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The Dirty Politics of a Clean Brexit

BREXITWe’re used to the Leave campaign lying. They made stuff up during the referendum campaign, and there’s no let up even during the Christmas holidays. Change Britain is a “cross-party” outfit active across all the main social media platforms, and it made a bit of a splash today with its report doubling down on the notorious and widely-debunked £350m/week savings claim and said the figure could actually be as high £450m/week. That is the Brexit dividend, apparently, the value of what they’re desperately trying to brand a “clean Brexit”.

There is some confusion over the size of these savings. The Graun says £24bn, The Telegraph £40bn, and Change Britain, um, £10bn, the press reporting of what is, in actual fact, a press release, has been appalling. Papers and news sites, which ever way they lean politically, have blandly trotted out the figures as if they were gospel. Does no one know how to critically scrutinise numbers any more?
Needless to say, Change Britain’s figures describe what they describe, but nothing else. As with a great many things, it’s what they don’t say that counts. I’ve had a look at their workings so you don’t have to, and what’s there is little more than wish fulfillment and, in a few cases, some worrying positions.

First off, they make the easy claim that Britain will save paying membership subs, which works out as a saving of £10.4bn. Presently, countries outside of the EU but are members of the European Economic Area, like Norway post a contribution, but at a significantly lower level than the subs the UK presently pays. Change Britain’s clean Brexit, however, has us lying outside the EEA completely. We would have to pay no more into the EU pot than Canada is set to do through their trade treaty. i.e. Nothing at all. Sounds attractive, but there is a problem. In October, exports to the EU were worth £26.8bn and imports £39.6bn. There are significant interests both sides of the channel for trade to continue uninterrupted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cool heads will prevail. There is every danger a deal cannot be negotiated in two years, hence the open talk of a bridging arrangement that would extend the negotiations into the never-never (a move entirely in the Prime Minister’s character). However, Change Britain want none of that – they want tariff-free access, but without the rigmarole of the complex negotiations that will get us there. In short, if they want to hop out of the EEA, Britain will face tariffs, no ifs, no buts. The wrexit crew might say that will harm the EU more than that harms the UK, but in the real world that would be small comfort to the millions of jobs placed at risk and the damage done to the economy. So yes, we might save £10bn in subs, but how much disappears as the economy takes a hit? How many people have to have their livelihoods ruined until a inferior Canada-style treaty comes along?

Change Britain’s second moment of dishonesty regards the freedom Britain will have to negotiate trade deals elsewhere. One of Leave’s strongest suits during the campaign was playing up Britain’s strength. The economy has serious, long-term problems the Tories don’t seem at all fussed about, but yes, Britain is one of the richest economies in the world and, of course, people from all over will want to do business here. Pulling out a list of countries that have already expressed an interest in trade deals, or are likely to, they estimate an increase of between £8.5bn and £19.9bn worth of exports once we enter into arrangements with them. How Change Britain arrived at these figures are mathematically reasonable (though their link for 2016 trade balances leads to 2013’s), they are economically suspect. Suspect because a trade deal doesn’t generate exports, economic activity does. The tearing down of tariff barriers does not create jobs or boost productivity, it relieves costs borne by exporters and importers. It can improve profitability, but as we’ve seen in almost a decade’s worth of a capital strike here in Britain, boosting profit rates doesn’t necessarily equal more investment and greater productivity. Secondly, tariff-free access can harm economies, or does Change Britain need to read about the consequences of cheap Chinese steel again – that is until the hated EU put a hefty tariff on it? And thirdly, these trade deals aren’t going to get struck overnight. Working out something with Mercosur – the Brazil-led economic bloc of Latin American countries – is not going to be a simple head-to-head between governments. And as for the deal with the USA, well, there might be a problem. Until we get those deals, there will be no economic benefit whatsoever. For years.

Lastly, let’s look at the bonfire of red tape. Apparently, British business is getting choked by Brussels bureaucracy. A strangulation to the tune of £1.2bn, which is very small beer in the context of a £1.8tn (or thereabouts) economy. But still, let’s play Change Britain’s game. Going through the 100 most burdensome EU regulations as identified by Open Europe, Change Britain are at least honest enough to acknowledge that only a small proportion of EU regulations would be repealed because of international treaties and continued policy commitments. Nevertheless, they’ve earmarked some pretty interesting regulations for the chop. These include the Data Protection Act, genetically modified food regulations, non-road gaseous and particulate pollutant regulations, registration and restriction of chemicals rules, waste batteries and accumulators regs, and farmed animal welfare rules. In short, irony of ironies, their Clean Brexit would result in more airborne pollution – a filthy Brexit, if you will. As well as a free for all in hazardous materials, and an abandonment of farmed animal standards. And greater freedoms for those who hold personal data to abuse it. I guess it hadn’t occurred that their repeal might create unforeseen externalities, like monies lost through fraud, added costs to health care, the cost of cleaning up environmental damage, it goes on.

