Scottish independence is now a necessary antidote to the reactionary beast of Brexit

by John Wight

scottish-independenceIt was already the case that the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon was the only political leader to emerge from the Brexit debacle with any credibility. During her initial public statement after the result of the EU referendum was confirmed on June 24, she extended the hand of friendship to EU migrants and other immigrants living and working in Scotland, assuring them they were welcome and would remain so. It was a powerful statement of solidarity with people who’d found themselves reduced to the status of ‘the other’ during the course of a political campaign over Britain’s membership of the EU that plumbed new depths of indecency and mendacity. Strip away the embroidery and Brexit was driven by a tidal wave of xenophobic and British/English nativist hysteria, whipped by the the right wing of the Tory Party and UKIP.

Now, four months on, Sturgeon has placed the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence back on the table, at the very point at which Brexit starts to make its presence felt economically and politically. In this the SNP leader’s hand has been forced by a Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is no mood to compromise when it comes to wrenching Scotland out of the single market, regardless of the fact she has no mandate to do so.

As someone who opposed Scottish independence in 2014, writing numerous articles and appearing in public debates to put the case for unity across the UK on the basis of class, rather than division on the basis of nationality, I now believe that independence for Scotland is not only desirable but necessary. Not only is it necessary in the interests of people in Scotland, but even more significantly it is necessary in order to lift the banner of progressive politics out of the mud, where it currently lies, and raise it as a beacon of hope across a European continent engulfed by the ugly politics of racial and national exceptionalism to an extent not seen since the 1930s.

It is now inarguable that the dominant political culture in Scotland is at odds with its counterpart in England. Even while opposing independence in 2014, I did so while acknowledging the progressive character of a Yes campaign that was a tribute to political engagement, progessive ideas, and discourse. It was inclusive, idealistic, and driven by hope and the expectation of something better, more humane and just than the Westminster status quo. Compare this with the ugliness of Brexit and how it unleashed a poisonous anti-immigrant and triumphalist white British nationalism, legitimising xenophobia as a political current.

If anybody had allowed themselves to believe that this explosion of right wing reaction was merely an aberration, the Tory Party conference in Birmingham confirmed it is the new normal. With their verbal broadside against immigration, Theresa May and the Tories have aligned themselves with the working class rump that constitutes the British jobs for British workers crew — a demographic won to the fallacious argument that dwindling public services and the assault on jobs, wages, and conditions of the past six years is due to immigration and free movement rather than Tory austerity. The Tory Party conference confirmed that Brexit Britain has set sail for the 19th century, back to a time when Britain ruled the waves and Johnny Foreigner knew his rightful place as a lesser breed of a lesser culture.

Whether we care to admit it or not, the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence raised and awoke a national consciousness that is not going back to sleep anytime soon. It dictates that politics in Scotland is now viewed through this national prism, with Brexit likewise raising its British and English counterpart. The result is that politics across Scotland and the UK has been distilled into a choice between two competing nationalisms.

Who in their right mind, either north or south of the border, could possibly argue which of the two is the more progressive? When the late Jimmy Reid said, “Nationalism is like electricity; it can kill a man in the electric chair or keep a baby alive in an incubator,” he could have been describing the fundamental difference between the nationalist current that has taken root north of the border and its counterpart south of the border.

As for Jeremy Corbyn, his attempt to return the Labour Party to something approximating to its founding values has only served to confirm that it is a party doomed to disunity and internecine war for years to come.

But even if that were not the case, it is too late for Corbyn to have any serious impact on politics in Scotland. The test of political leadership is one he failed during the EU referendum, fighting a dispassionate and lacklustre campaign of a type consistent with allegations that he wilfully sought to sabotage Remain and in truth supported Brexit. And even if he did not sabotage Labour’s campaign to remain, he inarguably failed to understand the true character of this Brexit beast, which is unforgiveable for someone widely considered the most progressive leader Labour has ever had.

The question now, then, is not if there will be another referendum on Scottish independence, but when. The case made in the 2014 White Paper was nowhere near strong enough and will have to be reconfigured in light of the proven volatility of oil prices and the need to rethink the issue of a national currency. Overall, the vision needs to be more radical and bold, signifying a clear break with the status quo politically, economically, constitutionally, and, not to be underestimated, also morally and ethically. Key, too,will be the role of the EU in supporting the prospect of an independent Scotland as a member of an EU that is long overdue for reform. If the Scottish government receives a pre-guarantee in this regard it will be game on.

Scottish independence is now the last redoubt behind which everyone across the UK who believes in human solidarity, internationalism, and a multicultural society must gather to stem the rising tide of Brexit poison that threatens to drown us all.

This article originally appeared at the Huffington Post

142 comments on “Scottish independence is now a necessary antidote to the reactionary beast of Brexit

  1. jim mclean on said:

    Nope, the poison of Brexit burst a small pimple, for a few weeks/months the nutters will make hay, the reality is that the Brexit vote was, in its simplicity, a vote against austerity, now that the falsehood of the Boris/UKIP campaign is laid open to the public, the Sunderland working class have realised Nissan cannot remain, many that voted Brexit have changed their minds, no new money for NHS, we will have to pay to access the European Market, I understand the remain support is now around 60%, Brexit is wrong. Remain will not correct the democratic deficit , to leave will increase it. I feel no hesitance in calling the Scottish National Party a corporate fascist entity, it was founded as such part of the Romantic Fascist movement and Salmond and Sturgeon have done nothing to allay my fears. Patrick Harvie today laid to rest the last hope of a progressive movement in Scotland with the proposition that Scottish Nationalism is superior to English Nationalism. RISE Scotland were hammered at the polls with the alliance of Aberdeen Alcoholics using the the National Front label beat them on the lists. Lets just stop Brexit. Theresa May is an individual without political depth, if she is scared of a dozen Brexiteers in her cabinet, she will call a second referendum when a million take to the streets.

  2. Strategist on said:

    Great stuff, John, welcome to the team.

    I personally felt that what you are saying now was true back in 2014, and supported Yes.

    Although I disagreed with you back then, I always thought you held a principled position and argued it well. It’s a big thing to say you’ve changed your position, and you’ve said why clearly. I don’t know if you’ll get any stick as a turncoat but the riposte is as Keynes said: When the facts change, I change my mind: what do you do, sir?

  3. jim mclean on said:

    My jackboot and your jackboot
    Were sittin’ by the fire.
    My jackboot told your jackboot
    “I’m gonna set your flag on fire”

    My Country and your Country
    Were sittin’ by the fire.
    My Country told your Country
    “I’m gonna set your flag on fire”

    Look at my king all dressed in red Iko, Iko, unday.
    I betcha five dollars he’ll kill you dead
    Jock a man no free ?

    cannae fuckin believe this shite, am an old man with nothing to gain or lose except to tell my kids and grandkids if you wrap yourself up in a flag or base your politics on where your mother or faither had a shag yer talkin Blood and Soil and nothing else

  4. Andy Newman on said:

    I think the polaridation implied here is too stark.

    London, Bristol and other cities voted Remain.

    Many scots voted Leave, and both genuine concerns about immigration and also unalloyed racism exist in Scotland same as England.

    Srurgeon and Salmon remain opportunists.

  5. Andy Newman on said:

    Also worth noting that two very English people, Lilly Allen and Gary Lineker, have made a tremendous impact in defence of refugees, and there has been an overwhelming wave of solidarity with them

  6. jim mclean on said:

    Wow Snakebites and Anti-Depressants do not mix will have to bring back my self imposed ban on posting when pissed but In vino veritas. Somewhere in Scotland a progressive anit nationalst voice must form and defend those who speak out against the more threatening Nationalist members, people like Smart, Dasley and JK Rowling deserve more support. I do see the support for separation has fallen to around 40% and simply if to protect the Peace Process in Ireland we must oppose the introduction of Hard Borders. Our first job is to reverse the opposition to Brexit and ensure article 50 is not imposed, and to use logic and the democratic process to do so.

  7. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: also unalloyed racism exist in Scotland

    Really ?! The Scots be Racist ?! Well, I never……They’ve always struck me as such liberal and tolerant bunch !!

  8. jim mclean on said:

    Jellytot,

    We are really are a very tolerant bunch so you pay no heed to the English Fenian Orange Paki bastards that belittle us as they are just jealous of that tolerance

  9. Andy Newman: Many scots voted Leave, and both genuine concerns about immigration and also unalloyed racism exist in Scotland same as England.

    Every one of Scotland’s 32 local councils recorded a majority Remain vote, which broke down into 62% Remain as opposed to 38% Brexit. This is a decisive majority.

    Yes, I agree, unalloyed racism undeniably exists in Scotland, but in the article I talk about the “dominant political culture,” which was reflected in the Brexit statement by Nicola Sturgeon that I reference.

    I don’t think there is any doubt as to the different character of the separatist movement from the UK in Scotlandand its British equivalent from the EU. There are of course regional factors at play also, but the dominant political trajectory is undeniably rightward, xenophobic, and regressive.

  10. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean:
    Jellytot,

    We are really are a very tolerant bunchso you pay no heed to the English Fenian Orange Paki bastards that belittle us as they are just jealous of thattolerance

    Absolutely! Their essential joie de vivre and ” Live and Let Live” attitude is visible at every Old Firm game.

  11. When looking for an “foreign” scapegoat to blame for their problems, small-minded English bigots will tend to choose Europe. Their Scottish equivalents will tend to choose England. It’s just a matter of scale.

  12. John: I don’t think there is any doubt as to the different character of the separatist movement from the UK in Scotlandand its British equivalent from the EU.

    Scotland separating from Britain is not ‘equivalent’ to Britain leaving the European Union. Britain is a state to which the voters in Scotland only recently voted to remain part of. The European Union is not a state.
    Although, of course, both conscious Euro-federalists (and perhaps unconscious ones) would like it to be so.

  13. Nick Wright: Scotland separating from Britain is not ‘equivalent’ to Britain leaving the European Union. Britain is a state to which the voters in Scotland only recently voted to remain part of.

    Voters in Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014, two years prior to the eruption of British/English nationalism occurred south of the border in the shape of Brexit. And as I write in the piece, the first referendum on Scottish independence awoke a national consciousness that isn’t going to sleep anytime soon.

    Of the two there is no doubt that this national consciousness in Scotland, expressed through the prism of a Yes campaign that was/is inclusive, internationalist, and underpinned by solidarity across national borders, is far more progressive than its British/national counterpart, expressed through the prism of a Brexit campaign that was reactionary and driven by xenophobia, anti-migrant hatred, and nativism. It was a right wing revolt that you and the rest of the pro-Brexit left aided and abetted in one of the most monumental instances of political opportunism and idiocy in the entire history of the left.

    Nick Wright: The European Union is not a state.

    Given that the CPB has just got done ascribing the character of a state to the EU, it is good to see that you are beginning to come round to what myself and others have been arguing all this time.

  14. John
    If you mean to imply that because the decision of the Scottish people to remain part of Britain took place two years before the referendum to leave the EU (which you conflate with ‘the eruption of British/English nationalism) that the EU referendum result is somehow illegitimate in as far as it affects Scotland.

    The problem with this line of argument is that even after the EU referendum result the people who live and vote in Scotland still want to remain part of Britain and, it appears, favour the union above both membership of the EU and access to the single market.
    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/01/davidson-now-more-popular-sturgeon-scotland/
    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/30/brexit-fails-boost-support-scottish-independence/

    In ascribing monolithic characteristics to both the Yes campaign in Scotland and the Brexit campaign in Britain as a whole you miss the essence of both campaigns which were characterised by an extreme heterogeneity and sharp contradictions. Racist and anti migrant positioning was a factor in both. A variety of class and political forces were active in both campaigns.

