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Remainers risk being portrayed as enemies of democracy

EU_ballotTaking a sneaky break from things Stoke-related, it’s time to cast an eye over last night’s Commons vote giving the government permission to trigger Article 50. Annoyingly, it is not the Tories who find themselves poisoned and split over Europe, like the Lexiters promised. It’s Labour. As the government won by 494 to 114, 47 Labour MPs joined the SNP and Ken Clarke in voting against.

Like John McDonnell, I have some sympathy for the rebels’ position. Some MPs hail from constituencies in which majorities voted for Remain, other believe leaving the EU is a catastrophic act of self-harm. These for me are all valid reasons to oppose Brexit, but to my mind are trumped by another consideration: democracy.

Representative democracy at the best of times is inefficient and imperfect, especially so in capitalist societies where economic and political power are more or less separated. The former, formally, is subordinate to the will of the latter and has to submit to its laws, regulations, and other interventions. In practice, it’s the other way round. For most of the last 30 years, as learned folks across the political spectrum told us class didn’t matter any more, inequality increased, production gains accrued to the owners of capital as productivity was decoupled from wages, and ever more ingenious ways were devised by successive governments to transfer tax monies into private coffers via the marketisation of public services. And coincident with this, educational institutions and popular culture have tried churning out obedient subjects that would meekly accept all this.

It’s a rare situation to find economics assuming a subordinate role in government policy, but this is one of them. Theresa May’s Wrexit trajectory will be profoundly damaging to the British economy, and it’s our people who will pay the price. But ultimately, politics has asserted itself. Brexit is a massive pile of shit, as a lately prominent comrade of mine put it, but it must happen. The referendum wasn’t sold as a ‘consultative’ exercise, it was clearly and unambiguously a plebiscite on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. Prat about with the turn outs, pull out pie charts proving a majority of people didn’t vote to leave, it doesn’t matter. A democratic vote was had and the wrong side won, but we have to take the consequences. Because if we don’t, the political fall out would have been far more damaging to our people and our movement than a reversion to WTO trading rules post-Brexit.

What I would euphemistically describe as unhelpful is how the party, or rather those who rebelled last night, completely conceded this ground to the right. Democracy isn’t a free floating idea, it is bound up with interests and it’s in the interests of the people our party represents to extend it beyond the realm of formal politics. We have to make politics substantive, and this means economic democracy. By refusing to support the Brexit process, this ground has been ceded to the right. Our rebels have presented the Tories a crock of political gold with a gift tag that reads “unified to deliver the referendum outcome”. At this crucial moment in British political history, the Tories have captured the mantle of champions of democracy without so much as a tussle. And that is profoundly damaging to our future political prospects.

61 Comments

  1. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Phil BC reckons it is Labour’s Brexit rebels that have “presented the Tories a crock of political gold”. It is unfair of Phil to bestow this accolade only upon the small but exclusive club that is Labour’s democracy deniers. Phil neglects to mention the part the whole Labour Party movement has played in this single ticket double roll over Tory Party win.
    Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott, especially Abbott are a massive vote winner for the Tories (and UKIP). Every time they appear in front of a camera Labour voters must disappear like snow off a dyke.
    I still have to nip myself when I see them on TV. How did they get to where they are? I’m not sure why but it always reminds me of the Mel Brooks film The Producers, you know the one where Zero Mostel plays an old washed up Broadway musical producer and Gene Wilder is his accountant who comes up with a scam where they over sell the shares in a musical that is guaranteed to be a flop. You know the rest of it. The scene in the theatre bar, when Max and Leo are drinking a toast to their brilliant idea and then begin to wonder why the audience is cheering is very funny.
    Why is it when I see Jeremy or the other two on the box I think of that scene?

    1. John Penney says:

      This from an (economically illiterate) man who seriously thinks that “Margaret Thatcher saved Britain”, and no doubt that Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s saloon bar Tory privatising the NHS enthusiast, is a statesman of some distinction !

      Welcome back, Richard Mackinnon, our all too often, guest from the Daily Mail’s rabid comments forum ! I think the spittle flecked spume spattering your computer monitor as you typed your comment is all too evident today.

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Calm down John, try and see the funny side of it. There is another episode on today at 1200hrs. Try and see it my way. Watch Jeremy go up in front of matron for another spanking. The really funny thing is the expression on the rest of his hapless team. Afterwards please try and answer my question, I am fascinated, how did they get to where they are? How is this possible?

        1. Tim Barlow says:

          Having seen PMQs you must be feeling a little foolish, Richard. Jeremy totally spanked HER arse with those intercepted texts. Her worst PMQs by a country mile!

          1. Richard MacKinnon says:

            Tim,
            I just read the Huff Post article on Jeremy’s latest tweet “The real fight starts now”. I nearly did myself an injury. Check it out.

  2. David Pavett says:

    Phil B-C’s argument is that on the matter of Brexit the requirements if representative democracy mean that all MPs should vote according to the will of the 52% who voted for Brexit irrespective of their views or those of their constituents. This is a very poor argument and potentially a very undemocratic one. The problem of agregating votes are well known (we had a recent example with the election of Trump on a minority vote).

    One could argue that it would be unwise to oppose Brexit in terms of who this will be understood by Labour’s lost voters but not that this is a matter of representative democracy. What kind of representaive democracy would it be if half the country is against a proposal but MPs support it 100%?

    1. James Martin says:

      I disagree David, the MP’s overwhelmingly sub-contracted the decision on the EU to a direct public vote (that no one at the time ever said was advisory), and then when they get a result they don’t like they then want to take back the rights previously offered by voting against the public vote that they had supported. That is not democracy, that is rank hypocrisy.

      Also rank hypocrisy is Clive ‘Friend of Israel’ Lewis lecturing us on how sections of the north are ‘hanging on by their fingertips’ against the ukips and then handing those same ukips a gift horse by his damaging resignation tonight and vote against Brexit on the eve of two difficult byelections (and also on the day that Corbyn had May on the ropes). Whatever Lewis once was, he has shown tonight that he is nothing more than a dodgy careerist aiming for Corbyn’s job following the next coup attempt. Problem is Clive, many of us have now seen right through you pal, you may talk left but you have show a stunning lack of nous and your stab in the back of Jeremy tonight will never be forgotten.

  3. Bazza says:

    Yes the referendum result nationally overrides local Remain votes which Labour MPs need to recognise and accept.
    And just think there should be nothing to make it difficult to take things into democratic public ownership and we don’t have to follow the EC Neo-Liberal rules anymore.
    Labour MPs should focus on getting the best deal for working class people/working people in the UK, current EC migrants in the UK, our citizens in Spain, France & Germany, and EC citizens everywhere.

