Category Archives: Cameron

The Collapse of the Centre: Is Brexit a Disaster or an Opportunity for Labour?

The British political class – a uniquely inbred Oxbridge clique – is in turmoil after the result of the Brexit vote, and is now engaging in a mutual backstabbing that makes Game of Thrones look tame by comparison. However, despite its disorientation, the entire establishment across party lines is clear on one thing, and only one thing: Jeremy Corbyn should not be leader of the Labour party. Its political reflex is to hold him responsible for this disruption of the status quo.

Apart from around 40 MPs, Labour’s parliamentarians are closely tied to former leader Blair’s embrace of neoliberalism that was at the root of the party’s abandonment of the working class in the former industrial and mining areas. There is now the possibility of a split between the parliamentary wing and Labour’s membership, which wants to restore its social democratic orientation. It has this in common with much of the public, even when distorted by a nationalist perspective – the Brexiters’ slogan of more money for the NHS (which they immediately reneged on) was one of the popular drivers of the vote.

Corbyn is a symbol of a social democratic alternative to neoliberal austerity, although his voice was drowned out by the shrill claims and counter-claims of the Cameron-Johnson campaigns. He is still capable of uniting Brexiters and Remainers who want to acknowledge the misery piled up in the abandoned areas of much of England and Wales that had been ignored by the political elite. The vote gave an opportunity to the people living in those areas who felt disenfranchised to show their hostility to the political apparatus; many assumed their vote would not count and that Remain would carry the day simply because it was supported by the establishment.

Gary Younge commented: “If remain had won, we would already have returned to pretending that everything was carrying on just fine. Those people who have been forgotten would have stayed forgotten; those communities that have been abandoned would have stayed invisible to all but those who live in them. To insist that they will now suffer most ignores the fact that unless something had changed, they were going to suffer anyway. … For the last 15 years, governments and the press have stoked fears about whether British culture could withstand the integration of Muslims – of whom 70% voted for remain – when they should have been worried about how to integrate the white working class into the British economy. Brexit didn’t create these problems. It exposed them and will certainly make them worse.”

The referendum itself was inherently divisive, as Patrick Cockburn points out. “This is always the way with referenda on important issues: they make irreversible decisions, but they do so at a high political cost by excluding compromise between contending parties with deeply held opinions that they are not going to abandon on the day after the poll, regardless of who wins or loses. … The Remain camp thought they could win the vote by relentlessly emphasising the economic risks of leaving the EU, though the real danger is political rather than economic as a populist right is empowered with little idea of what it should do with that power.”

The influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe escaping poverty in their own countries has been taken advantage of by unscrupulous labour agencies and landlords to force down wage rates and jack up rents in various parts of Britain. But this is not unique to the UK; it exacerbates a trend seen throughout Europe. Servaas Storm, an economics professor at Delft University, comments: “Almost everywhere in the E.U. — as in Britain — there is a polarization of the income distribution into a large number of low-income households and a much smaller number of very rich, while the middle classes have shrunk. There is a segmentation of employment into low-wage, unprotected and precarious jobs, mostly in low-tech services, and high-wage and protected jobs in high-tech manufacturing, finance, legal services and government. … The massive social protests in France against the modernization of labour laws — newspeak for a reduction in the strength of French job-protection laws and social security in general — by the ‘socialist’ Hollande government illustrate the point: The systemic dismantling of worker protection in the name of cutting wage costs and improving unit-labour cost competitiveness will certainly increase job insecurity, employment precariousness, and inequality without any further macroeconomic benefits.”

UMass professor Richard Wolff explains: “A government, voted in by the French working class, a socialist government … pushed through a labor reform law which basically does everything that the employers in France could have dreamed for a president to do. … the newspapers are filled with spectacles of helmeted police being sent by a socialist government to beat the very people that put that government into office. And if anything were more clearly a sign of the collapse of what the very word socialism meant, as well as the collapse of conventional politics, it’s being acted out on the streets of Paris. … You’re seeing everywhere that the traditional, old, capitalist-maintaining center-left, center-right, is dissolving. And the polarization is the new issue on the horizon. It is surprising the old elites, but that’s really only a sign of how out of touch those governing elites have become …”

The parliamentary Labour party’s attempted coup to unseat Corbyn is another sign of how out of touch it is with the membership. Constituency activists have renewed demands for MP reselection in the event of another general election. Labour party member Dan Iles pointed out: “I believe Corbyn persuaded 60% of Labour’s supporters to vote remain because he didn’t ignore people’s concerns with the EU. By admitting that the EU is not without its faults and then demanding that we should stay in to reform it (from the left) he was able to bypass the binary claims of the two main referendum campaigns. People voted leave because they felt abandoned by politics and scared about immigration. These structural issues haven’t just appeared in the last nine months of Corbyn’s leadership. But I think many felt his defence of immigration and his determination to turn the debate towards austerity was refreshing at a time when the leave campaign was openly whipping up racism and xenophobia.”

