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Corbyn’s speech: We need a democratic, anti-austerity, reformed European Union

reddish Euro flagThis is the text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Senate House in London this morning

The people of this country face a historic choice on 23 June whether to remain part of the European Union, or to leave. I welcome the fact that that decision is now in the hands of the British people. Indeed, I voted to support a referendum in the last Parliament.

The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole.

The Labour Party is overwhelmingly for staying in because we believe the European Union has brought: investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment, and offers the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century. Labour is convinced that a vote to remain is in the best interests of the people of this country.

In the coming century, we face huge challenges, as a people, as a continent and as a global community.  How to deal with climate change. How to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes. How to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism. How to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation. How to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world, and how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.

All these issues are serious and pressing, and self-evidently require international co-operation. Collective international action through the European Union is clearly going to be vital to meeting these challenges. Britain will be stronger if we co-operate with our neighbours in facing them together.

As Portugal’s new Socialist Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, has said: ‘in the face of all these crises around us. We must not divide Europe – we must strengthen it.’

When the last referendum was held in 1975, Europe was divided by the Cold War, and what later became the EU was a much smaller, purely market-driven arrangement. Over the years I have been critical of many decisions taken by the EU, and I remain critical of its shortcomings; from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services.

So Europe needs to change. But that change can only come from working with our allies in the EU. It’s perfectly possible to be critical and still be convinced we need to remain a member.

I’ve even had a few differences with the direction the Labour Party’s taken over the past few years but I have been sure that it was right to stay a member some might say I’ve even managed to do something about changing that direction.

In contrast to four decades ago, the EU of today brings together most of the countries of Europe and has developed important employment, environmental and consumer protections.

I have listened closely to the views of trade unions, environmental groups, human rights organisations and of course to Labour Party members and supporters, and fellow MPs. They are overwhelmingly convinced that we can best make a positive difference by remaining in Europe.

Britain needs to stay in the EU as the best framework for trade, manufacturing and cooperation in 21st century Europe. Tens of billion pounds-worth of investment and millions of jobs are linked to our relationship with the EU, the biggest market in the world.

EU membership has guaranteed working people vital employment rights, including four weeks’ paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, protections for agency workers and health and safety in the workplace. Being in the EU has raised Britain’s environmental standards, from beaches to air quality, and protected consumers from rip-off charges.

But we also need to make the case for reform in Europe – the reform David Cameron’s Government has no interest in, but plenty of others across Europe do.

That means democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people. Economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity and put jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy, labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe. And new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.

So the case I’m making is for ‘Remain – and Reform’ in Europe.

Today is the Global Day of Action for Fast Food Rights. In the US workers are demanding $15 an hour, in the UK £10 now. Labour is an internationalist party and socialists have understood from the earliest days of the labour movement that workers need to make common cause across national borders.

Working together in Europe has led to significant gains for workers here in Britain and Labour is determined to deliver further progressive reform in 2020 the democratic Europe of social justice and workers’ rights that people throughout our continent want to see.

But real reform will mean making progressive alliances across the EU – something that the Conservatives will never do.

Take the crisis in the steel industry. It’s a global problem and a challenge to many European governments. So why is it only the British Government that has failed so comprehensively to act to save steel production at home?

The European Commission proposed new tariffs on Chinese steel, but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping.

Those proposals are still on the table. So today I ask David Cameron and George Osborne to to start sticking up for British steel and work with our willing European partners to secure its future.

There are certainly problems about EU state aid rules, which need reform. But if as the Leave side argues, it is the EU that is the main problem, how is that Germany, Italy, France and Spain have all done so much better at protecting their steel industries?

It is because those countries have acted within EU state aid rules to support their industries; whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.

It is not the EU that is the problem, but a Conservative Government here in Britain that doesn’t recognise the strategic importance of steel, for our economy and for the jobs and skills in those communities.

The Conservative Government has blocked action on Chinese steel dumping. It has cut investment in infrastructure that would have created demand for more steel and had no procurement strategy to support British steel.

A Labour government would have worked with our partners across Europe to stand up for steel production in Britain.

The European Union – 28 countries and 520 million people – could have made us stronger, by defending our steel industries together. The actions of the Conservative Government weakened us.

The jobs being created under this Government are too often low skill, low pay and insecure jobs. If we harnessed Europe’s potential we could be doing far more to defend high skill jobs in the steel industry.

And that goes for other employers of high skilled staff too – from Airbus to Nissan – they have made it clear that their choice to invest in Britain is strengthened by our membership of the European Union.

Of course the Conservatives are loyally committed to protecting one British industry in Europe – the tax avoidance industry.

The most telling revelation about our Prime Minister has not been about his own tax affair, but that in 2013 he personally intervened with the European Commission President to undermine an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts, and even now, in the wake of the Panama Papers, he still won’t act.

And on six different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted down attempts to take action against tax dodging.

Labour has allies across Europe prepared to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to clamp down on those determined to suck wealth out of our economies and the pockets of our people.

On Tuesday, the EU announced a step forward on country-by-country reporting. We believe we can go further. But even this modest measure was opposed by Conservative MEPs last December.

Left to themselves, it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator or rogue corporation.

They believe this tiny global elite is what matters, not the rest of us, who they dismiss as “low achievers”.

Some argue that we need to leave the EU because the single market’s rules are driving deregulation and privatisation. They certainly need reform. But it was not the EU that privatised our railways. It was the Conservative Government of John Major and many of our rail routes are now run by other European nations’ publicly owned rail companies. They haven’t made the mistake of asset stripping their own countries.

Labour is committed to bringing rail back into public ownership in 2020. And that is why Labour MEPs are opposing any element of the fourth rail package, currently before the European Parliament, that might make that more difficult.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also a huge cause for concern, but we defeated a similar proposal before in Europe, together when it was called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, back in 1998.

Labour MEPs are rightly opposing the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism opposing any attempt to enforce privatisation on our public services, to reduce consumer rights, workplace protections or environmental standards.

The free market enthusiasts in the Leave campaign would put all those protections at risk. Labour is building alliances to safeguard them.

We must also put human rights at the centre of our trade agreements, not as an optional add-on. We already have allies across Europe to do that. And the EU is vital for promoting human rights at home. As a result of EU directives and regulations, disabled people are protected from discrimination. Lifts, cars and buses need to be accessible, as does sea and air travel.

And it was the Labour Government that signed the Human Rights Act into UK law that transferred power from government – not to Brussels – but to individual citizens.

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. And Britain cannot tackle it alone. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless. Labour brought in the Climate Change Act, John Prescott played a key role in getting the Kyoto Protocols agreed. Labour has led the debate within Europe.

But despite David Cameron pledging to lead the greenest Government ever, Britain still lags far behind most of Europe in terms of renewable energy production. We have much to learn from what Germany has done in particular.

The Conservative Government has cut subsidies for solar power while increasing subsidies for diesel. It has cut regulatory burdens on fracking yet increased regulations on onshore wind. They say one thing, but do another.

Again, it has been regulations agreed in Europe that have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and that are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025, unless we act.

Working together in the European Union is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share.

No doubt debate about EU membership in the next couple of months will focus strongly on jobs and migration. We live in an increasingly globalised world. Many of us will study, work or even retire abroad at some point in our lives.

Free movement has created opportunities for British people. There are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in the EU as a whole.

Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home.

But it’s only if there is government action to train enough skilled workers to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth that they will be felt across the country.

And this Government has done nothing of the sort. Instead, its failure to train enough skilled workers means we have become reliant on migration to keep our economy functioning.

This is especially true of our NHS which depends on migrant nurses and doctors to fill vacancies. This Government has failed to invest in training, and its abolition of nurses’ bursaries, and its decision to pick a fight with junior doctors is likely to make those shortages worse.

As a former representative of NHS workers, I value our NHS and admire the dedication of all its staff. It is Labour’s proudest creation. But right now, it would be in even greater crisis if many on the Leave side had their way. Some of whom have argued against the NHS and free healthcare on demand in principle.

And of course it is EU regulations that that underpin many rights at work, like holiday entitlement, maternity leave, rights to take breaks and limits to how many hours we can work, and that have helped to improve protection for agency workers.

The Tories and UKIP are on record as saying they would like to cut back EU-guaranteed workplace rights if they could.

A Labour government would instead strengthen rights at work making common cause with our allies to raise employment standards throughout Europe, to stop the undercutting of wages and conditions by unscrupulous employers, to strengthen the protection of every worker in Europe.

Just imagine what the Tories would do to workers’ rights here in Britain if we voted to leave the EU in June. They’d dump rights on equal pay, working time, annual leave, for agency workers, and on maternity pay as fast as they could get away with it. It would be a bonfire of rights that Labour governments secured within the EU.

Not only that, it wouldn’t be a Labour government negotiating a better settlement for working people with the EU. It would be a Tory government, quite possibly led by Boris Johnson and backed by Nigel Farage, that would negotiate the worst of all worlds: a free market free-for-all shorn of rights and protections.

It is sometimes easier to blame the EU, or worse to blame foreigners, than to face up to our own problems. At the head of which right now is a Conservative Government that is failing the people of Britain.

There is nothing remotely patriotic about selling off our country and our national assets to the highest bidder. Or in handing control of our economy to City hedge-funds and tax-dodging corporations based in offshore tax havens.

There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union. Just as there is also a powerful socialist case for reform and progressive change in Europe.

