Monday, June 27, 2016

A disgustingly self-serving betrayal of the entire labour movement


We all know about how 
in modern politics the establishment of simple propaganda narratives is far more important than stuff like presenting dry facts and statistics aren't we?

A basic understanding of how public discourse can be controlled and manipulated through simple propaganda narratives and carefully considered management of the news agenda is all that is needed in order to see how the post-Brexit Blairite coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn is a disgustingly self-serving betrayal of the entire Labour movement.

It is undeniable that the immediate aftermath of significant events is where public opinions (folk truths) about those events are solidified. Once widespread public opinions have been set, it takes an awful lot of effort to try to change the narrative to a different interpretation of what the events actually meant, and who was to blame for them.

Everyone in the Labour Party should be well aware of this stuff from the way the Tories and the right-wing media capitalised on Liam Byrne's idiotic "no money left" joke note that he left at the treasury back in 2010. In the aftermath of the 2010 General Election the right-wing media used it as "evidence" that the Tories had to take over because Labour had incompetently squandered all the money. The facts that 
the very concept of "spending all the money" in a country that has monetary autonomy is economically illiterate, and that the note was clearly a joke became totally irrelevant. The simple "incompetent Labour - competent Tories" propaganda narrative was established and set as a political folk truth.

A look at the facts tells us that Brexit came about because of the Tories. It's David Cameron's fault because he decided to gamble the entire future of the UK in order to gain a bit of short-term political advantage at the 2015 General Election, then lost the bet. And it's the fault of hard-right Tory MPs like Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove for repeatedly lying to the public to sell Brexit as a cure-all elixir to all of society's problems, when they clearly didn't even have a plan of action prepared in case they actually won.

As we know from the Liam Byrne note, the facts are nowhere near as important as establishing a good simple story to explain events in the way that ordinary people can grasp. If this can be done quickly, the narrative can be set firm and there's pretty much nothing that can be done to retroactively undo it because folk truths are pretty much impermeable to things like facts and evidence, and few people are interested in revisiting "old news".

What Labour should have done after Brexit was to speak with a united voice that culpability for Brexit lay with the Tories. That the blame lay wiith David Cameron for gambling with the nation's future for a little bit of short-term political advantage, and with the hard-right fringe of the Tory Party for repeatedly lying to the public in order to get a result that they were clearly completely unprepared for.

What these appallingly self-serving MPs decided to do instead was to establish a counter-narrative to dominate all the headlines and become set as a political folk truth; that Brexit is all the fault of the Labour Party and specifically Jeremy Corbyn!

The Blairite right of the Labour Party should surely know the importance of establishing simple narratives and carefully controlling the news agenda better than anyone. After all, the slick soundbytes, the blizzards of PR, the stage management of the news agenda and the tactic of feeding pre-prepared articles to the press to be churnalised by lazy hacks were the hallmarks of Blairism. Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and the like were so successful because they were experts in managing the media, and public opinion. That was their great strength. To see a bunch of Blairite followers failing so spectacularly at managing the news agenda is about as clear a demonstration as possible that Blairism is well and truly dead. His acolytes don't even seem to understand the single most important aspect in their idol's success!

What these Blairites have done should be considered absolutely unforgivable by anyone who cares about the long-term success of the Labour Party (or anyone who simply wanted the country to have a viable opposition to the Tories) because in putting their own self-interest first, they've completely ruined the best opportunity to hit the Tories where it hurt in decades.

These self-serving MPs have been waiting for an excuse to oust Jeremy Corbyn since the day he was elected leader because he represents a threat to the cosy Westminster orthodoxy, but by doing it now they've set a counter-narrative that Labour and Corbyn are more to blame for Brexit than the Tories. Not only have they undermined the best criticism of the Tories that Labour have had in decades by giving the right-wing an easy counter argument that Labour are to blame, they've also given the Tories and the right-wing media ammunition against Labour that can be used in its own right.

When these Labour MPs got together and decided that a coordinated mass resignation would be the best way of toppling Jeremy Corbyn, they clearly didn't even bother to think about the damage they would be doing to the Labour Party by launching a coup attempt as such an inopportune moment. They were clearly too giddy with excitement that the opportunity they'd been waiting for for ten months had finally come about, to even bother considering the wider ramifications of what they were doing.


It's flabbergasting that after the Tory party have allowed their own internal spat to escalate to such an extent that the UK has been dragged out of the European Union with a mandate from only 36% of the eligible electorate, these self-serving Blairites have decided to replace that ideal subject matter for the news agenda with reports on the spat within the Labour Party instead.

