UK Politics 2016: Everything to Play For

Originally published here, with a nice diagram:

UK Politics 2016: Everything to Play For

War and austerity serve the interests of the British establishment, and are contrary to the vast majority of the UK population.  If we define ‘war’ as the bombing and invading of other countries plus the threat of annihilation through nuclear arms and ‘austerity’ as the roll-back of the welfare state we can divide the political forces of the UK into establishment and anti-establishment.

Establishment Forces

  • Tory Party
  • UKIP
  • Lib Dems
  • The Blairites

Anti-Establishment Forces

  • ‘Real Labour’ i.e. Jeremy Corbyn backed by a growing number of MPs and MSPs.
  • The SNP
  • The various Green Parties
  • Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein

Both sides are further divided by:

  • Europe
  • Scottish Independence

Membership of the EU divides the establishment forces: UKIP and various Tories are against being part of the EU whilst most Tories plus the Blairites and Lib Dems are in favour.  All of them are very much against Scottish Independence.

In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn and ’Real Labour’ are against Scottish Independence, whilst the SNP and various other nationalist and Green parties are in favour.  All these anti-establishment parties and politicians backed Remain.

However, Corbyn is a life-long euro-sceptic (for reasons entirely contrary to Johnson and Farage) who was forced to side with Remain in order to maintain party unity (which was already threatened, and has since been broken).  Meanwhile, the SNP, as a pro-independence party could hardly have sided with Brexit, given that EU membership was highly popular in Scotland and hence presented them with their best opportunity for independence yet.  So, in very different ways, the Remain stance of the anti-establishment forces (i.e. Corbyn and the SNP) was never optional in practice.

(Moreover, no opposition party is likely to favour handing more power to their opponents, even if they have various valid reasons to view of EU membership as a hindrance should they be in government.)

What looks likely in terms of timing is that article 50 will be activated early in 2017 (see link 1) and that INDE. II will happen in the subsequent 2-year period (see link 4).

What is of great interest is how Real Labour, after Jeremy Corbyn wins a second leadership contest, will go about:

  1. Appealing to the 52% of English and Welsh voters who voted for Brexit (including 1/3 of Labour voters) whilst maintaining support of the 2/3s of Labour voters who voted Remain. (The former is key to winning over the long-term disenfranchised Labour voters at risk of voting UKIP, whilst the latter is key to preventing/reversing desertion to the Lib Dems/ Greens/ Blairites (if they form a new Party).)
  2. Opposing Scottish Independence: Jeremy Corbyn will be expected to play a leading role in opposing it, even though in many ways it will play into ‘Real Labour’s’ hands by a) dealing a fatal blow to the Trident Nuclear Weapons, which is the issue the Blairites have chosen to distinguish themselves from Real Labour, and b) dealing a grievous blow to the Tories (due Scottish INDE. being a direct result of them holding the Brexit referendum), all in the run-up to 2020.

With regards to A I believe that Corbyn’s ‘sceptical Remain’ was the right thing to do and puts him in a position to reach out to both Brexit and Remain voters once the ChickenCoup has finally flopped, although it is certainly no easy task.

With Regards to B, I believe Corbyn will somehow find the right stance again, based more on opposing austerity and raising living standards etc. than on the constitutional matter as such, although I do fear that Smith has a point (see link 6) in that Corbyn perhaps underestimates or misunderstands the progressive nationalism of the Scottish Yes Movement.   (I’m glad Smith has raised this actually.)  The weight of Corbyn’s intervention is a big question as it might be enough to actually prevent Independence: his anti-Iraq anti-trident stance carries a lot of weight in Scotland.

Best case scenario: Scotland goes about writing a progressive constitution circa 2019 and Corbyn goes onto to win 2020: happy progressive neighbours going about reforming Britain, and perhaps the EU.  Worst case, Scotland remains in the UK and Corbyn loses 2020, or is deposed beforehand: status quo austerity and war.  If Scotland doesn’t get INDE. and Corbyn wins the next election then all is well enough:

It’s all certainly to play for.

Looking down from Northern England

 

Back in 2015 we were all moving to Scotland. Ed Milliband had just suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of polish-faced Cameron. After years of austerity actually driving the deficit up, the British people voted for more of the same; the combined vote of blue, yellow and purple tories topped 50%, so even proportional representation would not have fundamentally changed the outcome.

