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Staring into the abyss

jo coxSometimes the rush of the commenentariat to express opinions about contemporary events can seem cynical and ill considered. But I was impressed by two articles which must have been written as almost instant reactions to the tragic murder of Jo Cox, one by Alex Massie in the Spectator and one by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. I felt that both writers spoke for me in expressing what I was thinking myself.

The mainstream Brexit referendum campaign has been fought on the ground of immigration and hostility to foreigners. Demagogues from the right and centre right have unleashed the crudest and basest of emotions in a cynical and irresponsible pitch to get their vote out.

The depth of the cynicism was exemplified by Michael Howard on BBC Breakfast yesterday, saying that it was a “fact” that Brexit would lead to a reduction in immigration. In truth the free movement of labour is not a condition of EU membership. but of the UK’s membership of the single market. The end of immigration, even were that desirable, would only be achieved by the UK not only leaving the EU but also entering an economic purdah by leaving the single market and turning our back on European trade.

Where mainstream Brexit politicians promise to end immigration, this not only stirs the pot to encourage the disadvantaged towards dark passions, blaming their woes on foreigners and migrants; but it will also inevitably lead to those promises being unfulfilled, and those who believed that immigration would be controlled will be frustrated and feel further betrayed. This is a dangerous cocktail to mix.

As Alex Massie says:

When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’

When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.

Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.

Of course those few voices on the left who support Brexit have not been riding the same train as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, but they have totally misjudged the political context. The defining issues in British politics has become immigration and racism. Those who report back conversations on the doorstep from Labour voters who intend to vote Leave are not saying that these party supporters are against the EU due to high falutin’ arguments about parliamentary sovereignty or fishery policy. The issue leading most of them to reject the party’s advice over the EU is frankly all about race and hostility to migrants. Relatively marginal left intellectuals, small socialist groups and a handful of small, specialist unions are unable to make any substantive difference to the direction of travel of the Brexit juggernaut. They are like a fly riding on the back of an Ox, no one sees anything but the Ox.

Those who delude themselves that Brexit will lead to a split in the Conservative Party and a political realignment that will benefit the left and lead to a fight against austerity need to look at the reality. A racist, demagogic, populist Brexit campaign has opened the door not for the left, but the grimmest and ugliest resurgence of nationalist politics, where reason is buried in a red mist of anger. Do they believe that Brexit will lead to political chaos? It already has, with a rise in racist hate crime, and a lovely, kind, compassionate social democrat MP lying dead in her own blood at the feet of a fascist murderer bellowing “Britain First”.

The raw emotion with which the Leave campaign is seeking to discredit any balanced evaluation of the economic and social risks of Brexit is utilising rage and sense of betrayal against the very idea of reason and rationality in politics.

If you thought that a “Lexit” campaign could gain any traction, you were wrong, and you have not being paying attention to events in the real world. We are staring into the abyss, and now is the time for all of the left and the centre left to unite with the mainstream of the trade union movement to get out the vote for Remain.


  1. john Reid says:

    you don[‘t know he’s a fascist murderer, he may have had mental health issues, and the fact allegedly he said that ,may have nothing to do with,his motivation

    its good to see you condemn the violent threats that have been put on facebook, when labour list was full of comments about raping Liz Kendall last year, hopefully you’ll encourage expulsion form the party for those found to be in it

    the Toynbee article linking Nigel farage himself having had threats made to his family by, fascist left wingers when he was having sunday dinner in a pub,last year) Farage having stood by a photo of endless Eu immigration linked to east European refuges,and a play on the famous Labour isn’t working .tory poster of 1979, was described as comparable to Hitler, yet Toynbee, her, by comparing him to Hitler was herself encouraging hate

    any rise in hate crime is due to more being reported, such as rotherham,and ,yes the left who want Brexit are a minority on the national stage compared to Bojo and farage, although Tom Harris,Frank field, Daivid Owen, Michael gove, have been there, but theres more to the national debate on Brexit than just the news

  2. john Reid says:

    you don[‘t know he’s a fascist murderer, he may have had mental health issues, and the fact allegedly he said that ,may have nothing to do with,his motivation

    its good to see you condemn the violent threats that have been put on facebook, when labour list was full of comments about raping Liz Kendall last year, hopefully you’ll encourage expulsion form the party for those found to be in it

    the Toynbee article linking Nigel farage himself having had threats made to his family by, fascist left wingers when he was having sunday dinner in a pub,last year) Farage having stood by a photo of endless Eu immigration linked to east European refuges,and a play on the famous Labour isn’t working .tory poster of 1979, was described as comparable to Hitler, yet Toynbee, her, by comparing him to Hitler was herself encouraging hate

    any rise in hate crime is due to more being reported, such as rotherham,and ,yes the left who want Brexit are a minority on the national stage compared to Bojo and farage, although Tom Harris,Frank field, Daivid Owen, Michael gove, have been there, but theres more to the national debate on Brexit than just the news

    1. Matty says:

      Predictable that John Reid downplays the fascist links of the suspect and instead makes up threats of violence from the left (who he has the nerve to call fascist). The UKIP photo is not of endless EU immigration. It is of Syrian immigrants trying to enter Slovenia.
      Whenever, fascism and racism raise its head John Reid will be there fo defend the llikes of Farage and the EDL and instead indulge in whining about Polly Toynbee, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant etc

      1. Curlew says:

        Hear, hear

      2. Ric Euteneuer says:

        No “evidence” except

        * He shouted “Britain First!” when he attacked the MP concerned

        * He was a subscriber to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine that was published by the pro-apartheid group, the White Rhino Club.

        * He bought $600 of books from the ultraright, Neo-Nazi National Alliance website

        From those beacons of revolutionary socialism, the Daily Telegraph and the Independent
        According to records obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center Mair was a dedicated supporter of the National Alliance (NA), the once premier neo-Nazi organization in the United States, for decades. Mair purchased a manual from the NA in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol. Mair purchased subscriptions for periodicals published by the imprint and he bought works that instruct readers on the “Chemistry of Powder & Explosives,” “Incendiaries,” and a work called “Improvised Munitions Handbook.” Under “Section III, No. 9” (page 125) of that handbook, there are detailed instructions for constructing a “Pipe Pistol For .38 Caliber Ammunition” from components that can be purchased from nearly any hardware store

        1. John P Reid says:

          Allegedly shouted Britain first, yet is clearly mentally ill, and that means he’s part of their organization
          Yes I call the left fascists when they are, I’m glad people find me predictable,I won’t stop pointing out propaganda when I see it

          Indulge in whining about Polly Toynbee, and the EDL who support Israel?, I dont vote Ukip, but when Farages family was attacked, yes I’d defend him, I’d also defend him from libel

  3. Graham Burnby-Crouch says:

    I am saddened that on a day when Referendum campaigns are suspended out of respect for Jo Cox you write an article attempting to make political capital out it, and essentially emotionally blackmail those on the left, who for very principled reasons, support Brexit into changing their minds. That is also gutter journalism

  4. Karl Stewart says:

    Two people described as eye-witnesses have been reported saying that the words “Britain first” were used by the murderer.

    It does appear at this stage that there are indications that murderer is a fascist, indications that he has links to neo-Nazi organisations and publications.

    This is horrific, and an outrage and a sick and grotesque mindset that we must all actively fight against.

