and/or because they're "racists'/'xenophobes." 

There can be no other explanation. 

Watching the Establishment trying to come to terms with their defeat has been highly revealing. And also highly comical. 

"I don't think I've ever wanted magic more," bemoaned the multi-millionaire JK Rowling (or is it RowlIN?). Billionaire businessman Lord Sugar said he had "no words".

His Lordship may be speechless, but the "peasants" have found their voice.

They've not only brought about Britain's exit from the EU, but the resignation of the hard-right neocon David Cameron as Prime Minister.

Chancellor George "Slasher" Osborne, who threatened the peasants with a new austerity budget if they dared to vote the wrong way, will surely be on his bike soon too.

The rebels may also have helped to bring about an early general election. Not bad for a day's work was it?

While faux-left hipsters, who only pretend to want radical change are in shock that the "peasants" ignored their advice to vote for the Establishment-friendly status quo, the genuine left, who know that things needed a real shake-up, are ecstatic. 

George Galloway, a politician who by backing Brexit showed once again he is much more in tune with majority public opinion than his condescending and insufferably smug Establishment detractors, tweeted: "First they ignored us. Then they laughed at us. Then they attacked us. Then we won #Lexit #Brexit ".

Significantly, the areas of the country which delivered the strongest support for Brexit were ones that have been neglected by the elite for years. 

Only one in the twelve areas of the North East voted Remain — (and that was only by 1%). 

The North East is the only region of the country where house prices fell in the year to February. People in the North East are also most likely to be diagnosed with cancer. 

The region also has the highest child poverty rate in the UK. 

According to a report from Barnardo's, some neighborhoods in the North East have more than two-thirds of children living in families on out of work benefits. 

It is unlikely that many voters in the North East would have been swayed by the billionaire financier Lord Jacob Rothschild taking to the pages of The Times to urge a Remain vote. 

Or by the tweets of wealthy pro-Remain "celebrities" either. 

It's not just in the North East where people are experiencing real hardship. 

All over the country, workers have seen their real living standards fall as their wages are frozen or reduced — and prices for utilities rise. 

Well-heeled "inside the tent" Establishment figures based in London know very little of life in this other Britain. 

For them and their equally well-heeled friends, the EU and globalization in general is working just fine.  

You would think, listening to Establishment figures that a quite awful thing happened in Britain last night. 

"This is the worst day in the life of postwar Britain," said New Labour guru Lord Mandelson and chair of the international financial advisory firm Lazard International. 

But in fact something quite wonderful has taken place. 

Nearly 17.5 million Britons defied the instructions of their "superiors" and defiantly stuck two fingers up at the people who John Rees has called "the power brokers of the world system." 

Goldman Sachs donated millions to the Remain campaign and they lost. Ditto JP Morgan. 

This is not just about getting out of the European Union, it's about ordinary people refusing to do what they were told to do by those who up to now, have always got their own way.

After Thursday night, things will never be the same again. Thank goodness for that.

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is Our Land

Suddenly, the London media have heard of Sunderland, although I still doubt that they could find it on a map.

Suddenly, the North East matters. Suddenly, Wales matters. And so on.

"Daily Mail readers voting like Daily Mail readers" is not news. Everyone knew that that was going to happen.

But carrying Wales, carrying all three Northern regions, and carrying both Midland regions? That is news.

Those are the places and the people that now matter politically.

All parts of each of them, which is a change of epoch-making significance.

Not the Margaret Hodges who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn because he stepped back and allowed working-class and non-metropolitan opinion to express itself.

And not those newspapers whose readers simply voted as everyone always knew that they were going to vote.

Would You Credit It?

We are told that the United Kingdom might lose its AAA credit rating.

What, again?

George Osborne has already done that once.

We Are The Mainstream Now

Don't get your hopes up for anything more than legislation technically taking us out of the EU, but continuing to apply each and every EU law in the absence of a specific Commons resolution that only a Minister could propose.

The point, however, is that opinions from outside the neoliberal and neoconservative "centre ground" are now part of the mainstream. Indeed, they now are the mainstream.

Fried Union Rings?

The people of Scotland still wouldn't vote for independence.

Nor would the people of either state in Ireland vote for unification on any specific terms that might realistically be proposed.

Calm down.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Damaged Goods

Don't let this one slip under the radar. Heather Stewart writes:

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, has agreed to pay damages to an imam after repeating false claims that he was a supporter of Islamic State.