Sorry, did I say British? I meant English; there was silver lining to the dark cloud that day; the SNP’s historic landslide North of the border, taking 56 of 59 seats, up from 6. In Scotland they actually had an opposition, an anti-austerity-anti-war party, and one with a track record to prove it. In Scotland, New Labour had been abandoned by the working class due to the Iraq war and ‘austerity-lite’. In Scotland, UKIP had made no inroads, and the Tories were seen as the sick joke they are.

“But if we emigrate, what kind of country will we have as a neighbour?” we wondered.

That depended very much on Labour: Milliband stepped down and a leadership election was triggered, and he was such an abject failure the new leader would have to be significantly different. Would they continue their march to the Right or tack Left? Would they continue chasing the marginals down South or would they secure the heartlands that, in an absence of anything resembling a program to defend majority interests, were being eroded by Tories, UKIP and worse? The former would surely be the end of any kind of hope for a decent future of the country (rUK), but the latter seemed so implausible, being as it was that the Candidate of the few remaining Left-wing Labour MPs were perennially denied their chance in Leadership contests (because the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had drifted so far to the Right and was able to deny a truly progressive candidate’s nomination).

And then, the implausible happened: Jeremy Corbyn got the 35MPs needed to put his name on the ballot. Corbyn, and Labour Members, have been on a roll ever since:

  1. Corbyn didn’t just win, he won in all categories, he won in all demographics, and he won so convincingly, all his opponents were written off..
  2. There was a surge in Labour Party membership both before and after his election; more than the entire Tory Party.
  3. This surge was accompanied by a surge in participation at the grass-roots.
  4. Corbyn has forced repeated U-turns of the government, both making a difference on the ground and discrediting the Tories as a Government. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-corbyns-first-100-days-7044930
  5. Labour has won all by-elections with increased majorities, by swings big enough to win a general election.
  6. Labour lost no councils in the local elections, and gained mayoralties of several major cities, including London.
  7. Corbyn has increased his support amongst the PLP from 20-25 to 40-50. (At least 10 of the original 35 that nominated him came out against him afterwards, whilst some abstained or weren’t present to vote in the recent motion of no confidence.)
  8. Has replaced his ‘broad-church’ Shadow Cabinet (i.e. ridden with Blairites) with a much more progressive, young, female, and (presumably) loyal one.
  9. He has garnered praise and support from both the SNP and the Greens for his performance as part of the Remain campaign, a campaign where leading Tories on both sides were very publicly guilty of fear-mongering and lying out-right (both of them have very quickly been removed from public view [UPDATE: Boris is back, but the ridicule says it all] ).
  10. Corbyn received the backing of a majority of MSPs (whilst the Blairite leader of the Scottish Branch has lost face due to her opposition to him).
  11. Jeremy is now being reported favourably in at least some of the MSM (the Independent: “looking like a Prime Minister”).
  12. Labour has had another surge in Membership (again more than the entire Tory Party), and these ones are outraged at the treatment Corbyn has received both from the MSM and from the PLP, and by the fact they are being denied their vote by the NEC (Labour’s, National Electoral Council).
  13. A campaign to deselect the Blairite 172 MPs that rebelled against his leadership has now gained the backing of a major union: Unite.
  14. The NEC voted in Corbyn’s favour, ruling he does not need the backing of 50MPs to face the challenge against him.
  15. Corbyn is about to win another Leadership election, by an increased margin from a hugely increased membership (his opponents are unknown Blarites, with a poor voting record and no policies, other than supporting trident, which effectively makes them austerity-lite at best).
  16. Attempts to gerrymander the upcoming vote, against clear promises, has provoked a backlash with many paying the money in indignation at such crass attempts to exclude the impoverished.
  17. Is opposing a Prime Minister with a slim majority and the weakest mandate ever: wasn’t elected even by her own party, campaigned to Remain.

This Prime Minister is already facing calls for an early election, calls she herself made to Gordon Brown under identical conditions. She is about to implement article 50 in order to leave the EU, which she opposes. The EU opposes succession, and hence has self-interest in driving a hard bargain, and making an example to others. Scotland opposes it as well, and every week that goes by Scotland aligns itself with Europe and prepares the ground for Inde. II: “Remain means Remain” up there. Down here Corbyn, and the Labour Party, also oppose it, but also are determined to hold her to account over how it’s done. Meanwhile, the consolidation the member’s influence over the Labour Party grows with each fabricated hurdle Corbyn leaps smoothly over. What next? Whatever it is, I have concerns for his security.

