It is Sturgeon who wanted to take Scotland out of the EU, not Cameron

The Scottish TV leader debates have been revealing. Where the SNP have had to defend their actual government record, Nicola Sturgeon has come over as tetchy, and the audience skeptical.

However, the point that gripped me was that Scotland’s First Minister talked of a London Tory government taking Scotland out of the EU, against the will of the Scottish people. It is my belief that during last year’s referrendum, YES campaigners seemingly sought to hoodwink the electorate about the potential risks; and thus inhibit people from making an informed decision.

The half-truths about currency and expected North Sea Oil revenue revealed a tendency to adopt the most optimistic outcome as not only likely, but almost inevitable. The issue of EU membership is another area where the Scottish government, the SNP, and the official YES campaign sought to pour sand in the eyes of the electorate, and the SNP keep on doing so.

Scotland has been a member of the EU, and its predecessor organizations, for 40 years; but it has been so as a member of the United Kingdom, and should Scotland become independent, then it will be rUk that is the successor state that inherits the existing membership, and terms of membership, including the opt-outs negotiated by previous UK governments, over, for example, rebates, and Schengen.

If the UK seeks to leave the EU, then the whole of the UK would leave the EU, and any part of the UK subsequently seeking to re-enter the EU would need to apply anew.

There is no provision in the existing law and treaties for deciding whether Scotland would be permitted to continue with EU membership without interruption, and on the same terms as the UK, or to allow Scotland to stay in the EU if rUK leaves.

The YES campaign took a very bullish approach to this:

As explained in its “independence roadmap” and in its white paper “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland”, the Scottish Government proposes to agree the terms of Scotland’s continued membership of the EU between the date of the referendum, and the proposed date of independence on 24th March 2016.

In that way questions relating to our ongoing EU membership can be settled before we become independent. Scotland already is part of the EU – so there is no doubt that we meet all the requirements for membership, and with our energy and fishing resources it is clearly common sense, and in the interests of the EU, that Scotland’s place in the EU continues seamlessly.

Even the UK government’s expert European legal adviser has accepted that this timetable is “realistic”. So Scotland’s EU membership will be secure by the time we are independent.

However, in a letter from Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission sent to Christina McKelvie, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee this March, her official view spelt out that:

The Treaties apply to the Member States. When part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be a part of that State, e.g. because that territory becomes an independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a new independent region would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the Treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory.

Under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, any European state which respects the principles set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union may apply to become a member of the EU. If the application is accepted by the Council acting unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, an agreement is then negotiated between the applicant state and the Member States on the conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties which such admission entails.

This agreement is subject to ratification by all Member States and the applicant state.

In the event of independence the Scottish government would therefore need to negotiate, and seek agreement from all 28 existing members. Many of these member countries may favour the approach advocated by the Scottish Government, but it is reasonable to suppose, as Ruairi Quinn, former president of EU’s finance council has predicted, that, for example, Spain and Belgium might ‘veto an independent Scotland’s EU membership’

Certainly, the continuity of Scotland’s EU membership cannot be guaranteed, and the terms of its future accession would need to be negotiated. Any negotiations may well also reveal that Scotland, divorced from the UK, does not have a strong bargaining position; and some areas might be highly problematic, and – for example – commitments to keep an open border with England may conflict with requirements that other EU states might seek relating to Scotland joining the Schengen area.

Of course for those committed to independence, any risk, and almost any cost, will be justifiable. This is also true of the SNP’s claim that it would be possible for Labour to be routed in Scotland, and yet the SNP still be able to wave a magic wand to keep the Conservatives out of office. Despite some previous precedents, if the Conservatives are the largest party,the current constitutional convention would give them the momentum to form a minority government. The SNP seem to be weeping crocodile tears about how dreadful a future Conservative government in Westminster would be, while their supporters wage a shrill and aggressive campaign demonising Scottish Labour as “the Red Tories”, and promising to “drive them out”, creating the conditions for Conservative victory at the UK government level.

Without a number of victories for the Scottish Labour Party, then it is highly likely that it will be David Cameron and not Ed Miliband who forms the next government. If Scottish voters want a Labour government, they are going to have to vote for one.

155 comments on “It is Sturgeon who wanted to take Scotland out of the EU, not Cameron

  1. To answer your final paragraph, if you want a Labour government with an overall majority then vote for one in England which has 85% of the population. Looking at the figures on Electoral Calculus, in Chippenham you are running in fourth place behind the Tories, Lib-Dems and UKIP. You are marginally ahead of the Greens, so best get back to work.

    A vote for the SNP here in Scotland does not effect the number of Tory seats in any way. All it means is that Labour may have to cut a deal with the SNP to ensure that its troughers get their snouts into the Westminster swill. Everyone here is willing to allow that to happen so long as the price is agreed. Once that has been done, Miliband will have his majority in the Commons. It is that majority that matters, not where it comes from.

    None of the things that the SNP are after involve anything that any Labour voter in England can object to. The main reason why I will vote SNP is they have pledged an end to the war on claimants. Given that Rachel Reeves has already stated that yours is not the party of claimants I really don’t have much choice, even if I was prepared to take Labour on trust.

    If I still lived in England I would grit my teeth and vote Labour. Luckily I don’t so I won’t.

  2. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hmmm…interesting argument Andy. But I think the two scenarios you set out are very different – certainly in political terms if not necessarily in formal legal terms.

    I think it’s fair to say that the ‘Yes’ side in last year’s referendum were a little cavalier and presumptious on the question of continuing EU membership in the event of Scotland choosing to secede from the UK. (And similarly on the question of currency too and both issues harmed the ‘Yes’ camp I think).

    But the possible future scenario in which the UK as a whole votes to leave the EU, but a majority in Scotland (or Wales or Northern Ireland) votes to stay in the EU would, I think, be very different in that the Scots could then fairly reasonably argue that they were not the ones who had sought to change the situation.

    Although in formal, legal terms, both scenarios are probably the same, in the second scenario, don’t you think it’s possible that other EU members might be more inclined to approve continuing Scottish membership than they would have done had there been a ‘Yes’ last September?

  3. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Quote” Without a number of victories for the Scottish Labour Party, then it is highly likely that it will be David Cameron and not Ed Miliband who forms the next government. If Scottish voters want a Labour government, they are going to have to vote for one.”Unquote.
    Yet Nicola Sturgeon has publically on a number of occasions, and as recent as Tuesday night on TV, stated that the SNP will support a minority Labour Government over the Tories. So what is the problem? In Edinburgh – (and remember I do the vast majority of my socialist political activity in the Lothians and Edinburgh) – we have SNP/Labour council coalitions who are working together carrying out £138 million worth of cuts and the loss of over 1000 council jobs, something that both the national Labour Party leadership and SNP leadership agree on the Scottish scale. Ed Balls has again confirmed Labour’s plans for further spending cuts just hours after Labour’s Jim Murphy tried to hide them in the debate in Scotland. All the SNP leadership cabal want at the moment is more confirmed powers in Holyrood to decide how slowly they go down the Independence route, well after 2020 which is after the next election, without inflaming the masses. Get a grip Andy on reality and stop looking through the prism of the Labour Party.

  4. stephen marks on said:

    While it is true that membership of an independent Scotland would have to be agreed by all member states, in practice both Spain and Belgium made clear that they would not veto it. However that does not guarantee that Scotland would automatically benefit from the UK’s opt-outs. But after a Yes vote it would have been in the interests of Westminster to support Edinburgh’s claim that it should, whatever had been said before the referendum. And it would not be in any other member-state’s interest to veto it, since no precedent would be created. The only other potential secessionist regions [Catalunya, Flanders, Padania etc] would all be seceding from states which were founder-members of the Euro and Schengen, and which therefore never benefitted from these opt-outs before their secession. But in the case of Scotland counter-seceding from a UK leaving the EU, I think Karl is right – the other member states would enjoy encouraging the Scots to counter-secede back into the EU by guaranteeing them a smooth passage, just in order to get their own back on the Brits.

  5. stephen marks: But in the case of Scotland counter-seceding from a UK leaving the EU, I think Karl is right – the other member states would enjoy encouraging the Scots to counter-secede back into the EU by guaranteeing them a smooth passage, just in order to get their own back on the Brits.

    I think you underestimate the dificulties.

    FIrstly, the position fof Spain and Belgium is not clear cut, as conflicting statements have been made, and it would be a decision for their governments of the day.

    Secondly, Scotland would need to go through a referrendum process again, under the auspices of enabling legislation from Westminster, and if they voted to leave the EU they would still be in the UK for 2 years while negotiations with rUK and practical secession arragments were settled. In the context of Brexit, rUK would not be negotiating for Scotland, and Scotland itself would simply not have the diplomatic institutions to easlity directly negotiate with the EU. What is more, whatever goodwill Scotland might have (which I think you overestimate) in other European states in this scenario, the EU constitution would still require Scotland to accede as a new applicant, and would not be the successor state to the UK.