Suliman Gani found himself at the centre of a storm during the recent London mayoral election campaign when senior Conservatives including the prime minister questioned the judgment of the Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, for sharing a platform with him nine times.

David Cameron even suggested in the House of Commons that Gani supported Isis – something the imam fervently denied. 

After Fallon made a similar claim in a BBC interview on 7 May – where, unlike Cameron in the Commons, he was not covered by parliamentary privilege – Gani began legal action. 

Fallon withdrew the claim and apologised, as did the prime minister. But Gani pressed ahead with the case, and it has emerged that it was settled last Friday. 

Fallon agreed to pay compensation and legal costs, thought to amount to several thousand pounds. 

In a statement published on his website, Fallon said: “I accept that you are entirely opposed to Daesh/Islamic State, that you regard it as incompatible with your religious and moral beliefs, and that you have spoken out publicly against it. 

“I repeat my apology for the error that I made and for the distress that it caused to you and your family.

“In recognition of that distress I have agreed to make a payment of compensation and to meet your reasonable legal costs.”

After the politicians made the claims, Gani told LBC radio that he feared for his life as well as those of his family and children. 

He said he was “deeply shocked and greatly disheartened” that Fallon had made the comments about him “without any shred of evidence”. 

A spokesman for Fallon said he had repeated the claims about Gani only because he had heard them being made by the journalist Andrew Neil on the BBC. 

Neil subsequently withdrew them.

Fallon was “mortified” when he realised the mistake, his spokesman said. 

Khan won the mayoral election, and his Tory opponent Zac Goldsmith’s campaign was criticised even by senior Conservatives for being divisive. 

Despite the prime minister’s attempts to bracket him with extremists, Khan has since shared a platform with Cameron as part of the cross-party Stronger In campaign in the EU referendum.

"The Durham Miners Would Never Wear It"

Those were the words that the British Government of the late 1940s wrote across the plans for the EU's first precursor, before duly sending them back.

That was that.

"The Durham Miners would never wear it." So the United Kingdom's answer was no.

That meant the Durham Miners' Association, with its vast network of national and international contacts.

But it also meant the miners themselves, who were the basis of that Association's wealth and power.

Today, we learned that last year, for the first time on record, more people died in the North East of England than were born here.

Get out and vote.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Jo-king Apart

The canonisation of Jo Cox, of whom even Nick Robinson had to admit on the day after her death that he had never previously heard, is sashaying effortlessly into the coronation of her widower.

Under ordinary circumstances, Brendan Cox would fail the vetting to become a Labour parliamentary by-election candidate.

Take a look at the circumstances of his departure from the employ of Save the Children.

It is laughable to suggest that his late wife might have gone on to become Foreign Secretary.

The present Shadow Foreign Secretary is out of step enough with the present Leader and with the present membership.

But even Hilary Benn did not nominate Jeremy Corbyn and then recant, after Corbyn had been elected with three fifths of the first preference vote.

Talk about a bad career move. Insofar as she ever had a political career.

It is quite likely that in 2020, Jo Cox would have re-joined her husband in the Clintonian world of the big NGOs.

At their level of that world, the pay is almost incomparably better than that of a perpetual backbench MP.

That level of that world also conducts its own foreign policy, often via tame Foreign Ministries such as our own.

Hence the presence at today's proceedings of the utterly unscrutinised Malala Yousafzai.

Does everyone where she comes from speak English like that? Was she chosen at random to be given a BBC Urdu blog at the age of 11? (Eleven, brothers and sisters. Eleven.)

If, like numerous of her peers, she had been killed by a drone, then we should never have heard of her.

And hence the fact that, in having raised well over a million pounds, the Jo Cox Fund has raised well over £300,000 for the White Helmets in Syria.

While the money continues to roll in, is that even legal? If it is, then it ought not to be.

As much as anything else, the suggestion that that organisation is funded by the British public constitutes a grave threat to the security of the British public.

Absolutely no one stood up in Parliament on Monday and raised this very serious matter. Never had the place looked more like a club for the sole benefit of its members.

Jack Buckby's intervention means that there will certainly be a contested by-election at Batley and Spen.

There needs to be a candidate without 20 years of a too perfectly polished Blairite CV.

There needs to be a candidate who is opposed to austerity and to wars of choice, never mind to wars of choice in a time of austerity.

Ideally, that ought to be the Labour candidate.

But if it needs to be someone else, then so be it.

Brexit Is Not The Property of The Political Right

Chris Bickerton writes: 

“Chris, with all my respect and admiration, please explain to me how you have found yourself on this same side as these people. I just don’t understand.” 

