petej + freedomofmovement   395

Brexit is a Tory mess. Labour’s future must not be shaped by it | Zoe Williams | Opinion | The Guardian
The party cannot resolve its hopes into a clear and programmatic set of ideas through the fog of someone else’s fantasy. It cannot make sense of its own values in the middle of someone else’s culture war. Too often, Labour has resolved such crises by simply jettisoning its values in favour of electoral calculation, whose abject failure was guaranteed by that very act. It must not make the same mistake again.
UK  politics  ToryParty  LabourParty  Brexit  immigration  freedomOfMovement  racism  deindustrialisation  jobs  manufacturing  climateChange  dctagged  dc:creator=WilliamsZoe  cultureWar 
25 days ago by petej
‘It’s in the Air, It’s in Your Bones’: Notes on an Aftermath - Salvage
Salvage has always agree with the Lexiters that the EU is a neoliberal organisation, but contested that it follows that we should automatically always have been pro-Leave. Going into the referendum, our position – shared, we believe, with many on the left – was that it made little sense to be pro- or anti-Brexit in principle, because what was on offer was not an abstract Brexit but a Brexit in a particular political conjuncture overwhelmingly controlled by the hard right. Conversely, we were suspicious of the room for radical manoeuvre within the EU that the Remain-and-Reformers held would be available, and given the EU’s border barbarity and crushing of Greece – hence our plague-on-both-houses position in the referendum. Of course this by no means guarantees objectivity or rigour now: we have been wrong about much, and will be wrong again. But in terms of post-factum analysis of this appalling result, we can at least be confident that with regard to the party’s – clearly flawed – Brexit position, we are not falling prey to confirmation bias in one or the other direction.

Everyone can agree with Blakeley that the vacillation, the late decision-making, the palpable uneasiness with which Brexit policy was decided, Corbyn’s reluctance to commit to campaigning for one side or another in a future referendum, hurt the party badly. There were, of course, reasons for such hesitation, and it would be unfair to ignore them: the schism was very real and deeply divisive and destructive to the party. But the leadership’s ambiguity now looks pretty clearly not to have been constructive at all – rather the opposite. The least-bad of those bad options would surely have been to decide on a position earlier, to defend it full-throatedly.

But the fact that Brexit was the key variable and problem does not mean that it had a solution. Decide the policy earlier, certainly: but either way you decide it and no matter how early and how nimbly and how aggressively you defend it, there would have been cascading effects all the way down. In every case there is at least a reasonable argument that the cons would have outweighed the pros.

Retain Labour Remainers by supporting a second referendum much earlier, and make an impassioned and articulate case to Labour Leavers to stay with you on the grounds that the Leave on the table is in fact a wedge for Trumpian neoliberalism, a sizeable proportion of the latter might come on-side, perhaps enough to avoid this electoral melt-down. But given the long-term systemic collapse of Labour in the heartlands, which was already articulating in Brexit terms, there is every reason to be suspicious of this.

Retain those Leavers by accepting the referendum result early, and argue with passion to Remainers that as democrats we have no choice but to do so, and that the task now is to forge policies as radical as possible and a Brexit as positive and anti-racist as possible, perhaps large enough numbers of remain-supporting Labour voters, particularly in London and the south, would be persuaded. This seems at this point, with the clear-sightedness of hindsight, to have been probably the least bad-option. But even campaigning for a ‘progressive’ and anti-racist Brexit from the day of the referendum result is not without its own risks, particularly given the relative weakness of Labour tribalism among young metropolitan Remain voters offered the options of other pro-Remain parties, and given that floating signification of ‘Europe’ among many in that cohort. And bearing in mind that we could not take the Leavers for granted either – as Meadway points out, ‘[w]e were losing leave-voting seats like Mansfield already in 2017’, before the turn away from the referendum result.