Some Interesting Links:

The Party is Over…and both Corbyn and his enemies know it. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/07/14/the-party-is-over/

Is Theresa May Britain’s Mitt Romney?

https://benjaminstudebaker.com/2016/07/14/is-theresa-may-britains-mitt-romney/

This Is What It’ll Take for May to Keep the UK From Going Over the Cliff http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-hutton/theresa-may-brexit_b_10943550.html?utm_hp_ref=uk&ir=UK&utm_hp_ref=uk

The Brexit Farce and the Headless Chicken-Coup

 

The British establishment have suffered two serious setbacks in rapid succession: The Tories have lost both of their leading figures, caused economic turmoil and empowered secessionist forces in Scotland, whilst the genuinely anti-establishment Leader of the opposition has been massively strengthened through a botched coup attempt.

During the 2015 General Election Cameron promised a referendum ‘on Europe’ to the British electorate, and won a slim majority through doing so. The defeat threw Labour into crisis and the feckless Miliband stepped down, triggering an election for a new leader of the Labour Party. Labour were in such disarray, that somehow a ‘Real Left’ MP (Jeremy Corbyn) was able to gain the backing of the 35 MPs needed to get on the ballot. (In both previous elections for leader John McDonnell [The Real Left candidate at the time] was denied such support, despite, or rather because, his politics resonated strongly with both the Unions and the Members.) With a Real Left candidate to vote for it was no real surprise that Corbyn went onto win, despite what the MSM were spewing at the time, but what was remarkable was both the margin of his victory (59%) and the surge in membership, both before and after (approx. 150,000). Thus the Labour Party membership gained a Leader who represented their views for the first time since Blair took over.

Despite receiving an absolute mauling from the MSM, Corbyn went on to win by-election after by-election with increased majorities, and then won the Local elections in May (which included various Mayoral contests, some by-elections and the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament). These victories denied the prospective ChickenCoupers the pretext they needed to launch their coup, so instead they were forced to wait until after Brexit Referendum.

Corbyn, a life-long euro-sceptic, was forced to campaign for Remain to maintain party unity, and as much distance from the likes of Johnson and Farage as possible. None-the-less, he refused to share a platform with Cameron and his fear-mongering, opting instead for a ‘sceptical Remain’: ‘pro-EU but not as it stands’. Effectively, Corbyn positioned himself, and Labour, so as not to side with either Johnson or Cameron. The 172 used this to declare his Remain campaign a failure and launched their ill-fated coup, with full backing of the MSM.

ChickenCoup Fallout:

  • Corbyn has come out of this ‘smelling of roses’: calm, cool, thick-skinned, measured, magnanimous and looking like a leader, even reported as ‘looking like a Prime Minister’ in the Independent.
  • The Real Left massively strengthened: new progressive Shadow Cabinet, an extra 200,000 (yes, 200,000!) Labour Party Members, and momentum has reported a 100% increase in membership.
  • 10,000 people turned out at Parliament Square with 24 hours’ notice to back Corbyn and 250,000 people signed a petition to do so.
  • The Unions and the CLPs are over-whelming defending Corbyn.
  • The 172 Right-wing Labour MPs are weakened, discredited and facing de-selection.
  • Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader, put himself in the firing-line through his participation in the ChickenCoup.
  • Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Leader, has lost face as a majority MSPs have come out for Corbyn contrary to her snipes.

Brexit Fallout:

  • Cameron and Johnson, and their associates, ran awful fear-based campaigns that disgusted the electorate.
  • Cameron lost and is stepping down soon.
  • Johnson won, accidentally, and then bottled running for Leader, realising the impossible predicament he would find himself in if he won.
  • Teresa May now looks likely to be next Prime Minister.
  • SNP and the prospects for Independence have been massively strengthened: Scotland now has a Foreign Policy, polls are showing around 60% in favour of INDE., the SNP have legitimate cause for INDE. Ref II, and have reported a membership surge.
  • Northern Ireland has been ‘destabilized’.
  • The UK Economy has suffered, as has Europe’s.
  • The future of the EU is in jeopardy.