In all, Change Britain’s bean counter’s approach to a Clean Brexit amounts to politics of the dirtiest kind. This is not an exercise in cost/benefit analysis. It’s a balance sheet of dishonest thinking and convenient forgetting, and deserves branding as such.

50 Comments

  1. John P Reid says:

    Another Article in the Graun

  2. David Pavett says:

    Phil B-C switches from weekly calculations in the first paragraph to yearly ones in the second one without saying so or explaining why. He follows this immediately by saying “Does no one know how to critically scrutinise numbers any more?”.

  3. oxford dictionaries made Post Truth the word of 2016. The EU referendum was a classic example of what they meant. And the official LEave campaign wiped its website after the campaign so historians and others could not analyse the claims made.

    That is the issue. No journalist or analyst now understands statistics, if they ever did. The academy myth showed that the Westminster consensus never understood that they claim that academies improved exam results was false.

    Talk about post truth. That is different from what Machiavelli was talking about, as liars have to know what the truth is. The EU referendum showed that people believe what they want to believe. The obvious fact that will kick in once Article 50 is triggered – an avalanche of bad news will kick in – invalidates all predictions made on current data, however analysed.

    May knows that the bridging arrangement will have to happen, and BRexit never will. But as with other politicially charged movements, merely avoiding disaster will not be a factor in the Leave calculation. Splendid Isolation is the official Leave position (though not that of Farage, who is linked to a new US world order). The last time it happened it lasted during Lord Salisbury’s Premiership and his nephew, Balfour abandoned it on taking office. The myth alas never went away and the stats here only prove the point.

    Trevor FIsher,.

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Trevor,
      Before post truth all politicians were honest. Remember? No neither do I.

      1. Richard, it will be a good moment for the level of debate on this site when people actually address the arguments being made. In my blog I mentioned Machiavelli.

        I assumed people knew who he was, and perhaps had even read THE PRINCE, which still stands after 5 centuries.

        Machiavelli knew that politicians lie, but understood that to do so you have to grasp reality. Which Goebells did, making him so very dangerous. Most of the time he preferred to tell the truth. The Big Lie was guarded by stuff that everyone knew was correct and won credibility.

        What Oxford identified is the lack of reality, which people like Trump and the Britexiteers are displaying. Its not possible to deliver an isolationist USA or an isolationist UK and if Trump tries to pull the USA out of NATO as some of his comments suggested the reaction from the military will be interesting.

        But that is not lying. The difference between a Trump, a Farage and the old style of politicians is that the Britexiteers don’t understand reality. The News today is the British ambassador to the EU resigning. Ambassadors are always people sent abroad to lie for their country. This guy realizes its not possible to tell lies about Britexit. Its not deliverable.

        Trevor FIhser.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Blair lied about weapons of mass destruction, Clegg lied about tuition fees, Cameron lied about immigration levels, Thatcher lied about the Belgrano, politicians lying for political advantage is not new.

          And I’m sure they all thought they were doing it for the best in their own respective opinions. But lying wasn’t invented in 2016.

          1. Karl, are you really unaware I referred to Machiavelli, or are you simply trying to ignore this?

            Has anyone on this site ever read THE PRINCE? Or is it now sensible to assume no one has read one of the great classics of political theory?

            It was written in 1514 and asserts that successful princes aka politicians lie. ANd the key their success is being believed. Does Machiavelli not exist in the world of the left future blogger?

            WHat Oxford Dictionaries did was create a new category. We move on. But deeper and deeper into the mire.

            Trevor FIsher.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to Trevor Fisher at 11.06am:

            I’ve heard of the book, but I haven’t read it, so I don’t fully appreciate your reference I’m afraid.

            What Oxford Dictionaries did was not as significant as you suggest. Oxford has not created a new concept here, they’ve simply judged the expression “post truth” to be the “phrase of the year”.

            It’s a bit of New Year fun, nothing more. Last year’s selection was the “smiley emoji,” and previous selections have included “selfie” and “omishambles” – just newish informal speech describing pretty mundane occurences.

            Yes, some politicians – on both sides – lied during the EU debate and some other people also lied about some other things during 2016 and some people found a new expression to describe it.