And let us not forget that such a position would only have provoked even more attacks from the pro-Remain Labour centrists, causing chaos,possibly the further loss of MPs for Corbyn in the interim, if not another leadership challenge that would have done even more damage to the project. And even with such a position it would still have been possible for the Conservatives to paint Corbyn as an obstacle to democracy if his party had still voted down May’s dreadful deal.

In some principled Lexiters, no matter how judicious and careful they are about the analysis of class in the abstract, is in their pro-Brexitism a discernible nostalgia for the very traditional, ‘cultural’ or ‘income-based’ theories of class they would rightly criticise in others. Ash Sarkar persuasively contested John Curtice’s argument that Labour had become a party of the young rather than of the working class by pointing out the changing intersections of demographics, employment and income, to insist that his was a category error. And yet there are clear strains of such a position in Burtenshaw’s claim that ‘[a]s party memberships exploded in London and the South East, they were often stagnant in the very “heartlands” we lost … Labour lost not because it was too much of a working-class party, but because it was too little of one, in too few areas’. Of course, we would never disagree that it should always be more of a working-class party in more areas. But missing from this is the sense that the explosion of membership in the south might also be in substantial part of the working class – but a working class different from the traditionalist horny-handed-sons-of-toil image. This implicit culturalist workerism becomes explicit in Philip Cunliffe’s description, on the podcast Aufhebunga Bunga, of what he perceives from the Labour Party as a ‘shift towards a particular middle class, which is to say academics, cosmopolitan-minded academics, pro-EU areas of the country, and students’: to be a ‘pro-EU area’, seemingly to be ‘pro-EU’, is here definitionally to be middle-class, a position both circular in terms of justification for Lexit, and idealist in terms of theorising class. Missing, to go further, is any understanding of how the pro-Remain affiliation of many of these new, yes, in large numbers working-class, Labour members and supporters, is a class-inflected position. Such a position reflects the nature of class, culturally, politically, economically, professionally, as they experience it, no less than do the pro-Leave inclinations of a worker in the heartlands.

The point is not that one or the other of these is necessarily ‘correct’ class-for-itself class consciousness: it is that the Manichean Lexiter positing that Leave was, when you get down to brass tacks, the ‘real’ class vote, effaces the class consciousness of the multi-ethnic southern and urban working class – and any strategy to win back the heartlands that does not treat that other constituency as no less valuable, not ‘really’ working class, is ultimately nostalgic.

Relatedly, given that the key axis of contestation around Europe was always going to be immigration, the only way a ‘progressive’ Brexit could have been forged that would be acceptable in principle, let alone to the multi-ethnic left Remainers and abstainers like us, would have been to retain free movement after Brexit – or, even better, to expand it beyond Europe’s borders. And it is moot whether that would have been acceptable to large numbers of Labour Leavers. This is so whatever the stated concerns behind Brexit. The hard Lexiters like to point out – correctly – that attitudes to immigration have been softening over time. But their implied or stated conclusion that ‘therefore’ the Brexit vote was disentanglable in the past or future from racist immigration positions is wildly tendentious, overestimating the convergence of objective and subjective racism, the protean nature of immigration in the capitalist imaginary, the speed with which racism can be and has been whipped up, and the flotation of the Brexit signifier.

To repeat, none of this is to say that earlier, surer-footed respect for the referendum result, or even, just possibly, in similarly unapologetic and radical fashion, support for a second referendum – definitely wouldn’t have worked. It is to say that either might well not have, and that the implication that with this One Weird Brexit Trick the Labour Party could have ‘solved’ the problem of the 2019 election is profoundly unconvincing. Just because you can correctly diagnose a problem does not validate your proposed solution – nor even the assumption that there is any solution to be had.
UK  politics  generalElection  ge2019  LabourParty  Brexit  JohnsonBoris  ToryParty  media  bias  BBC  CorbynJeremy  Facebook  misinformation  anti-Semitism  class  deindustrialisation  tradeUnions  workingClass  culture  leadership  Lexit  Leave  Remain  immigration  freedomOfMovement  TheLeft  PLP  BlueLabour  NandyLisa  Long-BaileyRebecca  authoritarianism  racism  fascism  electoralism  activism  community  Salvage  editorial 
4 weeks ago by petej
I’ve read this three times, and I have thoughts.
So this is the criticism, that the result is culture war, not class war. That the coalition is based on “progressive social views” not “material class interest”. Leave, for a while, the fact that it is not easy to extricate the two.


