Category Archives: Politics

Corbyn’s Embrace of a Customs Union is a Sell Out to Labour’s Right Wing on EU Fanatics 

Jeremy Corbyn’s embrace of a Customs Union is a sell out to Labour Party’s Right wing EU fanatics Keir Starmer and Chuka Umunna and it means that the Labour Party is now committed to, Free Movement of Workers from 27 EU Countries in to the U K,  a Single Market which allows Companies to move out of the U.K. to other EU States where workers are paid lower wages, The EU’s constitution is committed to Capitalism and membership or collaboration with the EU means Britain has to accept the tariffs ( Import Controls ) stipulated by an unelected body in Brussels.

It appears that Labours Leadership have forgotten that the 1945 Labour Government applied import controls which saw a Britain build an economy which had 80 per cent based in Manufacturing( today it’s 10 per cent ) an economy which built cars, aircraft, steel,coal, cotton,wool,agriculture and fishing. Labours Leadership are ignoring that 60 per cent of Labour Constituencies voted to leave the EU, something Britain could have done the day after the referendum. Britain has an annual deficit of £80 billion in trade with EU countries whilst Britains trade with the rest of the world produces a £40 billion surplus. It’s economic and political madness to remain in the EU. If the Labour Party continues with its present policy on the EU the British people will never forgive what they are doing. The British people voted to leave this bastion of capitalism. I call on all who want an independent Britain to make clear in any future vote to support those who want ” No Deal ”

Arthur Scargill.  Leader Socialist Labour Party.

Labour Party’s proposal to give shares in firms. Statement from Arthur Scargill, Leader, Socialist Labour Party (SLP)

The Labour Party’s proposal to ” give shares to workers in the firms that employ them” means that the Labour Party is now firmly committed to retaining a Capitalist System, a clear abandonment of Socialism. It’s the same stupid policy as the Labour Government’s ” Bullock Commission” in 1976. How on earth can any socialist support this party’s continued ” Sell Out ” Arthur Scargill ( Author with Peggy Kahn) of The Myth of Workers’ Control ( 1976)

Arthur Scargill, Leader, Socialist Labour Party (SLP)

Further reading

Statement from Arthur Scargill: Labour Party Leadership– Act of Treachery

The statement by the Labour Party Leadership that they would support a second referendum is an act of treachery for which they will never be forgiven. The ruling class have used and will continue to use every means including a media which has sought to overturn to overturn the decision of the British people in the 2016 Referendum. Tony Benn warned that membership of the European Union would mean that Britain would governed by a Constitution which is committed to Capitalism. The ruling class and the EU will demand another referendum and another until they get the result they want. As a socialist I call for all those who call themselves socialists to condemn this act of treachery by the Labour Party Leaders and campaign for withdrawal from this bastion of Capitalism.

Arthur Scargill, Leader Socialist Labour Party.

We Had the Vote. Leave the EU Now

This year’s round of conferences by the British labour movement have been forced to put Brexit on the table. Has it produced more smoke than fire? Will those who voted for Brexit be given more respect: I mean the voters who did so because they have felt the full effects of the neoliberal agenda heaped on them. It doesn’t include the privileged Tory right and UKIP leadership which hasn’t suffered from endless austerity and falling living standards, loss of benefits or homelessness. They meant it. So did the fishermen and women of Brixham who once again speak of yet more betrayal remaining in the hands of the E.U.

     Trawler in Brixham Harbour where members of the fishing industry are cmapigning to leave the EU

The TUC Congress opened the debate on what should happen post-Brexit at last. While TUC leader, Frances O’Grady’s call for “a people’s vote” gave us little to go on it provoked a reaction from others. The Morning Star reported Mick Cash of the RMT giving a “warning against joining the Blairite’s call” to support the proposal. Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey pointed out that the people’s vote “had already happened.” Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU preferred “a people’s government” to another “people’s vote”.

Now the Labour Party are at it. “We will honour the peoples’ vote expressed in the outcome of the July 2016 referendum” the leadership declared. Not at Conference. Shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, laid out the stall. Labour’d prefer a General Election, but if not there’d be a vote. Whether this was on the terms of the deal, as some, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell amongst them, stated, or one that would override the first referendum so we could remain in the EU was declared. Clearly there was deep division in the hall as some stood to applaud as others remained firmly in their seats in utter despair.

