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How likely is a General Election?

ad_221423652_e1475423881572If you were feeling nostalgic for this summer’s Brexit chaos, the last couple of days should have provided you a fix. The High Court judgement that – rightly – stipulated the requirement for Article 50 to come to the Commons before its trigger threw the government into a panic. It also reminded us of the utter stupidity of senior Conservative politicians. Not having read the judgement, let alone understood it, morons like David Davies and IDS have paraded into the studios to decry this “assault” on the referendum result. This greenlit the unhinged editorial suites of the rightwing press to parade contrived outrage befitting the froth of a Nazi rag. The Mail providing a new low in their grim history as Britain’s most vile newspaper. This was almost matched by The Sun who purposely chose to darken the skin of Gina Miller – the petitioner who brought the case – to emphasise their “foreign elite” headline.

The press are accustomed to exercising their power without responsibility, and it’s an unalloyed good that the circulations of our most irascible organs are plunging downwards. However, the government, content to let the press mobilise rape and death threats (which, true to hypocritical form, The Sun subsequently branded sick), certainly isn’t immune to consequences. On the one hand, it gives more power to the elbows of Cameroons like Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry – any old rope will do to remind folks they exist and are halfway relevant. On the other it stirs up uneasiness among the wider Tory fraternity as they interpret press outrage as the stirrings of a populist mob of demented bigots venting anger toward institutions the Conservative Party cherishes while simultaneously making their new, strong leader appear powerless. And it can lead to some quitting in disgust, like Stephen Phillips’s resignation from Parliament. Despite being a Tory and a Leave supporter, his objection to the sidelining of Parliament in the Brexit negotiations is right and principled. Furthermore, he’s not returning to the Commons either. See, Zac, that’s how you resign in protest.

Theresa May’s project has two strands to it. First off, there is the patching up of the Thatcherite settlement and, of course, securing Brexit. Her base in big business will ensure as softer a Brexit as possible is secured for them, despite current disagreements and round robin letters from our captains of industry. And, indeed, the High Court judgement, which seems unlikely to get overturned on appeal, is going to help that. The problem for May is the former, for the foreseeable, is destined to be conditioned by the latter. If she makes efforts to follow through on the one nationism, which is ultimately about giving British capitalism some degree of stability, they are under threat of getting blown off course and/or undermined by the volatile mess of the latter. Given circumstances are less than ideal, what with a small majority and all that, and commanding huge leads in the opinion polls (which, lest we forget, have historically overstated Labour support), there are voices in the cabinet and media urging her to go for a general election. A whopping majority would, after all, shrink to insignificance the rebellious potential of Cameroons and diehard Brexiteers and ensure, should the Supreme Court find against the government, a large majority to get Article 50 through the Commons with the minimum of fuss.

I still think a general election is unlikely. Firstly, and it often appears that professional commentators need reminding of this, it is no longer in the gift of the Prime Minister to call an election. If there is to be an early election, it requires either a vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds majority in the House assenting to Parliament’s dissolution. Now, some figure that a way around this is for the introduction of a bill for its abolition, which would only need a simple majority, or the Act’s amendment granting the Prime Minister discretion. The problem is both would take up Parliamentary time. It would be very surprising if opposition parties opposed such a move, but it means every party can see it coming a mile off. Effectively, the day it appears on the parliamentary timetable is the day electioneering begins. And it could go on a while if the Commons gets into a game of legislative ping pong with the Lords. The process of calling an election is far from easy.

Second, an election means May would be forced to do the very thing she doesn’t want to do, and that is set out the government’s Brexit negotiating positions. It is simply not sustainable for the next Conservative government to issue a manifesto and merely say it is dedicated to the best possible result for Britain on page after page. Ordinarily, most voters don’t pay attention to detailed minutiae, but with millions politicised by the referendum, this time’s would be a little bit different. Oh yes, and there’s EU politicians too. While it is impolitic for governments to give running commentary on the internal politics of other governments, there’s nothing stopping politicians that are more junior, or are in opposition parties from making statements about the latest Brexit news to come from the UK. And in the febrile atmos of a general election, they could make quite a splash. In short, it’s an absolute nightmare that defies the imposition of control.

