Category Archives: Politics

The Sewell Report

2021 and another report on racism. Following on Black Lives Matter and the inequalities laid bare for all to see by Covid 19 and once more a disproportionate proportion of the burden on the Black community, particularly those working at the front line, in hospitals, in the care services. This latest report requested by the Government, seeks to put a lid on those saying that inequalities could and should be avoided if attention was paid to institutional practice and particularly discriminatory practices and procedures that have found there way into ways of thinking and doing things principally as a result of the colonial experience which is clearly in evidence all around us. The evidence is strikingly clear to those whose families have been on the receiving end of exploitation and degradation and continue to be in the hands of our institutions: the deaths of George Floyd in the U.S. and Belly Majinga in the U.K., the Victoria station ticket worker who contracted Covid 19 after being spat at on while on duty both of whom should have been protected by institutions they came into contact with: the police and rail services in these cases. 

To add insult to injury it has been reported that some of those named in the Government’s Sewell Report hadn’t been aware of the final document’s content. It has in fact been rewritten by unknown people at no 10 Downing Street. 

The attitude of the leading institutions in the country are not new as the following article written by a member of both Rampton and Swann committees testifies. It seems to have been forgotten that neither report was implemented. In the case of Swann the Secretary of State for Education, Sir Keith Joseph, requested Lord Swann to send his summary of the report to all schools which were left to purchase their own if they wanted the full report. Recommendations have never been implemented to this day. Next year the Welsh Government intends to implement its own. So what will the Westminster Government do? Don’t hold your breath!


Bernard Coard (a Grenadian academic and teacher living in the UK in the 70s) became alarmed by his experiences of how the British ESN schools (schools for those considered to be educationally sub-normal) operated and were populated.  This prompted him to publish his book HOW THE WEST INDIAN CHILD IS MADE EDUCATIONALLY SUBNORMAL IN THE BRITISH SCHOOL SYSTEM.  It is no longer accepted to use the term “West Indian”, hence, here from, the term “black is substituted.

What Coard found was that 4 out of 5 children in ESN schools were black.  Often, these children found their way to ESN schools with the support and acquiescence of their parents because their children’s teachers told them that their children would be sent to “special” schools.  “Special” is a term known to black people as something very good and beneficial.  Incidentally, in spite of the fact that political involvement in Grenada eventually landed Coard a death sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment, Coard has maintained a strong interest in this aspect of British education from his prison cell. His current view is that what is needed to bring educational justice to all children alike is:  “quality education for all: that is one that is not dependent on the parental income/wealth or social status and connections of school children, does not have schools providing vastly different standards of education and does not have a two-tiered system, or multi-tiered system of education, providing differential education for the children of different classes, genders and ethnicities”.

Though, at the time, Coard’s disclosure was the most significant in stirring black parents into action, he was not alone in identifying the educational obstacles and educational state of affairs for black children.

Throughout the education system generally, black children were encouraged to take CSE as opposed to the then GCE examinations.  The latter, of course was for high flyers (usually white children) whilst the former was of much less worth for children’s life chances.  Studies, after studies, showed the damning effects of these practices on black children’s performance in schools.  A Brent LEA study in 1963 raised alarm about black children performance in reading , arithmetic and spelling; Vernon 1965; Little’s studies 1966 and 1968 and a Redbridge study in 1978 all, similarly reflected major concerns about black children’s performance compared with white children in British schools.  It was in this climate of concern that the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration in 1977 produced its Report on ‘The West Indian Community’.  The Report highlighted the widespread concern about the poor performance of [black] children in schools.  The Committee, therefore, recommended that the Government, as a matter of urgency, should institute “a high level independent inquiry into the causes of the underachievement of children of West Indian origin in maintained schools and the remedial action required”.  The James Callaghan Labour Government with the Honourable Shirley Williams as Secretary Of State for Education, at the time, responded to the Select Committee’s recommendation positively but widened it to include all ethnic minorities whilst giving more urgent attention to children of West Indian origin.  Hence, this was the birth of the Rampton and, subsequently,  Swann Inquiries which reported in 1981 and 1985 respectively.  Carlton Duncan, one of our members served on both Inquiries.