    1. David Pavett says:

      And just think there should be nothing to make it difficult to take things into democratic public ownership …

      Bazza, no problem, except that we will be bound by EU trade agreements for their agreed terms which will often extend for many years + it is certain that the present government will rush into new trade deals with equally binding and equally objectionable terms + we have no clear idea how democratic public ownership would work or what its different forms might be + the majority of the public has not been won over to arguments + probably not even the majority of Labour members (certainly the active ones) are not convinced. Apart from that, as you say, there are no problems.

      Also Ian Murray, the one remaining MP for Scotland voted against the Brexit bill. Are you really saying that you think that Scotland’s one Labour MP should have confirmed Labour’s divorce from the majority of Scottish voters by voting for Brexit?

      1. Bazza says:

        I can only speak for myself.
        If I was a Labour MP but my CLP area voted to Remain my argument still applies – the national vote overrides the local/country votes.
        That’s imperfect representative democracy leading to more imperfect single issue direct democracy.
        I believe you have to be honest although the referendum was only granted because Cameron was worried about his backbenchers, the Tory grassroots, and wary of the threat to the Tories of UKIP.
        And perhaps once you seed ground to the very Right you start to lose the argument.
        And I am very wary of referenda – for example if there was one on hanging and the majority advised for it I would vote against it as an MP and would be happy to face the potential wrath of the public in a general election when many issues are at stake but essentially I believe you have to be honest as left wing democratic socialists and stand for what you believe in.
        Oh and did see what I thought was a quite funny quote recently but not sure by whom: “Democracy is giving people what they think they want, and giving it to them good and hard!” Ha! Ha!

        1. John P Reid says:

          Well said

        2. David Pavett says:

          Bazza, is your position not sel-contradictory?

          1) “If I was a Labour MP but my CLP area voted to Remain my argument still applies – the national vote overrides the local/country votes.”

          But also

          2) “I am very wary of referenda – for example if there was one on hanging and the majority advised for it I would vote against it as an MP and would be happy to face the potential wrath of the public in a general election … essentially I believe you have to be honest as left wing democratic socialists and stand for what you believe in.”

          1. Bazza says:

            No my position is political.
            Putting what you believe first whatever the electoral system.
            Oh and read in the Guardian today that whilst the Scottish Parliament voted not unsurprisingly against Brexit, 3 Labour MSPs voted for Brexit in line with Jeremy Corbyn and good to hear all 3 are pro-JC.

      2. C MacMackin says:

        I’m certainly not one to brush aside the difficulties in the way of acheiving left-wing reforms. In particular, we do need to figure out what we mean by “democratic public ownership”, because at present it is just a nice sounding slogan. As you say, we need to convince the public–and figure out what we want ourselves for that matter. However, to the best of my knowledge, most trade deals are relatively easy to get out of. They just require a certain ammount of notice–I believe it is 18 months for NAFTA. This period would, no-doubt, give capital time to commit sabotage, etc. and it would take some effort to overcome this, but Britain wouldn’t be stuck in an agreement (the presence of which would also make it easy for capital to commit sabotage) for decades. In the increasingly unlikely event of a Left government in 2020, any new agreements beyond Europe would still be so new that there probably wouldn’t be too much damage to trade inflicted by ending them. Plus, other than with the US, it looks like the UK will have to get to the back of the queue for negotiating new trade deals.

        Typically, the portions of trade agreements affecting nationalisation do so in different ways than the EU. There tend to be provisions requiring compensation to be paid (I’m not sure what they say about the ammount) and in some cases it has been argued that the non-discrimination components prevent public monopolies. However, people have been making these claims for decades and I’m not convinced that the existing trade agreements are to blame for privatisation. The TPP (which, small mercies, now seems to be dead in the water) apparently had some provisions which would make it difficult or impossible for government to use public enterprise as a policy tool or run them in a non-commercial manner, but I think this was the first agreement to be so draconian. Overall, free trade agreements tend to be no worse for public ownership than the EU single-market rules; in some ways they are better and in some worse.

  4. Bazza says:

    Last quote not so funny, just checked source and right winger (lesson do research first) oh well just demonstrates we are all human and make mistakes Ha! Ha!

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Bazza,
      Let me get this right; you laugh at something someone says because you find it funny but you stop laughing when you find out they are not left wing like you. Now that is funny. You guys, John Penney and yourself you really dont know how funny you are. Thank you.

      1. Bazza says:

        I laughed because perhaps the masses are brainwashed like yourself by capitalist hegemony (right wing domination of the media etc) but reflected later on who was this quote was from and what was their meaning behind it.
        It was a right wing elitist US writer in the 30’s who believed in ‘The Great Men of History Thesis’ whilst I still have faith in ‘The Great Working Class/Working People Masses of History Thesis’ (Bazza, 8/2/17).

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          Bazza,
          If something is funny, you don’t need to do a check on the source before laughing.
          Your language reminds me of the 1970’s. Its like a trip down memory lane reading your comments. “……..the masses are brainwashed like yourself by capitalist hegemony…..” Its hard to believe people still talk in such terms, but they do all the time on sites like this. That’s why I love Leftfutures.
          Let me try and explain why I think you are so out of touch; you say “the masses are brainwashed”. So you believe in the concept of ‘the masses’, that society can be defined in such terms. Therefore in your construct there must be an ‘elite’. Of course there is, the ‘capitalist elite’.
          And what about you Bazza where do you fit in? You don’t see yourself as part of ‘the masses’, as you can see through the conspiracy. You understand the great conspiracy that is perpetrated by ‘the capitalists’ and their ‘hegemony of the media’ (which you have to define because you think may be others don’t know what it means). That excludes you from membership of ‘the masses’.
          So where is Bazza? part of the ‘elite’? No that will be anathema to you. In Bazza’s world there has to be another group. It is tiny group that sees it as its duty to stand up to ‘the capitalist elite’ and defend ‘the masses’ from their rapacious greed , lets call them ‘the intellectuals’.
          So Bazza this is where I cannot help but smile at your take on politics. Although you hate the idea of the class system and the way the capitalist elite run it for their own selfish advantage, you need it to understand things. You shape your ideas in the same way as the Bullingdon Club do. In fact the reality is, those on the far left are far more class conscious than the royal family are, and that I find funny.

          1. Bazza says:

            Oh well some would consider you a right wing political simpleton who will never really think in his whole life.
            You only come on here to get your social media kicks – how exciting going on a left wing website – didn’t you understand the masthead – the Democratic Left?
            What’s up bored with your fellow simpletons on right wing sites?
            People like you amuse me, don’t you have to sell your labour to live? (Work).
            Yet you champion the exploiters – the neo-liberal capitalist legal thieves but in your case as they say: “Ignorance is bliss!”
            Hmmn I think I will start going on right wing websites to educate the political imbeleciles.
            Nah, more important things to do.