This was the message I received via Twitter last weekend, from a Spanish friend living in Madrid. 

He also sent me a link to an article in a Spanish newspaper entitled “Hitler was right”, a quote attributed to a 13-year-old Nigel Farage who – according to an old schoolmate – would berate and taunt his Jewish classmates with these sorts of statements. 

I teach politics at the University of Cambridge and have been researching the EU for more than a decade. I have just published a book, The European Union: A Citizen’s Guide, which explains what the EU is and what it does, without all the jargon and endless lists of treaties. 

I am what we think of as an “EU expert”. 

But in contrast to virtually all my colleagues, and all of my neighbours as far as I can tell, I will be voting for Brexit. 

In Spain, and in much of Europe, people have a fixed idea of Brexiters: small-minded nationalists, hostile to immigration, reckless and irresponsible. 

The pro-EU group set up by the former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, made this point as clearly as anyone. 

One of its campaign posters read: “If people like Rupert Murdoch, Nigel Farage, George Galloway, Nick Griffin and Marine Le Pen want Britain to leave the EU, where does that put you?”

This is the view of my Spanish friend and so let me answer him. 

Brexit is not the property of the political right. 

In 1975, in the UK’s first referendum on Europe, one of the ironies of the vote was that the internationalist left was far more solidly against the common market than the typically more chauvinistic and nationalistic right. 

Middle-class intellectuals who believed in socialism happily voted to leave, with no sense of being social pariahs. 

This is a pretty accurate description of many of my neighbours in Cambridge, who voted to leave in 1975 and will vote to remain tomorrow. 

The fact that the loudest leave voices are those of rightwing politicians tells us much more about the trajectory taken by the British left than it does about Brexit itself. 

Demoralised by Margaret Thatcher’s electoral supremacy in the 1980s, the British Labour party turned towards both European integration and human rights as new sources of intellectual inspiration and authority. 

The party slowly gave up its traditional support for parliamentary sovereignty and replaced it with a more liberal understanding of rights, where constitutional constraints are accepted as legitimate and necessary. 

Many other leftwing parties in Europe – such as the French socialists and the Italian communists – did the same. 

I believe this was a Faustian pact. 

The left traded its commitment to the supremacy of the ballot box for a more nebulous idea of “locking in” good policies through EU laws. 

The result has been to give up to the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove the language of democracy and popular sovereignty. 

I refuse to do this. 

The only guarantee for the policies that we want is to win majorities for them through national elections. There is always the danger of losing the argument but that’s democracy. 

Is it irresponsible to vote for Brexit? 

Only if you believe that around 50% of Britons are foreigner-hating hooligans. 

A UK exit from the EU would reveal how little of our politics is determined by what goes on in Brussels. 

Take immigration. I don’t believe immigration numbers will fall after Brexit. 

High rates of immigration into Britain are driven by a British growth model that favours expanding the labour force in place of more intensive forms of growth aimed at boosting productivity. 

Were the UK to leave the EU, this growth model would persist though the origins of immigrants may change.

The crucial difference is that politicians could no longer blame high rates of immigration on the EU. 

We would have to confront it as being at the centre of the British economic model and decide whether this is a model we want to keep. 

There is a world of difference between thinking of immigration as something foisted on to the UK by distant Brussels bureaucrats or as the result of a choice about how this country grows and creates wealth. 

The latter can only come with Brexit. 

A final word to my Spanish friend: this referendum is not a quaintly British affair. 

A key theme has been the deep disenchantment voters feel about politics and the contempt they have for politicians, and there is nothing uniquely British about this. 

Disenchantment with politics is everywhere in Europe: from Podemos’s attack on la casta in Spain to the successes of the Five Star Movement in Italy

It unites east with west, and north with south. 

The British EU referendum is the tip of a much larger iceberg, a European union of disenchantment.

I believe we can make this into the basis for a new internationalism in Europe, one that gives Europe a political meaning far more profound than the shallow cosmopolitanism that comes with the economic integration of the single market.

A vote for Brexit is also a universal message to all other Europeans that politics can be about change and not just about defending the status quo.

To Take That Step

The Morning Star editorialises:

Tomorrow we decide whether or not Britain should remain a member of the European Union. 

We decide in a referendum called by the right, the accidental result of David Cameron’s botched attempt to appease his own backbenchers with a proposal he thought he’d never have to carry out. 