    Given that the Communist Party has opposed Britain’s membership of the EU in its various manifestations ever since its inception and holds firm to its policy of popular sovereignty and in favour of a socialist federal state of Wales, Scotland and England it would be an act of idiotic opportunism to have changed its position simply because our bourgeoisie’s long standing divisions had reached crisis point.

    Your final point appears to me to be ambiguous. The Communist Party is opposed to further developments towards a European super-state consistent with its long term analysis which applies Lenin’s analysis to contemporary conditions. Are you inow n favour of Britain surrendering further sovereignty to the EU or just Scotland?

  15. Jellytot on said:

    Francis King:
    When looking for an “foreign” scapegoat to blame for their problems, small-minded English bigots will tend to choose Europe. Their Scottish equivalents will tend to choose England. It’s just a matter of scale.

    It’s a reason why fascists have never really gained traction organisationally in Scotland; they have never need able to compete with the stronger alternative pole that is Scottish Nationalism……ditto with Southern Ireland.

    Obviously that is not to claim, in any way, that Scottish and Irish Nationalism is in any way fascistic in nature. It’s about political space.

    That, and my attempts at humour aside, I think John Wight is correct here. Circumstances regarding Independence have changed since 2014 and John’s position is essentially solid.

  16. jim mclean on said:

    Jellytot: It’s a reason why fascists have never really gained traction organisationally in Scotland; they have never need able to compete with the stronger alternative pole that is Scottish Nationalism……ditto with Southern Ireland.

    Obviously that is not to claim, in any way, that Scottish and Irish Nationalism is in any way fascistic in nature. It’s about political space.

    That, and my attempts at humour aside, I think John Wight is correct here. Circumstances regarding Independence have changed since 2014 and John’s position is essentially solid.

    Mosely tried to organise in Glasgow but was told that his support for Mussolini and inclusion of Irish Catholics was against the feelings of the Scottish Fascists.

  17. Nick Wright: Are you inow n favour of Britain surrendering further sovereignty to the EU or just Scotland?

    You are confused. How can the fact that EU member states sacrifice some sovereignty in return for concrete political, social, and economic objectives conceivably be described as surrendering sovereignty? And what of this British sovereignty you remain fixated with? Are we talking Cuba, Venezuela, or any progressive state? No, we are talking about a key imperialist centre and a pillar of the Washington Consensus, NATO, and neoliberalism. What is this white British nativism masquerading as communism?

    Their sovereignty is not our sovereignty, or else it shouldn’t be. There is zero, none, class analysis or politics in your position on the EU. British sovereignty has been the source of unremitting suffering and chaos around the world. In solidarity with its countless victims it is to be opposed not supported. There is nothing to distinguish your politics on the EU from UKIP.

  18. John,

    On the contrary John, it is you who are confused. Not over the neo-liberal order, or over the imperialist nature of the British State, but over the critical role of the European Union in this capitalist order.

    When Lenin argued “From the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism—i.e., the export of capital amid the division of the world by the “advanced” and “civilised” colonial powers—a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary” he was drawing attention to impossibility of negating the class nature of capitalist states through a federation of such.

    In a remarkably prescient passage he then goes on to discuss how slogans unrelated to material reality create misconceptions, in particular, that they might be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible.

    To argue, as you do that “Their sovereignty is not our sovereignty, or else it shouldn’t be,.” is nonsense.”

    You ask: “How can the fact that EU member states sacrifice some sovereignty in return for concrete political, social, and economic objectives conceivably be described as surrendering sovereignty?”

    Are we supposed to conclude from this that British sovereignty, what you describe as “the source of unremitting suffering and chaos around the world” is somehow sanitised when it is pooled with the European states already integrated in the very institutions that give effect to the neo liberal and imperialist order.

    We live and work, conduct class struggle and politics within the framework of an actually existing nation state which, under contemporary conditions, offers the best prospect for winning state power.

    To put the question more concretely: Are the prospects of a Labour and progressive government being able to end austerity, restore public ownership, control capital flight, invest in industry and infrastructure, abandon militarism and imperial wars and develop a progressive foreign policy and immigration system be greater within the EU or without?

    Utopian idealists who think that a simultaneous breach in the domination of the bourgeoisie over the whole of the European Union is a more realistic prospect need to explain why the dominant section of our bourgeoisie, the section with the closest ties to the USA, most closely connected to the big banks and monopolies, most integrated with the supra national institutions of monopoly capitalist (IMF, World Bank, ECB etc) and most integrated with the military industrial complex and the military intelligence establishment also want us to be more closely integrated within the EU.

  19. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean: Mosely tried to organise in Glasgow but was told that his support for Mussolini and inclusion of Irish Catholics was against the feelings of the Scottish Fascists.

    The Billy Boys song (sang today by Rangers fans) is a homage to a Scottish BUF member Billy Fullerton.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Boys

    While the small BUF in Scotland was Orange, the BUF had more success campaigning in East London among Irish communities in places like Limehouse. The Fascists were always quick to point out Mosley’s long standing support for Irish Unity and his record of speeches in the Commons against the Black and Tans. Mosley continued to support a United Ireland even in the BUF’s post war incarnation of The Union Movement (whose splinter group The League of St. George used to include Michael Collins in its list of “Nationalist Heroes” alongside Mussolini et al. on its website).

    Of course Mosley’s strain of fascism was very much the exception on this issue where groups like the NF and BNP have always been Loyalist if anything.

  20. jim mclean on said:

    Jellytot,

    Remember reading some of the Billy Boys were given a medal from the City for Strike Breaking, Think I read in a little book / booklet by Bashir Mann Trade Unions used to go round getting Blacks and Asians the sack, some really weird stuff hidden behind the Romantic History of the Scottish Working Class. The SNPDonaldson faction wing had no problem with the repatriation of the Irish. Although a McLean my main bipolar view of Scottish politics comes down from the Belfast Irving Granny and my Free State Connolly granny.
    Well lets leave with the Words of the Great Left Wing Nationalist Bard

    “Now when London is threatened
    With devastation from the air
    I realise, horror atrophying me,
    That I hardly care.”
    Shuggy McD

  21. Nick Wright: the critical role of the European Union in this capitalist order.

    Capitalism predates the EU Nick, as does imperialism, NATO, immigration, and cancer. Sorry, but your attempt to paint the EU as the locus of everything wrong in the world just won’t wash. The EU in its current form is a product of neoliberalism, neoliberalism is not a product of the EU, just as the British state is a product of mercantilist capitalism. But, then, guess what, along the lines of an unintended consequence of the formation of the British state was the development of a British working class whose economic and political interests fomented a consciousness than transcended every other cultural and natural difference.

    For the CPB, however, Poles and Romanians are for some reason culturally and nationally incapable of attaining this kind of class consciousness, which is why you have thrown them under the bus, treating them as part of the problem and not the solution.

    I disagree.

  22. John
    You are erecting straw men in place of dialectical thought.
    I don’t argue that the EU is the locus of everything wrong in the world. Of course net-liberalism, as such, is not a product of the EU. Nor is the EU a product of new-liberalism

    However, the EU in the form which it has evolved is the instrument through which, by choice of our rulers, new-liberal policies have been enforced.

    A parallel between the thinking of the Tory Brexit tendency and the utopian left wing supporters of the EU is this conception that somehow the development of the EU, and the form it currently has assumed, is external to the imperatives of British State monopoly capitalism rather than being imbricated with it.

    Part of this was the deal right-wing social democracy struck with the ruling class to trade a decisive slice of sovereignty for a raft of social protections that were designed, in essence, to level to competitive playing field so that the sale of labour power in Germany, and to a lesser extent France, would not take place in ‘unfair’ competition with other jurisdictions. Some sections of the left have accepted this, and as you say, have been willing to “sacrifice some sovereignty in return for concrete political, social, and economic objectives.”

    These social protections are being eroded, most sharply since Germany itself instituted the Harz labour laws which weakened that country’s labour protection and social welfare provisions and thus have permitted the EU to enforce a more general lowering of standards. However, neo-liberal policies, most particularly the constraints on public expenditure, prohibitions on public ownership, etc, etc remain and are sharply enforced through precisely the EU and the institutions (IMF, ECB, World Bank) which are integrated into this regime.

    Trying to separate membership of the EU from the enforcement of neo-liberal policies has defeated all who have tried. Go too far down this road and any progressive credentials that a politician possesses quickly evaporates. Thus the likes of Syriza become as toxic as new Labour.

    Fine words and anti racist sentiments cannot disguise the fact that the free movement of capital and labour within the EU works to the advantage, most significantly, of the employers, rentiers, bankers and big business. Some groups of workers are realtively advantaged, most particularly those in highly skilled sectors, in being able to move freely. This ‘free’ movement enables other sections of the European work force to flee unemployment, deindustrialization and the effects of the neo-liberal regime on their homelands to countries where demand for their, largely, lower skilled and poorly remunerated work still exists. The Communist Party is in solidarity with these Poles, Roumanians and others aswell as the Indians, Bangla Deshies, Pakistanis and others whose familial rights and free movement are denied.

    I never quite conceived of it in this way but the fact that a majority of the people living in Scotland, want to remain part of Britain more than they want access to the single market does rather support your proposition that “an unintended consequence of the formation of the British State was the development of a British working class whose economic and political interests fomented a consciousness than transcended every other cultural and natural difference.”

  23. Nick Wright: the EU in the form which it has evolved is the instrument through which, by choice of our rulers, new-liberal policies have been enforced.

    This is nonsense. It is the governments that make up the EU that are the instruments though which neoliberal policies are enforced, with the EU merely a manifestation of that. The inference Brexit Britain is closer to socialism today than it was on June 22 is beyond satire.

    Nick Wright: These social protections are being eroded, most sharply since Germany itself instituted the Harz labour laws which weakened that country’s labour protection and social welfare provisions and thus have permitted the EU to enforce a more general lowering of standards. However, neo-liberal policies, most particularly the constraints on public expenditure, prohibitions on public ownership, etc, etc remain and are sharply enforced through precisely the EU and the institutions (IMF, ECB, World Bank) which are integrated into this regime.

    These prohibitions are not ‘enforced’ they are recommendations and fall into line with the ideological basis of the governments that make up the majority of EU member states. Again, you are attempting to ascribe the character of a state to an economic union which has no mechanism to enforce its recommendations. And just watch how our ‘social protections’ are enhanced in Brexit Britain. You have only succeeded in leaving the working class even more exposed and vulnerable at the mercy of a Tory Party, the right wing of whom you stood with along with UKIP.

    Nick Wright: Fine words and anti racist sentiments cannot disguise the fact that the free movement of capital and labour within the EU works to the advantage, most significantly, of the employers, rentiers, bankers and big business

    What you describe here is capitalism. It operates in the interests of the bosses. Resisting it does not mean working to divide working people according to nationality but to unite them on the basis of class. The former constitutes a particularly insidious brand of nationalism and nativism.

    Nick Wright: Some groups of workers are realtively advantaged, most particularly those in highly skilled sectors, in being able to move freely. This ‘free’ movement enables other sections of the European work force to flee unemployment, deindustrialization and the effects of the neo-liberal regime on their homelands to countries where demand for their, largely, lower skilled and poorly remunerated work still exists.