  5. to get back to the article that Phil wrote, it is not democracy to say that a vote overrides rational thought. He accepts that Brexit will be disasterous, but the nation should accept suicide because a narrow vote of a minority of the nation (though a majority of those who voted: biased toward the elderly) voted for suicide.

    Not so, and the way to get out of the democratic deficit argument is for remainers to stick to their guns and demand a second referendum on the terms of leaving.,

    Simple argument that ordinary people will understand- when you sign a finance agreement you have a cooling off period to consider the small print.

    So too with Brexit. Things are going to get worse for the leavers. And they are desperate not to have a second referendum. This has to happen and the Tory MPs who accepted the final vote will be brought to the commons will be stuffed by referendum 1. The Tories do have a mandate to trigger article 50

    But they do not have a mandate to take Britain out of the EU without a second referendum on terms which will without doubt be disasterous.,

    So the second referendum call is correct, and a broad front campaign squares the circle. if leavers claim to be democrats, why do they deny a second confirmatory (sic) referendum?

    Trevor FIsher,.

    1. Tim Pendry says:

      The Second Referendum is a ‘non-issue’. The call is about as valid as the SNP’s. The point in both cases was to establish a means of moving forward on an existentially divisive issue (a peaceful means of avoiding a civil war under less democratic cultural conditions). It was not a ‘negotiation’ as the EU usually attempted in switching terms marginally to get a better result second time around.

      Referenda are to be undertaken only in such conditions and one element in it was to establish the sovereignty of Parliament (and Parliament appears to have been re-energised by the process as a result) and the national independence of our judiciary.

      The peoples concerned broadly chose (existentially) to remain part of the United Kingdom and then to restore power to Parliament and remove themselves from external judicial oversight as well as to make the Executive answerable to Parliament rather than be the intermediary between a European bureaucracy and the people.

      The political reality though is that the Second Referendum is the campaigning tool of the Liberal Democrats in their attempt to siphon off votes from Labour but they probably have all the votes they are going to get on that score now. For labour to move one inch further towards the Hard Remain position would be to alienate a much larger community of voters who now have no interest in the issue and simply want Labour to attain power and ensure social change if and when May fails to deliver it. Many of those would stick with May rather than risk the distraction of the European issue after 2018.

      More to the point, the conomy survived adeq

      1. dear tim

        If you read the latest blog you will see that the dire economic forecasts, while overstated by the foolish Osborne, are coming true. And the SNP have made it clear that they will have another referendum when they can win it.

        So as the chickens come home to roost, campaigning for the second referendum will be the only democratic option.

        No nation has the right to vote for suicide. The Scots and the Northern Irish did not vote for suicide in any case, and it will be interesting to see what sinn fein do in the upcoming ulster election.

        Of the 52% of those who voted, with a preponderance of elderly voters, many voted to stop immigration. Period. Much here to object to, but the bottom line is that no one voted for lower living standards and attacks on the NHS.

        Which is what will happen. its 1938 all over again. Parliament can vote for what it likes. Reality will kick in. And those who voted for Article 50, which will go through with the Tory Bill unamended, will look like those who voted for chamberlain after munich.

        As the Chinese curse is, be living in interesting times.

        Trevor Fisher.

        1. Tim Pendry says:

          They are not ‘coming true’ at all. You wish to believe that they are … anything dire is a broader crisis of capitalism that affects the Eurozone far more than us, especially if Trump goes full on protectionist. The IFS was not exactly spot on before June and neither was the Bank of England.

          The truth is that the market is incredibly complex and self-adjusting. We should challenge its failures but not believe that it does not ‘work’ within its own frame of reference. More socialists should read Nicholas Nassim Taleb on complex systems without necessarily accepting his politics – or Paul Ormerod on why things fail.

          It’s nothing like the 1930s. History never repeats itself and it is intellectual laziness to say that it does – whether comparisons I have seen with the wars of religion or Hitlerism or the Roman Empire, they are all nonsense. There are intuitive lessons to be drawn from history but no period is quite ever like another.

          There are no chickens coming home to roost. There is no apocalypse. There is just the usual business of muddling through from one unsatisfactory state to another.

          Anyway, you can continue to fight yesterday’s battles or you can accept the new situation and fight tomorrow’s battles. That is your choice.

      2. Tim Pendry says:

        More to the point, the economy survived adequately the ‘shock’ of June, despite the negative opinions of ‘experts’ and Remainers talking it down. Business is not alone in not wanting further disruption as we shift into global export trading mode. The public will not want the risks and uncertainty repeated. There are more profound risks of violent confrontation between camps that could completely destabilise investment and the economy. The risk of civil disorder, even violent resistance and ‘civil war’ should not be dismissed.

        The matter is closed. The Government now negotiates and I have no doubt Labour has a significant influence on the general thrust of those things that matter to the Labour Movement (note the swift concession that all existing legislation that derives from the EU is the default position of the negotiation) because the Tories cannot afford any more national level division.

        Once negotiated, Parliament gets to vote and can reject and we can take it from there. The default position is WTO but Labour can go to the people in 2020 if it so chooses and put forward a Manifesto of renegotiation entry into the Single Market or whatever it likes. I doubt it would be so foolish but conditions may have changed then and the public may agree! But I will lay odds that if it offered a Second Referendum, the electorate, having experienced the fraught nature of one, would run a mile from a repetition.

  6. Tim Pendry says:

    A very mature article. The way that the populist Right has ‘detourned’ much of traditional Left thinking, because of wrong turnings made by the Left in response to globalisation, has not been widely analysed.

    There is a speech to the French National Asembly by Le Pen circulating on rightist social media that captures some of this. She undertakes a rather devastating attack on cultural feminism as a liberal left obsession at the expense of the socio-economic effects on women of neo-liberalism in regard to choices – that is, she points out that a choice is not a choice if it is enforced on a woman by not being able to afford a child.

    Her arguments are flawed at other levels but this point needs to be taken seriously because it rings true to people who are not middle class graduates wanting sex and a career – you can see this at https://youtu.be/cmhFLUesQBs Interestingly she does not attack the right or choice to abortion but only the social conditions in which the right or choice is available. May ’68 is a long time ago and ‘we’ (the Right) have moved on, she says.

    The same thoughts emerged watching young professionals and single mothers talk about their predicament on housing in an above average Newsnight report last night. In this case, Labour now has the right solution now (actually building houses) but having Healey as spokesperson from an era when it was New Labour that failed to build sufficient capacity and the Cameron-Clegg Government was widely seen as a pale blue version of Blairism conceded ground to a weak but still reforming May set of proposals on housing in a complex situation.