There's nothing wrong with believing that Jeremy Corbyn isn't the right man to lead the Labour Party. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But there is definitely something wrong with not even letting the common narrative that "David Cameron and the Tories are at fault for Brexit" set, before trying to challenge Corbyn's leadership for their own self-serving purposes and establishing a widely repeated counter-narrative of "Blame Labour, blame Corbyn".

By launching their opportunistic self-serving coup now, the Blairites have helped the Tories climb out of a hole of their own digging, and voluntarily shoved the Labour Party down there in their place. These people are venal self-serving fools, who clearly consider their own ideological vendetta against Jeremy Corbyn to be far more important than the best interests of the Labour Party, or doing the job they're supposed to: Actually opposing the Tories.


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OR


How Corbyn could use a Blairite coup attempt to his advantage


The most predictable consequence of Brexit of all was a pack of right-wing Blairites using it as an excuse to launch a coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn. They had been waiting for such an opportunity since the day he was elected leader. They hate him because he's not party of the cosy Westminster consensus that has enforced right-wing economic dogma continuously since 1979.

The fruitcake fringe of the Tory party did a great job of convincing an under-informed electorate that the EU was to blame for most of society's ills, but in reality it's been the hard-right economic dogma favoured by the Tories, the Orange Book Liberal Democrats and all of the Blairites parachuted into the Labour Party since Tony Blair and Gordon Brown switched it from being a socialist party to a Rupert Murdoch approved Thatcherite one.

Jeremy Corbyn is a huge problem for the Blairites because he represents a threat to their cosy neoliberal consensus with the Tories, that has seen once proud British industries and communities all over the UK reduced to ruins. Jeremy Corbyn thinks things should be done differently, and that politicians actually have a duty to listen to and to serve the people who elect them.

After Brexit was announced 11 shadow cabinet members resigned in the hope of provoking a coup against Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If you listen to their drivel Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for Brexit, which is a ridiculous accusation, especially coming from someone like Gloria De Piero, whose actual job was to engage with young voters and encourage voter registration. The estimated turnout amongst 18-24 year olds at the referendum was just 36%. De Piero clearly failed in her job of getting young people to register and vote in the referendum, but somehow she expects people to believe that it's Corbyn's fault.

The evidence is clear, Corbyn convinced two thirds of Labour supporters to vote remain, despite the Labour Leave campaign using a massive stack of Tory cash to undermine his efforts. To deliver a decent chunk of the vote when he was being undermined by a bunch of Tory party shills within the Labour Party working to undermine him is quite remarkable. If anyone in Labour is to blame for Brexit it's clearly the ones who took massive piles of cash from a bunch of rabidly right-wing Tories in order to promote Brexit to Labour Party supporters.


This attempted coup attempt is a ludicrous position to take when the Labour Party could have unified with the simple message that Brexit was the the fault of the Tories.

It would have been an easy message to sell. It's David Cameron's fault for agreeing to gamble the entire future of the UK in order to gain a bit of party political advantage at the 2015 General Election, and it's the fault of the hard-right headbanger fringe of the Tory party who brazenly lied to the public in order to get what they wanted (like the double lie that EU membership cost £350 million a week, and that the right-wing Tories would invest all of that money in the socialist NHS).

Instead of adopting a unified message that the Tories were to blame, they decided, at this critical moment, to turn the attention away from the instability and bitter infighting within the Tory party by seeking to destabilise and usurp their own democratically elected party leader!

Jeremy Corbyn has remained defiant against this strategically suicidal coup attempt saying that "those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate".

Corbyn knows that the Parliamentary Labour Party is stuffed to the gunnels with right-wingers who are closer in ideology to the Tories than they are to him, or the vast majority of the Labour Party membership. These Labour Party right-wingers have constantly sought to undermine him at every stage by focusing their criticisms on his leadership rather than the outrageous behaviour of the Tory party, but a coup attempt against him could actually be just the thing he needs to solidify his position as the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party.

If the Blairites put forward a candidate to oppose him, Corbyn should stand on a policy of mandatory re-selection for all Labour Party MPs. He can position himself as the anti-establishment revolutionary who wants to put an end to career politicians using Labour seats as a lifetime ticket to the Westminster establishment club. Corbyn's proposition should be that if Labour MPs don't serve the interests of the people who elected them, the people who elected them can replace them with someone who will.