That is why we need a Labour government, to stand up – at the European level – for industries and communities in Britain, to back public ownership and public services, to protect and extend workers’ rights and to work with our allies to make both Britain and Europe work better for working people.

Many people are still weighing up how they will vote in this referendum. And I appeal to everyone, especially young people – who will live longest with the consequences  – to make sure you are registered to vote. And vote to keep Britain in Europe this June. This is about your future.

By working together across our continent, we can develop our economies protect social and human rights, tackle climate change and clamp down on tax dodgers.

You cannot build a better world unless you engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The EU, warts and all, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that.

That is why I will be am backing Britain to remain in Europe and I hope you will too.

76 Comments

  1. Danny Nicol says:

    What a load of shite from Jeremy Corbyn. This speech from Mr “Honest Politics” is riddled with distortions.

    In justification of his volte face he suggests that the EU has swung to the Left since in 1975. He says “the EU was a much smaller, purely market-driven arrangement”. Really? In 1975 the EEC was actually far more neutral on the question of public ownership versus private ownership. It was in the Blair years that liberalisation directives consolidating the privatisation of gas, electricity, postal, telecommunications were introduced.
    The jurisprudence interpreting treaty articles to compel more private sector involvement is also relatively recent.

    He says “the EU is vital for promoting human rights” Really? Tell that to the refugees massing the Greek border.

    He says “the European Union has brought protection for workers” Really? Tell that to the workers of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland.

    For good measure he indulges in bucketloads of wishful thinking. Somehow everything obnoxious will be removed from the TTIP, and for good measure the Fourth Railway Package will likewise somehow be rendered harmless and not prevent us from renationalising the railways.

    Above all despite a heavy emphasis on reform he does not confront the constitutional obstacle to reform in the shape of the requirement of the consent of all 28 Member States. It is this requirement which makes the EU poisonous for those of us who seriously wish to replace the capitalist system with a democratic socialist one.

    1. john Reid says:

      quite, Dissapointed that he can go against the parties policy on trident, where he clearly disagrees with it, but as he’s worried about party unity, he’s just pretending to be in favour of it

      I’m sure many labour members secretly voted Ken for mayor against labour’s choice in 2000, and many including Jeremy and his team with vote brexit

      1. Jim Denham says:

        A superb speech that effectively destroys the fantasy “Exit Left” case.

        I don’t always simply agree with Corbyn (especially on foreign policy) but I’ve never doubted his personal honesty. To suggest he’s “just pretending” to have changed his mind on the EU is an insult to the man’s integrity that simply doesn’t ring true.

        As for TTIP, does anyone seriously believe that exiting the EU would stop the Tories negotiating such a deal? The main opposition to TTIP so far has come from Germany, not the UK.

        As for “he does not confront the constitutional obstacle to reform in the shape of the requirement of the consent of all 28 Member States. It is this requirement which makes the EU poisonous for those of us who seriously wish to replace the capitalist system with a democratic socialist one”: has Danny Nichol not considered the obvious point that to achieve socialism we must first win over the majority of the working class, then take on the armed force of the entire bourgeoisie in the UK and, probably internationally, and then establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, whist seeking to spread the revolution throughout the advanced capitalist world? Compared to those tasks seeking “consent of all 28 Member States” is a pretty trivial concern.

        1. john Reid says:

          excalty the way Niel Kinnock really believed in not putting up income tax, not reversing the selling off of the trains/water, and keeping thatchers trade union rights, he really believed in both the 1983 and 992 manifesto’s

          it’s not as if Corbyn was against a Common market, but when he found out its a unelected super state, run by bankers he thought that’s what I want

        2. Karl Stewart says:

          There have been numerous examples of people-power forcing a government away from reactionary policies and towards progressive policies.

          So yes we could prevent our government from signing up to TTIP, from removing our nation from the European Rights Convention, from reversing gender and sexual orientation legislation.

          History shows all these have been achieved before.

          But people-power has never, ever reversed reactionary EU laws. It’s never, ever happened.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            Karl: I think you’ll find it’s happened many, many times: eg in Germany and Italy to overrule EU rules limiting state intervention into the steel industry, for instance. But of course, both the Tories and the anti-EU “left” choose (for their own different reasons) to claikm that’s impossible.

            Back Corbyn on the EU!

  2. verity says:

    A well constructed case given that he opposes the web of EU institutions and successfully links Conservative-EU partnership as the dual problem.

    A very noble ambition trying to construct some sense of alternative, but the proposed project is surely beyond any realistic organisational capacity. It would surely take longer than the years that Corbyn or Left-led Labour has remaining (i.e. ad infinitum). In the meantime domestic struggles would gain another tier of complications as barriers to delivery; requiring the approval, or at least passive acquiesce, of 20 odd other Conservative governments (and some ultra Conservative and reactionary regimes in Eastern Europe) in addition to Conservatism here. The Social democrats across Europe has suffered considerable rejection from their former supporters and look much more like a group of Blair parties hiding behind a social liberalism phraseology.

    Still, fewer more words are better – now delivering my six thousandth ‘Labour Leave (& TU)’ leaflet with the hope to expose the Labour detachment from those it claims to represents.

  3. This was expected, of course. As is the withering media scorn towards the critics. They are being depicted as the Outer Left, as if that applied to Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Roger Godsiff, Graham Stringer, Nigel Griffiths, Tom Harris, John Mills or Brendan Chilton.

    Ronnie Campbell had it right on The World at One, that reforming the EU in a socialistic direction was “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and that “no one would even listen to [Corbyn)”, while, when it came to workers’ rights, “we could just do that ourselves”. Well, we should. It is a different question whether, inside the EU, we could. How were workers’ rights in 1972? And how are they today?

    Behind today’s speech are the corporate-style mega-unions that have emerged over relatively recent years. Those need to be broken up as surely as do numerous other things, not least the EU. The resurgent Left is not there to provide cover for them, any more than it is there to provide cover for the Liberal Establishment’s media, or for the right-wing (if at all political) Labour machines in local government.

    The difference is that, while we should and do want Out of the EU, we should want In to the new Executive Board of the BBC, to the future ownership structure of the Channel Four Television Corporation, to the Governing Bodies of the academies, and to the Boards of Trustees of their wider networks. Alongside the Tories? So be it. We sit on councils, don’t we?

    The Labour and Labourish Establishment is expecting us to do its hard work for it, in order to protect its power bases from which it has always excluded us, and from which it fully intends to carry on excluding us. We need to go over that Establishment’s head.

    And we need to strike the first of many hammer blows against it, by securing the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Roger Godsiff, Graham Stringer, Nigel Griffiths, Tom Harris, John Mills or Brendan Chilton…
      What a shower of right wing charlatans! Proof enough (as though any was needed) that the so-called ‘Labour Leave’ outfit is thoroughly reactionary.

      Back Corbyn on the EU!

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        And one could also, by the same logic, list Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, NATO, CBI, IMF, David Cameron, George Osborne, as pro-EU supporters.

        What a moronic waste of everyone’s time.

        Or we could have a rational debate on the left as to whether the socialist cause is better advanced outside the EU or inside it.

        1. Jim Denham says:

          Yes we could: see the article I’ve posted below from a London teacher, Karl …

      2. John P Reid says:

        Brendan Chilton had Jeremy C as his second choice, what about JonCryer Kelvin Hopkins mahmood Ansar, Bryan Gould

  4. Andy F says:

    This is called Saving David Cameron’s Bacon.

  5. David Pavett says:

    Jeremy Corbyn hit just the right note with this speech. Like most Labour Party members and supporters he is a eurosceptic supporter of Remain. This ‘warts and all’ approach along with a call to unite with similar parties in other EU countries is what most of us wanted to hear from the Labour leader. This is so much better than the anodyne stuff being delivered by Labour’s official Better In campaign. More speeches like this from leading Labour politicians would be decisive as Peter Rowlands argued in his Left Futures article on the EU.

  6. Peter Rowlands says:

    Yes, as David Pavett has said he struck exactly the right note in differentiating Labour from the Tories while emphasising the need for reform in the EU.Most comments still fail to grasp that Brexit would be a victory for the populist right, not the left. More ultra left drivel from Ellis – I thought he had been banned.

  7. Jim Denham says:

    I understand that Boris Johnson, that well-known champion of the NHS, is about to make a speech for ‘Vore Leave’ stating that if the UK; pulls out of the EU, there will be an addition £350 million per week available to fund the NHS!

    This evening’s Radio 4 PM programme deals with this, and for the first time I’ve so far heard, properly interrogates the claims of the anti-EU’ers, with the BBC’s Reality Check number-cruncher Anthony Ruben exposing their figures as the fraudulent rubbish they are (click on the link below at about 08.30).

    Best of all, though , is the debate between two doctors at about 11.45. Listen as the well-informed Dr Mackey (of “Healthier In) simply destroys the ignorant Dr Vitter (of Vote Leave): at last, the BBC is doing its job!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0766gd0

  8. Jim Denham says:

    This is good as well:

    By a London teacher (this article also appears in the present issue of Solidarity and on the Workers Liberty website)

    Vote Ukip, get Corbyn!

    I have been on the far left for over thirty years, and I’ve seen and heard some pretty strange things.

    I have watched women members of a revolutionary socialist group join the back of a segregated Muslim march against Israel. I’ve argued with left-wing British trade unionists who backed the jailing of independent trade unionists in the old USSR. I’ve seen socialists carry “We are Hizbollah” placards, and listened to leftists who refused to condemn 9/11.