    For internal party unity reasons, once again, we see no decisive condemnation of the failures of the past nor an aggressive re-radicalisation of the Party policy programme to deliver the goods – basically, the same sort of housebuilding commitment we saw in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The hidden problem which no one dare speak of at the elite level but which is in the minds of many frustrated working class people is that mass immigration and a failure to build houses were undertaken in tandem by a liberal Left whom they no longer trust.

    Finally, there is Trump whose movement is (in my opinion) actively engaged in a programme of ‘detournement’. I analysed Trump at inordinate length back in December at https://positionreserved.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/narrating-current-crisis.html I abstract the following to save you having to read it:-

    “The victory of these forces is truly revolutionary for the following reasons:-

    1 They have forced conservative forces to accommodate the key populist demands of the neo-nationalists – we see this in the strategic commitment of the May Government to Brexit and the degree to which previously negative conservative Republicans have offered their full support to the incoming President

    2. They have given encouragement strategically and tactically to national populists elsewhere, most notably in Europe where there are real fears amongst liberals that their last major stronghold (the European Union) may fall to neo-nationalism or implode under pressure from neo-nationalism

    3. They have not merely out-manoeuvred the progressive Left but have forced it into a crisis with the two factions (the socialists and the liberal) now engaged in a bitter existential struggle for dominance as the primary opposition force – a process that may take many months or even years to result in victory for one side. It is just as likely that these forces will split into separate ‘parties’, dividing the Left for a generation.

    4. Moreover, they have managed to ‘detourne’ the liberal left so that it appears to be increasingly anti-democratic and irrational as well as arrogant and narcissistic, the historical attributes of the Right. This latter may be the populists’ greatest achievement in the long run.

    5. They have introduced other apparently left-wing strategic policies – including variants of Keynesianism and anti-imperialism/peace – into populist discourse leaving the liberal (rather than the democratic socialist) Left as justificatory spokespeople for austerity, corporatism and even war (which in itself fuels the civil war within the Left).

    6. They have adopted a paradoxical inter-nationalism in which strong nation states collaborate as they compete, concentrating on trade relations and deal-making rather than war – again, this is a ’detournement’ of traditional Left positions which have abandoned inter-nationalism and national liberation for supra-nationalism and trans-nationalism.

    7. Above all, they have appealed over the heads of the Left beyond their traditional lower middle class base to the non-public sector working class (at least in the Anglo-Saxon countries), adopting their values, respecting their culture and (at least superficially) supporting their economic interests.
    This has split the [elements of] working class from the Left in a decisive historical shift that saw a third of working class votes go for Brexit despite Labour backing for Remain and the Democrat’s white working class support dramatically hollowing out on November 8th.”

    I could add Le Pen’s carefully considered (frankly) critique of urban liberal feminism to be part of the same package … one could go on without in any way approving the sinister essentialism of what is still the enemy but we are hobbled here by a lack of analysis of what is actually going on and how the vituperative assault on the enemy is actually strengthening it in the street. They ‘detourned’ us and now we must ‘detourne’ them if we are to survive and win office. If we don’t, we may see a steady drift of frustrated ‘national socialists’ (in the non-historical sense) move steadily into their camp over the next few years.

    1. John Penney says:

      Your latest post is extremely important, and contains many well put insights, Tim Pendry. Of course the ability of the radical populist “anti globalised capitalism” Far Right to “steal the policy and ideological clothes” of the Left is historically nothing new. Mussolini’s early 1920’s fascism , and his final pseudo Leftish “Salo Republic” principles (which the Italian Far Right still hail as the “real Mussolini” ), and the workerist “Strasserite” strain of National Socialist Nazism (which the radical Far Right still hails as the “real face of third position Nazism”) , were previously highly successful in confusing and dividing the working class, and the radical middle classes in the capitalist crisis of the 1920’s and 1930’s).

      Anyone who has watched Marine Le Pen denounce TTIP , in the most radical Leftish, terms, on her innumerable spots on Russia Today, should have grasped just what a threat radical Right populism is today to a , compositionally almost entirely middle class, radical and reformist Left which is bogged down in moral liberalism and identity politics.

      The day UKIP, or its successor party casts off its neoliberal, saloon bar Tory, ideology, well represented by Nuttall’s politics , and fully embraces the faux “anti globalised capitalism” rhetoric of The National Front in France, is the day the UK Left will REALLY face the dire consequences of 30 years of political collapse and accommodation to the neoliberal priorities of the EU “Four Freedoms”.

      1. Tim Pendry says:

        Good additional historical insights to my point. I reviewed Troy Southgate’s book on the Strasser brothers and tried to convey some of the points you are making at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/163408161

        I have been saying for years that we on the Left should engage with and understand national populist and national socialist thinking (and its variants like Baathism) because they would eventually return to haunt us – and that is precisely what happened. Even in 2011, I too was underestimating the threat as you can se in my review. I did not expect it to achieve such access to power quite so quickly and smoothly.

        If you study the intelligent element in the new national populism, it is is very aware of its antecedents and of the failures of those antecedents and has quietly gone through a revolution in thinking that is similar to that of post-Soviet Marxists moving towards a revisionist liberalism – only they have moved from being the voice of the petit-bourgeois (Angestellte) to becoming the incipient voice, increasingly, of the neglected working class (Arbeiter).

        National populism has been a threat to the Left for quite some time and it is really shocking that most Leftists were actually surprised in June and November of this year and may be surprised in April (France). It has moved on to ‘our’ territory by stealth initially and now openly and it is going to be a massive struggle to take back control.

        The votes of urban liberal graduates are simply not going to be enough. Fortunately, in this country, UKIP has stalled from its own incompetencies and its over-identification with Brexit but, instead, we have a Tory Party ready to fill the vacuum. And still most people don’t get it!

        1. John Penney says:

          Yes indeed, Tim, all very true. The Liberal Left think history like them, has “moved beyond the nation state”, , but that was just the pseudo “internationalism” of globalist neoliberalism, and in the European context, the EU. The “arena of class struggle” has actually never ceased to be the individual nation states ( just ask a French worker how much solidarity action they got from the UK working class during their huge struggle last year against the Hollande attacks on workers rights – none at all !).

          With globalism now in profound crisis, the Liberal Left is STILL wedded to the grand illusion of the EU’s ” progressive nature”, whilst the Radical Right are well on board the reality of the return of the nation state as a self directing entity – involving confrontations with each state’s own , now comprador globalist , bougeoisies. This allows the radical populist Right to don not only the mantle of Nationalist economic radicalism, but places them as the “insurgent rebels, against the “establishment” AND their, perceived, liberal left status quo supporting allies.

          Dangerous times for the UK and European Left, and very dangerous opportunities for the radical Right to claim the “leadership of their individual nations” in place of a corrupt comprador bourgeoisie.

  7. Karl Stewart says:

    The Liberal Democrat ‘second referendum’ position is a total nonsense.