And there’s the issue of whether May could win an outright majority. On the basis of the polls, it might appear absurd to suggest she wouldn’t. The PM, however, is nothing but ultra cautious. With politics behaving strangely, she knows it’s possible Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour could do better. In 2010, despite getting its second worst result since the war and led by a perceived lame duck, it ran the Tories much closer than mid-term polling would have suggested. The second is what would happen to the Liberal Democrat vote. May’s majority rests on the ruthless wipe out operation Dave pursued against his erstwhile partners, particularly in the South West. Yet, as we know, the LibDems have been kicking up a storm in local council by-elections. Ordinarily, they mean very little but the trend is sustained and consistent across a spread of constituencies. Not only have they outpaced UKIP, reclaiming the position of third party in England and Wales, but their performance is well in advance of polling figures. If there’s a trend in actual elections as opposed to the polls, then chances are it’s real. Seeing as May has foolishly flirted with Wrexitism, she is doubly exposed as liberalish Tory types recoil and strong Remain identifiers give the LibDems a punt where they are best placed to win. And if I know this, you can bet she does as well.

How likely is a general election? Not very is the answer. I could be mistaken, but a review of the political terrain and the additional problems a poll in the Spring entails should rule it out. And yet, if she does go to the country despite all this it wouldn’t be a first in recent times if politics indulged the irrational.

29 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    The problem here is that the High Court judgement was an assault on democracy and the will of the people, and in that sense the right-wing press were correct on the substantial issue.

    When we had the EU referendum it was on the clear basis that the British people would decide whether we were in or out of the EU, not judges, not MP’s, but the British people otherwise what was the point of it? What the judgment last week has now put in place is that the British people have given an opinion, but Article 50 and the exit from the EU has not been decided by the people, but is now dependent on whether MP’s want to go along with it, which they may not. In other words it has given a way to overturn the referendum result, which was after all what Gina Miller and her very rich chums wanted, and I’m shocked that Phil can’t see that.

    Even worse has been the subsequent actions of Corbyn. We already had the various nationalist parties, Greens and Lib-Dims saying that they will try and vote down Article 50 and stop the UK leaving the EU, and up to the weekend Labour’s position was correctly that we would respect the referendum and not stop Article 50 (which actually should have been triggered by the PM the very next day after the result, as Corbyn initially himself assumed). But over the weekend in an ‘exclusive’ Corbyn changed that to saying that unless we stay in the single market then Labour would block Article 50. I don’t know whether that outrageous position was his idea, or from one of the middle class numpties that appear to surround him in his office these days, but either way it was pure electoral suicide in working class Labour areas like mine that voted overwhelmingly to leave as it would have handed us to UKIP on a plate. Thank the feck for Tom Watson (and I never thought I would have to write that) who quickly stepped in yesterday to return the position to one where we would not block Article 50 (although listening to Keir Starmer on R4 this morning confusion on our Article 50 policy is still reigning it would seem).

    Corbyn’s position in turn was as a result of the obsession with staying in the EU single market and maintaining free movement of EU citizens that has now it seems gone well beyond the Chukka Umunna crowd. But of course if we stay in the single market then we effectively stay in the EU in all but name, as well as having to accept things like TTIP. It is a nonsense that the daft talk of ‘soft Brexit’ hides – yes we want to maintain what employment protection and rights we have left down the line, but we can separate that from the EU and it is not necessary to remain in the big business dominated single market to do so (as Len McCluskey seems to believe).

    It has been an appalling week for democracy due to the actions of some very rich unelected judges, but it has also been an appalling week for Corbyn too.

    1. David Pavett says:

      How was the court’s judgement an “assault on democracy”? The Brexit campaign was fought on the basis of making Parliament sovereign. The judgement means that Parliament should not be by-passed.

      The “assault on democracy” line of argument only makes sense if you believe in direct rule by referendum and in giving a small clique of politicians the right to implement referendum results as they see fit without reference to Parliament.

      This is a strange point of view to find in a left-wing blog. Populism is in many respects the opposite of democracy. The latter declines if it is not well informed, the former thrives on ignorance.

      1. James Martin says:

        David, the decision to hold the referendum came from Parliament (as in the ruling government) and was seen at the time as perfectly constitutional. It was clearly stated by Cameron when he spoke in Parliament when announcing it that the British people would make the decision, not him, not the MP’s, not judges, but the British people. That was not questioned as I recall at the time, and incidentally and rather importantly it was the same principle that the Scottish people had not long before when they had the final say in their own referendum about the UK and which unlike this one was not taken back to Parliament to discuss and potentially change the result.