This was the remit given to Anthony Rampton (Chairman) and his colleagues:

“Recognising the contribution of schools in preparing all pupils for life in a society which is both multi-racial and culturally diverse, the Committee is required to:

review in relation to schools the educational needs and attainments of children from ethnic minority groups taking account, as necessary, of factors outside the formal educational system relevant to school performance, including influences in early childhood and prospects for school leavers;

consider the potential value of instituting arrangements for keeping under review the educational performance of different ethnic minority groups, what those arrangements might be;

consider the most effective use of resources for these purposes; and to make recommendations.

In carrying out its programme of work, the Committee is to give early and particular attention to the educational needs and attainments of pupils of West Indian origin and to make interim recommendations as soon as possible on action which might be taken in the interest of this group”.

There was a change of Government in 1979 which produced two other Secretaries of State (Mark Carlisle and Sir Keith Joseph) during the life time of the Rampton and Swann Inquiries.

On the Rampton Inquiry, there were 4 Afro Caribbean members; 5 Asian members and 13 Caucasians making a total of 22 members.  For the Swann Inquiry, membership changed on account of resignations and co-options. By and large, the bulk of the original membership lasted the full duration of the five year inquiry.

The Rampton Interim Report (West Indian children in our schools – Cmnd 8273, HMSO 1979) was based on considerable researched evidence, gathered information from parents, pupils teachers at all ranks, LEAs and community interested officials and others from all walks of life.  Following the ensuing deliberations of the evidential material so gathered, we were able to report our findings with recommendations in June 1981.  The evidence, findings and recommendation are far too voluminous for reproduction here.  Consequently, the reader is referred to chapters 1, 2 and 4 severally of the Interim Report for the details.  What these chapters will reveal is that the most prominent issue in our findings was racism (other issues included: the inadequacy of pre-school provision; linguistic difficulties of West Indian children; the inappropriateness of the school curriculum and the examination system, teachers’ low expectation of West Indian pupils’ a loss of trust and a lack of understanding between home and school, discrimination in employment, and by extension, poor housing and health issues, the state of race relations generally particularly with the police, the absence of black role models in high places).  These other issues are themselves pregnant with racist practices: but let the Report speak:

“In seeking to identify the factors which lead so many West Indian children to underachieve in our schools, many causes, both within the education system and outside it, were suggested by by those who gave evidence to us.  That which was most forcefully and frequently put forward by West Indians themselves was racism, both within schools and in society”. Page 11 of the Report, chap. 2, Para 1.

Did all this sound the bells of the impact of corona virus (COVID-19) upon the black communities; was Black Lives Matter clearly in the making?

This Report, then. was the first ever Government official document to identify racism as a problem for black people and their children.  This did not auger well for Anthony Rampton who was politely removed from the Chairmanship of the Committee and replaced by Lord Swann – a man who self-confessed to be ignorant of the issues upon which he is now called to give leadership.  

“The then Secretary of State’s invitation to me to take on the Chairmanship of the Committee came as a considerable surprise, i had been a scientist, the Principal of an ancient Scottish University and Chairman of the BBC, but I had little knowledge of the needs of Britain’s ethnic minority citizens…..”.

So, following on from the Interim Report, the Inquiry would now be the Swann Inquiry and ultimately, The Swann Report (Education for All) Cmnd 9453, HMSO, 1985.

Right from the start, it became obvious that part of Lord Swann’s role was to remove racism as an issue, more over the main issue, from the final Report.  11 members resigned from this Committee.  Their replacements plus co-opted others ensured a viable Committee to the end.  None of the Afro-Caribbean members resigned.  They needed to see this through and they all did.  Even against the background of Lord Swann picking them off one by one to dine at his up-market home, it didn’t work.  They found their own survival methods and techniques to stay together in the light of the clear evidence of racism.  Lord Swann was definitely not able to get the final Report to ignore the evidence.  But he was not to be out done.  Unknown to the membership of the Committee, Lord Swann prepared his own summary of the Report and ensured that it would find its way gratuitously into every school in the land.  The Report, itself, carried a price tag of £24.  In Lord Swann’s summary of nearly 7,000 words, he never managed to utter the word ‘racism’ once, except where he was quoting Professor Bhikhu Parekh (a member of the Committee) who had mentioned the word three times in the passage Lord Swann was quoting.  Because the evidence which were collected from the people who mattered so clearly embodied racism, and because both the Interim and the final Reports openly dealt with the racism issue, Lord Swann had difficulties in shutting out that matter.  It will be noted that throughout his summary, he sought refuge euphemistically in the terms “prejudice and discrimination.  ‘Education For All’ is a volume of 807 pages with a price tag of £24.  Clearly, it cannot be reproduced here.  The reader is besieged to reach for this entire Report rather than rely on the more readily accessible but misleading summary produced by Lord Swann behind the backs of the members of the Committee.