    There would be no will for other more recent accession states to allow Scotand an opt out of conditions that they had been required to agree with, like the Euro, or to benefit from the concessions that UK won under Thatcher.

  6. Ken: The main reason why I will vote SNP is they have pledged an end to the war on claimants.

    Me too. It is about content not form and the SNP under Sturgeon are clearly a more progressive choice in Scotland than the Blairite wing of the Labour Party, which currently holds sway there.

    It’s not the Scottish electorate that has changed, it is Labour that’s changed.

  7. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    But full fiscal autonomy would take £7.6bn away alongside £1 bn funding of Scottish pensions by the UK. I can’t see how a Scottish govt can pursue anything but austerity in that context

  8. Andy Newman:
    John,

    But full fiscal autonomy would take £7.6bn away alongside £1 bn funding of Scottish pensions by the UK. I can’t see how a Scottish govt can pursue anything but austerity in that context

    Labour voted to continue austerity and they are pro-Trident. The revenue saved through scrapping this alone would more than make up for any funding shortfall, which of course Sturgeon disputes.

    The political direction of travel in Scotland won’t be stopped or diverted by scaremongering. It’s clear that Labour is headed for wipeout north of the border. A Labour/SNP coalition of some sort would be in the best interests of the working class UK-wide.

  9. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    The irony is both Andy and John are correct; the SNP will continue their austerity and cuts programme as they have done the last 5 years and if the Labour Party have a majority government they will continue the Tory austerity and cuts programme of the last 5 years albeit at a one degree slower rate. And if there is a form of coalition between a minority Labour Party and SNP after the election the austerity programme will still continue. As John said it is the Labour Party’s own fault for getting in this predicament they should never have gone into the toxic bed and made love with the with the Tories to stop the YES vote and become the Project Fear party; they really screwed it up for themselves for the general election. Any way I post an article from the Scotsman about the only 100% anti-austerity party who is standing in the General Election – TUSC and Scottish TUSC.
    http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/left-wing-party-tusc-vows-to-make-banks-pay-1-3742379

  10. Graeme on said:

    The point about full fiscal autonomy is pretty irrelevant as Scots voting for the SNP will not bring it about – no other parties are in favour so it clearly wouldn’t get a parliamentary majority.

    Your point about the Tories being the largest party is misleading. If they can’t command a majority of parliament then they can’t form a government. As long as Labour and SNP make a majority then Miliband will be PM. Even if they don’t quite, as long as the Tories don’t (and no polls predict they will) then Miliband will almost certainly be PM.

  11. Andy Newman on said:

    John: The political direction of travel in Scotland won’t be stopped or diverted by scaremongering.

    It isn’t scaremongering, it is just looking at the issue from an entirely different perspective.

    I don’t follow your argument.

    Even if we assume that Trident renewal will be cancelled, a decision that has been postponed to the next parliament. The total lifetime cost is estimated at say £100 bn (some of which already spent) . Scotland’s contribution, which might be saved would therefore be say £10 bn – over the lifetime of Trident

    FFA would cost Scotland £8.6 bn (including pensions) PER YEAR.

    Am I missing something?

  12. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: Yet Nicola Sturgeon has publically on a number of occasions, and as recent as Tuesday night on TV, stated that the SNP will support a minority Labour Government over the Tories. So what is the problem?

    The problem is that if the Conservatives are the largest party, then the SNP will probably be unable to stop the Tories becoming a minority government. That would seem to be the current constitutional understanding.

  13. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: I can’t see how a Scottish govt can pursue anything but austerity in that context

    Especially as we are approaching the point in terms of energy prices where the barrel will be worth more than the oil inside it!

    I still contend that an independent Scotland would resemble something akin to a “petro-state” where the government can live “high on the hog” when oil prices are high and grinding austerity when the bottom falls out – a bit like the Canadian province of Alberta (currently in free fall economically) or the US state of Texas writ large but without the benefits of being anchored to a larger national body.

    In this context an SNP regime would ditch any progressive/Left sweet-talk and revert to their default position of being “Tartan Tories” rather quickly. On a ideological and philosophical level, Nationalism allows them to do this, of course.

  14. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: Ed Balls has again confirmed Labour’s plans for further spending cuts just hours after Labour’s Jim Murphy tried to hide them in the debate in Scotland.

    So what are you saying? You seem to be suggesting that – in your view – Labour is committed to austerity. How would it therefore be possible for the SNP to resist austerity by a coalition with Labour?

  15. Andy Newman,

    “The problem is that if the Conservatives are the largest party, then the SNP will probably be unable to stop the Tories becoming a minority government. That would seem to be the current constitutional understanding.”

    Only to be defeated on their Queen’s Speech, which both Labour and the SNP have pledged to oppose. If you think about it, neither party can even afford to think about abstaining on it, still less actually trooping through the Aye lobbies in support of the Tories.

    A government that cannot get a confidence motion passed – and The Queen’s Speech is the premier confidence motion of them all – cannot remain in office.

    Under those circumstances Miliband would be sent for if he could command a majority in the Commons. As I said earlier, it does not matter where the majority of seats comes from, all that matters is that it exists.

  16. John,

    Not only more progressive, but also more on the ball as well. I had a problem with my housing benefit last year and the council jobsworth was telling me that it would take six weeks to sort out. I contacted my local councillor by process of elimination. I had written to the Green about something and the lazy bugger had never even replied. The Labour fella was regarded in the area as useless, so I wrote to the SNP woman.

    She was on holiday but she took time out to give several jobsworths a rocket and within 48 hours my housing benefit was sorted out. Anyway, her name is Deirdre Brock and she is the SNP candidate for my seat.

    On a less parochial front, the SNP government has banned the sale of council houses, kept Education Maintenance Allowance alive and provided money to the councils so that claimants do not have to pay any council tax.

    These are polices that Labour should put forward but doesn’t. Partly because it is headed by a teetotal, vegetarian weirdo who is also in the Henry Jackson Society, but mainly because it is the local office of a party that only gives a stuff about the southern English aspirational scrote vote.

    SNP for me next month.

  17. #15 There’s something that few if any dare speak about that could result from the Tories being the largest party but without an outright majority.

    And it isn’t a coalition between Labour and the SNP.

  18. John: Sturgeon are clearly a more progressive choice in Scotland than the Blairite wing of the Labour Party, which currently holds sway there.

    But it’s not a specifically Scottish election- it’s an election for the government of the whole of the UK. Ed Miliband is British Labour leader and he isn’t a Blairite- as was clarified by his preventing the West bombing Syria, and reinforced by his announcement re: non-dom tax status.

    John: A Labour/SNP coalition of some sort would be in the best interests of the working class UK-wide.

    Not if the price for that is a further entrenchment of nationalism and the acceleration of the process towards Scottish ‘independence’

  19. Noah: But it’s not a specifically Scottish election- it’s an election for the government of the whole of the UK. Ed Miliband is British Labour leader and he isn’t a Blairite- as was clarified by his preventing the West bombing Syria, and reinforced by his announcement re: non-dom tax status.

    You’re right, Miliband isn’t a Blairite, but he hasn’t been able to prevent the Blairite/Progress faction from exercising the malign influence it still does within the party, exemplified by their man being elected leader of the party in Scotland.

    It isn’t a Scottish election, nor is it about independence, which is why I will have no problem casting a vote for a Sturgeon-led SNP on May 7.

    The extent to which Labour in Scotland has lost its working class base is measured in the meteoric rise of the SNP. Those arguing for a Labour vote by people in Scotland would be arguing from a position of strength if Labour was an avowedly anti austerity, antiwar, anti-Trident, anti benefit cuts, and pro trade union party.

    It’s not.

  20. Jellytot on said:

    Vanya: #15 There’s something that few if any dare speak about that could result from the Tories being the largest party but without an outright majority.

    Would that be a patch-up of the Tories, what’s left of the Liberals, DUP and the odds and sods of Ukip?

    Noah: Ed Miliband is British Labour leader and he isn’t a Blairite- as was clarified by his preventing the West bombing Syria, and reinforced by his announcement re: non-dom tax status.

    The Right detest the guy hence all the shit that’s being thrown at him. That’s good enough for me.

    Not if the price for that is a further entrenchment of nationalism and the acceleration of the process towards Scottish ‘independence’

    Every single vote for the SNP strengthens the case for independence just as every single vote for Ukip strengthens the case for leaving the EU. I can’t see how it would fail to. These things can’t be compartmentalised and placed into neat little boxes.

  21. Jellytot on said:

    Ken: the southern English aspirational scrote vote.

    I can’t, for the life of me, work out what that actually is.

  22. jim mclean on said:

    Jellytot,

    Southern English,. Essex Man
    Aspirational – Sierra Man
    Scrote – Lumpen

    Scrote and asperational don’t always equate

  23. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot: Vanya: #15 There’s something that few if any dare speak about that could result from the Tories being the largest party but without an outright majority.
    Would that be a patch-up of the Tories, what’s left of the Liberals, DUP and the odds and sods of Ukip?

