Those who plunge Labour into civil war will never be forgiven

support your own teamThe referendum decision to leave the EU has created the greatest period of economic uncertainty for Britain since the 1947 Sterling crisis. The UK weathered that storm mainly due to the decisive political leadership of Sir Stafford Cripps as Chancellor, and a political context where a Labour government had accumulated significant goodwill, not only through its welfare and housing policies, but also due to an industrial policy that was seen to benefit Labour’s core, working class voters:

The government [] effectively used the Distribution of Industry Act of 1945 to promote employment. A staggering four million men and women were demobilised from the armed forces by the end of 1946, yet the Board of Trade, first under Cripps, and later under Harold Wilson made aggressive use of Industrial development Certificates to force modern, new industry into area of unemployment, like the North East, South Wales and Central Scotland, and then provide these new industries with remission of rents, zero rates, and interest free loans.

The North East of England had unemployment of 38% in 1932, by 1948 this stood at 2%; over the same period Scotland saw unemployment fall from 35% to 4.5%, and Wales saw unemployment fall from 41% to 5.5%. The UK national average unemployment by 1951 was just 1.8%. Although there was only limited forward planning, government direction effectively produced full employment, and intervention against the market’s bias towards the South East of England spread the benefits across the UK.

Indeed, the feeling that the Labour government was on the side of ordinary working people was so tangible, that when Cripps cut the food ration to below wartime levels in 1947 to address the Sterling crisis, this was supported by Labour voters.

How very different from the drift of the economy towards the South East in the Blair/Brown years, and the growing feeling of being “left behind” from Wales, Scotland and the English Regions. As Kevin Morgan from Cardiff university noted some years ago:

“As the UK’s most over-developed region, the south east is the chief source of inflationary pressures, hence UK monetary policy tends to be calibrated to the over-heated conditions in this core region rather than the ‘under-heated’ conditions in the less developed regions of the north and the west. In a celebrated public relations gaffe the Governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George, actually conceded this point when, asked if job loss in the north was an acceptable price to pay for the control of inflation in the south, he was reported to have said ‘yes, I suppose in a sense I am’. ”

The Sterling crisis in 1947 did not cause a political crisis, and because there was no political crisis its historical significance has been underestimated. Significantly, the Labour Party stood together in the national interest, despite bitter divisions in the Cabinet over Cripps’s response.

Coming to the modern day, the Labour Party in opposition needs to present itself as an alternative government, but just as importantly the role of the main opposition party in a parliamentary democracy is to seek to influence the decisions of government, and shape the political debate.

Given the potentially economically catastrophic vote to leave the EU last Thursday, an outcome that most Labour Party members, and most Labour voters opposed; and which was opposed by the overwhelming majority of affiliated trade unions; then it is essential that the Labour Party quickly develops a policy of how to deal with the fall out.

It should have been obvious that the task for the Labour Party was to keep the media focus on the lies and false promises from the leading Brexit campaigners; and it should have been obvious that the task for the Labour Party was to exploit the division in the Conservative Party and the paralysis of the lame-duck Cameron administration. It should also have been obvious that it was necessary to keep the party unified behind those tasks.

The meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday 27th June should have been an opportunity to develop a strategy to deal with the Brexit crisis, and to speak up for the interests of the millions of those that the Labour Party exists to represent whose economic prospects are now less secure.

Instead, we saw an exercise of self-indulgent narcissism, with the Westminster bubble concerns of professional politicians trumping the very real fear and anxiety that ordinary people are feeling.

As GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, said in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote:

We’re in uncharted waters. The government needs to act straight away to secure jobs and keep the economy moving – too many working people are still carrying the can for the last economic crash, they can ill afford another one.

What happens next cannot be the preserve of a government elected with 37% of the vote or potentially a Prime Minister who was never elected at all. The British people have spoken, many of them frustrated with business as usual, choosing to leave the EU because of the impacts of the flexible labour market and the pursuit of free trade above all else.

Our place in the world cannot be one based on a Tory Party free-for-all, free market philosophy. A race to the bottom which prioritises the removal of trade barriers and the flexible labour market above all else will fail working people and the very voters who made their decision yesterday.

The Prime Minister must act now, on a cross party basis, to heal and represent the whole county. Not just the rifts in his Party. That means an urgent plan to protect jobs and a guarantee that no workplace rights will face the axe.

Tim is undoubtedly right to say that an urgent plan is needed to protect jobs, resolve uncertainty over workplace rights. It is an entirely reasonable expectation from the trade unions that the parliamentary party should also have understood that those were the urgent priorities.

I think it is no secret that many in the trade unions are not uncritical supporters of Corbyn. There is a very real question mark over whether Corbyn’s undoubted appeal to a politically engaged minority can translate into the mass electoral appeal that can win a general election. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry have failed to engage substantively with the question of how tens of thousands of skilled, well paid and organized jobs in manufacturing and shipbuilding could be protected were the Trident successor programme to be cancelled, as they desire. But clearly even for those who may be more critical friends of Corbyn, now was the time for the party to unite behind him.

The disdain with which rebels in the Parliamentary Labour Party disregarded the statement from General Secretaries of 12 of the 14 affiliated trade unions, indicates turning their backs on the ethos and traditions of the Party. The General Secretaries, speaking in the interests of some 3 million working people, said:

The Prime Minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity.

It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor.

The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.

Let us be clear, whatever failing there may have been with Labour’s campaign to stay in the EU, the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership saw most Labour voters backing remain – a figure between 63% and 70% depending upon the polling. The inchoate expression of alienation against the political class that led to so many voting Leave, against what objectively are their own best interests, did not grip working class communities in the last 9 months of Corbyn’s stewardship of the party.

The wounds go deeper, and further back. The bond of trust between the Labour Party and much of the electorate was broken by the deceit that led the UK to participate in a criminally irresponsible war in Iraq. The economic policies that led to a million manufacturing jobs lost since 1997 undermined Labour’s credibility to speak for many communities in the English regions, and the other nations of the UK.

The triangulation and spin meant that Labour’s message was increasingly attuned to swing voters in marginal constituencies. This was particularly damaging over the issue of immigration, where de facto the last Labour government encouraged migrants due to the economic benefits, while simultaneously some figures in the Labour party indulged in dog-whistle collusion in anti-migrant sentiment. The failure by Blair and Brown to deal with the UK’s growing housing crisis, and their unwillingness to ensure that Employment Law was strong enough to prevent unscrupulous bosses abusing migrants to push down wages in entry level jobs, meant that many working class people have real-life, negative experiences associated with migration. There are many areas where increased population has not seen the necessary, corresponding increase in housing, schooling and health capacity. There are many areas where increased population has not seen the necessary. corresponding increase in housing, schooling and health capacity

These are just some of the reasons why Labour lost the elections of 2010, and 2015. Long before Jeremy Corbyn even thought he might one day be leader of the party.

The Labour Party now has a challenging landscape to confront. The type of message and the type of party that plays well in Scotland or Wales is different from the North of England, which is again different from London, and different from the pockets of Labour support in the rest of the South of England.

Not only are those Labour MPs indulging in the circus of destabilizing Corbyn letting down people in the constituencies they were elected to serve, and failing to act to promote stability which is their duty in the national interest; they are utterly deluded that there is any alternative leader waiting in the wings that has the stature or appeal to solve Labour’s problems. They are deluded if they think that a Labour leader who had been more enthusiastic about the EU would have been better able to reach out to skeptical and disengaged voters.

They are also deluded if they think that their exercise of fiddling while Rome burns is the way to appeal to voters of any stripe. They are risking blowing the Labour Party up into civil war at exactly the time when the people that the Labour Party was established to represent more than ever need the Party to be strong and united.

149 comments on “Those who plunge Labour into civil war will never be forgiven

  1. “The type of message and the type of party that plays well in Scotland…”

    That ship has sailed. If Brexit goes ahead then Scotland votes for independence. Sturgeon has emerged from this crisis as the only mainland political leader with credibility. She is in Brussels as I write trying to negotiate an EU path for Scotland. There is no constitutional loophole that would allow Scotland to remain within the EU and in a Brexit Britain at the same time. She is following this narrative in order to curry support for what will be a second referendum on Scottish independence within the next two years. And this time I believe the majority will vote Yes, including me.

    Brexit must be voted down by Parliament. Corbyn, rather than lead the call for that, supported by a national petition and public demonstrations, has instead joined Farage in calling for the immediate invocation of Article 50.

  2. John: There is no constitutional loophole that would allow Scotland to remain within the EU and in a Brexit Britain at the same time.

    Greenland has autonomy within Denmark and is outside the EU. The Faroes have autonomy within Denmark and is outside the EU. Greenland and the faroes both have MPs sitting in the Danish legislature, and the state we think of as Denmark (Jutland and Seeland) is in the EU.

  3. 172 Labour MPs have no confidence in Corbyn.
    But he never had their confidence anyway. He has not lost anything at all. 40 MPs backed Corbyn. I think his vote has gone up since he became leader!
    The PLP has a long history of showing abysmal judgement.
    Here are a few examples:

    1. A majority voted for the Iraq War.

    2. Most Labour MPs supported entry into the ERM.

    3. The PLP cheered Gordon Brown’s budget which abolished the 10p tax band—what a stroke of genius that was!

    4. Most Labour MPs conspired to deny Labour members from being able to choose the Labour leader in 2007.

    5 Most Labour MPs voted to replace Trident—something that even Michael Portillo opposes.
    6 Most Labour MPs repeatedly voted against an enquiry into the Iraq War.
    This latest stunt says more about the PLP than it does about Corbyn.
    To see some examples of the anti-Corbyn campaign, visit Craig Murray’s website.
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

  4. Andy Newman: Greenland has autonomy within Denmark and is outside the EU. The Faroes have autonomy within Denmark and is outside the EU. Greenland and the faroes both have MPs sitting in the Danish legislature, and the state we think of as Denmark (Jutland and Seeland) is in the EU.

