Labour’s approach to Brexit is the right approach and it may just save us all from disaster.

As Unions and former front benchers move to pressurise the Party to accept a “soft Brexit” what they must realise is that the beauty of the Labour Party’s position lies in making the distinctions between the hard and soft Brexits (whatever they may be, because they are far from clear) irrelevant.”

Labour are committed to taking the UK out of the EU, that is clear, what their post Brexit vision for the UK is and what sort of Brexit (hard/soft, red/white/blue etc.) they advocate is, perhaps by design, less so. It is, in fact a little ambiguous and open, as a result there’s level of confusion out there concerning their position.

“Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.”

Reads the 2017 manifesto while going on to promise an

“…end [to] Theresa May’s reckless approach to Brexit, and seek to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain.”

May’s approach is, of course, to push a narrative of faux toughness in the face of EU bogey men negotiators who are determined to make sure that the UK is made an example of as a deterrent to other would be Exiters as she tells us,

“I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

Throughout the election campaign May and the Conservatives pushed the line that, in any negotiation one must be prepared to walk away, pre-empting a combative process the Conservative have set the scene for negotiations fraught with conflict. While Labour want to “build a close new relationship” and this distinction is key to understanding Labour’s approach.

“Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and if needs be negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge’ for the economy.”

Labour, while they are committed to leaving the EU, they are also committed to negotiating deal. One that, as we read the rest of the manifesto looks to:

    • Keep the UK a part of Horizon 2020
    • Maintain our membership of organisations which benefit us such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency
    • Keep us apart of the Erasmus scheme for students
    • Ensure EU market access for our farm and agricultural industries
    • Ensure that EU derived laws including workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections are fully protected
    • Ensures no hard boarder between NI and the ROI

 

And so on and so on, but to what end? To maintain as close a relationship to the EU as possible without being a member of it that’s what. Add to this the often repeated mantra and a picture does start to emerge. Labour will essentially look to take us out of the EU, out of the single market, while maintaining as many of the benefits of membership as possible. May would say this is impossible, more accurately though it’s something she is not willing to try.


Trying to go for the best of all possibilities is some we have to be prepared to do, ignoring the result of the referendum is not an option but neither is sending the country’s economy down the swanny.

As Unions and former front benchers move to pressurise the Party to accept a “soft Brexit” what they must realise is that the beauty of the Labour Party’s position lies in making the distinctions between the hard and soft Brexits (whatever they may be, because they are far from clear) irrelevant. The labour Party leadership is able to side step and not get draw into the hard/soft divide, therefore by-passing the many pit-falls that pot that route, it simply doesn’t recognise the categories hard and soft and therefore it is able to approach the negotiations with and open mind and an open heart.

They have committed to a negotiating position, and to doing a deal that enables the UK to act not as members of but partners to the EU, one of cooperation not competition.

“But the EU will never allow us a deal that has all the benefits of membership without accepting the terms of membership!”

Has anyone tried to as ask them that? Labour have said they will at least try and that rather than being combative in the negotiation they will try to be cooperative and open and seek support from European partners in other Socialist parties, which for me is the best approach to take, it’s better than the UKIPers of the Tory Right, the faux outrage and combative approach of May and it is better than the soft Brexiteers calling for us to essentially stay in the EU by staying in the Single Market. And at the end of it all they will

“.. legislate to guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Bre􀁛it deal.”

Ensuring parliamentary scrutiny and full democratic processes. So can everyone just wind their necks in for the time being and let things play out.

JEREMY CORBYN OUR PM

Last night I wrote this:

“It’s just gone 23:15, I’m catching up on some of the day’s Glastonbury performances and that song is everywhere, I’m amazed and elated but there’s  a niggling hintergedanken that stops me from getting too carried away, in truth a part of me is worried.”

But as I sit here now with watching Craig David perform his set in front of what looks like 100’s of thousands of people, all waiting for Jeremy Corbyn, the niggling hintergedanken I had has now been pushed so far to the back of my mind that it’s unnoticeable and I’m now in full danger of getting carried away.

My Twitter feed is buzzing with pictures from Glastonbury and pictures of Jeremy.