    I suspect Vanya’s referring to the speculation by Gisella Stuart and Kenneth Baker of a possible “unholy alliance” between the Tories and Labour, but I really don’t see that happening.

  24. Uncle Albert on said:

    John: their man being elected leader of the party in Scotland.

    If Murphy had performed well the Blairite/Progress faction would have been immeasurably strengthened and Scottish Labour would become the power-base for a new generation of Blairites. Murphy would then be well-positioned for a UK LP leadership challenge.

    A vote against Murphy’s Scottish Labour is a vote against the Blairite/Progress faction. The Blairites never thought they could lose an election (they blamed Brown’s defeat on not enough Blairism) and now they’re going to find out what it’s like to be bitten on the ass by reality.

    And let’s just consider Murphy’s mayhem-instigating Preventative Intervention strategy, delivered in a speech to the Henry Jackson Society and included as a reference in the Policy Documents used by the LP for policy development. Any success achieved by Murphy is also a success for the policy priorities shared by Murphy and other Blairites.

    This is particularly pertinent now that Obama has appointed Ashton Carter as Defense Secretary. Carter is the chap who urged President Bush to bomb North Korea and has “repeatedly insisted that military action was a vital part of a “comprehensive strategy” against Iran.”*

    Indeed, a heavy defeat for Murphy and Scottish Labour is also a victory for sanity in international affairs.

    * http://news.antiwar.com/2014/12/05/obama-nominates-ashton-carter-for-defense-secretary/

  25. Karl Stewart on said:

    Going back to the specific issue raised by the article, is continuing EU membership still something that the left should support in any case?
    .
    Until the beginning of last year, I was fairly agnostic on the question. But a combination of the EU’s provocation in the former Ukraine and the EU’s treatment of Greece have shifted my view towards opposition to the EU.

    I’d say my view is now that I’d like to see the left developing a more ‘left-EU-sceptic’ position on the issue, which can differentiate more clearly from the right’s anti-EU perspective.

  26. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’d say my view is now that I’d like to see the left developing a more ‘left-EU-sceptic’ position on the issue, which can differentiate more clearly from the right’s anti-EU perspective.

    UKIP represents membership of the EU as a constitutional issue.

    If one wants to differentiate oneself from UKIP I suggest that the way do it is to have a clearly defined economic policy and place the EU in that context. If the EU are going to stop us doing what we need to do then so much the worse for the EU. On the other hand, if they are prepared to be ‘flexible’ then there would be no need to make membership an issue.

    For example:

    Five ways to get FIVE MILLION extra jobs
    1. Stop private companies milking the state. …end all private contracts in the NHS, the prison services, police, army and civil service. This will allow public employees to concentrate on improving services.
    2. Protect our economy by managing our imports and exchange rate of the pound. This is the only way we can create an environment for the rebuilding of British manufacturing.
    3. Take control of our core industries – renationalise energy, transport, telecommunications, steel and shipbuilding – and expand them.
    4. Tame the City: the current financial system is so unstable and capricious that it has become a threat not just to itself but to society as a whole. It needs root and branch restructuring. We need to:
    reinstate controls on the movement of capital;
    provide small businesses with reliable source of finance through local authority banks;
    Use the Post Offices for ordinary bank accounts
    5. Stand up to the EU. Just about everything we need to do both locally and nationally is against some EU law or directive.

    Why a vote for Hallam is not a wasted vote
    All the main parties are hell-bent on cutting public services. So we all know what they will try and do. The only thing that will deter the new government is the fear that they are losing popular consent. So the more votes PBP candidates get the better.

    This written in 2010 for LPBP’s Lewisham East election address.
    [This was out first election and we didn’t make an impact in the parliamentary election (only 0.8 per cent, 332 votes). We hope to do better this time around.]

    The following is a link to a LPBP policy statement written in 2011:
    http://peoplebeforeprofit.org.uk/what-we-stand/democracy/european-union

  27. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    There is absolutely zero prospect of a “grand coalition” between Labour and the Tories.

    I don’t see however that we could rule out SNP MPs agreeing to abstain on all English affairs, in exchange for FFA. resulting in Tory govt technically without SNP support.

    Incidentally, Labour’s rise and rise in London belies the pessimistic view from Scotland about Labour’s appeal to working class voters.

  28. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: There is absolutely zero prospect of a “grand coalition” between Labour and the Tories.

    I agree, but it is true that both Gisella Stuart and Kenneth Baker raised the issue.

    Andy Newman: I don’t see however that we could rule out SNP MPs agreeing to abstain on all English affairs, in exchange for FFA. resulting in Tory govt technically without SNP support.

    To be fair, the SNP have said they won’t do this (although of course politicians going back, post-election, on promises made pre-election is not exactly unheard of!)

    Andy Newman: Incidentally, Labour’s rise and rise in London belies the pessimistic view from Scotland about Labour’s appeal to working class voters.

    Excellent point well made. Spot on.
    Labour’s relatively strong polling in London disproves Ken’s rather ugly characterisation of the ‘southern English’.

  29. Andy Newman on said:

    Uncle Albert,

    This is all nonsense. Ed Miliband is doing well and winning the election in England and Wales and especially in London, which remember returns more MPs than Scotland.

    Miliband is clearly pitching a more left agenda than we have seen for many years.

    The danger is the opposite of what you say. If Miliband doesnt become prime minister there will be a backlash that Labour has tried and failed with the experiment of steering left, and there is a danger that this could result in the end of the party as a party of Labour.

  30. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Where have you seen the SNP explicitly ruling out abstaining on all English matters, in exchange for FFA?

    I have not seen that commitment, I have only seen discussion about locking out the Tories on the assumption that a putative Tory government or coalition would also rule Scotland. FFA would effectively make Scotland independent to all intents and purposes from the impact of the Tory govt. That would then be a game changer that Sturgeon could sell, especially as polls show that support among SNP voters for a coalition with Labour is far stronger amongst those who also want independence

  31. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Andy says this (quote)”There is absolutely zero prospect of a “grand coalition” between Labour and the Tories.”(unquote).

    Quite honestly Andy you cannot say that! In my council of East Lothian it is run as a Labour and Scottish Conservative coalition carrying out the SNP Scottish Government Cuts that are impinged from the London ConDem government. And as you well know Andy ‘Project Fear’ was a ‘Grand Coalition’ between the Tories/LibDems and the Labour Party both north and south of the border to stop the a YES vote in the independence referendum last year. Only a few weeks ago it was being discussed by Labour Party ‘grandees’ as an option as a means to modify the Tories austerity programme and to keep the SNP out of a coalition on a British scale. Admittedly, I do not consider that is the immediate perspective but at some stage in the future the British ruling class will raise it through their puppets in the media and parliament and a section of Labour will take it up ‘for the good of the country’.

  32. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    Good and bad news. The good news is that when Jimmy writes with his own voice he is a likeable and engaging commentator, and very welcome on SU.

    The bad news is that this is nonsense. There is no prospect of a Tory Labour grand coalition without that destroying both parties.

    It is simply inconceivable, and while there may be utterly marginal voices in both parties that might mouth off about it, it simply could not happen in real life, outside of wartime.

  33. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Left euroskepticism is like a barnacle on a blue whale. It may technically be a seperate organism, but it is the whale that everyone sees, and it is the whale that decides how deep you dive

  34. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 32 – See how Andy gives a condescending comment to side step the fact that Labour in Scotland, and nationally, have already taken part on two grand coalitions with the Tories – East Lothian Council and Project Fear – without any comment. It is NOT “simply inconceivable” , it is a social phenomenon that has already taken place in the past 3 years and for that reason it is a perfectly conceivable action by the ruling class at some stage in the future, not just in wartime. Let me ask you Andy do you publically support a grand coalition with the Tories; and did/do you support the Project Fear Grand Coalition during the Independence process last year; and would you support a minority Labour Council in England having a Grand Coalition with the Tories as there is one in Scotland with East Lothian Council, my local authority?

  35. Andy Newman: Where have you seen the SNP explicitly ruling out abstaining on all English matters, in exchange for FFA?

    Nicola Strugeon has repeatedly pledged that the SNP will not prop up a Tory government. Given that a policy of abstention would be tantamount to doing exactly that, it is highly unlikely that Sturgeon would do any such deal. Also, as I mentioned previously, the prospect of an in-out EU referendum militates against the SNP abstaining in favour of a minority Tory administration at Westminster.

  36. Andy Newman: Left euroskepticism is like a barnacle on a blue whale. It may technically be a seperate organism, but it is the whale that everyone sees, and it is the whale that decides how deep you dive

    Brilliant.

  37. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman: This is all nonsense.

    Murphy has been quite clear about his ambition for Scottish Labour: I will wrest Scottish Labour from UK party control*.

    And his many supporters within the PLP will back him to the hilt while, sadly, Labour’s residual Left refuse to oppose him.