This begs the question whether any deal achieved would make the slightest difference to the EU’s neoliberal agenda of austerity, privatisation and general attitude to pay conditions, not least putting profit way above decent working conditions and health and safety measures. This affects everyone, not just the workers campaigning on our behalf. Any deal is certain to lead to surrendering to the EU agenda. Surely it’s clear by now that the EU is fundamentally anti-union and no champion of workers’ demands. Unions and their members are seen simply as a major threat to the operation of free markets and the competition required by international capitalism, fundamental to the EU modus operandi. As Prof. Costas Lapavitsas has noted there appears to be a general ignorance on what the EU is actually about. (Morning Star 11.09.2018)

The Nuffield Foundation at Oxford University undertook research on why people voted as they did in the 2016 Referendum. They gave four reasons to choose from:

“The most frequently selected reason among Leave voters––ticked by 45%––was, ‘to strike a better balance between Britain’s right to act independently, and the appropriate level of co-operation with other countries’. The second most frequently selected reason among Leave voters––ticked by 26%––was, ‘to help us deal better with the issue of immigration’.”

The impression given by countless published reports is that immigration was key. Clearly it is a poor second to the question of sovereignty – an issue of concern to all shades of political opinion. Yet it is asserted that racism and xenophobic views are spread across those who voted leave.

17,410,742 voted to leave the EU in the referendum held on 23rd June, 2016. Who were they? In the campaign itself air time and column inches were dominated by right wing parties and their leaders such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. Brexit appears to have been achieved by them and their relatively few supporters. In the 2015 General election UKIP had secured 4,376,635 votes (falling to just 594,068 in 2017). This leaves in excess of 13,000,000 leave voters whose views and motives are unknown and untested.

In an article “Why they Left” published in the Jacobin (jacobinmag.com) Prof. Costas Lapavitsas describes in more detail the characteristics of the voters on both sides in a description of two rifts, minor and major, among the elite and in wider society. He says “according to the Ashcroft poll 64% of the C2, D and E categories (i.e. class classifications) voted for Brexit; these are basically skilled and unskilled manual workers, casual workers, those who depend on the welfare state for their income and so on.” This is followed by a detailed breakdown area by area. It articulates how the confusion arises in a description of a “minor rift” between leavers and remainers in the “British ruling class” contrasted by much more serious a “major rift” in the wider society. How much the elite Brexiteers, relatively small in numbers, have with the majority is doubtful from the description of who they are. The first group are highly articulate, wealthy and with ready access to media outlets, the others at the sharp edge of austerity, cuts to their “essential service”, withdrawal of benefits etc. It may be the case that the leaders of the Brexit campaign display races and xenophobic ideas and attitudes. It by no means follows that the 13,000,000 who have not been identified concurred.

Another Greek commentator, Takis Fotopoulos, has written about “The Systematic Effort of the Transnational Elite to Crush the ‘Brexit Revolution’.” (www.antiglobalization.org). He states that “the apparent collapse of the ‘Brexit revolution’ far from reflecting the feelings of the victims of globalisation, which, if anything, gets stronger all the time, it simply reflections the vicious attacks of the elites against any political expression that the Brexit revolution has taken….either in the UK, the USA or France. Therefore through suppression and mostly deception, they may have successfully temporarily succeeded in suppressing the growing anger of the victims of globalisation.” He notes that the left, associated with “societies’ victims, has clearly changed sides in the globalisation era…..”

Recent events have brought the current situation into stark focus in the wake of the visit of the US President, Donald Trump. It had appeared that many of those active in the referendum campaigned had melted away, but there they were associating themselves with individuals and groups even further to the right than they had appeared earlier. Steve Bannon, a one time associate of Donald Trump, closely involved in his election, came to Europe. Both Bannon and Trump recommended Boris Johnson as next PM! (Bannon’s activities were not confined to the UK it should be noted. He consorted with some far right leaders including Austria, Hungary and Italy.) Significantly he was interviewed by Nigel Farage. “Tommy Robinson” the jailed English Defence League leader was discussed and hailed in glowing terms by Bannon as “the ‘backbone’ of England”. A prominent Union Leader, member of RMT, Steve Hedley, was injured in a vicious attack by his supporters taking part in a violent demonstration on behalf of the EDL.

Other reasons why the “victims of neoliberalisation” voted to leave could well be the neoliberal agenda itself. Seen as uneducated and lacking understanding it is considered, it seems, that voters would lack the sophistication to vote for this as a reason to leave the EU. Of course the neoliberal agenda is shared by the current British government as well as many other administrations across Europe. It is of great concern that many who consider themselves on the “left” have bought into this ideology.