    These are sincere people, genuinely believing they are doing the right thing. Often they have given many years of their lives fighting for what they hope will be a better world. And yet they have lost the plot. Their immediate actions and views have become seriously detached from the fight for human liberation.

    The current left belief that Brexit is a blow against EU racism and will lead to a left shift in British politics is right up there in the Premier League of unreason.

    At the National Union of Teachers union conference over the Easter holiday we debated the EU referendum, eventually rejecting Leave the EU by a big majority.

    The Communist Party’s Unity bulletin had declared that the EU vote was (despite the words on the ballot paper) about the NHS.

    The SWP believe that a vote to leave will be a blow against racism, despite the fact that a tabloid-driven, UKIP-benefiting, wave of racist hysteria will grip the country if Britain votes to leave. The new leader of the Tory Party will preside over a capitalist UK with even more unpleasant immigration restrictions.

    Unfortunately the NUT Executive’s amendment which was passed did not advocate staying in the EU and advocated no position on this “divisive issue”. Some speeches urged rejection of the Brexit position because this was a political matter and the union should defend workers, not meddle with politics.

    Workers Liberty’s problem with a union adopting a Brexit position is not that it is political, but that it is stupid.

    Brexit is an immediate, pressing threat for many workers in the UK. If Britain votes to get out of the EU the first thing which will happen is that the regulations governing the right of EU workers to work here will be seriously worsened.

    In my school the cleaners are mainly Portuguese. Some teaching assistants are Spanish. The man in the photocopy room is Polish. The men in the Premises Dept are Eastern European. There are teachers from Ireland, Spain, Eastern Europe and other EU countries. Quite a few students and their families are from Europe. If the NUT had adopted a Brexit policy what would I say to them? The union has concluded that, in order to strike blow against the racism of the EU, we will help an even worse right wing Tory government into office who will then insist you Sod Off Home? What sense could any normal, rational person make of that?

    If you are a racist that message might seem reasonable. If you are a white SWPer with a British passport, Brexit might not appear so much of a problem. For everyone else on the left or in the unions it is a serious threat to the working lives of our friends and co-workers.

    Nevertheless the SWP and Socialist Party are dimly aware that Leave = more racism. No doubt someone has told them so.

    So they have solved their presentational problem by adding an extra delusional twist to their policy. Although Brexit may seem to hand the government on a plate to the Tory right led by Johnson and Gove, in fact it will give us a left Labour government, led by Corbyn. Hey presto! Like magic, like a rabbit from a hat!

    In fact, although Brexit would presumably mean Cameron would lose the leadership of his Party, it is unlikely that the government would fall (it would require a no confidence vote). Even if Brexit did lead to an election, given a Leave vote would give a massive boost to the right in British politics the left would hardly be in a position to take advantage. The right would make gains in an election that came after a vote to Leave.

    So why do people like the SWP and SP add an extra layer of delusion – vote to Leave and get a Corbyn government! – to shore up their Left Leave position? Because to do otherwise would mean examining their basic framework which says any damage to capitalism and the Tories is good for us. Having a close look at that framework would be difficult and dangerous (because it would lead to an unravelling of a lot of other positions they hold).

    They find it easier to plod on, no matter what damage is done to rational left politics

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      You’ve posted exactly the same, word-for-word article already.

      I think you need to change your tone Jim. Your foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical indignation at the sheer effrontery that anyone should dare to hold a different opinion to yours won’t persuade anyone.

      The fact is that opinion on the left is quite divided over the EU, but that needn’t make us sworn enemies.

      Why not tone down the ridiculous accusations you’re making and instead engage in some sensible discussion?

      I know you’re capable of intelligent argument, so stop making yourself sound foolish.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        “Your foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical indignation at the sheer effrontery that anyone should dare to hold a different opinion to yours won’t persuade anyone”: well, we managed to persuade the majority in Unite, the majority in the Labour Party, and finally Jeremy himself.

        Foaming-at-the mouth or not, we are winning the debate on the left hands down, Karl. And my local (south Birmingham) Momentum group *still* can’t find anyone from “Exit Left” willing to debate us. Draw your own conclusions, comrades …

      2. Jim Denham says:

        PS: “To leave error unrefuted is to encourage intellectual immorality.”

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          You’re claiming that a ‘leave’ vote will result in the immediate deportation of every non-British EU citizen from the UK.

          Can you substantiate that claim?

          1. Jim Denham says:

            “The immediate deportation of every non-British EU citizen”? I do not, anywhere say that, Karl: the nearest quote I can find from anything I’ve posted is the London teacher’s article, where he (or she) writes, “If the NUT had adopted a Brexit policy what would I say to them? The union has concluded that, in order to strike blow against the racism of the EU, we will help an even worse right wing Tory government into office who will then insist you Sod Off Home? ”

            That may be a bit of polemical hyperbole, but the essential point is sound: Brexit will certainly and inevitably strengthen racism, embolden the hard right and raise questions about the right of non-British EU citizens to remain: in fact this is already happening. The wilful blindness of the little-England “left” to all this is – politically – criminally irresponsible.

  9. Bazza says:

    Brilliant speech by Jeremy, and for all left wing democratic socialists who have international ambitions for the working class/working people. We need to be in there with our brothers and sisters in the EC to try try to transform it onto a Social Europe and World. WE NEED TO BE IN IT TO WIN IT!

    1. verity says:

      I find it difficult to grasp why it considered we are there with our ‘brothers and sisters’ rather than ‘there’ will some of the most reactionary regimes Europe has seen in recent history. Should our brothers and sisters be delighted to have Cameron fighting for their solidarity? In what way do our brothers and sisters gain from working class solidarity from the EU institutions?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        The a-b-c socialist starting point is to be for fewer and weaker borders, not more and stronger ones. Of course international working class solidarity is not dependent upon the EU, but for sure Britain exiting and the dismantling of the EU will hinder, not help internationalism and solidarity. The basic socialist position is to build on the gains (inadequate and limited as they may be) achieved by capitalism and the bourgeoisie, not to go backwards to more primitive economic and/or social arrangements. Marx explained this rather well ion the Communist Manifesto, especially the section on Reactionary Socialism.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          You’ve twice claimed that non-British EU citizens will be booted out of the UK immediately after we vote to leave.

          But when challenged, you’re totally unable to substantiate your scare-mongering claim.

          You’ve also claimed that if we vote to leave, we’ll then leave the European Human Rights Convention – again, totally untrue.

          You’ve also claimed that the EU invented all the rights that workers currently have – again, a complete invention.

          Do you have anything else?

          1. Jim Denham says:

            I have *never* made such simplistic claims Karl, and would be interested to see your evidence. What I *have* said is that Brexit will threaten all recent immigrants (whether from the EU or not), all ethnic minorities, strengthen racism and make deportations much more likely. All that is obviously thje case. It is also the case that exactly the same right-wing forces who are leading the Brexit movement and in the event that it wins, will be the beneficiaries, have made no secret of the fact that they have the European Human Rights convention in their sights. The record of the EU on equality and employment legislation is there as a matter of record: only a wilfully self-blinded sectarian can deny it. I repeat, the “left exit” fantasists who seek to deny these obvious political realities are (politically) criminally irresponsible.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            (Reply to JimD 2.55pm)

            …I see, so when you say something “will” happen, what you really mean is that it “might” happen?

            In terms of a general anti-immigrant political environment, that exists already JimD. And it’s a view held equally by pro-EU right-wingers as with anti-EU right-wingers.

            On Saturday, there were people from the left, from the anti-EU left, giving our leaflets promoting a solidarity trip to Calais. So that disproves your ignorant point that all anti-EU people are anti-immigrant racists.

            Anti-immigrant views are held by both pro- and anti- people.

            And the opposite point of view is held equally by both pro- and anti- EU left-wing people.

            Your repeated attempts to smear the left-wing anti-EU people with the lying accusation of racism and anti-immigrant views is getting more and more pathetic.

        2. James Martin says:

          Varoufakis and Syriza screwed the Greek working class due to their total inability to actually oppose the EU, so forgive me if I do not take him too seriously now.

          1. David Pavett says:

            It would be really great to have a debate on the left in which no one uses an ad hominem argument to try to justify not listening to a point of view.

            “total inability to actually oppose the EU” sounds like something from the Dave Spart school of political rhetoric.

            Describing Varoufakis in that shows little knowledge of his role up to the Greek cave-in to the EU, or his actions since that point.

        3. Jim Denham says:

          Right, Karl, I’ll deal with your points in order:

          1/You say “…I see, so when you say something “will” happen, what you really mean is that it “might” happen?”

          I say: Political people use our judgement, experience and knowledge of how the political process and the media interacts with public opinion, to reach informed judgements about the future. We do not, of course, have crystal balls: but that doesn’t mean we can’t make informed predictions. And anyone who thinks Brixit won’t fuel racism is, in my opinion, an idiot.

          2/ You say: “In terms of a general anti-immigrant political environment, that exists already JimD. And it’s a view held equally by pro-EU right-wingers as with anti-EU right-wingers.”

          I say: The fact that anti-immigrant feeling already exists doesn’t mean that it can’t get worse: would you. for instance use that argument as a reason why there’s no point campaigning against the EDL? And your claim that anti- and pro- EU’ers are equally anti immigration is simply *not true*: the entire anti-EU case is based around opposition to immigration, whereas pro-EU Tories (for their own reasons) are relatively relaxed about immigration.