    Based on this logic, you should also be opposed to free tuition fees given that it is the better of strata of the working class that benefits from university. Sociology and socialism is not the same thing. The idea that closing off the opportunity for working people from this country to live and work abroad is in any way progressive is absurd. As for the continuing attacks on unskilled Polish and Rumanian workers, who come here as victims of an economic system that deprives them of the opportunity to survive at home, this is reactionary.

    Nick Wright: he fact that a majority of the people living in Scotland, want to remain part of Britain more than they want access to the single market does rather support your proposition that “an unintended consequence of the formation of the British State was the development of a British working class whose economic and political interests fomented a consciousness than transcended every other cultural and natural difference.”

    The opposite is now the case, which the fact that support for Scottish independence came largely from within former Labour heartlands makes clear. Brexit changes everything. It has raised an ugly British/English national consciousness that will and can only reinforce the fact that both culturally and politically the Union is no longer sustainable, tenable, or indeed desirable. Though the Empire is no longer with us, the cultural values that supported it remain entrenched, even among a section of the left.

  24. John: This is nonsense. It is the governments that make up the EU that are the instruments though which neoliberal policies are enforced, with the EU merely a manifestation of that. The inference Brexit Britain is closer to socialism today than it was on June 22 is beyond satire.

    True, in the sense that it was the Syriza government which implements the Troika’s policies. It is the British government which implements the spending limits embodied in the Lisbon Treaty and the British government which is implementing the ‘competition’ rules which inhibit public ownership. These acts by the various government’s are manifestations of sovereignty thus surrendered.

    To argue that sovereignty exercised exclusively within a nation state provides as more favourable terrain for the struggle to establish working class state power is not the same as arguing that “Brexit Britain is closer to socialism today than it was on June 22”. Another straw man.

  25. Nick Wright: These prohibitions are not ‘enforced’ they are recommendations and fall into line with the ideological basis of the governments that make up the majority of EU member states. Again, you are attempting to ascribe the character of a state to an economic union which has no mechanism to enforce its recommendations. And just watch how our ‘social protections’ are enhanced in Brexit Britain. You have only succeeded in leaving the working class even more exposed and vulnerable at the mercy of a Tory Party, the right wing of whom you stood with along with UKIP.

    Over the years the British working class have been able to win quite substantial social protections from our ruling class without the protective cover of the EU. It is a constant battle. But if employers and government cannot rely on a ECJ decision to buttress their attacks on, for example, workplace rights or established pay levels, life is a lot easier for the working class. that
    http://www.ier.org.uk/system/files/Decisions+of+the+ECJ+and+implications+for+UK+laws_0.pdf

    And for the sake of rational argument it would be better to avoid ‘guilt by association’ attacks on people you disagree with. I don’t accuse you of standing alongside big business, the Cameron tendency or the big banks just because you were on the same side in a binary division.

  26. John: Based on this logic, you should also be opposed to free tuition fees given that it is the better of strata of the working class that benefits from university. Sociology and socialism is not the same thing. The idea that closing off the opportunity for working people from this country to live and work abroad is in any way progressive is absurd. As for the continuing attacks on unskilled Polish and Rumanian workers, who come here as victims of an economic system that deprives them of the opportunity to survive at home, this is reactionary

    Far from arguing for such restrictions the Communist Party argues now, and has since its foundation, for migrant workers to have the same rights, pay and conditions as other workers.
    One of the ways in which it conducts this argument is by highlighting the ways in which EU-made law deprives migrant workers of such rights and thus depresses the price which labour power commands throughout the EU. Another aspect of the Communist party’s work is the good bilateral and multilateral relations it has with our sister parties in the EU, one manifestation of which is the recent Manifesto Press booklet ‘the EU deconstructed’. http://www.manifestopress.org.uk/index.php/publications2/45-eu-deconstructed

  27. John: support for Scottish independence came largely from within former Labour heartlands makes clear. Brexit changes everything. It has raised an ugly British/English national consciousness that will and can only reinforce the fact that both culturally and politically the Union is no longer sustainable, tenable, or indeed desirable. Though the Empire is no longer with us, the cultural values that supported it remain entrenched, even among a section of the left.

    The Communist Party insists on the right of the people who live in Scotland having the rights to establish an independent state. Communists in Britain as a whole, and in Scotland do not think that under present conditions such a course of action is in the interests of the working class and, it seems, are with the majority in all three countries in holding to this position. Our proposals are for a federal Britain shorn of the northern Ireland statelet with a legisalative chamber elected on a proportional basis and very substantial powers devolved to national parliaments in both Scotland and Wales.

    The Brexit vote has changed much but not,it seems, the fairly settled view of people who live in Scotland that continued union is preferable to the present alternatives. Thus, contrary to that which you assert the union is politically sustainable, tenable, and indeed desired by a Scottish majority.

    Contrary to your assertion the Empire is still with us. The Union Flag is the symbol of Britain’s reduced but still powerful status as a major imperialist power, with a global military reach, bound to the main imperial constellation that comprises the North Atlantic alliance and the European Union.
    Breaking some of these bonds, membership of the European Union and of NATO would be a first step in challenging the cultural values that are thus underpinned.

  28. Nick Wright: in the sense that it was the Syriza government which implements the Troika’s policies.

    Yes, it was over the Greek crisis that the ideological collapse suffered by the CPB began to take root. Syriza was elected on a clear mandate of anti-austerity and membership of the EU and eurozone. In hindsight they were naive to believe that a small country of 10 million people with a weak productive base could ever face down the forces of global capital, but then if they were naive so were the Greek people, who backed them in significant number.

    When things came to the crunch with the final negotiations over the harsh austerity reforms stipulated by the Troika as a condition of further bailout monies Tsipras went into them armed with a mandate to continue on the path of anti-austerity within the EU.

    By this point supermarket shelves were bare and people were going without prescription medicines. In other words, he had no choice other than accept the austerity medicine prescribed. You and your co-thinkers in the KKE watched this take place from afar like spectators at the Coliseum, screaming insults at Tsipras and Syriza for “surrendering” to the Troika. Where was the Europe-wide anti-austerity movement the CPB built to place enough pressure on the Troika to relent? Where were the mass demos in solidarity with Greece and Syriza across the EU?

    Politics as a parlour game comes to mind.

  29. John,
    John
    Progress. You appear to have conceded my proposition that – even with a clear electoral mandate –it is impossible for a country to negate the power of the EU to impose neo-liberal policies and austerity if, as the Greeks have demonstrated, you wish to remain in the EU and the, in their case, the Eurozone.

    As you clearly illustrate, an electoral mandate, however clear or substantial, does not trump the ability of the EU and its domestic allies within the Greek bourgeoisie and its liberal and social democratic outriders, to apply coercive measures [shortages of essential items, food and medicine etc are the current technique being deployed in Venezuela)].

    It is indeed true that, like you and others in Britain the Communist party were more spectators than active participants in the Greek drama. However, at least the Communist Party in our country, from the start, argued, that without a rupture with the EU member states would not be able to escape austerity.

    In this we are in agreement with the KKE. With it’s strategically important position in the Greek working class and its irreconcilable opposition to the capitalist order as it actually exists in their country the KKE can hardly be described as ‘spectators’ to Syriza’s surrender to the Troika, as their mass demonstrations and resolute industrial activity demonstrate.

    Even in its most ambitious interludes the Communist Party here would not claim to be able to build an Europe-wide anti-austerity movement able to put enough pressure on the Troika to relent. Indeed, such delusions would run counter to the party’s rather realistic conclusion that the EU, and its institutions grouped in the Troika, are irreformable and that a rupture is necessary.

  30. Nick Wright: ou appear to have conceded my proposition that – even with a clear electoral mandate –it is impossible for a country to negate the power of the EU to impose neo-liberal policies and austerity if, as the Greeks have demonstrated, you wish to remain in the EU and the, in their case, the Eurozone.

    Greece, as I pointed out, is a small country of just over 10 million with a weak productive base. To compare its position with the UK’s in terms of economic size and, with it, weight cannot be taken seriously. The Greeks who wish to remain in the EU regardless of the austerity medicine they’ve been forced to imbibe clearly have a greater and more profound understanding of the dominant centrifugal forces driving anti-EU politics. They know what fascism is, having lived through and under it. Just as in the UK Brexit was and is dominanted by the most reactionary forces in the country, aided by the CPB, in Greece neo Nazis and open fascists are in the driving seat when it comes to wrenching it out of the EU.

  31. John,

    You are correct in arguing that Britain has a much larger economy than Greece and with a more developed productive base. It is this which makes Britain’s exit from the EU more a problem for monopoly capitalism, the North Atlantic Alliance and the biggest and most dangerous sections of the bourgeoisie.

    Of course, without the obligation to allow the free movement of capital that EU membership entails a progressive British government could compel higher levels of investment in our productive base.

    I think it is hard to demonstrate that anti EU sentiment in Greece is essentially confined to Golden Dawn and the KKE.

    Fascism is, of course, a highly opportunistic and promiscuous political formation and, in every country, will seize demagogically on policies with a wide appeal.

    Sir Oswald Mosely’s Union movement was committed to a federal Europe and indeed once iteration was called the European Movement.

  32. An opinion poll conducted by Pell found that host 27% of Greeks have a favourable view of the EU.

    Only 6% have a favourable view of how the EU handles economic issues.

  33. Nick Wright: Communists in Britain as a whole, and in Scotland do not think that under present conditions such a course of action is in the interests of the working class

    …but strangely are unable to apply that kind of specificity to leaving the EU. You STILL fail to distinguish between Brexit as an abstract and the reality of Brexit under the specific circumstances of a Tory government and a campaign largely driven by racism.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, the government is apparently talking about cutting corporation tax down to 10%, the lowest rate in western Europe. The reason, or at least the pretext, for that is Brexit.

    (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-business-corporation-tax-eu-referendumarticle-50-a7376816.html )

    Does it occur to you that maybe Brexit isn’t a blow struck against neo-liberalism and austerity?

  34. A state does not have to leave the EU in order to lower corporation tax rates (See Ireland) and support for Brexit by sections of our ruling class was not predicated on a bid to lower corporation tax. In fact a lower corporation tax is the central plank of the energetically pro-EU SNP government.

    This whole narrative — that the Brexit campaign and vote has introduced a new element into British political life that somehow further disadvantages the working class movement and strengthens the right — is predicated on an assumption that somehow the forces that wanted Britain to remain in the EU are less reactionary, more progressive and have interests that are less opposed to those of working people than that subordinate section of our bourgeoise that sees its class interests as better served outside of the EU.

    This fiction can only be sustained if the notion of a politically divided ruling class being to the advantage of the working class is discounted.

    Of course, the left, the progressive movement and the working class and labour movement, the anti austerity and peace movements need to find a high level of unity if we are to constitute a counter hegemonic force. On past experiences the odds are against this. The Labour right has always preferred political unity with the main monopoly sections of our ruling class to a direct challenge to the system. (Ramsay McDonald, the SDP, New Labour and today the Progress and other right wing factions.).

    But with Corbyn etc we are in a better position than for many years to strike a blow against neo-liberalism and austerity. Corbyn’s insistence that Labour will respect the decision of the British people and his clear-sighted opposition to membership of the single market (on the grounds that it precludes the policies he was elected to implement) is the best chance we have to reconnect with the millions of voters lost by Blair and Brown.