Neoliberalism itself has been the subject of considerable discussion while its world-wide progress shows little sign of abating. “Neoliberalism: the Idea that Swallowed the World” ….(18/8/17) ”the reigning ideology…that venerates the market and strips away the things that make us human.”; “Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us” (19/8/17) and “Neoliberalism-the ideology at the root of all our problems” (19/8/17) are articles on the subject, all published in the Guardian in the space of a couple days last summer, seem to have made little impact, including on the Guardian itself still supporting a rearguard action to remain. Likewise the Independent and Mirror. For me the article that sums it up was printed in an International Monetary Fund paper in June 2016 which lays bare its inhuman origin. In the article headed “Neoliberalism Oversold?” it is stated:

“Milton Friedman in 1982 hailed Chile and an “economic miracle.” Nearly a decade earlier, Chile had turned to policies that have since been widely emulated across the globe. The neoliberal agenda – a label used more by critics than by the architects of the policies – rests on two main planks. The first is increased competition- achieved by deregulation and the opening up of domestic markets, including financial markets, to foreign competition. The second is a smaller role for the state, achieved through privatisation and limits the ability of governments to run fiscal deficits and accumulate debt.”

There are a number of other possible serious reasons why people voted against the EU given its current rightward drift.

One such is the EU’s adherence to policies of austerity and privatisation. This has deeply affected the victims of globalisation/neoliberalism with stories about the effects of cuts to benefits, health and social services, education services, the criminal justice system, transport reported daily. Homelessness, the proliferation of food banks are the results that many have endured, This is more frequently seen to be the fault of the Westminster government rather than Brussels, yet if we look across Europe we can see that Brussels “diktat” affects many countries, those in the south suffering the most. Many look to Brexit as a sign of hope for themselves. Could it not be the case that leave voters realised this all along?

It was Tony Benn who asserted that “The EU has the only constitution in the world committed to capitalism. It destroys the prospects of socialism anywhere in Europe, making capitalism a constitutional requirement of that set up.” He and others were campaigning against the EU in 1975, including Arthur Scargill and Jeremy Corbyn. It was repeated when the Maastricht Treaty defined the so-called “four freedoms” underlying the way the European Union would proceed. If it wasn’t clear then it is abundantly so now in the light of experience. “Freedoms” referred to free trade allowing powerful organisations to move their operations around in order to make use of the cheapest labour available.

NATO’s role inextricably linked with the EU is a cause of concern for many. A reason to vote against the EU? In 1999 78 days of bombing by NATO resulted in the deaths of 100s of people including those in hospitals and schools. Some wanted this investigate along with other “war crimes” in the former Yugoslavia, but this was rejected because of pressure from Washington and London. Involvement in other military expeditions involving widespread bombing together, backing EU intervention in countries like the Ukraine, setting up military bases on Russia’s doorstep. This is something US Presidents have avoided for years, perhaps with the memory of a time when they were faced with a threat in their own backyard during the Cuba missile crisis. Many recognise this as provocative and a significant threat to world peace. They’re unlikely to want to stay in this E.U.

In 2016 NATO joined EU in hunting for refugees fleeing persecution (because of the countless wars across the region). The “militarisation of a human crisis” is abhorrent to many. Not a reason for voting leave?

The wish to rerun the referendum campaign ignoring the outcome of the ballot is itself a threat to democracy and can be seen as an act of treachery by those advocating it.

Arthur Scargill, Leader of the Socialist Labour Party made this statement:

The statement by the Labour Party Leadership that they would support a second referendum is an act of treachery for which they will never be forgiven. The ruling class have used and will continue to use every means including a media which has sought to overturn to overturn the decision of the British people in the 2016 Referendum. Tony Benn warned that membership of the European Union would mean that Britain would governed by a Constitution which is committed to Capitalism. The ruling class and the EU will demand another referendum and another until they get the result they want. As a socialist I call for all those who call themselves socialists to condemn this act of treachery by the Labour Party Leaders and campaign for withdrawal from this bastion of Capitalism.

We had the vote. Leave the EU Now.

 

Post Brexit Opportunities. The missing agenda.

In it is difficult to make sense of the underlying reasons why nearly £17.5 million of us in Britain voted against staying in the European Union. Reasons given are those from the small elite group who have found globalisation of markets have worked in their favour. The missing agenda is the debate about why a significant proportion of leave voters were motivated to do so. The kind of suppositions put about include voters are uneducated and/or they are racist and xenophobic.Time for an open post-Brexit including the missing agenda is long overdue.

Costas Lapavitsas, Professor of Economics at SOAS, University of London, and former member of the Greek Parliament in 2015, describes in more detail the characteristics of the voters on both sides in a description of two rifts, minor and major, among the elite and in wider society. He says “according to the Ashcroft poll 64% of the C2, D and E categories (i.e. class classifications) voted for Brexit; these are basically skilled and unskilled manual workers, casual workers, those who depend on the welfare state for their income and so on.” This is followed by a detailed breakdown area by area. Lapavitsas article “Why They Left” articulates how the confusion arises in his description of a “minor rift” between leavers and remainers in the “British ruling class” and a “major rift” in the wider society.