    This is a fantasy Andy, come on.

    As of now Corbyn and his team are behavng like a sect. It is not a left wing course they are on, it is an ultra left course. Any Labour government is better than a Tory government, and as of now, with an early election looming, we are on course to end up with an even more extreme Tory government than they one we’ve just had.

    In the interests of working people and the unions, surely who governs the country is more important than who leads the Labour Party given the weight of austerity and rise of the far right.

  5. George Hallam on said:

    Tony: The PLP has a long history of showing abysmal judgement.

    The NHS Reinstatement Bill

    Caroline Lucas was ‘extremely disappointed’ today by the failure of MPs to turn up in Parliament today to debate the NHS Reinstatement Bill after tens of thousands of people had written to their representatives asking them to back the bill.

    The Bill was only debated for around 15 minutes and wasn’t voted on. If more MPs had been present in Parliament then a ‘closure motion’ on the Bill being debated previously could have been called, thus ending Tory filibustering which delayed discussion of the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

    The Labour Party did not publicly back the bill. In a letter LINK sent by many Labour MPs to constituents, the party’s MPs said:
    “Whilst I support the broad objectives which lie behind this Bill, I am concerned about the scale of structural change and costs associated with any further major reorganisation of the NHS.”

    http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/lucas-disappointed-and-baffled-by.html

  6. John: This is a fantasy Andy, come on.

    No, if that was the constitutional settlement that the Sottish government wanted, then I think it would be achievable

  7. George Hallam on said:

    John: Brexit must be voted down by Parliament.

    I take it that you are talking about the current Parliament which, the last time I looked, had a majority of Conservative MPs.
    It’s almost as if you were calling for an alliance with the Conservative Party. Can this be you writing?

    Also, how far are you willing to take this idea of Parliament overriding referendums?

    For example, would you object if it ignored a Scotland vote for independence?

  8. when you look at the stature of the current Labour politicians scrabbling around the sandpit to see who could be leader, it is worth reflecting on the stature of the candidates who contested the 1976 leadership contest:

    Tony Benn, Secretary of State for Energy, Member of Parliament for Bristol South East
    Jim Callaghan, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Member of Parliament for Cardiff South East
    Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for the Environment, Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
    Michael Foot, Secretary of State for Employment, Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale
    Denis Healey, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament for Leeds East
    Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Stechford

  9. John on said:

    Andy Newman:
    when you look at the stature of the current Labour politicians scrabbling around the sandpit to see who could be leader, it is worth reflecting on the stature of the candidates who contested the 1976 leadership contest:

    Tony Benn, Secretary of State for Energy, Member of Parliament for Bristol South East
    Jim Callaghan, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Member of Parliament for Cardiff South East
    Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for the Environment, Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
    Michael Foot, Secretary of State for Employment, Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale
    Denis Healey, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament for Leeds East
    Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Stechford

    The political equivalent of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup team.

  10. Don’t know why everyone thinks Scots will vote for Independence in round 2. The sums didn’t add up first time around, and are even more ludicrous with oil at $50 a barrel.

    Plus, they’d not be eligible for EU membership – the deficit is far too high to meet the requirements. They’d need Greece levels of austerity and look how well that turned out.

    It might make Junkcer and Schultz chortle to entertain Sturgeons fantasy, in order that may stick two fingers up at the UK, but they’ll get bored with that soon enough.

  11. John on said:

    Dan:
    Don’t know why everyone thinks Scots will vote for Independence in round 2.The sums didn’t add up first time around, and are even more ludicrous with oil at $50 a barrel.

    Plus, they’d not be eligible for EU membership – the deficit is far too high to meet the requirements.They’d need Greece levels of austerity and look how well that turned out.

    It might make Junkcer and Schultz chortle to entertain Sturgeons fantasy, in order that may stick two fingers up at the UK, but they’ll get bored with that soon enough.

    This is 2016 not 2014. All changed; changed utterly.

    Who knows what any negotiations would produce? I think it is safe to assume that the EU would be more amenable to Scotland joining as an independent state than they were two years ago, given the circumstances.

  12. Nah, don’t see it myself (then again, I can’t say I’ve 100% success rate in predictions – I thought it’d be a strong remain vote).

    We’ve a couple more weeks/months of headless chicken-ness to suffer through first. Once everyone calms down a bit, we ‘ll see where we are. The negotiations will be an important aspect as you say. I’m sure PM Johnson/May will chuck a few goodies up North.

    Just saw on the news that the Spanish would block it, as they did before.

  13. Hi – if you can see this comment please reply to it, just let us know you can access the site. We are having problems with about half of our visitors unable to access the site and we are trying to find out how widespread the problem is. Thanks.

  14. non-partisan on said:

    15 – Couldn’t view the site last night but can now – Good article

  15. Matt on said:

    Andy Newman:
    when you look at the stature of the current Labour politicians scrabbling around the sandpit to see who could be leader, it is worth reflecting on the stature of the candidates who contested the 1976 leadership contest:

    Tony Benn, Secretary of State for Energy, Member of Parliament for Bristol South East
    Jim Callaghan, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Member of Parliament for Cardiff South East
    Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for the Environment, Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
    Michael Foot, Secretary of State for Employment, Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale
    Denis Healey, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament for Leeds East
    Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Stechford

    I think one of the most damaging aspects of modern party politics is the idea that you must resign and forego any further leadership after the first significant loss. This can only mean that, in time, the only contenders are untested newbies. How can this make any sense? I’m really surprised that nobody else seems to call this out as a problem.

  16. Matt on said:

    Andy, really like the article.

    John, overriding the referendum in Parliament would seem to me to guarantee the increase of the alienation from politics that delivered the Brexit result. And what makes you sure there’s an election on the way? What’s in it for the Tories?

    Matt

  17. John on said:

    Matt: John, overriding the referendum in Parliament would seem to me to guarantee the increase of the alienation from politics that delivered the Brexit result. And what makes you sure there’s an election on the way? What’s in it for the Tories?

    Not overriding the result would engulf the country in an economic crisis even worse than 2008 I believe, not to mention a deepening of the worst political crisis we have experienced in generations.

    The anti-Brexit mood is building to a point of critical mass, which if applied to sorting this mess out would ameliorate many of the issues involved in the Parliament voting it down.

    They have to. The alternative is far too awful to contemplate in my view.

    Theresa May and Michael Gove are to the right of Cameron, and with the economic crisis worsening we are talking even more austerity in the short term and a govt in thrall to the right of the party and UKIP in the medium term.

  18. robert p. williams on said:

    Surely now is the time, in the interest of a lasting and meaningful unity, to push for mandatory reselection of Labour MP’s. Put the power back in the hands of the rank and file to decide who speaks for them.

  19. George Hallam on said:

    John: Not overriding the result would engulf the country in an economic crisis even worse than 2008 I believe, not to mention a deepening of the worst political crisis we have experienced in generations.

    In face of this impending catastrophe, surely now is the time, in the interest of a lasting and meaningful unity, to push for a national government.

  20. George Hallam: In face of this impending catastrophe, surely now is the time, in the interest of a lasting and meaningful unity, to push for a national government.

    Around whom though, Tories and Blairites? The left can’t be part of that. It would end any prospect of socialism for a generation.

    And anyway, both parties are entrenched in internecine blood letting. I tell you what, military coups have occurred in less intense crises than this one.

    Hope somebody’s keeping an eye on the generals.

  21. George Hallam on said:

    John: Around whom though, Tories and Blairites? The left can’t be part of that. It would end any prospect of socialism for a generation.

    If you want the referendum result annulled then that means parliament doing it.

    Since the Conservatives have the most MPs there is no prospect of such action without the support of substantial number of them. To ensure a majority the LibDems and at least some Labour MPs would be necessary.

    So why not go the whole hog and call for a national government?

    If you’re not prepared to make the necessary alliances to stop a Brexit them why complain?

    From what you say Brexit is just the lesser of two evils.

  22. George Hallam: So why not go the whole hog and call for a national government?

    A national government is not necessary. All it needs is a cross-party vote. Hardly the same thing.

    After said cross party vote an early general election.

    George Hallam: From what you say Brexit is just the lesser of two evils.

    I have never said Brexit is lesser of two evils. I have said and still maintain that it is underpinned by racism and xenophobia and has legitimised both.

  23. The only parliamentary way to subvert the EU referendum mandate is through a alliance with the Tories. This is the most effective way to ensure a big rise in the UKIP vote and close off Labour’s chances with its missing millions of voters.
    Be careful what you wish for.

  24. John Grimshaw on said:

    Couldn’t contact the server yesterday but now it seems to be working fine.

  25. John on said:

    Nick Wright: The only parliamentary way to subvert the EU referendum mandate is through a alliance with the Tories. This is the most effective way to ensure a big rise in the UKIP vote and close off Labour’s chances with its missing millions of voters.
    Be careful what you wish for.

    Those who have effectively aligned with the right wing of the Tory Party, UKIP, and in the process thrown migrant and minorities under the bus, are in no position to lecture anyone on political principles.

  26. Jock mctrousers on said:

    John: Those who have aligned with the right wing of the Tory Party, UKIP, and in the process thrown migrant and minorities under the bus, are in no position to lecture anyone on political principles.

    Are you saying that the CPB, for instance, are racists? How is this throwing migrants under the bus?

    Vote down the referendum with the Tories, and replace Corbyn with a Blairite Tory? I get the plan John – keep the far right in charge long enough to ensure that the next generation of labour aristocrats won’t be born(no rentable housing), so we can replace them with more deserving immigrants, and then we’ll have socialist internationalism…nice one!