            More importantly, there seem to be some EU-related rumblings emerging across the political spectrum over in the Republic of Ireland. Could they join us through the exit door?

          3. post truth has been emerging as a concept in political science for over a decade. What Oxford did was note it broke through. The dictionary charts the use of newish words, and this was the year it broke out of specialized studies and became used to describe Trump, Britexit and the populist right in Europe in mainstream media. Its a measure of its use and usefulness that they chart.

            On Ireland, the financial press is reporting that the banks are thinking of locating to Ireland as they can stay in the EU. If the BRexit lobby thinks they can get allies in Eire the reality is that no serious politician in the Republic wants to get involved in the chaos – two years minimum – 10 years according to the ex EU ambassador – which would result.

            WOrth looking at what the republicans are thinking. Very quiet. But taking Northern Ireland out of the UK to join a Republic which remains in the EU is viable for them. Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

            Machiavelli’s classic states the position that all politicians are economical with the truth, and the good ones are successful at it. Its partially true, but lying eventually gets caught out. As for literary references, if Ireland does try to join Britain the dissident republicans will certainly object. So perhaps add Shadow of a gunman to the reading list. I very much hope that the destabilization of the GOod Friday agreement is NOT one of the many unintended consequences of Britexits, but it is not impossible. Chaos undoubtedly is starting to develop as a result of the vote,.

            Trevor Fisher.

  4. Bazza says:

    Labour should campaign for the BEST BREXIT FOR WORKING PEOPLE. We could pay a lump sum (some estimate £5b) to have tariff free access to EC markets (Deal or no deal?).
    We should negotiate but insist we have control over our own labour supply which we would recommend to other EC countries.
    We should also control capital supply.
    We should do deals to allow all current EC citizens in the UK to stay linked with allowing all UK citizens in Spain etc. to also remain.
    We should also do deals on usage of health services by country and can make reciprocal arrangements i.e. with the likes of Spain.
    We should do deals to ensure continued partnerships with the EC on the environment, international policing, joint European research projects plus HE.
    Whatever we do we should be thinking about what would benefit diverse working people in the UK (and internationally) and try to come up with mutually beneficial solutions; so yes we are divorcing a long term partners but post EC we can still have good relations with the EC.
    So with each area of policy we should ask what is best for working people and perhaps as the Greeks used to say: “From crisis comes opportunity.”

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      On the issue of EU nationals who settled here before the vote, we should simply say, unilaterally, that they will keep the permanent right to stay here.

      Why on earth should we link it to what other countries say about their resident foreign nationals? That could take years and years.

      Let’s just do the right thing now, today, unilaterally.

      1. Bazza says:

        I want all current EC citizens in the UK to remain but what guarentee does your unilateralism offer to UK residents in Spain etc?
        I want the right to remain for both.
        EC migration has benefitted the UK and the countries they have come from to an extent (when they return or with overseas remittances) but it also has negative effects (New Left Review estimates Bulgaria for example will have lost half of its population by 2020) and our citizens in Spain etc. bring economic benefits to their countries.
        We need to fight for both sets of working people.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          We should unilaterally guarantee the right of all EU nationals who settled here before the vote. And we should unilaterally guarantee that all UK nationals resident in other EU nations will be welcome to return here whenever they want to.

          Your position is Theresa May’s.

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    When Phil writes:

    “We’re used to the Leave campaign lying. They made stuff up during the referendum campaign…”

    Perhaps he should also remind us that the Remain campaign told some pretty spectacular ‘whoppers’ as well.

    The Prime Minister and the Chancellor painted a picture of economic catastrophe and even war if we voted to leave, while the former Deputy Prime Minister insisted that, if we voted to leave, then there would be no chance of staying within the EEA.

    Since the referendum, some of those who voted remain have spent the entire time since last June in attacking all leave voters, insulting them and calling them ignorant, racist, and of not knowing what they were voting for.

    Yes of course there was a minority within the leave camp who behaved appallingly, but come on Phil, there has been some pretty disreputable stuff from the remain side too.

    Here on the left, the irony is that the traditional left-wing position was always one of opposition to the EU. It was a cornerstone position on the left.

    But yet those of us who held fast to our principles and took a socialist leave viewpoint have been the ones who have been attacked by those on the left who decided to ditch the traditional left-wing position and line up with the Government, with big business and with the Blairites and Lib Dems in supporting the EU.