    But we can all at least share one consolation: After May 7th Murphy’s Scottish Labour MPs will be able to hold their caucus meetings in a telephone kiosk.

    * http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/murphy-i-will-wrest-scottish-labour-from-uk-party-control.25842676

  38. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    There is a lot of wiggle room there for a Wiley politician of Sturgeon’s calibre. If the SNP could effectively take Scotland out of Westminster’s control with FFA, they would not be propping up a Tory govt for Scotland, they would be abstaining and allowing the election results for the other 3 nations to run their own course.

    An offer of FFA by the Tories would be a game changer, made easier if both Tories and Labour are routed in Scotland.

    I have no crystal ball, but if Scottish Labour don’t deliver at least 20% of the Seats it would be hard to claim that the SNP has no mandate for negotiating such a deal, and without those 10 to 15 Labour seats, Cameron will lead the largest party in Westminster.

  39. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    *sigh*. The failure of Labour to run its own labour movement campaign separate from the Tories was a strategic and tactical disaster. But that is not a coalition. It was two parties working alongside one another in a common cause, as we also did during the AV referendum to defend FPTP.

    It is absurd to project from East Lothian, a council half the size of Swindon, and in highly particular circumstances where Labour is clearly the largest party and where the coalition only has the remit of the circumscribed powers of a local council.

    A coalition at the level of. Westminster government is inconceivable, not only due to the vastly different priorities and philosophy of the two parties, but also because both parties are also broad coalitions themselves, and neither party could survive such a Faustian deal

  40. Vanya on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Going back to the specific issue raised by the article, is continuing EU membership still something that the left should support in any case?
    .
    Until the beginning of last year, I was fairly agnostic on the question. But a combination of the EU’s provocation in the former Ukraine and the EU’s treatment of Greece have shifted my view towards opposition to the EU.

    I’d say my view is now that I’d like to see the left developing a more ‘left-EU-sceptic’ position on the issue, which can differentiate more clearly from the right’s anti-EU perspective.

    Spot on Karl.

  41. jim mclean on said:

    Andy Newman,

    With Murphy taking the MP’s and Membership vote and Findlay taking the Unions. If it were an OMOV vote it would have been a Murphy landslide instead of 55%.

  42. Vanya on said:

    Jimmy H.

    The choice in the referendum was yes, no or abstention.

    Labour voted the same way as the Tories. For retaining a capitalist union between Scotland and the rest of the UK .

    You voted the same way as the SNP. For a capitalist independent Scotland.

  43. jim mclean on said:

    Jim Fairlie former No2 in the SNP blames immigrants for the referendum defeat.

  44. Vanya on said:

    To those who disparage Euro-scepticism, tell it to the Greeks.

    Just as the fact that the BNP opposed the war against Iraq or the bedroom tax wasn’t a reason to support either, or the fact that Nigel Farage opposed military action against Syria over the poison gas allegations was a reason to agree with it.

    Yes, in this country outright opposition to the EU is so marginal on the left as to confuse people when we raise it, but that doesn’t objectively make the EU a progressive institution or membership of it a good thing.

    Cantona’s line about seagulls both sounded clever AND made sense.

    The thing about whales and barnacles just sounded clever 🙂

  45. jim mclean on said:

    “The revolution is really easy to do these days. What’s the system? The system is built on the power of the banks. So it must be destroyed through the banks. A real revolution”

    Eric Cantona

  46. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya,

    Well the marginality of left opposition to the EU, combined with the hegemony of a racist and libertarian right wing opposition means that the context of any argument to leave the EU cannot lead in a progressive direction

    Added to which, any question of relinquishing EU membership would have a massive impact on business confidence, and jobs would be lost, especially but not only in the motor industry.

    Whatever your opinion of the EU, it is foolhardy to burn down the house you are living in.

  47. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    Andy Newman: The problem is that if the Conservatives are the largest party, then the SNP will probably be unable to stop the Tories becoming a minority government. That would seem to be the current constitutional understanding.

    If Labour vote against the Queen’s Speech and SNP vote against the Queen’s Speech, that would seem a perfectly adequate way of stopping the Tories becoming a minority government.

  48. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman: How did the left “fail to oppose” Murphy?

    In the same way that Robin Cook failed to oppose the Iraq war.

    Making a notable speech and surrendering a ministerial portfolio is all very well but there comes a time when one must go beyond the symbolic. The anti-war movement would have been offered an electrifying focus had Labour opponents of the Iraq disaster resigned their seats and forced by-elections on the issue. And an opportunity would have been provided for Labour’s Left to disengage from New Labour and reconnect with the electorate.

    You should learn to to play politics like Labour’s Right: when the opposing wing is in trouble, put the boot in. Ask John, he knows about these things: there are no Queensberry Rules in politics. Even your mild-mannered self could do as significant figures from the Progress wing did during the Livingstone/Johnson contest: advise abstention when the candidate is deemed unsuitable. By remaining silent Labour’s Left only become even more diminished within the Labour Party and in the public eye.

    There’s no need to be dragged down into oblivion like a barnacle on Murphy’s rapidly shrinking Moby Dick.

  49. jim mclean on said:

    Tim Vanhoof,

    Plus the majority of the electorate will not object to a coaliton that excludes the largest party it seems. So an alliance without a formal coalition is a genuine option.

  50. Karl Stewart: Until the beginning of last year, I was fairly agnostic on the question. But a combination of the EU’s provocation in the former Ukraine and the EU’s treatment of Greece have shifted my view towards opposition to the EU.

    I’d say my view is now that I’d like to see the left developing a more ‘left-EU-sceptic’ position on the issue, which can differentiate more clearly from the right’s anti-EU perspective.

    This takes no account of actual material conditions and the social weight the left currently enjoys. EU skepticism is owned by the most reactionary political forces across Europe. Even in Greece the KKE remain a marginal force, despite the impact of EU-imposed austerity, with winning 15 seats compared to Syriza’s 149.

    EU skepticism on the Left plays into the hands of those reactionary forces, for no matter how it’s argued it amounts to pulling up a national drawbridge, one designed not only to keep capitalists out of a capitalist state, but also immigrants.

    The two cannot be separated. The EU in its present form is a symptom of neoliberalism not the cause.

  51. John: The EU in its present form is a symptom of neoliberalism not the cause.

    Hardly merely a symptom. In Europe, the EU is the vehicle and the enforcer.

  52. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean:
    Jim Fairlie former No2 in the SNP blames immigrants for the referendum defeat.

    Quebecious leaders said the same thing when they lost their referendum narrowly in the 90’s. They also used anti-Semitic dog-whistles when they spoke of “Big Money” conspiring against them.

    Reactionary nationalism is never far beneath the surface with these people.

  53. Jellytot on said:

    Vanya:
    To those who disparage Euro-scepticism, tell it to the Greeks.

    Just as the fact that the BNP opposed the war against Iraq or the bedroom tax wasn’t a reason to supporteither, or the fact that Nigel Farage opposed military action against Syria over the poison gas allegations was a reason to agree with it.

    Yes, in this country outright opposition to the EU is so marginal on the left as to confuse people when we raise it, but that doesn’t objectively make the EU a progressive institution or membership of it a good thing.

    Cantona’s line about seagulls both sounded clever AND made sense.

    The thing about whales and barnacles just sounded clever

    The Right own the anti-EU cause…..in fact Ukip as a party are increasingly seen as owning the policy. I mean, in recent years, when the man or woman in the street think anti-EU they will immediately associate it with Ukip and Farage. I think this will damage the anti-EU campaign in the long run given how divisive Ukip have become. Sure, have your anti-EU views but don’t imagine for a minute that the Left can make any meaningful intervention. When Tony Benn shared platforms with Enoch Powell on this issue it was the most ineffectual thing he ever did.

    In a similar way the Left owned the anti-war cause so what Griffin and the fascist BNP did at that time was immaterial.

    PS Andy nailed it with the “Whales” comment and I suspect you realise that.

  54. Vanya on said:

    “The Right own the anti-EU cause…..in fact Ukip as a party are increasingly seen as owning the policy. I mean, in recent years, when the man or woman in the street think anti-EU they will immediately associate it with Ukip and Farage. I think this will damage the anti-EU campaign in the long run given how divisive Ukip have become. Sure, have your anti-EU views but don’t imagine for a minute that the Left can make any meaningful intervention. When Tony Benn shared platforms with Enoch Powell on this issue it was the most ineffectual thing he ever did.”

    Does any of that mean that objectively the EU is something progressive?

    “In a similar way the Left owned the anti-war cause so what Griffin and the fascist BNP did at that time was immaterial.”

    When Nick Griffin won his seat in the euro-elections the slogan next to his name on the ballot paper was for British troops out of Afghanistan. But leaving that aside, what if the BNP HAD organised big rallies against the Iraq war and the left had been marginalised on the issue?

    Would that have been a reason to refuse to oppose the war, or even to support it?