    But Andy, please don’t start claiming this shocking outrage as a reason for socialists who disagree with membership of the EU to change their views. That makes no sense whatsoever.

    There is a perfectly valid, anti-racist, left-wing, socialist argument for leaving this organisation.

    It’s a view that was held by the late Tony Benn, by the late Bob Crow, by Arthur Scargill and by many on the left of the movement today, including the Communist Party and the Morning Star newspaper.

    By all means disagree with that position, but please recognise that of these people unreservedly condemn this brutal and sickening murder and the sick and grotesque view held by her murderer, and have campaigned and fought against these sick views for many years.

    1. John Penney says:

      Yes indeed, pretty tacky stuff from Andy Newman to try to smear the perfectly valid and principled socialist case for leaving the EU with the tragic murder of Joe Cox. MP. by a mentally ill man influenced by fascist ideology.

      Leaving the EU now, may, or may, not, be tactically appropriate given the current balance of class and political forces , but to deliberately smear the non-racist radical Left Brexit case in this way is distasteful stuff , Andy.

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    And Andy, perhaps you should suggest to your new boss John Wight to wind his neck in.

  6. Andy Newman says:

    Good statement from UAF

    Links between Neo-Nazi group and man arrested for Jo Cox murderer exposed

    Thomas Mair, the man arrested for the murder of Jo Cox MP, has been linked to American neo-Nazi organisation the National Alliance (NA). According to the American group Southern Poverty Law Centre, Mair purchased material from the NA’s printing imprint including “Chemistry of Powder and Explosives” and “Improvised Munitions Handbook”. Media reports also link Mair to the Springbok Club, an organisation which has defended the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

    The attacker reportedly shouted “Britain First” as he carried out the attack. Britain First is a fascist organisation that split from the British National Party (BNP). The “Britain First Defence Force” is the paramilitary wing of Britain First and organises training camps.

    Unite Against Fascism Joint Secretaries and Stand up to Racism Co-Convenors Sabby Dhalu and Weyman Bennett said:

    “We are deeply saddened that Jo Cox died as a result of this attack. Our thoughts and sympathy are with her loved ones. We would like to echo the magnificent words of Brendan Cox, Jo’s husband, who said that Jo would have wanted us to ‘unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.’

    “We cannot allow double standards in response to such attacks, especially now that information has come to light linking Thomas Mair to neo-Nazi terrorist and white supremacist groups. Jo Cox’s murderer shouting ‘Britain first’ must be treated in exactly the same fashion as some one shouting ‘ISIS’ and carrying out a similar attack. This incident cannot be treated as an isolated incident by someone with mental health problems. Britain First and the paramilitary ‘Britain First Defence Force’ must be investigated for terrorist and criminal activity.

    “Batley and Spen has a history of fascist and activity. Six years ago Terrance Gavan – who was linked to the BNP – was sentenced to eleven years in prison after fifty four explosive devices were found in his home in Batley. The constituency has a history of fascist activity for over a decade: From electoral support for the BNP to English Defence League and Britain First demonstrations.

    “The lesson of history is that we must unite social democrats, liberals, socialists, trade unions, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, those with no faith, LGBT communities, disabled people and all those who oppose fascism. An injury to one is an injury to others.

    “This attack has taken place in the context of a racist discussion on immigration in the EU referendum debate. Exactly the same racist arguments were used against Jews, Irish, African, Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. There is no doubt that Jo Cox was targeted because of her positive views on immigration, her humanitarian work helping refugees, and her excellent relations with the local Muslim community . Politicians stirring up this toxic racist debate on immigration are responsible for the climate in which this attack took place. We say racism out of the referendum – unite against fascism.”

    1. John P Reid says:

      Andy Newman remembers UAF from his days at SWP who are linked to them, UAF are well known for intimidating family members of Ukip

    2. Karl Stewart says:

      Nowhere does the UAF statement smear or attack those on the left who oppose the EU.

      Andy, time for YOU to strap on a pair and stand up to the attention-seeking moron John Wight.

      1. John P Reid says:

        They compare those wanting. it, lump them together

  7. Tim Wilkinson says:


    1. David Pavett says:


  8. peter willsman says:

    Nazi thugs and weirdos have,sadly,always been around,There have been particularly virulent periods in the last 70 years,not to mention the 20s and 30s.But the last few years has not been particularly virulent.To link one terrible incident by one Nazi thug/weirdo to the Referendum campaign in some way,is very unconvincing.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Well said peter

    2. Matty says:

      Neo-nazis have been on the back foot but the tabloids and UKIP haven’t. The anti-immigrant propaganda has been going on for years and is disgusting scapegoating.
      I agree with this:
      “Political discourse has been poisoned by tabloid venom which has long given up on even the appearance of balance. Politicians emblazon bare-faced lies on campaign buses, billboards and leaflets, designed specifically to create an atmosphere of paranoia and fear.

      Those in a position to lead, given the choice to raise the stakes or talk people off a ledge, have done everything in their power to push us closer to the abyss.”

      Read more at:

  9. David Pavett says:

    It is never a good idea to only consider the arguments of one’s opponents in their lowest and worst form. The result of doing so is that one’s own arguments tend to remain near the same level. That for me is the problem with Andy Newman’s treatment of the Brexit case as if it were all about racist opposition to all immigration.

    This is far from the case even though there are undoubtedly large numbers of people motivated by various degrees of racism and anti-foreigner feelings. Not to recognise that there are plausible concerns about sovereignty (even if they are misguided) is to treat everyone who favours Brexit as either idiotic or racist or ignorant. That is just not good politics.

    I will vote Remain and was out today delivering Labour leaflets for that purpose but I know many Brexiters who are neither racist not anti-foreigner (actually some of them belong to ethnic minorities and are immigrants).

    Not only does Andy N base his argument on the worst forms of the Brexit case but when he can’t find something bad enough for his purpose he just makes it up. None of the main campaigners for Brexit are calling for an end to all immigration, as Andy N suggests. They are calling for controlled immigration. Even Farage has suggested that immigration of 70,000 to 80,000 a year might be about right.

    This is why Andy N’s argument is so unconvincing. In ideological warfare, as Gramsci once said, unlike military warfare, you should make your assault on your opponents strongest positions and not the weakest ones. Treating all Brexiters as racists and xenophobes is to miss some perfectly decent (if misguided) sentiments that motivate many of them.

    Brexit is staring us in the face and I agree with Andy N that it is not a pretty sight. It could all have been so different if Labour had conducted a vigorous and well-managed campaign. We have been let down by both the right and the left of the Party. They haven’t even made any significant effort to convince their own Party members.

    1. Matty says:

      Of course the dominant theme of the exit campaign is about immigration. The Daily Mail, Sun and Express have been particularly virulent with their anti-immigration lies. I have got an offical Vote Leave leaflet here with a map of Countries set to join the EU. Syria and Iraq have been highlighted ffs.
      UKIP has just launched a disgusting racist poster. Don’t give me that stuff about controlled immigration. For the right immigration is always too high – they just move on to the next lot of scapegoats – in 1992 it was fear of the Hong Kong Chinese, now its Turks and Syrians etc.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Your response is a perfect case of what is wrong with the remain campaign: an inability to starkly obvious problems on the grounds that since they are exploited by the right they can’t be real problems.