Burtenshaw places the failure more or less squarely on the pivot to the confirmatory referendum, or the failure to “hold the line” as he calls it in a previous essay.

According to him, it turned Labour “into a party which stood against the democratic mandate on Brexit” and took Labour Leavers for granted, thinking they had nowhere to go.

The democratic mandate on Brexit thing is quite the bind. It’s like having a democratic mandate on capturing the moon. You can ask for it, but extricating yourself completely from the EU while keeping your Union anf your economy intact is nigh impossible.

But it was the ONE THING labour leavers asked for. The one policy they had ownership over. It may have only realistically resulted in a Norway style arrangement* under a Labour government.

*don’t know what that is, don’t tell me

And if Labour had negotiated it, the right wing press may have called it BrINO. But the Labour Leavers may well have looked past the propaganda if it looked like their party had tried its best for them.

Instead it looked like their party had looked past them and put the college educated culturally middle class city kid momentum campaigners first with this “do over”. As if the latter’s Erasmus and interrailing were more important than the Brexit they had “won”.

Even if most left remainers’ most animating concerns were about racism and migrants right, many of them migrants and minorities themselves.

Needless to say, the hysterical antics, often unconsciously racist and consciously classist, of remain diehards absolutely did. not. help.

I am left thinking that there were two groups of people who could very well have understood each other and joined forces talked past each other.

For very, very few of the people who put immense amounts of work into campaigning these past weeks would have insisted on a 2nd ref.

What most left remainers committed to the Corbyn project wanted was a commitment to migrants’ rights, anti-racism, and upholding the Good Friday Agreement, not red passports.

And leavers’ seeming lack of concern for these as evidenced by their abandoning Labour will cut deep.
UK  politics  generalElection  LabourParty  Brexit  BurtenshawRonan  Leave  Remain  referendum  softBrexit  freedomOfMovement  migration  migrants  cultureWar 
5 weeks ago by petej
How immigration became Britain’s most toxic political issue | Politics | The Guardian
According to this analysis – which was widespread across the media – what created the problem was the arrival of immigrants in larger numbers, not the way immigration was depicted, described, debated or demonised.

But what if this narrative is the wrong way around? Perhaps it wasn’t immigration itself that was such a defining issue of those 20 years – but rather, the way political parties and journalists discussed it and the policies implemented in response. The big assumption is that it was a foregone conclusion that there would be hostility to immigration, which in turn would become politically explosive in the UK. While Britain has always received migrants with initial suspicion, it was not inevitable that the issue would become so damaging or derail our politics so comprehensively.
UK  politics  immigration  BrownGordon  DuffyGillian  bigotgate  globalisation  neoliberalism  relocation  migration  media  hostileEnvironment  RobinsonNick  war  asylum  StrawJack  BlunkettDavid  LabourParty  NewLabour  dispersal  economy  precarity  pay  conditions  multiculturalism  whiteWorkingClass  BlueLabour  tabloids  AbbottDiane  Windrush  freedomOfMovement  McCluskeyLen  dctagged  dc:creator=ShabiRachel 
10 weeks ago by petej
Stop trying to make Lexit happen - Owen Jones - Medium
For those of who proposed a soft Brexit, it was always damage limitation. Dealing with the electoral dilemma of Brexit is one thing — and it’s a legitimate argument to fear that Labour will alienate some communities it needs to win to form a government if it adopts a full Remain position. I think this position has collapsed — the middle ground on Brexit has collapsed, Labour is losing far more Remainers than Leavers, most Leave voters now think that ‘No Deal’ is the only genuine Brexit and believe a soft Brexit is ‘Brexit In Name Only’. But in any case, the ideological case for Lexit makes no sense.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  Lexit  xenophobia  freedomOfMovement  immigration  customs  trade  regulation  reform  softBrexit  dctagged  dc:creator=JonesOwen 
august 2019 by petej
If you position migrants as an opposing force to the working class, colluding with elites to push down wages, you’re not a socialist.
If you position migrants as an opposing force to the working class, colluding with elites to push down wages, you’re not a socialist.