    If you’re going to argue for the EU with positive reasons (as Andy at least does) fair enough, just as I’m grateful for you conceding that I can have my “anti-EU views”, which I hold btw because I think the EU is a bad thing, and not because it suits an easy political narrative.

    All Andy did with his whale comment was highlight the fact that most on the left in this country are pro-EU and that the anti-EU argument is mainly put forward by those on the right. That doesn’t ‘nail’ anything, it merely describes a basic reality.

  55. Noah: Hardly merely a symptom. In Europe, the EU is the vehicle and the enforcer.

    Are you seriously suggesting that neoliberalism, its dominance in Britain and across Europe, would be weakened a scintilla if Britain came out of the EU?

  56. Karl Stewart on said:

    John, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) is hardly “marginal”. It’s one of the largest and most militant CPs around.
    Its staunch anti-EU has been fully vindicated by events and it’s now the main rallying point for the Greek people who want to continue to defy imposed austerity by the EU.

    What the Greek experience has shown to us all is that there is no alternative to austerity within the EU.

    It won’t be reformed.

    What the EU’s provocations in the former Ukraine prove are that the EU is perfectly willing even to fund and support a whole state apparatus which relies for its power on organised squads of marauding nazis.

    So like Vanya, I just think the EU is fundamentally wrong in principle and that we should leave it.

    Leaving the EU need not mean isolationism, it could mean our re-orientation towards the BRICS nations for example? Or a re-focussing on working with some of the world’s developing countries.

    Yes a UK exit might upset some wealthy business owners, big banks and various other parasites – but it needn’t affect jobs at all. Jobs aren’t “created” by businesses and banks – jobs are there to carry out socially useful functions.

  57. Karl Stewart on said:

    Just a suggestion, but how about instead of saying: “NO2EU” we could simply say “Exit Left”

  58. Andy Newman on said:

    Jellytot,

    Interesting that Daniel Hannah MEP has also said that from his point of view UKIP has made toxic the arguments for Brexit, and if a mainstream Conservative Euroskeptic sees this as a problem, then the left has no chance of prevailing against that juggernaut

  59. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    That comment is weak. You know that jobs and employment are actually dependent upon not only labour but also capital and access To technology and markets. There will be few takers if you want to leave the EU to become another North Korea.

    And the important thing to recognise is that politics is the art of achieving social change in the actually existing contexts available to you. Whether or not the EU is a “good” or “bad” thing is irrelevant, we are part of it, the political question is therefore what are the likely consequences to Brexit driven by UKIP and the Tory right, and do we oppose that or support it. Hypothetical considerations of what attitude we would take if the issue of Brexit was driven by the CPB are a parlour game, not serious politics.

  60. Andy, why is North Korea/ the DPKR the country to point to when talking about whether Britain should be in the EU?

    There is another country far nearer to us, in Europe, also full of big mountains, also on a peninsula (and it’s proper name actually does start with N-o-r) that I would have thought was a slightly better comparator.

  61. John,

    Not having a good solution available is not a sound reason for downplaying the nature of the problem.

  62. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman:
    Karl Stewart,
    That comment is weak.

    Well I’m not presenting a formal policy document for an election manifesto – these are just some thoughts of mine and of course there are criticisms to be made.

    As I said, until the beginning of last year I was broadly agnostic on the question and I argued against my CP friends on this subject on here.

    But a combination of the EU’s provocations in the former Ukraine and the EU’s treatment of Greece have shifted my view considerably.

    Essentially, I am now becoming more convinced – where I wasn’t before – that the EU is more than solely the sum of its parts and does appear to have an agenda, which it seeks to impose.

    And this past year has revealed that agenda to be a quite agressive neo-liberal, pro-austerity, pro-NATO expansionism.

    I’ve come round to the opinion that, like NATO, the EU is an organisation we should not belong to, and that there are alternatives other than isolationism.

    A closer orientation towards the ‘BRICS’ nations for example, and/or more involvement with some of the world’s developing nations.

    Another potentiality could be to pledge to ally with any nation anywhere that’s resisting neo-liberalism and externally imposed austerity.

    There are alternatives and we need to explore them – but leaving the EU is a start.

    And come on Andy, North Korea? Seriously?

  63. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman:
    There will be few takers if you want to leave the EU to become another North Korea.

    Absolutely. So let’s not become another North Korea.

    Andy Newman:Brexit driven by UKIP and the Tory right – do we oppose that or support it.

    We should oppose UKIP and the Tory right and argue for an “Exit Left” position.

    Let’s develop an “Exit Left” policy in solidarity with Greece, and build international solidarity against neo-liberalism and austerity with people of every nation – whether “European” or not.

  64. Noah:
    John,

    Not having a good solution available is not a sound reason for downplaying the nature of the problem.

    I’m not sure what this means. You believe the problem lies with the EU. I believe it lies with neoliberalism.

    I think I’m closer to the nature of the problem than you in this regard. It’s not the institutions that are the problem per se, it’s the economic system that gives rise to those institutions.

  65. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    I used to argue that, while NATO is clearly an agressive imperialist/militarist institution which the left should have no hesitation in calling for withdrawal from, the EU was of a different nature.

    Before the EU intervention into the crisis in the former Ukraine and before the election of Syriza in Greece, I used to argue, as you are now, that it wasn’t “the EU” as such that was the problem, but the political leaderships of the individual countries within it.

    Therefore, my view was that we should fight within the EU for progressive reform.

    But the events of the past 18 months or so have, as I see it, proven me wrong in that respect.

    The EU’s intervention in the former Ukraine proves that it is the economic arm of NATO, while the EU’s bullying of Greece proves that there is no scope for reform within the EU – specifically that EU policies over-ride democratic elections within members states.

    So that’s why I’ve come round to the view that the EU as an institution is actually very much the problem here.

  66. Karl Stewart: Yes a UK exit might upset some wealthy business owners, big banks and various other parasites – but it needn’t affect jobs at all. Jobs aren’t “created” by businesses and banks – jobs are there to carry out socially useful functions.

    This is the bit I was referring to regarding North Korea.

    You know full well that jobs exist in specific actually existing economic and social condition,s requiring not just labour, but also capital, technology and markets.

    To argue that EU exit would lead to some sort of primitive autarchic war communism, is neither left nor right, it is just silly.

    You do have to consider whether EU exit – even in your fantasy left version – would lead to the British economy having less wealth, less markets, less access to technology, less access to capital investment and therefore less jobs

  67. Karl Stewart: should oppose UKIP and the Tory right and argue for an “Exit Left” position.

    I refer you to your own arguments that you use against TUSC supporters. This boat has sailed.

    Karl Stewart: Let’s develop an “Exit Left” policy in solidarity with Greece, and build international solidarity against neo-liberalism and austerity with people of every nation – whether “European” or not.

    I hope that Greece is not counting on the mighty forces that left euroskepticism could rally in the UK in their support.

  68. Karl Stewart: how about instead of saying: “NO2EU” we could simply say “Exit Left”

    Or how about “Exit Planet Earth”? It would have the same impact on voters.

  69. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’ve come round to the opinion that, like NATO, the EU is an organisation we should not belong to, and that there are alternatives other than isolationism.

    How much purchase on mainstream politics has the campaign to quit NATO? #onlyasking

  70. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’ve come round to the opinion that, like NATO, the EU is an organisation we should not belong to, and that there are alternatives other than isolationism.

    How much purchase on mainstream politics has the campaign to quit NATO? #onlyasking

    Vanya: There is another country far nearer to us, in Europe, also full of big mountains, also on a peninsula (and it’s proper name actually does start with N-o-r) that I would have thought was a slightly better comparator.

    Let us consider this. Norway is a country with a population considerably smaller than Wales, with huge oil wealth, and a sovereign wealth fund. Nevertheless, it considers trading with the EU valuable enough that it voluntarily complies with most EU regulations, without any opportunity to shape them, and pays – I understand – something like £1bn a year to the EU for the privilege.

  71. Andy Newman:

    The failure of Labour to run its own labour movement campaign separate from the Tories was a strategic and tactical disaster.

    While I entirely agree, I would suggest that one reason Labour even considered a joint campaign in the first place is that they must have thought their Scottish voters had at least enough political awareness to distinguish between:

    (a) agreeing with the Tories on one issue

    and

    (b) agreeing with the Tories on every issue.

    This turns out not to be the case.

    I don’t exactly despair, but I really hope Labour does very well in England and Wales.

  72. Andy Newman on said:

    Ken MacLeod,

    I have become increasingly worried about the shift in political culture in Scotland to a sort of post-rationalist tribalism.

    Every policy announcement from Labour is met with “what about Blair” or “you had 13 years”.

    And bizarrely SNP supporters castigate Labour for not having policies that the SNP don’t have either.

  73. Karl Stewart on said:

    John: Or how about “Exit Planet Earth”? It would have the same impact on voters.

    If an ‘in/out’ EU referendum does take place. What position do you think the left should take?
    Wouldn’t it be essentially a choice between “stay in and push left” or “exit left”?