  27. John: Those who have effectively aligned with the right wing of the Tory Party, UKIP, and in the process thrown migrant and minorities under the bus, are in no position to lecture anyone on political principles.

    John, to make your bizarre schema to work you need to cast the ruling class tendency that favours Britain’s continuing membership of the EU I.e. the banks, big business, the defence, intelligence and military industrial nexus tied to the US, the civil service tops, etc as acceptable allies, as somehow not right wing.
    What colour is the sky on your planet?

  28. George Hallam on said:

    John: I have never said Brexit is lesser of two evils.

    Not is so many words.

    Right from the start you have insisted that the Brexit project is tainted with racism. As in

    John: it is underpinned by racism and xenophobia and has legitimised both.

    and that anyone who supports it is

    John: effectively aligned with the right wing of the Tory Party, UKIP, and in the process thrown migrant and minorities under the bus,

    In addition you assert that Brexit will be an economic disaster:

    John: [Brexit] would engulf the country in an economic crisis even worse than 2008

    So there is no doubt that you regard Brexit as an evil.
    This has led you to the conclusion that the referendum should be overridden.

    While you accept that this would involve a de facto alliance with the Conservative Party or at least the majority of Conservative MPs, there are limits as to how far you will go to stop Brxit.

    Crucially, you jibbed at my suggestion that such an alliance should take the form of a national government.

    John: Around whom though, Tories and Blairites? The left can’t be part of that. It would end any prospect of socialism for a generation.

    It seems to me you are saying that however bad the consequences of Brexit might be they are not as bad ending “any prospect of socialism for a generation”.

    Hence my statement that you regard Brexit is a lesser evil.

  29. Zaid on said:

    John, please check if your account has been hacked.

    Somebody seems to be using it to argue that the will of Labour Party members should be ignored and that the leadership of the Labour Party should be seized by forces loyal to the political establishment, in order to ally with the Tories to overturn the clearly expressed will of the people.

  30. non-partisan on said:

    John:

    John you said ;
    Brexit was not a fuck you to the British establishment it was an fuck off home to migrants and minorities. end quote (sorry for formatting mistakes)

    The problem John is that the Brexit vote was both.

    It was an expression of disgust and despair from many people, who are not racists. There were many people and the evidence is there if you want to find it, of people who used the vote to express rejection of the effects of both Tory and Labour policies that have impoverished many communities and individuals.

    At the same time there is no doubt it was also used to scapegoat and blame migrants for the lack od social housing, school places etc etc and this was racist, and yes the people who thought this voted Brexit too.

    But not everyone who voted Brexit is a racist, ‘throwing migrants under the bus’ and to miss this is to miss the opportunity of winning them to a class perspective of rejecting austerity and organising through labour to fight for adequate resources for thier communities.

    I think the effect of the vote was that is has enboldened the right and racism and in this I agree with you, and disagree with the Lexits, who at least should now accept that although they tried to create an alternative argument for leaving, the reality is that the right have been strengthened.

    I personally know of at least one black activist who has for decades fought all aspects of racism, and has been convicted, beaten, sacked for his activties- and yet he supported Brexit- i disagreed with him, but to place him alongside Ukippers and Bf etc is not only an insult but an obstacle to moving forward.

    I don’t think Labour should campaign for a new referendum, this would open the door even further to those who will argue that rejection of the ‘establishment’ should mean acceptance of their far right radicalism- as the only people who can be trusted.

    I didn’t always agree with Vanya but think now more than ever these debates need to be had, in order to clarify the tasks facing the working class in The UK and beyond.

    I read what is written here much more than comment, and guess many others do too, so Vanya come back to the debate.

  31. John on said:

    non-partisan: The problem John is that the Brexit vote was both.

    It was both precisely because the right had presented both as being two sides of the same coin and managed to gain sufficient traction with this narrative to raise racist and xenophobic ideas to a level of legitimacy they’ve never had in this country since the 1970s. We have to face the fact that the right and far right’s response to austerity has won the hearts and minds of the working class while the left’s have not.

    But just because the working class supports a campaign, this is no reason to tail it or roll with it. As I have said, the working class is not a monument to be worshipped at or paid deference to. I consider that there has been a monumental ideological collapse on the part of a section of the left, similar to that which afflicted a large section of the left in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    I realise of course that in taking this view I am clearly in a minority. Too bad. I believe it with my heart and soul and that is all that counts with me.

    We have to roll back from this. We are at the edge of the abyss. When the economic shock Brexit has set off begins to trickle down to the very white working class that voted for it as a two fingers to the establishment, we will find ourselves in a swamp of racism and polarisation that will set the left back years.

  32. George Hallam on said:

    John: Brexit was not a [..] to the British establishment it was an [..] home to migrants and minorities. Corbyn and Milne bear their share of responsibility for this disaster and the exposure of migrants and minorities to the wrath of the far right and white trash that has arrived on the back of it.

    I don’t doubt your strength of feeling on this issue, I just have a problem with your logic.

    Overriding the result of the referendum would be a serious step that would not have popular support.
    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/06/29/little-support-second-referendum/

    This might be because not everyone shares your concern about the likely economic consequences of Brexit.
    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/06/06/project-fear-cutting-through/

    If there was a national government then people might accept that Parliament voting down Brexit.

    He who wills the end wills the indispensible necessary means

  33. George Hallam on said:

    This is off topic but I think we should Just note that today is the anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
    (Though the preliminary bombardment began on 24 June 1916.)
    The battle continued until 18 November 1916

  34. Jock mctrousers on said:

    Vanya,

    Yes, come back Vanya. I’ll even apologise for what I said about Greenham common. Sorry! See – your input is valued.

  35. Jock mctrousers on said:

    George Hallam: the exposure of migrants and minorities to the wrath of the far right and white trash that has arrived on the back of it.</blockquote

    'White trash' eh? That's a beauty. Not black or Asian trash, because racism is an expression of power, and only whites have power as the dominant race … is that it?

    But ’trash'? Well, there are a lot of ignorant bastards about, but seems only the poor ones are trash.

    Take this well known argument for the economic benefits of mass immigration: GDP increases but most of any wealth increase goes to the upper 10%; most people are not much affected except for pressure on schools, hospital, housing; but there is a small downward pressure on the lowest paid and unskilled workers.

    I've stated before my mystification about why 'socialists' think this is ok, why the lowest paid and unskilled workers don't matter? It's because lowest paid/unskilled = 'trash', right?

  36. John on said:

    Jock mctrousers: ake this well known argument for the economic benefits of mass immigration: GDP increases but most of any wealth increase goes to the upper 10%; most people are not much affected except for pressure on schools, hospital, housing; but there is a small downward pressure on the lowest paid and unskilled workers.

    That’s an argument against austerity and the maldistribution of wealth and resources. It is not an argument against immigration, migrants, or in any way justification for white trash abusing them on public transport, in the street, or anywhere else.

  37. Jock mctrousers on said:

    Jock mctrousers,

    Woops! That didn’t turn out right. Anyway the gist of it is that ‘white trash’ is a difficult category for socialists.

  38. John Grimshaw on said:

    That being said…:) as a reluctant remainer I agree with John and I don’t agree with John. It’s quite clear that the Brexit vote has at least temporarily empowered the far right and anyone with a racist and/or nationalist outlook. The police for example report a 400% rise in the number of racist hate crimes whether they be actual violence or acts of vandalism. The Polish centre in Hammersmith was graffitied with “fuck of back to Poland” despite the fact that it’s been there since the end of wwii and was originally set up by polish ex-servicemen. There have been numerous other examples since Thursday. Halal butchers firebombed,people abused, journalist harassed etc. Those people who supported Brexit have to accept that this was a likely inevitable consequence of a campaign that was largely backed and supported by reactionaries. I am not suggesting as John does to some extent that lexiters are responsible for this reactionary behaviour merely that they must have known this was likely. If they didn’t think it was likely then they were more naive than even I could’ve thought. I understand the reasons why the lexiters took their position but surely they must’ve understand that they had absolutely no traction within the working class? The likes of the SWP etc. (Reportedly) to have a celebration on the day of the vote just staggers belief.

    I don’t agree with John however that this is a completely reactionary vote. Most of my family voted out. They are not racist. But they are extremely concerned outside of London white working class who despair at the loss of decent jobs and who think (whether rightly or wrongly) that money that could be used to help them is being wasted on meaningless projects. Etc. There definitely was an element that this was a protest vote. That being said, and this surprised me, I have spoken to at least one NUT rep the other day ( who I don’t know) who said she had voted Brexit as a way to stop the large number of migrants coming into the country. I’m not racist you understand but…? And this on the ev of a national strike which she is supporting.

    The other reason I don’t agree with John is that I think as long as the vote was fair then the vote was conclusive. England and Wales in the first instance should move to leave the EU. To do otherwise would be an undemocratic coup. We’ll just have to live with the fall out. I believe the reactionaries and racists won’t be empowered indefinitely and don’t see how overturning the result will dampen them down. It is upto the left. And the labour movement to take sharp action against these people.

  39. John Grimshaw on said:

    I should’ve said above that to me it’s not clear what’s going to happen next. I think one part of the establishment will move to effectively nullify the referendum and minimise its impact. In a years time will we have noticed any difference from where we are now?

  40. Jock mctrousers on said:

    John,
    I’m skeptical about reports of an upsurge in anti-migrant abuse; I notice the main propaganda outlets – Beeb & C4 – have been pushing this line, as they’ve been pushing everything anti-Brexit. I don’t believe it.