The Tories now have a choice between equally horrific and uncharismatic leaders, face a deteriorating economy, a difficult divorce from the EU and Scottish succession; all of which is very obviously and publicly problems of their own creation. On top of that, all the nasty things they have done to everybody really are starting to hit home. There is no way they can relish the prospect of taking on Corbyn, and Sturgeon, under these circumstances, but they have a slim majority and a Prime Minister with no legitimacy. From Right to Left, Young to Old, Destitute to Reasonably well-off, everyone is very upset, and with each passing week the opposition, both North and South of Hadrian’s wall, grows stronger.

Some Links:

For the first time this week, Jeremy Corbyn looked like a Prime Minister, Faduma Hassan,Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-prime-minister-iraq-war-chilcot-inquiry-labour-party-mps-coup-a7125311.html

Anatomy of a Failed Coup in the UK Labour Party, Richard Seymour, Telesur,http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Anatomy-of-a-Failed-Coup-in-the-UK-Labour-Party-20160707-0009.html

Tory Activists stage ‘painfully embarrassing’ march on Parliament in support of Andrea Leadsom, Tom Marshall, The Evening Standard. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tory-activists-stage-painfully-embarrassing-march-on-parliament-in-support-of-andrea-leadsom-a3290256.html

Your Next Prime Minister, Mike Small, Bella Caledonia,http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/07/01/your-next-prime-minister/

The Main Danger of Brexit

As some who is ‘educated’, ‘progressive’ and ‘still young’ I find myself on the opposing side of an important political divide. People have the following main points of contention with my pro-Brexit position:

  1. How is cutting-off ourselves from Europe/ The World going to make anything better?
  2. Look at the disgusting people who are on your side!
  3. It’s the working class who will suffer from this.
  4. EU is a good thing: worker’s rights, NHS, etc.
  5. EU is a good thing: free movement of people and immigration.
  6. What about the surge in racial attacks?
  7. Look at the mess we are in now: Pound down, stock-markets down, jobs moving abroad; uncertainty, turmoil.

Many, in light of the above, are cross with Jeremy Corbyn because he didn’t campaign hard enough or well enough for Remain.  My opinion is that this is the real danger of Brexit, because electing a genuinely anti-austerity/war Prime Minister is of more importance than anything else in the UK in the coming period, and I will return to this below. Please consider the following:

  1. The UK integrating with the world has been one of the most destructive phenomena in world history: we plundered for 200 years and then adopted a subordinate role to the US which took over our position as ‘hated empire number 1’. We now work hand in glove with them in the execution of wars to ‘promote democracy’ for ‘humanitarian reasons’.

The UK is the main cheerleader in Europe for wars: it’s status as full member of the EU combined with the US’ ability to lobby at all levels (but especially in Brussels) is extremely effective at coercing the rest of Europe.  The wars waged across the Middle East and North Africa are the cause of the floods of refugees arriving in Europe, whilst the sanctions/wars being waged against Russia are unnecessary, counterproductive and pose and existential threat to humanity.  The EU would be less detrimental to world peace without us.

  1. The IMF, WB, NATO, POTUS, Blair and Cameron: All these institutions/people were firmly on the Remain side, issuing threats to the British public not to vote Leave. This is because their agenda is threatened by Brexit, their agenda being to wage war and force austerity on the planet.   (Furthermore, Johnson and Farage were clearly banking on a narrow defeat so as to bask in a sordid limelight until the next general election… so the case could be made that they were actually on the Remain side all along.)
  1. The working class has been suffering since 1979, yes they will suffer from Brexit but the game is rigged against them; they will suffer either way. To assert that ‘they shouldn’t have voted Brexit because it’s not in their interests’ is to deny that the game is rigged against them, and that denial plays into the hands of the ruling class.  (And therefore, that assertion aligns those who assert it with the ruling class.)
  1. The EU as an institution facilitates US corporate control: the forced privatisation and laws on GMO have enabled US take-overs and imports. Our government is one of the ‘big four’ in the EU, and is the rabid proponent of neo-liberalism (aka Thatcherism). The ground has been laid for the most regressive trade deal ever: TTIP, which threatens the very existence of the NHS and much more we hold dear.  The UK has been instrumental in all of this.

The idea that workers need a European government to protect us from our own government is valid.  However, Europe, and European workers, need protection from us.