        We are not governed by referendum, but in this case whether for good or bad *we* were given the power as voters to make a decision, and not the MP’s. That is absolutely crucial because back in June at the time the referendum was held the following numbers of MP’s declared publicly as Leave/Remain supporters (according to the BBC):
        Remain = 479 (75%)
        Leave = 156 (25%)

        In other words had the decision been left to parliament it would not have been the same decision that more than 33 million voters made, and unless you are going to seriously argue that 650 votes is worth more than 33 million then I will say again, the decision by these judges to stop the British people having the ‘final say’ in the referendum and returning the decision on Article 50 to parliament was a fundamental attack on democracy as it has taken the mass vote away from the people and returned decision making to a largely middle class out of touch elite as represented by the current lot of MP’s and lords. Furthermore it is clear that there are very real dangers that Article 50 could now be blocked, which takes us back to Corbyn’s idiocy at the weekend.

        The remainers don’t get it, the Guardian doesn’t get it, the liberal media commentators don’t get it and the middle class la-di-da’s on their EU love-in demos don’t get it. I expected Corbyn to get it but I was badly wrong – but if we as socialists don’t understand the huge bubbling anger in working class Labour heartlands about what has happened here then there really is no hope for the Labour Party going forward.

        1. Innocent Abroad says:

          It wasn’t the decision of 33 million voters. 17m voted to quit the EU, 16m to stay in.

          1. James Martin says:

            You don’t say. Of course not all 33 and half million voted leave, just as if it had been a parliamentary vote not all the 650 MP’s would have voted remain. The point is that a vote involving more than 33 million people taking part is worth a lot more than one where only 650 people get a vote in the first place.

        2. David Pavett says:

          @James Martin (Nov 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm)

          No, that’s not the point. The argument is not whether article 50 should be triggered or not but the basis on which that should be done. You seem happy to leave that matter to a tiny group of Conservative politicians. I am not.

          1. James Martin says:

            It seems to me David that you simply didn’t understand the referendum at all. We didn’t have a ballot paper that said ‘do you want to leave the EU if… and a number of different scenarios around things like the single market and whatever else did we! No, the ballot paper was very clear, it was a yes or a no, stay or go. As it was a win for go then Article 50 as the technical method for beginning the exit and the start of formal negotiations between the UK and EU for it should have been triggered the next day (as Corbyn correctly said at the time). Triggering Article 50 does not then prevent parliament and others then being involved in debates, campaigns and action over the nature of what comes next, but Article 50 must be triggered first regardless otherwise you would by default overturn the referendum result. There is no ‘basis’ for deciding on triggering Article 50, no pre-conditions, you just get on and do it and then argue the toss about the exit afterwards. Unfortunately you are as confused and as badly wrong on all this as Corbyn has been over the past few days.

          2. David Pavett says:

            We didn’t have a ballot paper that said ‘do you want to leave the EU if… and a number of different scenarios around things like the single market and whatever else did we!

            No we didn’t and that, to me, is the point. Triggering article 50 starts an irreversible countdown clock (max period two years). It would be irresponsible to start that without debating our negotiating stance in advance. As I understand it, it is also the case that a referendum result is not legally binding and therefore requiries Parliamentary approval.

      2. Verity says:

        Whilst I agree with your general point and also that the referendum was fought on making parliament sovereign, the government is the executive of parliament as long as it acts within its authority.

        There has been some attempts to make out that government is a separate body in parliament even when not acting ‘ultra vires’.

        It has yet to be seen by the supreme court whether the executive of parliament has been appropriately acting within its authority. My instincts are that it it is provided it takes up (the lightest) of consultations. But the government is a component of parliament for the purposes of the descriptor: ‘sovereignty of parliament’ – provided of course it acts within and not beyond its powers.

        1. Danny Nicol says:

          In addition many legal scholars believe the High Court decision is flawed because Parliament, in its sovereignty, never intended to abolish the government’s prerogative power to leave the EEC/EU. On this reading the Court is actually disrespecting Parliament.

          https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2016/11/07/mark-elliot-and-hayley-hooper-critical-reflections-on-the-high-courts-judgment-in-r-miller-v-secretary-of-state-for-exiting-the-european-union/

    2. C MacMackin says:

      Speaking here as someone who (sort of) supported Brexit, I really don’t get what all of the fuss is about with the court ruling. It was not some arbitrary decision by “elitist judges” to forestall democracy. It was an interpretation of British constitutional law. If you do not agree that this was a reasonable interpretation then you are welcome to argue your point of view. However, that requires that you make a legal case, not simply make personal attacks on the judges. If you can’t find a legal case against the decision but still don’t like the outcome, then your problem is with the laws, not the judges. This is how a judicial system works in a democracy.