Another Greek commentator, Takis Fotopoulos, has written about “The Systematic Effort of the Transnational Elite to Crush the ‘Brexit Revolution’.” He states that “the apparent collapse of the ‘Brexit revolution’ far from reflecting the feelings of the victims of globalisation, which, if anything, gets stronger all the time, it simply reflections the vicious attacks of the elites against any political expression that the Brexit revolution has taken….either in the UK, the USA or France. Therefore through suppression nd mostly deception, they may have successfully temporarily succeeded in suppressing the growing anger of the victims of globalisation.” He notes that the left, associated with “societies’ victims, has clearly changed sides in the globalisation era…..”

A closer look at the voting figures, while 17,410,742 voted to leave the EU, UKIP secured 4,376,635 votes in the 2015 general election (falling to 594,068 in 2017). This leaves in excess of 13,000,000 whose views and motives are unknown and untested. While rhetoric at Westminster repeatedly states the imperative of honouring the result of the referendum, in fact they and their reasons for voting thus have gone missing, absent without leave. Those who determined the outcome are being deliberately ignored.

Recent events have brought the current situation into star focus in the wake of the visit of the US President, Donald Trump. It had appeared that many of those active in the referendum campaigned had melted away, but there they were associating themselves with individuals and groups even further to the right than they had appeared earlier. Steve Bannon, a one time associate of Donald Trump, closely involved in his election, came to Europe. Both Bannon and Trump recommended Boris Johnson as next PM! (Bannon’s activities were not confined to the UK it should be noted. He consorted with some far right leaders including Austria, Hungary and Italy.) Significantly he was interviewed by Nigel Farage. “Tommy Robinson” the jailed English Defence League leader was discussed and hailed in glowing terms by Bannon as “the ‘backbone’ of England”. A prominent Union Leader, member of RMT, Steve Hedley, was injured in a vicious attack by his supporters taking part in a violent demonstration on behalf of the EDL.

It was Tony Benn who asserted that “The EU has the only constitution in the world committed to capitalism. It destroys the prospects of socialism anywhere in Europe, making capitalism a constitutional requirement of that set up.” He and others were campaigning against the EU in 1975, including Arthur Scargill and Jeremy Corbyn. It was repeated when the Maastricht Treaty defined the so-called “four freedoms” underlying the way the European Union would proceed. If it wasn’t clear then it is abundantly so now in the light of experience. “Freedoms” referred to free trade allowing powerful organisations to move their operations around in order to make use of the cheapest labour available. For individuals it has been a different matter in their experience as they have lost jobs and communities have been devastated. These are the victims of what is termed variously as “globalisation” and “neo-liberalism”. When we look to see where these areas are they coincide with poverty and deprivation, exacerbated by the effects of austerity and privatisation of “essential services”. Immigration was proclaimed a key factor, but those communities are often characterised by their now highly diverse communities who have for many years exhibited solidarity in working class issues.

Neoliberalism itself has been the subject of considerable discussion while its world-wide progress shows little sign of abating. “Neoliberalism: the Idea that Swallowed the World” ….(18/8/17) ”the reigning ideology…that venerates the market and strips away the things that make us human.”; “Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us” (19/8/17) and “Neoliberalism-the ideology at the root of all our problems” (19/8/17) are articles on the subject, all published in the Guardian in the space of a couple days last summer, seem to have made little impact, including on the Guardian itself still supporting the rearguard action to remain. Likewise the Independent and Mirror. For me the article that sums it up was printed in an International Monetary Fund paper in June 2016 which lays bare its inhuman origin. In the article headed “Neoliberalism Oversold?” it is stated:

“Milton Friedman in 1982 hailed Chile and an “economic miracle.” Nearly a decade earlier, Chile had turned to policies that have since been widely emulated across the globe. The neoliberal agenda – a label used more by critics than by the architects of the policies – rests on two main planks. The first is increased competition- achieved by deregulation and the opening up of domestic markets, including financial markets, to foreign competition. The second is a smaller role for the state, achieved through privatisation and limits the ability of governments to run fiscal deficits and accumulate debt.”

While the authors note some excesses, including “increased inequality” they maintain “there is much to cheer about in the neoliberal agenda”. Maybe for the few benefitting from the finance sector and its ability to print money, but certainly not the majority who depend on producing goods and getting well-paid, dependable employment for their existence. 

What is staggering is the labour movements’ ambivalence to staying in or leaving the EU given the existence of publications which demonstrate repeatedly that the EU is repressing workers through dictatorial orders, orders which so many “democratic” leaders are impatient to impose like President Macron in France. A report of a seminar held by the Institute of Employment Rights last summer brought together delegates from across Europe to the Marx Library. The report is crucial at this time in showing what opportunities Brexit bring for Trades Unions and Socialists, yet it is difficult to find even in the Institute’s publication list. It points, for instance, to the experience of Norway, a member of of the single market but not the EU. Even then in 2016 EU-based law overturned a hard won union fight to decide on dock labour by giving away the rights to a shipping company when they contested it!