    They campaigned for the holding of an EU referendum, voted in Parliament for the EU referendum to be held, voted in Parliament for the rules of that referendum, and now want that result to be null and void.

    It’s a nonsense.

    If I walked into a pub,
    …asked a little guy for a fist fight, with the loser buying the drinks,
    …told him all the rules of the fight and then lost the fight according to those rules
    …and then refused to buy the drinks because I didn’t want to buy the drinks

    It would make no sense at all would it?

    But that’s the Liberal Democrat position.

  8. David Pavett says:

    The belief that the referendum should overide the views of MPs and their constituents shows how weak our democratic traditions are. This amounts to saying that because 37.5% of the electorate, after an appallingly debate referendum (on both sides), voted for Brexit this obliges all MPs to vote the same way. How does that square with the idea of representative democracy?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      MPs decided to hold a referendum. MPs decided the rules of the referendum. And MPs have to accept the result of the referendum.

      It’s not complicated.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Karl, You are right, your view not complicated. But like all over simple views of complex issues it is also wrong.

        The problem with your view is that it involves false aggregation and that is because it relies on inadequate abstractions.

        Your first step is “MPs decided to hold a referendum”. Actually, it was the majority of MPs and not all of them. Some were well aware of the danger of referendum politics. To elide the distinction between MPs and the majority of MPs is to make the same mistake as saying things like “The Scots rejected independence” which, it is true, the majority did, and then expecting all Scots in elected positions to adopt an anti-independence stance. In reality those who favoured independence still, on the whole, favour it and think and act accordingly. The view that majority opinion should silence contrary minority views is, in essence, totalitarian.

        All surveys show that not only do the majority of Americans support the right to own and carry guns but also that the gun lobby is winning the battle for public opinion. The majority opposing gun control is increasing. If there were to be a referendum on the matter there is no doubt that the gun lobby view would prevail.

        So, suppose Congress were to call for a gun referendum by a majority vote. Where would that leave members of Congress who believe in gun control and perhaps who even opposed the referendum? Should they be silenced if the majority of Americans vote against gun control? And suppose further that a member of Congress should change his or her mind as a result of research and listening to the arguments. What then? Should he or she refuse to allow such thought processes to influence his or her political decisions?

        You say “MPs have to accept the result of the referendum”. But what does this “accept” mean? I “accept” that not only did electors put a majority Tory government into power in 2015 but that a little analysis shows an absolute majority supporting neo-liberal ideas to whuch I am strongly opposed (Tories + UKIP = 49.5% + significant support for such policies from sections of the Lib Dems and Labour and among their supporters). Am I obliged to bend to a majority view with which I disagree? More importantly are our elected representatives so obliged? The question has, I hope, only to be asked to see the awful mess that unwarrented aggregation gets us into.

        All MPs must “accept” that just over half the voters supported Brexit. Does this mean that they should give up thinking about the issue and take a 52% majority vote as the definitive last word? And does support for Brexit mean support for any Brexit? If a majority support an increase in taxation does that mean that we are obliged to accept an increase that places most of the extra demand on the less well off? Again, the question only has to be asked …

        So yes, your view is simple but too simple to deal with the issues.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          The fact that MPs, collectively, voted to hold a referendum does mean that they now need to accepts the result of that referendum.

          Yes, it’s true that not every MP backed the decision to hold that referendum, and perhaps those MPs who voted against the holding of the referendum have a case for arguing against its outcome, (fair point) but surely you can accept that t those MPs who did vote to hold the referendum can’t now decide that they don’t accept that result?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            …particularly the Liberal Democrats, who not only voted for the holding of the referendum, but had campaigned for a referendum to be held.

  9. Peter Rowlands says:

    On this issue PBC is absolutely right and David P and Trevor F wrong. The referendum was largely interpreted as a binding vote ( otherwise why have one) and not consultative. Of course referenda are for many reasons unsuitable as a means of promoting representative democracy, but that is not the point.Of course the debate was a disgrace and people were misled, but as I said to my CLP last week the same could be said every time a Tory government is elected, but we don’t then demand a second election.To vote against Article 50 would largely be seen to be opposing the democratically decided will of the people, and Labour would suffer for it. That’s why the three line whip on voting for tonight is quite right, and all MPs should support it , particularly those on the left. The YouGov article by A. Wells proves conclusively that this is the least damaging approach for Labour.
    Other arguments are that there is little evidence of any change in opinion, while the attitude of some remainers would be to abstain as a second referendum would be undemocratic, so there would be a good chance of it confirming the first.
    Yes, I think Trevor F is right that the effects of a hard Brexit would be awful, but those aren’t apparent yet and that is why Labour’s position is to remain within the single market.
    The bigger the rebellion tonight, the worse it will be for Labour in the polls, two weeks before crucial by-elections.That surely is the point.

    1. John Penney says:

      I don’t know how many times it has to be stated and restated, but the vote to “leave the EU” automatically , clearly, included leaving the Single Market, Peter. This was an issue the leading “Remainers” themselves , like David Cameron for instance , made very, very, clear , repeatedly, on record, during debates and interviews, during the campaign. The electorate were not kept in the dark or misled, about this .

      “Staying in the Single market” implicitly means accepting an entire raft of toxic neoliberalism enforcing rules, including one of the absolutely key reasons for the Brexit decision – continued Unlimited Free Movement/unlimited labour supply. The EU will not negotiate this away – it opens Pandora’s box for many other states wanting the same deal.

      In other words, if we stay in the Single Market the UK will not actually have “left” the EU in any meaningful way – but will get the worst of all worlds, including probably also having to pay in vast amounts, losing any say in decision-making, and still face unlimited labour supply on current, historically unprecedented, annual 350,000 net migration levels.

      If this becomes clear to our core working class voters in the North and Midlands, as Labour’s “strategy” , ie, pretend verbally to “respect the Referendum result” – BUT actually manoeuvre with the SNP and Lib Dems to remain in the neoliberal Single Market , we will quite simply be wiped out electorally in 2020 in most key Labour heartlands (and still not win Scotland back !)

      Why on earth do you see this as a sensible , or an honest, strategy, for Labour , Peter ?

      1. C MacMackin says:

        I’m not convinced that the vote to leave the EU can automatically be seen as a demand to leave the single market. The official Leave campaign seemed to be promising that Britain could remain in the single market while at the same time having immigration controls. As you say, this is not possible. Given that much of the campagin was built on false promises, I don’t think the vote can be taken to mean either staying in or leaving the single market (and I say this as someone who would prefer not to be part of it).