And we decide after a campaign dominated by the right, with rival Tory visions of the future drowning out left perspectives in the mass media. 

That’s why the Morning Star sought a full and frank debate on this question from a socialist perspective, in which the leaders of the Labour Party and TUC, trade unionists and activists have all taken part. 

And now it’s decision time. 

When we were last asked this question in 1975, the Morning Star was the only national daily paper to campaign to Leave. 

The suspicions we had then, that the Common Market would increase the power of corporations and reduce that of our elected representatives, have been borne out by everything the European Union has done since. 

Its treaties taken together make, as Tony Benn once said, the “only constitution in the world committed to capitalism.” 

They place serious restrictions on public ownership, committing member states to open up public services to competition. 

A Labour government determined to take our railways and postal services back into public hands would soon run into trouble with the EU. 

To his credit, Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that this is a fight he would not shy away from.

But it is undeniable that taking back what’s ours would be easier if we were not subject to the EU treaties, which can only be altered by unanimous agreement among all 28 member states. 

As well as being anti-socialist, the EU is undemocratic, in that its elected parliament is toothless, lacking even the formal power to initiate legislation; the orders are issued by the unelected Commission and the Central Bank.

But worse, it is actively anti-democratic. It overrides democracy. 

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said when the people of Greece voted for a government that would end austerity: “There can be no democratic choice against the EU treaties.” 

Greece’s government was humiliated and ministers elected specifically to carry out a left-wing programme were forced to implement the most extreme programme of privatisation and cuts anywhere on the continent. 

Those who argue that austerity is a choice being made at a national level should ask why it is then that governments ostensibly on the left in France and Italy are attacking workers’ rights and public spending just as viciously as governments of the right. 

Seemingly it doesn’t matter who we Europeans elect any more: austerity is what we get. 

Some imply that a dislike of the EU is a peculiarly British phenomenon. But the reality is that few of Europe’s citizens have ever been given a choice. 

When they have, they have usually rejected what’s on offer — only for the EU to impose it anyway. 

The French rejected the EU Constitution, so it was incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish rejected that, and were told to vote again till they got the right answer. 

This is an organisation with contempt for the voters at its core. 

Most on the left agree that the EU’s treatment of Greece was outrageous. Many would agree that it is anti-socialist and unaccountable. 

But we should stay in and reform it, they argue. Unfortunately, no plausible strategy for doing so has been put forward. 

The EU is designed to resist reform: hence the requirement for unanimity among member states before any treaty is altered. 

Acts of mass popular resistance, such as the millions-strong cross-border petition against TTIP, are simply ruled out of order by the Commission. 

Even so, a large number of socialists and trade unionists are convinced that a vote to Remain is the lesser of two evils. 

Some say leaving would cost us skilled jobs, pointing to threats from major manufacturers that they might relocate if we withdraw from the EU. 

But those threats should be seen for what they are — blackmail by the bosses. 

When the super rich whinge that they will flee London if we make them pay their fair share of tax, we ignore them.

Giant corporations support membership of the EU because big business benefits from it. 

But membership can hardly have been good for British manufacturing, which has been decimated over the last four decades. 

EU bans on state aid to industry actually hinder efforts to protect our productive economy. Italy has been taken to court by the EU for trying to assist its steel industry. 

Others say that we face a bonfire of our rights by the Tories if we leave the EU with them in charge. But we’re facing a bonfire of our rights now. 

Since 2010 the Tories have slapped the Gagging Act and the Trade Union Act on our labour movement, have introduced massive fees for accessing employment tribunals, have vowed to “kill off the health and safety culture for good.” 

The EU hasn’t lifted a finger. 

Remainers who say the NHS isn’t safe with Michael Gove or Boris Johnson are absolutely right.

But the NHS isn’t safe with Cameron either, as the Health and Social Care Act showed. 

And it certainly isn’t safe with TTIP, the secretive treaty being negotiated by the EU with the United States. 

The third and gravest point made by socialists for Remain is that a Leave victory would fuel racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and far-right violence. 

An obsession with immigration by the right-wing leaders of the Leave campaign has given this some weight. 

But we should be careful. The far right is on the march across Europe, in France, Austria and Hungary.

Falling wages, mass unemployment and battered public services are feeding the resentment that gives birth to fascism. And the EU’s commitment to endless austerity contributes to that. 

Nor is the EU’s record on racism good.

A deal with Turkey widely condemned as illegal has allowed it to wash its hands of desperate refugees. 