  41. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jock mctrousers,

    I do. Do you think the examples I’ve cited would’ve have happened in such numbers before the Brexit vote? And I don’t believe in conspiracy theories Even if it’s the met involved! Well maybe not? Seriously jock I work in a multicultural school in west London at the moment where there are a lot of poles, it’s Catholic, and the sense of worry is palpable.

  42. John on said:

    Jock mctrousers:
    Jock mctrousers,

    Woops! That didn’t turn out right. Anyway the gist of it is that ‘white trash’ is a difficult category for socialists.

    I don’t think so. We need to take an unflinching stance against racism and the white supremacy that underpins it.

    I believe that ‘white working class’ is a far more problematic category for socialists than ‘white trash’.

  43. Jock mctrousersl on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Well, I have to take your word for it. I can see that some bullies would feel validated and there may be a brief upsurge. I too see stress in the migrant workers I know. But unless you believe in open borders, and are happy to let the whole world in, then a line has to be drawn somewhere

  44. George Hallam on said:

    John: I believe that ‘white working class’ is a far more problematic category for socialists than ‘white trash’.

    On ‘white trash’ Wikipedia says:
    “The label signifies lower social class and degraded standards of living. The term has been adopted for people living on the fringes of the social order, who are seen as dangerous because they may be criminal, unpredictable, and without respect for authority whether it be political, legal, or moral.

    The term is usually a racial slur, but may also be used self-referentially by working class whites to jokingly describe their origins or lifestyle.”

    There is a chapter in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ titled ‘Poor White Trash’

    Over to you, Andy. You know about America.

  45. Jock mctrousersl on said:

    John:
    I don’t think so. We need to take an unflinching stance against racism and the white supremacy that underpins it.

    What has this got to do with leaving the near all-White EU?
    And I wonder if by ‘white supremacy’ you actually mean majority rule ? I personally, and I think this is true for the majority UK, have a cultural preference for a secular, nominal Protestant society. Do you accept our democratic right to assert our preference?

  46. Vanya on said:

    The main problem for me with the term, “white trash” is that it’s a class-based insult, as much as a racial slur.

    It’s the sort of term I would expect to be used about many of the people who are victims of the sanctions regime at the job centres.

    The EU’s attempt to help people like that will be one of the many benefits of membership that will be sorely missed. Along with the sterling defence of trade union rights, opposition to zero hour contracs and the kind attempts to help save the steel industry.

    Over 3000 (police estimate) at a rally in torrential rain in Manchester city centre in support of JC yesterday evening by the way. Loads of young people and significant numbers of black people. And some excellent speeches.

    Ended with the Red Flag, the words, “though cowards flinch and traitors sneer” very apposite!

  47. John on said:

    Vanya: The main problem for me with the term, “white trash” is that it’s a class-based insult, as much as a racial slur.

    Speaking as someone who grew up on a council estate, who knows what the inside of a pawn shop, job centre, and sheriff court looks like, I will take no lectures in class from those who sided with a far right political project that has resulted in a carnival or reaction being unleashed across the country by…and wait for it, ‘white trash.’

    Vanya: It’s the sort of term I would expect to be used about many of the people who are victims of the sanctions regime at the job centres.

    From someone who defends those doling out the sanctions in those jobcentres, this is impossible to take seriously,

    Vanya: Over 3000 (police estimate) at a rally in torrential rain in Manchester city centre in support of JC yesterday evening by the way. Loads of young people and significant numbers of black people. And some excellent speeches.

    Again, impossible to take seriously from people who sought to oppose and undermine his leadership over the past three months on the biggest political issues the country and the left has faced.

    The result is the biggest defeat for the left since the miners strike. Great work, well done.

    Vanya: Ended with the Red Flag, the words, “though cowards flinch and traitors sneer” very apposite!

    Big gun talk from a water pistol.

  48. George Hallam on said:

    John: The term is usually a racial slur

    I was just quoting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_trash

    John: Reverse racism: https://www.facebook.com/362736247540/videos/10151718638512541/

    I tend to avoid the terms ‘racism’ as it seems to have changed its meaning over the years.
    When I was a lad it denoted theories about biological differences within humanity (i.e. races), especially hierarchical theories. Now it’s used in a number of different ways that I haven’t been able to keep track of.

  49. John on said:

    George Hallam: I tend to avoid the terms ‘racism’ as it seems to have changed its meaning over the years.

    I regard it is as a phenomenon viewed through the prism of oppression and the dehumanisation which that oppression engenders. When somebody feels minded to abuse somebody on a bus because of their accent and/or skin colour it is borne of a sense of entitlement to dehumanise the victim.

    The term white trash does not merely apply to poor white people who engage in this kind of vile behaviour, it also applies to the likes of Nigel Farage and others of his ilk. If your worldview is based on race, culture, or cultural differences from the standpoint of the dominant race and/or culture then you are colluding with and perpetuating that domination, which given Britain’s malign role in the world is a hangover from the empire and is driver of labour aristocracy in this country.

    And white trash does not specifically denote race. White, as in white supremacy, denotes a particular set of political and ideological beliefs, the inculcation of the received truths of colonialism and imperialism.

    A major problem we have on the left is the refusal or reluctance to confront the so-called white working class with its racism when it emerges, instead making excuses for or rolling with it. The worst thing you can do when it comes to talking to working class people is be scared of them.

  50. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: The main problem for me with the term, “white trash” is that it’s a class-based insult, as much as a racial slur.

    Try reading some of Lothrop Stoddard stuff. His view was that civilization leads a growth in inequality between the middle and upper classes , on the one hand, and an underclass of inferior individuals who cannot keep up on the other.
    ‘The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under Man’ (1922)
    http://www.jrbooksonline.com/pdf_books_added2009-3/revoltagainstcivilization.pdf

    Here’s a taster:

    Utopian literature is very extensive, going back to Plato; revolutionary agitators have run true to type since Spartacus; while “proletarian” risings have varied little in basic character from the servile revolts of antiquity and the “jacqueries” of the Middle Ages down to the mob upheavals of Paris and Petrograd.# In all these social revolutionary phenomena there is nothing essentially novel. There is always the same violent revolt of the unadaptable, inferior, and degenerate elements against civilized society, in atavistic reaction to lower planes; the same hatred of superiors and fierce desire for absolute equality; finally, the same tendency of revolutionary leaders to become tyrants and to transform anarchy into barbarous despotism.

    As Harold Cox justly remarks; “Jack Cade, as described by Shakespeare, is the perfect type of revolutionary, and his ideas coincide closely with those of the modern school of Socialism. He tells his followers that ‘all the realm shall be in common,’ that ‘there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score and I will apparel them all in one livery that they may agree like brothers. A little later a member of the bourgeoisie is brought before him — a clerk who confesses that he can read and write. Jack Cade orders him at once to be hanged ‘with his pen and inkhorn about his neck.’ Possibly the intellectual Socialists of Great Britain might hesitate at this point; the danger would be getting uncomfortably near to themselves. But the Russian Bolsheviks have followed Jack Cade’s example on a colossal scale. In another direction Jack Cade was a prototype of present-day revolutionists; for while preaching equality he practised autocracy. ‘Away,’ he cries to the mob. ‘Burn all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the Parliament of England.'”

  51. anon on said:

    John Grimshaw on 2 July, 2016 at 8:55 am said:

    ‘as long as the vote was fair then the vote was conclusive. England and Wales in the first instance should move to leave the EU. To do otherwise would be an undemocratic coup. We’ll just have to live with the fall out.’

    ###

    Firstly, the suggestion that only England and Wales would leave, is just a fantasy.

    Secondly, perhaps when the dust has settled a bit, and the reality of what leaving the EU might actually amount to, or not amount to, and the possible consequences (not least the increased possibility of the break up of the UK) might Parliament decide that before the country makes an irreversible move the electorate should be given the opportunity to ratify the decision?

    Who could reasonably object to that?

    If people still want to leave and vote that way, then that’s what would happen.

    If sufficient numbers have changed their mind then we remain. That would be democratic.

    And, crucially, such an outcome would not be irreversible. If the mood changed again in the future then there would be nothing to stop there being a further referendum.

  52. MickyD on said:

    John,
    ” We have to face the fact that the right and far right’s response to austerity has won the hearts and minds of the working class while the left’s have not. ‘

    Its not a ‘ fact ‘ at all , Britain today is no more or less racist than it was a week ago … face facts youre just anti the ‘ little people ‘ having their say

  53. George Hallam on said:

    anon: might Parliament decide that before the country makes an irreversible move the electorate should be given the opportunity to ratify the decision?

    Who could reasonably object to that?

    Quite a lot people, actually.

    Apart from those who liked the result, some would object on procedural grounds.

    Life is just to complicated to keep reviewing decisions. That’s the only way to conduct an orderly meeting.

    Others would say, even if we knew the terms of exit we still wouldn’t know how leaving the EU would work out in practice. To do that we actually have to leave. If after, say, four or five years, there were serious problems then there would be case for reversing the decision.

  54. Vanya on said:

    I love all this anti-racism from people who believe in the inate progressiveness of allowing unlimited access to the country to people from most of Europe while making those who want to come here from places like Pakistan,Jamaica and Nigeria jump through hoops and while people from Syria or Afghanistan risk drowning in the Mediterranean.

    Anyway, the only democratic way to move forward now is to hold a general election asap so that the people, rather than the Tory Paty can elect the team that oversees exit from the EU.

  55. Matt on said:

    John: That’s an argument against austerity and the maldistribution of wealth and resources. It is not an argument against immigration, migrants, or in any way justification for white trash abusing them on public transport, in the street, or anywhere else.

    jock’s words are a factual statement, and don’t in themselves constitute an argument for anything.

    Two things follow from that for me.