Seen like this many more than the number who voted to leave the EU are victims of globalisation. Access to key services and maintenance of quality affects health, education, housing, transport, justice has been severely weakened for those without the means to pay up with massive cuts and lower standards from privatised suppliers paying lower wages to their staff. They are characteristically under huge pressure to meet excessive demand, health and safety standards have fallen sharply while at the same time the bosses of companies, some of which are multinational, multitasking, get huge returns. Profits are likely to be outsourced and tax paying avoided.

Governments in Brussels and Westminster operate under similar characteristics with a burgeoning system of patronage from powerful lobby groups. The difference Tony Benn reminds us concerns democracy. We directly elect MPs to Westminster and have a direct link. With Brussels this is not the case, and MEPs have little say in policies dreamed up by bureaucrats. There is therefore a strong possibility that a significant number voted to leave so as not to surrender British sovereignty. For the Left EU rules would disallow the possibility of voting for governments seeking to introduce Socialist policies.

There are a number of other possible serious reasons why people voted against the EU given its current rightward drift.

A very strong reason for rejecting the EU is its adherence to austerity and policies of privatisation of services particularly by victims of globalisation who have lost essential services, had benefits slashed ending in homelessness, depending on food banks and so on. Their vulnerability was exploited by the right putting the blame on scapegoats once again.

The EU, in line with their masters, big business, reduce costs and make cuts at every opportunity leaving individuals with low paid and unstable employment through ploys like zero hour contracts. Maybe quite a few of the leave voters considered enough is enough as union powers were seriously curtailed. Collective bargaining was a major target. Where was the left leadership when it was needed when the union leadership widely fell in with the remain campaign telling workers that their rights were protected by the EU. While there may have been some truth in this once upon a time the financial crash saw to it that it was the banks and financial institutions that needed available funds. Social democracy has traditionally seen a need to compromise and co-operate with a “cuddly” Capitalism. It is now abundantly clear that Capitalism shows no wish to compromise in its aim for maximum profit. Public funds intended for health, education, criminal justice have been handed over to private concerns with catastrophic results affecting the great majority of people. Those who realised this from the beginning would have voted to leave the EU.

NATO has been a matter of concern for some years as it has been involved with conflict continuously both inside and outside Europe. Its actions led to large displacements of people many of whom sought refuge in countries of Europe through bombing campaigns. Europe’s armaments industries have been selling to regimes noted for their abuses of human rights.

If the term “Brexit” has negative connotations in the UK, this is not the case across European countries and globally. The same agenda is missing elsewhere and many are looking to the UK for a lead in removing the burden of exploitation in this new manifestation of colonialism. In Europe many countries have become impoverished by being saddled with a currency, the Euro, over which they have no control. This is having disastrous effects particularly on people particularly those denied a voice.

Greece has recently faced devastating wild fires near to Athens. Commentators are pointing directly at the effects of Brussels’ control with 4,000 fire fighters lost through cut backs demanded by the EU. To add insult the Greek government supports 14 privatised airports providing them with hundreds of firefighters! Have you guessed, the private owners are a group based in Germany? Under the EU it is becoming quite usual for profit to go out of the country so the possibility of updating equipment is lost. (in the UK railways are being run by foreign owners, including German, French and Dutch state railways. They have taken substantial profits from the UK while providing terrible services and compromising safety, including removing guards from trains.)

Further examples of the situation across Europe can be found in the Institute of Employment Rights’ publication “Europe, the EU and Britain: Workers’ Rights and Economic Democracy.” The conference was held at the Marx Memorial Library on 1st July, 2017. Mauricio Miguel from Portugal spoke about the 1972 left wing takeover of government now seriously compromised by EU diktat and law. He says”

“I would like to emphasise how much we value the outcome of the British referendum for what it represents and contributes to the struggle of the Portuguese workers and people in terms of respect for their sovereignty, their right economic development and social progress, and against the unacceptable impositions and constraints of the European Union and Euro.”

The Socialist Labour Party are among those calling for a conference to be held in Birmingham this autumn inviting Arthur Scargill and Costas Lapavitsas as key speakers.

James Connolly and the EU

A series of articles about James Connolly in the Morning Star today, Tuesday June 5th, include a timely article from Ireland about “James Connolly and the EU” concerning his reaction to it had he been living now. This would be rejection. I mentioned this on Facebook and had an immediate and passionate response that in no way would he aligned to Brexit which is inherently fascist. The seems to be the position that those Labour MPs and supporters claiming to be on the left who are planning a summer of meetings to put the case for remaining regardless of the outcome of the referendum of June 23rd 2016.