        “Don’t give me that stuff about about controlled immigration”. I wonder if that is how you would answer someone who complains about pressure on lower paid jobs and social services. Would you add “Immigration is always and everywhere a good thing and should not be controlled in any way”?

        Do you know what the current level of net immigration is? Do you know how it has been increasing over the years? Do you think that the current level is sustainable? Would you be happy to see the level increase without limit?

        I will vote Remain but I don’t have to pretend that the current working of the EU is without very serious problems. I only have to believe that the alternative is worse.

        1. Matty says:

          No David. Controlled immigration as you suggest is common sense and yes it is fair to have a debate about numbers. The likes of UKIP though are fake when they claim they just want to “control” immigration. Immigration could be tiny and they would still whip up anti-immigration hysteria just as the Law and Justice Party did in Poland. Even, the founder of UKIP, Alan Sked now says he created a Frankenstein’s monster led by a racist.
          Why did Vote Leave put out that leaflet implying that Syria and Iraq are to join the EU? Surely, the answer is because they are scare-mongering. That is my point – rational debate is very difficult with people who are deliberately irrational and trying to whip up fear.

          1. David Pavett says:

            Glad we agree that controlled immigration is a reasonable objective. Not so clear why your earlier reaction was “”Don’t give me that stuff about controlled immigration”. The problem for us Remainers is that controlled immigration is not possible in the EU as at present constituted.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            I don’t think ‘immigration’ can be ‘controlled’. People have moved to try to improve their lives ever since the beginnings of time.

            Short of literally building a new ‘iron curtain’, employing millions of police and customs officers and turning the UK into some kind of strict police state where our ID papers are checked everywhere we go, attempts to ‘control’ this movement are as futile as attempts to control the weather or the tides of the sea.

            What can be done, is to reduce and restrict the legal rights of some people – which is what ‘immigration controls’ actually are in practice. These controls do nothing to reduce the numbers of people coming to the UK, but they do serve to create and perpetuate an ‘underclass’ of people with zero rights.

            It’s this which actually undermines wages and drives up rents.

            We need to be honest with people and tell them that people from poorer places will always go to wealthier places to try to improve their life prospects.

            So it’s either a total police state, make the UK much poorer than all the countries where migrants come from, or accept that this is and always has been since the beginning of time, a fact of life.

            ‘Immigration’ is neither a good or a bad thing, it’s just a thing that happens – like the weather. ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ will definitely make zero difference to that.

            What we need to do is fight for better wages, lower rents, housing, public services etc for all.

            The question for us next Thursday is whether this fight is better waged inside or outside of the EU?

          3. John Penney says:

            Karl, I simply don’t get your argument that “immigration cannot be controlled”. The UK mainland (not Northern Ireland of course) is an island. Controlling exit and entry of both UK citizens and non citizens is not an onerous task for the UK – certainly not requiring any sort of “police state” for heavens sakes !

            Until the EU required freedom of movement for all EU citizens in the Treaty of Lisbon, and net migration jumped from around 50,000 per annum to over 100,000 and , now 300,000, the UK quite simply did control the numbers entering the UK (excluding a relatively small influx of “illegal ” migrants).

            The serious point is whether socialists actually see a need for controlled migration to the UK. I see the current unlimited labour supply afforded to neoliberal capitalism across Europe as a central pillar (along with free capital movement and ever greater “liberalisation of the labour market/repression of trades union rights) as central to the entire , ever deepening, neoliberal socioeconomic structure of the current EU.

            As socialists we have to decide how to react to the now overwhelming rejection of major sections of the working class in the UK to unlimited migration/unlimited labour supply – and its ever more evident direct effect – the “Uberisation” of growing sectors of the economy fed by an ever larger “precariat” , unable to command any bargaining power because of the unlimited labour supply. The Left has stuck rigidly to the understandable (in the face of Rightist racism) “everyone is welcome here ” mantra in the face of demands for migration controls. But is this actually a historic part of Left politics ? Whatever happened to the former centrality of the need for democratic comprehensive economic planning – even in a mixed economy under a Left government ?

            Comprehensive Economic planning (even effective radical Left Keynsianism in a mixed economy) necessarily encompasses planning and controlling not only capital flows and investment priorities – but labour supply planning and controls too .

            Any democratic socialist government would have to take notice of its electors on the issue of labour supply and migration, and it is very likely that a key objective for any radical Left government would be that previously sacrosanct Left demand of Full Employment – of the UK citizenry – before bringing in additional labour supplies from external sources.

            Supporting unlimited migration seems very “right on” , in attempting to reject Rightist racism, but actually creates an endless and unlimited new version of the old “reserve army of the unemployed” which capitalism has always used to destroy the ability of workers to defend their bargaining and organising power in the face of the huge power of capital.

            Unless the Left resurrects its previously universally accepted commitment to socialist planning and Full Employment (of the UK citizen workforce as an initial priority) as key “offers” of its political programme , our inability to offer anything but “everyone is welcome” liberal platitudes in the face of the huge nationwide rejection of the completely unlimited labour supply consequences of unlimited EU migration over the last decade or so, we will inevitably be outflanked by radical parties of the Far Right, as is happening across Europe.

          4. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to John Penney 8.58:

            Hi John, I didn’t say immigration was a good thing, or that everyone is welcome (or unwelcome). I said it’s neither good nor bad, just a thing that happens. And we can’t affect it either way whether we want to or not.

            But what we, collectively, can try to affect is union organisation, which is the only way to halt the downward pressure on wages, reverse the trend, and start driving wages up.

            We can also try to get organised to hold down rents – through tenants organisations etc.

            That’s the terrain the left needs to fight on.

            Why on earth do we want to get dragged onto the racist right’s political terrain, over an issue – immigration – that we’re completely unable to affect one way or another?

            When it comes up, we should say so, honestly, and then move the argument back onto the proper issues.

          5. David Pavett says:

            @Karl Stewart (June 18, 2016 at 11:58 pm). Your ‘immigration is uncontrolable’ line is like the general approach of the right to economic crises which are treated as a force of nature. In both cases human affairs are seen as beyond human control. This is the meaning of alienation. Socialism if it is to mean anything is about overcoming alienation, not accepting it as inevitable.

          6. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to David Payet 10.06:

            Just as people have always moved since the beginning of time to seek a better life, so I’m sure the moaning about it is nothing new either.

            People will always move around and other people will always moan about it. I’m not interested in that, and the left shouldn’t be. It happens – rain happens – get over it.

            But problems of low pay, insecure employment are only ever addressed by unionisation. Unaffordable rents and insecure tenancies are only addressed by other forms of collective community action. Saving hospitals from closure is only ever achieved by effective protest.

            The left needs to be leading and organising all of this.

          7. Karl Stewart says:

            Correction to my last post at 10.37:

            Apologies for spelling your name wrong David, (I inadvertently mixed you up with France and West Ham’s finest!)

          8. Matty says:

            Not so clear why your earlier reaction was “”Don’t give me that stuff about controlled immigration”.
            Because you wrote “the main campaigners for Brexit..are calling for controlled immigration. ”
            I disagree that this is what they are calling for. See their leaflets and posters, full of lies and xenophobia eg the UKIP poster showing Syrian refugees, the Vote Leave leaflet showing Syria and Iraq set to join the EU.

        2. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

          I strongly agree with your views.

          The unfortunate problem with the referendum is that it has been hi-jacked by the right, so that people are not exposed to the real debate.