The damage which was done by the release of the summary has left us still grappling with issues that could have been laid to rest had the recommendations of the two Reports been implemented.  Some members of the Committee, including our member, Carlton Duncan, foresaw this happening.  Six members of the Committee, including Carlton Duncan, dissented from the wider Committee’s decision on the then popular call for separate schools which would alleviate many of the educational ills affecting ethnic minorities. (See page 515 of the main Report – Education For All)  The main reason why the Committee took a different view from that of the six dissenters was based on the assumption that the Reports’ findings and recommendations would be implemented and thus removing the pressures for separate schools.  Well, to date, the Reports have been largely shelved in dusty places.  And although the answers to the vast array of problematic issues flagged up by COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and, more recently, Meghan and Harry are already known and documented, the arguments, void of action, still rage on indefinitely.

Note: Sir Keith Joseph requested summary report of Swann to be issued to all schools. If they wanted the full report they were left to purchase it themselves: the debate is here.

Black Lives Matter. Implementing Rampton and Swann

In 2020 Black Lives Matter became a universal cry after another death of a Black person, George Floyd, caused uproar re-opening the Civil Rights’ Movement action 4 decades earlier. At the same time the pandemic, Covid 19, also laid bare gross inequalities, not least Black people, many of whom were prominent on the front line in health and other essential services, key workers in fighting the pandemic and saving the lives of others.

In the UK Belly Mujinga died from the Covid virus after someone spat in her face. She was on duty as a railway worker based at Victoria Station in London in a public space, but without protection from infection in a busy public place. She was vulnerable having an underlying health condition. Covid 19, in addition to the Black Lives Matter movement, laid bare inequalities apparently on the basis of “race” and ethnicity. Research is revealing socio-economic equality is the more likely reason for the huge disparity in deaths among Black communities.

Black Members of Parliament are calling for de-colonising education. The last official government reports on education and Black achievement date back to 1979 and 1985. For one reason or another they were kicked into the long grass. Many individual schools welcomed their recommendations resulting in changes being piecemeal and those in opposition able to ignore or even challenge the reports’ conclusions. Dawn Butler, now a well established MP, has led calls for action. She is not alone. A number of other more recently elected Black members are also making the plea. While there is opposition and denial from the Government benches, the Labour Party too has been dragging its feet in opposing racism, with the exception of its vigorous championing of anti-semitism. There can be no league table of groups facing discrimination. Equality demands fairness across the board and legislation if necessary to ensure that colonialism thinking and practice is comprehensively removed from institutions. While people are free to have their beliefs it is unacceptable for any government to allow discrimination arising from the UK’s colonial history to continue resulting in disproportionate numbers of deaths of Black people to occur. One example above show individuals in the criminal justice system to use extreme violence in the course of duty, the other the failure of an employer with a serious underlying health problem to give protection to their employee. Deaths of Black people in custody and on the front line in the health and other essential services have been common in the UK in recent years. Of those responsible few, if any, have been brought to justice.

The Stuart Hall Foundation has published reports of recent figures showing differences between groups in achievement in education in 2016/7. However the latest official Government reports arising from concern of children’s performance were the Rampton Report, 1979, and Swann Report, 1985. They give the recommendations of each report.

Carlton Duncan, who provided the introduction to this report, was a member on both Rampton and Swann committees. He has shone revelatory light onto reasons why implementation has not occurred between then and now. He is asking the question that now Black Lives Matter and Covid 19 have made it crystal clear that discrimination continues in a way many considered to be in the past this is not born out by the day to day experience of those who experience racism and discrimination. It is the same question as Black MPs now in parliament are asking about their experiences both in Parliament and in their constituencies. This includes having their staff to weed out abusive correspondence before its gets to them. The current Minister for Equalities and Women, Liz Truss, has stated that in her opinion institutional racism is “evidence free”!

Lost mural is found

Detail of Saltley Gate mural showing Arthur Scargill, at that time a rank and file member of the NUM, addressing the strikers and supporters in including 30,000 Birmingham workers who stopped work on 10th February 1972.