      Personally, I think it is quite reasonable that parliament needs to be the one to implement the referendum results, given that referenda are not binding in this country. If you look at the referenda on Scottish and Welsh devolution, you’ll see that they were actually implemented by acts of parliament a year or so later. (Keep in mind that I am not a legal scholar when I say this).

      I agree that this does not make it morally acceptable for parliament to overrule the referendum result (although, constitutionally, they are allowed to). However, I don’t have a problem with parliament being able to veto a particular approach to Brexit, given that none was specified in the referendum.

      The argument that the Left shouldn’t side with high court judges is absurd. To see why, you simply have to realise that your attacks are putting you on the same side as the Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Telegraph. It is particularly rich coming from those of us who argued for Brexit, given that doing so put us nominally on the same side as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. An argument should be discussed on its own merits, not based on who happens to agree with it (especially when those agreeing with it do so for different reasons).

      As for the criticisms of Labour’s stance on the single market, I am in closer agreement there. I will address this in a second post.

    3. Verity says:

      I think we may be simplifying the sophistication of how the establishment rules if we reduce every decision made by its parts as if they act in unison. Parts of the British establishment are perfectly capable of acting inconsistently and for several different reasons. One is a genuine difference of perspective about how their interests are best served. Another one is the clash between interests that serve in the short term and some that only serve in the long term. To assume that the judges, the political functionaries (as well as the military and other state institutions) always act as one is too simplistic. Indeed it could be argued that the strength of their survival in power (as well as confidence) lies in a several legged stool that can move from one leg to another when in difficulties. So in this instance, in my opinion, it is wrong to say the judges are necessarily acting against democracy. They are acting on one interpretation, which is perfectly capable of reversal. Of course my point will look less strong if a reversal does take place.

      As someone who has hardly criticised Corbyn – at least certainly tried hard not to. I do have to say that on this issue he looks like a rambling confusion. It becomes an insight into future problems, when we have to rely upon Watson to say what Jeremy really meant to say. In my opinion he got it right on the day after the referendum when he said we should have triggered Article 50 immediately. But Corbyn is amongst ‘good company’ isn’t he? That is the overwhelmingly dominate Left voice in Labour. The Labour Left seems to me to be so clear on so many issues seem yet so blind about the EU. They are especially confused about the implications of constitutional constraints on government’s capacity to intervene in its economy to act in its own national working class interests if it sees this will serve all across Europe well in the longer term.

      I have struggled to work out quite why the Labour Left got locked into this pro – EU stance. One possible explanation is that the Left has become so weak in its theoretical grasp that it has become confused between some superficial and occasional signs of liberal humanitarianism with socialism. Another possible partial explanation is the replacement of a superficial ‘internationalism’, i.e. solidarity with a (very Right -Wing) European Social Democracy. Another possible reason is that the decades of weaknesses and absence of confidence within the trade union led the unions to become unduly grateful to concessions on worker’s entitlements by German (and other country’s) equivalents of the Tory Party. In this they became more reliant upon anything (democratic or otherwise) that provides constitutional constraints on a British Tory Party. The danger is of course that this short term gain encompasses a long term and stable constraint for the future. Another was perhaps the desire for an area for Left-Right coalition that moulds a single Labour Party. I suspect that Cobyn was not a prisoner of any of these but the conflicting pressures have brought confusion to replace his former clarity.

  2. John Penney says:

    A good post by James Martin. One could have expected the PLP , neoliberal, majority to be having a very hard , conflicted, ideological and policy offering, time with Brexit.