In Ukraine it supported a fascist-backed coup against an elected government.

When France decided to deport tens of thousands of Roma in 2009-10, the EU looked the other way. 

There is no evidence that a Remain vote would help defeat the far right. 

The struggle against racism and intolerance is one we will have to wage either way. 

Since the beginning of the neoliberal era in the 1980s, we have seen corporate power strengthened at the expense of democracy again and again. 

The “big bang” deregulated the banks, putting big finance beyond our control.

Independence for the Bank of England removed our ability to set interest rates. 

Global trade treaties are giving private companies the right to enter new markets whatever the people think about that, and increasingly the right to sue governments if they don’t like their policies. 

The EU is part and parcel of all this. 

A vote to Leave today will not bring about socialism.

But it would be a step towards restoring democratic control of our economy, and would remove an obstacle to progress. 

The Morning Star advises you to take that step.

Still The Progressive Call Today

Neil Clark writes:

Despite the calls of her friend Rachel Reeves, a prominent Labour Remain campaigner, for the brutal and shocking murder of 41-year- old Labour MP Jo Cox not to be linked to the referendum campaign, some EU supporters have done exactly that. 

Not only has the tragic death of Cox been used to bolster flagging support for Remain, it’s also been used by Establishment-friendly commentators to attack the whole idea of having a referendum in the first place.

The Independent reports a “surge in signatures” on a petition calling for the vote to be cancelled.

But it would be wrong, wholly wrong, to change the way we intend to vote on Thursday because of the murder of Jo Cox and it would also be wrong if the referendum were to be cancelled.

Here’s why.

While it seems certain that the killing of Cox was politically motivated (some, with justification, are asking why it has not been called a terrorist attack), the idea that the best way to make a stand against neo-Nazi and far-right extremism is to cast a vote in favour of Britain remaining in the EU doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. 

For a start, far-right parties are more prominent and successful at the polls in other EU countries than they are in Britain. 

The rise of such parties in Europe can be directly attributed to the adoption of deflationary economic policies, which the EU and its institutions have pushed on member states as part of its single currency project. 

You don’t need to be Nostradamus to predict that when unemployment is very high – as it is across the EU – people are more likely to fall under the spell of ultra-nationalist demagogues who will put the blame on foreigners or immigrants for the economic woes, especially when there have been relatively large levels of migration fuelled by western wars of aggression and destabilization in the Middle East. 

The far-right has also been helped by the way that traditional parties of the left have stopped standing up for the interests of working people and instead put their support for “European integration” before everything else. 

The left, across the continent, has become detached from its working-class roots, and it’s the radical right that’s stepped into the void. 

That’s the reality of politics in neoliberal Europe in 2016. The idea that the EU is some sort of progressive bastion against prejudice is absurd. 

Anyone, for instance, thinking of voting Remain to make a stand against anti-Muslim sentiment should reflect on the words of Slovakian PM Robert Fico, whose country takes over the rotating EU Presidency in the summer. 

“It might look strange, but sorry – Islam has no place in Slovakia,” he said in March.

There has been no word of complaint from Angela Merkel, François Hollande – or, so far as I can discover, by any other European leader. David Cameron has said nothing,” notes commentator Peter Oborne. 

Then there’s EU policies themselves to consider. 

In 2012, it was reported how “heavily subsidized EU-registered fleets,” having overfished in Europe, had turned their attention to West Africa. 

“Europe has over-exploited its own waters, and now is exporting the problem to Africa. It is using EU taxpayers' money to subsidise powerful vessels to expand into the fishing grounds of some of the world's poorest countries and undermine the communities who rely on them for work and food,” a Greenpeace spokesperson said. 

EU foreign policies have hardly been “progressive” either. 

In the 1990s, the EU and its member states played a key role in the dismantling and destruction of socialist Yugoslavia. 

In Libya, alongside the US, they helped transform the country which had the highest standard of living in Africa into a terrorist hell-hole. 

Racism played a big part in this “regime change” op, too, as anti-government death squads targeted black Africans. 

“Racist pogroms were characteristic of the Libyan rebellion from its very inception, when 50 sub-Saharan African migrants were burnt alive in Al-Bayda on the second day of the insurgency,” says Dan Glazebrook. 

The attempt to caricature British opponents of the EU as mean-spirited, racist or borderline racist “Little Englanders” also ignores the fact that the some of the strongest voices of opposition to the EU have come from the genuinely internationalist socialist Left. 