    Firstly, if the statement is true, people may have reasons for wanting to see immigration restricted that are not based on simply on racism. They are not mis-perceiving reality as a result of being blinded by their racism. They are seeing an aspect of reality and forming a response to it that may or may not be informed by racism.

    Secondly, the fact that so many people identify the reduction of immigration as a solution rather than the ending of austerity is evidence that the left have lost (for now) the argument on austerity. I don’t see how branding all Brexiters as racists is going to help remedy that situation in any way.

    Matt

  56. John on said:

    Matt: people may have reasons for wanting to see immigration restricted that are not based on simply on racism. They are not mis-perceiving reality as a result of being blinded by their racism. They are seeing an aspect of reality and forming a response to it that may or may not be informed by racism.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, people suffering most from austerity have been persuaded that the answer is to retrict immigration rather than reverse austerity. This is a right wing argument which given the balance of political forces when it comes to Brexit has seen the pro Brexit left essentially giving it progressive cover and legitimacy.

    But the fact is this: racists don’t make any distinction between migrants and minorities, no matter how long they may have been in the country or if they were born here. All they hear is an argument that gives them license to abuse, demonize and attack more openly than otherwise.

    Of course 52 percent of Brexit voters are not conscious racists. But conscious racists now believe that 52 percent of the voting public either are or may be sympathetic to their views.

  57. jock mctrousers on said:

    Matt: Secondly, the fact that so many people identify the reduction of immigration as a solution rather than the ending of austerity is evidence that the left have lost (for now) the argument on austerity.

    Take it a bit further. Allow the possibility that most people aren’t stupid they know that ‘austerity’ is just some bullshit word that didn’t figure much in political talk until the last five years or so – it means effectively that the rich get more and the poor get less… same old, same old. Except that now there’s no organised opposition. And ‘the people’ can see that mass immigration is a way of undercutting wages and undermining attempts to rebuild a fighting labour movement. And (maybe for very different reasons) there is a movement with a high chance of success which offers to cut immigration… and there’s NO OTHER movement resisting austerity! GOT THAT? It’s not ‘ fight austerity or fight immigration’; it’s ‘fight austerity by opposing immigration, in the absence of any other outlet’ …

    But there IS another way to resist austerity – back Jeremy Corbyn, and try to replace the parliamentary Labour Party – tall order!

    Or there’s John Wight’s solution – support a Blairite leader of the Labour Party to collaborate with the Tories to overturn the referendum, and spank the white trash for their mean-spiritedness! It’s a no-brainer!

  58. George Hallam on said:

    John: Of course 52 percent of .. voters are not conscious racists.

    It would have been useful if you’d have said this in the first place.

    John: But conscious racists now believe that 52 percent of the voting public either are or may be sympathetic to their views.

    Again, It would have been useful if you’d have made this clear earlier.

    The advantage of a referendum is that it allows people to express an opinion on an issue directly, without giving support to any particular party or group. There is no room for tactical voting to influence the final outcome.

    The idea that one should worry about the effect the result of a referendum might have on the hopes of this or that fringe group is taking things a bit far, don’t you think?

  59. Vanya on said:

    jock mctrousers: Or there’s John Wight’s solution – support a Blairite leader of the Labour Party to collaborate with the Tories to overturn the referendum, and spank the white trash for their mean-spiritedness! It’s a no-brainer

    Yes, the division between those who run this blog has never been sharper.

    Btw John has yet another new mate. Good old Neil Kinnock. Neil can also boast of his humble working class origins and play that card.

  60. Vanya: I love all this anti-racism from people who believe in the inate progressiveness of allowing unlimited access to the country to people from most of Europe while making those who want to come here from places like Pakistan,Jamaica and Nigeria jump through hoops and while people from Syria or Afghanistan risk drowning in the Mediterranean.

    Those opposing free movement within the EU are certainly not advocating greater acceptance of immigrants and refugees from outside of Europe. In fact keeping refugees out of Britain was a major point of Brexit propaganda, as was the supposed threat of Turkey joining.

    A Brexit dominated by anti-immigration, to the exclusion of almost everything else, is not going to make either Britain or the EU less racist, but more.

  61. John on said:

    JN: A Brexit dominated by anti-immigration, to the exclusion of almost everything else, is not going to make either Britain or the EU less racist, but more.

    Precisely. The sheer desperation of the pro Brexit left is evidenced in the fatuous claim to be supporting Brexit in solidarity with non EU migrants.

  62. Vanya on said:

    JN,

    Sorry was anyone opposing free movement within the EU?

    If anyone was they must logically have been pro remain. Otherwise why would they be bothered?

  63. Vanya,

    You know exactly what I meant. The argument for leaving the EU was focused on the issue of free movement within the EU, of which Britain was and currently still is a member. Kindly don’t split hairs.

  64. Vanya on said:

    #75 If you can’t express yourself clearly that’s not my problem.

    I don’t feel inclined to give leeway to people who acuse me and others of being implicated in racism.

    And I don’t think pointing out that people from the third world don’t benefit from the same rights withi the EU as Europeans is splitting hairs..

    Btw I spent fair amount of time over the last week or so helping with an aid convoy to Calais, along with a few other panderers to to racism.

    If you support the EU you’re defending Fortress Europe, whether you like it or not. The referendum brought racism out of the woodwork, but that racism would have been n less of a problem if the vote had gone the other way.

    Perhaps if the more of left had been more concerned with exposing the class nature of the EU thancontributing to ridiculous myths about its progressive nature and worrying about who else was taking the same position as them, the problem wouldbe a lot less severe.

  65. Vanya,

    I’m not accusing you of anything, except maybe misunderstanding the situation. Don’t take everything so personally.

    The point is that a vote for Brexit under these particular circumstances was effectively a vote in favour of racism, not a vote against it, and that that racism is not confined to people from within the EU (Poles, Romanians, Slovakians, etc) but is equally directed at people from outside the EU (Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Turks, etc). Did you miss the “Breaking Point” and “Turkey” posters?

    Certainly the EU is deeply flawed, but a collapse led by the right to far-right can only lead to something even worse. Not every argument in politics is between good and bad; often they are between bad and significantly worse.

  66. John on said:

    Martin McGuiness “We are Irish Republicans and we believe that a Brexit vote strengthens the argument that we have made that the people in London, the people in Westminster, don’t care tuppence for the people here in the north of Ireland when they take the decision to have a referendum on the European Union – which has been so beneficial to the people of the north: unionists, nationalists and republicans – and they do it effectively on an agenda driven by a little Englander mentality and the extreme right wing of the Tory party.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14594938.Martin_McGuinness__Brexit___39_seriously_undermines__39__Good_Friday_Agreement/

  67. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jock mctrousersl: What has this got to do with leaving the near all-White EU?
    And I wonder if by ‘white supremacy’ you actually mean majority rule ? I personally, and I think this is true for the majority UK, have a cultural preference for a secular, nominal Protestant society. Do you accept our democratic right to assert our preference?

    Am I missing something here? Or rather are we missing something here? I’m pretty certain that John came back to jock yesterday and accused him of being an “Orange man” and now that comment has gone.

  68. George Hallam on said:

    jim mclean: On the anniversary of the Somme, Lions led by Donkies is a much used phrase,

    Criticism of the leadership of the British Arm has some basis, especially in relation to the planning of the Somme offensive.
    The slow progress made by the BEF on the Western Front is routinely taken as evidence of the innate superiority of the German nation in military affairs. This belief in German superiority made the collapse in late 1918 inexplicable except as the result of a conspiracy within Germany.

    This interpretation is the infamous Dolchstoßlegende, the.stab-in-the-back myth, that was a central feature of Nazi propaganda.

    Of course, I’m not suggesting that you are in any way sympathetic to Nazism. That would be totally unjustified. I’m just pointing out the danger of saying things that might encourage Nazis to interpret your words as sympathy for their views.

  69. John Grimshaw on said:

    anon,

    I said England and Wales because if the result still stands it’s likely that Scotland may leave the UK.

  70. John Grimshaw on said:

    By the way I thought that if you looked at the immigration figures .then despite the apparent pro-Eu bias, there was no real discrimination between EU and non EU migrants.

  71. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    John?

    What was the question?

    I was just applying the logic of “don’t do that because it will encourage [insert something you don’t like ]”

  72. Petter Matthews on said:

    The political alignment that Brexit highlights most clearly is that between the metropolitan liberals who backed Remain – what John Pilger referred to recently as an “insufferably patrician class” – and the institutions of imperialism including NATO, IMF and importantly, the EU. Why is it that these individuals who apparently consider themselves tolerant and open-minded, support an institution that dismembered Ukraine and has driven millions of working class Greeks into poverty? Jonathan Cook is correct when he refers to the ‘liberal pathology’ that drives these people to provide cover for expansionist wars and relentless EU austerity and privatisation.

    http://johnpilger.com/articles/why-the-british-said-no-to-europe

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/28/the-neoliberal-prison-brexit-hysteria-and-the-liberal-mind/

  73. anon on said:

    George Hallam on 2 July, 2016 at 4:10 pm said:

    ‘Quite a lot people, actually.

    Apart from those who liked the result, some would object on procedural grounds.’

    ###

    ‘Procedural grounds’ What does that mean? This isn’t a branch meeting in some obscure provincial backwater we’re talking about here. There is no procedural rule book. Parliament decides to have a second referendum. That’s it. Parliament is sovereign. Or are the Brexiters going to now argue that it isn’t? Might as well, they’ve backtracked on every other assertion and promise they made.

    ####

    ‘Life is just to complicated to keep reviewing decisions. That’s the only way to conduct an orderly meeting.’