    On the one hand so many of the most utterly neoliberal leading PLPers have constituents overwhelmingly committed to “Brexit”. And a key component of this “Brexit” demand from these voters is an end to the complete free movement of people within the EU – for a wide range of reasons, some simply racist, but for many more , all about the sheer pace and volume of migration into their communities, and the impact of , particularly on the lower paid jobs market , of unlimited labour supply. The other competing pressure on so many Right Labour MP’s is of course their deep personal ties to a generally very anti Brexit Big Business, and the corrupt cronyist ,nepotistic role the EU Commission gravy train has played in the career ladder of Labour (and other) politicians, and their children (have a look at the Kinnock family, and Stephen Kinnock in particular for an exemplar as to just how “bought in” the political class have become to the EU machine and ideology ).

    The Corbynite Left though , is supposedly a different kettle of fish politically (not on leg-up into Parliamentary careers, nepotism for their scions, and hypocrisy about where they send their kids to school , as a standard practice obviously- that would be too much to ask.) Unfortunately , the Labour and wider radical Left’s general inability to re-embrace the traditional socialist objective of a Left Economic Plan, within which labour supply would be a key element alongside capital controls and sectoral and regional planning, has left them floundering in the disastrously unpopular, liberal posturing of “Everyone is welcome here – without limit”. This liberalism simply ends up colluding with that key neoliberal policy objective of the EU , unlimited labour supply.

    Also the Corbyn circle, in trying to create “bridges” with the utterly neoliberal Labour Right, seems to have now pretty much ditched all previous criticisms of the modern EU, as a neoliberalism enforcement machine – for a ludicrous picture of the EU as a “guarantor of our workers rights” ! This of a totally neoliberal structure that is still destroying the Greek economy for the banks, only recently stated that the “Uberised” gig economy model was a good one for the EU, and has been totally committed to signing us all up to the utterly neoliberal, undemocratic TTIP and CETA deals.
    All of this oppressive, pro globalised capitalist garbage would be retained if the UK “stayed within the Single Market” structure.

    Essentially Corbyn and his circle, by retreating from the political and organisational assault of the PLP majority, and failing to put forward a coherent , radical Left reformist, programme for the “Corbyn Surge membership” to rally around, have ended up as political prisoners of the unlimited pro EU zealotry of the PLP Right. The only likely political outcome of this disastrous strategy will be for a large political space to open up in key traditional Labour areas – to be eventually filled by a party of the radical , populist, pseudo “anti Big Globalist Capitalism” Right , a la the “French National Front”.

    1. Rob Green says:

      What kind of left reformist programme could he possibly put that wouldn’t look absolutely ridiculous? Left reformism immediately moves to the right when handed power at the best of times but now any idea of reform is utter opportunist bilge and obviously so. So their only choice is between revolution or a shift to the right. They are now clinging to the neo-liberal wreckage for dear life. Left reformist programme? What a dick. When you are not being a rancid opportunist and Zionist you’re joining some sect or other.

      What is needed now is a programme for working class power and the transition to socialism not some left reformist wank.

    2. Danny Nicol says:

      I agree. We have in recent days been treated to the following FROM OUR OWN SIDE OF THE PARTY:

      * Richard Burgon telling us not to criticise the judges lest we endanger their “judicial independence” (yeah right), thereby showing himself a complete ignoramus of the history of the labour movement and the courts – Taff Vale, Osborn, Rookes v Barnard, Viking, Laval etc etc

      * Jeremy Corbyn saying Labour will oppose Brexit unless we have single market access – which means what exactly? Signing up to the free movement of goods, services, persons, establishment and capital, customs union, CETA, TTIP, state aids prohibitions, public procurement regimes which outlaw giving preference to our own workers, all for the benefit of the transnational corporations?

      * John McDonnell praising to the skies the Monetary Policy Committee’s control of interest rates, a neoliberal measure introduced by Gordon Brown behind the back of the Labour Party Conference to hand over economic power to those we cannot remove.

      And there’s also what they DON’T say. The failure to fashion and articulate a proper Labour Left economic programme is becoming an absolute disaster.

      1. James Martin says:

        Spot on Danny, the economic policy failures and failure to criticise the single market are huge and very damaging, and as as you say since when have high court judges ever been on our side! I would also add that there seems to be a deliberate (and disgraceful) move away from fighting the purge and taking on the right wing from am position of strength (what are Momentum doing about those who have been purged and the CLP’s unfairly suspended – nothing it would appear!). Apparently we are not even meant to call for the removal of the purge-meister himself Iain McNicol, but as Charley Allan put it in a great open letter in today’s Morning Star he should go and purge himself: http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-d7c1-Do-the-decent-thing-Iain-and-purge-yourself#.WB_L9RmnzqB

  3. Rob Bab says:

    @PBC
    “…The Sun who purposely chose to darken the skin of Gina Miller”
    Really? A bit tenuous! Here, have a look at these other media pictures in comparison;
    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=gina+miller&biw=1366&bih=645&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwiT8sCvwZbQAhVIQBoKHauMBc0Q_AUIBygC

    Having “Nazi rag” strategically positioned beneath May’s faux Sieg Heil, looks a bit Mail/Sun journalism itself wouldn’t you say?