The likes of Dave Nellist, Lindsey German, George Galloway and Dennis Skinner – all of whom support “Lexit,” or Left withdrawal – have spent their political careers opposing all forms of racism. 

Their opposition to the EU and the opposition of socialists like Tony Benn MP and Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT union, before them, is based on the fact that this undemocratic, multinational corporation/finance-capital friendly organization works against the interests of working-class people, whatever their colour, religion or nationality – across the continent. 

You only need to go to Greece to see the truth of that. 

If right-wing voices, focusing heavily on immigration concerns, have made the running in the referendum debate, then that’s largely to do with the fact that the Labour Party has, since the mid-1980s, taken a wrong turn on the EEC/EU.  

It didn’t use to be like this.

Take a look at the excellent, high-level debate from the Oxford Union which took place two days before the last EEC/EU referendum we had in Britain back in June 1975.

The two people speaking against the pro-EEC motion are both from the Labour Party.

Peter Shore (whose speech is one of the best you’ll ever hear) and Barbara Castle were not fringe figures, but Cabinet ministers.

Their opponents, making the pro-EEC case, are from the Conservative and Liberal parties.

Although Britons voted to stay in the then-Common Market in 1975, Euroscepticism in the Labour party remained strong.

In the much maligned manifesto of June 1983, one of the most left-wing in its history, Labour advocated withdrawal from the EEC. 

But the party unfortunately took the wrong lessons from its 1983 defeat, and under the new leadership of Neil Kinnock did a complete U-turn on Europe.

While its new line on the EEC/EU earned the party favour with the liberal commentators, it has undoubtedly cost Labour dear with working-class voters in England in recent years. 

The votes the party lost to UKIP in key seats in England in the 2015 general election greatly damaged its chances of returning to power.

The left’s moving away from socialist positions to more Establishment-friendly liberal ones – not just on the issue of the EU but on the economy generally – has undoubtedly played into the hands of populist parties of the right. 

If a Peter Shore or Bob Crow-type figure had been Labour leader in 2015, does anyone seriously believe that UKIP would have got 12.7 percent of the vote? 

What is urgently needed now is what the French philosopher Jean-Claude Michéa called for in his book The Adam Smith Impasse and other works, namely for socialism to decouple from liberalism and rely instead on the common decency and altruism of ordinary people. 

As Michéa says, liberal bourgeois ideals have triumphed over socialism.

Genuine socialist collectivism will admittedly be hard to achieve in Britain even outside of the EU, but as George Galloway has stated, it would be constitutionally impossible within. 

As I argued here, even Labour’s modest renationalization plans would be likely to fall foul of EU rules and face legal challenges. 

The murder of Jo Cox has also been used to attack direct democracy. 

It’s the fault of us having a referendum, “Inside the Tent” commentators tell us. We need to get back to the “proper” system – representative democracy. 

That’ll help put the hoi polloi back in their place!

Genuine socialists and democrats though have always regarded direct democracy as preferable to the indirect form, in which “representatives” routinely and sometimes quite flagrantly ignore the views of the majority [I am not at all sure about this, but never mind]. 

The most left-wing leader in Labour’s history, George Lansbury, was a strong believer in the greater use of referendums. 

“With an educated nation, every man and woman entitled to vote on equal terms, it is possible to reduce the status of elected persons and use them as servants carrying out the will of the people, instead of as now, imposing their will upon the nation,” Lansbury wrote in 1928. 

Social media – which gives ordinary people a voice – has also been blamed for poisoning the atmosphere and making public life nastier. 

But in my experience, which includes being obsessively stalked online for over 10 years, the most vile and obnoxious trolls on social media have been Establishment commentators themselves. [Say the name, Neil. Oliver Kamm. He also obsessively stalks me.]

And if we’re talking about how “inflammatory” statements by politicians could lead to tragedies like Jo Cox’s murder, what about the individual who said that the Labour Party was a “threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security” after it elected the anti-war Jeremy Corbyn as it leader? 

But hey, that was Prime Minister David Cameron, so let’s all move on, shall we? 

The British Establishment has been clearly rattled by what The Guardian’s John Harris has called “a working-class revolt” and will, in the weeks and months ahead, try to use the murder of Jo Cox to discredit moves towards greater democratic accountability.

But we should not allow the elite to exploit a tragic death to restore “Business as Usual” and use it as an excuse to put the “little people”back in their place.

Voting to leave the EU was the progressive call before the awful murder of Jo Cox.

It is still the progressive call today.