  35. Nick Wright: But with Corbyn etc we are in a better position than for many years to strike a blow against neo-liberalism and austerity.

    Nick, your last few comments have been truly truly awful. You sound like Dave Spart on speed.

  36. jim mclean on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Labour are collapsing in the polls. May is worse than Cameron and Labour, left and right are naval gazing so she is getting away with it

  37. John,

    For one’s literary style to be criticised by the high priest of hyperbole is, indeed, a tribute.
    I take it you have given up on the political argument.

  38. ‘It is now inarguable that the dominant political culture in Scotland is at odds with its counterpart in England.’

    ###
    The dominant political culture in Scotland is nationalism. That’s been the case for some years now.

    The dominant political culture in England, from what I can see, is now nationalism. That’s a comparatively recent development.

    They manifest themselves in different ways, partly because of different economic and social conditions and partly because political parties north and south of the border frame and project their nationalism differently.

    But essentially they are the same thing.

    They certainly aren’t class based.

  39. I think that this discussion, while interesting, shows the dangers of unnecessary polarisation.

    My view is that the question has to be considered in its particular context, where many of the arguments that Nick expounds about the constraints upon sovereignty from the EU and their potential impact on a progressive government are broadly correct; but to still conclude that given the current political, organisational and ideological balance of forces, then the weakness of the left to be able to substantively influence either the Brexit referendum campaign or shape the nature of Brexit acheived means that Remain was the better option … for now.

    The position that the EU is a problem, but that on balance we are better staying in for now, is broadly that taken by the major unions, as well as individuals like Paul Mason.

    There has been a rise of racism, but racism in the UK did not emerge new born this June. Rather a growing hostility to immigrants over some several years was one of the factors that shaped the nature of the Brexit campaign.

    Similarly, it is simply untenable to deny that the free movement of labour, combined with EU regulations that encourage a push to the bottom, have led to an erosion of wage rates in entry level jobs .

    Furthermore, it simply is true that some migrants are harder to organise, some are not.

    The socialist argument to immigration is surely to welcome individuals wherever they come from, while at the same collectively organising to maintain pay, t&cs and the social wage from the downward push that can arise from employers expoiliting migrants. This was the approach that successfully prevailed during the Lindsay oil refinery dispute.

    If collective bargaining, and the political pressure from organised labour prevents employers from using migrants to lower wages, then market forces will ensure that there is no incentive for employers to bring in workers from overseas, and migration will find its own level.

  40. Andy Newman,

    Andy,
    Much of what you say is well considered.
    You frame your arguments with regard to the strategic considerations that arise from the interplay of class and political forces in the referendum process in Britain. You are absolutely correct to point out that the current political, organisational and ideological balance of forces, and the weakness of the left’ made it unable ‘to substantively influence either the Brexit referendum campaign or shape the nature of Brexit.’

    An important part of the left’s present-day weakness arises from the decades-long acceptance of the social partnership logic built into the now largely abandoned Social Chapter, surrender to the spending regimes enshrined in the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and the evacuation of decision making to the undemocratic structures of the EU.

    The resultant balance of political and ideological forces in the Labour and trade union movement meant that Jeremy Corbyn’s long-standing and principled critical stand on the EU could not prevail and thus Labour’s voice in the referendum campaign was muted and, despite some careful messaging from the Leader’s office, mostly lined up with the political establishment, the main broadcast media and the banks and big business.

    The consequence of this was that Labour now has still some way to go in winning back the millions of working class voters lost in the Blair and Brown years as well as dispelling the EU illusions held by a large section of its own membership and electorate.

    Unless some serious headway is made in raising public understanding that membership of the single market (the right wing’s stay behind tactic to subvert the referendum decision) and the programme of international trade treaties means a continuation of the old order then this reservoir of votes that are needed if Labour is to form a government will remain untapped.

    The Communist Party takes a different line not just because because the day-to-day struggle for better wages and conditions and for an austerity-free regime is easier without the constraints which membership of the EU and submission to the ECJ entails but because its strategic conception is for a transition to working class political power in the state in which we live and in all European states.

    The main barriers to this do not rest upon the class power of the powerful but relatively subaltern bourgeois and media forces that made the domestic running for Brexit but on the structures of power that rest on the integration of the main monopoly and banking circles with US capital and European capital. One key institutional form this concentration of class power takes in Britain is through membership of the EU and NATO.

    This is not to say that Brexit inevitably leads to the desirable outcomes entailed in the Communist Party’s prospectus but rather that the process of disaggregating the EU is hastened (see the FT).

  41. Andy Newman:… the weakness of the left to be able to substantively influence either the Brexit referendum campaign or shape the nature of Brexit acheived means that Remain was the better option … for now….

    As I understand it neither the left nor the right stand much chance of shaping the nature of Brexit, if it happens. Any deal which is reached can be scuppered by any one of the remaining EU nations, and almost certainly will be. The UK, or most of it, looks set to leave without any deal at all.

  42. Jellytot on said:

    Similarly, it is simply untenable to deny that the free movement of labour, combined with EU regulations that encourage a push to the bottom, have led to an erosion of wage rates in entry level jobs .

    Not only Entry Level – I am a Civil Engineer who has been working in Canada and the US for almost a decade now. I called a UK recruitment agent the other day to enquire about current contract wage rates in London and the rates quoted were no different to when I left. Even slightly below. When I asked why the answer was simple, people coming into my sector from abroad and depressing wages.

  43. Andy Newman: it is simply untenable to deny that the free movement of labour, combined with EU regulations that encourage a push to the bottom, have led to an erosion of wage rates in entry level jobs .

    I reject this formulation. It is employers who reduce wages not workers. Moreover, wages across the UK have been in decline in real terms starting way before the advent of the Lisbon Treaty and free movement across the EU.

    Further, the corollary to an expanding workforce is an increase in aggregate demand for goods and services, which has a positive impact on the economy and economic activity, leading to the expansion of businesses and employment opportunities. Researchers at The Migration Observatory out of Oxford University have done some interesting work on this. http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/the-labour-market-effects-of-immigration/

    The argument that foreign workers push down the wages of British workers is more consonant with the politics of UKIP than the left.

  44. John: The argument that foreign workers push down the wages of British workers is more consonant with the politics of UKIP than the left.

    So the supply of labour relative to the demand for it has no bearing on its price?

  45. Jellytot on said:

    John: The argument that foreign workers push down the wages of British workers is more consonant with the politics of UKIP than the left.

    It may be the politics of ukip but it could actually be true.

    My friend Shawn went for an interview for an Project Manager position in London recently. Went very well and at the end when he was asked how much he wanted in terms of salary the interviewer raised his eyebrows and said bluntly,

    “Why should I pay you that then I can get a Chinese guy, fresh off the boat, who is probably as good as you, and will do the job for at least 40% less?”

    Yes, an anecdote…..but I think an illustrative one.

    P.S. He didn’t take the job.

  46. Jellytot on said:

    John: Further, the corollary to an expanding workforce is an increase in aggregate demand for goods and services, which has a positive impact on the economy and economic activity, leading to the expansion of businesses and employment opportunities.

    And that is the politics of globalised neo-liberalism.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/email-leaks-show-hillary-clinton-pro-free-trade-161008132127028.html

    “In a talk to a Brazilian bank in 2013, she said her (Hillary Clinton’s) “dream” is “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders” and asked her audience to think of what doubling American trade with Latin America “would mean for everybody in this room”.

  47. Jellytot: My friend Shawn went for an interview for an Project Manager position in London recently. Went very well and at the end when he was asked how much he wanted in terms of salary the interviewer raised his eyebrows and said bluntly,

    “Why should I pay you that then I can get a Chinese guy, fresh off the boat, who is probably as good as you, and will do the job for at least 40% less?”

    Is this how far politics on the left has descended?

  48. Francis King: So the supply of labour relative to the demand for it has no bearing on its price?

    It is one factor but not the sole factor, else why even bother engaging in political activity and class politics. The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, etc, etc. The level of struggle and class consciousness is another factor in the price of labour. If not why the anti-trade union laws?

  49. Jellytot on said:

    John: Is this how far politics on the left has descended?

    I know my anecdote wasn’t very warm and fuzzy…..but it occurred….and it seems to be reality.

  50. jock mctrousers on said:

    John: The argument that foreign workers push down the wages of British workers is more consonant with the politics of UKIP than the left.

    This hangs on a definition of ‘the left ‘ in terms of things no movement or ideology claiming to be left has ever previously espoused; in fact often the opposite – a left whose only principle or shibboleth is mass immigration? That’s the only definition of ‘left’ which makes YOU to the left of UKIP, John!

  51. Andy Newman on said:

    John: The argument that foreign workers push down the wages of British workers is more consonant with the politics of UKIP than the left.

    To be accurate, i know of workplaces where migrant labour has totally displaced the former workforce, at lower wages.

    I am very particular about what I say: the impact of immigration is on wages in low skilled, entry level jobs. The overall effect on average wages elsewhere in the broader economy may well be upwards due to increase in trade, but in particular low skilled, or low status work, wages are lower.

    Increased supply of labour does push down the price. Now John is correct that potentially, and sometimes in actuality, collective organisation can push up the price. But as Rosa Luxemburg observed this is a labour of sisyphus, and also highly challenging, as it is not straight forward to organise newly arrived migrants, and some come from countries where there is no experience of trade unionism, and they see their poverty wages here as relatively good.

    I think it was Ken Jackson who observed, though not an original thought, that trade unionism is inherent to capitalism as it allows the sellers of labour to get a better price, and the foundation of the communities of solidarity which can arise from successful trade unionism is simply wage brokerage.

    One of the economic impacts of immigration in recent years has been to alleviate pinch points of labour shortage in the economy. This has inevitably reduced the price, and also the economic leverage of unions.

    Indeed the successful use of “leverage” campaigns to put political and consumer pressure on companies has partly arisen from the increasing difficulty of using direct industral muscle

  52. Jellytot on said:

    jock mctrousers: a left whose only principle or shibboleth is mass immigration?

    Isn’t this just the inevitable end result if you put the identity politics of anti-racism before everything else?

    If immigrants are always good – then unlimited numbers of immigrants must be even better.

    There can never be an upper limit and the indigenous population (of whatever race and colour) had just betta lump it.

  53. Andy Newman: To be accurate, i know of workplaces where migrant labour has totally displaced the former workforce, at lower wages.

    This, I repeat, is not the fault of workers but the employer concerned. He or they are the enemy not the migrant labour – at least I would hope this was the case when it comes to those who consider themselves socialists.

    Andy Newman: the impact of immigration is on wages in low skilled, entry level jobs. The overall effect on average wages elsewhere in the broader economy may well be upwards due to increase in trade, but in particular low skilled, or low status work, wages are lower.

    Yet again, this is due to a lack of struggle within the working class as a whole. And as I wrote in my previous comment, downward pressure on wages was a feature of the economy throughout the West prior to the Lisbon Treaty. Those human beings who come seeking employment are the victims of neoliberalism they are not the cause.

  54. John: If not why the anti-trade union laws?

    The aim of the powers that be is to prevent trade unions from controlling the supply and price of labour. Anti-trade union laws help here, but so do many other factors, including the ability of employers to access sources of labour power beyond the ready reach of trade unions. Once unions no longer have any realistic prospect of controlling the labour supply, then the whole business of protecting the rights and interests of employees (preferably as individual cases) can be transferred from the messy area of collective organisation and struggle to the tidy, professionalised area of the law and the courts.