James Connolly founded the Socialist Labour Party which has consistently argued that being a member of the European Union removes the democratic possibility of electing those who represent us and holding them to account. An account of the challenges he faced as a socialist in Ireland and of the 80 years of the Connolly Association testify to his influence. Finally there is a review of a republished bookly”“The Life and times of James Connol by C. Desmond Greaves testifies to his humanity.

Continuing to resist Brexit

The amplified voices of right wing politicians and media continue to dominate and drown out serious opposition continuing to resist Brexit. Voices from Europe supporting Brexit from a different perspective are unheard in the melee.

For one reason or another over 17 million of us in the UK didn’t like the European Union. Doesn’t mean we all didn’t like Europe. I love Europe, but I don’t love the EU or right wing European (including UK!) governments that push their undemocratic diktat following the imposition of a neo-liberal agenda. The supposition is what the accompanying media tell us – that voting for Brexit was racist and xenophobic. That many supported workers rights and reacted against austerity and privatisation has been written out of the story.

An alternative account speaks of “The Systematic Effort fo the Transnational Elite to Crush the Brexit Revolution….” Takis Fotopoulos, Professor at London University SOAS, sees that an uprising occurred when the opportunity arose to express dissatisfaction with that elite and all that it imposed on the people – the “victims of the effects of globalisation”. combination of fear, disinformation and deception has been at work, including the spreading of a myth about racism and xenophobia.

Costas Lapavitsas talks to George Galloway about crisis in Europe and the transformation of Capitalism. Instead of producing anything Capitalism has become “finacialised” allowing those in he financial sector to produce wealth without producing anything. While big business finds its own capital and is less reliant on banks, these have turned to other ways of raising finance – through drawing on the assets of
the general population and notably the working class. This analysis was prior to Brexit. Here Lapavitsas looks at the opportunities for the left now opened up, drawing on his own experience as a member of the Syriza Government of which he remains highly critical. As with Fotopoulos’ analysis “Brexit” is infinitely more than the reduction characterised by those defending Europe to the hilt, presumably because of the vested interests and privileges they currently enjoy at the expense of the victims of globalisation.

Brexit perspectives polarised

The Internationalist Rally held in Paris on May 28th, 2016, in advance of the UK referendum on leaving or staying in the European Union, made a statement to the labour movement in Britain. They said “We support the British Workers who will vote to leave the European Union in the 23 June referendum”.

Who were they attending the Rally? 1,200 workers, activists and youth from across Europe were there and additional support from others unable to be there personally such as medical staff working in refugee camps and witnessing first hand those holed up by EU policy after fleeing life-threatening conditions in Syria and elsewhere. Was the Brexit they requested that portrayed relentlessly by the British media and advanced by the likes of Theresa May and Boris Johnson? The 17,000,000+ UK citizens who voted to leave are supposedly part of a huge surge rightwards, racist, xenophobic, far right extremists.

The report on the Paris Rally simply does not resemble that view in any way. Steve Hedley, a delegate from the British transport union, the RMT, started by paying tribute to “French workers who are conducting a magnificent strike movement at the moment.” Two years on and Paris is still in the grip of action in defiance of the staunchly pro-European President, Macron, who has been putting through EU-backed legislation favouring the big corporations over those whose labour is necessary to create their huge and ever-growing wealth and power in the first place. WE need to salute and support these workers and those in other countries of Europe oppressed by EU diktat pressing for unending privatisation and austerity. In short the “neoliberal” agenda advocated by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School and followed by Pinochet in Chile, championed by Reagan, Thatcher, and others (including Blairite Labour) has to be culled.

The second point Steve Hedley made in his address to the Paris rally was that “we really did not know that so many people across France and Europe support Britain leaving the European Union”. This remains unknown and unreported.Those who voted for and won the UK referendum include many (who knows how many who voted “Leave”) who reacted to the massive cuts in funding to what we used to call “essential” services and the handing over to private providers at the same time slashing pay and conditions of those working in care, health and other areas of the once public sector.

The 2016 Referendum decided in far of Britain leaving the EU although considerable resistance remains throughout the mainstream press, EU supporters and regrettably politicians. The Westminster system of lobbying, revolving doors etc. ensures that it is not only MPs’ constituents who put pressure on them. While the electorate supply their votes the system allows largesse and privilege and access to all members elected into power. It appears resistance is low irrespective of party and political persuasion.

The problem is that while Brexit perspectives are polarised but each view is not communicated. As Hedley remarked views of Europeans about Brexit are unknown. President Macron once opined that had French citizens had the opportunity of a referendum it was possible they would have voted for France to leave the EU. Macron, a centrist in the mould of Thatcher and Blair according to some observers, won power when many feared that votes for condidates on the left would allow the far right into power.