    The EU debate was a long and thorough nationwide discussion, yes there was dishonesty on both sides, but UK people heard all of the arguments, considered the issue carefully, discussed with family and friends and work colleagues and then decided, collectively and democratically, to vote to leave the EU – it’s decided, we’re leaving.

    But leaving the EU is the only thing that’s been decided. The question of how we leave, in what direction, our future trading arrangements, future entry regulations etc, are all to be decided.

    That’s the debate we on the left need to be having – not indulging an attempt by those who lost the vote to re-run the whole EU membership issue all over again.

    1. John Penney says:

      Yes indeed, very true, Karl. We know very well that the dominant grouping in the Brexit Campaign, was, and still are, rabid uber neoliberals like Liam Fox , who have a wet dream of turning the UK into a offshore tax haven and Freeport economy, with no workers rights, no NHS, and (despite the utterly bogus rhetoric) still retaining totally unlimited labour supply to undermine collective bargaining.

      But , as you say, that wasn’t, and isn’t the argument or the aim of the Left “Brexiters”, who hold to what was , in days of yore, a solidly socialist understanding of the utterly neoliberalism enforcing nature of the EU. The reality the now, apparently, totally uncritical EU enthusiasts on the Left simply will not face is that today the illusion of a “Social Europe” EU, of high workers rights, high wages, and good welfare services, is long, long gone.

      Today the EU, with its open support for TTIP type deals, and “Uberisation”, and its policy bedrock of the “Four freedoms” , is committed to competing on the Global economic stage by , step by step, reducing all EU workers , in rights and wages, and benefits, to the same competitive level as a typical migrant worker in Guangdong Province or Vietnam. In other words the entire EU machine is geared up to deliver its citizens to exactly the same neoliberal endpoint as the Right Brexiters – but on a longer timescale, and as a single competitive economic bloc.

      Wittering away therefore as Mr O’Leary does constantly, or Phil BC, does here, to predict doom and disaster from Brexit, whilst offering no criticism or analysis at all of the EU, is simply to collude with the interests of Big Capital , who assuredly DO want the UK to stay within the EU , and its long term neoliberal mission.

      Time for the “Left” to wake up and smell the coffee” on the EU, Remember what the , quite correct traditional analysis of the EU was , and organise to fight for a UK outside of both the EU and the straightjacket of the Single Market, and its four thoroughly undesirable “Four Freedoms”, which can potentially elect a radical Left government to pursue a progressive agenda for all its citizens.

  6. Bill says:

    I can save you a lot of reading. Britain voted to LEAVE so presumably that what we are doing. Those that want to stay in the EU should go and join the Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats should say to the electorate that if they vote Lib-Dem then the result of the referendum will be ignored and at whatever stage we are at we will remain or reapply for membership.

    Hard as it might be for pundits the fact is that the average person is not interested in who said what. Leave means leave whatever the outcome.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Well said Bill.

      Instead of having a petty squabble about exact figures – which, let’s face it, everyone’s going to ‘spin’ whatever way suits them – let’s just DEMAND that the NHS gets all the extra spending it needs.

  7. C MacMackin says:

    While I have no sympathy with the official Leave campaign, there seems to be a double standard in this piece. One the one hand, losing tariff-free access to the single market will lead to “millions of jobs placed at risk and . . . damage done to the economy”. On the other hand, when discussing other trade deals which Britain may sign, it is stated that “tearing down of tariff barriers does not create jobs or boost productivity” and “tariff-free access can harm economies”. Admittedly, there are differences between leaving an existing trade scheme (which the companies have become used to) and entering new ones, but this is still a glaring inconsistency in Phil B-C’s article.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree. The trouble is that this is for many an emotive issue in which attitudes to the EU have become emblematic of broader political stances i.e. for good guys/bad guys.

      Let’s just accept that there are sensible people contributing to this blog who took and take very different positions. Let’s accept also that immense amounts of nonsense, and worse, was spoken in both Leave and Remain campaigns.

      Now we have to deal with the situation were are in. To some people it is simple: were leaving and that’s it. But that is only because they haven’t understood that no major economic and political change is ever that simple.

      To others we can just DEMAND the sort of Brexit we want as if capital letters frightened the ruling class.

      I was a sceptical remainer. I had no illusions about the capitalist nature of the EU nor its substantial democratic deficit. Similarly I have no illusions about the idea that the British people have now taken back control of their destiny by leaving. It is, for example possible, that now we will be much more subject to the will of global capital than we were as EU members. How likely is the British Government to stand up to the outrageous business practices of Microsoft or Amazon? The secret TTIP negotiations were blown open by the Greens. Are we confident that our Parliament will exert greater scrutiny of forthcoming British trade deals? These questions are real and not rhetorical.