    There’s no point in blaming migrant workers, any more than there is any point in blaming those workers who make the machines which allow other workers to be de-skilled, or those workers who work in distribution centres sending out cheap imported goods which undercut domestic manufactures. But there’s no point either in kidding ourselves that their work doesn’t help the employers push down wages.

  55. Andy Newman on said:

    John: this is due to a lack of struggle within the working class as a whole. And as I wrote in my previous comment, downward pressure on wages was a feature of the economy throughout the West prior to the Lisbon Treaty. Those human beings who come seeking employment are the victims of neoliberalism they are not the cause.

    The bleeding obvious.

    This is a complete straw man because no one is arguing that the impact on wages is “the fault” of those prepared to work for less.

    Yes, it is the “fault” of exploitative employers. But your discussion of how the labour movement organises and resists is abstract, and frankly this is not an area of expertise for you.

    Trade unions have historically used combination and collective bargaining to manipulate the price of labour by helping employers to feel the pinch of a regulated supply.

    Where there is a surplus of any commodity, the price will fall. Employers look at labour price in the same way as the price of any commodity.

    In contrast, the individuals who comprise the workforce experience the price of labour in terms of their standard of living.

    Workers who are prepared to accept a lower standard of living, as newly arrived unskilled immigrants typically are, reduce the price at which employers can staff their enterprises.

    Low wage, low status jobs also have high churn, where marginal changes in wages and t&cs lead to people moving between jobs for slight improvements as individuals, rather than organising for collective improvement.

    So yes a weakened labour movement finds it challenging, but the impact of immigration in increasing the supply of labour is one of the factors that has weakened it.

    The issue of course is not *immigration* per se, but a number of factors which, for example allow employers to recruit solely through offshore recruitment agencies, the use of Regulation 10 contracts to evade the provisions for equal pay from the AWR, the recruitment of staff abroard on inferior wages using the Posted workers regulations, or even the importing of entire workforces on conditions undermining pay t&cs following Viking and other judgements.

    The irony is that Brexit, while possibly reducing EU inward migration will almost certainly not reduce immigration, but shift the country of origin to India and China.

    Personally, I think the issue needs to be reformulated as one of exploitation not immigration. But the way to do that is to prevent employers pushing down wages through both legislative change to close the loopholes i mentioned above, and also through collective industrial pressure.

  56. Andy Newman: The bleeding obvious.

    Yes, so obvious that you continue to demonstrate a level of obtuseness when it comes to this point that is staggering for a trade union official.

    Andy Newman: But your discussion of how the labour movement organises and resists is abstract, and frankly this is not an area of expertise for you.

    Sadly, it seems not to be an area of expertise for you either, given the repeated inability to view the trade union movement as anything more than a monument to be worshipped at.

    Andy Newman: Where there is a surplus of any commodity, the price will fall. Employers look at labour price in the same way as the price of any commodity.

    This is self evidently and historically not true, evidenced by the postwar Labour government’s policy of full employment. Yours is the classic example of worshipping the accomplished fact, whether it be Blairism or Corbynism, it’s like floating downstream along with the dead fish.

    Andy Newman: So yes a weakened labour movement finds it challenging, but the impact of immigration in increasing the supply of labour is one of the factors that has weakened it.

    So now workers from outwith the UK are responsible for weakening the trade unions? Where will these broadsides against migrant workers end? The unions were and have not been weakened by migrant labour. This is a vile smear. The unions in this country were weakened by the structural adjustment of the economy and the destruction of the country’s industrial base. You don’t know this stuff?

    Did migrant workers introduce Thatcher’s anti-union legislation? Were they responsible for the defeat of the miners in 84-85? To blame migrant workers for the atomisation of the working class which followed the aforementioned is patently absurd.

  57. Andy Newman on said:

    Jellytot: Not only Entry Level – I am a Civil Engineer who has been working in Canada and the US for almost a decade now. I called a UK recruitment agent the other day to enquire about current contract wage rates in London and the rates quoted were no different to when I left.

    In my sector, though we are still reasonably well paid, the issue is still offshoring the jobs themselves, specifically to Poland, where people work for a fraction if what we earn.

    But the recent issues with BA IT workers is revealling, with the jobs being offshored to India, and then Tier 2 immigration status being abused by the employer to then bring those Indian workers to the UK to work here at dramatically lower wages.

  58. Andy Newman on said:

    John: So now workers from outwith the UK are responsible for weakening the trade unions? Where will these broadsides against migrant workers end? The unions were and have not been weakened by migrant labour.

    Says a man with zero experience of organising and experiencing (and overcoming) the practical difficulties of migrant workforces.

    Clearly labour shortages strengthen the hand of a union, a ready supply of labour weakens it.

    If you choose to regard such statements as “anti immigrant” you have descended into not only identity politics – but worse than that, liberalism

    John: This is self evidently and historically not true, evidenced by the postwar Labour government’s policy of full employment.

    This is partially a non sequitor, partially just wrong. One of the reasons the right wing and enployers’ organisations disliked the policy of full employment was it increased the bargaining power of labour. Thatcher created mass umemployment as a factor to weaken the unions.

    John: Sadly, it seems not to be an area of expertise for you either, given the repeated inability to view the trade union movement as anything more than a monument to be worshipped at.

    Dont be silly. Over the last 4 years i have been involved in three seperate industrial campaigns where I have persinally organised migrant workers, and sucessfully defeated their employers.

    The experience that is relevant here is coping with the complexity if organising diverse workforces, with uneven confidence and combativity, and overcoming real fear of their employers.

    Very few have as much real lived experience in this area as i do.

    I also hazard that i know more if the real deficiencies and challenges in actually existing unions than you do, but as an activist i exercise self discipline and respect the democracy if the unions. You dont know what i say and do within my union because i respect confidentiality, but you know me well enough to understand i will challenge what i see as wrong.

  59. Andy Newman: Says a man with zero experience of organising and experiencing (and overcoming) the practical difficulties of migrant workforces.

    I also have zero experience of climbing Mount Everest, but I don’t need to know that it’s high.

    The way you go on you’d think you were Mick McGahey.

    I’m not impressed.

  60. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: In my sector, though we are still reasonably well paid, the issue is still offshoring the jobs themselves, specifically to Poland, where people work for a fraction if what we earn.

    But the recent issues with BA IT workers is revealling, with the jobs being offshored to India, and then Tier 2 immigration status being abused by the employer to then bring those Indian workers to the UK to work here at dramatically lower wages.

    Wages are fairly high in my sector too but point was that they haven’t moved and have even gone down.

    Engineering companies in the UK, mainly in the Oil and Gas industry, now use low cost centres (now given the PC name of “High value centres”) in places like China, India and Indonesia for engineering drawing and P&ID production. The ability to instantly transmit complex 3D CAD models across continents where they can be “cut” into 2D drawings makes this now a reality. Thus the traditional trade of the UK or US draughtsperson (latterly called CAD drafter or designer) is now threatened.

    The future is Civil (and Mechanical and Piping) Engineers in the West liaising directly with design staff in another continent – how long before these Engineers (on the office based design side, not site) are dispensed with?

  61. Andy Newman on said:

    John: I also have zero experience of climbing Mount Everest, but I don’t need to know that it’s high.

    But when discussing climbing Everest you might wish to consider the opinion of experienced mountaineers. They would tell you that there is a great deal more to take into account than how high it is.

  62. Andy Newman: But when discussing climbing Everest you might wish to consider the opinion of experienced mountaineers.

    Not when the experience and expertise of the ‘mountaineer’ presuming to give the advice amounts to reaching the top of the stairs in his house.

    Anyway, are there no other black activists you need to witchhunting as antisemites?

  63. Graeme on said:

    Seriously, John – why are you lashing out at everybody and backing yourself into a corner? Your reaction to the Brexit vote has been wildly disproportionate.

    Less will change as a result than you fear. I too was a Remainer but it would be a strange socialist who couldn’t see that there were arguments on both sides. The idea that the UK is in a 1933 Germany situation and that we have to embrace Scottish nationalism to escape it is hysterical.

    Opting for Scottish independence two years after you argued so cogently against it is evidence of a good comrade in turmoil. Stop fleeing demons and get a sense of proportion.

  64. On the pessimism of the intellect side of the equation I suspect that in the final reckoning that this attempt to break out of the EU will founder. The most powerful class forces will eventually assert themselves, if not full membership of the EU some special relationship will be cobbled together which retains the main features which the City and big business want (the banking passport, participation in the single market, a collaboration on the EU military project etc).

    A parliamentary majority for this already exists with a subterranean Tory group, SNP, Plaid, Greens and a big section of the PLP.

    On the optimism of the will side it is entirely possible that the Tory fissures will widen, possibly even to a split, the contradictions between the SNPs radical rhetoric and neo liberal performance will reduce them to their petty bourgeois base and the trade union and Labour left might marginalise the class cuddle tendency in the unions and the party.
    io spero

  65. With regard to John’s attacks on Andy,

    (a) of course the witchhunt against a significant number of activists (who appear to be disproportionately Black and/ or Jewish) for alleged anti-semitism is to be deplored and resisted. And those who suggest that any of the accused have a case to answer need to be sure of their facts (or even that there are any) before joining in.

    But the main purpose at the moment of this attack is to weaken Corbyn and the movement around him. And the main (if not only) proponent on here of that wholly reactionary cause is none other than John himself.

    (b) It wasn’t that long ago that John was singing Andy’s praises as a trade unionist.

    To make a volte face on this now is as if someone who once praised John’s writing on boxing or suggested his novels were promising suddenly turned round and said they were shite because they didn’t like his political lurch.

    Btw I noticed that John referred to Mick McGahey. I read recently that he suggested after the 1984-5 strike that it was wrong to treat every miner in Nottingham who worked as a scab, and felt that it was important to work for reconciliation.

    He may or may not have been right about that, certainly other senior people in the NUM appear to have disagreed, as I’m sure would thousands of ex-miners in Yorkshire, South Wales etc.

    But it made me reflect on the use or more precisely the careless over-use or misuse of the s-word, something I have been guilty of myself in the recent past, and it occurred to me that it should be used far more precisely and sparingly than some people tend to do, particularly in anger.

    It also makes me reflect on the danger of “backing yourself into a corner”, with reference to the comment from Graeme above.

    If your purpose in politics is merely to comment and to interpret the world then that’s not really much of a danger, because the corner of a keyboard or of a piece of paper is quite easy to escape.

    If you seek to change the world then it’s a substantially bigger problem.

  66. Nick Wright: if not full membership of the EU some special relationship will be cobbled together which retains the main features which the City and big business want (the banking passport, participation in the single market, a collaboration on the EU military project etc).

    …and then be vetoed by Malta, Estonia or half of Belgium…

  67. Evan P: And those who suggest that any of the accused have a case to answer need to be sure of their facts (or even that there are any) before joining in.

    Evan P: But the main purpose at the moment of this attack is to weaken Corbyn and the movement around him.

    Indeed, and that is why there is a difference between

    i) those who sought to attack Jackie Walker as a mechanism seeking to weaken and discredit Corbyn, and

    ii) those who felt that Walker had showed significant lack of political nous, and had expressed herself so clumsily that she had invited misinterpretion and her position had therefore become untenable. Given the acknowledged misuse of charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn’s supporters in an organised right wing campaign, Walker was foolish to act and speak as she did. The extreme lack of wisdom of Walker can further be seen by the way she is now seeking to crowdfund a challenge to McNichol, which perpetuates a controversy that is damaging to the broader left.