You just like your racism with a side portion of renationalised utilities.
UK  EU  Brexit  LabourParty  freedomOfMovement  migration  class  borders  immigration 
april 2019 by petej
Best of luck and all love to those on the #PeoplesVoteMarch today! While I’ve still got huge reservations about a second ref in itself (as well as the apparatchiks running the campaign), it’s the failures of the Tory Party in government driving polari
What's Labour's strategy? In my view, it's letting the Tories implode while keeping together their fractious 2017 electoral coalition. Which means blocking No Deal, expressing a preference for Brexit to happen, and simultaneously keeping avenues open that could lead to No Brexit.

Which means that Labour's Brexit position is in a constant state of flux. It's like Schrodinger's cat - Labour are hoping that they can leave the box unopened for as long as possible, while occasional yowling and scratching noises assure people there is definitely a cat in there.

It's frustrating, it's boring and shifty, but guess what? It's been effective so far.

Now, if May's deal finally gets the coup de grace this week, Labour must move towards a Brexit position which still delivers it's 3 strategic objectives as outlined before.

In my opinion, that means firstly pursue whichever Parliamentary option makes a General Election most likely. Secondly, put renegotiate a softer Brexit on the manifesto. And thirdly, put the renegotiated deal to a referendum with Remain on the ballot (ideally, without No Deal).
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  PeoplesVote  referendum  demonstration  London  Remain  LabourParty  immigration  freedomOfMovement  precarity  racism  farRight  dctagged  dc:creator=SarkarAsh 
march 2019 by petej
Labour’s Brexit Policy |
To sum up – I started with three simple rival ‘narratives’ of Labour’s underlying position on Brexit. I’ve articulated my own interpretation of Labour’s position, which implies that all of these narratives have something to them. In my view, Labour’s preferred Brexit outcome involves significant breaks with existing EU governance rules. The leadership wants those breaks to be in the area of neoliberal constraints on socialist policy-making; much of the PLP wants those breaks to be in the area of freedom of movement. In a scenario where Labour is in government without the Brexit deal having been concluded, those two categories of negotiating priority will be in tension. Nevertheless, the tension between those two categories of negotiating priority is (I would argue) not as fundamental as the tension between some of the Conservatives’ commitments. Moreover, unlike the Conservatives, Labour have been quite careful not to articulate any commitments that cannot be backed down from towards greater compatibility with existing EU rules. Thus in a scenario in which Labour were negotiating with the EU, I would expect Labour to make an effort to achieve a set of concessions around EU rules, and if those concessions could not be achieved, to capitulate in the direction of a more liberal existing-EU-institutions-aligned position.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  LabourParty  Remain  Leave  trade  economy  Bennism  Euroscepticism  immigration  borders  freedomOfMovement  customsUnion  singleMarket  ambiguity  tactics  flexibility  ToryParty  redLines  negotiations  strategy 
march 2019 by petej
Why Labour is dangerously foolish to turn against freedom of movement
There are certainly reasons to criticise the institution of EU free movement. For one, it is only a partial freedom, restricted by class, ethnicity, and geography. For another, it is an extremely exclusive one, leaving thousands of migrants to perish on the Mediterranean each year.