    Andy Newman: How much purchase on mainstream politics has the campaign to quit NATO? #onlyasking

    Are you in favour of NATO membership ?

  74. Vanya on said:

    Andy Newman: How much purchase on mainstream politics has the campaign to quit NATO? #onlyasking

    How much does the campaign to get rid of Trident?

    On another thread you’ve just explained that you took a principled AND pragmatic issue (skilfully) on this issue in a public debate because you didn’t want to support Trident.

    Andy Newman: Let us consider this. Norway is a country with a population considerably smaller than Wales, with huge oil wealth, and a sovereign wealth fund. Nevertheless, it considers trading with the EU valuable enough that it voluntarily complies with most EU regulations, without any opportunity to shape them, and pays – I understand – something like £1bn a year to the EU for the privilege.

    Ok Norway isn’t Britain, but it’s a bit more similar than North Korea.

  75. Ken MacLeod: I would suggest that one reason Labour even considered a joint campaign in the first place

    While that may have been a factor in the decision, I believe the truth is more prosaic than that. What I heard from a reliable source during the campaign was that Labour didn’t have the funds to mount a serious campaign and the Tories didn’t have the activists on the ground.

    It was in truth a marriage of material rather than political convenience, though still a political disaster for all that.

  76. Uncle Albert on said:

    Ken MacLeod: they must have thought their Scottish voters had at least enough political awareness

    Labour’s mistake was not to assume political awareness but to abandon constituency-level engagement with the electorate.

    The electorate is now rewarding this approach with a refusal to engage with Labour. This is a very reasonable response – not many would vote for a person or political party that previously demonstrated contempt for the electorate. In many respects, Labour’s elite have pulled the ladder up. While pretending to be the party of the people the elite have denied voters/LP members opportunities for political involvement and policy development. Only in these circumstances can Andy’s strategic and tactical disaster occur.

    Indeed, the antics of Labour’s Progress tendency share more than a few similarities with the behaviour of Far Left sects.

  77. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya: How much does the campaign to get rid of Trident?

    Yes that has leverage, but it is a broad campaign that goes far farther than the minority who oppose NATO.

  78. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya: it’s a bit more similar than North Korea.

    I mentioned North Korea not to compare it to the UK’s situation after possible Brexit, but looking at how Karl described where jobs come from

  79. Vanya on said:

    #83 Opposition to Trident without opposition to membership of Nato makes little sense, and I doubt very much that in the wider population there are significantly more people who hold one position without also holding the other, certainly not if they give it any serious thought.

    as for the EU, the reason that opposition to it is mainly now associated with the right is that the labour movement and most of the left either support memmbership of the EU or are neutral on ths subject.

    And the reason for that is that in the early 90s, in despair at the defeats suffered under Thatcher, so many bought into the mythical ‘social Europe’.

  80. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya: I doubt very much that in the wider population there are significantly more people who hold one position without also holding the other

    You surprise me, as my experience is that the two positions are seen as entirely different.
    For example, when the Labour Party did back unilateralism, they also stillsupported NATO membership
    Today the SNP and PLaid both have the position of staying in NATO but not renewing Trident

  81. Vanya on said:

    #87 That’s why I referred to the wider population, not the Labour Party.

    In my view the reason the Labour Party didn’t adopt both policies was to placate those who actually didn’t agree to either within the Party. I doubt very much that adopting an anti-NATO position would have lost more votes than opposition to nukes.

    The problem with the latter policy was that Labour didn’t do enough to promote and explain it to the electorate, and that was because so many of the old guard were against it, as Callaghan so devastatingly proved.

    And I’m sure the same applies to the SNP. Anti- militarism is superficial as shown by Salmond’s vociferous defence of the “historic Scottish regiments” a few years ago.

    Plaid I’m not sure about.

  82. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: I mentioned North Korea not to compare it to the UK’s situation after possible Brexit, but looking at how Karl described where jobs come from

    Hmmm…but I didn’t say that jobs come from North Korea did I? In fact, I actually didn’t mention North Korea at all did I?

    What I said in terms of jobs was that businesses and banks don’t create jobs. Jobs exist in order to fulfil socially useful needs.

    For example, say there were some homeless people, and some unemployed builders. We could employ the builders to build homes for the homeless people.

    What I’m struggling with is why that’s so offensive to you?

  83. stephen marks on said:

    Vanya,

    If this is a reference to Norway – it only has access to the Single Market on condition that it pays contributions equal to about 65% of what it would pay as a member; that it accepts all applicable EU directives without having any say in writing them; and that it accepts the free movement of labour.

  84. Jellytot on said:

    stephen marks:
    Vanya,

    If this is a reference to Norway – it only has access to the Single Market on condition that it pays contributions equal to about 65% of what it would pay as a member; that it accepts all applicable EU directives without having any say in writing them; and that it accepts the free movement of labour.

    In reference to Norway, I know that Nick Cohen is, rightly, not too popular around these parts but he did write a rather good article on the EU last week citing Norway:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/04/david-cameron-tories-europe-eu-referendum-disaster-for-uk

    “Eurosceptics cannot grasp that the EU is like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.”

  85. Nobody has commented on this morning’s train wreck of a leaders’ debate, so I shall. The basic thrust of the SNP argument is that Labour and the Tories are two cheeks of the same arse. Watching this debate, of which this is a ten minute clip, and you can see they have a point:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYaJki10J8s#t=180

    The SNP are now on 50% in the polls. My guess is that it will go higher after today’s buffoonery. Oh, and can somebody please tell Spud that shouting all the time when other people are talking is not clever?

  86. John: It’s not the institutions that are the problem per se, it’s the economic system that gives rise to those institutions.

    The EU’s relationship with its capitalist and imperialist economic ‘base’ is not a passive but an active one. It was formed as a vehicle for entrenching capitalism, and securing & advancing the interests of US and European imperialisms; and it continues to have that function.

  87. Noah: It was formed as a vehicle for entrenching capitalism, and securing & advancing the interests of US and European imperialisms; and it continues to have that function.

    This could be said about the British state in its current form. What’s your solution, pull out of Britain? This is just not serious politics. The EU exists and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

    However you dress it up, left wing EU skepticism is indistinguishable from its right wing counterpart. It amounts to the same thing, politics viewed through the prism of nation rather than class.

  88. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    It is because the simplistic economic model you propose is that of a sort of autarchic “war communism” – regardless of such factors as capital investment, technology, markets, etc.

    Brexit would not be a leap to a command economy. It would be to a dereguated liberatarian racist dystopia

  89. Andy Newman on said:

    Jellytot,

    Actually I think Nick is a good writer when on form. But can be a vindictive ar*e picking on the wrong targets

  90. John: This could be said about the British state in its current form.

    Hardly an exact comparison. But anyway, are we such fans of the current form of the British state?

  91. Noah: Hardly an exact comparison. But anyway, are we such fans of the current form of the British state?

    Not at all, but our analysis and practice surely must be grounded in the possible rather than impossible. It is impossible to fashion a left wing version of a right wing hobby horse and expect a different result. The only beneficiaries of an anti EU stance from the Left at this point is the Right.

    Far better to argue for a social Europe in place of a neoliberal one. This way, at least, we advocate solidarity as a guiding and organizing principle rather than national particularism.

  92. Andy Newman: Brexit would not be a leap to a command economy. It would be to a dereguated liberatarian racist dystopia

    There is no possibility of ‘Brexit’ leaping to anything whatsoever, because (in the present and foreseeable future conjuncture) there is zero possibility of Britain leaving the EU, even on a right-wing basis.

    The interests of both British & US imperialism are tightly bound up with continued UK membership of the EU. Hence the right wing euroskeptic trend will be called to heel or swatted aside should push ever come to shove.

    And hence also btw, it is a sensible tactical move by Miliband to emphasise the destabilising dangers of the proposed Tory EU referendum, and to accede a role to Blair in hyping up this issue. Hopefully this will at least slightly neutralise the anti-Labour position of the ruling class, and thus the vitriolic ‘Get Miliband’ stance of the BBC and the rest of the media will be toned down a little during the election campaign.

  93. John: Far better to argue for a social and non imperialist Europe in place of a neoliberal one.

    If you’ll allow that addition, I’m fully agreed. Whether there is any possibility of the EU being transformed into such a bloc is another question.

  94. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,
    Who or what is “Brexit”?

    John:
    Far better to argue for a social Europe in place of a neoliberal one.

    Greece actually voted for that and the EU slapped them down and said No.

  95. Noah: If you’ll allow that addition, I’m fully agreed. Whether there is any possibility of the EU being transformed into such a bloc is another question.

    Absolutely. Done.

  96. The idea the EU-an organisation founded by big business, to represent the interests of big business-could be reformed into a socialist block (even if possible by what means? The organisation is corrupt and undemocratic) is about as logical as saying NATO-an organisation designed for imperialist war-can be reformed into an organisation for peace!