    John: Not when the experience and expertise of the ‘mountaineer’ presuming to give the advice amounts to reaching the top of the stairs in his house.

    My trade union experience is what it is. I make no comparisons with others and claim no special status. However, the organising of migrant workers is something that I do have experience of, and have met with some success. So John can either accept or reject the opinions I offer, but to be credible the refutation of my arguments needs to be more than just abuse.

    Evan P: If your purpose in politics is merely to comment and to interpret the world then that’s not really much of a danger, because the corner of a keyboard or of a piece of paper is quite easy to escape.

    This is the crux of it. Real world change both comprises the accretion of small victories and reforms, most of which involve some compromise; and also involves holding together coalitions of diverse people with often competing views.

    Look at this foolishness from John above about me

    John: Yours is the classic example of worshipping the accomplished fact, whether it be Blairism or Corbynism, it’s like floating downstream along with the dead fish.

    The idea that I am an uncritical fanboy of Jeremy is ridiculous, the idea that I have ever supported Tony Blair even more so. However, political activity in the real world involves working with people we disagree with to either a greater or lesser degree. It helps to therefore have a nuanced understanding of what they actually think, instead of 140 character caricatures; and also to explore the degree of common ground.

    Evan P: the main (if not only) proponent on here of that wholly reactionary cause is none other than John himself.

    Indeed, how paradoxical that a year ago John wanted t organise anti-Trident demos outside the GMB and Unite HQs, then he supported Owen Smith, whose main policy difference with JC was Smith’s support for Trident successor programme!

  68. Evan P on said:

    Andy Newman: then he supported Owen Smith, whose main policy difference with JC was Smith’s support for Trident successor programme!

    …and backed it up with a joint statement from Unite reps in the defence industry.

    Not of course, as a Unite member and activist myself, do I think that the Union should ignore the concerns of members in that sector, which in effect would be dereliction of its duty as a trade union, but nor should someone who is supposedly an anti-imperialist be seeking to make common cause with them against someone like JC.

  69. Evan P,

    This is why it is so important to conduct political activity, especially in the workplace, independent of the trade union.

    Of course people with trade union responsibilities must abide by the union’s policies without, of course, relinquishing their right to argue for changes. For example, it is important to challenge GMB’s support for the Trident programme pointing out the dangers to the whole nation, the imperialist offensive strategy into which the programme fits, its effective control by the USA and Britain’s inability to deploy it independently and the sheer immorality of the thing.

    There is no real point in doing this without campaigning for secure alternative work, retraining, reindustrialisation and controls on capital export.

    And like every other live political question this must be connected to arguments for working class political power.

  70. Has not the author of this article, who it appears to me to lay claim to be some sort of seer, re-considered his view given the overwhelming force of argument given by these english reactionaries to the “substance” of his arguments or has his fit of pique got the better of him?

  71. jim mclean on said:

    The Corporate Statelet that is Scotland is getting away with murder, the Support for a third runway at Heathrow was a cheap bribe, guaranteed flights to Preswick, a place nobody wants to fly to and the only net gain will be by Trump as it makes his Hotel and golfcourse at Turnbury accesable without going into the central belt. INEOS and Petrochina also recieved a handout to bust UNITE in Grangemouth and the massive but failed purchase of flatpack houses from China through a dodgy Chinese company were all none in secret talks with the corporate management and no input from the citizens or Trade Unions, the funding of Amazon was along similar lines. Of course not to mention that White on White tops the race crime figurse. Recommended reading John Lesley Mitchell GLASGOW and I Hate Small Countries

  72. Nick Wright: This is why it is so important to conduct political activity, especially in the workplace, independent of the trade union.

    The nub of this is that trade unions represent sectional interests, even general unions will be weighted towards representing the sectional intersts of the better organised parts of the working class.

    It is important that the sectional interests of the workers are articulated, even if the broader societal interest weights against them, and therefore trade unions representing workers in “unpopular” jobs are still doing the right thing in representing and promoting their interests.

    As Nick says, this shows the necessity of political organisation outside and beyond the union, where the broader interests of the movement are given greater consideration. It also shows the necessity of democratic debate within our unions.

    Nick Wright: Of course people with trade union responsibilities must abide by the union’s policies without, of course, relinquishing their right to argue for changes.

    Quite so. However it is also incumbent to defend the prerogative of trade unions to decide their own policies, and sometimes the argument for changes will by necessity take place in committees where the individuals are bound by confidentiality and collective responsiblity.

    Nick Wright: For example, it is important to challenge GMB’s support for the Trident programme pointing out the dangers to the whole nation, the imperialist offensive strategy into which the programme fits, its effective control by the USA and Britain’s inability to deploy it independently and the sheer immorality of the thing.

    Thanks for your advice. However, the fact that this has been the traditional argument from the left has led to a polarisation over the issue which has impeded dialogue. This year’s Congress debate over Trident was actually constructive, with a motion passed that moved the issue forwards towards accepting that GMB’s remit is the advocacy of the sectional interests of the highly paid skilled workers, their families and communities, and the overall skilled engineering and shipbuilding capability. Even with a CEC qualification, the motion acknowledged that the union has no expertise to intervene in the military/technical arguments over national defence interests, and should a future government decommission the programme then there must be a commitment to alternative, equivalent jobs, manufacturing capability and skills.

    The truth is that the Trident successor programme has already passed the point of no return, and the important thing is for the labour movement not to let the issue distract from the need for unity for election of a labour government.

    The next stage of the battle will be a few years hence to decide whether or not the Trident missiles are fitted with nuclear warheads, and whether the UK develops a next generation of war head. These are issues affecting far fewer jobs, and where a different constellation of union interests is represented.

  73. Andy Newman: that is why there is a difference between

    i) those who sought to attack Jackie Walker as a mechanism seeking to weaken and discredit Corbyn, and

    ii) those who felt that Walker had showed significant lack of political nous, and had expressed herself so clumsily that she had invited misinterpretion and her position had therefore become untenable.

    Attempting to mitigage or minimise the opportunism that lay at the heart of the decision to join the despicable witchhunting of a black woman and anti-racism activist of long and good standing is perhaps even worse than the original offence.

  74. This has gone on long enough. I have given John a great deal of slack due to past friendship, but given that he has now reduced to personal abuse against me, and deleting anyone who disagrees with him. I have removed him from the Su editorial team.

  75. Graeme on said:

    Very sad but the right decision, Andy.

    I hope John takes some time out. He’s still a comrade but he needs to ask himself some deep questions – not all of them political.

  76. Evan P on said:

    #76 and 77 Yes. That’s what I was (with some sadness) hoping would happen.

    After all those comments we used to see saying things like, “Socialist Unity? Socialist Disunity more like! Ho ho ho!” it had actually come to that in reality. And there’s only ever so far you can go when it reaches that stage.

    By the way Brian, the more I see of our GS in action, including speaking to him in the crowd at the Cable Street event, the more I realise how utterly wrong I was a few years ago, or rather how wrong a certain Russian uncle was!

  77. brianthedog on said:

    Evan P,

    Fair play to you but I don’t think our Russian uncle has ever fully forgiven me even though I hugely respect most of his political analysis and comments. 🙂

    I did notice old Vanya also tired of JW petulance and denunciations and also stopped posting on here. It would be good to see him back.

    John Wight has had his ‘jumping the shark’ moment and has increasingly descended into delusions of grandeur and with it all the hallmarks of a sociopath. Heaping abuse and smearing those who dare disagree with his increasingly bizarre statements as cowards or racists is beyond the pale.

    He does have a home at Shiraz Socialist and they are welcome to him.

  78. brianthedog on said:

    Evan P,

    Fair play to you but I don’t think our Russian Uncle has ever fully forgiven me, however I do value and respect most of his political comments and analysis.

    I did also notice he too grew tired of John Wight’s petulance and bile and also stopped posting on here. Hopefully he will be back soon.

    John Wight has ‘jump the shark’ and is showing delusions of grandeur and the behaviour of a sociopath. Anyone one who disagreed with his increasing bizarre posts was smeared and abused as either a coward or a racist. He departure was long over due.

    There is a home for him at Shiraz Socialist and they are welcome to him.

  79. brianthedog on said:

    True and JW was doing enough slagging off for all of us.

    Looking forward to getting back to some rationale debate and lots of civilised disagreement.

  80. Evan P on said:

    #83 The Russian uncle agrees.

    And he will forgive on the following basis:

    1) Taking the piss out of someone for being very short is not on, no matter how much of a #### they may turn out to be.

    2) If someone has been victimised for trade union activities, they’ve been victimised for trade union activities. And if they’ve been blacklisted as a result, they’ve been blacklisted as a result. End of. Again, no matter how much….

    And he also thinks that Len Mc has proved to be perhaps one of the canniest TU leaders this country has ever had.

  81. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 79: does that mean I will be allowed to contribute without being moderated and then censored LOL

  82. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: Post 79: does that mean I will be allowed to contribute without being moderated and then censored LOL

    If you post your own views without cut and pasting SP articles, you are welcome

  83. Andy Newman:
    This has gone on long enough. I have given John a great deal of slack due to past friendship, but given that he has now reduced to personal abuse against me, and deleting anyone who disagrees with him. I have removed him from the Su editorial team.

    That’s a shame.
    John is a mercurial character with a great deal of talent and I value his contributions even when they are wrongheaded. He is often able to distill a political position (not always a right or left deviation) into clear exposition which can clarify debate.
    He is a lightning rod for all kinds of influences, some of them daft, but always related in some way to profound movements in politics or ideas. My experience is that where he is intemperate he (usuallY) back track and will apologise.
    Let those without sin cast the first stone.

  84. Andy Newman: Thanks for your advice. However, the fact that this has been the traditional argument from the left has led to a polarisation over the issue which has impeded dialogue.

    Not advice Andy. I wouldn’t presume to advise the GMB on how to represent their mbers sectional interest but the sis a national political question in which the interplay of class interests takes it out of the narrow ambit of trade union bargaining.
    It is desirable, indeed necessary, for the GMB to contribute to this debate but government policy cannot be held hostage to sectional interest. Even under capitalism we have a responsibility to fight for the best state policy on all questions not least those which directly affect national security, world peace and the overwhelming moral imperative to impede imperialist war mongering.
    How to neutralise the high levels of class collaboration involved in the structures which incorporate sections of the labour aristocracy into bourgeois state policy is a big problem in the labour movement but not one that we can evade.

  85. Brianthedog on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Nick there is a fit of pique that most one time or another have been quilty of. However that doesn’t explain months of posts that were deliberately provocative with hyperbolic denounciations of good people, political parties with long held positions and population of England. Just bizarre and beyond angry.

  86. London Leftie on said:

    As a long time reader (but irregular contributor) I’ve always enjoyed John’s pieces. I often disagree with him (and have argued with him a few times in comment sections) but he writes well and makes valuable arguments that usually deserve respect and need to be heard. I hope in his absense the website keeps up the same high standard it has achieved over the last few years.