It’s just two years before the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate in 2022. South and City College, Birmingham in Digbeth, long a centre for trades union studies, are hosting us for the 48th anniversary on 11th February. Banner Theatre will be leading the celebrations with excerpts from their acclaimed repertoire around working peoples’ achievements, including the Battle of Saltley Gate. An unknown rank and file NUM member in ’72, Arthur Scargill, will be back in Birmingham to speak at this event. He will be joined by Paul Mackney, a former General Secretary of NATFHE, closely involved in the commissioning of a mural on Saltley Gate at this college when President of Birmingham Trades Union Council and Doug Nicholls, President of the Federation of Trades Unions from 2007-9 and elected its General Secretary in 2012.

A group of us visited the College in advance to make arrangements for the meeting: Ian Scott, President of Birmingham Trades Council, Graham Stevenson, a former national organiser for the TGWU and son-in-law of the late Frank Watters, a key player at Saltley Gate, Bhagwant Singh and myself from the Socialist Labour Party. We were met by a member of staff, new to the College. We met in the place where the event would take place. Our first question was “where is the mural?” “What mural?” came the response.

At that moment a college lecturer arrived. “Yes I can show you the mural. It’s in the classroom I use for teaching about trades union history” he told us. 

The College has undergone modernisation and is a thriving organisation. However the mural had been moved from the original site. We joined our hosts on a trip up two floors, and yes there it was, or at least most of it. Our hope is to get the mural on display in its entirety, preferably in Birmingham which in 2022 will be hosting the Commonwealth Games. 

There never was a better time to revisit Saltley in 1972 when failure to achieve solidarity for working people in struggle has allowed political opportunists to masquerade as their champions at the 2019 General Election. The very authors of austerity and opponents of trades union power were allowed to take over by a disunited leadership in the labour movement, a significant number of whom were distracted by the privileges and opportunities for personal advancement offered to them by powerful interests particularly in Brussels and Westminster.

The 48th Anniversary of Saltley Gate meeting takes place at South and City College Birmingham Annexe, High Street, Deritend, Digbeth, B5 5SU on Tuesday, 11th February from 6.00pm to 9.00pm

There will be exhibition stalls at the meeting at Digbeth representing unions and other organisations fighting for equality and justice, including the IWA in Birmingham who have led on demonstrations in Birmingham and London in support of rights of Moslems in India, and the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 

Massacres at Jallianwalla Bagh and Peterloo.

It is one hundred years since British troops opened fire on defenceless people including women, children and men in the area of the Punjabi city of Amritsar known as Jallianwalla Bagh. It was an enclosed public space where people regularly assembled for meetings or spent leisure time. There were high walls and very narrow alleyways. Gates were locked at the time, and many died escaping the bullets by jumping into a well. This notorious massacre has gone down in history and on the centenary of the event many are lobbying parliament for an official apology of what took place.

Just two hundred years ago people had gathered in such a space in and area of Manchester. As in India armed militia were brought in and an order given to open fire directly into the crowd. This too has gone down in history as the Peterloo Massacre.

A meeting held in Handsworth Birmingham on Saturday, 20th April 2019, remembered both events and attention was drawn to how people have been, and continue to be oppressed by a ruling elite using armed militia. They unite people of India and the UK by the brutality they experienced at the hands of the ruling class in a shared history.

The film Gandhi (1983) recreates events at Jallianwalabagh on April 13th, 1919. A film about Peterloo was released in 2012. An illustrated book about the event is due out to coincide with the bicentenary of the Peterloo massacre in August 1819. Both events should be included in schools’ curriculum.

47th Anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate

Flier for meeting in Birmingham on 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, addressed by Arthur Scargill

The 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, which took place in Birmingham on 10th February 1972, will be celebrated in Birmingham with an address from the man who took a lead on that day, Arthur Scargill.

We Had the Vote: Leave the EU Now. Conference, Birmingham 27/10/2018

A veritable line up of speakers attended yesterday’s conference held in Birmingham against the flow of demos demanding that we stay in the EU and its institutions. None of them made arguments remotely resembling those associated with the Brexiteers on the right flooding page of press, tv representing the massive reaction of the EU elite to those who had the temerity to vote to leave the EU in 2016. We had the vote: leave the EU now!

Issues raised at the outset included sovereignty, which can be associated with the wishes of supporters of UKIP and the Tory right, although for totally different ends, but from thereon there was little if nothing comparable. Dr Kim Bryan from the Socialist Labour Party spoke of the endless and destructive wars in which NATO was involved in proxy wars accounting for 95% percent of deaths in continuing global conflicts: the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, the Yemen. The EU is committing increasing funds using NATO to protect its interests. 