UPDATE: David Graeber makes a relevant comment in the Guardian: “If the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn for the past nine months has been so fierce, and so bitter, it is because his existence as head of a major political party is an assault on the very notion that politics should be primarily about the personal qualities of politicians. … the Corbyn project is first and foremost to make the party a voice for social movements once again, dedicated to popular democracy (as trades unions themselves once were). … While one side effectively accuses him of refusing to play the demagogue during the Brexit debate, for the other, his insistence on treating the public as responsible adults was the quintessence of the ‘new kind of politics’ they wished to see.”

The Brexit campaign was always a dispute between factions of the Tory elite, neither of which were serious about the possibility of a Leave victory, meaning that there is no plan for disengaging from Europe. With all the criticism of Farage’s open racism, it has been forgotten that Cameron and Theresa May stoked nativism by imposing English language and income tests on new immigrants, a policy targeted at Middle Eastern refugees. Britain has never had a positive approach to cultural assimilation like the US does. It puts responsibility onto immigrants to somehow integrate themselves into the system.

While the media is fixated on British parliamentary politics, the vote is having major international repercussions, not least within Europe itself, because of the fragility and interconnectedness of the global economy. The Economist notes that the London financial industry could be in big trouble: “It thrives on the EU’s ‘passport’ rules, under which banks, asset managers and other financial firms in one member state may serve customers in the other 27 without setting up local operations. … In the run-up to the vote TheCityUK, a trade body that opposed Brexit, boasted that London had around 70% of the market for euro-denominated interest-rate derivatives, 90% of European prime brokerage (assisting hedge funds with trading) and more besides.”

Will the inevitable diminution of the City of London’s financial clout also lead to a weakening of its political influence? This is Labour’s opportunity: the first task of a Labour government independent of EU regulations should be to take control of capital movements and pump money into kick-starting manufacturing in regionally depressed economies. Corbyn supporters have plenty of policies they could be campaigning on to unite workers whose jobs have been outsourced with immigrants who would fight for a living wage.


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Britain’s Brexit: the left must fight for migrant rights

The result of the Brexit vote stunned the British political elite and sent shockwaves around the world; it was welcomed by separatist and rightwing populist movements in Europe and by Donald Trump as he visited his golf courses in Scotland. By just over a million votes in a high turnout referendum, the public voted to leave the European Union. The vote was uneven: Scotland voted by a large majority to remain, as did London.

It was a victory for the far right of the Tory party, which campaigned incessantly on restricting immigration. But there are other deep-seated reasons for the Brexit vote. Foremost among them is the resentment of the white working class, especially in the North, over deindustrialization, degradation of benefits like housing, health and education, which is blamed on immigrants as the most visible sign of what is in fact a neoliberal reconstruction of society.

Gary Younge argues: “Britain is no more sovereign today than it was yesterday. We have left the EU but we remain within the neoliberal system. … The chutzpah with which the Tory right – the very people who had pioneered austerity, damaging jobs, services and communities – blamed immigrants for the lack of resources was breathtaking.”

Owen Jones commented: “It may not have been the working-class revolt against the political establishment that many of us favoured, but it is undeniable that this result was achieved off the back of furious, alienated working-class votes. … Many of the communities that voted most decisively for leave were the same communities that have suffered the greatest battering under successive governments.”

What started as a maneuver by prime minister David Cameron to control the rightwing of his party resonated with the country in an unprecedented way. Younger voters and those living in metropolitan centres like London, Manchester and Liverpool voted for Remain, while in the deindustrialized north and midlands there were large majorities for Leave. The country is now intensively polarized and resentful of the other side.

The New York Times reported on the generational divide: “Leslie Driscoll, 55, sells hot cross buns in an English bakery in London. Having different cultures and communities is ‘fantastic,’ she said, ‘but what I don’t like is the fact that, through having that, we’ve now left ourselves open. I feel like a second-class citizen in my own country’.” Her daughter Louise grew up in the same area “but in a more prosperous, multicultural Britain than earlier generations had. In school, she was one of only two white students. Her friends are Eritrean, Nigerian and South African. Louise said she understood the pressures that immigration placed on schools and hospitals. But leaving the European Union worried her, she said, because it risked wrecking the economy and making it hard for young people to secure employment. It took her eight months to find work as a barista, she said.”