    Tony Blair once said `We’ll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs.’ The jobs scare story ignores all the jobs (and industries) we have already lost due to EU membership and its enforcement of neoliberal policies of austerity and privatisation. I suppose if we are just to cave into whatever threats international capitalism wants to use, what is the point of aiming for a socialist government?

    In fact while we are at it let’s continue to use this impeccable neoliberal logic-whats the point in trying to elect a Labour government? Surely we can simply reform the Tory party as one of peace and social justice!!!!

  97. Karl Stewart on said:

    George W,
    Excellent points.

    And we now have the example of Greece as a country which did try – with huge popular support – to reform the EU from within and is being bullied into cuts, austerity and neo-liberalism.

    Those who are still arguing for a “stay in and push left” position need to take cogniscance of this and explain how their strategy can succeed where the Greeks did not.

    We also have the exampe of the EU’s provocations in the former Ukraine as evidence that the EU is another arm of the NATO military alliance.

    Do the “stay in the EU and push left” advocates also think we should “stay in NATO and push left”?

  98. Karl Stewart on said:

    jim mclean,
    Thanks for the explanation Jim. A bit like the silly fad people had for saying “Y2K” or the “teenage-textspeak”.

    Well in that case, maybe Andy will understand my “Exit Left” position better if I refer to it as “Lexit”.

    (By the way, what would we call a simultaneous withdrawal by both France and the UK?)

  99. Andy Newman on said:

    George W,

    But actually existing socialist governments have now found the need to engage with the global economy and transnational institutions. For example China joining the WTO and seeking to establish the AIIB.

    The future of socialism is seeking to leverage sovereignty within these complex relationships for progressive outcomes

  100. Andy Newman,

    I understand that Andy. I hope that Cuba can continue to build such relationships in order to develop their economy (while maintaining their socialist policies and values)

    But actual existing socialist countries are not members of NATO and the EU, and indeed they can’t as the conditions of membership would run contrary to their policies promoting peace and social justice.

  101. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I agree it’s unlikely, but just wondered ifyou might have a ‘cool ‘n’ groovy’ approximation for such a hypothetical scenario?

  102. Andy Newman: I have become increasingly worried about the shift in political culture in Scotland to a sort of post-rationalist tribalism.

    Yup.

    Red Tories! Austerity! Iraq! Trident! Foodbanks!

  103. Karl Stewart: We also have the exampe of the EU’s provocations in the former Ukraine as evidence that the EU is another arm of the NATO military alliance.

    Sounds like a killer argument on the door step to me. This is a perfect example of the gulf that exists between the left and working people. You have to tailor your approach and positions to engage with actual existing consciousness and not a theoretical consciousness.

  104. George W: The idea the EU-an organisation founded by big business, to represent the interests of big business-could be reformed into a socialist block (even if possible by what means? The organisation is corrupt and undemocratic) is about as logical as saying NATO-an organisation designed for imperialist war-can be reformed into an organisation for peace!

    And the idea that Britain could become a socialist paradise amid a neoliberal sea is even more fanciful, yet this is what you are proposing.

    Who knew that the EU was dominated by capitalists in a capitalist world. The question is whether at any given point there is room to make any progress despite the status quo not because of it. Some of the most progressive legislation we’ve had in this country has emanated from Brussels over the past 20 years or so – i.e. the Social Chapter, Working Time Directive.

    Then there’s the fact, which none of the advocates of a left wing EU skepticism has yet satisfactorily dealt with, that anti EU politics is dominated by the Right and racists. Any advance on this issue is an advance for them not us.

  105. Andy Newman on said:

    John: And the idea that Britain could become a socialist paradise amid a neoliberal sea is even more fanciful, yet this is what you are proposing.

    Bingo

  106. Vanya on said:

    #110 “China is a member of the WTO” , which is not the EU or NATO.

    The clue is in the first word of the name.

  107. Vanya on said:

    #117 ‘Some of the most progressive legislation we’ve had in this country has emanated from Brussels over the past 20 years or so – i.e. the Social Chapter, Working Time Directive.’

    All of which could have been introduced by a British government without the need for direction from outside.

    Moreover, let’s not forget the extent to which deregulation of public services is EU driven, the Posted Workers’Directive, or the Swedish Derogation. Nor the devastation of the fishing industry. Nor the fact that none of that goos stuff is a great deal of help to the working class of Greece at the moment.

    This isn’t about nationalism. When the KKE erected an anti-austerity banner over the Acropolis a few years ago it famously read, ‘Peoples of Europe rise up!”, not People of Greece.

  108. Vanya on said:

    #116 “anti EU politics is dominated by the Right and racists. Any advance on this issue is an advance for them not us.”

    How is it possible to deal with a non- argument?

    One of the most prominent politicians in this country who spoke out both against action against Syria and action against Russia on Ukraine was Nigel Farage.

    If those on the left who took the same positions had kept quiet in the interests of not wanting to associate with him, then that would have made those positions synonymous with UKIP.

    In fact that very point about Farage was raised to attack those of us who DIDN’T.

  109. Vanya: One of the most prominent politicians in this country who spoke out both against action against Syria and action against Russia on Ukraine was Nigel Farage.

    This is weak in the extreme. Ask people what they associate Farage with and they’ll say anti EU and anti immigration, not his position on the Ukraine.

    I go back to my previous point that this is parlour game stuff, reactionary and infantile.

  110. Jellytot on said:

    Vanya,

    Nobody is saying that you cannot make a left wing case for EU withdrawal. You obviously can and on a political level those arguments have substance. It’s just that minimal traction can be made by our side on this issue given its ownership by the Right – their easy, populist, anti-immigration arguments will chime with the populace more than yours would, given the lack of generalised Left consciousness.

    Farage (and the BNP) argued against intervention in the Middle East from a right wing isolationist stance (of which there is a long history) although it should be noted that they tend to be pro-war on areas within Britain’s direct sphere of influence (the Falklands and Northern Ireland for instance).

    Yes, the BNP did raise the “Troops out of Afghanistan” slogan but the vast bulk of their votes were garnered on the issue of Race & Immigration as Ukip’s are obtained by campaigning on Immigration and the EU. These foreign policy forays are very much peripheral to their main policy planks.

    While raising right-wing isolationism may chime with a small section of their politically astute base it would completely go over the heads of the majority of their support.

    As I stated previously the Left own anti-war politics in the UK and the Right most definitely own anti-EU. I can’t see that changing any time soon.

  111. Vanya on said:

    #124 As I stated previously the Left own anti-war politics in the UK and the Right most definitely own anti-EU. I can’t see that changing any time soon.

    If the correct position is opposition to the EU, that’s the correct position. How do ideas change?

  112. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya: If the correct position is opposition to the EU, that’s the correct position. How do ideas change?

    Well, let us consider the case of a malign but generally operable cancer.

    The situation which would always be true is that the patient would be better off without the cancer, were it possible to miraculously revert to status quo ante.

    However, whether or not to operate would depend upon the health of the specific patient. If the patent were neither fit enough to survive the operation, nor perhaps fit enough to sustain necessary chemo or radiotherapy after an operation, then it would be better to offer palliative care instead.

    If the cure is worse than the disease, then it is better to live with the condition.

  113. stephen marks on said:

    It’s not just that most anti-EU running is currently being made by the Right. If that were all there was to it you could equally well say, as some have, that we should not leave such an important issue to our worst enemies. Or that we should have our own socialist campaign against the EU with our own socialist arguments independent of the right. The point is rather that there is not a simple undifferentiated act called ‘leaving the EU’ which is the same for left and right. It’s not like leaving a political party or a darts club. You don’t just tear up your membership card, write a resignation letter and post it, and cancel the bankers order.

    A whole nexus of economic links and ties are bound up with access to the single market, involving great swathes of the UK economy. A protracted set of negotiations would be required to establish the exact status and nature of a post-Brexit UK’s relations with the EU. These would be conducted by the government of the day. To support EU exit is to give a blank cheque to the government of the day to negotiate an alternative package and put it to the people. And the only such government on the horizon at the moment is one of the Eurosceptic Right. I can think of many powers I might want to ‘repatriate’ from Brussels. But they would not be the same powers the Tories would want to repatriate.

    The EU is not a state. How many divisions has the Commission? What is deterring Greece from putting up two fingers to Brussels and going its own way is not the institutions of the EU, but the facts of life for a bankrupt country. It is difficult to construct an alternative strategy post-Grexit that is not unappealing, and it is right for Syriza to go every last inch of the way to be able to prove in practice that they really do have no alternative. (I’m not saying that that is actually the strategy of all of them. But if it were I don’t think they would be doing much different).

  114. Andy Newman on said:

    stephen marks: What is deterring Greece from putting up two fingers to Brussels and going its own way is not the institutions of the EU, but the facts of life for a bankrupt country.

    I remember discussing a similar issue with a friend who was an officer in the Serbian army in Kosovo, when they were at war with NATO.