You know what, given the year we’ve had:

Jo Cox, Brexit, Corbyn being blamed for it, “The Coup”, the leaderhip challenge, Anti-Semitism accusations, the purge, terrorist sympathiser, unelectability, Manchester Bomb, London Bridge and Borough Market, Grenfell and so on and so on…

A year ago the PLP registered a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, but he stood firm, he stood firm for those of us that hope and dream for a better politics and now here he is set to hit the pyramid stage of Glastonbury.

We deserve to get carried away.

 

GO ON JEREMY!

Image_pnjhg

 

 

The Jeremy Corbyn Conundrum

It’s just gone 23:15, I’m catching up on some of the day’s Glastonbury performances and that song is everywhere, I’m amazed and elated but there’s  a niggling hintergedanken that stops me from getting too carried away, in truth a part of me is worried.

I adore Jeremy Corbyn, it’s true, not just because of his politics, his integrity and his dedication to the cause of social justice and socialism, I adore him because he’s genuine and this makes him comfortable delivering his message wherever he is, be it in the House of Commons or addressing a crowd of festival goers.

“Oh, Jeremy Corbyn”

The chant may have been sung elsewhere but it was when Corbyn went to address music festival goers at Prenton Park, that it first slipped into the Corbyn narrative. When he stepped onto the stage the crowd there, in true football fan fashion, started to chant the phrase to the baseline of the White Stripes Classic, Seven Nation Army, and it’s been chanted everywhere he’s been since.

Tomorrow, in an unprecedented move and a show of the huge popularity he has gained, particularly among the young, Jeremy Corbyn will walk out onto the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury to address the crowd and introduce the politically outspoken US Hip-Hop group RTJ (Run The Jewels). This is the 67 year old leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition we are talking about but thid seems to have caused an unheard of buzz of anticipation and excitement, more than any of the acts themselves, around the whole of the festival.

One only need look at the election campaign where from West Kirby to Lemington Spa and from Gateshead to Leeds to Birmingham to see that Jeremy Corbyn is capable of drawing huge crowds of people. But tomorrow, this promises to be something else.

Earlier in the week I wrote this:  

“Peaceful protests and demonstrating dissatisfaction and anger are… essential So protest, meet other like minded people, either in person at organised events or online, and go out and peacefully show your dissatisfaction and anger, DON’T let anyone call you a rabble, a mob or riotous and ignore those that would repress your democratic right. For this will build start to movement for change that will roll across the UK and the rest of Europe like a tidal wave. The Times They are a Changing.”

Now, I’ll admit and as you can see, I’m often guilty of sometimes of getting a little carried away with grandiose utopian statements,  but crikey, the whole of Glastonbury is chanting the mans name in anticipation of his appearance! As Owen Jones said, “Something extraordinary is happening

But this is what worries me, the drive for democratic socialism and social justice is more important than one man and I just hope that the growing mass popularity doesn’t overshadow the message and the overall movement itself and that it doesn’t get associated with one man or with a momentary wave of populism of the “ah! yes the 2017 summer of Corbyn, remember that” sort, there has to be a post Corbyn plan, and that plan starts with the full democratisation of the Labour Party and the building of a party for the members by the members.

So if you haven’t already JOIN LABOUR  go to your CLP meetings and make sure that this leads to lasting change for the better, for social justice, for democratic socialism.

 

SOLIDARITY!

 

Only a Labour Party of the Left has any relevance.

 

On the 11th of September 2016 The Observer published an Opinium poll showing it would be highly unlikely if not impossible for a party of the left to win a General Election.

“Three times as many voters now regard themselves as on the centre ground or to the right of British politics as those who see themselves as on the left,” it said, while publishing its results under the headline “How Britain’s new political tribes hinder Labour’s bid for a winning coalition” and it went on to describe a new electorate, an electorate where only 25% of voters identified as being of the left.

A new electorate1

The poll didn’t stop there though, it also asked where they thought the leaders of the main political parties where on the left – right spectrum and the results were equally stark, the differences between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn clear.

A new electorate2.png

At the time I looked at this poll with both cynicism and suspicion on the one hand and disappointment and concern on the other. What these results seemed to show was that the British electorate saw themselves as being centrist or centre-right / right and that, being the leader perceived by most people as being of the centre / centre-right, Theresa May was best placed to capitalise. The numbers seemed to show that she was able to appeal to a much wider section of the electorate than Corbyn, with him only really aiming at a quarter of voters and so condemning Labour under Corbyn as “unelectable”.