At the same time does anyone know for certain how many of the 17 million plus UK citizens who voted for Britain to leave the EU supported UKIP, the Tory right. UKIP may account for around 4 million if we judge from votes they received in elections leaving 13 million unaccounted for. Many have protested in programmes such as Any Questions, when the public are given an opportunity speak to a wider audience, that they did not vote for racist or xenophobic reasons. Their concerns were to do with austerity, privatisation of “essential” services and issues around cuts to pay, pensions etc. affecting working people and those who depended on state support for health reasons etc. The many who felt the increase in injustice with access to the public systems of health, education, legal services and so on were withdrawn. The perspectives of UKIP, the Tory right and others played on immigration as a major reason for such problems clearly had its intended effect on many voters. The understanding that globalistation and a “neoliberal” agenda was at play was not made obvious.

The International Monetary Fund, one of the dominant institutions operating alongside the EU and international governments printed an article entitled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” In doing so they went as far as acknowledging its provenance!

“Instead of delivering growth, some neoliberal policies have increased inequality, in turn jeopardising durable expansion

Milton Friedman in 1982 hailed Chile as an ‘economic miracle.’ Nearly a decade earlier Chile had turned to policies that have since been widely emulated across the globe. The neoliberal agenda – label used more by critics than by architects of the policies -rests on two main planks. The first is increased competition – achieved through deregulation and the opening up of domestic markets, to foreign competition. The second is a smaller role for the state, achieved through privatisation and the limits on the ability of governments to run fiscal deficits and accumulate debt.”

What is puzzling is why so much of the press across the political spectrum continues to tacitly support those operating the neoliberal agenda. The Guardian for example has published a series of articles highly critical of its spread and effects on all of us: “Neoliberalism: The idea that swallowed the world”.; “Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us”. and “Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems”.

The neoliberal agenda emanating from the Chicago School and Milton Friedman has had vastly wider effects than in the economic sphere. Doctrines such as “shock and awe” have been practiced both economically and militarily. Pinochet himself came to power following the assassination of Allende following the “shock and awe” attack. What followed is well known, but what is behind it is told in some detail by Naomi Klein in “The Shock Doctrine”.

The Corporate Take Over of Everything

Amey is one of those corporate entities that take over just about everything and anything. They have a website just like their competitors, who like them are Jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none. Why have I chosen Amey. Just because it is currently in the news concerning Liverpool prison. When I searched for Amey and Liverpool it wasn’t the prison that came up but the council which is ending Amey’s contract six years early on its failure to run the street services effectively to keep the city’s streets clean. Liverpool has gone back to doing its own thing setting up a company.

In 2003-4 I came across Amey when I was Cabinet Member for Transportation and Street Services in Birmingham. Lucky Birmingham won a PFI contract to deal with the upkeep of roads, street lighting and everything else. I had oversight of the in-house services at the time. The work force were from my experience diligent and performed relatively well with resources available. Not being a fan of PFI I found myself in a difficult position. One measure recommended to me by a fellow councillor in Yorkshire was to have the work force seconded rather than handed over lock stock and barrel to whoever won the contract. Who won, well it was wonderful, sweet Amey who now have oversight of all. At least I think so. Just now outside as I write there is a van with a team of contractors lopping the trees in the street. It display the name “Acorn Group”. Maybe Amey doesn’t do this but prefers to subcontract in some areas.

S how are things going now in Birmingham. The PFI runs for some 20 years yet. The Birmingham press reports claim and counter claim with councillors saying what a bad state the roads are in and Amey responding by saying that Birmingham was ‘maintenance-light” in the years prior to them inheriting the street maintenance contract. One would have thought that the state of things would be pretty clear when drawing up a contract. I can only speak for myself by saying that the garage I use reported that I have “square wheels” on my car due to the pot holes that abound. They certainly weren’t like this before!

Back to news I was searching for. Amey and Liverpool Prison. The report is about the sacking of whistle blowers who dared to say what a state the prison is in. Not that Liverpool is alone, Winson Green in Birmingham recently faced riots. It’s not “run” by Amey, but another similar outfit which is a long-standing joke – G4S.

Over the years privatisations have typically ended in tears. It wasn’t just the Tories who followed the Chilean experiment under Pinochet. Milton Friedman led the charge from Chicago which put profits before all, in particular human beings. The system is broken. But who will fix it. The EU is predicated on the “Neo’liberal” model to which gave rise to unfettered Capitalism, and is followed by many politicians in Europe and across the world wooed by lobbyists. In Westminster it is the culture which it appears impossible to break. It seems to me those who want Brexit see that as the only chance of dealing with it – from the left, not the right which has got all the news that it is racist and xenophobic. Maybe that’s true of UKIP and the tory right, but not of those of the many that objected to the corporate take over over of everything.