          This is a problem for democracy, because I feel that people will vote not having considered the real issues.

          I would dearly love this blog to have a thorough debate on the Lexit movie (just out).

          Could someone balance this with a remain discussion that does not include fighting with Boris and Gove for real balance?

          1. David Pavett says:

            @Sandra Crawford, I am amazed that you think that the video which you link gives the “real debate”. It doesn’t even get to the first post in terms of dealing with the obvious responses to its simplistic statistics. See here and here for the sort of view of UK payments to the EU that the makers of the video would have dealt with had they been interested in “real debate”.

            You ask for a Remain discussion that doesn’t include fighting with Boris and Gove. You don’t seem to have seen the large amount of such material including here on Left Futures. These articles by Ann Pettifor, Peter Rowlands and Barry Ewart didn’t, as far as I remember, mention Boris and Gove. This one by Peter R only mentions them in passing.

  10. Richard Tiffin says:

    I have been saying for some time that the only winners from a Brexit will be UKIP and for that political reason alone we should campaigning to remain. In that sense I agree with the columnist above, though I am not happy with what I saw as emotional blackmail.

    I have no illusions that the European bosses will be any less exploitative than British bosses. Capitalism is the problem, not this or that international organisation. I don’t believe for one second that my pension, maternity leave the NHS of any other social welfare is safer in a European capitalists hands that a British capitalists.

    The issue is, and will remain after we leave the EC, a crisis in the economy of the world. If you struggle to see that then ask yourself why have interests rates been at virtually zero for close to eight years? The world is awash with money to invest but they can’t give it away and capitalists are buying bonds that LOSE MONEY!

    Why are so many governments introducing austerity budgets year after year? Are they all suddenly Thatcherite Neo Liberals or just perhaps economic circumstances are forcing them there.

    Why are countries with “socialist” government like France having such battle with their own workers? Did they wake up one morning after some form of Thatcherite Damaclean conversion in their sleep!

    Go here and look at the prices of commodities and much other economic data here and ask yourself what is happening?

    It’s the economy, it’s capitalism. Not the EC in or out.

    What I struggle with at the moment are the crocodile tears from even some in the Labour Party over this appalling murder of Jo Cox.

    There is much bemoaning of the rise of racism as the Brexit camp exploit latent racism; fears of immigrants taking jobs; the low availability of housing; a deteriorating NHS; an ‘invasion’ that is destroying British culture’ and so on ad infinitum as they pile the blame for all of this squarely at the door of immigrants.

    However, are people forgetting that many in the Labour Party have been criticising Corbyn for failing to ‘grapple’ with the issue of immigration?

    Corbyn, to his credit has persistently refused to do so and this has been exploited by those attempting to undermine and topple him. I bring just two examples here, Frank Field and John Mann (below), but there are others. These vile creatures are actually more responsible for the rise of racism and the violence that accompanies it because they undermine the message of the party that stands against it. We know what UKIP, the far right and the Tories will do and stand against it, but how can we when those in our own ranks echo the scum who spread the disease of racism and xenophobia.

    So let’s stop with the crocodile tears and get on with what this party is best at, standing up against the vile propaganda that is against others who need our help simply because of where they come from. If any good can come from this appalling but foreseeable tragedy it should be a return to our values and the machine that is hounding out socialist from the party needs to be turned against those who are undermining our message.

    Frank Field

    John Mann

  11. Nestor says:

    I’m all for staying in, but I have to say I find it very odd that Newman and Wight of Socialist Disunity are such strong Remainians, considering that they felt it was acceptable for Russia to invade Ukraine over a simple association agreement.

    I also find the criticism of far right Brexiters, valid though it is, rings somewhat hollow from Newman considering his support for far right “Ukrexiters” in the East of that country.

    1. Tim Wilkinson says:

      I don’t approve of the long-standing practice of eastern european countries being used as buffer zones, but I do notice that you forgot to mention the Western-backed neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine, which would have given a fuller picture of the vicous power struggle going on. (I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it).

  12. Roberta Cornforth says:

    To vote to remain in the EU is the sure fire way to ensure the rapid growth of right wing extremism in the UK. Please read my post above regarding how THE PEOPLE of Europe are voting in their own countries and draw your conclusions. It seems to me that we have one chance to disassociate ourselves from the rapid rise of the right wing in Europe and stop, once again, the chance of fascism coming to these shores. If we leave, under our own Laws we can control what is as yet a small but poisonous group of fascists. We would have little chance if we remain considering that a large proportion of people could feel disenfranchised and may switch their vote at the next General Election to a party so many of us would consider to be on the edge of extremism and thereby bringing the UK in line with much of mainland Europe. The murder of Jo Cox and the despicable reaction of some commentators who would seek to make fascists of anyone who wishes to leave, led me to investigate the strength of the far right in both the UK and mainland Europe. The results speak for themselves. Our problems are small. Do not let commentators who would seek to shut down debate, make it big. Very big indeed.

  13. Historyintime says:

    When did unmanaged immigration become a socialist ideological test? It favours the ruling classes by pumping up growth and tightening the labour market.

    More generally Brexit is now clear indicator of true believerdom or not. Why so pessimistic about socialism and progressive prospects in a more independent Britain? As opposed to an at best mildly left neoliberal EU?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      ‘Immigration’ is not a ‘socialist ideological test’ and no-one’s saying it is.

      ‘Immigration’ is simply a fact of nature – that’s it.

      The task for the left is to seek to improve workers’ pay, job security, etc and to hold down and reduce rents, increase access to housing for all, defend public services etc.

      And the second part of your post, excellent point. The ‘Left-Remain’ do seem exceptionally pessimistic here. They’re presenting this as choosing the lesser of two bad choices.

      And the ‘Left-Remain’ claims that all workers’ rights come from the EU completely removes the actual real-life working-class history and the achievements of many decades of class struggle.

      1. John Penney says:

        Karl, why are you persisting in claiming the utterly ahistorical “immigration is simply a fact of nature” (“nature” ? – err I think you’ll find its socioeconomic history not “natural” by the way), which is quite obviously demonstrably true – as if this also meant “UNCONTROLLED, UNLIMITED immigration is simply a fact of nature” , which is demonstrably completely untrue historically in almost all states – even the relatively open state of the UK. The simple fact is that migration to the UK was stable (net circa 50K per annum for 30 years or so) and controlled by the UK government up until the Treaty of Lisbon and the accession of the poorer Eastern European States – from only 2004 onwards – when net migration has rocketed to over 300K per annum.

        It’s no good trying to ignore this step change to completely unlimited migration, and its massive impact on the “uberisation” of lower income jobs across the UK jobs market.

        Your blithe dismissal of the key issue for millions of working class people , often Labour voters, of unlimited migration/labour supply, is typical of so many on the Left – and simply ignores this concern with a sloganized , but operationally empty, clarion call : ie,

        “The task for the left is to seek to improve workers’ pay, job security, etc and to hold down and reduce rents, increase access to housing for all, defend public services etc. ”

        Yeh, right – but unlimited labour supply in a capitalist market makes this well nigh impossible, Karl.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          John, it’s not a ‘blithe dismissal’ it’s more a recognition of reality.

          My view is low pay and insecure employment reflects relative weakness on the part of the union movement by comparison to, say, the 1970s historically.

          The union membership in total today is around six million, but by comparison the union membership in total back in the 1970s was about double that number, around 12 million. Those are the facts John, not a ‘blithe dismissal’ with respect.