The Blairites would obviously have to oppose such a policy, because it would be represent an existential threat to their political careers. But in taking a stance against Corbyn's "power to the people" policy would force whichever usurper the Blairites put forward into to position of having to repeatedly argue for the interests of the status quo and the interests of Labour Party MPs and against the interests of the party membership.

If Corbyn plays his cards right he could not only reinforce his democratic mandate as Labour Party leader with another vast endorsement from the Labour Party grass roots, he could also put in motion the necessary clearing out of Blairite detritus from the party.

As long as the Parliamentary Labour Party is stuffed full of right-wing politicians who are closer in ideology to the Tories they are supposed to oppose than to the Labour Party membership they are supposed to represent, the party can never put forward a truly progressive political agenda. However if Corbyn sets himself up as the anti-establishment "people's champion" fending off a vicious backstabbing attack from a bunch of bitter Westminster insiders, he can win a huge second mandate, not just to continue leading the party, but to set about clearing out those right-wing Labour MPs who still remain determined to obstruct the adoption of progressive, democratic, left-wing political strategy that is fit for the 21st Century.


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OR


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Why the Article 50 foot dragging?


36% of the UK electorate voted to stick their fingers up at the rest of Europe. There's no going back on it now (unless 17 million people sign that daft petition!), the decision has been made.

The UK is leaving the EU and we've already succeeded in "making Britain great again". Well at least that's how it would seem if you believed the delirious reactions of Brexiters when the result was announced, but anyone who actually knows what is supposed to happen next must be wondering about why the pro-Brexit Tories are suddenly all talking about delaying the Article 50 notification for months and months.

Boris Johnson

Interestingly Boris Johnson didn't look delirious on Brexit day. He looked ashen-faced when he made his victory speech, which was very odd indeed given that he'd just backed the winning side and left David Cameron with no choice but to resign, leaving the door to 10 Downing Street open and waiting for the nation's favourite tousle-haired buffoon dishonest hard-right Old Etonian former Murdoch hack to stride confidently through it.

Johnson should have looked like the cat who got the cream, but for some reason he looked as if he'd woken up to find a horse's head in his bed that morning.

Michael Gove

During the campaign Micheal Gove repeatedly told us how evil the EU is, and he implored the electorate to ignore all the expert opinion and to instead rely solely on our uninformed prejudices and gut instincts in order to make the most important political choice any of us (outside of Scotland) have faced in decades.

Given his strength of feeling against the EU, one would have thought that Gove would be itching to the Article 50 notification submitted and set in motion the two year process of extricating the UK from dictatorial European Union rule. But no - suddenly he wants to wait ... the EU isn't so evil after all ... we apparently need to delay the process of quitting for several months, despite the fact that the remaining 27 member states have told us to get out as quickly as possible.

Why?

Why was Boris Johnson so ashen faced? Why does Michael Gove suddenly want us to drag our heels as much as possible over leaving, and further infuriate the 27 other member states in the process?

The answer seems to be that they've only just realised what they've done. They appear to be behaving in the manner of people who never actually expected to win; As if they expected Remain to win; For everything to go back to normal; And for them to get a pat on the back from a grateful but relieved nation for having put up a jolly good fight.

I'm never going to have much inclination to find sympathy for David Cameron. Over the last six years he has enabled a hard-right ideological rampage that has done an immeasurable amount of social and economic damage to the UK; The whole basis of his austerity agenda was a con designed to trick the economically uneducated into believing in the ridiculous economic fairy story that "we need to cut our way to growth"; He was an inveterate liar who dragged the standard of political debate ever lower (remember his utterly contemptible conduct during the London mayoral election); And to top it all off, he gambled the entire future of the UK in order to win a bit of short-term political advantage at the 2015 General Election, and lost.

David Cameron was a disaster as Prime Minister, but it's undeniable that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove stabbed him in the back. In the end Cameron has got a measure of revenge though. He might have been the one to gamble and lose, but someone else is going to have to unleash the shit-storm by submitting the Article 50 notification. And suddenly, after all of their anti-EU rhetoric, the likes of Gove and Johnson are very reticent about triggering the process that they spent the last month arguing day and night for.

The reason seems obvious. They know that the other 27 EU member states are going to stand in solidarity, while the UK tries to argue in vain for a better deal than the one it already had and threw away. The UK argued for a massive discount on our membership fee in the 1980s and got it and kept it for decades while the likes of Germany, Denmark, France and Italy bore a much bigger proportional burden, then in the end we humped off in a massive strop anyway.