    Joining the EU was probably the most important political decision the UK made in the second half of the 20th century. Leaving is likely to be the most important of the first half of the 21 st century. Given the wafer thin majority, the poll evidence of buyers regret, and the generally accepted view that people were misled, I don’t think it’s so outrageous to suggest a second referendum to ratify the first. What is there to be afraid of? The Brexiters demanded a referendum in the first place. Well, let”s spoil them and give them two.

    As for Scotland and the EU, the chronology would almost certainly have to be , UK leaves, negotiates terms, Indy Ref 2, assuming a yes vote (huge assumption) Scotland applies for membership. When you look at the fiscal requirements for Scotland joining, and the drastic austerity measures required for membership, it’s far from certain. Having said that I’ve nothing against people using the possibility as an argument against Brexit. People hoping for a Greater Britain and ending up with a little England.

  74. George Hallam on said:

    anon,

    Yes, this isn’t a branch meeting, there is no procedural rule book and Parliament could decide to hold a second referendum.

    However, if the referendum was just a consultation exercise then people will wonder why they weren’t told before.

    Alternatively, Parliament could claim that the result was “too close”. Fine, except that we regularly have general elections that are ‘close’.

    The election last year was decided by a magin of a few thousand votes in a dozen constituencies. On top of that we now know that the expenses rules were breached. So why no fresh elections? Answer: too disruptive; it would create too much uncertainty and, not least, it would create a bad president for future elections.

    If results could be set aside so easily then general elections would cease to deliver stable government (the standard justification for FPTP, and the objection to PR).

    Given that the British establishment have a massive credibility problem, then overturning this referendum would carry enormous risks.

    Of course, these days ‘Yes Minister’ has been replaced by ‘In The Thick of It’ so it may happen.

  75. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: Am I missing something here? Or rather are we missing something here? I’m pretty certain that John came back to jock yesterday and accused him of being an “Orange man” and now that comment has gone.

    .
    Well, that wouldn’t suprise me. But the short story is I support the Good Friday Agreement. The ‘cultural’ balance is obviously vastly different in NI. And that is a pretty good example of where not to go – when there is no clear cultural hegemon (if you like) there’s more scope for replacing class politics with a sort of communitarianism, which ultimately only serves the rich.

  76. anon on said:

    George Hallam,

    You talk about the result of the referendum being overturned and set aside.

    That’s misrepresenting what I’m suggesting.

    If there’s a second referendum no one would be forced to change their vote.

    People would be able to vote again on the same issue and presumably would be better informed.

    Those who, for whatever reason, didn’t vote the first time round and who had come to regret that, would have a chance to take part.

    Those who decided to stick it to the man by voting leave, assuming there was no chance of a Brexit victory, could have another go.

    If the result is different it would supersede the first. That’s democracy.

    If the Brexiteres are so sure that people still want to leave, now that some of the lies have been exposed, what do they have to fear from a second referendum?

  77. George Hallam on said:

    anon,

    You’re misrepresenting what I’m saying.

    Holding a second referendum will have serious consequences, not least it will further undermine the credibility of the establishment.

    If they want to do that, then so be it.

  78. John Haylett on said:

    anon,

    Nothing at all and, of course, it’s entirely compatible with the EU ethos of rerunning referendums that return unwelcome verdicts. If we don’t like the result of a second referendum, why not hold a third, fourth and so on?

    In fact, why not extend the principle to scheduling weekly general elections to accommodate the feeling of losing parties that they could have done better if some facts had been better known or because some people who voted one way might be disposed to voting differently next week?

    On the other hand, we could just accept that a political choice was offered and a decision made, but that might be a bit radical.

  79. George Hallam on said:

    John Haylett:
    anon
    In fact, why not extend the principle to scheduling weekly general elections to accommodate the feeling of losing parties that they could have done better if some facts had been better known or because some people who voted one way might be disposed to voting differently next week?

    We should watch out for this one. There is nothing like Weimar-style political paralysis to get people to see the need for a ‘strong man’.

  80. John on said:

    John Haylett: On the other hand, we could just accept that a political choice was offered and a decision made, but that might be a bit radical.

    It was a political choice informed by lies and anti immigrant and racist propaganda. No thanks. Not for me or for millions of others, who choose to stand with migrants and minorities instead of throwing them under the bus in service to a British Road to Socialism doctrine that is wholly and completely incompatible with the concrete material conditions that obtain in 2016.

  81. John Haylett on said:

    John: It was a political choice informed by lies and anti immigrant and racist propaganda.

    So you not only know why you cast your own vote but also the basis on which everyone taking a different position decided to do so. Pretty impressive, John.

    Fortunately, it’s not up to you to exclude many comrades who have been active in internationalist and anti-racist politics for decades from such struggles.
    John Haylett,

  82. John Haylett on said:

    George Hallam: There is nothing like Weimar-style political paralysis to get people to see the need for a ‘strong man’.

    Are you volunteering, George?

  83. andy newman on said:

    Vanya:
    The key demand is clear- for a general election asap.

    I am not sure at the moment whether that would just lead to the annihilation of the Labour Party

  84. John Haylett: the EU ethos of rerunning referendums that return unwelcome verdicts. If we don’t like the result of a second referendum, why not hold a third, fourth and so on?

    EU democracy

    1992 Denmark: Maastricht Treaty defeated . . . made to vote again
    2001 Ireland: Nice Treaty defeated . . . made to vote again
    2005 France: EU constitution defeated . . . result ignored
    2005 Netherlands: EU constitution defeated . . . result ignored
    2008 Ireland: Lisbon Treaty defeated . . . made to vote again
    2015 Greece: “Bail-out” defeated . . . result ignored

  85. George Hallam on said:

    andy newman: I am not sure at the moment whether that would just lead to the annihilation of the Labour Party

    I think that what you mean is the annihilation of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

    Vanya:
    The key demand is clear- for a general election asap.

    I agree.

  86. George Hallam on said:

    John Haylett: Are you volunteering, George?

    I’m hors de combat at the moment.

    However, I’m happy to be your economic adviser should you take on the role.

  87. John Haylett: So you not only know why you cast your own vote but also the basis on which everyone taking a different position decided to do so. Pretty impressive, John.

    Fortunately, it’s not up to you to exclude many comrades who have been active in internationalist and anti-racistpolitics for decades from such struggles.
    John Haylett,

    This is what leading Indian marxist economist Prabhat Patnaik has to say about the referendum and the delusions of the ‘left wing’ Remainers
    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/brexit-a-revolt-against-the-hegemony-of-globalised-finance/

  88. John on said:

    John Haylett: So you not only know why you cast your own vote but also the basis on which everyone taking a different position decided to do so. Pretty impressive, John.

    John, this referendum took place in a right wing and reactionary political context. The result just a week after the result is inarguably a victory for the right and the far right. Osborne now talking about slashing corporation tax, May refusing to guarantee the status of EU migrants, a spike in racist incidents, a hate campaign unleashed against the Polish community, a ramping up of attacks on Muslims. There is zero victory for the left in this. On the contrary it has unleashed a carnival of reaction.

    For all my strong feeling on it, I know you to be a principled socialist and serious thinker, as are other members of the CPB and Morning Star group. This is why I am so aggrieved. I really feel that the political and Marxist compass of the CPB, usually so precise and solid, has gone awry when it comes to Europe; guilty of adding their conclusion to the concrete situation instead of drawing it from the concrete situation.

    I disagree that we should accept this result and plough ahead with Article 50. I advocate the reverse not only in solidarity with migrants and minorities, but also with the most alienated section of the so-called white working class who will undoubtedly be the biggest victims of Brexit going forward.

  89. John: a victory for the right and the far right.

    Confusion reigns here as to which right wing is more reactionary and which among them is victorious.
    Following the vote it is clearly the big business, big bank, City of London, finance capital tendency that is the defeated ‘progressive tendency’ in our ruling class. We can set aside their unyeilding austerity policies, their racist immigration controls, their imperial wars, their anti trade union laws, their social security cuts because not only are their manners so much better than the Brexit lot but they share our liberal life style values, cosmopolitan tastes and foreign travel preferences.
    The real reactionaries are the other lot. So much more right wing.

  90. Andy newman on said:

    George Hallam,

    Obliteration of the parliamentary party would destroy the peculiar beast that is the Labour Party itself. Of course it would not destroy the labour movement , but I am old fashioned enough to think that the potential eradication of the Labour Party would be a terrible defeat

  91. Nick Wright,

    A key point in the argument of this article is:

    ‘According to one report, as many as 63 percent of Labour voters, voted against remaining in the EU. ‘

    In fact it was the other way round.

  92. George Hallam on said:

    Ken MacLeod:

    ‘According to one report, as many as 63 percent of Labour voters, voted against remaining in the EU. ‘

    In fact it was the other way round.

    Correct.

    But have you taken in the significance of this?

    The Labour now so small that, despite retaining the support of six out of ten of its voters for its official policy, it was in minority in income groups what are usually regarded as ‘solidly Labour’.

  93. John Haylett on said:

    John: I really feel that the political and Marxist compass of the CPB, usually so precise and solid, has gone awry when it comes to Europe

    John, it’s precisely because of our preference for the substance of Marxist analysis over superficial appearance that Communists in Britain have consistently opposed the European Union as the institutionally undemocratic, anti-socialist bloc that it is. You and I have crossed swords on this issue on other links over recent weeks so there’s probably no need for me to reiterate previously rehearsed arguments.

    However, to touch on a point that you and Andy make elsewhere on SU — about the overwhelming acceptance of multiculturalism and anti-racism among the younger generation — I agree entirely.

    Like many families in Britain, especially in cities and towns, ours reflects the racial changes of recent decades and younger family members have grown up in a hothouse of anti-racist socialist ideas. They discussed the referendum with friends of their own age and, for the most part, backed Remain because they identified that camp with anti-racism, especially since Jeremy Corbyn and co were in it and people like Farage weren’t.