      2. Peter Rowlands says:

        John P. What you say is not and was not the case. Staying in the Single Market has always been Labour’s position, and is synonymous with the term ‘Soft Brexit’. This means a Norway EEA type solution, which incidentally gives some latitude on immigration and greater control over agriculture, fishing and the regions, although I am not claiming these as crucial. The Labour line is designed to minimise losses to to other parties, and its credibility is confirmed in the recent You Gov article by A. Wells.
        If as I believe likely there has been significant economic deterioration by 2019 then this solution would I fancy prove quite popular to all Labour voters. I think you have a notion of a solid bloc of permanent hard brexit working class voters which does not fit with the much more fluid reality that I perceive.
        AS you know, I also believe that a successful left brexit is a fantasy. Being in the EEA is a far better prospect than becoming a bargain basement tax haven satellite of the US. We can then continue to fight with our EU frinds for a recast left EU that has some chance of succeeding.

        1. John Penney says:

          You are entirely incorrect, Peter. If Labour fights to keep the UK inside the Single Market, with all its neoliberal strictures, particularly re unlimited Labour Supply, our Party will be wiped out in the 2020 General Election. There will be no meaningful “latitude on Free Movement” available from the EU Single Market. This is a total delusion. Complete free movement of labour is a core EU/Single Market reason for being. Cameron tried to negotiate on this – but got NOTHING.

          The absolute guaranteed fact that the Tory post Brexit UK will have even HIGHER net migration than now, of even lower paid workers from the Indian subcontinent probably, given the structure of our current economic model, will not be obvious by 2020, and by the time it is, Labour will be kaput as a major electoral force.

          There is still time for Labour NOT to fully embrace the utter dishonesty of pretending to “respect the Referendum result”, whilst actually dishonestly manoeuvring to ensure the UK stays in the neoliberalism enforcing Single Market – by simply fighting hard for a Brexit which does not involve a bonfire of labour rights and NHS privatisation.

          But this would involve Labour and the supine TUC bureaucracy actually having to engage in long term mass campaigning and struggle – and putting forward a radical reformist anti Austerity alternative to a Ayn Randist neoliberal Tory Brexit.

          I think you are also simply wrong that the unified , un-nuanced, Labour position has always been to “stay in the Single Market after Brexit”. Labour’s position, nominally , is actually to “retain the best access possible to the single market – a completely different thing- and still possible (unless you consider two-way tariffs automatically means we have lost “full access” ? It doesn’t , and tariff free deals across multiple sectors are widespread between the EU and dozens of major of trading partners). Even the worst case scenario of WTO rules based trading isn’t a disaster, whatever all you gloomy pessimists think.

          Labour now has a clear choice – accept Brexit as the Referendum result decided, which simply DOES involve leaving the Single Market, and the tyranny of the “Four Freedoms” , or be destroyed electorally as a Party, Scottish Labour-style” across our English and Welsh Labour heartlands. The choice is stark. Demanding Labour supports staying in the Single Market is a suicide wish.

    2. The Labour position is untenable, and has no value in winning the two by elections, which are certainly vulnerable. The position of staying in the single market but accepting the rest is not logical, people who voted wanted a hard brexit. There is no soft brexit. In Stoke, where I am working, the Labour position is to deliver a brexit that can work for Stoke. and the fall out from the earlier vote has been avoided. Only the Newcastle under Lyme MP Paul Farrelly has been subject to public criticism that I have seen. So far so good.

      However this assumed Labour could win some amendements. A hard BRexit with no soft edges won by Labour, simply accepting what the Tories offer, means Labour is reversing what it formerly said and accepting the TOry-UKIP view, which will play to the UKIP candidate in this constituency. He can I presume will say that he has been vindicated, the government has accepted the UKIP position.

      So from a by election viewpoint the three line whip does nothing. However it will undermine Corbyn, particularly with the unions, and make it clearer that Labour cannot argue a consistent policy. Once again Labour has drawn a line in the sand…. then abandoned it. What exactly does this party stand for?

      The argument for a second referendum is not for one this year, but for when the negotiations are complete, assuming a hard brexit means within two years. At that point the result should not come back to parliament as was agreed last night as I read it. It must go to a referendum

      If the argument now is that parliament has given up its rights to decide to a referendum process, only a referendum can conclude a process started by a referendum. I assume May realized when she made the non concession that this is the case, and her MPs did not get this.

      Trevor Fisher

      1. 7Karl Stewart says:

        Corbyn’s position has been totally comsistent throughout. He’s said, since the early morning of June 24th last year that the result of the referendum must be respected and that Article 50 must be triggeres.

        He’s stuck to that position totally ever since.

        And it’s absolutely the right position to take, as is the three-line whip.

        It is those MPs who would frustrate the referendum decision who are without principle and without logic.

      2. Karl Stewart says:

        Corbyn’s position has been totally 100 per cent consistent throughout.

        On June 24th, Corbyn called for tge referendum result to be respected and for Article 50 to be triggered and he’s maintained exactly the same position ever since.

        It is those MPs seeking to frustrate or reject the referendum decision who are unprincipled, inconsistent and illogical.

        MPs voted to hold the referendum, MPs decided the rules and procedures of tge referendum and now MPs have to respect and carry out the decision of tge referendum.

    3. David Pavett says:

      Peter, I don’t think that even if the referendum vote is regarded as binding that the consequence is what you suggest.

      Even if we ignore that the idea of a referendum was idiotic and that the “debate” it produced was correspondingly idiotic (on both sides) and that the result was a slim majority of voters in favour of Brexit, that still doesn’t lead to the conclusion you reach.

      The majority voted for Brexit. So Brexit it is. But does that mean any old Brexit? Clearly not. Therefore it would have been entirely reasonable, and honorable to say “this way of exiting is unnacceptable”. When Labour’s ammendments were defeated it would have been entirely reasonable and honourable to oppose the bill or at least to abstain. Using a three-line whip to make Labour MPs vote in favour was just another piece of idiocy to add to the mess.

      Ken Clarke is quite right to describe the referendum and everything round it as an act of collective madness.

      My contituency voted to remain. My (Labour) MP argued for that. She defied the whip and I think she was right to do so.

      P.S. I recommend caution in the use of phrases like “absolutely right”. It is quite enough to be just “right”. “Absolutely right” harks back to the era of TU/labour movement bombast which has mercifully largely faded away. I would be surprised if, on reflection, you would maintain that Phil B-C’s view that a referendum trumps representatives representing the views of those wo elected them is an “absolute”.

      1. Peter Rowlands says:

        Yes, it would have been reasonable and honourable to have voted against, but it would still have been largely perceived as flouting the will of the people. As it is, Labour appears divided on the issue – you can overlook five rebels, but not 50 – and tthat will not help us in Copeland or Stoke in two weeks time.

        1. David Pavett says:

          If doing the reasonable and honourable thing is perceived as flouting the will of the people then that is an argument for changing perceptions and not the actions or judgements concerned. It is a dangerous path to allow policies to be determined by perceptions since the latter are largely media generated. 50 “rebels” would not have been rebels if the three-line whip had not been imposed.