          3/ You say: “On Saturday, there were people from the left, from the anti-EU left, giving our leaflets promoting a solidarity trip to Calais. So that disproves your ignorant point that all anti-EU people are anti-immigrant racists.”

          I say: The fact that a very few, confused people (mainly SWP’s) are trying to square the circle and combine their own personal anti-racism with an anti-EU position, has no bearing whatsoever upon the reality of the politics: these people are well meaning idiots, detached from reality and seemingly unaware of the consequences of their anti-EU posturing. They are so unrepresentative as to be meaningless. A much more representative picture of the anti-EU “left” can be obtained from the anti-immigration letters hat regularly appear in the Morning Star, and from No2EU (and RMT, etc)’s obsession with “social dumping”.

          3/ You say: “Anti-immigrant views are held by both pro- and anti- people. …
          And the opposite point of view is held equally by both pro- and anti- EU left-wing people.”

          I say: there is no such equivalence: the anti-EU campaign is essentially anti-immigrant, and this even infects the “left” (again, I urge you to check out the letters page of the Morning Star). Tiom think that racism and anti-immigrant sentiment is to be found equally on both sides of the debate is patent nonsense.

          4/ You say “Your repeated attempts to smear the left-wing anti-EU people with the lying accusation of racism and anti-immigrant views is getting more and more pathetic.”

          I say: Your wilful disregard of the fuel you would be giving to racists and nationalists, if they needed you mand took any notice of you – which they don’t – is criminally irresponsible and a disgrace to the left. It is also a disgrace to rational, informed politics.

  10. David Pavett says:

    I hope that everyone who thinks that Brexit is a desirable option listens to this Varoufakis/Jones interview

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mIjfyGIO4xA

    1. James Martin says:

      Yes David, and this is also the rightward moving Owen Jones who last year was calling for Brexit and now supports staying in. As for Varoufakis I would much rather take the opinion of the militant Greek trade union federation PAME than someone who was a part of the Syriza EU sell out of Greek workers.

  11. John Penney says:

    I thought Jeremy’s “Stay in and change the EU in a Socialist direction with our sister Left parties and trades unions” was excellent. It is not insignificant however that the entire political thrust and detail emphasis of Jeremy’s speech was utterly at odds with ANY of the entirely uncritical, non analytical, non-socialist speeches by any other(non Corbynite) PLP member, Labour grandee, or indeed trades union leader. This does matter. The Stay IN. Campaign is just as much limited to the neoliberal consensus narrative as the OUT campaign is (with OUT overlaid with more xenophobia, racism, and a carefully hidden evenn more rabid neoliberal agenda).

    It was quite noticeable that the BBC and Sky et al were careful to edit out all the socialist politics from Jeremy’s speech in news bulletins later in the day. So let’s not kid ourselves on the radical Left , that any sort of socialist “take” either for IN or OUT is getting a mass hearing during this intellectually stunted national “debate” – which Tory and Labour PLP participants are only to willing to donate ent irely on the reactionary turf of the neoliberal capitalist consensus. Indeed I would defy anyone to tell which politician is from which party during these carefully limited to the neoliberal status quo pseudo arguments between the archetypal “two baldie men arguing over a comb”.

    Jeremy’s excellent socialist speech won’t change that reality one iota. And his tactical need to justify supporting the otherwise utterly neoliberal, non socialist , motivations and justifications of the PLP majority and the trades union bureaucracy’s , for staying in the unreformable neoliberalism enforcing EU, with his own socialist justifications , doesn’t alter for a moment either the reactionary nature of the EU, or the futility in thinking it can be reformed .

    1. Bazza says:

      Verity and John you perhaps need to have a bit more faith in the international working class/working people.
      I believe left wing democratic socialist forces in every EC country can fight to kick Neo-Liberalism out (especially if we link up) or we otherwise just give up and run away.
      Our forefathers and mothers from the Chartists to trade unions to the birth of Labour fought against the powerful for reforms and concessions like council housing, the welfare state, the NHS etc. etc. and they were concessions to buy them off but benefitted millions.
      I believe Neo-Liberalism is a temporary phenomenum (and 30 years is a short time in history).
      And I believe it may be coming to and end and internationally we continue fight for left wing democratic socialism; it may be a working class thing but you always daily work for it and always believe in hope.
      It may be an old fashioned thing to say but I still belive it is true: “Workers of the World unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” and Marx did not say, “Oh and for those of you in the UK – Workers of the UK unite only!”
      I have spelt out many times before different models of and the benefits of democratic public ownership such as better services, and along with the economists on here I agree with state led public investment, and I would add and windfall taxes on big business and more taxes on the rich and capital.
      And when this works (along with more dynamic business and entrepreneurship in its broadest sense) and as we sort out the global economy as a transition, we then (left wing democratic socialist forces all over the World) consult working humanity to work out together a fairer, non-exploitative, greener, economic system where we also harness technology to benefit human kind.
      Then hopefully we will only need to work 20 hours a week with good pay to meet our needs (as Marx argued) and humanity will be free.
      I am free from the Neo-Liberal straight jacket which stops some of the left from dreaming and I have a healthy problem – I am globally ambitious for global working people; I am an optimist and may be niaive but perhaps so were our brothers and sisters from the past who dreamt of an NHS etc.
      Capital is now international and we need to be too!
      But you really need the vision and confidence to transform our society and work with others ON OUR SIDE to transform the World – and I do.
      Politics perhaps is simple; the rich and powerful globally nick the surplus labour of the working billions and we (lead by left wing democratic socialist forces in every country who work WITH and not FOR working people) need to get this wealth back.
      International solidarity!

      1. Bazza says:

        Just to humanise this a bit when I go abroad I love to go into local bars, restaurants and mix internationally and it’s a great experience.
        1m UK citizens have homes in Spain for example
        and whilst there are 2m EC migrant UK workers in the UK there are 2.1m UK citizens working and living in other parts of the EC.
        But I have always argued we need to try to trade unionise migrant workers so they can’t be used by unscrupulous employers to undercut wages and this would help to build community solidarity.
        Just a thought and why not get Unite Community branches to try to recruit refugees and asylum seekers.
        Just some food for thought.

      2. Verity says:

        In relation to international solidarity of working people – of course at some point we anticipate that the struggles of each nation will coincide. However at the moment the struggles exist in different contexts, have different histories with different alliances of forces. If you have ever tried to get solidarity in Newcastle and Dorset alone, you will know how difficult and often unrealistic it is to achieve – outside of major transformational contract changes. So how realistic is it that within the next few years we would we bring about solidarity between health workers in Kent and health workers who have never heard of a public health system in Slovenia. Workers struggles are based upon conditions familiar and well understood. Whilst distinct campaigns can be generalised, none are made common with the series of institutions set up by government treaties. When we see unilateral solidarity across Europe we see the start of these generalities, but remote decision forces by EU institutions in no way makes this solidarity more likely. Again there is some conflation of Europe with the EU.

  12. Karl Stewart says:

    The trouble with arguing ‘remain and reform’ is that ‘reform’ can mean absolutely anything.

    For Tories such as Cameron and Osborne, ‘remain and reform’ means try to take the EU in a more neo-liberal direction.

    For those who are anti-immigration, such as Yvette Cooper, ‘remain and reform’ means reducing cross-border migration.

    And yes, there are also some on the left, for whom ‘reform’ means trying to move all 28 member states in a left-wing direction.

    What I really don’t understand is why ‘remain’ socialists think that achieving a left advance across 28 different countries simultaneously is easier than achieving a left advance in the UK.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Because ‘Socialism in One Country’ has been tried and it failed – rather disastrously.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I’d amend that a bit to say ‘…in one country at a time.”

        Isn’t that how things tend to happen? Rather than absolutely simultaneously?

        1. Jim Denham says:

          You’re just being silly now, Karl.

      2. John Penney says:

        Yes “Socialism in one country” did prove a world historic disaster , Jim. But is autarkic Albanian-style “Socialism in one country” actually what Karl is recommending here in relation to the EU ? I think not. And I think you know that too.

        The current (very recently adopted) Jeremy Corbyn, and overwhelming majority of Left Futures participating debaters, position is that we should stay in the EU – albeit recognising its many negative neoliberal features – but link up with our sister parties across Europe to fight for pro working class change. A position I held myself for decades – until the ruthless demolition of the Syriza government’s attempts to defy the Austerity agenda of the Troika, and the imminent adoption of the decisively national sovereignty destroying TTIP, and the now quite clear determination of the EU to enforce a ” Global competitiveness agenda” on the working class that will , if successful , reduce our wages and rights to those of the unfortunate migrant workers in China’s Guandong Province, persuaded me otherwise.

        Despite all the wishful thinking and Leftie rhetoric about “linking up with sister parties across the EU frontiers to fight Austerity together”, where was this cross border solidarity evident when the Greek people and Syriza were begging for help last year ? Nowhere, that’s where. And why is that ? Because the Left and trades unions are simply not organised on a all-EU basis and the UK and other EU nation states working classes are not self identifying or motivated as yet to fight any struggle on a cross border multinational basis. I wish reality was different. I wish we had a well organised all EU party of the Left with a real social base which could be mobilised to fight austerity in a co-ordinated way. This doesn’t exist. The European Left Party , and link ups with trades unions are just a loose arrangement of a few Left/union leaders – with no real mobilising ability whatsoever.