          And in my opinion, that’s the reason for the relative downward pressure on pay and the relative increase in insecure employment etc.

          Your case is that the change is down to immigration, but my point is that there was also large-scale immigration in that period also – very large numbers of people came here from the then ‘commonwealth’ nations at that time for example.

          Those ‘immigrants’ also faced widespread hostility from people – which was actually a much more mainstream view then than it is today.

          But in spite of that, because of the relative strength of the organised union movement, wages, conditions etc were maintained.

          So I think we disagree as to what the real, underlying reason is.

          Now, let’s say, for the sake of arguments, that my view is right. It is possible for the left to focus on union organising and recruitment. It’s possible to rebuild the union movement to bring total membership levels back up to where they were and then to impose on the employer to raise pay, reverse the drift towards insecure employment models, to collectively enforce pay rates, terms and conditions across industries and sectors.

          I’m certainly not saying that would be easy, it would be extremely hard slog and difficult to achieve, but it is possible.

          On the other hand, let’s say for the sake of argument that your analysis is right, and that ‘immigration’ is the cause. What exactly do you propose the left should do?

          Surely you’re not seriously suggesting we, the left, should organise to physically prevent people from entering the UK? Or organising to try to actually remove people from the UK? I’m sure you’re not suggesting this.

          So are you suggesting we should just say some sympathetic words to people who complain about immigration? Something like ‘yes it is the reason for our problems, but what can you do?’

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Just a further thought, do those people who argue that ‘immigration’ is the direct cause of poverty think that, therefore its opposite ’emigration’ is therefore the path to prosperity for those who remain?

          2. John Penney says:

            You simply haven’t read my many, many, posts on this issue apparently, Karl. If you won’t bother to read my posts what is the point in asking questions already answered ?

            The “offer” from the Left has to be a return to the previously universally agreed socialist programme of a comprehensively democratic state-led (“dirigement” )planned economy – quite possible even with a mixed capitalist/state owned/co-operative structured economy with a radical Left Keynsian strategy.

            The Left too often now seems to have effectively abandoned the vital role of selective strategic nationalisation and comprehensive planning in its “policy offer toolbag”. State-led planning and an objective of Full employment presupposes state controls and planning for capital flows and labour supply. Hence inward migration levels must be subject to the democratically agreed National Plan on a regular basis.

            Only this approach can actually give the mass of UK citizens a real democratic influence on the thorny issue of immigration levels – and provide a viable Left alternative to the totally bogus claims of the Right and Far Right that they have any will to reduce immigration at all.

            The Right, including the Labour Right, will never put limits on immigration , regardless of their divisive rhetoric , because the entire neoliberal project rests on unlimited labour supply as one of its key support pedestals.

            Lastly your “is emigration a route to prosperity ? ” jibe ? question ? rhetorical squib ? can only be answered if you supply a specific historical and national context. There is no “YES/NO” all purpose answer. One thing is clear, unlimited externally sourced labour supply in any economy completely undermines the bargaining power of the domestic working class. Basic Supply/Demand economics in a capitalist economy should tell you why.

            Of course a removal of all restrictions on trades union organisation in the UK – particularly on the Closed shop – would give unionised workers much more control of their working conditions. This is essential for a future Labour government. But let’s not delude ourselves what a return of widespread Closed Shops will mean , the deliberate exclusion of migrant workers from access to entire sectors of the labour market. In other words, a return to mass trade union influence across industry will actually result in an end to completely free access to the British labour market from other states.

        2. David Pavett says:

          @John Penny. I agree. The argument acording to which large scale migration it is just something that happens and has always happened is the same which leads people to conclude that there will always be rich an poor just as there have always been rich and poor. It just happens. The founding thought for socialists is that what ‘just happens’ in capitalist society is a product of that society. Things can be otherwise but for that to happen society must be restructured.

  14. Karl Stewart says:

    John, a post-entry closed shop only excludes workers who refuse to join a union – scabs basically.

    1. John Penney says:

      Union Closed Shop arrangements are vital to rebuild trades union power in the UK, but your “only scabs are effected” claim is not so clean or always progressive in reality , Karl. Unionised workforces with a solid hold on entry to a workplace historically have had a very major influence on exactly who gets a job opportunity, and not just in terms of quite rightly blocking the current unlimited labour supply scourge of competitive wage undercutting by potential new entrants .

      As an example, and not a progressive example either – In the , now long gone, Barnsley pits, their were many, many exiled East European miners, particularly from the Ukraine and Poland. But Afro Caribbean miners ? Not a one – reflected in the astonishingly almost all White population of Barnsley to this day. That from a union renowned for its overall progressive, socialist, approach.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Probably because there were lots of experienced and skilled miners from those countries John.

        1. John Penney says:

          That must be it ,mustn’t it, Karl. No black workers in the UK ever had the required skills to work down the Barnsley pits.

          Or maybe there was a different reason ?

          And in the closed shop Northern Ireland shipbuilding industry, for most of its entire existence, strangely enough, none of those Catholic workers ever had the required skills to get the jobs either.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Lots of black miners from South Africa would have had the skills and experience for this highly skilled and highly dangerous job I’m sure.

            You raise a good point, in that there were instances of historic racism within the TU movement, or employer discrimination that the union didn’t oppose, and other instances, such as in the shipyards, where there was sectarian discrimination.

            I worked with a Scottish guy who had worked in the Glasgow yards and he said Catholics were welders and Protestants were fitters – might have been an exaggeration, but that’s what he told me. (Maybe that’s where the anti-welder ‘jokes’ originated from?)

            But those examples are reasons to oppose racism and discrimination in the workplace, not reasons against the post-entry closed shop.

            What happened with post-entry closed shop was an employee would start work and be told union membership was a condition of their employment – so they either joined or didn’t work there.

  15. Jim Denham says:

    The man accused of murdering Jo Cox gave his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. As he (allegedly) shot and stabbed the MP to death he cried “Britain First” or “Put Britain First”.

    It is now established that he had links with the far-right. It seems very likely that he is mentally ill. We do not know to what extent the anti-Europe campaign fuelled his murderous hatred, but those of who believe that political rhetoric inevitably has practical consequences are obliged to point out that the poisonous, racist campaign for Brexit has created precisely the political context for murderous violence of this kind. Just a few hours before the murder, Farage unveiled a poster showing Syrian refugees fleeing to Slovenia as though this was a threat to the UK: a clear incitement to racial hatred, that the official ‘Leave’ campaign has not exactly rushed to disassociate itself from, and the “left” exiters have, so far, had little olr nothing to say about.

    Remain campaigners have, on the whole, been reluctant to publicly link the murder with the racism of the Brexit campaign, but some have now had the guts to start doing so. I recommend Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Alex Massie at the Spectator Jonathan Freedland also at the Guardian).

    Alan Woods at Socialist Appeal makes some good points here, but eventually bottles it by trying to argue that the official Brexit and Remain campaigns are equally culpable – something that is demonstrably untue.

    1. Historyintime says:

      Agree that it’s very hard To dismiss the view that the coded (and overt) racism of the Leave campaign pushed a pre-existing disturbed person over the edge.