Like others of its ilk Amey has a web site extolling its virtues and how it benefits so many of us. It advertises jobs. Questions to be asked include how good are pay and conditions? Are unions functioning? What happens to profits? Do they pay tax or have they off-shore havens? Typically sites spout “values” they supposedly uphold. You can look at others: Capita (known here in Birmingham as “Crapita” – it has run the City Council at some expense for some years, oh dear….), Serco, KPMG (also active from time to time in Brum).

What goes on behind the backdoor between these financial service giants and their new ways of amusing wealth is reported regularly in the local press. Hospitality is one of the themes regularly picked u
Coming back to Europe we can note the Germany’s GDP is strongly supported by its industry. Italy also has an industry but not having the clout of Germany is susceptible to takeovers. France for example has its eye on Italian communications while strongly protecting its own interests. In the 1970’s Britain’s GDP was based on 80% manufacturing and 20% service industries. This has reversed with service industries continuing to grow. The new way with money is to make more from it, both real and virtual creating bubbles which inevitably burst. It is not a question whether it will happen – like a volatile volcano – but when. To argue against the “progress” that is proclaimed is to be likened to the dinosaur. We want to go backwards. Well if it is to discard what is regarded as progress described in this article we urgently need to retrench!

Labour leave. At last arguments are on the table, if not answers.

The Labour Leave campaign is ratcheting up and at last the arguments are on the table, if not the answers.
This itself is a critique of a paper from “Open Britain”, part of a “Remain” campaign.. However it is far from final dodging key questions.

As with others who campaigned to leave arguing from a left perspective the media provide little oxygen. The Guardian, which itself has published some damning indictments of the neoliberal agenda, nurtures the Labour MPs who maintain there is no left argument for leaving! Attacks on unions, austerity, privatisation are not issues for them? There appear to be a seizable number of people who remain voiceless who voted for Britain to leave the EU, including the single market, and din’t subscribe to the racism and xenophobia of UKIP and Farage or the Tory right and Boris Johnson. This is no accident as the Euro elite in charge of the democracy free zone they inhabit have made sure that the Brexit argument is from racist and fascists alone.

Those leaders who put the referendum in motion and were instrumental in the campaign championed by the right wing media are either gone or largely discredited. Where is Cameron now? Presumably enjoying the perks that the Westminster corrupt revolving door allows politicians and supporting officers to enjoy. His chancellor chum has a portfolio of lucrative positions bestowed on him. If he was ever “in it together” with the likes of us he certainly ain’t now. Farage made his bed with the increasingly unpopular Trump and UKIP can’t seem to find a replacement. If as claimed the left failed the voiceless before another chance awaits.

The problem for Labour is that it is, and always has been, a social democratic party. That it is it does not break from the Capitalism that has been in crisis time and again recovering only by confiscating the wealth that we as working people create and handing it to fewer and fewer. In both Westminster and Brussels the lobbyists have unfettered access to the political leadership and are able ply them with the largesse which fuels the fabled “American Dream” which we’ve now globalised through neoliberalism. Doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Labour you can end up “Filthy ricH” and. like the noble Lord Mandelson, feel entirely comfortable with your loot.

One thing that the US and UK still have are democratic forms of government, nominally at least, which is more than can be said for the European Union. As Tony Benn pointed out at the time of Maastricht in 1991 the EU alone has constitution which is in favour of big business and large corporations i.e. the agenda of Capitalism, and proscribes Socialism. The Labour leadership is saying it will renationalise rail, water, energy et al, but if, as many of the remaining Blairites want, you remain in the single market and fall under EU law you can’t. Norwegian workers found this out to their cost even though Norway is outside the E.U. Because it is in the single market European law has precedent over those of Norway. 40 years ago Norwegian dock workers won the right to refuse casual labour on the quayside. This has been overturned by the imposition of EU law which gives precedent to corporate interests giving big shipping companies the right to employ whoever they want.

While Capitalism receives criticism the article above is written from a social democratic perspective. In other words any answer to Capitalist excesses from bodies such as the EU has to be capitalism. This is often described as a soft form or “cuddly capitalism.’ Nothing cuddly about it. What other ways are there? Blair proposed a “third way”. Judging by his life style there doesn’t appear to be much difference to capitalism in his thinking an doing!

It’s the “S” word that is missing and no one dare mention it’s name. Supporting neoliberalism – an extremist movement if any are, Globalisation has led to rampant colonialism with resources being stripped from the poorest peoples. the right has had its chance to nail Brexit but the right, at first strongly supported, has been widely disgraced and held back from gaining power as widely expected by some. There is an opportunity for the left to support those who have been placed in penury by EU policies, together with those of the Tories which look remarkably similar notwithstanding it is a Tory Government supposedly leading on Brexit.

There is a Socialist alternative which needs to be be seriously considered widely.