Brexit is racism and racism is Brexit

imagesBy now it could not be clearer. Rather than usher in a more progressive Britain, freed from the shackles of that nasty, undemocratic EU in Brussels, Brexit has merely served to give licence to racism and unleashed precisely the carnival of reaction that many feared and warned that it would.

This story carried in The Independent makes sober reading. It reveals a spike in racially and religiously motivated hate crimes in the wake of the EU referendum, involving

  • Gangs prowling the streets demanding passers-by prove they can speak English
  • Swastikas in Armagh, Sheffield, Plymouth, Leicester, London and Glasgow.
  • Assaults, arson attacks and dog excrement being thrown at doors or shoved through letter boxes.
  • Toddlers being racially abused alongside their mothers, with children involved as either victims or perpetrators in 14 per cent of incidents.
  • A man in Glasgow ripping off a girl’s headscarf and telling her “Trash like you better start obeying the white man.”
  • Comparisons with 1930s Nazi Germany and a crowd striding through a London street chanting: “First we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays!”

With the collapse of the centre ground as a consequence of the economic crisis and austerity, it is the far right rather than the left that is winning the battle of ideas, emphatically illustrated by Brexit – a political campaign driven by the ugly politics of anti immigration and underpinned by xenophobia, racism, and the reaffirmation of a white supremacist British identity in reaction to multiculturalism.

Those on the left who campaigned for and supported Brexit did so having imbibed and surrendered to the far right on the issue of immigration and the free movement of labour, which is a symptom of the free movement of capital and the gross inequality between states that is a by-product of neoliberalism.

The worse illiterate is the political illiterate, Brecht reminds us, and this political illiteracy has never been more in evidence than when it comes to the pro-Brexit left. Providing progressive and left cover for white supremacy counts as many things, but socialism is most assuredly not one of them.

British society does not and never has had a problem with immigration. Instead it has had a longstanding problem with the maldistribution of wealth and resources, and a cultural problem with racism, reflective of the apotheosis of its colonial past and the cultural values incubated thereby.

Rather than a victory for the left, Brexit has revealed the willingness of its left-supporting adherents to throw migrants and minorities under the bus in order to appease the most base, tribal, and regressive instincts of a working class which in large swathes of the country has been persuaded that migrants and minorities rather than Thatcherism and the inequality it has entrenched is responsible for their plight.

They should hang their heads in shame.

















After The Big Vote Intellectual Begins To Decompose – a poem by Kevin Higgins

After The Big Vote
Intellectual Begins To Decompose

You sit minding that cup
as if it contained, post-Brexit,
the last frothy coffee in all of Brighton.
You’ve the look of
a pretend Elvis Costello,
or the rejected fourth member
of Bananarama.

Your claim to notoriety
that one of the Sex Pistols
once failed to cross the road
to avoid you. Your opinions
what it said in all
yesterday’s editorials.

Your new secret hate
the ghastly Adidas tracksuits of Gateshead,
the sweatpants of Merthyr Tydfil,
for daring to go against your wishes.

Your sneer is a threatened Doberman
with the charming personality removed.
Scientists are currently trying
to bottle your lime-green bile
and make it available on the NHS
as a homeopathic remedy for psychotic
former Guardian columnists.

Your words are the gusts that come out
immediately before
a terrible bowel movement.

Even in the face of bitten
finger nails, the broken hinge
on the upstairs window, and my own
sack load of mistakes,

to be you would be
a fate worse than life.


Unite to fight the Tories

Statement from Jon Trickett, Shadow Business Secretary and Labour Election Co-ordinator:

“It now looks likely that we are about to have the coronation of a new Conservative Prime Minister.
“It is crucial, given the instability caused by the Brexit vote, that the country has a democratically elected Prime Minister. I am now putting the whole of the party on a General Election footing. It is time for the Labour Party to unite and ensure the millions of people in the country left behind by the Tories’ failed economic policies, have the opportunity to elect a Labour government”.

This is an attempted political lynching – by Len McCluskey

by Len McCluskey, General Secretary of UNITE.

This is an excerpt of his speech today to Unite Policy conference, read the full speech at Huffington Post

Let me now turn to the issue which I am sure is in many of your minds – the political crisis, particularly the extraordinary events in the Labour Party.

After the EU referendum, the Tory government was plunged into a deep crisis. Cameron going. Osborne eclipsed. Johnson knifed. Gove derailed. Just a year after being elected, a government rudderless and to blame for dispatching the country, via an unprepared referendum, into a pit of uncertainty. How ironic that a manoeuvre designed to overcome Tory divisions has ended up creating the mother of all splits.

What a chance for Labour to step forward and speak for the country. To offer itself as the strong opposition and government-in-waiting that millions are looking for in this situation. It was time for unity and a calm voice. Instead we have seen a cowardly attack launched against the Party’s elected leader which has deprived the country of ALL parliamentary opposition and let the Conservatives off scot-free in their moment of turmoil.

This is the responsibility of people who had never accepted Jeremy Corbyn’s victory last year – they never accepted his overwhelming democratic mandate.

I know that not all Unite members are of one mind about Jeremy Corbyn or about the political situation. It would be extraordinary if we were. Some may want us to stay out of the political arena altogether.