My cynicism stemmed from other ongoing dramas being played out at the time. When the poll was published the Labour Party was in the closing stages the leadership election that was triggered by the coup attempt launched against Jeremy Corby, by the bulk of the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) , after the EU referendum result. It came at a time when Corbyn was being attacked by the media and many within the PLP for being “unelectable” and it all seemed to fit a little too nicely with this ongoing narrative.

My disappointment and concern stemmed from the disbelief I had at the apparent eagerness exhibited by so many of the British working class to vote against their interests and the numerous and apparently insurmountable obstacles to the advancement of our movement that lay in our path, such as a very hostile media and 40 years of ingrained neoliberal propaganda.

A few weeks after the publication of the poll Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as Labour leader with an increased majority. I watched the announcement live along with a few hundred others in the Black-E, an old community centre in Liverpool’s China-Town, that was the venue for Momentum’s World Transformed event, a parallel fringe conference that ran along side the Labour Party Conference. The reaction form the crowd as the result was announced was elation and with it came a certainty as to how we should proceed.

Only a Labour Party of the left has any relevance.

The implicit principle behind the notion of “electability” is that, if you want to be elected, you need to be a centrist or of the centre-right, that is where the majority of the electorate see themselves so that’s who you have to appeal to to become elected, and according to the Opinium poll in order to appeal to them you apparently need to be like Theresa May or her Tory Party, who supposedly held that ground. 

But who want’s to support a Labour Party ran for “electability” on a Tory Party like manifesto, the answer is, no-one, one may as well vote tory.

So I repeat again, only a Labour Party of the left, a Labour Party that stands as a Democratic Socialist Party for the representation of Labour over Capital has any relevance, that is the sort party we want, need and must fight for and that was the entrenched position so many of us at The World Transformed event resolved ourselves to taking.

It would be bloody and brutal but the fight for the heart and soul of the Labour Party was and is still on. Prior to GE2017 with Labour polling at 20 points or more behind the Tories it seemed that the Opinium poll had read the mood of the country quite well and I was prepared for a dreadful result but I was also determined to stay in it for the long haul. Staying to help ensure that the Labour Party would remain a party of Labour, one that would be further democratised ran by and aligned to its members, that is what we would work for once the the dust had settled after the election. I needn’t have been so pessimistic.

We on the left of the Labour Party can now all take heart, what the 2017 General Election shows is that when Labour poses a clear and distinct left-wing alternative, campaigning on a manifesto of the left, it is capable of attracting mass support, the sort of support needed for election victory, and as I write now a new poll has been released showing that Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings have overtaken Theresa May for the first time.

By showing itself to be so different from the centrists and the right, the Labour Party has succeeded in shifting the mood of the electorate, awakening their sense of class.

The Labour Party has reignited class politics and by aligning itself with the class politics of the many not the few it has attracted mass support.

And that is the road it must stick to.

Will the Observer be commissioning Opinium, to re-do the poll, to see if there’s been a shift in how the electorate see themselves on the political spectrum? Doubtful, but I’d like them to because something feels to be different something has changed over the last few weeks. You can feel it in the air. 

The Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn can no longer be criticised as being “unelectable” or “unpopular”, that battle has been won, what they must do now is stay relevant to the times build on this and build for victory, for the next election may be very soon.

 

“… a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery of desperation…”

Jeremy Corbyn has been in the right side of history for decades, and watching this video one can’t help but notice how prophetic a speech it was.

Only by shifting our focus to supporting and strengthening our allies and friends in the Middle East, our socialist comrades in the region, who are engaged in battles with Western Imperialism on the one hand and Islamic Fundamentalism on the other, will we be able to make the changes necessary to establish peace and break the downward cycle of hate.

SOLIDARITY

Building a Mass Movement for Change

This goes hand in hand with the Labour Party’s permanent campaign for the struggle against those who put profit before people.

John McDonnell last week called for 1 million people to take to the streets to campaign for the removal of Theresa May as Prime Minister, to “deepen the crisis for the Conservatives” and trigger a new General Election and the response form the right has been all too predictable.

Senior Labour MPs were reported in the right-wing press as saying that John McDonnell is acting undemocratically and irresponsibly by calling for mass action.

“Marxist Shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, true to his ideological roots, is set to show, in complete contempt for the democratic process by ignoring the election result, which returned the Tories as the party with the most seats, by calling upon militant unions and Labour’s new army of left-wing Trotskyite Entryists, who joined the party to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid, to take to the streets to over throw the government” is what they believe and fear.