But it is dangerously foolish to believe that the Labour Party can destroy EU free movement in order to build something better in its place. As we are about to discover, the costs of ending free movement — to the millions of EU citizens that have made homes, families, and lives in Britain — are painfully high. Allowing this to pass will be a permanent stain on the Labour Party’s record.

Instead, EU free movement should be a springboard to a more global system of open migration. Labour should be leading the way to defend EU free movement and extend it beyond Europe’s borders, shattering the fortress that Brussels has constructed around the continent.
UK  EU  freedomOfMovement  immigration  CorbynJeremy  migration  wages  pay  culture  nostalgia  sovereignty  nation-state  politics  LabourParty 
february 2019 by petej
I work at a Wetherspoons in grim conditions – and Tim Martin’s clueless Brexit bleating is driving me mad | The Independent
It is nothing short of perverse that it’s the organisation’s bar associates – the lowest-paid and most migrant-heavy layer of the workforce – who are responsible for distributing Martin’s politics in pubs up and down the country. Through content in the magazine, on leaflets and even on beer mats, we are essentially instructed to propagandise for a policy that promises to make our livelihoods more precarious.

Brexit has always been driven by the central xenophobic lie that blames the decline of living standards on foreign workers. Yet when you contrast the extreme wealth of Wetherspoon’s shareholders with what I see as poverty wages granted to all its employees, it’s all too clear in my mind that it’s not migrants who drive down wages, it’s exploitative bosses.
UK  Brexit  Wetherspoons  MartinTim  pay  wages  conditions  propaganda  Leave  migrants  rights  freedomOfMovement  exploitation 
january 2019 by petej
For the sake of working people, the left must back remain | Aditya Chakrabortty | Opinion | The Guardian
If there is a second referendum, Labour will back remain. How it campaigns will matter as never before. Remain’s chances will rest squarely on winning back Labour leave voters – making a case both for staying in the EU and for upending the status quo at home. That means Tory remainers somehow agreeing to let Corbyn get some of his policies on the statute books. And the beached whales of the remain campaign – the likes of Tony Blair – will need to be cleared away.

It will also mean Labour squarely making the case for the EU being better for working people than Brexit. Without the EU’s working time directive, they could say, British workers wouldn’t have the legal right to paid holidays. Indeed, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have reportedly plotted to repeal such rights as soon as Britain leaves. Equal pay for women, protection for agency workers: such basics have come from the EU, often despite resistance from the British government.

Some on the left will ask, but what about those EU state aid rules that get in the way of building a new economy? Yet research by two EU competition law experts found that of the 26 economic proposals in Labour’s 2017 manifesto, all but two would not require any state aid notification. And researchers concluded that Brussels would allow the other two to pass. Besides, under Labour’s current proposal for a customs union, the UK would still be subject to state-aid rules.

While I understand the sentiments of those who want a leftwing Brexit, many of their positions sound like flights of fantasy, by those who will never have to suffer the worst consequences. Against them, I’d weigh up the consequences that await low-paid migrant workers – and I know which side deserves the most support from the left.
UK  EU  Brexit  referendum  withdrawalAgreement  CorbynJeremy  LabourParty  constructiveAmbiguity  opposition  noDeal  ERG  NorwayPlus  BolesNick  MayTheresa  softBrexit  freedomOfMovement  PeoplesVote  farRight  RobinsonTommy  FarageNigel  Remain  Lexit  TheLeft  dctagged  dc:creator=ChakraborttyAditya 
january 2019 by petej
Labour’s refusal to oppose Brexit is becoming a historic error
The attitude of Corbyn loyalists is that Remainers have nowhere else to go besides Labour. If Labour enable Brexit, this will have no noticeable impact on how Remainers vote in any general election. They dismiss a poll that suggests Labour could lose a large number of votes by attacking the poll: it was funded by the People’s Vote campaign, and “who believes polls?” A more thoughtful criticism is that you are bound to get a large number in any question who highlight Brexit, but general elections will be fought over many issues. In short, Remainers on the left will always vote Labour.