      We are where we are and that is trying to get the Brexit deal which is as much in the interests of working people as it can be. But what does that mean? There are leavers and remainers who want to keep free movement and there are leavers and remainers who do not want it. What sort of trade deals should we enter into with the EU (and with anyone else) and how much democratic oversight should there be of them? Leaving will change our economic environment, what are the ups and the downs of potential changes?

      These and many other questions need to be answered if we are to have a meaningful discussion. And meanwhile Labour is clearly all over the place on what we should be doing. So anything we say is liable to be lost in the noise and confusion at the top of Labour. If we want anything to get through to the leadership and the party as a whole it is going to have to be very clear and very loud. So we need to put the squabbling behind us. Whether we were for Remain or Leave we should still be able to address the above questions, and many others, in an objective manner and avoid constantly re-enacting old debates every time the letters EU appear in our fields of vision. If we can’t do that we might as well shut up.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        WELL SAID David…

  8. Karl Stewart says:

    Think about this potential scenario:

    Theresa May gets her ‘Brexit Plan’ together in March and then triggers Article 50 and decides to call an election, asking the country for a mandate for her programme.

    The Tories then have a solid manifesto on which to go into the election.

    The LibDems put forward their own position, one of rejecting Brexit altogether and keeping the UK in the EU. Both they and everyone else know that position can’t win an election, but it could well increase their poll standing from 2015’s 8 per cent up to 15 per cent or perhaps a little more.

    The point is, they, like the Tories, would have a solid manifesto to go into the election.

    The SNP, Plaid and the Greens go into the election on a similar basis to the LibDems.

    And UKIP will go into the election on a “Brexit now” position.

    The question is, what does Labour do?

    At the present time, I honestly don’t know. It all comes across as dithering between those other various positions. Not as anti-Brexit as the LibDems, but not solidly pro-Brexit either. And nothing really identifiable.

    At present, Labour looks in serious trouble.

    But there is a real open goal gaping in front of us. It’s called A Labour Brexit plan. A solid Labour Brexit plan based on robust AEPS-type policies.

    Labour can smash the Tories – “Their plan is for the wealthy, for business, etc.”

    Labour can smash the LibDems – “Call themselves ‘Democrats’ when they want to reject the referendum vote?”

    And Labour can smash UKIP – “What’s the point of UKIP when you’ve got the Tories?”

    With a solid Labour Brexit plan, based on AEPS principles, Labour can make the argument against the Liberals on immigration – “They want to discriminate against non-Europeans. We want all foreign entrants to be treated equally, regardless of origin.”

    And Labour can make the argument against the Tories on immigration – “They want cheap labour for the bosses. We want protection of pay, terms and conditions.”

    And Labour can fight back in Scotland – “The SNP want a pro-business, finance-based economy. We want re-industrialisation and high-quality manufacturing jobs for the people.”

    The point is, Labour can see off the threat to its historic heartlands, AND also win support away from the other parties – but only if Labour has a solid and robust Labour Brexit plan.

    It’s time to stop the dithering and get a serious policy programme together.

    1. Thanks Karl. The focus should be on decisively breaking with the EU’s policy of promoting the free movement of capital. An alternative and radical economic policy perhaps should focus on reducing or even eliminating capital movement by legislating to prevent corporations from treating any non-physical capital as items that can be included in their balance sheets. This would force them (over time) to exchange intangible capital (the dominant element of major corporations’ balance sheets at present) with investments in factories, warehouses, machinery and infrastructure. Companies of course require money to buy things and this need can be met by fiat assets that can only be used as a medium of exchange (ie financial assets that do not generate a return). New money should be subject to a charge which increases over time. This will encourage companies to minimise holdings of money and other financial assets and invest in physical assets. Physical assets are much more difficult to move quickly and more easy to monitor and tax. If the EU were to apply similar policies then the incentive for people to move to follow capital would be greatly reduced. Of course, all physical and social infrastructure (hospitals, schools, roads, railways, ports, aiports etc) should be run on a non-profit basis (though not necessarily by the state). The over all effect would be higher employment, output, investment and tax income.

  9. James Martin says:

    Strangely Phil B-C seems surprised that there is such a thing as propaganda in politics, although he clearly has still to find out about bias given that he seemingly believes that the propaganda was all on one side of the EU debate.