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree. This is the same mode of thinking as the right-wing press: anything goes when it comes to slagging off the people you don’t like.

  4. Tony says:

    If the LD’s win the forthcoming by election caused by the resignation of Zac Goldsmith then the likelihood of an early general election diminishes.

    This may well be bad news for many Labour MPs who seem to dislike Corbyn so much that they would welcome defeat in an early general election. This is what Andrew Rawnsley reported in his Observer column yesterday.

    I think that says a lot about them.
    Corbyn’s takeover of the Labour Party would benefit from there not being an early general election.

    1. John P Reid says:

      As Left futures has links to Jon Lansman, And Corbyn links to Lansman, Corbyn ought to denounce this article, the sort of Trot rubbish,more suited to the SWP

  5. David Pavett says:

    This article seems to be based on the view that the only thing wrong with the vitriol of the right-wing press is that it is directed towards the wrong target. If similar vitriol is directed towards the right then, it seems everything is okay. Thus Phil B-C tells us of

    1. ” the utter stupidity of senior Conservative politicians” – this is a common theme in his articles.

    2. “morons like David Davies and IDS”. In this the distinction between people with a different political outlook and “morons” vanishes.

    3. ” the unhinged editorial suites of the rightwing press”. Those who think differently, it seems, must by “unhinged”.

    4. Those editorials display “the froth of a Nazi rag”.

    5. And then there is the unsubstantiated claim about darkening the skin colour (dealt with above).

    6. A claim (with no evidence): “the government, content to let the press mobilise rape and death threats”. The link given does not back this in any way.

    7. And as for “Cameroons like Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry – any old rope will do to remind folks they exist and are halfway relevant”.

    As a criticism of the objectionable verbiage of the right-wing press this is not very impressive.

  6. C MacMackin says:

    On the topic of the single market:

    I agree that the position of Corbyn et al. has been disappointing. They haven’t seemed to consider the problematic elements of it, free movement of capital probably being the largest. However, it must be said that demands to be “inside the single market” are quite vague. The single market does not exist as a legal entity. It is the EEA which is the legal entity, while the single market is more of a goal. Membership of the EEA would require all of the negative elements listed by Danny Nicol (with the exception, I believe, of being part of the customs union and being bound by the same product regulations). I have not been able to determine whether it would also require Britain to follow the liberalisation directives in sectors such as electricity, rail, and post, however. I presume that it would.

    On the other hand, Switzerland can be said to be a member of the single market, but is not a member of the EEA. The access it has to the single market is the result of bilateral treaties which are negotiated from time-to-time. It is not bound by all of EU law. For example, I don’t see free movement of capital listed as a requirement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland%E2%80%93European_Union_relations) and I gather that it is not bound by the electricity directives, given that it didn’t liberalise its electricity markets until somewhat considerably later than the EU did. That said, it is still bound by quite a lot of EU law. I found a decent summary here: https://fullfact.org/europe/norway-switzerland-eu-laws/.

    It seems dubious that the UK would be able to negotiate a better (from a left-wing perspective) deal for single market membership. I think most of us here would agree that we do not want free movement of capital, equal treatment of EU companies with UK ones, prohibitions on state aid, or liberalisation directives. However, the question becomes, how much damage would it do to the UK economy if there was no longer free movement of goods and services? It seems like the answer is, “quite a lot”. Too many of the left-Brexiters try to play this down. With a left wing economic plan, hopefully this damage could be avoided. However, even if Labour actually had one (and I agree that its failure to so much as start the conversation on this is shameful), it would most likely not be able to implement it for 3.5 years. What would happen in the meantime?

    In principle I’d like to be out of the single market altogether. As a pragmatic step, I’d be able to accept the free movement of goods and services. Unfortunately, it looks like that won’t come without accepting all of the rest, which leaves us in a quandary as to what we should do.