But aside from all the scaremongering, let ’s be clear, there is nothing undemocratic about peaceful protests and the peaceful assembly of people who want their voices heard. In fact, it’s the most obvious and clear demonstration of democracy in action there is and not only that, the mass organisation of people is a requirement for change and the democratic evolution of society.

That’s why the right, hungry for power and control, are so against it. They don’t want people to meet to discuss politics, and share ideas for they fear those discussions and ideas will ferment into a potent programme for change.

The conservatives, the clue being in the name, are against the evolution of society, the don’t want change, they want the exact opposite of change, they want to extend into perpetuity the conditions that protect the role of capital and profit over people and consolidated the power of the few wealth and powerful dynasties that dominate public life and who control the media outlets that manage the conservative narrative.

The last thing they want is let the people get together and discuss these issues together for this by-passes the areas of society they control. This is why Theresa Mays wants to radically change the way information is shared via the internet, it’s an area of society where they can’t control the content and dictate the narrative, it’s, for the time being out of the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Truth.

Peaceful protests and demonstrating dissatisfaction and anger are, therefore essential. Make no mistake about it, an absence of mass movements working for change and a better society for all will result in further de-regulation and the rolling back of our labour rights and privileges, don’t forget David Cameron pledged to kill of health and safety culture! Under those conditions, an absence of people expressing their worries and concerns to put pressure on those in power and the presence of a government hell-bent on pushing the dominance of profit over people, will result in a world were Grenfell’s are common place, where people die at work because health and safety is no longer a corporate responsibility and where people who lose their jobs are left to destitution and homelessness.

So protest, meet other like minded people, either in person at organised events or online, and go out and peacefully show your dissatisfaction and anger, DON’T let anyone call you a rabble, a mob or riotous and ignore those that would repress your democratic right. For this will build start to movement for change that will roll across the UK and the rest of Europe like a tidal wave. The Times They are a Changing.

 

Just a quick one today, it’s fathers day and well, I have duties.

 

Bonds Forged in Fire are Impossible to break

With tragic events like the terrorist attacks at Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Borough Market and the horrific fire at Grenfell Towers it’s hard to pull out any positives, but in amongst the raw emotion, grief, anger and sadness we are often confronted with something that we can celebrate, something that we must pull out, examine, understand and learn from; for events such as these bring out of us the one thing we all share, our humanity.

These events are often accompanied by extreme acts of bravery, kindness and selflessness. After the Manchester Bombing taxi drivers raced towards the scene to offer lifts so that people could leave the area safely. Londoners opened up their homes to those caught up in the terrorist attack and there has been an amazing outpouring of compassion for those who lost everything at Grenfell. Not to mention the moving acts of bravery and heroism from the people of our emergency services.

In times of tragedy, if you look carefully enough, you might just get a glimpse of something remarkable, a momentary vision of a future we could achieve if, instead of being caught up in the cut-and-thrust of our current consumerist and competitive society, we stopped and co-operated to work together towards a better world. For tragic events show us that we are all capable of empathy, kindness and love. We are reminded that we are all bound together by the shared essence everyone of us enjoys as human. These bonds are always present, even though we often fail to recognise them, they are there, forged in the fires of our shared history, our shared DNA, our shared origin they exist in the background of all that we do, and as bonds forged in fire they are impossible to break.

It’s perhaps lamentable that it takes the most inhuman events imaginable to draw out of us the best of human compassion, but there it is, contradictions are a fact of life and nature.

In times of tragedy class, race, religion, nationality and other such social influences that usually divide us, disappear and we confront each other as humans, as people, not as poor or rich, not as a Brit, European, Arab, African or Asian, not as a Christian, Jew or Muslim, nor as a buyer or seller, a producer or a consumer, an employer or an employee. All of these social relations melt away and the whole of our essence becomes reduced to the single act of a stranger reaching out a hand of help to someone in need.

And that is why I am a Socialist. Not because I want to see the current crisis in Venezuela replicated across the world and not because I’m a huge fan of Stalin or the Soviet Union. Such fallacious criticisms of socialism do nothing but avoid and distract us from a clear and rigorous critique of world events.

but I digress…….

I’m a socialist because I love everyone, I love what we could become and what we could achieve if we all come to realise what and who we are, for what an who we are is human, nothing else.