    The issue is that what happens post-brexit to things like the economy are guesses. What Phil and others forget though is that it is also a guess just how damaging remaining in the EU bosses club would be as it starts its inevitable disintegration. What we do know however, given that Phil has chosen to mention jobs, is that the EU has destroyed millions of British jobs. We used to have one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Europe when we joined the bosses club, now we have one of the weakest. We also use to net export food, but despite having the ability to still do so we are a net importer and large numbers of rural jobs have been lost (along with fishing jobs too of course). Socialism is about the working class or it is nothing, and while it is excusable for the Lib-Dims to ignore manufacturing jobs, to not care about the steel and ship industries, to not care about engineering (all things that have suffered through our EU membership) but instead just witter on about the right to a middle class gap year in Tuscany, socialists *should* care about real jobs.

    The propaganda from the remainers regarding potential job losses is based on the rather stupid assumption that if we leave the single market (which we should do of course) all trade with EU members states would somehow stop. It wouldn’t.

    Also the arguments about the net saving is one where Labour should be making huge inroads and gaining public support but the leadership oddly isn’t doing so – but how hard is it to accept brexit and then in the same breath make the political case for the net contribution savings to be spent on the NHS as the leave campaign argued? Surely it is better than saying the confusing mixed message nonsense that passes for policy at the top currently. If Corbyn were to do so then he would also be able to link brexit to re-nationalising the railways, his most popular policy with the public. We can’t do this within the EU but we can when we leave, so that again becomes a very big political brexit stick to hit the Tories with (it would also undermine the ukips too of course) and to be seen as the party of working class progressive brexit based on the British state becoming once again a tool for progressive socialist change (as it was for the NHS, welfare state and nationalisation under Atleee). Instead we get nothing. Corbyn needs real bullets to fire here, time to clear out the useless middle class Momentum students and never had a proper job types that appear to make up the bulk of his staff and replace them with some proper trade union and party organisers and policy makers.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Excellent points on the movement of capital Edmund and also James is right to highlight the catastrophic decline in UK manufacturing during our EU membership.

      1. Karl It is surely a matter of principle that people should be allowed to move to find a better life. The Brexit debate has been skewed, however, by those arguing for the opposite and this driving the left in general and Labour in particular into a disastrous dead end. The proper alternative is to recognise and unambiguously declare that the key issue is not people seeking a better life, but capital, who owns it and how it’s used. The overwhelming majority of privately-owned capital is in an non-physical or intangible form. Those arguing for greater control and management of capital are confronted by the fact that intangible capital is a social and psychological construct that is beyond control (unless you are prepared for Stalinist scales of intervention in social structures and the way people think). The only way that capital can be controlled is to focus, not on capital itself (which is indefinable) but on the machinery that allows corporations to conjour intangible capital out of thin air. That’s legislation and accounting codes. A fuller explanation of capital as a concept and its deficiencies is here: http://edmundosullivan.com/economics2030/capital-is-a-social-construct-and-cant-be-controlled/

  10. Rob Green says:

    Unless Corbyn adopts a socialist Hard Brexit his Labour Party is finished. It will be as if he never happened swallowed up by some soft Brexit Unpopular Front of Lib Dems, Tories, Blairites, Bob Geldof, Richard Branson and Corporate Capitalism and then spat out. A losing formula if ever there was one. Ask Hillary Clinton the neo-liberal throwback who lost to a proto-fascist but not before screwing over a promising and radical socialist movement behind Sanders.

    1. corbyn relies on the unions and a few Labour MPs. The unions are against Brexit. And yesterday McCluskey, who wants curbs on movement, said Corbyn had limited time to improve his poll ratings, something Diane Abbott also said. Corbyn is losing support even among his supporters. And no one among his support group wants hard brexit. Who are the bookies giving odds on for his successor?

      Trevor FIsher.

      1. Rob Green says:

        Corbyn is doomed because he has eschewed the necessary fight with the right to make Labour a socialist party. In fact he has caved in at every turn including by campaigning to Remain. All he bangs on about is retaining corporate capitalism’s continued access to the European Single Market. He does realise that markets are where the capitalists exchange the stolen labour and used up bodies of workers for money and profit right?

        He had a chance to fill the vacuum that May is leaving by failing to spell out her negotiating objectives which she won’t do because the EU will tell Britain what the terms are. This government has no agency but can always claim that whatever it is given was what it wanted in retrospect. He could have put forward a radical socialist programme for a post-Brexit Britain and his vision for a New European Settlement that leaves the neo-liberal anti-working class EU imperialist alliance in the dust.