I would agree that one poll tells you little about any future general election, but what it does reveal is the intensity of feeling over the Brexit issue. I think many among the Labour leadership and Corbyn loyalists fail to understand this. They prefer instead to misplace Remainers as the centrist enemy, and see attacks on Corbyn over Brexit as just one more means by which the centre and right of Labour attack Labour. This is a serious mistake.
UK  Brexit  politics  LabourParty  CorbynJeremy  generalElection  Leave  Remain  PeoplesVote  referendum  identity  migrants  freedomOfMovement  dctagged  dc:creator=Wren-LewisSimon 
january 2019 by petej
At the risk of being attacked from all sides, a few short words on Brexit and the Labour Party. One thing I can see is that, in general, *both* sides of the argument have their hearts in the right place. Both want something positive in left wing terms. 1/
At the risk of being attacked from all sides, a few short words on Brexit and the Labour Party. One thing I can see is that, in general, *both* sides of the argument have their hearts in the right place. Both want something positive in left wing terms. 1/
UK  EU  Brexit  Leave  Remain  TheLeft  LabourParty  austerity  immigration  freedomOfMovement  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=BernalPaul 
december 2018 by petej
Ivan Rogers’ Brexit bombshell, digested | Martha Gill | Opinion | The Guardian
There is a contradiction at the heart of the argument made by many of those advocating no deal. They say both that WTO terms are good enough for the UK to trade on, and that Britain’s prosperity depends on it striking multiple trade deals abroad.

Rogers puts it like this: “You cannot simultaneously argue that it is perfectly fine to leave a deep free trade agreement with easily our largest export and import market for the next generation, and trade on WTO terms because that is how we and others trade with everyone else – and argue that it is imperative we get out of the EU in order that we can strike preferential trade deals with large parts of the rest of the world, because the existing terms on which we trade with the rest of the world are intolerable.”
UK  EU  Brexit  negotiations  politics  delusion  sovereignty  agency  power  Article50  transition  EU27  withdrawalAgreement  singleMarket  LancasterHouse  freedomOfMovement  WTO  noDeal  trade  freeTradeAgreement  services  transparency  secrecy  dishonesty  RogersIvan  speech  Liverpool 
december 2018 by petej
Labour should prepare to fight neoliberalism within the EU – Lexit is not an option
But the British left has to stop dreaming about Lexit. One of the things we have genuinely learned from the process of trying to leave the EU is the extensive nature of its status as a regulatory superpower. Even a Britain ruled by the Socialist Workers Party and the Morning Star would find itself forced to comply with Commission directives. Paradoxically, a left exit from Europe is only possible if Europe itself goes left.

For two and a half years Labour has dutifully and painfully tried to make Brexit work. But parliament has been sidelined, time has run out, and the space for a Labour-designed version of Brexit has disappeared. If anybody has betrayed Brexit it is Theresa May. Once her deal is thrown out, the moral authority of the 2016 referendum evaporates. It’s then either no deal or no Brexit.

And if it’s no Brexit, watch the blood drain from the faces of European neoliberalism: I’ve been with Jeremy Corbyn as he’s hit both Brussels and the Hague with messages of uncompromising clarity: neoliberalism is over, austerity is a catastrophe. But to the stunned audience of centrist social democrats, Corbyn’s words always seemed like a message from afar. If we play this right, we can take it into the heart of Europe.
UK  EU  Brexit  withdrawalAgreement  LabourParty  Remain  reform  Germany  Italy  budget  Portugal  Greece  Spain  EC  neoliberalism  JunckerJean-Claude  freedomOfMovement  migration  exploitation  TheLeft  CorbynJeremy  dctagged  dc:creator=MasonPaul  MaastrichtTreaty 
december 2018 by petej
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