Sunday, 26 June 2016

Initial Thoughts on the EU referendum and Brexit.


Basic points.
  • Neither Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels. Oppose all states everywhere.
  • We shouldn't direct our hatred towards the working class, old people or the english. That is reactionary.
Why did this happen?
  • The Leave vote was caused by many reasons only one being racism.
  • The leave vote was a protest vote. Regardless of that the practical implications are catastrophic
  • The majority of the leave voters were not working class (apparently)
  • I think Leave voters felt ignored and betrayed by the establishment so it was a protest vote , a vote for democracy however mistaken that has been in terms of its practical implications.
  • Ebbw Vale Wales there's hardly any immigrants at all yet they voted Leave. Many voted UKIP.
  • John Pilger argues "The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media."
  • The Socialist Party claims "the fundamental character of the exit vote... was a working class revolt" causing "the anger and despair of Britain's elite" and probably "the collapse of the Tory party".
  • The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is less fantastical, acknowledging that "the Left Leave campaign we were part of had only a marginal effect". But somehow, it claimed, "the rich and the powerful... have suffered a massive reverse" - through the bit of the "Leave" campaign which had a not-at-all-marginal effect, the right-wing bit. (One survey before the referendum found that active "Leave" campaigners were broadly 60% Tory, 40% Ukip. Odd leaders for a "working-class revolt" against the "rich and powerful").
  • The SP, the SWP, and the anaemic Lexit/ Left Leave campaign have all responded by demanding an immediate general election and predicting a left Labour Corbyn victory in that election.
  • "hey insist at length that it was not all racist, and not all pro-Ukip. That is surely true. Little of the feeling against East European migrant workers is based on racial stereotypes. Many people of relatively recent immigrant background have been persuaded that the gates should be closed against new migrants: they are often very aware of the awkwardness of the argument, but have been convinced that migration is now just "too much". To think of the numbers of jobs, or houses, or hospital beds, as fixed quantities, and respond by saying that the limited numbers must be kept for those already in Britain, is narrow-minded and false, but not racist.
    Some people with no hostility to migrants were drawn in by the demagogic argument that Brexit would allow "us" to make "our own laws" or to "take control". (The Brexiters were tactfully silent about which laws originating from the EU they objected to. In fact they are such laws as those implementing EU protections on working hours and agency workers, and even those were not "imposed", but voted through by the Blair-Brown Labour government - rather reluctantly, but voted through - after Tory obstruction).
    And some people were swayed by the same sort of argument as the left Brexiters: that, whatever about migrants, whatever about laws, any protest against the status quo, the "elite", must be good. Very few of those will have been swayed by the left; but in any case, this argument, the most "left-wing" of the Brexit arguments, not really left-wing at all. Going for an incoherent kick against "the elite" is a substitute for and a diversion from real class-struggle mobilisation, not an example of it. The feeling may not be racist or pro-Ukip, but it is such that can be, and has been, channelled by racist, by Ukip, and by Tories."
  • "Socialists will best serve our class brothers and sisters who voted "Leave" by arguing with them - not caricaturing them, not dismissing them, but treating them as intelligent women and men who have gone off course, as people do, but can and should be convinced by reason. When they are convinced, class-conscious and socialistic elements in their thinking, now suppressed and overwhelmed by the Brexit demagogy, will come to the fore."
  • Aaron Bastani of Novaramedia writes " According to the most exhaustive attempt to map the decline of civic faith in UK democracy since 1945, 48% of people consider politicians ‘out merely for themselves’, while just 10% view the political class as serving the ‘national interest’. This represents a major transformation of political attitudes: in 1944, 36% thought politicians put ‘their country first’, 35% considered them ‘self-seekers’. While disapproval of government was 20% lower than its contemporary peak (60%). Between 1970 and 2014, the perception of parties and governments as seeking to serve some kind of national interest declined by about 18%, whereas between 1945 and 1970, there was just an 8% drop off. By the late 1990s, the political sphere had become devalued in the eyes of the citizenry and the political class: “I was never really in politics . . . I don’t feel myself a politician even now,” commented Blair in the early days of his premiership. Overall, the picture emerging from a series of quantitative studies on political attitudes is of an increasing antipathy toward both the institutions and representatives of a democratic system widely viewed as broken and unfair, if not actively corrupt and parasitic. Thus, contempt for the European Union can be seen in many ways as the culmination of a generalised anti-political trend. The Leave campaign was able to give expression to the grievances of a disenchanted populace by positioning itself as a votefor democratic autonomy (‘take back control’) and against the establishment entrenched in Westminster and Brussels. As well as the various shades of sickening racism and xenophobia mobilised by Vote Leave and Grassroots Out, the referendum has highlighted a deep process of democratic decay, the origins and meaning of which have not been much discussed on the left."
  • " On the economic side, this process is creating a progressively widening gap between those areas which are benefiting from the new global economy — in particular, Manchester, London and Cambridge — and those which are in decline in terms of employment and wages — the vestiges of the Victorian seaside towns in East Yorkshire, East Anglia, Essex, Devon and Cornwall, and the post-industrial North and East Midlands (Sheffield, Nottingham). In these areas, the Conservatives out-perform Labour by about three votes to one, while support for Ukip is high and continues to grow"- Novaramedia.
  • "dissatisfaction with the European Union and immigration are not expressions of an anti-austerity, anti-neoliberal agenda waiting to emerge into the full light of political consciousness. Rather, these sentiments in many ways reflect the capacity of the neoliberal hegemony to disorganise the forces of its own potential opposition. "
  • " From the minor parties of the radical left, many fantasies are still indulged. Attempts to style the referendum result as a victory for the working class against austerity is one example of this, whilst the idea that Cameron’s resignation will lead inevitably to the downfall of the the ruling order is another."
  • "However, the difficulty here is that in the rush to ‘take seriously people’s concerns about immigration’, Mason and McCluskeyendorse the hyper-inflated, xenophobic propaganda of Ukip and the right-wing press. On balance, the evidence does not suggest inward economic migration adversely affects wages to any significant degree. In the most comprehensive study of the impact of migration upon wages in low-paid and semi-skilled work, the Bank of England found the negative impact was just 2%. This is negligible. Certainly, this figure would be dwarfed in comparison to the impact of austerity and weak trade unions on the overall wage rate. In this light, Mason’s call for a points-based system, where migration would be controlled against the domestic supply of labour to privilege UK-born workers, is a concession too far. Furthermore, such proposals risk dividing workers globally. If western states begin to adopt such systems, the upshot may be the formation of a new aristocracy of labour with privileged access to high wages in the west, and the further marginalisation of those denied access to the rich economies of Europe. The contradictions of a nationally-located politics operating in an increasingly globalised world economy continue to confound."