          1. Peter Rowlands says:

            Yes, but it is unrealistic to suppose that those perceptions could have been changed prior to the vote.

  10. Bazza says:

    Tim and John make excellent points and yes the Right steal some of the Left’s clothes and what is Trump’s 1 trillion public investment Plan but Bernie Sanders’ Plan?
    And remember capital wants everything for free.
    And some of the Left’s term on Beprexit have been expropriated by the Tories ‘Best Brexit 4 Britain’ ‘Deal or No Deal?’ (some of us were referring to the EC not MPs).
    My analysis was simple – there were 2 potential frameworks for transforming the UK/World in a Left Direction – (a) via the EC and working with sister parties internationally (difficult) OR as independent nation states and cooperating with our sister parties internationally (difficult).
    I argued before the Referendum for (a) but we lost the argument so I accept we are now left with option (b) and perhaps there may now be more potential for democratic public ownership and talking back control from Neo-Liberalism – public ownership of banks, land, mail, rail, public utilities etc – really taking back control but we are nothing if we are not internationalists.
    We want power to be with diverse working people in EVERY country and by diverse we need to be clear that we mean black and white, LGBT, Male/Female, Young/Old, and Disabled.
    I am a left wing democratic socialist and find it funny when they call us the “hard left” “hard” I’m as soft as; it breaks my heart to see poor housing in the UK and food banks, welfare cuts etc but also to hear Bulgaria will have lost half its population by 2020 and to read of hundreds of Bangladeshi textile workers losing their lives in factory fires because of poor Health & Safety standards plus when reading about poor kids searching toxic waste sites in less developed countries to try to eek out a living WE ARE NOTHING IF WE ARE NOT INTERNATIONALISTS!
    I love JC but I think (as I have proposed) it would help Labour to have more diverse working class left wing democratic socialist MPs which is why I suggested every Labour Parliamentary Shortlist should have at least 2 working class candidates (occupation parent/s) at least 2 women and at least 1 BME/LGBT/Disabled potential candidate then we pick the best left wing democratic socialists!
    Plus we need a party which really taps the ideas from the life experiences and reading of our 543,000 members from below.
    So it could be argued there were two possible frameworks for potential left wing change – IN or OUT; the second won and perhaps we now need to get the best from this for diverse working people locally, nationally and internationally.
    Solidarity!

  11. Danny Nicol says:

    Is Clive Lewis machinating to become party leader so that party policy can be a return to the EU single market and its neoliberal four freedoms – even after Britain has left it? The mind boggles at how this would go down in the constituencies Labour needs to win.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/09/clive-lewis-sounds-support-challenge-jeremy-corbyn-labour-leader/

    Add his pro-Trident stance and his gushing in favour of NATO as bedrock of Labour values. Add too his failure as Shadow Business Secretary along with the rest of the economics team to fashion a dynamic and comprehensive economic programme for the Party. And one is left wondering what is actually left-wing about Clive Lewis?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      With the article’s claims being followed by “…,the Telegraph understands.” and “…, according to sources.”, rather than by named quotes or detail of origin, there’s nothing in Katie McCann’s article to substantiate anything she’s written here.

      But given that the Telegraph is a pretty serious newspaper and that Ms McCann is its senior political correspondent, perhaps it would be careless and complacent to simply write this off as merely speculation.

      My guess is that nothing much will happen until after the two forthcoming by-elections and that what happens after that will depend on the results.

      Labour are fighting hard in both Stoke and Copeland and, if Labour defend both, then I doubt we’ll hear any more about potential leadership challenges for a while.

      As for Lewis, I liked him initially, but he’s not been impressive recently – the disloyalty over the Article 50 vote as well as the nonsense about a ‘progressive alliance’ with the Liberals have shown a rather flakey and lightweight character.

      I think Labour will win both by-elections and that Corbyn will lead Labour to victory in 2020, but should I be proven wrong, and should another leadership contest take place, I can’t see Lewis winning.

      Sure, he’ll win support from Labour’s middle-class liberal wing, but neither the left nor the right of the party would support him.

      I can see him ending up in the Liberal Democrats at some point in the future to be honest.

      1. Peter Rowlands says:

        Ten weeks after the two by-elections we have a range of local elections across Britain which could also be significant .

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Yes, of course those elections will be extremely important too.

          Opinion polling is now so widely discredited that actual polling in actual elections is the only criteria with any credibility.

          (And the Telegraph article is most likely a bit of ‘toe-dipping’)

    2. John Penney says:

      Clive Lewis is inceasingly looking like just the opportunist Left faker that the Labour Right and Centre could rally around to replace Jeremy. An Owen Smith figure, but actually with some ( extremely tenuous) Leftish psst credentials ! Perfect !

  12. David Jameson says:

    David Pavett , I think that you are complicating what in reality should be a very simple process. Any MP voting against article 50 is acting un-democratically full stop. There are no grey areas. MP’s either respect the democratic process or they don’t. Once a referendum has been called its result MUST be respected.

    1. David Jamieson is right that the question is simple. Brexit is right or disasterously wrong. No amount of democracy can change reality, any more than the vote for the Munich agreement countered Churchill’s argument that the policy was madness.

      The clever BRexiteers are getting the point. Read Christopher Booker in the Telegraph today (12th February) – the article starting “Few of the 52% of us who voted to leave the EU imagined what we were voting for might be bare shelves in our supermarkets…” and his critique of why May’s decision for the worst form of Britexit (out the EU and the EEA at one bound) means our food supplies will dry up.

      But lets not worry about reality. Since this post is about Referendum Democracy lets have a second vote when the terms of the deal are known. If you Brexiteers are democrats, don’t leave it to the frightened fools in parliament to reverse their stupid decision of last week, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas with a general election a year away.

      The democratic argument is in any case clear. Since Referendums are now held to over ride parliament, parliament is irrelevant.

      Put it to the people when the terms are known and see if Britexit can pull the same trick twice.

      Trevor Fisher.

      1. Tim Pendry says:

        Comparison with ‘Munich Agreement’ (bad history) …. bare shelves in our supermarkets (apocalyptic hysteria) … food supplies will dry up (even more apocalyptic hysteria). This chicken licken approach to Brexit is why the diminishing number of seriously hard Remainers are losing all credibility.

        ‘Reality’ – hogwash … like those who see a fascist dictatorship just around the corner in Washington or Vlad the Terrible sending men with snow on their boots into Tallinn by Tuesday … it is a turn of mind, a certain late middle aged gloom. It is very far from reality.

        Nor is Parliament irrelevant. This and the Scottish Referendum were designed to deal with existential internal conflict at the highest level and they did so – except to the apocalyptics, of course, who really do not like democracy very much and rather fear ordinary people as ‘deplorables’.