  87. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 88: the personal is political and the political is personal. I am a Socialist Party Scotland and CWI member and what political programme, strategy and tactics they advocate, I will advocate because i have already discussed it out in the Socialist Party Scotland branch meetings and national conferences. I and the Socialist Party Scotland thrives on discussion and debate and we base ourselves on a Marxist analysis of past workers’ struggles and the lessons arising from them. In particular, the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky and the theoretical experiences and perspectives of the Committee for a workers’ International as a means of viewing society and history from a working class and Marxist/Trotskyist point of view. You have to accept that rather than just accepting your individual personal interpretation – ie the capitalist school of thought. Maybe you would understand the material that is posted by me if you were prepared to accept that.

  88. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright: John is a mercurial character with a great deal of talent and I value his contributions even when they are wrongheaded.

    Well John’s writing will still be available elsewhere, Robbie Williams did his best work after leaving Take That

  89. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright: government policy cannot be held hostage to sectional interest.

    Quite so

    Nick Wright: Even under capitalism we have a responsibility to fight for the best state policy on all questions not least those which directly affect national security, world peace and the overwhelming moral imperative to impede imperialist war mongering.

    Yes, that is a debate that needs to occur in the Labour movement and broader democracy. It is not however necessarily the most profitable approach when debating with those whose jobs, families and communities are directly affected

  90. Jimmy Haddow: Maybe you would understand the material that is posted by me if you were prepared to accept that.

    Jimmy, very happy for you to participate, we have explained before though that when you cut and paste stuff published by SP it pisses people off. All you need to do differently is explain the same points in your own words

  91. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: Maybe this is true. But let us not descend into a session off slagging of John.

    Well, John can certainly certainly dish it out so he should be able to take it.

    But I take your point.

    His nadir here came after the Brexit vote when a poster popped up and proclaimed that Socialists had been far too lenient and had “indulged” the English White WC for too long…..and JW agreed.

    I just thought to my myself, “Oh Dear…..As if the WC need our approval”

  92. #98 I was once caught short in a bookies on Leith Walk.

    Having seen Trainspotting several times it was only out of desperation that I dared to enter the water closet.

    In fact it was probably one of the most immaculate I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.

  93. Andy Newman: Jimmy, very happy for you to participate, we have explained before though that when you cut and paste stuff published by SP it pisses people off. All you need to do differently is explain the same points in your own words

    And, hopefully, with a bit more brevity !

  94. jim mclean on said:

    The SNP power grab still continues and not a word from the Left Nationalists or the Scottish Greens both who sing All Will Be Well and every home will have a Unicorn. With support for the teaching of Creationism gathering strength and Compulsory Prayer in place we have little to laugh at in relation to Donald Trump in the USA as less than a year ago he was a Business Ambassador for Scotland, a Scottish Government Appointment. Now the complete destruction of local democracy is on the cards as many important powers are taken from Local Authorities yet will not appear on the party publications until after next years Council Elections.
    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/councils-to-be-stripped-of-powers-in-local-government-revolution-qjcbgj8tg

  95. jim mclean on said:

    Nicola Sturgeon and her cabinet have asked May to delay giving Scotland power over welfare. While the Left Nationalists keep talking shite the SNP are back peddling at a rate of knots.Not a good time to break up the union.
    OH,and the argument over the term Unionists is still going on, the older generation apply the term to the Ulster Diaspora and the younger generation to those opposes to Nationalism.

  96. jock mctrousers on said:

    Evan P,

    Excellent piece that. The level of ignorance about Ukraine is appalling – it’s all about a Russian invasion apparently….

  97. John Grimshaw on said:

    “The spread of right-wing ideology throughout Europe is the direct result of some of the left running away from anti imperialism, leaving the way open for right-wing populism as expressed by Trump, Le Pen and Le Farage.”

    I would question some of this Evan. I think it’s a lot more complicated than this. It is not the case that the right has grown simply because the UK, or for that matter any other European country in the EU, is in the EU. Compared to some EU countries the UK has always had a relatively weak far right. France irrespective has had a relatively strong one. The Brexit vote has given succour (hopefully temporarily) to all the right wing nut jobs out there because as nationalists they are firmly against their country (whichever it be) being in the EU. Now before you say I know that racism/fascism isn’t probably the main reason why people voted the way they did in the UK, nevertheless it did empower those people who are that way minded. That’s the reason why hate crimes went up immediately after the vote. It’s all very well to say that there needs to be a left out campaign, set aside the fact that I thought we’d already done that, but the left as I’ve said before doesn’t have sufficient traction to make the running in whatever politicking is now taking place. My concern is that we ignore the success of the EC in normalising capitalist relationships between most European countries (there are exceptions. Hungary for example) and that if the monolith begins to fall apart the right will definitely be enfranchised. There is a real chance that Le Pen could become the next French president and in my view the UK Brexit vote has given some legitimisation to her in this.

    In the USA the Trump election has given succour to American right-wingers. Trump might not be a fascist but I notice that this Alt-Right who are, are feeling good and having meetings. Last night three blocks down from Pensylvania Avenue giving it the Roman salute. The KKK have welcomed the Trump election. Trump maybe a right-wing populist isolationist but it hasn’t stopped him from trying to interfere in UK affairs and suggest that Farage be our “ambassador” to the US. Now I’m not suggesting there is a direct parallel between the Brexit vote and the Trump vote but he himself clearly sees something in it when he says of his election it will be like Brexit plus, plus, plus. I could see a period soon when for the left Brexit is irrelevant as we may spend a lot of our time soon mobilising against the far-right.

  98. Andy newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: interfere in UK affairs and suggest that Farage be our “ambassador” to the US

    Galloways suggestion was better, Trump could give Farage US citizenship and make him the US ambassador in London

  99. John Grimshaw on said:

    I seem to remember there are a fair number of pro-Russian fascists out there as well, some at least, supported by Putin.

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alexander-j-motyl/putin-celebrates-unrepentant-fascist-zhirinovsky

    I note that Putin gave Zhirinovsky an award for services. Zhrinovsky thinks that Trump is a good bet by the way, as he thinks Trump will let the Russian government do what it wants, whatever that means. Those that play together stay together. On this debate about what “liberal” means Zhirinovsky’s fascist outfit is called the the Liberal-Democrats.

  100. John Grimshaw:
    …the left as I’ve said before doesn’t have sufficient traction to make the running in whatever politicking is now taking place…

    …I could see a period soon when for the left Brexit is irrelevant as we may spend a lot of our time soon mobilising against the far-right…

    You get to the heart, negatively, with the problem referred to with these two points in your comment.

    Firstly, while the traditional far left has very little traction as you say, the Labour Party, led by the Right Honourable Leader of the Opposition (ie potentially and hopefully the next Prime Minister) has around half a million members, is the biggest social democratic party in Europe now and most of those members voted for Corbyn, vast numbers of them joining to do just that.

    And these people are not, apart from a tiny element, supporters of insignificant trotskyist groups but ordinary people who want to effect progressive change because they are sick of the state of society and now see the potential for change.

    That movement can and should be channelled into fighting for the best possible conditions for brexit in terms of workers’ rights etc. That will give it huge amounts of what you refer to as traction.

    As for the left’s attitude to brexit, sadly the majority of the left either ignored the issue at the time of the referendum campaign and/or quietly opposed the EU in their own minds but felt obliged to vote remain or enthusiastically supported it.

    The extent to which the left (and I speak of the labour and trade union left here) treats the result of the referendum as an irrelevance or (even worse) behaves as if they want to re-run it to get a remain vote, is the extent to which traction will be given to the nationalist and fascist right.

    Lack of political traction can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  101. John Grimshaw on said:

    Evan P: You get to the heart, negatively, with the problem referred to with these two points in your comment.

    You make a good first point here Evan. I have spent much of my political career effectively ignoring the LP, as self seeking and ineffective, that despite the changes going on I don’t pay sufficient attention. Let’s hope you are right, although I should point out that most of the PLP at least is still remain. Given your sage point however, I wonder why the CPB doesn’t want to completely commit itself to the LP at least in the medium term?

    Evan P: As for the left’s attitude to brexit, sadly the majority of the left either ignored the issue at the time of the referendum campaign and/or quietly opposed the EU in their own minds but felt obliged to vote remain or enthusiastically supported it.

    I was under the impression that the larger part of the traditional left (whatever that means) were pro-Brexit (or Lexit)?

    Evan P: is the extent to which traction will be given to the nationalist and fascist right.

    This is complicated Evan. I can see it both ways. It is clear that conservative Brexit plus Trump has led to an upsurge in right-wing behaviour even in the UK. On the other hand I can also see your point. Were the referendum to be overturned will it further encourage the right and enable them to gain more toe holds within the WC? Hard to say. Corbyn I think is proposing soft Brexit which is still Brexit, but is that what the outside of big city WC voted for? I’m not clear.

  102. jock mctrousers on said:

    Excuse me trotting this one out again, but this is a bit of a bugbear for me right now:

    Evan P: Firstly, while the traditional far left has very little traction as you say, the Labour Party,… has around half a million members, is the biggest social democratic party in Europe now and most of those members voted for Corbyn, vast numbers of them joining to do just that.

    And these people are not, apart from a tiny element, supporters of insignificant trotskyist groups but ordinary people .

    But funnily enough one of the most insignificant trot groups (I’ve seen estimates of between 30 and 100 members), who are also committed ‘humanitarian interventionists’, having trotted out apologetics for the wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria… i.e totally OPPOSED to everything Corbyn and his supporters stand for – seem to be HUGELY over-represented in the steering and management committees of Momentum, who presumably would be doing the ‘channelling’ in

    Evan P: That movement can and should be channelled into fighting for the best possible conditions for brexit in terms of workers’ rights etc. That will give it huge amounts of what you refer to as traction.

    Excuse me for stating the obvious, but that movement needs to channel ITSELF into some force that is capable of making the Labour party a democratic org, responsive to its grassroots, before it can attempt doing anything else.

    Am I the only person that thinks the over-presence of the AWL in the upper reaches of Momentum is at least a bit odd?

  103. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Am I the only person that thinks the over-presence of the AWL in the upper reaches of Momentum is at least a bit odd?

    My understanding is that one of the 7 person steering group is a member of the AWL and that another person is a fellow traveller. However I agree it is a little odd, except to say that the AWL of the Trot groups that we know and love has always had the greatest orientation around the LP. The SWP and the SP for example, for different reasons, have been independent of the LP.

  104. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Excuse me for stating the obvious, but that movement needs to channel ITSELF into some force that is capable of making the Labour party a democratic org, responsive to its grassroots, before it can attempt doing anything else.

    One of the observations that can be made about Momentum is that it is distinctly undemocratic. I know that you’re talking about the LP in general Jock and you’re right, but it would be a good start for Momentum to have some kind of democratic structure whereby members are appropriately represented.

  105. Jellytot on said:

    brianthedog:
    jock mctrousers,

    “Am I the only person that thinks the over-presence of the AWL in the upper reaches of Momentum is at least a bit odd?”

    Odd and very disturbing.

    There is not many of them but the AWL seem to be experts at infiltrating stuff. A bit like the old RCP.

    Andy wrote a piece about their Shenanigans in a Union a few years back I seem to recall.

  106. brianthedog on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    “agree it is a little odd, except to say that the AWL of the Trot groups that we know and love has always had the greatest orientation around the LP. The SWP and the SP for example, for different reasons, have been independent of the LP.”

    Yes and the AWL unlike the SP for example are cheer leaders for imperialism and backed their wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and NATO occupying Kosovo.

    They are desperate that the Brexit vote is ignored and that we stay with the bankers and big business EU.

    And such is their support of Israel that any criticism gets you labelled as an anti-Semite.