  • Wales has cut its own throat. It got large sums of money from the EU.
  • The Tories will swing to the right.
  • Boris Johnson is to the right of David Cameron.
  • Possibly the Tories could split with some going to the right of the labour party and the right of the tories remaining. Maybe Nigel Farage will join the right of the tories.
  • Slovakian Far Right want a referendum on EU membership ----- "Slovak law requires a petition to receive 350,000 signatures from the country of 5.4 million for a referendum to be held. The results of a referendum are legally binding if the turnout exceeds 50 percent of all eligible voters."
What might happen next between governments/EU?
  • The EU referendum is not legally binding. It's only advisitory. Westminster could ignore it but it could cause discontent across England and Wales and a further right- right wing coup.

  • Recession and more austerity
  • Britain might have an australian points system.
  • Breakdown of Good Friday agreement.
  • That we will see a rise in the Far Right.
  • That rights we had previously from EU directives will be lessened or non-existent under British laws.


  • Scotland could stay in UK and EU  or if it leaves the EU could leave the UK after a referendum and rejoin the EU.

  • Scotland has to vote on whether Britain can leave the EU.  We could block it.  The Scottish Government could use the block as a bargaining token to achieve Indy Ref 2 if its refused by the new Tory pm. It's unclear what would happen if this situation played out. Nicola Sturgeon seems pushing for it. "The issue is whether there would have to be a legislative consent motion (LCM) which is usually needed when Wetminster tries to pass laws in areas which are under the control the Scottish Parliament. In this case, it’s believed the legislation to extricate the UK from the European Union would need Holyrood’s consent to extinguish the application of EU law in Scotland."
  • It's not obvious a indy ref will be successful this time either though polls suggest right now support is over 50%
  • I think Sturgeon will try to negotiate with the EU to keep scotland in, before holding an Indy ref.

What to do next?

  • In the short term Brexit will cede group to the right wing. It's up to the left to get organized. Migrant solidarity, anti-fascism, anti-racism is essential.
  • We must avoid British nationalism/racism on one side and Scottish nationalism on the other side.
  • We must show both Leave and Remain why their interests are not served by politicians and governments.

  • We should be careful about how we examine reasons for  the Leave result. It's too simplistic to dismiss leave voters as racists- since that's not true given the Lord Ashcroft polls- and its too simplistic to say it was "a working class revolt" as some Lexit(Left Exit) folk have done to comfort their consciences over the nasty consequences of the Leave vote.

    The Lord Ashcroft polls if correct, suggest that most voted leave because they saw the EU as undemocratic and they desire more democracy in politics.

    The Leave vote was partially a protest vote against feeling ignored and excluded by parliamentary politics.  Some Leave voters were racist but not all. It's more like racists voted leave rather than leave voters were racists.  Regardless of the reasons why people voted leave, racists interpret the Leave result as a signal that others in the UK agree with their racist and xenophobic ideas.

    Out of anger for the Leave vote, people have went knee jerk into almost uncritical support for the EU.  That's understandable given anger about Leave result and fear of the consequences.

      We must make clear that neither the EU nor the british state(nor any state- past, present or future fort that matter)  are democratic , accountable or reformable.

    I don't think we'll be able to get back in the EU just now as things stand.anti-raids networks, direct action against any threats to migrants, militant stuff.  It won't if we don't build it. If we stop thinking politicians are the solution and turn to ourselves then we can get more stuff done.  Networks are already there we just need more participation to be more public and build wider and stronger. It's not easy, takes time and effort, inevitable frustrations and disappointments, resolving conflict and disagreement and probably means some sacrificed leisure time but its what needs done

     Britain is likely to leave the EU because legitimacy wise it would be bad for them to do otherwise. Scotland might get into the EU in the UK but countries have to be unanimous and spain and France have said they will block it.
    So until there's another Indyref (which might not be a yes result so we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket ) that's all we can do.  There are no quick fixes,unfortunately.

    try to fight job cuts with direct action, protest, strike, occupation, sit in????


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