    There was paralysis in the Serbian army and state, because they could not conceive what victory would look actually like. Whereas defeat might lead to humiliating concessions and lost sovereignty, it would also entail a roadmap to reincorporation into European economic and political institutions, however painful.

    In contrast, “Victory” would mean a temporary political gain, but then isolation and exclusion, where they would have no bargaining power.

  115. Andy Newman on said:

    stephen marks: What is deterring Greece from putting up two fingers to Brussels and going its own way is not the institutions of the EU, but the facts of life for a bankrupt country.

    I remember discussing a similar issue with a friend who was an officer in the Serbian army in Kosovo, when they were at war with NATO.

    There was paralysis in the Serbian army and state, because they could not conceive what victory would look actually like. Whereas defeat might lead to humiliating concessions and lost sovereignty, it would also entail a roadmap to reincorporation into European economic and political institutions, however painful.

    In contrast, “Victory” would mean a temporary political gain, but then isolation and exclusion, where they would have no bargaining power.

    stephen marks: It is difficult to construct an alternative strategy post-Grexit that is not unappealing,

    This is particularly true with the specific weaknesses that the Greek economy has. The two worst options they have are i) staying in the EU, or ii) leaving the EU.

  116. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: We also have the exampe of the EU’s provocations in the former Ukraine as evidence that the EU is another arm of the NATO military alliance.

    Well not really. There is definitely a distinctly different agenda from the German led EU compared to the American led NATO, and increasing exasperation in Berlin towards NATO’s stance on Ukraine.

    The British press downplay that difference only because of Cameron’s isolation from the EU’s centres of power, and the UK’s predisposition towards Washington’s agenda.

  117. Karl Stewart on said:

    John: Sounds like a killer argument on the door step to me.

    To be honest, I heven’t heard anyone refer to the Ukraine situation when I’ve been out knocking doors etc recently, so it’s not really a “killer” argument in that context.

    But the EU’s actions there, and its support for sanctions etc, are an indication that the EU is an arm of NATO.

    I wonder if you have any arguments, either that you use on the doorstep when you’re out knocking doors and campaigning, or that you can put forward now, for your preferred position of working within the EU to push it in a progressive direction? Particularly in light of the way the Greeks have been treated when they tried this strategy.

    Or do you have any arguments, or observations, in response to ideas put forward for an alternative international orientation that the left could argue for?

    Because all I’m hearing from you at the moment is you inventing daft points and then arguing that these daft points are daft. Silly stuff really John.

  118. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: Particularly in light of the way the Greeks have been treated when they tried this strategy.

    Is Greece’s situation the same as the UK’s?

    Is not Greece a small country, with a weak substantive economy, with unsustainable levels of debt, and is a member of the Euro?

    That is not to say that what the Greek government wants is not right, but they are not in the strongest bargaining position they could be in.

  119. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: Or do you have any arguments, or observations, in response to ideas put forward for an alternative international orientation that the left could argue for?

    I would just point out that one of the most consistently successful parties of the European left, Sinn Fein, does not favour EU exit for Ireland, nor does it want to leave the Euro.

  120. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: an indication that the EU is an arm of NATO.

    No, it really doesn’t show that at all.

    The EU and NATO have their own different institutional structures, decision making processes, vested interests and components.

    They may overlap, they may not. But unless you think that US and German capital and state interests are the same, then your argument is untenable. Specifically over the Ukraine, it is clear that the EU and NATO do not have the same agenda.

  121. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,
    I don’t disagree with those points you’ve made about Greece there.

    My point is less about similarities between Greece and the UK and more about what the Greek situation and how it’s developed over the past few months tells us in terms of perspectives for achieving progressive change within the EU.

    Greece elected a left-wing government committed to ending austerity and to negotiating progressive change with their EU partners – only to be bullied, humiliated and treated with conteompt.

    You’re quite right that Greece is not in a strong bargaining position, but if the left here and elsewhere started to develop a ‘left-exit’ ((‘Lexit?’) strategy, then this could become a powerful rallying point and an alternative internationalist perspective.

  122. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: if the left here and elsewhere started to develop a ‘left-exit’ ((‘Lexit?’) strategy, then this could become a powerful rallying point and an alternative internationalist perspective.

    The delusional bit of your argument is that the EuroSkeptic left have the capacity to produce a “powerful” anything

  123. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman:
    The EU and NATO have their own different institutional structures, decision making processes, vested interests and components.
    They may overlap, they may not. But unless you think that US and German capital and state interests are the same, then your argument is untenable. Specifically over the Ukraine, it is clear that the EU and NATO do not have the same agenda.

    Hmmm…I’d respond with a ‘Yes and No’ to that too. Yes both institutions are formally and organisationally independent of one another and yes the state and capital interests of Germany and the USA are different.

    But I do think the interests of the EU and NATO came together over the crisis in the former Ukraine.

    Both intervened in order to thwart Ukrainian membership of the Eurasian Customs Union – a potential rival to both the EU and a potential geo-political rival to NATO.

    So yes tensions exist over the extent to which Russia should be sanctioned, or the extent to which the Kiev regime should be supported – and which factions within that regime should be supported.

    But there are no differences over whether the Kiev regime should be supported or over whether Russia should be sanctioned.

    So for me, while before the crisis in the former Ukraine erupted I would have broadly taken the view that the EU was a potential progressive rival to the power of the USA – I’ve now come round to the view that, notwithstanding continuing ‘micro’ differences, there are no real ‘macro’ differences.

  124. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: So for me, while before the crisis in the former Ukraine erupted I would have broadly taken the view that the EU was a potential progressive rival to the power of the USA – I’ve now come round to the view that, notwithstanding continuing ‘micro’ differences, there are no real ‘macro’ differences.

    This is exactly the same sort of fallacy as seeing the fact that Labour and the Conservatives both agreed over Scottish independence as meaning that the two parties agree on everything.

  125. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,
    You really think it’s “delusional” for someone to suggest that the left should try to develop some alternative ideas to neo-liberalism and austerity and an alternative international perspective to the EU and NATO?

    The suggestions Vanya, George, Noah and I have made in this discussion may be right or wrong, are certainly up for criticism, but are by no means “delusional”.

    It’s almost as if you have an automatic, reflex ‘No’ to ideas themselves.

    Although to be fair, you are at least more open-minded than John, who actually seems to be personally offended by people expressing ideas.

    As Vanya asked earlier, how do ideas change?

  126. Karl Stewart: you are at least more open-minded than John, who actually seems to be personally offended by people expressing ideas.

    No, not personally offended by people expressing ideas but little patience for the kind of infantilism that peppers your contributions.

    I think when it comes to you I’m jaundiced, given how not so long ago you accused this blog of providing a platform for fascists using a pseudonym to do so. Tony called you up on it and you haven’t yet had the decency to apologize.

    I’m sorry Karl, but I have you down as a troll.

  127. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: You really think it’s “delusional” for someone to suggest that the left should try to develop some alternative ideas to neo-liberalism and austerity and an alternative international perspective to the EU and NATO?

    My friend.You did not suggest developing ideas, you suggested that the left could develop “a powerful rallying point”, which is beyond ideas, and into the realm of a mass campaign. It is not delusional to think you can develop ideas, maybe even persuasive ideas, it is delusional to think that such ideas will gain sufficient traction in the current political context to rival the hegemony of the right wing over the Brexit issue.

  128. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart: It’s almost as if you have an automatic, reflex ‘No’ to ideas themselves.

    That’s right Karl, and that is how we have manaed to sustain this blog for an unbeleivble 10 years now, by being afraid of ideas.

  129. Karl Stewart on said:

    John: not so long ago you accused this blog of providing a platform for fascists using a pseudonym to do so.

    Fair criticism. That was a wrong response to a problem. No excuses – hands up etc.

  130. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: This is exactly the same sort of fallacy as seeing the fact that Labour and the Conservatives both agreed over Scottish independence as meaning that the two parties agree on everything.

    I do agree that that particular alliance was an enormous mistake. But in spite of that, and in spite of the superficial similarities we’ve seen in today’s and yesterday’s manifesto launches, it’s still the case that Labour and the Tories represent separate class interests.

    There are real and fundamental differences in the policy details, on housing, on workers’ rights, on taxation, that clearly show an essential and continuing class difference.

    NATO and the EU both represent the same class differences. Their interests are sometimes in competition, but essentially they’re the same. Notwithstanding their petty rivalries, neither want the post-cold war ‘settlement’ to be undone.

    The left should be of the view that an alternative international orientation is necessary.

  131. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: That’s right Karl, and that is how we have manaed to sustain this blog for an unbeleivble 10 years now, by being afraid of ideas.

    I’d suggest this site has kept going for exactly the opposite reason – by NOT being afraid of ideas and by encouraging robust argument.

  132. Karl Stewart on said:

    Karl Stewart: NATO and the EU both represent the same class differences.

    Ooops! That should have read:

    “…NATO and the EU both represent the same class interests…”

  133. #150 It’s easy. Just put a colon before right bracket. For a sad face use a left bracket.