    Trot groups may come in many guises but this one is the most bizarre and disturbing. Not even MI5 in its wildest dreams could make this cult up.

  107. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: My understanding is that one of the 7 person steering group is a member of the AWL and that another person is a fellow traveller.

    Well, all I know is from Labour Party Marxists reports, so there’s the obvious proviso – who are LPM? They could be AWL too…

    But I clearly remember (and I’m sure most will) in the first wave of mainstream demonisation of the Corbyn movement, Momentum was another Militant, and the AWL was doing entryism… maybe like me you just assumed this was lazy or incompetent journalism, that they didn’t actually know that the AWL is so small it barely exists ( like the Weekly Worker’s CPGB)…

    Anyway here’s a couple of sentences from the latest Labour Party Marxists report, which suggest a more substantial AWL bloc in Momentum

    ” Bourgeois newspapers quickly picked up on the “looming split” in Momentum, which in turn led John McDonnell to call an emergency meeting between comrades Lansman and Wrack to sort out the mess and limit the damage.

    Eighteen of the attendees at the November 5 meeting were members of the national committee. The AWL had four comrades present and there was a member each from the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Socialist Appeal and Labour Party Marxists. A journalist from Socialist Worker was shown the door before the start of the meeting and, after a brief discussion, a member of the Socialist Party in England and Wales was also barred from attending.
    Four members of the Momentum steering committee were present: Jackie Walker, Matt Wrack, Jill Mountford and her AWL fellow traveller, Michael Chessum. ”

    Note obviously too, the involvement of McDonnell.

    Here’s the link ( I recommend reading the previous at least 2 reports on this saga – you should be able to find them at this site easily)

    http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/report-of-the-november-5-meeting-of-momentum-national-committee-members/

  108. jock mctrousers on said:

    brianthedog,

    brianthedog: Trot groups may come in many guises but this one is the most bizarre and disturbing. Not even MI5 in its wildest dreams could make this cult up.

    I recall reading somewhere that AWL ‘leader’ Sean Matgamna (pr. Mahoney) also advocates a particularly extreme lowering of the age of consent, but I can’t remember the details…

  109. brianthedog on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    Sean Matgamma the guru of the AWL sees himself as quite the poet.

    He one of his ‘poems’ posted on the AWL website followed by a request to donate if you found it useful.

    “Author: 
    Sean Matgamna
    OEDIPUS REGRETS
    Oh, Mum, Mum,
    I did you wrong;
    Mum, Mum:
    You didn’t cum!”

  110. brianthedog on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    Sean Matgamma the guru of the AWL sees himself as quite the poet.
    Here is one of his ‘poems’ posted on the AWL website followed by a request to donate if you found it useful.

    I must say I didn’t see the need to part with any money.

    “Author: 
    Sean Matgamna
    OEDIPUS REGRETS
    Oh, Mum, Mum,
    I did you wrong;
    Mum, Mum:
    You didn’t cum!”

  111. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    It is clear Andy that despite your earlier announcements to have an open debate and will no longer ban certain individuals imposed by John Wight, it is not the issue. I have legitimately posted comments and links to Socialist Party article as a means to enhance the discussion and they have been unceremoniously deleted which means there is a one-sided view of the events in the Labour Party especially. You have let me down and yourself down by the stalinesque censorship equal to the MOMENTUM leadership. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk.

  112. Jellytot on said:

    jock mctrousers:
    brianthedog,

    I recall reading somewhere that AWL ‘leader’ Sean Matgamna (pr. Mahoney) also advocates a particularly extreme lowering of the age of consent, but I can’t remember the details…

    A somewhat popular policy position of many 1970’s Trot groups.

    Hard to fathom today but Groups like PIE and NAMBLA were considered legitimate “Sexual outlaws” and placed on a par with adult orientated Gay groups.

    Personally I see it as a hang over of all the after meeting gangbangs these groups would engage in back then. I don’t think there was much deep politics involved.

    The CPGB tradition was much more mainstream on these questions.

  113. Jellytot: A somewhat popular policy position of many 1970’s Trot groups.

    Hard to fathom today but Groups like PIE and NAMBLA were considered legitimate “Sexual outlaws” and placed on a par with adult orientated Gay groups.

    Personally I see it as a hang over of all the after meeting gangbangs these groups would engage in back then. I don’t think there was much deep politics involved.

    The CPGB tradition was much more mainstream on these questions.

    There was an incident in the mid-late 70s during the “high” point of the National Front when the PIE called a meeting at Conway Hall in London.

    The NF called for people to turn out to oppose it, and it was probably the only time in their existence that one of their mobilisations had mainstream radio DJs calling on people to support it.

    Several left groups called on people to turn up to oppose the NF, some because they felt on principle that fascists should be opposed wherever they appeared and others because they felt on principle that the PIE should be defended.

    I understand (someone more qualified to comment may wish to confirm or to correct me) that the anti-NF mobilisation was very small in contrast to the normal turnout from the active anti fascist left.

    I remember many years ago a conversation when a friend of mine, a militant anti fascist, said they felt it was a shame that the turnout wasn’t much bigger so that they could have started out by kicking f### out of the fascists and then dealing with the PIE in a similar manner.

    I don’t remember my response 🙂

  114. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 136 —- Alright I will try again and post an observation about POST 128 which quoted an article from the labour party marxists – which gets a lot of air time in the on-line edition of the stalinistesque weekly worker – about the unofficial national MOMENTUM meeting a couple of weeks ago; “…after a brief discussion, a member of the Socialist Party in England and Wales was also barred from attending.” My response to this was to quote from a SOCIALIST article written about the same meeting from the person who was excluded by a leading MOMENTUM member: “Nor does it bode well for the future of Momentum that I was excluded from this meeting for being a Socialist Party member. I am a member of Momentum and have been trying to bring people together in my area in a Momentum group, yet I was told by Nick Wrack – himself undemocratically excluded from the Labour Party – that I cannot be a member of Momentum and a member of the Socialist Party. When I argued against this I was told it would be put to a vote of the meeting. It was voted down without me even being able to put my case.” The whole article is below but do the life of me I cannot see this being “turgid plagiarism.” Quotations and posting articles which I see all the time, especially from stalinesque publications, take place on here all the time, so why not one from a genuinely Trotskyist publication?

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/23901/09-11-2016/momentum-left-meeting-excludes-socialists

  115. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    This is what Labour Council – a Labour Council mind you – in Scotland are doing today and they wonder why the Scottish working class have moved away from Labour up here. ( SPOILER WARNING – SOME PLAGIARISING AHEAD). Glasgow Labour council have descended into the gutter by attempting to recruit a scab workforce in order to defeat a strike of council workers against privatisation. It is part of an onslaught against the trade unions in the city and in particular the socialist-led Glasgow City Unison branch. Glasgow Labour’s action would set a precedent for all other public sector employers to act in the same way when faced with a strike of workers fighting privatisation and cuts. Every single Labour councillor, MP and MSP must be approached to condemn these strike-breaking methods. All trade union branches across Scotland and the UK must respond urgently and sent messages of condemnation to the Glasgow Labour councillors. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and all other “anti-austerity” politician must speak out to condemn these actions. At stake is the right of workers and militant trade unions to defend jobs and livelihoods. It is a fight for every trade unionist, socialist and anti-cuts campaigner to engage in now!

    Send urgent messages of protest to Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council annemarie.odonnell@glasgow.gov.uk
    Labour leader Frank McAveety frank.mcaveety@glasgow.gov.uk
    Labour affiliated trade unions should send motions to constituency Labour parties condemning the actions of Glasgow City Council and demanding the withdrawal of this attempts to break a trade union strike.
    Email Jeremy Corbyn at leader@labour.org.uk to ask him to intervene
    Come to the protest at Glasgow City chambers on Wednesday 7th December 1pm for Labour group meeting at 2pm
    Send messages of support to the Unison strikers to Unison at enquiries@glasgowcityunison.co.uk

    http://socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/2016/12/01/protest-glasgow-labours-scab-workforce-plan-defeat-unison-strike-action/

  116. jim mclean on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,
    Once again the Socialist Party Scotland fail to attack the main culprit, the Corporate Statists of the SNP. Glasgow and every other city in Scotland have suffered harshly as the Nationalist movement dismantle the municipalities to take all under central control of Edinburgh. The Privatisation is wrong but the cause is Nationalist and the aim is the setting up of a right wing Bourgeois entity that is Blood and Soil to the core. Somewhere we just have to say “fuck it, if it walks like a goose its a goose, (nobody is scared of duck steps.) Bit lat at night, will come back over the weekend, but look for the real problem, 10 years of the most austere government policies that have been hidden and on top of what has come from Westminsters. The Scottish Left Nationalists are bullshitters to the core, time to fight back, before we can tackle the SNP we have to show up SSP, SPS, RiseScotland, Solidarity for what they are, should be easy for they are nothing.

  117. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 141 – jim mclean

    Piffle and the rantings of a Labour Supporter. The main culprits are the abject capitulation of the Scottish Labour Councils, and the Scottish Labour Councillors and the Scottish Labour Party to the taking on the SNP Government in Scotland and the Tory Government on a national basis. Every Labour council in Britain are passing on the Tory austerity to the working class. Every Scottish Labour Council and every Labour Council that is in coalition with the SNP and/or the Tories are passing on the cuts that the SNP Scottish Government. But let us be clear here it is a Labour Council in Glasgow that are privatising the council services and it is the Council Unions in Glasgow unions who are fighting back against this Labour council. Labour Supporters in Scotland are not even prepared to blame the Tories for the cause of the cuts in Scotland, there are so ideologically corrupted with the Better Together ideology that as far as they are concerned everything is the SNPs fault. But they still do not fight the SNP government they still carry on the cuts imposed by the Holyrood government. Gutless is what I think! By the way there are Labour Councils in England that are privatising and sacking Council workers that have any control by the SNP government; in fact the all Labour Council in Newham in east London are going to sack its entire work force and rehire them on a new contract with reductions to maternity pay, overtime rate, night pay and lower rates.

    The way to fight is for the Labour Councils to set NO-CUTS BUDGETS. But that is too difficult for the Labour Councillors because it means they will have to fight both the SNP government and their friends in the Better Together community. The Socialist Party Scotland are not involved in the Labour Party in Scotland because there is no enthusiasm for the active working class to join Labour, they wish to remain outside Labour and we are with Them. With elections to all 32 Scottish councils taking place in May 2017, the attention of trade unionists, socialists and anti-austerity campaigners will increasingly turn to a discussion on what is needed to defeat this tsunami of cuts. The starting point for such a discussion has to be that the current policy of the Scottish Government and the 32 council administrations is a bankrupt failure. Their “strategy” has been to pass on every single penny in Tory cuts to workers and communities, making a mockery of their – SNP and Labour – claims to be opposed to austerity. In addition, councils are increasingly turning to privatisation and the use of “arms-length companies” to cut costs, leading to the undermining of workers’ rights and terms and conditions. Socialist Party Scotland and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) offer a real fighting alternative to cuts. The central plank of a viable anti-austerity policy today has to be mass mobilisation of the trade unions and communities and linked to this the drawing up of NO-CUTS BUDGETS in Holyrood and council chambers across Scotland. What has been lacking is the political will to defy austerity and defend working class communities across Scotland. It’s for that reason that Scottish TUSC and others are going to be standing as widely as possible in the elections in May 2017 on this 100% anti-austerity manifesto.