        The EU-wide struggles against Austerity, TTIP, reductions in labour rights are all in fact still fought on the base of the existing nation states. This won’t change in the foreseeable future.

        To suggest that some “all EU amalgamated Left and trades union movement” is going to get together to change the EU is pure fantasy – a form of “substitutionism” whereby the current difficulty we have in effective mass working class mobilisation against Austerity in the UK is wished away in favour of a pious hope for “EU wide solidarity action”. The currently utterly impotent UK trades union bureaucracy (with a few rare exceptions) are the worst example of this substitutionism – with the now utterly neoliberal EU bureaucracy and its puppet parliament ludicrously held up as the key guarantor of the continuance of various pro working class rights and benefits – rather than the mobilisation of active trades union militant strike action !

        Recognising the ongoing intent of the now fully neoliberal, unreformable, EU structure, to peel away all the positive legislative labour protective measures of the last 30 years in the cause of “Globally competitive reforms” means that socialists need to “wake up and smell the coffee” about the impossibility of changing the EU for the better. We also need to recognise that , unfortunately, the arena of UK working class struggle is currently only the UK nation state . Everything else is pie in the sky wishful thinking. Across the EU there are no effective working class “vehicles of struggle” to oppose TTIP and ever deeper Austerity. However,on the platform of the UK nation state mass working class resistance and power actually built all our current workers rights (they weren’t a gift from the EC/EU bureaucracy – despite what cowardly trades union leaders like to suggest , to justify sabotaging real mass struggle at home) and can be successful in the future . And the flawed bourgeois democratic parliamentary institutions of the UK nation state can still be a key instrument of this progressive struggle. Unlike the utter façade democracy of the hugely complex, and utterly alien to most UK workers, EU institutions.

        1. Jim Denham says:

          John, there is all the difference in the world between a leftist government being obstructed from a broadly Keynesian by the EU and a right wing government wishing to free itself from EU “regulation” and “red tape” – as would be the case in Britain, post-Brexit. Can you not see this?

          1. John Penney says:

            Jim, you seem to see the EU as simply “obstructing” the now vitally necessary radical transformative Keynsian Left programme (I’m not suggesting any revolutionary socialist intent ) of a future Corbyn government. Well they will certainly do that, with ruthless determination – as they destroyed the radical very short first phase of the Syriza government – and turned it into a craven Troika catspaw to enforce Austerity, under its Greek Ramsay Macdonald, Alex Tsipras.. They won’t have the Euro-based powers in the UK’s case to sabotage a Left government – but everything else will be thrown in to derail any divergence from the neoliberal norm.

            And what cross border solidarity action from the European working classes can a UK Left government realistically expect ? About as much help in real concrete, effective, terms as the Greeks got, and as much as the French working class currently engaged in a nationwide struggle against Hollande’s attempt to introduce major “Labour Market Reforms” on workers rights, has received in terms of solidarity action from the UK Left or labour movement. That is – precisely nothing.

            You ignore the harsh reality that the EU is not a organisation in stasis – instead it is responding to the global economic crisis, and ever sharper inter economic bloc global competition, on a solidly neoliberal platform, by working to reduce European wage rates and living conditions and workers rights ever closer to the global competitive norm – ie, the dire conditions of Chinese, Vietnamese or Indonesian workers. The EU is no longer any sort of bulwark at all against the stripping away of our hard won rights and wage levels.

            If the UK votes to Leave the EU – of course on no sort of progressive programme at all – or any sort of honestly explained neoliberal programme either of course – it will overwhelmingly be on the basis of the mass desire by huge numbers of the UK public to reduce the current level of essentially unrestricted migration from the EU – nothing else. All the “getting our sovereignty back” verbiage is just “Dog Whistle” allusions to that vast “elephant in the room” of current UK politics. So a victory for “Leave” will be a victory for racists and xenophobes – but in no way a mandate for the crazed neoliberals (like the uber “privatise the world” guru, John Redwood) in the Tory Party and UKIP who front up most of the “leave” Campaign – and who may, or may not, then seize control of the Tory Party, and hence the government.

            So what happens if a new uber Right neoliberal Tory government goes for broke to transform the UK to its wet dream ideal (though how different that could be from the current ambition of the current Cameron/Osborne government to privatise everything is a moot point)? Answer – the Labour Movement FIGHTS the bastards ! The labour movement, particularly the dormant trades union “leadership” is driven by the growing Corbynite Left off their comfortably pensioned, overpaid, fat arses to actually lead a nationwide fight against this ever accelerating neoliberal offensive. The reality is that , in France, or Greece, or Portugal, solidarity in words from sister parties abroad is very nice – but in reality these struggles all happen on the distinct territory of each nation state – and the EU framework actually offers NOTHING but a bureaucratic and undemocratic swamp to delay and distract and provide bogus “it’s the EU rules – what can we do ? ” excuses to craven political leaders looking for reasons not to mobilise class forces on their own national turf” to fight Austerity and undemocratic impositions like TTIP.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            John: how will Brexit help the present struggle for social democratic, Keynesian aims?It won’t: by your own admission, it will strengthen the racist, nationalist right. As and when we get a social democratic government, we can take on any obstructions placed in our way be the EU. Campaigning for exit now can only be a reactionary diversion. How does tacking “Out of the EU” onto the end of out list of demands help *any* progressive cause or campaign at the moment?

        2. Verity says:

          I still cannot see why working class struggles across the continent become more generalised by the existence of the EU treaties and its institutions. What has the EU got to do with the generalisation of demands across Europe? The EU is a not proportionate parliament, it is a set of treaties giving favour to a capitalist organisation of capital and labour combined with opaque tiers of institutions and cronyism that only mystifies the sources of decision making.

          1. John Penney says:

            Jim, you simply haven’t responded to the points I have made in my contribution at all.

            Instead you have created a “straw man” , ie, the “strengthening of the racist, nationalist right” threat , as if this in any way answered any of my points.

            Let’s look at this “Far Right Threat” a bit, Jim. In reality, despite the undoubted reactionary crude “anti migrant” nature of what, I suspect, will be a significant element in the “Out” vote, how real is the threat that an “Out” victory will actually mobilise forces for the hard Far Right ? The BNP as a potential mass electoral force is now long dead , and UKIP is a shambolic populist party of the right , not fascist. And the “Outist” Tory Right are a bunch of complete con artists when it comes to migration – Big Business and little business will not tolerate turning off the mass worker migrant tap , in or out of the EU. So Bigots will be sorely disappointed by a winning “Out” vote.

            Not that I subscribe purely undifferentiated racist motivations to every UK citizen concerned about the sheer scale and speed and impact of EU migration to the UK over the last 20 years or so – this is a convenient conception by the Left to avoid addressing the issue of unlimited migration in other than an (actually impossible to operationalise) absolutist, unconditional, “everyone is welcome here” form. When did a socialist planned economy , even a mixed economy with substantial comprehensive planning , assume either free movement of capital OR unlimited free movement of labour into or out of its national planned economy ?)

            The “strengthened Right” threat you counterpose to the undoubted permanent neoliberal enforcing threat of the EU , is actually largely bogus – IF the newly Left oriented Labour Party can offer a radical transformational programme to offer real hope to fight Austerity . And that remains the case whether the UK votes to Leave or Remain in the EU.

          2. John P Reid says:

            well said

          3. Jim Denham says:

            I think I’ve set my views (roughly the same as Corbyn’s and Len McCluskey’s) out clearly enough for you to have no excuse for misunderstanding or misrepresenting them, Karl.

        3. Jim Denham says:

          “how real is the threat that an “Out” victory will actually mobilise forces for the hard Far Right ? The BNP as a potential mass electoral force is now long dead , and UKIP is a shambolic populist party of the right , not fascist. And the “Outist” Tory Right are a bunch of complete con artists when it comes to migration – Big Business and little business will not tolerate turning off the mass worker migrant tap , in or out of the EU. So Bigots will be sorely disappointed by a winning “Out” vote.”

          You seem very relaxed about the racist onslaught you are, in effect, in favour of unleashing, John.

          Just because it will not be the (now more or less defunct) BNP who will unleash this, in the event of Brexit, doesn’t make it any tHe less horrible: quite the contrary, the very fact that it will be the Tory right (backed up by Ukip) will make this carnival of reaction all the worse. The little England “left” is presently playing a disgusting and shameful role in the EU debate (even though nobody’s listening to them): one day, whatever the result of the referendum, these people will be held to account for their politically criminal irresponsibility.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            You do seem quite obsessive in your pro-EU stance Jim.

            Is every non-EU member state under a vicious fascist regime on Planet Denman?

            Do you really see the only alternatives here as either membership of the neo-liberal EU or some kind of neo-nazi nightmare?

          2. Jim Denham says:

            I think I’ve set my views (roughly the same as Corbyn’s and Len McCluskey’s) out clearly enough for you to have no excuse for misunderstanding or misrepresenting them, Karl.

          3. John Penney says:

            “racist onslaught”, Jim ? Come on now, get a bit of a grip. If the “out” Campaign wins there will not be a torchlit parade of a few hundred thousand Nazi stormtroopers past a balcony in Whitehall with Boris Johnson and Gove and Farage saluting from it, now will there ? Be honest. Be honest. Nor in reality will their be a “Kristaalnacht” event against Mosques the following evening. Racists will for a short while expect there to be a slowdown in migration numbers – but will be sorely disappointed – as a non-EU member UK under neoliberalism will be just as keen to draw in unlimited numbers of “free” (produced at no cost to the UK) migrant workers , as a neoliberal UK in the EU.