John Harris commented in the Guardian: “for millions of people, the word ‘immigration’ is reducible to yet another seismic change no one thought to ask them about, or even explain. What people seem to want is much the same as ever: security, stability, some sense of a viable future, and a reasonable degree of esteem. To be more specific, public housing is not a relic of the 20th century, but something that should surely sit at the core of our politics.”

Not that the vote will change that; if anything it will make things worse. Brexit voters were making a plea for a return to a self-contained economy with defined borders that would allow for a national compromise on jobs and benefits – in other words, Britain as it was before Thatcher, or rather an idealized country of the past.

Fintan O’Toole comments in The Irish Times: “The sense of grievance is undeniably powerful. It’s also highly contrary: it is rooted in the shrinking of British social democracy, but the outcome of Brexit will be an even firmer embrace of the unfettered neoliberalism that is causing that shrinkage. … The great cultural appeal of nationalism – we need independence or our culture will die – doesn’t wash. And besides, take immigrants out of English culture and what do you have left?”

Some on the left consider the result a progressive move that could lead to the weakening of neoliberalism. Joseph Choonara of the British Socialist Workers Party told Democracy Now that he hoped the vote “begins to precipitate the breakup of this huge bosses’ club. So that’s the basis on which we campaigned for exit of the U.K. from the EU. It was on the basis of an internationalist, anti-racist and progressive vote against neoliberalism. … The point is that there is going to be popular opposition to these kind of institutions. Does it receive a right focus or a left focus?” Alex Scrivener of Global Justice Now disagreed: “We’ve woken up today to a Britain in which it is a much, much scarier place to be a migrant. … Austria came within a whisker of electing a far-right president. We are living in very terrifying times. The National Front may be—is leading the polls at the moment for the French presidential election. You know, I think we’re on a level of political crisis here we haven’t seen since the 1930s. And I think that the sort of glee on some parts of the left about the EU breaking up, I think people are going to regret that, if that leads to a retreat into nationalism, which is already happening.”

In a similar debate on The Real News Network, John Hilary of War on Want said that the referendum gave a voice to voters’ desire for change: “so many millions of people voted saying, we do not trust our government and political elites anymore; we want a different type of politics which does not just serve the interests of the few … this is genuinely a return to a situation where we have direct democracy again, not a situation of the European Commission being able to hide all the time behind the democratic deficit that exists at the heart of the E.U.” Economics professor John Weeks responded: “Immigration was the issue people that voted on: we’ve got too many foreigners over here in Britain. That’s what the Out won on, and that is what they are going to pursue. And if I were the person that takes over after David Cameron, I would immediately call an election with the confidence that I could win it. And the reason that the Tories could win it is because the Labour Party is split. Most of Jeremy Corbyn’s MPs would love to see him defeated and will not work for a Labour Party to win. And when that happens, we could be in a very difficult situation indeed.”

The left needs to face up to the reality of the Brexit vote – the toxic nature of the Leave campaign created a nationalist backlash against immigrants who will need to be defended. The left has a huge responsibility and opportunity now, as Alex Scrivener of Global Justice said, “to fight for migrant rights, fight for those people who are going to lose hardest from this historic and tragic moment in our history.”

The idea that breaking up the EU means that opposition to neoliberalism will gain an advantage by only confronting a nationally delimited capitalist class is a fantasy. The UK was only ever an independent nation because it was sustained by a huge empire, and Thatcher carried out the last act of an independent nation-state when she opened up the country to international capital after the defeat of the miners’ year-long strike. Since then it’s been under the thrall of one neoliberal government after another.

Colonel Despard will be publishing a three-part reappraisal of the 1984-85 miners’ strike and its international implications, the lessons of which have still not been absorbed by the left. Watch for the first instalment next week.

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Heckuva Job, David! Is Flooding in Northern England Cameron’s Katrina?

British Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to cover the government’s tracks as disastrous flooding in the north of England makes a mockery of his claims to be taking responsibility for citizens’ safety. The press and parliament have so far not made an effective challenge to his public relations spin, but victims of the floods have shown their contempt. In a rare sighting of the prime minister by a member of the public, a woman shouted: “No more cuts to public services.”