After a display like that there's no way the rest of Europe is going to adopt a weak negotiating position and cave in to all of the Tory demands. The Tories wrangling a brilliant settlement from the EU isn't just unlikely because of the petulant way we stropped off either; They EU leadership know perfectly well that if they don't negotiate with the UK with an iron fist, then other member states might well fancy quitting too.

Some shit options

I tried to ask questions of Brexiters about what their actual plan for what comes after Brexit was, but neither Brexiters from the left, nor Brexiters from the right could answer it. They generally just started talking in empty slogans ("make Britain great again", "restore our sovereignty", take control", "the EU is undemocratic" ...) rather than answer the damned question, which is a debating tactic that David Cameron himself was undeniably a master of.

There are three main options when it comes to the negotiation. The most likely one is that the overwhelmingly pro-EU Westminster establishment will aim for the "Norway option". The UK would get to stay in the single market for a membership fee (higher than the original rebated fee we were paying before? Probably.) but with no power to influence the future direction of the common market. With this would come the necessary condition that the UK continues allowing the free movement of people. One without the other is never going to happen.

The "Norway option" would blatantly be a far worse deal than the one we already had, but it would come with the small added benefit of seeing the xenophobic little-Englanders, Biffers and 'Kippers go apoplectic when they realise that their vote for Brexit isn't going to make all the "nasty" foreigners go away after all.

Another option is a complete renegotiation, but this is even worse than the "Norway option". Does anyone think that it would be a good idea to have a radically right-wing bunch of Tories trying to completely rewrite our trade relations with the rest of the European Union?

Anyone who voted out of the EU because "it's a neoliberal behomoth" is going to be horrified to see the UK government trying trying to negotiate some kind of fanatical hard-right settlement with the EU, and the rest of Europe saying "no thanks, you Brits can keep your ideological fanaticism to yourselves from now on and accept the much less radically right-wing settlement we offer you".

Every other EU state is going to have a veto over the negotiating process, so if the deal does go ahead, it will need the support of left-wing governments like those of Greece and Portugal, as well as the support of more right-wing ones like Germany.

The last option is for the UK government to take such a belligerent position that no deal is possible. This would see the UK-EU trade relations revert to the basic World Trade Organisation rules at the end of the two year deadline. Nobody short of full blown Biffers could see a complete meltdown in trade relations between the UK and the continent as a desirable outcome.

Foot dragging

The reason that the likes of Gove and Johnson are so reticent about making the Article 50 notification is that there is no conceivable way that they can achieve a better outcome than the rebated deal that the UK already had with the EU. They know that whoever takes over as leader of the Tory party will have to try to negotiate a settlement with the 27 pissed off and highly defensive remaining members of the EU, while trying to deal with stuff like bitter recriminations from the Europhile majority of the Tory party, the post-Brexit recession and the ongoing criminal investigations into Tory electoral fraud at the 2105 General Election.

The Tories who were leading the charge towards Brexit are suddenly dragging their feat because they know that they're going to get pasted by the 27 remaining member states in the negotiations, while having to fend off criticism from both sides (failure to retain a place in the common market would be unacceptable to the majority of MPs and the British export industries, but any concession at all to the EU are going to cause howls of outrage from the extreme-right who think that Brexit secured them complete isolationism forever).

The Tories are terrified of the brutal shafting they've invited upon themselves, so they're delaying it as long as possible out of pure self-interest, which is the same reason they do anything. Pure self-interest isn't just their modus operandi, it's the fundamental basis of the crackpot hard-right economic theories they've been pushing for the last four decades

The self-interest based ideology of the Tories is the main reason for all of the massive social and economic problems that snake oil merchants like Michael Gove and Boris Johnson blamed on the EU, David Cameron's self-interest at the 2015 General Election is the reason we had an EU referendum at all, and yet more Tory self-interest is the reason these Brexit cheerleaders are suddenly so desperate to drag their feet as much as possible instead of triggering the complicated political process they were so incredibly keen on just a few days previously.


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OR


Why do turkeys vote for Christmas?


The North East, Cornwall and the Welsh valleys voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit. These are the poorest regions in Britain, and as such have been the beneficiaries of huge amounts of EU funding through the EU Structural Investment Fund.

The EU identified West Wales and the valleys region as the poorest in the whole of North West Europe, and then used the Structural Adjustment Fund to assign the area a whopping £1.8 billion to finance infrastructure improvements, new facilities and improved services in an attempt to revitalise the economy and attract businesses investment, yet the people of Ebbw Vale voted 62% in favour of Brexit, the highest leave vote in the whole of Wales.