            If all you can counterpose as an argument to the reality that the EU is now a fully undemocratic neoliberal enforcement vehicle for globalised capitalism, is a quite hysterical claim that a victory for “Leave” will usher in a nationwide wave of racist violence, then I suggest you have a long lie down in a dark room for a while.

          4. Karl Stewart says:

            (reply to JimD 8.35am yesterday)

            Your position is very different to those of Corbyn and Clucky Len, who both set out criticisms of the EU, but argued that, on balance, each of them think staying in is better than leaving.

            I disagree with them both, but neither of them has expressed anything like your obsessive pro-EU hysteria.

            Neither of them has predicted a neo-nazi coup on June 24th, followed by a ‘cristallnacht’ of nationwide racist attacks, followed by immediate deportations of all non-UK passport holders.

            My view is that we should exit left. encourage people of other EU member states to do likewise and, together with people of other countries – European nad non European – create alternative, progressive and people-first, systems of international trade and commerce.

            I fully accept that this is not a majority view at this time, and that, right now, a ‘remain’ vote is looking more likely than a ‘leave’ vote. But I think the exit-left needs to continue arguing our positive case.

            But if ‘remain’ does win, none of us are forecasting the end of civilisation as we know it, it’ll simply be a disappointing result, after which we’ll continue arguing the case for a better, more progressive and people-first internationalist alternative.

          5. Jim Denham says:

            John, you and Karl are just being silly now: I have not predicted a “Kristaalnacht” event against Mosques the evening following Brexit, or an immediate wave of neo-fascist racist violence. But even you have admitted that Brexit will involve (in your words) “the undoubted reactionary crude “anti migrant” nature of what, I suspect, will be a significant element in the “Out” vote

            So, presumably, you think that’s a price worth paying?

  13. Jim Denham says:

    A very thoughtful article (and I don’t know who the author is): the last couple of paragraphs are especially apposite for any deluded “left” outers:

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/michael-chessum/bbc-is-failing-to-inspire-public-to-vote-in-eu-referendum

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      This article by Giles Fraser highlights how the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy operates as a subsidy to wealthy landowners. Fraser calls it ‘socialism for the rich’.

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2016/apr/21/why-our-landed-gentry-are-so-desperate-to-stay-in-the-eu

  14. David Pavett says:

    The left argument against EU membership (from the above) is largely about sovereignty (the EU is seen as preventing a future left-wing government from carrying out left-wing policies).

    The argument for Remain is that we would be more constrained by our own right-wing forces out of the EU than we are by the restrictions of remaining as members). Labour has been right to avoid a joint campaign with the Tories

    There are, of course, a range of other subsidiary issues but that seem to be the essence of the argument – if I may be so bold as to reduce things in this way.

    How can we evaluate the Brexit case?

    We need to ask just how likely it is that left-wing forces would be in an enhanced position after Brexit. It would almost certainly be the final straw regarding Scottish Independence. It would strengthen the hand of the outers in the Tory Party who are on the right of the Party. So we could end up with Boris Johnson as PM and Gove in some elevated position. And all the while the troublesome issues of free movement would still be with us if we want to be a trading partner of the EU.

    The Remain stance starts out from the above scenario and then considers the EU, what it allows and doesn’t allow and the extent to which it is possible to successfully oppose its neo-liberal bias. The EU is seen as an arena for struggle rather than a neo-liberal monolith. Some of its economic assumptions are deeply neo-liberal but at the same time it has agreed on environmental standards and employment regulations that no neo-liberal would recommend. It should be seen therefore as a battle ground rather than as a machine uniquely designed for advancing a right-wing agenda.

    Left Brexiters should ask themselves what the likelihood is that we would have similar environmental protection and labour regulations from a British government.

    Then they need to tell us under what terms we would trade with the EU after leaving.

    They should say if we are more or less likely to have a social democratic, let alone socialist, government after Scottish independence.

    Also I think that they should say how they see the development of the UK finance sector after Brexit. Would the UK be able to maintain its position with the rest of Europe? Would there not be an inevitable flow of business from the UK to the EU (probably to Germany)?

    What argument would they present to the other left and centre-left parties in the EU who want us to stay and fight for change with them? Labour has generally been weak on UK matters but Labour with a strengthened left could start to take initiatives and to take up those of others as a force for reform of the EU. Labour talks of reform but never tells us exactly what it means. A real reform programme could galvanise a general feeling that the EU is to a very large extent dominated by the interests of the rich and powerful.

    Another factor is that the EU is clearly in a state of impending crisis itself. There is deep disenchantment with it across Europe. The Euro project was untenable from the start and could collapse. It is even possible that this could bring about a greater collapse of the EU itself. Then what? Which would be most likely in that even a resurgence of left or right-wing forces across Europe? Would it not be far better to be acting with other left and centre-left forces within the EU in such a crisis situation?

    P.S. The clear majority of Labour MPs, party members and supporters favour Remain by a large margin. Why do left Brexiters think this is?

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      I look forward to John Penney’s reply to David’s questions. On the other points that he raises in his various contributions: There is, as he says, no powerful EU wide political or TU organisation, but neither is it to be dismissed.Some of the Left parties get up to 15% of the vote in their national elections, with Greens often doing just as well. John is hardly going to say that we should not encourage pan EU movements, but the effect of Brexit would be the reverse.
      The EU is not unreformable, it is as David has said an arena of struggle. Neoliberalism remains powerful, but economists such as Piketty and Stiglitz are arguing for reflationary change, which has to happen if the EU is not to disintegrate.
      Brexit could wellhelp facilitate such disintegration, leaving political space for the populist/nationalist rightwho as John knows are powerful in a number of countries and could well win the French presidency. No they are not ( yet) fascist, but they are headed in that direction, while the genuine article ( Golden Dawn, Jobbik) wait in the wings.Tio dismiss all this is wrong.

    2. John Penney says:

      I’m currently writing a piece for submission on the (non revolutionary) Left Brexit case, David , so I’ll just take up your last question about Labour MP’s and the membership. There are a number of issues here. As to the position of most PLP members – they are with very, very, few exceptions , individuals without a scintilla of socialist politics in their bones. That is the legacy of 30 years of neoliberal takeover in the Labour Party. Most of the PLP are completely at one with pretty much every argument the Tory “Stay In” camp puts forward. To the extent that it is often impossible when the “stay” case is being put forward to determine who is a Tory and who is Labour. That is because most of the PLP today share exactly the same ideological framework as the Tories – and they only differ as to which party should be in office to gain the spoils. The Labour Party specifically backed the disastrously sovereignty destroying neoliberal TTIP Deal as “a good thing for the UK” in the 2015 General Election ! So pardon me for not being at all surprised that the PLP majority back continued membership of the EU.

      The tiny PLP Left and wider Labour Left are a different matter. I think Jeremy set out this case very well in his speech. Those arguments to “stay in” are principled and the result of a tactical judgement. For many holding to this position it is not even a case of “Stay In – forever” – but more a case of “Now isn’t the time to leave – better to be forced to leave under a radical Left labour Government”. I can certainly see that as a tactical argument. Whether , after voting in 2016 to Stay, a Labour Government facing relentless opposition and sabotage, “Greece-style”, to its radical Left Keynsian regeneration programme, would find it at all easy to leave, in the face of relentless mass media claims that it has no mandate for leaving – after the 2016 “Stay” vote, is a very moot point.

      As to the Labour Party membership. This is a very non-homogenous group to make uniform opinion statements about – and most will just be following the (very apolitical ) majority, Blairite neoliberal-dominated pro EU PLP “line” – not even the nuanced “”Corbynist” position.

      I have been amazed at just how unaware even the activists in my own branch are about TTIP, or the role of the Troika in the Greek debacle, never mind the overwhelming majority of inactive local members. I suspect that within the Left of the activist Labour Party members there is not such an overwhelming majority for the “Stay In” position. However, Momentum has done no survey of its database of supporters to determine if this is the case – so that remains mere supposition.

      So I don’t think the mere fact that most of the ( nowadays essentially ideologically neoliberal – certainly not socialist) PLP back continued EU membership, or that the largely politically inactive Labour Party membership follow this “Line” actually proves anything about the validity of the “Stay” position in itself. The majority are often quite wrong historically.

      1. David Pavett says:

        John, I hesitated on my last question because I was aware that it was the weakest of the ones I put and because I suspected that it would elicit something like the answer you have now given. What I had in mind was inadequately expressed so it is understandable that have answered something else. What I was thinking was not really “can most mps and most members be wrong?” Clearly they can. It was more a question of “How do you think they have all come to such a disastrously wrong conclusion and how would you use that knowledge to persuade them otherwise?”

        To that question your answer seems to be “It’s because they are all infected with neo-liberal ideology”. If that is your view then it poses a real problem for the left Brexit case.

        We all know that there are battles which have to be fought even though we know that defeat, at least for the time being, is the most likely outcome. Lessons are learned, a movement is kept alive, people are engaged etc., etc. But there are also times when such an approach is completely irresponsible. Calling for strike action when it does not have the clear support of the majority of those involved is an example. That sort of defeat that can result can be deeply damaging for a long period afterwards. In those circumstances, when you know that strike action, for example, does not have clear majority support (if it is likely to be a hard battle you need a lot mire than 50%+1) then it is better not support action even if you think the battle needs to be fought (the key weakness in the minors’ strike of ’84/85).