During a photo-opportunity visit to emergency workers in York on Monday (so avoiding working-class Leeds), Cameron called the disaster unprecedented, rhetorically disconnecting it from his government’s defunding of state agencies. In reality it is a disaster of refusing to act on documented warnings by state officials and a willingness to take risks with people’s lives and property for the sake of advancing a destructive agenda of austerity.

After the flooding of three major British cities – York, Leeds, and Manchester – Cameron claimed that a lot of money was already being spent on flood defences and thousands of homes had been protected, pledging that the government would “help people in their hour of need and respond to unprecedented levels of rainfall.” As the Independent pointed out, “the implication here is that the freakish weather is so outlandishly unreal, so Old Testament, that no amount of government preparation, no flood defences, no civil contingency planning could possibly have mitigated its effects.”

However, the Guardian reported, as late as October this year the government decided not to develop a strategy to address the risk of increased flooding even after being warned by its official climate change advisers that it urgently needed to take action. And the cautions were specific: “Yorkshire’s regional flood and coastal committee (RFCC) warned about the potential impact of the region’s revenue funding gap just weeks before floods overran towns and cities in the region.” The actual state of the defences was brought into sharp relief after pumping equipment in York was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water.

The conservative Yorkshire Post said Cameron “was left on the back foot after Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds Council, claimed the disaster was ‘preventable’ and would not have been allowed to occur in the South. … [he] is facing a tide of public anger after it emerged that the Government dug deep last December to finance a £300m scheme to protect the Thames Valley after previously rejecting a £180m scheme to safeguard 4,500 homes in Leeds city centre, one of the areas worst affected by the Christmas deluge.”

The same paper commented in an editorial: “The prime minister repeatedly used the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe this winter’s storms. Yet every fortnight brings ‘unprecedented’ levels of new flooding and the same pious platitudes from politicians, such as the environment secretary, Liz Truss, whose rhetoric is increasingly economical with the truth.” While claiming her department is spending more on flood prevention, “she chooses to overlook the fact that many schemes are subject to partnership funding from councils and other agencies whose budgets have been decimated by spending cuts.”

Earlier, in 2012, “the government’s own research showed increased flooding is the greatest threat posed by climate change in England. But when heavy flooding hit in the summer of 2012, the Guardian revealed that almost 300 proposed flood defences had not gone ahead as planned following the cuts. A £58m scheme in Leeds – one of the cities hit in the latest round of flooding – was one affected project, which would have saved many times its cost in avoided damages.”

In Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, residents attacked the government’s inaction. The town was devastated by floods in 2012, but the latest flooding was worse, they said. “The government has done nothing to help us,” said local shop owner Janet Chew-Tetlaw. “They come round and say what they are going to do and make big promises, but nothing ever comes out of it. … All this is because culverts do not get cleared by the Environment Agency, the water is running off the moors because the trees are being cut down – destroying natural flood defences – and planning permission has been given for big housing developments on the hillsides, so there is no earth to soak up the water.”

What the situation demands is a bold political intervention to change land usage and to rebuild flood defences for future storms, like the Dutch, who have spent the past decade “deepening and widening rivers, creating new side canals that provide extra capacity, and setting aside land as dedicated flood plains. … All this so that when the water does come, the swollen rivers can expand without flooding homes and causing misery.” However, the British government’s role is one of cutting infrastructure spending and succumbing to business interests like farming and real estate that put short-term profit over longer-term safety.

Cameron’s social base is the financiers of the City of London who want negligible taxation on their wealth to avoid contributing to the common good. While in the last election he was successful in convincing enough of the property-owning middle class that austerity would secure their fortunes, it is now clear that defunding the state destroys essential conditions for normal life.

The only politician who has consistently spoken out for higher spending on public assets is Jeremy Corbyn. His social base is people who have already been affected by government cuts, for example in social services and public housing. Instead of repeatedly trying to undermine Corbyn, Labour MPs like the right-wing Simon Danczuk should forget about sending a few jets to Syria and get more helicopters to northern Britain. The biggest danger facing the British is not the threat of terrorism, but the Cameron government’s readiness to risk the lives of its own citizens in order to hang on to its support in the City of London.

Vying with UKIP leader Nigel Farage to be Britain’s answer to Donald Trump, Danczuk now calls for diverting the whole of foreign aid into shoring up the country’s aging infrastructure. This demagogic posturing accepts there is no alternative to austerity budgets by assuming no more money can be forthcoming for essential public projects from taxing the rich.