The North East and Cornwall have also benefited enormously from the EU Structural Adjustment Fund, yet there too people flocked to the polling stations to vote to have these funds cut off.

As a result of the vote for Brexit the Tory government is due to lurch even further rightwards from the austerity fetishist, NHS wrecking, local authority starving, education system vandalising, upwards wealth distributing, privatise everything ideological extremism of the last six years.

The idea that an even more radically right-wing "leave it to market forces" Tory government is going to decide to replicate the EU funding to these deprived regions rather than distribute the cash towards corporations and the super-wealthy minority who make up the vast majority of their party donors is so utterly delusional that surely nobody could believe it.

The Tories have spent the last six years imposing such severe cuts to local authority funding that even David Cameron's local council were reduced to pleading with him to consider the damage he's doing. Surely it should be common knowledge that the Tories have reserved all of their harshest local authority cuts for the poorest and most deprived areas in the UK? If the much less severe cuts to Tory councils has them squealing for mercy, just imagine how bad the significantly more brutal cuts are in the most deprived regions of the UK.

The Tories knew that Brexit was going to lead to severe economic turmoil and another gaping hole in their budget, but Iain Duncan Smith assured us that several more years of savage Tory austerity would be "a price worth paying" to achieve Brexit. We all know why he thought it was a reasonable price to pay; he liked the price because it's not going to be paid by people like him, it's going to be paid by the sick and disabled, the working poor and people in the poorest areas of Britain who will see even more cuts to their local services that have already been stripped down to the bones after six years of malicious Tory cuts.

It's hard to fathom the thinking of people who have just voted to turn off the supply of EU funding to their regions, and subject themselves and their communities, and the rest of us an even more brutally right-wing Tories.

It looks an awful lot like turkeys voting for Christmas, and it would be easy to dismiss Brexit voters in the poorest areas as merely being hopelessly gullible tabloid reading idiots who let a bunch of psychopathic right-wing press barons who don't even live or pay tax in Britain (Rupert Murdoch, Jonathan Harmsworth, the Barclay brothers) convince them to vote against their own economic interests. It would be easy to say that these people are stupid as hell and thoroughly deserving of what's coming to them, but it wouldn't be useful.

The huge groundswell of support for Brexit in these deprived areas is undeniably a shocking display of economic self-harm, and it's easy to glibly attribute it to stupidity, but it's clearly no coincidence that so many of the poorest areas of all were also the ones that voted the most strongly for Brexit. Something other than stupidity drove these people to act in this way, and desperation and unfocused anger look like likely candidates.

The hard-right economic dogma that every Westminster government since 1979 has subscribed to has left these areas rotting at the margins. For every £1 of infrastructure spending per person in the north east, London gets £24. As vital as the EU Structural Adjustment Fund cash has been to Britain's most deprived areas, it's still nowhere near enough to make up for epic disparities like that.

After six years of brutal Tory austerity, much of it deliberately targeted at the poorest areas of the country, it's no wonder that these places were full of people who were absolutely livid with the status quo, and when, for once in their life they were given an opportunity to vote on something that actually mattered, they lashed out at David Cameron and George Osborne.



The Labour Leave movement fed into this anger by deliberately casting the referendum as an opportunity to punish David Cameron and George Osborne (see image), but it's now become undeniably clear that Labour Leave was completely funded by hard-right Tories, so this ostensibly left-wing "give the Tory toffs a kicking" propaganda was actually paid for by a different, even more rabidly right-wing bunch of Tories seeking to steal Cameron's place at the top table.

The Guardian wrote an article about how Ebbw Vale ended up voting to turn their noses up at hundreds of millions of pounds of EU funding, and one of the guys they interviewed gloried in the fact that "David Cameron got a good kicking" as if seeing a guy who is set to remain a multi-millionaire toff for the rest of his life forced to resign a few years earlier than he'd planned to, is somehow adequate compensation for the fact that his community is now going to be so much worse off.

I guess the conclusion is that when people allow unfocused anger to dictate their actions they can end up making awful decisions.

It really didn't take much mental effort to figure out that the Vote Leave campaign was founded on blatant lies, immigration fearmongering, false promises and the strategy of presenting the referendum decision as a "simple problem - simple solution" choice, when it was actually the most complex multi-layered consideration anyone in the UK (outside of Scotland) has been presented with in decades.

Apparently a lot of people just wanted to lash out at the establishment powers that had spent the last four decades grinding their communities into the dirt, and they didn't give much thought to the actual consequences of their votes would be.