Ken Capstick, former Deputy Leader of Yorkshire NUM, spoke of austerity as a “Capitalist Crime” which is being allowed continue after the 2007 financial crash. The leaders of the EU, financiers and bankers, were associated with fraud, theft and other criminal activities and should now be in jail. Don’t hear this from Tories and their right wing allies. 

Professor Costas Lapavitsas, a former Greek MP in the Syriza Government made an eloquent and clear case for the need to end any association with free markets and the tools being used by the EU to meet their agenda. Their aim was to bring about stabilisation through measures such as austerity. Since the method used was to created money is this “stabilisation” real? As is being shown now in Italy, as well as Spain, Portugal and Greece. Austerity is not a policy, it is now institutionalised so that voters have no choice of voting for a party which can do anything different. The “democratic deficit” has become an abyss. There is a profound divergence among people as a result with feelings of powerlessness reasons for which many are unable to comprehend. While the message is that EU produces harmony among member states the reverse is true: Germany is using the EU for its own purposes with France in a support role. Central European states support Germany’s industrial base while those in the south are sources of cheap labour. 

Prof. Lapavitsas ended with advice about what we can do now, discussed in more detail in his new publication “The Left Case Against the EU”. Reform he saw as complete surrender. We are internationalists, but we need the internationalism of labour, not capitalism. For this we have to start from home.

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the General Federation of Trades Unions, pointed out that we need to get out of the single market institutions to restore our freedom to determine our future. The “Freedoms of Maastricht” are restrictions except for big international corporations. The basis of the single market came from Thatcher’s decision in 1979 to remove exchange controls on capital in Britain. The result caused misery for many when industry moved elsewhere across the globe. People were told to “get on their bike” to get jobs, as we thought that we had a right to expect employment where we were living. Movement of labour internationally hollowed out the work forces of some countries. UK agricultural and fishing industries were devastated and our ability to sustain ourselves in food and energy was reversed. As net contributors to the EU budget we had a little of our money returned through projects across the nation.

It was pointed out that the EU has not been audited for 20 years. It is rife with corruption and people don’t know where the money goes. We need to re-establish self-reliance to rebuild our own economy and industry. At present EU procurement and competition policies consistently disadvantage British industry. We have to ensure that EU law doesn’t continue to overrule employment law that we ourselves have created. Poland had to tear up all their collective bargaining agreements as a condition of joining the EU.

We need to reject protracted negotiations designed to keep us tied to the EU in some way, but we had a significant working class positive vote which generally lit a spark across Europe and which should mean that we will leave in EU on 29th March.  The elite were caught unawares that this would happen are themselves divided. Britain’s history has been one like a sleeping giant which periodically re-awakens to challenge. The question of an Irish border with controls is an excuse being used to frustrate an agreement. We should remember the great leaders such as James Connolly who stood for freedom and self-determination of their countries, free of impositions from others. These were understood as internationalist perspectives where all others would have their rights respected based on creative co-operation.

Arthur Scargill, Leader of the Socialist Labour Party concluded drawing on his long experience of campaigning against Europe, including in 1975 alongside Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn. Going into Europe had resulted in the UK losing its manufacturing base which accounted for 80% of the GDP. Germany is succeeding because of its manufacturing strength, not least in the automotive industry, formerly a feature of a strong British industry. If we take back control we can revive our manufacturing base, using our energy supplies, with new technology available for clean energy, and provide the jobs we need.  

We at this conference should determine to oppose the economic and political decision to sabotage the people’s decision to leave in an unprecedented and sustained campaign through media that ran even into children’s television. We have a responsibility to respond with the case against membership of the EU  We need to understand the issues now and go from here to tell others bringing people onto the streets to oppose what’s going on.

Scargill pointed out that we had a people’s vote. He was referring to the General Election called by Theresa May in 2017. In that resulted he noted that 75% of constituencies with Conservative MPS voted to leave the EU and 61% of constituencies with Labour MPs. If that was reflected in parliament there wouldn’t be a need for a debate. We don’t need further debate, we need action. 

Instead we have betrayal from many in the labour movement who need to understand the facts of life we’re discussing. No socialist can support the free movement of people or capital. Tony Benn made it clear that the EU constitution supported Capitalism. 

The Labour Party did not escape criticism in its wish for a customs union and a free market.

We need to call meetings like this across Britain to say what is going on and will not accept the sabotage of the right wing. That is the way to win the votes of the British people.

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 ( 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’.” ( 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.