      What do you do? The campaign is led by rubbish but you believe in the underlying position?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        No! The “leave” campaign, as led by the racist right, but supported by the idiot-left, is reactionary and racist to its core. The left, as the vast majority of unions and Corbyn’s Labour, have made clear, must campaign and vote for Remain.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Important to take on and disprove the wrong, but ‘common-sense’ consensus virtually across the board that ‘immigration’ causes low pay, insecure employment, high rents, and public service cuts.

          Low pay and insecure employment reflects the relatively weak union organisation and strength by comparison to earlier periods, such as the 1970s for example.

          ‘Immigration’ was very high during that period, but strong unionisation (double that of today) maintained wages, terms and conditions etc.

          Also, a strong and confident labour movement was a firm foundation on which to fight organised racism.

          Rather than use the current situation as a pretext for yet another bout of ‘left-on-left’ infighting, let’s turn or focus to union organising and recruitment to strengthen our movement and drive up pay, job security etc.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            I can agree with Karl about the need to focus on union organisation and recruitment: but why, then, put at risk the limited but real workers’ protections and equality legislation guaranteed by membership of the EU and now seriously under threat from the Tory hard-right? It makes no sense from a trade union point of view and, certainly no sense from a socialist perspective.

        2. John P Reid says:

          And the remain campaign led by that thug Bob geldoff, were intimidating and lying through their teeth about economic hard times ,we’ll have , if we leave, clearly a case of the rich,not wanting the poor,to better themselves,

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to Jim at 8.20:

            All workers’ rights are always at risk from employers. Whether we’re in or out of multi-national capitalist federations.

            Workers’ rights are only won, and are only successfully defended by the collective strength of workers.

            What has been disappointing from the ‘Left-Remain’ side has been the implication that workers’ rights came from the EU.

            Workers’ rights came from the fields of Dorset, the mills of Lancashire, the coalmines of Yorkshire, the steel works of Wales, the dockyards of London.

            Equalities came from the struggles of the Bow matchgirls, the sacrifices of the suffragettes, the strikes of the women of Dagenham.

            Working-class people won workers’ rights over many, many decades of hard struggle. And many decades before the EU even existed.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            So, Karl, your namesake Marx and the International Workingmen’s Association (aka the First International) were reformist fools for wanting the 8 hour day established in bourgeois legislation, and not just dependent upon the proletariat’s willingness to struggle continuously in order to enforce it?

          3. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to JimD at 3.55:

            I’d certainly not call Marx a fool no.

            “Considering, that the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves,”

          4. Jim Denham says:

            So why was Marx so keen that the working class’s gains should be embodied in legislation?

          5. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to Jim at 6.14:

            I’m not sure you’re right factually on this to be honest. I don’t think there is UK legislation on the eight-hour day (other than for under-18s).

            My understanding is that the eight-hour day is something that became ‘the norm’ after which overtime premia (time-and-a-half or time-and-a-third dependent on domestic or national agreements) is paid.

            I don’t think this is underwritten by legislation, either at UK or EU level.

          6. Jim Denham says:

            You seem to have missed the point, Karl: Marx and the 1st International campaigned for *legislation* on the 8 hour day and saw *legislation* as essential to their victory – something the Brexit “leftrs” attempt to deny with regard to EU-originating legislation, when all of a sudden they become all anarcho-syndicalist. Here’s the 1st International’s position (from an accurate entry in Wikipedia)::

            The International Workingmen’s Association took up the demand for an eight-hour day at its convention in Geneva in August 1866, declaring “The legal limitation of the working day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvements and emancipation of the working class must prove abortive”, and “The Congress proposes eight hours as the legal limit of the working day.”

          7. Karl Stewart says:

            Reply to Jim at 8.07:

            Well then I’m afraid I’d have to respectfully disagree with the ‘old Grouch’ there.

            People like their overtime.

          8. Jim Denham says:

            The trade union case:

            (Text of a speech by Jim Kelly, London & Eastern Region Chair of Unite, at a Norwich meeting “What future for the Left in Europe?” making the case for trades unionists to vote and campaign for REMAIN in the EU referendum):


            Unite is the largest private sector manufacturing union in the UK, with around half a million members employed in manufacturing. We are clear that a vote to Remain will be better for our members employed in British manufacturing than the chaos and uncertainty that will follow a Brexit. The same applies to the public sector, where TU membership is far stronger.

            Unite research shows that Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on exports to the EU in industries where membership is strong, Aerospace, 54%,
            Transport, 44%, Finance, 44%, Food manufacturing, 53% and the Chemical industry 54%. This will have a devastating impact on union membership.

            Within TUC affiliated unions the overwhelming majority, in terms of membership support Remain, with only three small unions, RMT, ASLEF and the
            Bakers Union supporting exit.

            Unite’s position on the referendum issue was agreed overwhelmingly at the 2014 Policy Conference.

            “That on balance of advantages at present Unite would argue for a vote to stay in the EU while also campaigning against a neo- Liberal agenda being
            promoted from Brussels”

            We went on to agree we should be addressing the need for hope & solidarity: developing A new vision based on the values of social justice;

            This was a continuation of the decision of the 2012 conference to reject a Brexit position. It was recently decided at the April EC to join the Remain
            campaign, as a “permitted participant” but not to work with the Tories but to support “Another Europe Is Possible” and urge our members to vote

            Unite is all too aware that some of our members, like many working class people across the UK have been influenced by the right wing and its supporters in the media. Some on the Left are also advocating Brexit.

            *Those on the Brexit left wishing to leave the EU need to be able to positively answer two questions; that exit will benefit unions and workers,
            and their campaign will help develop worker’s consciousness *

            Why these two questions are fundamental is because Unions can only progress member’s interests in two ways; industrially and through legislation. As unions’ industrial power has declined so the importance of pro-union legislation has increased. Seen as a totality such legislation creates a floor below which unions and workers’ rights cannot fall: with two major exceptions (TU recognition and the minimum wage) all such post 1980 legislation originates from the EU.

            In the UK our floor of rights is weaker than many other European counties, a cumulative effect of the way European laws have been introduced in the
            UK, with UK governments using their rights to Opt Out to water down EU legislation.

            While we may blame many things on the EU, the majority of problems unions have with EU legislation is a consequence of how successive UK governments have enacted that legislation.

            Let’s look at two cases:

            First; The recent steel crisis caused by dumping of cheap inferior steel on the world market by China. It was the UK government which vetoed the right of the EU to impose tariffs to keep foreign steel out of Europe. Also other EU members have state-financed steel plants – for instance in December 2014 Italy did this 2014 to prevent a steel plant closure. EU law didn’t ban bailouts for British Steel – after all, Gordon Brown part nationalised a number of banks in 2008 – Sajid Javid and the UK Tory Party simply wasn’t interested in supporting tens of thousands of workers due to the UK Tory government’s free market dogma.

            Secondly, The Posted Workers Directive: this has frequently been cited by some as an example of legislation which divides workers and undermines pay. In reality the Directive gives member states latitude to determine what constitutes the minimum rate of pay. The Blair Government set the rate at the National Minimum Wage (thereby creating a two tier workforce) while in Ireland they linked the Posted Workers rate to the ‘going rate’ set by collective bargaining: meaning far less room to drive down wages and divide workers.

            A much higher level of workers’ rights in Europe applied across the EU would ease some of the pressure whereby employers exploit free movement of
            labour to accelerate the race to the bottom, exploiting both UK and migrant workers.