I'm not tempted to gloat at the stupidity of "Turkeys voting for Christmas", because I'm all too aware that the consequences are going to be appalling for an awful lot of people. Many of the wealthier, more highly educated people who voted Remain will no doubt be insulated from the worst of it by virtue of the fact that they're not the traditional victims of Tory ideology. And many of the poorer, less educated people who voted for Brexit will undoubtedly suffer the worst of the Tory ideological rampage that is set to come. But there's no justice in that because there is no justification for hard-right Tory fanaticism, even if the victims brought it upon themselves because they allowed themselves to be misdirected into angrily lashing out in the wrong direction.

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OR


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The 2nd Referendum petition is daft


Within two days of the Brexit result being announced over two million people signed a petition on the government website calling for a 2nd EU referendum.

I'm no Brexiter

Before I get to explaining what is wrong with the petition, I'd first like to explain my own stance so that nobody is under the false impression that I'm some kind of furious Brexiter shouting down the idea because I got what I wanted and don't want to see it undone.

Before the referendum argued that Britain quitting the EU would be a massive act of self-harm. I admitted that the EU is not flawless (I can't think of a single major political or economic institution that is), but repeatedly stated the position that bailing out it now and giving the hard-right fringe of the Tory party the green light to go on a savage ideological rampage through the national economy, legal system, trade relations and constitution would be far worse than anything the EU could do to us. To me Brexit looked like a classic example of an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" scenario.

Before the referendum I also picked apart a lot of the misrepresentations, false promises and outright lies presented by the hard-right Vote Leave campaign. They were clearly a bunch of right-wing snake oil merchants selling Brexit as their cure all elixir to all of society's ills, despite knowing full well that it has been the imposition of their fanatically hard-right economic ideology since 1979 that caused most of those problems in the first place.

Redefining the terms after the event

Trying to undo the result of the Brexit vote now by quibbling over the terms of the referendum is no good after the event. It was absolutely clear when David Cameron set up the EU referendum as a simple majority decision, he was taking an extraordinary gamble with the entire future of the UK, but nobody complained about it then (well I did, but hardly anyone was listening to me because I'm just some independent blogger, with a relatively small audience).

The fact that people are only quibbling about turnout thresholds and the like now, after the event, makes the whole Remain camp look like a bunch of sore losers.

An unworkable proposition

People who have followed my work for a while might remember me trying to kick up a stink about the Tory attempts to render trade union democracy completely unworkable by imposing arbitrary turnout thresholds. The result of this forthcoming Tory attack on the trade unions will be to render an abstention a more powerful vote against the motion for strike action than an actual vote against the motion! This warped situation comes about because voting against the motion would have the effect of pushing the turnout up closer to the 50% threshold, while abstaining makes it less likely that the motion will ever pass.

The proposal this petition outlines would have precisely the same effect. The setting of an arbitrary 75% turnout threshold means that the whole thing could just be derailed if Remainers engaged in mass abstention. In fact, every Remainer who actually voted for Remain under such a system would actually be making Brexit more likely by doing so!

A better proposition

Specifying 60% of the vote on a 75% turnout equates to demanding the backing of 45% of the registered electorate. It's clear that saying 45% of the public should back the motion to have it pass is a much fairer way of specifying the same thing, because setting it up that way wouldn't enable mass abstention spoiler tactics from people who favour the status quo.

There's nothing undemocratic about specifying a threshold like this, if fact people have argued that it's actually far more democratic because it prevents just 36% of eligible voters enforcing massive changes on the rest of society, as just happened in the Brexit referendum.

But it's still too late


The result is in now. Unless the petition ends up getting even more signatures than the number of people who actually voted for Brexit, it's highly unlikely to achieve anything, except looking like a massive bunch of sour grapes from sore losers.

The people who were willing to sup toxic snake oil from the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage and the Tory bankrolled Labour Leave mob got their way.

It's not going to be pleasant for a lot of people because belief that the UK is due to become a bed of roses for everyone just because we quit the EU would be over-optimistic enough at the best of times, but when there's a fanatically right-wing government in power, and one that's highly likely to lurch even further to the right, then it's absolutely delusional.

It's even more delusional to continue believing in such fantasies when the hard-right Brexit politicians have already begun backtracking on all their lies about how Brexit would mean more funding for the NHS and cuts in immigration.

Things are going to get a lot worse for a lot of people, but signing sour grapes petitions isn't going to help. The only way to help now is by getting actively involved in opposition to the Tory government and trying to obstruct their inevitable right-wing ideological rampage at every turn.