Will Cameron’s dishonest platitudes generate enough pushback from the electorate for this to be his Katrina moment? It certainly should. Heckuva job, David!


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After the General Election, What Next for British Labour?

The shock result of Britain’s general election last week, with Cameron’s Conservatives achieving a parliamentary majority against all expectations, masked the fact that, in England, the public could only choose between a blatantly bankers’ party and one that proposed minor restrictions on the activities of the super-rich. Even though Scottish voters decisively rejected austerity policies, the banking class won Westminster overall – attested to by the surge in the stock market after the Tory win. The UK is now headed for massive cuts in the welfare state and privatization of the National Health Service in order to force through more tax cuts for the rich.

The Guardian reported: “It couldn’t have been clearer who were the real winners from Thursday’s poll. Buy-to-let investors have dodged the threat of long-term, rent-controlled tenancies; City bankers have avoided a new bonus tax; utilities will not be forced to submit to tougher market intervention. As one Financial Times headline had it, ‘Wealthy breathe a sigh of relief at Tory victory’.”

The Conservatives didn’t so much win the election as Labour spectacularly lost it. The Tories were able to manipulate the first-past-the-post electoral system, targeting marginal seats in middle England with a fear campaign about Labour’s management of the economy, immigration, and how the SNP might dominate a minority Labour government, while Labour retained the hardcore loyalty of cities like Newcastle and Liverpool.

John Lanchester blogged: “Labour’s share of the vote in England went up by 3.6 per cent. That’s more than the Tories: their share of the English vote only went up by 1.4 per cent. … The Tories smashed it in the marginals. In the battleground constituencies Labour were down on their 2010 performance by 0.7 per cent. Labour’s overall improvement in England was driven by success on their own turf: 3.5 per cent increase in the North East, 6 per cent in the North West. Where there was a genuine contest with the Tories, the Tories did better. … The Tories out-campaigned Labour in the places where they needed to.”

Miliband was unable to answer the Tories’ fear campaign because his party is internally divided between Blairite neo-liberals and union-backed social democrats, with Miliband performing a delicate balancing act between the two. Labour therefore never challenged the Conservative narrative, endlessly repeated by the media, that Gordon Brown’s Labour government was responsible for the 2008 recession, bank bailouts and the size of the public debt, and so had made spending cuts inevitable.

Cameron had slowed down austerity after 2012, leading to a slight improvement in the economy that was mainly confined to the prosperous south-east, but Labour candidates in some declining northern towns whose constituents had been hammered by the coalition government’s austerity measures had to struggle to convince them to vote at all – and if they did, it was likely for Ukip.

According to the Guardian, “The more a seat looked like London – young, ethnically diverse, highly educated, socially liberal, large public sector – the better Labour did, on the whole. … Labour fell short with voters outside this ‘London core’, leaking support in multiple directions. The aspirational voters of suburban England – middle-class seats with falling unemployment and rising incomes – swung behind the Cameron-Osborne ‘long-term economic plan’, while Ukip surged in seats with large concentrations of poorer, white working-class English nationalists, many of whom sympathised with Labour’s economic message but not the people delivering it.”

What next for Labour? A special correspondent writes:

I am a Labour voter and, were I living in Scotland, I would be an SNP voter. I am very depressed at the outcome of a Tory government. The surprise defeat of Labour was a shock. The extent of the defeat is exaggerated by the voting system and the sudden resignations of three main party leaders, Ed Miliband for Labour, Nick Clegg for the LibDems and Nigel Farage of UKIP. All is not as it seems: Ed Miliband has not been a strong leader and Labour wanted rid of him before the election, although he ran a good campaign; Nick Clegg has been his party’s lightning conductor for their unpopularity when he campaigned on free university education and then participated in a 300% increase in university fees from £3000 to £9000 per year; Nigel Farage’s resignation is more Mirage than Farage as he proposes to stand for the leadership of UKIP again – he is just (temporarily) resigning to carry out a promise he made for the eventuality that he would lose his own personal election bid.

Labour were caught between two nationalisms: Scottish and English. They lost support in Scotland attempting to keep the Union together and campaigning with the Tories against Scottish independence and the Tories left them to it. The Tories’ reward for Labour was to accuse them of planning a coalition with seditious Scots whose main goal is to break the Union of England and Scotland. The Tories changed their election focus from their stewardship of the economy to attacking Labour for ‘siding with the enemy’ and from the outset of the Independence outcome, fuelling English nationalism.  The arguments on their ‘successful’ handling of the economy was founded on blaming Labour for the banking crash in 2008 when George Osborne opposed every attempt to regulate the banks at that time. As a global phenomenon emerging from dodgy US bank loans fuelling their housing boom, it is a transparent lie, but they have been successful with it.