        Look at Brexit from that angle. The real pressure for it comes from right-wing forces. The majority of Labour members and supporters are against it, for whatever reason. In those circumstances exit would be doubly disorientating: (1) a triumphant right would have taken the initiative and won with a series of unpleasant consequences; (2) the centre and the left will experience this as a defeat, however pleased a minority on the left might be.

        My conclusion is that however strong the case agsinst the EU (and we all agree that there is much that is deeply wrong with it) now is not the time. Better to go with the flow of majority centre/left opinion and see what can be done fighting for EU reform. If that battle becomes clearly hopeless then a centre/left majority would need to be built to call for exit. There is no question of forever and a day judgements on this. None of us knows what the politics of Europe will look like in ten years time.

        That is why I think that Jeremy Corbyn hit just the right note of sceptical support for Remain.

        As I said, it was my weakest question but I stand by it. Iook forward to seeing my response on the other issues I raised.

        P.S. It’s a debate for another time but I think that your view of the PLP is too sweeping and insufficiently nuanced. There are many who have come to believe that only pandering to the percieved prejudice of the electorate works but who will come over to support a left-wing stance if it is seen to have electoral traction. That may be weak and unsatisfactory but it is the reality we have to work with. Don’t cast them all to the flames of left-wing wrath.

        P.S.2. I think I already answered the point about TTIP in the discussion thread following the article by Peter Rowlands.

        1. John Penney says:

          Hmm, this is going to be a bit embarrassing, David, and Peter, – for me that is.

          In attempting to write a Left Brexit piece I have obviously been examining in some detail the arguments put by a range of “Left – Stay Inners” – particularly the excellent nuanced arguments put by Jeremy Corbyn in his keynote speech. For me In or Out has always been an issue of appropriate tactics in the specific context of June 2016 , not about fundamental socialist principles – as too many debaters on both sides of this argument on the Left have predictably asserted.

          My overall view is still that there is no long term future for the UK within the thoroughly, I think totally unreformable, neoliberal, EU. I believe that a consistent, radical Left Corbyn government in 2020 (or a radical Left government probably under a different, younger, leader in 2025) would meet unrelenting sabotage and general opposition from the EU in attempting to carry out a radical Left Keynsian regeneration programme of economic renewal – such that a serious Left government would inevitably be faced with the choice faced by Syriza in Greece – capitulate – or leave. I do not believe that “solidarity action” between sister Left parties and trades unions, and a few Left-oriented EU governments in this situation would lead to a fundamental reorientation of the EU from its now entirely neoliberalism enforcement role. I also believe that it would be quite possible for a UK outside of the EU, as the 5th largest economy in the world (buying a lot more from the EU than we sell to them) , to negotiate trade deals with the EU and the rest of the world on a perfectly viable, favourable basis.

          I also believe that The TUC/Trades Union bureaucracy are deliberately misrepresenting the EU as a permanent guarantor and protector of fundamental workers rights, to camouflage their own utter gutlessness over 30 years in providing leadership against the neoliberal offensive in the UK – which has hobbled trades union activity with the most repressive legislation in Europe, and seen the greatest transfer of wealth and income to the 1% away from working people since Victorian times. (though no fan of today’s SWP there is a surprisingly good article in this week’s online Socialist Worker, and there have been many too in this general area in the Morning Star, exposing the utter mythology behind TUC Leader Francis O’Grady’s recent claims about the supposed leading guarantor role of the EU in the wide range of employment rights which actually historically were won by UK workers themselves over generations of struggle).

          Having said that, I am very concerned , like you, that a victory for Brexit at present, could hand the Tory government to a mix of racist xenophobes, little Englanders, and Tory uber neoliberal privatisers – masquerading as wanting to “restore UK sovereignty” – whilst actually being just as much in favour of TTIP as the Tory Leadership (and the Labour PLP Right), and Brexit now could well give the ghastly, Left-faking but actually fully neoliberal, petty nationalist SNP the opportunity to pull Scotland out of the UK – something that would massively damage our ability to build a rationally planned socialist economy in the future, and divide and confuse the everyday working class struggle in these islands .

          Therefore, reluctantly, for purely tactical reasons I find myself agreeing with your paragraphs to the effect that :

          quote.

          “The real pressure for it ( ie, BREXIT) comes from right-wing forces. The majority of Labour members and supporters are against it, for whatever reason. In those circumstances exit would be doubly disorientating: (1) a triumphant right would have taken the initiative and won with a series of unpleasant consequences; (2) the centre and the left will experience this as a defeat, however pleased a minority on the left might be.

          My conclusion is that however strong the case against the EU (and we all agree that there is much that is deeply wrong with it) now is not the time. Better to go with the flow of majority centre/left opinion and see what can be done fighting for EU reform. If that battle becomes clearly hopeless then a centre/left majority would need to be built to call for exit. There is no question of forever and a day judgements on this. None of us knows what the politics of Europe will look like in ten years time.

          That is why I think that Jeremy Corbyn hit just the right note of sceptical support for Remain.”

          end of quote.

          So I still firmly think the UK will eventually have to leave, or will be expelled from, the utterly unreformable, EU, if it elects eventually a radical Left government – which I believe it will do – given the huge global economic storms ahead – which will shatter the existing political frameworks in the UK, and most of Europe too – and often not in a progressive direction.

          But this is an issue of time-specific tactical appropriateness – today. And in the specific context of June 2016, I have reluctantly come round to the conclusion that , as you say, we on the left have to just “go with the flow” in supporting Jeremy’s nuanced and principled position – whilst being very aware that the radical Left socialist case , either for Leaving OR Staying actually has gained no mass hearing in the campaign at all. The billionaire owned mass media has made sure of that. As has the fact that the overwhelming majority of the PLP shares all of the ideological assumptions and values of the Tory leadership.

          1. David Pavett says:

            John, you may well be right about the medium to long-term prospects for the EU but, as you know, a big unpredictability factor, has to go into any such evaluation.

            I agree with you about the generally gutless trade union stance on this question. The TUC initial reaction to the announcement of a referendum was absurd and without any discernible underlying principle. I have never shared the general view on the Labour left that the TUs are some kind of guarantor of a more ‘rooted’ and left stance on major political questions.

            Glad that we agree too on the problems that Brexit in the near future would bring.

          2. Peter Rowlands says:

            John, your change in stance does not surprise me because you are clearly a serious thinker about politics. Where I still disagree with you is over what I regard as your misplaced optimism about the chances of survival of a left government in the UK if one were to be elected in 2020, and a neoliberal EU was still in place. It would stand no chance. The EU itself and global capital would see to that. However, I think that Varoufakis is right in saying that without change the EU will disintegrate. Brexit would help that, but it could happen anyway. By 2020 there may not be an EU to leave!

          3. John Penney says:

            That’s a very gloomy prognosis for the chances of a successful Corbyn government in 2020, Peter. I’m not saying you are wrong – but surely if a radical Left Keynsian government will inevitably be crushed – or forced to utterly sell out on its radical programme(as Mitterrand’s initially quite radical 1980’s French government was, and as Syriza in Greece was , within months of taking office), then all our work to build a new Left-oriented Labour Party and save the UK from utter neoliberal devastation – will be a waste of time.

            Hard to mobilise much enthusiasm from a mass of newly radicalised and participative members on that expectation. I prefer to hope for the best – whilst recognising that the utter collapse of the EU might well be a return to the Europe that was present before 1945 – wracked with territorial, ethnic and trading competition rivalries. The recent turn of most of the former Eastern bloc countries to Far right government, and the very real possibility of the (currently non fascist , but packed out with fascists , and from a deep fascist background) radical populist Right National Front running France on a racist/nationalist and autarkist programme, chills the blood.

            One thing is clear, I think, the world economic stagnation crisis, the now clear profound instability of the entire EU/Eurozone project, and our own additional UK teetering unsustainable housing and debt bubbles, are quite likely to produce an economic and political landscape for the 2020 Election which will be far more challenging than anything the Left has witnessed for generations.

  15. Karl Stewart says:

    One of the interesting points made at the Exit-Left public meeting I went to a few weeks ago was by Lindsey German’s quote from Hillaire Belloc.

    In the best known of his ‘Cautionary Tales for Children’, Belloc tells the story of Jim, who ran away from his carer and was eaten by a lion, and Jim’s father then warns his other children to ‘always keep hold of nurse for fear of finding something worse’.

    In her speech, Lindsey compared Jim’s father to our left-remainers and their dire warnings of doom if we leave the EU.

    To be fair to the Left-Remain advocates, they haven’t yet predicted we’ll all be eaten by lions, but I think Lindsey’s point was well made.

    For left-remain, our only choices are neo-liberalism within the EU or the dangerous possibility of something worse outside the EU.

    It just doesn’t occur to them that there could be something better than membership of the neo-liberal EU.

    In elections, as in any struggle of ideas, of course there’s always the possibility that ideas we don’t like could be expressed, and could win support.

    But we don’t overcome that by retreating from our own ideas and pretending we don’t really hold those views, and hiding behind ideas we don’t really believe in ‘for fear of something worse’.