Sign the petition if you feel like it, but it's prescription is clearly anti-democratic because it creates the opportunity for abstention spoiler tactics, so I won't be signing it.


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OR


Why would anyone try to defend the Labour Leave shills?


On the day that Brexit was announced I pointed out the undeniable fact that Labour Leave were massively bankrolled by a bunch of hard-right Tories. Every single one of their major donations came from extremely right-wing individuals and organisations. I then described this as "shilling" and said that some people within the Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves.

Some extremely touchy and defensive people came along to attempt to argue back. One of them accused me of insulting fellow socialists, and another one crudely traduced the words I actually said to "So Tony Benn, Bob Crow, Dennis Skinner all well known right-wing Tories".

This is my response to those accusations:
I didn't insult anyone for being a socialist. If you actually read my words I didn't actually insult anyone.

What I did do is point out the undeniable fact that Labour Leave was completely bankrolled by hard-right Tories, and the described that as "shilling".

If anyone thinks that a so-called Labour movement that is completely bankrolled by Tories is not an example of "shilling" I'd be genuinely interested to hear your explanation (displays of bizarre mental gymnastics are always fun to watch).

PS - Tony Benn would never have taken money from a bunch of Tories in order to make the case for Brexit. He opposed the EU but (unlike some in the Labour movement) he also passionately opposed the Tories too.
The main question these angry defensive reactions from Labour supporters raises is why so many people within the Labour movement are prepared to actively defend the Labour Leave campaign's decision to accept so much Tory cash and turn themselves into paid Tory shills to such an extent that they make (completely lame) attempts to shoot the messenger? 

Another question is why people feel compelled to drag the names of people like Tony Benn and Bob Crow through the muck to defend this blatant Labour Leave shilling?

Yes Tony Benn and Bob Crow argued against the EU when they were alive, but the idea that they would have accepted cash from a bunch of radically right-wing Tories to make that argument is, in my opinion, an insult to their memories. They were both, as far as I'm concerned, left-wing men of integrity, not anti-EU fanatics who would bend their left-wing principles beyond breaking point in order to criticise the EU.

Insinuating that they would have behaved like the Labour Leave mob in accepting huge amounts of Tory cash is insulting to their memories, and an insult to anyone who has the misfortune of reading such a weak display of excuse-making too.


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Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit: Blame Jeremy Corbyn


There was always going to be a lot of uncertainty if Brexit happened, but some things were easily predictable:

The stock market chaos, the plummeting value of the Pound
, David Cameron's situation becoming completely untenable after staking the entire UK economy on a bet and losing it, and the ecstatic reaction of the hatemongering extreme-right in Britain and across the rest of Europe too.

All of those things were predictable, and widely considered to be inevitable, but the one thing that was even more inevitable than all of that was that Blarite faction of the Labour Party would opportunistically use the crisis to launch a coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn's campaign


In my view Corbyn was not to blame for the result. He ran an honest fact based campaign. His nuanced views on the EU chimed with me, and with an awful lot of other people too. He didn't lie that the EU is perfect, because everyone knows it's not. He said that we should stay and work to make it better rather than just run away. He didn't engage in the kinds of threats and fearmongering used by the likes of George Osborne and David Cameron. He attempted to win people over with reason.

Perhaps that approach was politically naive, because in modern UK realpolitik, honesty has clearly become an incredibly poor debating tactic. However nobody can accuse him of lying or fearmongering, which surely still counts for something, even though he wasn't on the winning side of the debate.


The blame game

It's understandable that a lot of people within the Labour Party are distraught that the public have voted to bail out of Europe and enabled a hard-right Tory rampage through the national economy, legal system, trade relations and constitution.

They are distraught and they have the right to be angry, but Jeremy Corbyn clearly isn't the rational target for their anger. The rational target is the people within the Labour Party who were clearly and undeniably shilling for the hard-right of the Tory party.

By now people who are familiar with my work will know that that's not the kind of accusation I throw around glibly, or without evidence to back it up.


The Electoral Commission evidence is absolutely clear that the Labour Leave movement took all of their major donations from right-wingers like major Tory party donors, the Tory fronted Vote Leave campaign and one of the top dogs at the extremely right-wing Taxpayers Alliance lobby group.

It's extraordinary that the Blairites would seek to heap the blame on Jeremy Corbyn when there are people within The Labour Party who were undeniably working as paid shills for the Tories.