    There was little attention paid in the referendum campaign to Fortress Europe where free movement within the EU bloc is matched by fences set up to prevent entry by people fleeing poverty and war in Asia and Africa. The dirty deal with Ankara to prevent asylum-seekers even reaching Europe — and returning them to Turkey if they succeeded in doing so — sums up the racist fortress.

    I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to persuade all my younger family members to vote with me, but I’m pleased with the reasons for their choice. And equally happy that they made their own minds up and took the trouble to vote. I remain eternally optimistic.

  94. Vanya on said:

    #110 “There was little attention paid in the referendum campaign to Fortress Europe where free movement within the EU bloc is matched by fences set up to prevent entry by people fleeing poverty and war in Asia and Africa. The dirty deal with Ankara to prevent asylum-seekers even reaching Europe — and returning them to Turkey if they succeeded in doing so — sums up the racist fortress.”

    Exactly. In fact whenever I raised this issue with supporters of remain they either changed the subject, acknowledged that the EU is as bad as I said it was on this and every other issue, but still held to the mantra that in present circumstances it would be the wrong time to leave, or on a couple of occasions justified it on the grounds for one of them (a trade union branch secretary) that
    we have more in common with Europe than we do with Africa etc (hmmm!) and the other, that they wanted to be able to travel and work in Europe but had no interest in going elsewhere.

    Btw I’m pleased to say that the first of my neighbours (I live in social housing in a culturally diverse working class area of Manchester) who I spoke to after the result, a young muslim Asian Unison steward was literally beaming with happiness at the result, and the only member of my family who I know voted for out is a nephew who is black African, although brought up for most of his life in this country.

    Maybe he was influenced by the experience a few years ago of a woman we both know and her husband who had a child when working in Africa. Both were British through parentage and had lived for most of their lives in Britain, but had been born in Africa. They couldn’t return to Britain with their child because he was not, in spite of parentage a British citizen until they applied for citizenship for him. If you substitute “Africa” for “Asia” or “Latin America” etc the experience would have been the same. Substitute “the EU” and it would have been very different.

    And if they had to jump through a few hoops imagine what migrant workers from outside the EU have to do.

    Admittedly these anecdotes represent a minority experience and I’m sure the perceptions of what this referendum was about affected the way people voted on either side.

    If you saw white racists voting out and you’re an anti racist or a member of an ethnic minority you were, in the absence of a proper understanding of the nature of the EU, likely to vote accordingly.

    Most white racists voted against a racist institution and many anti-racists voted for it. Which just goes to show why making decisions about politics based on who you want to be on the same side as is not always the best instinct to follow.

    That said, I have no reason to want to fall out with people who took a different position from myself or others on this issue, and most of the people I work with feel the same way.

  95. Vanya on said:

    #111 I should have specified in my final paragraph, those I work with politically.

  96. Vanya: acknowledged that the EU is as bad as I said it was on this and every other issue, but still held to the mantra that in present circumstances it would be the wrong time to leave

    And they were absolutely correct.

    The movement for Brexit was overwhelmingly defined by anti-immigration, focusing both on migrant workers from Eastern Europe AND refugees from outside the EU (particularly Syrians) and on the possibility of Turkey one day joining.

    Once again, did you somehow manage to miss the open racism (and particularly Islamophobia) of the campaign for Brexit, typified by the “Breaking Point” and “Turkey has a population of 76 million” posters? Did you miss the political murder of Jo Cox by a racist and fascist? Did you miss the increase in racist intimidation and violence since the referendum?

    It is senseless to oppose something bad by supporting something worse, which is what anyone who voted for Brexit, under the circumstances, did. However bad the EU is, a collapse of the EU dominated by the far-right (UKIP, FN, AfD, Jobbik, etc) can only be worse, just as however bad the Tories are, UKIP/EDL/etc are obviously worse.

    ‘Lexit’ was the very definition of ‘ultra-leftism’: stupidity masquerading as radicalism.

    The only sensible position for the left to take UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES was that taken by Corbyn and Varoufakis: a nuanced, critical support for Remain.

  97. Vanya on said:

    JN: It is senseless to oppose something bad by supporting something worse

    But there wasn’t something worse.

    Were we voting to put Farage or fascist assassins into power?

    This wasn’t an election for a government.

    The likely new leader of the Tory Party and therefore PM, unless we have a general election soon, is someone who supported remain and who ideally wants to get Britain out of the ECHR but admits that’s not possible, and who thought sending vans round high immigrant areas telling people to go home was a great idea.

    Exactly the same in the short term as would be the case if “your” side had won.

    Clearly we knew that there would be reactionaries campaigning for leave, which is why a separate left, anti racist leave campaign was launched.

    If the left generally had been more concerned with the reality of the EU and less with worrying what elements of the right were saying we might have been in a different position. Thankfully Corbyn’s essential left euroscepticism is understood by people who voted both ways for what in reality were positive motives. One of the reasons he is best placed to be Labour leader and PM.

    The EU is what it is and the fact that some pretty nasty people shared the view that we should get out was in no way a reason to ignore what it is. When the Chilcott findings are revealed tomorrow remember that Tony Blair was desperate for us to vote to remain in the EU.

    And remember that Cameron was as desperate to take us to war with Syria as he was to stay in the EU.

    For the same reason that JC and John McD refused to share platforms with pro remain tories, and respect to them for that.

    Btw I did not “miss” the murder of Jo Cox. Far from it. I was horrified and deeply saddened by it. I put off doing political work the next few days around the referendum out of respect for the call that went out and felt seriously concerned for the safety of local women MPs who I know.

    And I know people who knew Jo Cox personally and I’m as pissed off now as I was at the time at people using her murder to score political points.

    As well as being pro-EU she was also a friend of the Palestinians and someone who put her life on the line on several occasions in the Middle East and for that if no other reason her memory should be honoured.

    You accused me of taking things personally in an earlier comment. Well strangely enough having my politics even vaguely linked to something like this murder I take more personally than I probably should, but there you go.

  98. Vanya,

    Honestly, as I also said, I’m not accusing you of anything. I do think you were wrong to vote for Brexit (again, under the specific circumstances), but what’s done is done. And of course, there were absolutely terrible people on both sides of the referendum (Tony Blair or Nigel Farage. Therefore that argument is moot).

    Neither side of the referendum was really positive for the left. It was status quo against something worse.

    There was and still is something worse than the existing EU, which is the collapse of the EU under the leadership of the right/far-right. Just as the Weimar Republic was undoubtedly bad but still objectively infinitely better than the Third Reich.

    Regarding the murder of Jo Cox, I am not at all trying to score points, and I suspect she would actually have been on the other side regarding Corbyn’s continuing as leader of the Labour Party, not that it really matters.

    However, I do think her murder was symptomatic of the mood of the far-right during and after the referendum, as was the vandalism of the memorial to Michael Foot (with swastikas and the initials of the BNP and EDL), and the “Polish vermin out” leaflets and so on. As far as they’re concerned we are all just “traitors”, “commies”, and “cultural Marxists”. They aren’t making distinctions.

  99. George Hallam on said:

    John: a national government is not neccessary

    Today there were two letters in the Guardian calling for a national government.

  100. George Hallam: Today there were two letters in the Guardian calling for a national government.

    Oh, no doubt at all, the ‘Love-Me-I’m-A-Liberal’s ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw ) at the Guardian would like nothing more than a “National Government”. Polly Toynbee probably regards Ramsay McDonald as Labour’s greatest leader, a real “pragmatist”.

    Then the Guardian will make all sorts of left-wing noises as long as there’s no danger of anything actually coming of it. They’ll probably start publishing articles by Seumas Milne and Richard Seymour again, in addition to doubling their demand for articles by Laurie Penny, Gary Younge, and Owen Jones (that isn’t a criticism of any of those writers but of the Guardian, to be absolutely clear). Because the paper’s editorial policy is to the left as long as it doesn’t really matter, but unmistakably to the right if it looks like the left are anywhere near actual influence.

  101. George Hallam on said:

    JN,

    I agree.
    And nicely put too. You have the Guardian to a T.

    A national government would create lots of opportunities but it would also make things very difficult in the short term.

    These difficulties would be acute if people were unprepared and doubly so if the justification for such a unity government was to do something the Left had been campaigning for.

  102. Vanya on said:

    #118 I agree George, although I would make that, ‘something the majority of the Left had been campaigning for.”

    As a significant section of the Left, yourself included, were not.

  103. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya:
    #118 I agree George, although I would make that, ‘something the majority of theLeft had been campaigning for.”

    As ever, you are right.

    Correction accepted.

  104. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya:

    .. a significant section of the Left, yourself included.

    Of course, I should have said “mostly right”.

    Nobody, not even your good self, is perfect.

  105. Andy Newman on said:

    JN: Polly Toynbee probably regards Ramsay McDonald as Labour’s greatest leader, a real “pragmatist”.

    he opposed the First World War

  106. Vanya on said:

    JN: There was and still is something worse than the existing EU, which is the collapse of the EU under the leadership of the right/far-right. Just as the Weimar Republic was undoubtedly bad but still objectively infinitely better than the Third Reich.

    I’ll put together a detailed refutation as to why that analogy is fundamentally flawed as soon as I have the time and opportunity, but I’ll say for now that it is really awful.

  107. Andy Newman: he [Ramsay MacDonald] opposed the First World War

    And credit to him for that. He got something right and showed some courage in maintaining that position. Even so, the rest of his career….