    This referendum is an opportunity for us to set out our vision of how international relations should operate, according to principles of equality, people-first, public ownership, jobs for all etc.

    (There’s no lion.)

    1. David Pavett says:

      This is the sort of comment that this thread, and the one following the article by Peter Rowlands, started out with. The exchanges have moved on quite a bit since then.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I think both you and Peter have made some strong points in this discussion, but for me, you are both essentially putting forward a viewpoint that hesitates to set out a progressive vision for the future ‘for fear of something worse’.

        My main point is that it is perfectly possible to actively oppose neo-liberalism, while also actively opposing nationalism as well.

        We should not feel obliged to choose the ‘lesser evil’ of the two.

        If one was to apply the logic of this ‘lesser evil’ perspective in general, then we would never argue for socialism.

        As to timing, surely this referendum campaign is exactly the right time for us to be advocating a progressive vision of international relations.

        This campaign period, like an election campaign, is the time when the largest proportion of our people are listening to and considering competing ideas – more than at any other time.

        And so right now is exactly the right time for us to be putting forward a progressive, radical alternative to the neo-liberal EU.

        If we retreat from socialist ideas and hide from the nationalists behind the neo-liberalists, rather than confronting both of them, then we don’t make socialism more likely.

        1. Jim Denham says:

          Karl, it’s emphatically *not* a matter of ‘lesser evilism’ : as far as I’m concerned, it’s a matter of how we get to socialism, and on what programme. It’s a-b-c that socialism must be built on the gains of capitalist development and bouregoise democracy, not be rolling them back (see Marx ‘Communist Manifesto’, especially the sections on Utopian Socialism and Reactionary Socialism.

          Yes the EU project is bureaucratic and in some respects undemocratic, and has sometimes been carried forward at the expense of workers (I’ll leave aside, for now, the pro-worker legislation that it’s also enacted): but so was the industrial revolution and the gradual development of parliamentary democracy in the UK: only an idiot would advocate going back from this towards feudalism or some other regression (the Asiatic mode of production, anyone?).

          Breaking down borders and barriers between workers is part of the socialist programme and we oppose anything that risks separating and dividing workers. For that reason we have to be for a United States of Europe (a federation, in other words). Breaking up the existing capitalist European unity is a step away from that goal and so must be opposed in principle and in practice every step of the way.

          So why does a rag-bag of Stalinists, little Englanders, the SWP and a few of the least progressive members of the PLP, support a supposedly “left” exit campaign? Because they are beholden to the view that any damage done to the capitalists, must – ipso facto – be good for us. Their indifference to the obvious damage that a Brexit would do to working class unity within the UK and across Europe, is proff that these people are dangerously irresponsible and objectively reactionary. They should read Marx, and learn.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            You need to drop the ‘stalinist’ rubbish JimD. It’s a right-wing dogwhistle.

            Apart from that, some reasonably-argued points, albeit I disagree with them.

            In a general sense, I am aware that many Marxists take a view that capitalist development is progressive, but I’m not so sure on that. What about the genocide committed against indigenous Americans by European setters for example?

            For all Marx’s and Lenin’s insights into class struggle etc, they both saw indigenous peoples as ‘backward’ and talked of ‘civilised’ peoples. So although I’m broadly in favour of the Marx-Lenin basic principles, I don’t think one should be uncritical of them.

            (I think Engles was the only one of this group who actually did engage in serious consideration of indigenous peoples)

            Anyway, back to the point, I do agree with this part: “Breaking down borders and barriers between workers is part of the socialist programme and we oppose anything that risks separating and dividing workers” but I simply don’t agree that the EU has anything whatsoever to do with any of this. The EU is a bosses ‘union’ not a people’s union JimD.

            It’s an international CBI or IoD.

            We can leave the neo-liberal EU and continue to build and strengthen links between working-class and progressive organisations across Europe and beyond. Such links existed many decades before the EU existed and will continue long after it.

  16. Verity says:

    Of course if the referendum is lost to the ‘Remainers’ (or perhaps Reformers in the best descriptor), then we ALL have to ‘go along’ with the argument that attempts at reform should be persued no matter how difficult that seems. Personally, I see little prospect of success, given the necessary alignment of uneven (national) circumstances; purposely designed complexity of institutional decision – making; and time lags in thinking amongst both Right and ‘semi-left’ regimes (with very moderate Social Democratic outlook). All this is combined with unanimity of national (arm-twisting) votes. Whilst we cannot predict what may emerge in the future, it also seems to me that the prospect of a second referendum, to correct a ‘wrong – turn’, is even more difficult to see – certainly within the Corbyn leadership lifetime. Of course any such referendum may not come before Corbyn’s 2020 success, although optimistically a disintegration of the Conservative Government is a possibility.

    If there is some emerging commonality of view that an EU acceptance vote does not mean ‘forever’ it will surely be for a long time. During this period if we believed that the EU would not reform sufficiently for it to be a vehicle for socialist advance then surely, ‘going along with’, the mainstream Labour view seems to avoid responsibility to provide leadership to that which was anticipated.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      I agree that if the remainers win the referendum, then there will not be another referendum in our lifetimes.

      I think that what we on the left need to do in the event of a ‘remain’ vote is to continue to push hard for a democratic socialist agenda, and also encourage people of other member states to do the same, and to collectively defy any EU attempts to prevent us.

      And if this leads to our future expulsion from the EU , then lets welcome that and try to take others with us.

      Of course a far, far better outcome would be to vote Exit-Left now.

      1. John Penney says:

        I agree with both you, Karl, and Verity, that a radical Left government could not possibly stay within the EU and implement its programme. I also agree with you both that, given the status quo of the present political and economic set up in the UK, a “Stay” victory this year would be impossible to change for a generation . However the “status quo” is something the ever deepening current global and EU and UK economic and resulting political crisis is constantly undermining , eg the Scottish Independence Referendum was originally even seen by Alex Salmond as “it for a generation” – but now a second referendum is being seriously talked about already (particularly if the UK votes to Leave the EU).

        So I think we on the radical Left , have to think about just how crisis ridden a UK economic and political situation is likely to be for a radical Left Corbyn government to be elected in 2020 (or with a new leader, in 2025). In this febrile situation , and with the EU likely to be in profoundly deep turmoil too, “all bets are off” as to the permanency of any “Stay” victory this year.

        At present I think we on the radical Left just have to accept that the “Out” campaign is hopelessly, overwhelmingly reactionary (not that the overwhelming mainstream “Stay” campaign isn’t too though – including the stance of most of the Tory-mimicking PLP), and we simply cannot be a part of that “side” at present, tactically – because the radical Left Brexit argument is simply nowhere in terms of wide public awareness..

        1. Verity says:

          It is a truer reflection of how weak the Left really is that we have not been able to construct a convincing alternative to the arguments between various brands of Tory outlook. We have been hampered considerably by Corbyn and McDonnell being held hostage. On this occasion though, not just by the Hostiles and Negatives, but by a whole generation of Labour members/Supporters who have not been able to construct a critical alternative case. The overwhelming majority of Labour Supporters have clearly become impotent without ‘their leaders’ demonstrating independence from the dominant Labour acquiescence. For me personally a salvaging of the Labour Left could emerge if Momentum was able to show substance and declare neutrality rather than just being Corbyn/McDonnell fan club. If it declares EU support in the absence of a vote of its membership then the Labour Left really is in trouble.

          1. John Penney says:

            Yes , Verity, like you I hope Momentum doesn’t just suddenly announce its support for “Staying in ” , because there simply isn’t time to explain to the wider public that this is on the basis of the Jeremy Corbyn , not the PLP majority, Tory mimicking , position on the EU , ie, a very grudging, tactical, critical , Yes to staying in to try and radically transform it. It has no mandate to do so from the supporters, and certainly not from the new paid up Momentum membership. I fear though that its “leadership’s” apparent repeated desire to attract praise (or at least not hostility) from the press and Labour Right might indeed tempt them to suddenly issue an edict to the Momentum membership to start bunging out Labour’s pro “Stay” leaflets . As a paid up Momentum member, and as someone resigned to going along with Labour’s “Stay” position for purely tactical reasons, I certainly won’t be helping to support the crap politics of Alan Johnson’s Labour “Stay” campaign – which is essentially identical to the Tory “Stay” position.

            Momentum could still be critical in the coming months, and years, to shift the Party Leftwards, and see off possible Labour Right coup attempts around the predictable poor outcome of the local and Scottish elections. Some anonymous Labour Right winger even claimed to his/her pals at the Daily Telegraph today that “if Brexit wins we’ll have Corbyn out – for his poor leadership during the campaign”.

            Unfortunately I see no signs at all so far of Momentum actually transforming into a well organised , membership driven and directed, activist Left movement and internal Labour Left organising focus. So far its all instructions/announcements have come down from on high from the self-appointed folks at Momentum Central. The appointment of a “National Committee” recently has so far changed nothing – and the Momentum website has no organising, mobilising, role at all. which is quite extraordinary, when Momentum Central is sitting on a Supporter database of circa 100,000 !

            Early days yet, but Momentum really does need to gain some organisational momentum – in contrast the Labour Right (Labour First, Progress, et al) certainly seem to be beavering quite effectively away to manipulate as many Right-oriented delegates to the next Labour Conference as possible, by virtue of the pre-existing Blairite/Rightist office holders in what out in the country is still very much a pre-Corbyn Surge local Party structure.

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