The situation now faced by the new government is that they have stirred up a hornets’ nest of antagonisms between England and Scotland that can only lead to division of the union and with knock-on effects on Ireland, if not also in Wales and the Labour north of England. Statesmanship by the Tory party was noticeable only by its complete absence after the Scottish referendum campaign for independence. Short term party political interests were the only explanation for the stirring of English Nationalism by the “English Votes for English issues (?)” campaign that followed immediately after the referendum result.

We have divided parties: the Tories are split between its extreme anti-Europe right wing and its centrist ‘one nation’ Tories (an ever diminishing group); Labour is split between its Blairist centrist pro-business group that was able to work with Murdoch’s press and its more left-wing working class base; the LibDems are so shattered at all levels, local and national that its strong base of local activists in well-defined parts of the country is broken completely. The Scottish Nationalists are not split and have an inspirational leader: immediately on succeeding Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon produced an anti-austerity policy and an inclusive policy that I only wish Labour had had the strength to follow, instead of opposing.

The collapse of the Lib Dems also explains a lot that is unique to this election. Their 23% share of the vote fell to below 8% and it fell everywhere including all their regional strongholds. 5 years of taking the blame for the coalition’s unpopular policies had broken the base of thousands of local councillors and activists. The last coalition government, as a group, lost 22 seats plus the remaining 8 LibDems are no longer part of government, so the coalition lost 30 seats overall. This is not much of a victory, even despite the election arithmetic. The government majority has fallen from over 70 to 12. Six by-election defeats over a government lifetime is to be expected and in the last parliament, the coalition lost 8 seats and the Conservative won zero seats. Should that happen again this government will lose its majority, which is likely as the Conservative austerity programme is more severe than before as they were held back in their ideologically-driven cutting of benefits by their LibDem partners.

We have two winners of this election, both elected on opposing manifestos: The SNP were overwhelmingly elected on an anti-austerity, socially fair ticket, and the Conservatives in England were underwhelming elected on an anti-Scottish, anti-Europe, anti-benefits, anti-immigrants but pro-big business ticket. The SNP is united with strong leadership. The Conservative are split and despite all his bluster, David Cameron is weak, as his unconvincing clashes with the EU and indeed by his fear of UKIP reveal. The coming clashes between these two winners starts now, over the federalisation of the UK. It moves over 2 years of uncertainty onto the EU referendum, which Cameron is very likely to lose. The Tories big business backers oppose withdrawal from Europe but the English nationalism set lose by Cameron in his attempt to win back UKIP supporters is virulently against the EU as is the greater part of his party. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has already posed the question that UK withdrawal from the EU requires all nations within the EU to agree to it. If the UK is a serious Union and not dictated to by its large English establishment, it must agree to this or accept the legitimacy of another referendum on Scottish independence should the UK take Scotland out of the EU against its wishes. The Scots overwhelmingly rejected austerity that England voted for and are very likely to vote for the EU when England doesn’t, as will the Irish too where the EU is also popular.

Where does Labour go now? It already has Tony Blair intervening saying it should abandon its left wing policies for a return to the middle ground. It certainly needs a more charismatic leadership, and not just the leader but all those who surround the new leader. I think the policies of Labour in 2015 were not its weakness but the failure to combat the Tory rewriting of history around the 2008 banking failures, the pincer movement of twin nationalism, so ably exploited by the Tories. The role of the press and the media including the BBC needs to be combatted by some means or other. Murdoch completely backed the Tory party as did the others, but Murdoch went further by promoting the SNP victory by the Scottish Sun while demonising them, on the same day, in their English Sun, the largest of the English gutter press. The model the Labour party needs to follow is already given to us by the one absolute success story, the SNP. For God’s sake, get an anti-inequality alliance and basic policies of gender and social equality and hence tax rises to pay for a rebuilding of the welfare state and decent jobs worth having. Form alliances with the SNP and the Greens on a platform of well-defined issues such as the environment and on federalism that is genuine. They can also support Scottish Nationalism and allow Scottish Labour to do its thing and be successful again in an independent Scotland. A successful social democratic state as our neighbour can only encourage English Labour to grow and fight harder. London and the North believe in more social justice, so there is a basis for change, even in the heart of England and those Tory shires. The problems of inequality, housing costs, soup kitchens and poverty are not suddenly going to go away.


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