  108. Vanya,

    It wasn’t intended as any kind of detailed comparison. The sole point of it was that an existing political system might be bad, might be fundamentally flawed, but that some of the possible alternatives can still be much worse, and that it would be foolish to support something worse as an alternative to something bad. That point stands (indeed it should be obvious, it should go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn’t) and is relevant to so-called ‘Lexit’.

  109. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam,

    Just finished reading “The Balfour Declaration” by Jonathan Schneer. I recommend it. Whilst not perfect, but then what is, it is a fascinating read and confirms what we knew anyway. The British establishment are responsible for the whole mess in the Middle East.

  110. John Grimshaw on said:

    Allegedly. But we do know it was used against the ottomans unsuccessfully in the second battle of gaza. Churchill of course was in favour.

  111. Petter Matthews on said:

    JN: an existing political system might be bad, might be fundamentally flawed, but that some of the possible alternatives can still be much worse, and that it would be foolish to support something worse as an alternative to something bad.

    This conservative view of things has been used to try and frustrate and demoralise every progressive movement throughout history. Similar things were whispered in the ears of the levellers, chartists and assorted peacemongers – don’t dare challenge power, wealth and privilege because you will only end up worse off.

    And thanks for pointing out the ‘bleeding obvious’ that it would be “foolish to support something worse as an alternative to something bad”, but that is not what Lexit was about. Yes, we don’t precisely determine history, so logically “some of the possible alternatives can be much worse”, but we were were campaigning on a clearly articulated programme for a better future.

  112. George Hallam on said:

    Petter Matthews: Similar things were whispered in the ears of the levellers, chartists and assorted peacemongers – don’t dare challenge power, wealth and privilege because you will only end up worse off.

    There was a boy whose name was Jim
    His friends were very good to him
    They gave him tea and cakes and jam
    And slices of delicious ham
    And chocolate with pink inside
    And little tricycles to ride
    They read him stories through and through
    And even took him to the zoo
    But there it was the awful fate
    Befell him, which I now relate
    You know (at least you ought to know
    For I have often told you so)
    That children never are allowed
    To leave their nurses in a crowd
    Now this was Jim’s especial foible
    He ran away when he was able
    And on this inauspicious day
    He slipped his hand and ran away
    He hadn’t gone a yard when BANG
    With open jaws a lion sprang
    And hungrily began to eat
    The boy, beginning at his feet


    The lion having reached his head
    The miserable boy was dead
    When nurse informed his parents they
    Were more concerned than I can say
    His mother as she dried her eyes
    Said “It gives me no surprise
    He would not do as he was told.”
    His father who was self-controlled
    Bade all the children round attend
    To James’s miserable end.
    And always keep ahold of nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.

  113. Vanya on said:

    With all the discussion about opinion polls I was interested to read in an email from Hope not Hate that 80 odd percent of the British public support the right of existing EU immigrants to remain here post Brexit, that this is supported by the majority of Brexit voters and includes over 50% of UKIP voters.

    Anyone know the source of these figures?

  114. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: Type?
    Method of delivery?
    Date?
    Location?
    Source?

    There is little evidence that gas was actually used or, if it was, that the gas involved was lethal and not tear gas.[citation needed][clarification needed] In March and July, 1992, United States Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez, speaking in the House of Representatives, claimed that Britain used gas against the Kurds.[3][4]

    The main source usually quoted in support of the idea that Britain used poison gas in Mesopotamia is Geoff Simons, Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam (1994), who says “gas was used against the Iraqi rebels in 1920.”[5] In the third edition of his book, Iraq: From Sumer to post-Saddam (2004) Simons wrote: “In the event, gas was used against the Iraqi rebels in 1920 with ‘excellent moral effect’, though gas shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties.”[6]

    Another historian, Lawrence James, says, “By September the local commander, General Sir Aylmer Haldane, was beginning to get the upper hand, although he was still desperate enough to clamour for large supplies of poison gas. It was not needed, for air power had given his forces the edge whenever the going got tough”.[7] On whether gas was used he writes that: “RAF Officers asked Churchill… for use of poison gas. He agreed but it was not used”.[8]

    Niall Ferguson, in his 2006 book The War of the World, writes: “To end the Iraqi Insurgency of 1920 . . . the British relied on a combination of aerial bombardment and punitive village burning expeditions. Indeed, they even contemplated using mustard gas too, though supplies proved unavailable”.[9] Anthony Clayton writes in The Oxford History of the British Empire that “[T]he use of poisonous gas was never sanctioned”.[10]

    A December 2009 article in the Journal of Modern History by R.M. Douglas of Colgate University went through the known sources and concluded that: “[W]hile at various moments tear gas munitions were available in Mesopotamia, circumstances seeming to call for their use existed, and official sanction to employ them had been received, at no time during the period of the mandate did all three of these conditions apply”, and that it was clear that no poison gas was used. Douglas observed that Churchill’s forceful statement had served to convince observers of the existence of weapons of mass destruction which were not actually there, which ironically matched events in 2003.[11]

  115. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: Type?
    Method of delivery?
    Date?
    Location?
    Source?

    From New Zealand History.
    Three of the EEF’s infantry divisions, the 52nd (Lowland), 53rd (Welsh) and 54th (East Anglia), would attack together in a set-piece frontal assault, supported by as much firepower as Murray could scrape together. Extensions to the British railhead from El Arish allowed him to add 16 heavy guns to his artillery brigades’ 92 18-pounder field guns and 24 4.5-inch howitzers. Gaza’s proximity to the Mediterranean coast enabled naval support from the French coastal defence ship Requin and two Royal Navy monitors. Murray also managed to get a shipment of eight tanks and 4000 gas shells from the United Kingdom. This would be the first time that gas was used in the Middle Eastern theatre.

  116. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Thank you so much for your work on this.

    Some years ago I looked for a source for the use of gas in post-1918 Mesopotamia, Your research has been far more extensive. I take my hat off to you.

  117. George Hallam on said:

    In France in the 30’s there were people who thought, “Better Hitler than Blum”.

    Today in the Labour Party could it be that there is a sentiment, “Better May than Corbyn”?

  118. George Hallam on said:

    “I want to see an energy policy that emphasises the reliability of supply and lower costs for users. A better research and development policy that helps firms to make the right investment decisions. More Treasury-backed project bonds for new infrastructure projects. More house building. A proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing. And a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them.”

    “A proper industrial strategy .. should be capable of stepping in to defend a sector that is as important as pharmaceuticals is to Britain.”

    Perhaps there are some Conservatives who would prefer Corbyn to May.

  119. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam:
    John Grimshaw,

    Thank you so much for your work on this.

    Some years ago I looked for a source for the use of gas in post-1918 Mesopotamia, Your research has been far more extensive. I take my hat off to you.

    Thank you for this George. It has been widely assumed that the British used gas in Mespotamia and indeed I believed that they had. It now seems likely that this was a misunderstanding or a rumour put about by the Americans. Churchill was clear about wanting to use gas (including mustard) but it seems that it never happened because the British didn’t have the stocks. As far as I can tell this is not 100% conclusive but no-one’s saying. I had been told many years ago that the Brits used gas from airplanes but it now seems this was definetly not true because it was not technically possible.

    On the other hand it was definitely used in Palestine two years previously.

  120. John Grimshaw: I had been told many years ago that the Brits used gas from airplanes but it now seems this was definetly not true because it was not technically possible.

    Some many years ago I read in an official history published by the RAF that they had used gas in Mesopotamia. I have no reference to quote, and it was not a scholraly work, so it may have been itself reflecting common sense understanding

  121. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam,

    Indeed.

    It’s all getting very confusing. Eagle is Remain and seems to want to overturn the democratically decided decision of the British people. She later yesterday backed down on this and said that she thought delaying as long as possible was the best plan. She made the weird claim that this would be the best strategy in order to defend Labours heartlands from Tory ravages, despite the fact that it seems likely that the very people she was seeking to “defend” were the self same ones that had voted for Brexit. Corbyn on the other hand has made it clear that he will respect the decision and support the invocation of clause 50 straight away. Which is no surprise as we all know he is lukewarm. That being said May was Remain but is in charge of a Euro-sceptic party and she has said she is supporting Out. From what I can see there’s quite a lot of Tory voters who are not happy with May because they wanted Brexit prime minister.

  122. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Similarly, Wing-Commander Gale, also of 30 Squadron: ‘If the Kurds hadn’t learned by our example to behave themselves in a civilised way then we had to spank their bottoms. This was done by bombs and guns’.

    Wing-Commander Sir Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris, head of wartime Bomber Command) was happy to emphasise that ‘The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.’ It was an easy matter to bomb and machine-gun the tribespeople, because they had no means of defence or retaliation. Iraq and Kurdistan were also useful laboratories for new weapons; devices specifically developed by the Air Ministry for use against tribal villages. The ministry drew up a list of possible weapons, some of them the forerunners of napalm and air-to-ground missiles:

    Phosphorus bombs, war rockets, metal crowsfeet [to maim livestock] man-killing shrapnel, liquid fire, delayed-action bombs. Many of these weapons were first used in Kurdistan”.

    Again not conclusive though.

  123. John Grimshaw on said:

    After the war, the Royal Air Force dropped diphenyl chloroarsine, an irritant agent designed to cause uncontrollable coughing, on Bolshevik troops in 1919,..

    Not Mespotamia mind.

  124. John Grimshaw on said:

    I have looked at loads of sources now about this Mespotamia gas bombing. I am not convinced that the Brits did use gas in the Kurdish uprising either on land or air. They clearly intended to but the uprising had already been suppressed. Which arguably is nearly as bad. I think like I said before it has been assumed the Brits had either because of rumours being put about, or because various British leaders publicly spoke about. The British Left has assumed that gas bombs were used presumably because it fits in with there schema.