            However weak the present floor of rights may be, post-exit would see the government dismantle it, further eroding unions’ abilities to defend members and further worsening workers’ terms and conditions:

            · Priti Patel (employment minister) has called them a “burden” and said she would like to “halve” them.

            · Boris Johnson said it was “very disappointing” that Britain had not made “changes to employment law”, complaining that we “need to weigh in
            on all that stuff, all that social chapter stuff”. Boris at his most articulate!

            · Chris Grayling, when asked what European “red tape” he disliked, he referred to health and safety laws.

            The consequence of this pulling apart of the floor of rights could also accelerate a European wide race to the bottom. What possible benefit can unions and workers derive from such a development?

            Unless, of course, someone wished to contend the floor of rights was irrelevant or believed the Tories will leave it intact (as some people on the anti-EU left sometimes, incredibly, appear to do).

            The Press has made much of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership during the referendum. My view is that Jeremy’s strategy of presenting a “warts and all” argument focusing on worker’s rights, consumer protection and democratic reform while strengthening European solidarity to fight against austerity is absolutely correct.

            The issue here is not Jeremy but in many cases the UK media sucking up to Farage, Gove and Johnson and making the divisions in the Tory party the main focus of their reporting

            Although it is impossible to say what level of destabilisation would result if we Brexit on 23rd, we can say with certainty it will have a detrimental impact on all unions and their memberships.

            Moreover, the impact of a serious downturn caused by Brexit is likely to have precisely the opposite effect to what the Left Leave advocates believe will happen: rather than helping the fight against austerity, attacks on unions and workers will be intensified while the labour movement will be divided and unable to respond as a direct consequence of the political chaos an exit victory will cause within our ranks.

            In truth such chaos will not be down to the left’s intervention, rather an exit victory will boost an insurgent populist right and it is that which our movement, including the Labour Party will have to contend with.

            Across Europe and North America globalisation is causing a rising level of hopelessness among large sections of the working classes who are being
            galvanised into activity by the programme of the populist right, whether Farage, Le Pen or Trump. The common denominator across all these movements, and what roots them in worker’s consciousness is the appeal to their respective nationalisms and a sense of alienation. This referendum should not be seen solely as being about “in” or “out”: it is also a key episode in the formation of this populist right-wing.

            For many workers supporting exit, the referendum is a lightning rod for hitting back against the causes of their social problems, whether it is about politicians not listening, their growing impoverishment or their belief that exit will reverse Britain’s decline; not least by stopping immigration.

            In voting for exit many workers, clearly including many of our members, will not have been influenced by the arguments of the left, rather they
            will cast their vote bound hand and foot to Johnson, Gove and Farage and the hard-right leadership of the Out campaign.

            Once the impact of destabilisation on the working class is grasped and the wider political impact on working class politics understood, it should be obvious that our enemies’ enemy, in this instance UKIP and the hard-right of the Tory Party, is not our friend.

            The above is not to endorse the EU as it is today – far from it. Those who advocate leaving are right when they speak about its undemocratic nature and we on the left know what to do about its shortcomings: our problem is we have not done it.

            Organising industrially and politically is our answer = it is our answer to the limitations of the Posted Workers Directive; it is our antidote to blaming foreign workers; and on a pan European level it is our answer to the present democratic limitations of the EU. For those of us who wish to remain we need to use the existing European-wide trade union and political institutions and networks to campaign not only to democratise the EU but also to fight for our Europe – a social Europe.

            Our starting point, however, must be to ensure we stay in

    2. John P Reid says:

      The man clearly is mentally ill, prolly Toynbees disgraceful article is saying anyone who votes leave is a racist,and those who want leave are violent fascists, like this man, from her villa in Tuscany

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        He’s a Nazi. He had Nazi memorabilia at his house. He subscribed to Nazi publications. He attended Nazi activities. He shouted the name of a Nazi organisation when he committed this foul murder.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Yes,but it doesn’t mean anyone who wants leave is associated with this man, there are Sinn Fein republicans who want leave doesn’t mean Norman the bit supports the IRA

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Yes of course.

            And the fact that the Remain side is led by people who supported the illegal Iraq War doesn’t mean our many friends and comrades on the ‘Left-Remain’ side also supported the killing of many tens of thousands of people during that atrocity.

            We on the left need to look beyond this nasty and divisive referendum and focus our efforts on rebuilding the strength, effectiveness and size of the union movement.

          2. John P Reid says:

            Agreed can’t wit tillthursday, the labour leave who had to share a stage with frame and his poster should say why
            And the remain who stood by Polly Toynbee disgraceful article that the leave side were responsible for Jo Cox death should apologize, but will straw trying to cash in on her death should take a step back

            And the remain side will have to explain to potential labour voters who vote Ukip,how we’re going to go wages up,and soverignity over TTIP

          3. Jim Denham says:

            As the left and the labour Movement, from the trade unions, the Party to the majority of radical groups, stand increasingly united behind a Remain Vote the Brexit ‘left’ is desperate.

            They are scrambling round for self-justification.

            From whingeing about the ‘absence of a working class voice” in the referendum, Socialist Worker has been reduced to asserting that, “A socialist Europe is not on the ballot paper and there is no method for reforming the EU.”

            Oddly this a Referendum about membership of the EU, and it does not include an option to vote for the SWP either.

            Nor does saying three times that the EU cannot be changed make the claim true.

            John McDonnell says,

            Labour is pushing for an ambitious programme of reforms that will make the EU work for the best interests of working people here and across Europe.

            For example, all the EU member states have a share in the European Investment Bank (EIB). The UK’s share is 16 per cent, equivalent to its size inside the EU. But the Tories have failed to make the most of it, with the UK only receiving 11 per cent of funding. If we took our fair share of the extra funding that the EIB has offered, that would be £35bn of additional investment. That’s more than double the entire UK public investment spend for a year.

            The SWP’s position would have us not even try to get this ideas on the practical agenda.

            This argument in today’s The Socialist, plumbs the depths of delusion.

            voters – particularly working class voters – are increasingly seeing the referendum as a chance to protest both against Cameron and everything they have suffered in recent years: low pay, zero-hour contracts, benefit cuts, the lack of affordable housing, and public services cut to the bone. One poll shows that 60% of ‘blue collar’ workers intend to vote for exit.

            What is the basis of this ‘blue collar’ (not a Marxist category) support for Brexit?

            There is no mention in this article of something too obvious, er, to mention.

            Socialist Party ‘aligned’ Trade Unionists Against the EU leaders Enrico Tortolano and Ragesh Khakhria (both part of the PCS which officially has a neutral stand during the referendum) get to grips with the issue of what motives this support in the Morning Star.

            They observe, in arguing for something now called a ‘People’s Brexit‘ that,

            ….millions of working-class voters are unrepresented by the mainstream political parties and large chunks of the trade union movement.

            The stance and position of those who are supposed to represent labour is at odds with the experience of the working class in Britain as well as the rest of the EU.

            Working-class people are experiencing unemployment or insecure jobs, low pay, no pension with little prospect of owning their own home, or living in secure council housing.

            It’s nonsense to pretend that the movement of more people into these communities is having no impact on their lives.

            Rich Tories have already cut schools and hospitals they use to the bone.

            For the metropolitan liberal elite, far removed from such concerns, the prospect of a people’s Brexit simply violates their sense of entitlement and jeopardises the prospect of middle-class benefits that the working class will never see.