Some will have doubts about Labour, or about its leadership. But our union is guided by its rules and values, by this conference and by our Executive Council in how we intervene in politics. Not by Len McCluskey.

And the clear message – shared by tens of thousands in that extraordinary summer of 2015 – was to seize the chance of a new kind of politics, radical, engaging, and pro-trade unions that Jeremy offers.

Of course it has been a bumpy ride since. Mistakes have been made. But most of the attacks on Jeremy are deeply unfair, such as over the EU referendum where his position of remain-and-reform was very close to the centre of gravity of Labour voters, two-thirds of whom backed him.

But whatever doubts there may have been, surely the whole movement could agree that here was an opportunity after the referendum. To speak for Britain. To provide real opposition to a broken government. Instead, powerful interests saw it as a different opportunity – overturning a vote of just ten months ago by launching a squalid Westminster bubble coup.

Sisters and brothers, this was an attempted political lynching, designed to bully and bludgeon Jeremy Corbyn, this deeply decent and kind man, out of the job he was elected to do.

This is not just about Jeremy and his position. The coup has snowballed into a wrecking operation against the Labour Party itself, destroying it at least temporarily as a parliamentary force.

I know some of those who quit did so with a heavy heart, and some with a measure of dignity. But the instigators of this – we know who they are – will be branded forever with the mark of infamy for betraying their party and their country, for putting their selfish personal interests first when the times called for solidarity and statesmanship.

Let me ask Angela Eagle, who I regard as an old friend, but who resigned as shadow business secretary a question – did you give thirty seconds thought as to how this would help the workers at Tata, fighting for a future made still more uncertain by Brexit? And the oil and gas industry facing obliteration? Or have they been abandoned in their moment of need?

On the other hand, I have nothing but praise for those people who stayed in the Shadow Cabinet and those comrades who stepped forward, often unprepared, to fill the gaps in order to make sure that there was something like a functioning Labour frontbench able to hold the Tories to account. They are heroes of the movement and they too will not be forgotten.

Unite made its views clear from the start. We stood by Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity message which is in line with our own union’s position. How could we not? Not only was he the democratically-elected leader of the party with an unprecedented mandate, here was a man who had always – ALWAYS – stood by us, stood on the picket lines, joined our campaigns, argued our case in parliament, advocated for workers’ rights.

He stood by us. What sort of people would we be, had we joined in the witch-hunt. Never mind that I could not have come to this conference, I could not have looked myself in the mirror, had this union done anything other than stand by Jeremy.

But I also recognise the traditional role of trade unions in the Labour Party to stabilise and find a way forward in a crisis. We have been here before more than once.

There also needs to be a reconciliation with the PLP. We must re-establish mutual respect and unity and address real concerns over campaigning, policy, image and the rest. That is what I was working for over the last week – to try and hold our Party together, as the trade unions have done so many times in the past when politicians have let us down.

It is regrettable that these efforts have been sabotaged. I will however continue to work with trade union colleagues and others to chart a way forward, including meeting the legitimate concerns of Labour MPs. Since there is now to be a leadership election, I must warn that any attempts to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot paper risks a lasting division in the Party.

It is time for everyone to commit to a democratic and dignified procedure as the only way to avert such a disaster for working people.

There could yet be an early election. Whenever it comes it is an opportunity, not a threat as some see it – an opportunity to get rid of a hopeless, hapless, divided Tory Party which has led the country to disaster and then walked away, turned inwards on its own leadership row.

And for that Labour must unite, and speak both for those in its heartlands who, in despair, voted for Brexit as well as those millions deeply angry and fearful at the way the Tories have taken us out of the EU.

This union is up for the struggle, both to reunite Labour and take the fight to the Tories. In doing so we will be expressing the profoundest interests of all working people in our country.

Sisters and brothers, more than ever, we need our unity.

Len McCluskey is the general secretary of Unite the Union

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Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability, a poem by Kevin Higgins

A Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability
“Imagine if a huge new influx of Labour members gave a mandate
to a progressive, centrist leader who could win an election.” Caitlin Moran

Our plans for you
will be enthusiastically endorsed
by the popular musical group
Coldplay, and some comedian once considered
edgy. To make you like us even more

every August thirty first, we’ll re-enact
the crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales.
Our leader’s reaction to camera
will be so perfect
it’ll bring a tear to your jerk.

We’ll employ a team of pale thin advisors
to ascertain what our opponents hate –
beggars, Latvians, adolescents… –
be against such things too
before the enemy get around to issuing
their bastard press release.

We will make sure
Police Special Branch shoot
no more Pakistanis
than absolutely necessary
in the circumstances
we hope, with your support,
to create.


Robin Cook’s 2003 resignation speech to parliament over Iraq

In the lead up to the war in Iraq in 2003 few MPs emerged with clean hands, much less credit. Robin Cook stands out as one who did.

Another MP who emerged with credit from the disaster of Iraq is George Galloway. The differences I have with George over Brexit do not prevent me from joining the call for his expulsion from the Labour Party over his principled and unfailing opposition to this cataclysmic war to be revoked and revoked immediately.

Justice demands nothing less.