        1. the real reason comrade is that he is completely useless, and I pleased to say I never voted for him. But we do agree he is doomed. Only question is whether he takes the Labour Party down with him, continuing the decline started by Blair and Brown. The election stats are very clear. What we have to have is what John Prescott offered in the late eighties, traditional values in a modern setting. The old hard left remained stuck in its early 1980s setting and remained able to win the leadership vote. But that is all. No understanding of the twenty first century at all. We can now however turn our attention to what a Leaver who was forced by the unions to be a reluctant remainer can do to minimize the damage he has done by failing campaign effectively for the remain and reform position on which he nominally campaigned last summer.

          Back to reality…. the people JOhn Major once described, rightly as swivel eyed loons are in control of BRitish politics. How to tackle them is the issue, and Corbyn is as useless as a chocolate tea pot and always has been for devising any effective strategy even on the issues he sometimes gets right.

          Trevor FIsher.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Can you name one single trade union which has said it is still in favour of remaining within the EU despite the referendum Trevor?

          2. =you underestimate union leaders Karl. They have no suicidal tendencies unlike the old left. The pressure put on Corbybn to reject free movement of labour especially from Unite shows they are listening to their members and I am pleased to see the stance of Labour and the Tories is identical. The Remain to Reform logic is impeccable. The EU has to abandon this position. The argument we signed up for a common market of goods is one of the best ones the Brexit camp has. Not a free market in Labour.

            But no trade union has come out in favour of Brexit either to my knowledge. The future is going to be renegotiation of the Treaty of Rome and later treaties. But from within the EU, not by leaving it. Any union you know wants to leave?

            Trevor FIsher.

      2. Karl Stewart says:

        It’s wrong to say “the unions are against Brexit”.

        Most of the unions took a remain position during the referendum campaign, but I’m not aware of any union that has backed the LibDem/Blairite position of rejecting the people’s will.

        (“Post-truth” Trevor?)

      3. James Martin says:

        Trevor, why do you constantly come out with such daft statements more suited to a student union or an SWP meeting? In terms of the unions a number had official positions for voting out of the rotten bosses club – NIPSA, RMT, ASLEF and BFAWU. It is also no accident that these are among the most militant and effective unions when it comes to protecting workers rights in the workplace, rights incidentally that your beloved EU has been steadily attacking, particularly after the Lisbon Treaty privatisation charter that was designed to break up and sell off nationalised industries and stop any more national government interventions to protect workers and citizens against the capitalist market (you may vaguely remember when socialism was meant to fight capitalism Trevor, but there again…). Even most of the vote remain trade unions have recognised that large numbers of their members voted out, and in unions like Unite that was often based on the fact that the EU’s free movement of labour was designed to undercut union rights and drive down wages to the lowest common denominator, something that it has done quite well in fact. Meanwhile in places like Greece the working class has suffered mass unemployment, wages destroyed and schools and hospitals closed and doctors and teachers put on the scrapheap at a time of great need all because of the EU dictatorship – it is not surprising that last year Greek trade unionists made a call for worker solidarity by urging British workers to vote out of the EU, but clearly your own internationalism didn’t have ears for their cries.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          TrevorF’s initial comments suggest that a whole new concept has emerged called “post-truth”, which he defines as a failure to recognise actual reality.

          Of course this is utter nonsense (as everyone knows, both lying and self-delusion have been present in human behaviour since the beginning of time) but the irony is that Trevor then goes on to display his own refusal to recognise reality.

          When he writes:

          “The future is going to be renegotiation of the Treaty of Rome and later treaties. But from within the EU, not by leaving it.”

          He really seems to think that the question of the UK’s membership of the EU remains undecided.

          No, the reality is we’re leaving. There is no “remain and reform” option.

          And then he claims that:

          “The unions are against Brexit.”

          Which, either wilfully or not, confuses the pre-referendum ‘remain and reform’ positions taken by most (not all, but most) unions with the post-referendum acceptance by all unions that the people have spoken and their instruction must now be carried out.

          There is not one union which has, post-referendum, bought into the Blairite/LibDem nonsense about rejecting the democratic will of the people.

          And he

          1. Karl’s comment is unfinished, but the key point is clear. History has for Britexiteers ended, the decision has been made.

            Reality is otherwise. On October 1st 1938 Chamberlain returned from Munich to cheering crowds and parliament voted for the Munich agreement. Churchill was heavily defeated in the Commons vote.

            Twelve months later Britain was at war with Hitler and eighteen months later Churchill was Prime Minister. Reality had kicked in.

            I know argument does not make any impact on BRitexiteers, but lets have a bet on the reality as it will develop once Article 50 kicks in. I am prepared to wager £10 that in five years time – certainly by the 2020 election if it happens – Britain will still be in the EU.