    I didn’t say I had the answer.

  7. Karl Stewart says:

    CMac has got it right here, and I’m afraid James Martin has got it dangerously wrong.

    Speaking as a staunch left-leave voter, I have to say that the judges made the right ruling in the circumstances.

    They did NOT rule that the UK cannot exit the EU. That’s the interpretation the political right is putting on this.

    The ruling was that it is proper for Parliament to decide THE TERMS OF OUR EXIT.

    The referendum decided that we will leave – and of course Parliament cannot over-rule that decision. Parliament has a mandate to carry this out.

    But the referendum DID NOT provide a mandate as to the terms of our exit.

    What the judges have done, and absolutely correctly as weĺl, has been to rule that the terms of our exit are not the sole prerogative of the PM and her cabinet, but the prerogative of Parliament as a whole.

    This principle absolutely must be defended by aĺl on the left, indeed by aĺl democrats, against the hard right witchunt.

    Yes of course it would better if we had a halfway decent left, with a serious programme for a socialist brexit. But right now, the choice is to resist Farage amd the rabid right, or allow them to seize the political initiative.

    1. James Martin says:

      Karl, given this judgement has now allowed parliament to *not* trigger Article 50 if enough MP’s vote against it (and this was and is entirely possible given that 75% of MP’s opposed Brexit in the first place and if Labour MP’s joined others and voted against it as Corbyn stated they might at the weekend), what would your position be then? Was the referendum the ‘final say’ as we were told at the time, or simply an opinion poll for MP’s to then debate, as you seem to think?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        The referemdum gave a clear and unequivocal mandate to Parliament to remove us from the EU. It most certainly was not “simply an opinion poll.”

        Of course Article 50 will be triggered – there’s no flexibility or room for manoevre on that either.

        What the judges jad to decide was the fairly narrow question as to whether the PM and her Cabinet get to decide on the terms of our exit – to ‘sign off’ on the Brexit agreement – or whether this should be the collective responsibility of Parliament as a whole.

        The judges took the latter view and they were absolutely right to do so and they should be stoutly and robustly defended from attack over this.

        1. James Martin says:

          But Karl, MP’s aren’t trade union delegates, they don’t have a binding mandate here and you can’t take away their credentials and send them home with a flea in their ear if they don’t vote the right way! Already a number of parties have openly said that they will try and vote down Article 50 (Lib Dems, Greens, SNP etc.). There was even a report the other day that even Sein Fein MP’s may for the first time take their seats to vote against it. If Labour voted against too, as Corbyn threatened, it could well fail, and then what happens to your meaningless ‘mandate’? What happens to Brexit? Perhaps in the circumstances parliament should do a two for the price of one and also debate Scottish independence with a possible view of actually granting it – after all, I assume that for the sake of consistency you also think that the Scottish referendum was simply a message for MP’s to take away and debate and then possibly ignore?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            I really do recommend Paul Mason’s recent article on this subject, in which he explains accurately what the hard-right are trying to do with this.

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/07/bond-traders-trots-mumsnet-left-centre-farages-mob?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

            It’s absolutely vital that all on the left, regardless of whether they voted ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ unites now to oppose the planned Farage march.

          2. Rob Bab says:

            @KS
            “It’s absolutely vital… to oppose the planned Farage march.”
            Do you not think opposing Baron Brexit will play into his hands and strengthen his position?
            Farage;
            “Look at all the Remoaners, they don’t like democracy, just like the European Parliament etc.”
            Wouldn’t it be more productive to get one’s own house in order before throwing stones at others?
            As far as I’m aware Farage hasn’t ordered the killing of anyone, whereas Tony ‘bloodbath’ Blair has, he walks among us untouched.
            Farage loves the attention, why indulge the pantomime?

  8. James Martin says:

    This is well worth a look, good report on Granada Reports last night of the Labour Party stitch-up and ‘dodgy dossier’ regarding Wallasey CLP – http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2016-11-07/102-page-dossier-from-wallasey-labour-officials-refutes-bullying-allegations/

    I will ask again, what is Momentum doing nationally to challenge the purge and expulsions of socialists and the suspending of CLP’s like Wallasey and Brighton & Hove on trumped up allegations? What is Momentum doing to support the deselection of key coup plotting backstabbers like Eagle? Stand by for tumbleweed…

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