It's extraordinary that they would seek to blame Corbyn, rather than the Tory shills within the party, but then it's clear enough that they don't actually give a damn about who was to blame for the result. They don't that people within the Labour Party took a load of cash from a bunch of hard-right Tory fanatics and used it to undermine the Labour Party case for continued membership of the EU. They don't care because they're just seeking an excuse to stick a knife into Jeremy Corbyn.

They don't care about the Tory shills within the Labour Party is that in reality the right-wing faction of the Labour Party are ideologically a hell of lot closer to the kind of hard-right Tories who funded Labour Leave than they are to Jeremy Corbyn and the vast majority of the Labour Party membership.

Labour civil war

An attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn would clearly weaken the Labour Party just at the moment when the country needs them to be stronger than ever in order to fight back against the inevitable Tory ideological rampage.

The only conceivable outcome of such an opportunistic coup is a split in the Labour Party.

There is no way that the Blairites will be able to re-usurp the Labour Party against the will of the membership. A new leadership contest would clearly be seen as an attempted right-wing takeover of the party and be rejected by the party membership. Corbyn could even find himself re-elected as Labour leader with an even bigger mandate than before, which would surely see the right-wing Blairite lot split off to form a 21st Century SDP, weakening the Labour Party just when it needs to be strong.

Conclusion

The post-Brexit attempted Blairite coup against Jeremy Corbyn was always going to happen. The right-wing of the Labour Party have been waiting for an opportunity like this since the day Corbyn was elected leader.

If the public would have voted Remain, the Blairites would have found another reason as soon as possible anyway. They have absolutely no interest in figuring out who the actual villains within the Labour Party are, and neither do they care that their coup would tear the Labour Party to pieces just when the country needs it to be unified more than ever before.


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The case for a second Scottish independence referendum


Everyone who followed the 2014 Scottish independence debate will remember the propaganda threats from the Unionist camp that a vote for independence would mean Scotland being hurled out of the European Union against their will.

The result of the 2016 European Union referendum makes it absolutely clear that the result of Scotland voting no to independence in 2014 is to get dragged out of the European Union against their wishes, by the much larger English electorate.

A whopping 62% of Scottish voters wanted to stay in the EU. In a two choice referendum, a 62% - 38% result is a monumental landslide verdict against Brexit.

The problem with this enormous victory for the Scottish Remain campaign is that with a population of only five million, this landslide victory for Remain in Scotland was watered down and totally reversed by the massively larger English electorate voting, for whatever reason, for Brexit, and giving the xenophobic tabloid-indoctrinated little-Englanders, the hard-right Tory fringe and the Britain First hatemongers a day of celebration they will never forget. In fact some of them are even proposing a national holiday to celebrate June the 23rd as English Isolationism day!

The upshot of it all is that one of the main terrifying outcomes that the "Project Fear" campaign used in order to intimidate Scotland into rejecting independence in 2014 has now come about precisely because they did reject it.

Pretty much as soon as the EU referendum result became clear, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon began making the case for a second Scottish independence referendum, describing the scenario of Scotland being dragged out of the EU against their will as "democratically unacceptable".

The case for a second Scottish independence referendum is pretty much incontestable. The situation has changed dramatically since 2014. Had the Scottish electorate been aware that a vote against independence would result in Scotland being hauled out of the EU against their will, it's absolutely certain that an awful lot of people would have cast their votes differently.

Brexiters who try to argue against another Scottish independence referendum haven't got a leg to stand on. They repeatedly harped on about how the undemocratic nature of the EU and their complaints that the EU imposes its will on the UK.

Having based their campaign on arguments like that, it would be a shockingly brazen display of hypocrisy to then argue that the Scottish electorate shouldn't get the democratic right to determine their own future (and abandon the undemocratic Westminster crony stuffed House of Lords), and that they should simply accept the English electorate imposing their will on Scotland.

David Cameron's decision to gamble the entire future of the UK in order to gain a bit of short-term party political advantage at the 2015 General Election has backfired spectacularly, and his legacy has been cemented as one of the most reckless gamblers in British history.


Cameron was clearly suffering from hubris. He thought that if he could convince the Scottish electorate to vote against their own interests in 2014, he could easily convince the English electorate not to commit a massive act of economic self-harm in 2016, but he was wrong. The irony being that the result of Cameron's second massive gamble with the future of the UK means that his victory in his first massive gamble is now under severe threat too.

If Scotland does get the second independence referendum that the circumstances dictate that it deserves, this Yorkshireman will be supporting the Yes campaign just as strongly as he supported the last one.


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