            If you are agreeable, I will put my £10 into the funds of Left Futures, if Jon and co are prepared to be the referees

            Trevor Fisher.

  11. Karl Stewart says:

    Sounds like fun Trevor – you’re on mate.

    1. depends on Jon Lansman and co agreeing to accept they are referees. If so I will send a cheque to left futures and if you agree to do the same, we then wait for history to decide.

      And get on with campaigning for our respective positions, knowing that history is always unpredictable.

      Over to you Jon!

      Trevor FIsher.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        You’re quite right that history is unpredictable.

        By the way, no-one’s saying our leaving the EU is “the end of history” it’s more the start of a new chapter.

        1. Karl, I think we can agree that Fukuyama was mad when he suggested that History had Ended when neo liberalism took over – I think he would agree himself.

          The question is whether a development takes place, and that is what the bet is about. The consequences are what the debate is about.

          I hope Jon and the eb agree to supervise the bet

          Sincerely

          trevor fisher.

  12. Rob Green says:

    If Corbyn’s labour party had any bollox it would be campaigning for a Very Hard Socialist Brexit and pissing all over May’s bogus negotiations and non-existent objectives. There should be no negotiations with the wretched EU just an immediate withdrawal behind a party with a radical socialist programme and a proposal for a New European Settlement that leaves the bosses EU in the dust and which does not treat workers as migrating cattle in search of ever shittier wages and ever more meagre welfare or abandon them in sink estates, communities and schools with no hope of ever competing for a job in their own locality to become a massive and hopeless and permanent underclass.

  13. karl, I understand that Jon Lansman has agreed to take the stakes and act as referee for our bet, so lets go ahead. The proposition is “In five years time Britain will still be in the EU”. To make life easier, lets say “By Jan 1st 2022 Britain will still be in the EU”. Stake is £10 each. I have sent my cheque to Jon.

    If Britain is still in, I get £20. If Britain has left, you get £20. All you have to do is send Jon your cheque and the bet is on.

    The triggereing of Article 50 will lead to the phony war ending. And the next five years may see Britain leave the EU to good results. But maybe not. Lets have the bet on and both camps then have a real target albeit I doubt if this is going to make any difference to the debate. But lets give history a chance to make the decision.

    Onwards and Upwards as Ramsay MacDonald used to say.

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Let’s say by Jan 1st 2020. (And if someone from LF can email me details, I’ll send my tenner asap).

      1. yes I accept the change. The next three years should see the issues resolved. If they are not then I do not see the Scots staying. I see Sturgeon is offering not to have a Scottish ref if May offers a soft brexit but that is a high risk strategy in itself. As the Chinese curse is, may you live in interesting times.

        Happy with Jan 1st 2020

        Trevor FIsher.

  14. Karl Stewart says:

    There won’t be another Scottish independence referendum – fancy losing more money?

    1. Scotland is a different country and you have not yet placed the bet. What the SNP have offered May is no referendum if there is a soft brexit.

      Up to May what she wants to do. I don’t have a line to number 10 – do you?

      I will ask Jon Lansman to contact you to tell you where to send the cheque.

      Until the bet is placed there is nothing to discuss.

      Trevor Fisher,.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        A referendum is not in the gift of Ms Sturgeon. It would require an Act of Parliament.

        Sturgeon is not in a position to offer or not to offer a referendum.

        And the clear majority of Scots want to remain in the UK – more so than when thwy voted in 2014.

        (Regarding this bet. You’re offering me evens, which is generous – you could probably get quite a long price from Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

  15. Jim Denham says:

    The principled, anti-racist left must oppose Brexit by all means possible. Anything else is a craven capitulation to racism and xenophobia – including that of the shameful fake “left” (ie ‘Morning Star’, SP and SWP).

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      The serious, principled left must unite and fight for a socialist Brexit.

      Anything else is a craven capitulation to neo-liberalism, the dictatorship of capital, and Eurocentric racism.

    2. James Martin says:

      You have to chuckle, Mr Denham a supporter of the AWL sect that cheerleads for the racist colonial ideology of apartheid-Zionism in the ME now believes he has something to say about racism in the EU.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        The AWL is a joke organisation, which no-one outside of the university ‘bubble’ takes seriously.

        The real driving forces behind the reactionary “stop Brexit by any means possible” are sections of finance capital.

        And the main political forces behind it are sections of the Tory Party, the Liberal Democrats and Labour’s Blairite wing.

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