  1. The combination of a) austerity economics, b) 100,000s of impoverished people arriving in the UK and c) a vitriolic press whipping up hatred = a very dangerous situation. Already there are not enough jobs to go round, especially decent ones, the government not having pursued policies to create jobs since at least before the 2008, arguably since Thatcher gained power.  Cynical politicians, with the press on their side, are using this situation against the working class, both native and immigrant. The end to the Free Movement of people between the UK and the EU would be a sorry loss, however, short of a radical government in power, the alternative is arguably worse.  And of course, the press does argue this, indeed this is the grain of truth that makes their deceit so convincing to so many people.
  1. Each and every one of these attacks is an absolute travesty; we all need to get the safety pins out and counter the rise of xenophobia. However, if we look at the root causes of these attacks are a result of two things: increasingly desperate living conditions for a majority of the population and a very horrific and dangerous sophistry coming out of the MSM.   The only way to reverse these attacks is to a) redistribute wealth and b) break-up the billionaire’s monopoly of the press.

Furthermore, the fact that the MSM has had such an opportunity to scape-goat immigrants is not due to the result of the referendum, it’s due to the fact we had one in the first place.  You can make the argument that the win for Brexit lead directly to these attacks, but you can’t prove that the attacks would not have been just as bad or worse in the event of a narrow win for Remain: large sections of impoverished people feeling frustrated by a narrow loss (perhaps even a narrow win in England) would likely have led to an increase in racially motivated attacks.  (You only have to look at the, far more responsible, outpouring of grief on the Remain side to imagine what the reverse could have looked like.)

  1. What is happening is the billionaire class are using the corporations and financial instruments at their disposal to punish the working class/the country for voting against their interests. They are trying to shock the British people, and they are trying to de-legitimise the vote, because the last thing they want is the UK actually leaving the EU (because that slackens US control over Europe as points 1-2 address). We should expect the same thing to happen in the event of a Scottish Independence vote, or Corbyn getting elected, or any other democratic event where the people chose an option against the will of the ruling class.  I welcome such turmoil as evidence that the interests of the billionaires, the ruling class, were actually hurt by the vote.  The defeat of Cameron, and Johnson, and the mess the Tories are in now is also testament to the fact that the agenda of billionaires has suffered a setback.

 

I think the danger in all of this, is to lose sight of what’s of vital importance: reverse austerity, stop paying for war.  This is what Jeremy Corbyn has devoted his life to, and seeing such a man gain the high office of an important country is a nightmare scenario for the ruling class.  They will stop at nothing to destroy him, and one of their current ploys is to discredit his ability to campaign for a worthy cause.  To believe this, to believe Jeremy Corbyn is incapable of running and effective general election campaign, is to fall into a trap.  Every person who believes this, if it means they withhold even a little bit of support for Jeremy Corbyn, weakens the prospects of seeing a genuinely anti-austerity and anti-war Prime Minister.  Join Labour, consider joining Momentum, get involved, don’t buy into any MSM, support alternative media instead.

If not now then when?

The Labour Party: Awakening from its Slumber.

The #ChickenCoup is backfiring dramatically, with Corbyn now strengthened by:

  1. A Progressive Shadow Cabinet (Anti-trident, anti-austerity)
  2. 10,000 demonstrators in Parliament Square (they ll be back at a moment’s notice)
  3. 230,000 signatures (and rising)
  4. Another membership surge (both Labour, 60,000, and Momentum)
  5. Progressive MPs: Caroline Lucas defended Corbyn’s performance for Remain, SNP attacked the 172.
  6. The BBC! (Kind of.)

Eagle is hesitating to make the challenge, no-one else seems up for it.  And the 172 MPs are now in very real danger of losing their jobs, through de-selection.  Tom Watson could well lose his position at the end of all this as well.  Sum total is that the members are set to take control of their Party.

The Tories meanwhile…

Boris read my blog (http://mxmagpie.uk/2016/06/20/why-brexit/) and realised he better not stand for leader of the Tory Party, because he was screwed if he did.   I cant help but think the Gove’s move was covering-fire for Johnson backing-out, and the plan now is that May takes over and makes him Brexit minister.

Still she is going to be caught between an EU/ Opposition leader/ General Public/ Press demanding activation of article 50….and a Parliament (and a General Public) wanting to stay in the EU.  Everyone is very upset and it’s going to take some creativity and charisma to placate even some of them.

Come September, there will be loud calls for a general election.  They don’t have to hold one, and with a resurgent Corbyn consolidating the members control over a growing and awaking Labour Party, they wont want to…

But with an illegitimate leader presiding over a divided party with a slim majority they might have to; an upsurge in strikes and protests this winter is seems likely if they don’t.