            So ‘movement of more people’ – free movement of labour in the European Union – is a problem which has created support for Brexit. Only the ’emptroplitan liberal elite’ – do not see this reality.

            This is clearly at odds with Socialist Worker’s charges against “Fortress Europe”. They charge the EU with putting up barriers to refugees and migrants from outside the Continent. SW notes that the Official Remain campaign is led by those who want to “regain control” of Britain’s borders.

            Does the Socialist Party and Trade Unionists Against the EU want to regain “control” over UK frontiers, stop the flow of “cheap labour” that is having an “impact” on “communities”?

            If so, how?

            And if the SWP opposes such moves, why are they backing a vote for those whose entire project in recent weeks has been centred on a hate campaign against migrant workers

            Perhaps we should consider not just migrants and refugees on the frontiers of Europe but “people” in “movement” who have come to Britian. Khakhria and Tortolano, whose own forebears were no doubt in “movement” have no answer to this issue.

            The pair note, no doubt wistfully, that,

            Historically, the labour movement and Labour leaders such as Clement Attlee and Hugh Gaitskell felt a much greater affinity with the Commonwealth countries than they did to the capitalist Common Market.

            Yes, New Zealand Lamb and butter, that’s the best reply to the ‘capitalist’ EU.

  16. Matty says:

    James O’Brien on LBC radio a couple of days ago:
    “Is it even vaguely possible that a man living in Britain today could be pushed to the brink of murder by political debate and the political situation? I don’t care where you come from, I don’t care who you vote for. Can you conceive of circumstances in which somebody living in Britain today could be pushed to a point where they contemplate this sort of conduct. I’m afraid to tell you that I can.

    If I was to be reading my newspaper every single morning and be told that my very existence was under siege from people I’ve never met and never seen but keep getting told are coming here in their hoards. If I was to open my newspaper or turn on my radio or TV to hear that everybody who is coming here is a rapist and they’ve got their eyes on our women and we’ve got no chance whatsoever of protecting ourselves. And unless we do this or do that, or treat them like this or treat them like that, then we’re all doomed, we’re all going to hell in a handcart.

    If I was being told it’s time to reclaim our country every time I got out of bed in the morning, I’d begin to believe it, I think, if I didn’t have the knowledge and the insights and the education to know that it is not true. We want our country back from whom? We want our country back from when? “

    1. John P Reid says:

      You mention your newspaper, but the dIly star,called the suspect a brexiter, saying remain Ho killed by Brexit supporter,and the Mail on Sunday,are pro remain

      Yet , the remain camp keep endless smearing of leave calling them all fascist racist violent,

        1. John P Reid says:

          3 of those head,unles are the daily mail,which isn’t even Brexit yet

  17. David Pavett says:

    A useful piece by Paul Mason on Brexit as a fake working clas revolt .

    1. John P Reid says:

      Mason talks lot of sense elsewhere, but the headline about the Tories,it’s democracy right,

  18. John P Reid says:

    Sarah Champion,in that picture,laughed on Twitter,when UAF intimidated Nigel Farge,locking him ,in his office, she never apologized

  19. Dan says:

    I’m sorry, but while racism is bad, in the grand scheme it is not an important issue in this country and a left that doesn’t grasp that will always fail.

  20. David Pavett says:

    You quote John McDonnell saying

    Labour is pushing for an ambitious programme of reforms that will make the EU work for the best interests of working people here and across Europe.

    Where are these proposals? Why are Party members not being told about it? Why has this not featured in Labour’s Remain campaign?

    1. John P Reid says:

      Anymore than both Turkey joining or a EU army being discussed in Friday

    2. John Penney says:

      Yes indeed, David. Given that such a supposed “ambitious Labour programme ” has appeared absolutely nowhere during this important Referendum , I think we can safely assume it is pure whimsy by John McDonnell. Instead , with the exception of some of Jeremy’s (and John’s) principled and nuanced pro-Remain speeches – totally ignored by the mass media in terms of coverage of content, the Labour Remain Campaign content has been astonishingly indistinguishable from that of Cameron and co. As has the TUC’s mouthings – in fact Francis O’Grady’s apolitical (and frankly historically nonsense craven claims that it is the EU which gave us and protects our employment rights) output has very often been hard to differentiate from the CBI.

      On this evening’s News media so many Labour Grandees , from Brown to Harman, have been grinning inanely alongside Cameron on their Remain Tour, and mouthing exactly the same pro EU platitudes , that it would almost be possible to imagine that these supposed Labour Party supporters had somehow forgotten the dire consequences for Labour in Scotland of exactly this gross unequivocal , uncritical, partnership with the hated purveyors of Austerity, during the Scottish Referendum Campaign.

      Labour MP’s across the UK are apparently deeply shocked at how many traditional Labour supporters are backing Brexit as they go round canvassing for Remain. The failure of Labour to expound a resolutely radical vision for the UK as a united party (impossible whilst most PLP members are pretty indistinguishable in politics from the Cameron Tory mainstream), could be setting the seal on a major poll disaster for Labour in the next election, which could be much sooner than 2020.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        ” Francis O’Grady’s apolitical (and frankly historically nonsense craven claims that it is the EU which gave us and protects our employment rights” … TUPE, the Working Time Regs, the Agency Workers Regs, Temporary Workers Regs, etc, etc …nothing to do with the EU? Get real, John.

        Additionally, when IDS and Priti Patel talk about getting rid of “red tape” do you think they’re talking about straight bananas?

        1. John Penney says:

          You really have have bought uncritically into the entire current “the EU protects our rights” mythology, Jim. Every key workers right in the UK was actually won by struggle in the UK, and all of our core employment Rights are currently far superior to those supposedly “guaranteed” by the EU. Are you seriously claiming that the UK Labour Movement couldn’t have secured the few additional employment rights which have emerged via the EU in recent years ?

          The TUC is nowadays a craven body of well pensioned bureaucrats who have done nothing effective to combat the constant Tory attacks on Trades Union Rights , or fight Austerity – other than a few mass marches purely for show. It is highly convenient for the passive TUC bureaucrats to cite the EU as the font of and guarantor of UK workers rights – because it takes the spotlight off their supine inactivity.

          Across the Channel, for months now the French Working class has been involved in direct combat with the Hollande government and its Big Business backers as they try by diktat to rip up an entire raft of hard won French workers employment rights. What “protection” has the EU given French workers in the face of this assault ? Absolutely none of course.

          And only last week the EU commission supported the ever greater advance of the “Uberised” or “Gig” employment practices , which are fully intended to atomise the working class and destroy all existing organisational structures to defend workers in the neoliberal labour market,

          You need to get real, Jim. You have bought into an entire mythology about the EU today. The “Social Market” dream of the 1970’s is long gone – replaced by the ruthless neoliberal enforcement machine of the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties, which crushed the working class in Greece so recently.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            What a lot of rubbish, John: it is FACT that every single piece of pro-worker legislation sinmce 1980 originates with the EU. If you refuse to recognise this simple FACT then you are beyond reason – like so many of the pro-Bexit “left” idiots.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            What a lot of rubbish, John: it is FACT that every single piece of pro-worker legislation sinmce 1980 originates with the EU. If you refuse to recognise this simple FACT then you are beyond reason – like so many of the pro-Brexit “left” idiots.

  21. john reid says:

    well said John and jim

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