        The Brexit position was clear. Parliamentary sovereignty has been removed by Treaty. The Referendum would restore it. Things then got muddied with a supine party-led and business-friendly pre-Referendum Parliament threatening to derail the existential will of the people.

        Yet many Brexiters disagreed with the initial resistance of the Government to an Article 50 Vote on principle despite it being promoted by Remainers seeking to encourage Parliament to over-ride the people using City funds.

        Fortunately Corbyn had the common sense to see these as new conditions and to provide a three-line whip that 80% of elected MPs obeyed – and the rest is history.

        Bar a bit of shouting from the unelected Lords who, it would seem, are now the potential heroes of the undemocratic ‘liberal’ Remain camp (much as the CIA and the American Deep State suddenly became the heroes of the Clintonistas), the deed is done and the negotiation will make it eventually irreversible to all intents and purposes unless the EU changes its spots.

        The news that Herr Juncker, cause of the liberal elite’s downfall with his obduracy, has decided to fall on his sword and not seek a second term while Herr Schulz has decided to move on to become ‘socialist’ (ho, hum!) Chancellor-candidate for Bismarck’s old job comes far too late to do anything but help ensure that the split will be amicable and almost certainly in the British favour.

        Meanwhile continuous carping and poor historical analogising will do nothing to ensure that the Labour Party mobilises for the sort of Brexit that can reverse the Tory temporary command of the agenda for some form of viable socialism when it comes to power in 2020 or 2025 (depending on its ability to get its head around political realities).

        Instead of whinging about the recent past, the political situation should be accepted and plans put in place for the next Government … a Government that won’t appear if the whinging continues.

        Maybe, just maybe, if Labour commanded Scotland and Northern Ireland (which it does not), it might have abandoned its Brexit working class and made a crack at being the Euro-Socialist Party in waiting but it not only blew that but has Wales as well as England outside the big cities and university towns inclined strongly to Brexit.

        1. tim, there is no chance that Labour can mobilise to defeat anything,. They lost that by voting with May last week.

          As Manuel Cortes said in the Guardian on 6th February, it had to get its amendments through or vote against the May bill. It did not do so.

          End of story. A replacement leader which is now being rumoured to be discussed, with names being thrown into the hat, will have to repudiate what Corbyn did or face Labour being a tail to the Tory juggernaut.

          As for food supplies… the article is by Christopher Booker, it is in the Telegraph for yesterday 12th Feb and when a Leaver is authorized by the editors of a pro-Leave newspaper to give bad news… take it seriously. If you can.

          The Telegraph is not prone to run scare stories. If you can’t reply to the article and say why Booker is wrong, accept that the second referendum is going to have to happen. Unlike the HS2 Rail line, which May is said to want to cancel but cannot now the contracts have been signed, Brexit has not reached the point of no return.

          Trevor FIsher.

          1. Tim Pendry says:

            Your analysis of political prospects is just going to be put under the ‘agree to disagree’ banner. Appearing to block Brexit with amendments would have been a disaster and divisive – the only gainers would have been the SNP and the Liberal Democrats (and Tory Remainers). Daft!

            There is no replacement leader at the moment and such a replacement will still have to reconcile Left Brexiters and Remainers meaning no real change from the Starmer-Corbyn position. Put a known Remainer in like Lewis and a chunk of us become the enemy over night. It really is that simple.

            Christopher Booker is a maverick. One article is your evidence. What it is is a manouevre over the terms of Brexit within the Tory Party network – about as meaningful as a conservative Republican wittering on about the Russian threat in the NYT to get rid of Flynn. That’s how newspapers work – they are public places for the expression of internal wars. If you take an op ed seriously as truth rather than position, you are not being very wise.

            Of course, there are risks. Our food security was problematic regardless of the European Union but we have two years of negotiation and apocalyptic thinking is just so much chaff …

            As for the Second Referendum, you are just plain daft now. The Labour Party does not want it and wil split if it demands it, the Tory Party does not want it and is riding high in the polls, the unions and business don’t want it and the people certainly don’t want it. Get off that high horse and stick with the programme … or join the Liberal Democrats who are the only people who do want it.

            The decision has been made … there is no cause to revise it.

          2. the concession to the tory rebels to buy them off which it did was to put the deal to a vote of the commons in two years time. As Another Europe is Possible have pointed out, this is a non concession. Parliament is irrelevant.

            However that is the point where a second referendum will take place. Only a referendum can now confirm or deny a referendum. Really the only political issue to clarify is whether the scots will have had their referendum and gone, or whether – as indeed they have to be taken into account – they can be persuaded to wait till the big one.

            I have already bet one correspondent on this site, £10 that by the 2020 election if it happens Britain will still be in the EU. As we will not agree on this issue, fancy a punt? Jon Lansman took my stake and is acting as referee.

            Trevor FIsher.,

          3. Tim Pendry says:

            I am afraid I cannot argue with you any more – you have an ‘idee fixe’ here and no amount of reason will change your position.

            No doubt Hard Remainers will continue to go down this deluded path to the abandonment of all reason or any engagement with far more important issues …

            One by-product is obvious. Hard Left-Brexiters are put in the position of believing that they cannot trust the Labour Party or Movement on this matter so long as the fanatics on the other side continue to plot and scheme to remove Corbyn and put one of their own in.

            This issue of trust is as important as all the weird policies Tom Watson is putting forward now to follow Starmer and have his cake and eat it – happy clappy liberal activists and satisfied working class Northern voters. The latest is some unworkable scheme for immigration to be guided away from the North – what, Soviet pass laws?

            There is no solution to the unity of Labour Party that does not involve Brexit being done and dusted since there is no way that Tory Remainers are going to vote for a Socialist Britain. So, the Left Remainers solution?

            Simples! Dump the socialism and become a liberal party as it was under Blair but perhaps with a more acceptable less monomaniacal Leader and preferably able to ape the sort of liberal cultural politics that turned America over to Trump.

            But be assured … the Left Brexiters are not wimps. They are not going to accept the old tribal solidarity if all it means is another two decades of the same old, same old where the model politicians are men like Jones, Hollande and Schulz.

            The point is the people have spoken. The matter is closed. Live with it!

          4. so you are not willing to bet £10 on your political judgement, unlike a colleague of your persuasion on this site? Its a simple bet on what reality will throw up.

            As for the telegraph, today they carry a report that with brexit Pensions are at risk because with few immigrants there are not enough people =paying taxes to finance the pension pot.

            John Cridland, ex CBI CEO who knows how many beans make 5, is reporting in April. Worth keeping any eye out for that document and the government report in May.

            Trevor FIsher.

          5. Tim Pendry says:

            I am now beyond boredom by this stage …

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