Labour has got to hurry

There is no time to waste when you’re a real alternative government – and that is what Labour has now become.

But they need to sort out their EU strategy. They already seem to have said that they want to have the same benefits outside the customs union as inside it (which seems a tad unlikley) but they too, seem to have bought the meme that free movement of people is a problem. Immigration may have been on Nigel Farage’s infamous poster but it wasn’t on the ballot paper. So the idea that the Brexiteers were all voting against immigration is purely speculative.

It is equally likely – well I’d say even more so – that people were voting against austerity. The government was happy for the press and people in general to conclude that when the schools were full up with, say, Syrians it is was the Syrians’ fault, rather than the fault of that same British government for failing to allocate adequate resources to education.

The Labour Party appears happy to accept this Conservative and Daily Mail interpretation of the referendum result. This is a profound mystery for a party of Labour. It leaves them arguing for the strict control of the movement of Labour – while at the same time proposing the completely free movement of Capital.

Some form of Capital control is one of the few advantages of Brexit, though it seems never to be mentioned – and, I fear, that is rather indicative of those who favour Brexit. Capital is the real citizen of nowhere and needs to be controlled  to improve financial stability. (Chile has, if I remember correctly, a scheme where capital is taxed at 50% if it leaves sooner than six months after it arrived.)

If Labour decides it must have controls on migrant labour then at the very least it must control migrant capital as well.

They should really be taking on board the ineptness of the Conservatives. They gave the Article 50 notification in March. Why? There was no plan. Elections in both France and Germany were due. The incompetence is staggering and unnerving. It is our futures, but the so called will of the people will pertain even though the referendum was on a majority so slim that it was unlikely to be enough to change the constitution at one of their true blue golf clubs.

In due course the Conservatives, so used to success falling into their laps, have discovered that one against 27 doesn’t engender the sense of entitlement that is their norm in life. Obsessing over their own Party’s future they had no concept of the country’s future. And they still don’t.

There is now not even the appearance of strength or stability – quite the reverse. The EU is watching on as Britain’s Brexit strategy turns out to be a recipe for self destruction – with the Irish question added in for good measure. It is incompetence on a grand scale. It is so inept that it is likely that Britain will be ‘Taking back control’ to such an extent that it will be isolated rather than independent.

Labour should be able to do better without much thinking.

Indeed a more radical strategy  would be to formulate a policy with other European left leaning parties on reform of the EU. If a consensus for reform were put together then there would be a good reason for holding another referendum. Given that most European countries would prefer Britain to stay (largely, I suspect, because of our financial contribution, the lack of which is likely to prove problematic for other EU members) there is some reason to hope that reasonable reforms of the EU might be accepted.

So a proper alternative strategy is likely to be vote winning as well as of benefit to Britain – and could also be of benefit to the EU as a whole.

Rather like the election manifestos, there is no hope from the Tories. It is an all too realistic prospect that Conservative Brexit negotiations will self destruct, and in so doing will do for the prospects of all of us in the UK as well.

It is now Labour’s responsibility – as they have so often done – to give us all hope and vision.

Comments

  1. Sean Danaher -

    Indeed it is all very worrying. I am putting a post together also on Brexit. It was Richard Murphy who said somethin like “May’s strategy is like a 5 year old girl on the 17th floor of a council tower block wanting a golden unicorn for Christmas”.

    Fintan O’Toole has an article (10th June) I would recommend in the New York Review of Books, “Britain: the end of a fantasy”: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/06/10/britain-the-end-of-a-fantasy/

    He normally writes for the Irish Times and has won the European Journalist Award this year for his coverage of Brexit.

    Being Irish I am all too familiar with the DUP and do worry about their influence on government. Their “cake and eat it” views on Brexit are even more fantastical than the Tory’s.

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      Thanks for the link to Fintan O’Toole’s article, Sean. Very good and oh so accurate. Mind you, I don’t think I’ve ever read a duff article by him, and Ship of Fools (how stupidity and corruption sank the Celtic Tiger) is as good a piece of non fiction as you’ll find anywhere.

      1. Sean Danaher -

        Indeed. I know Richard Murphy is a long term fan also. I quote Fintan a bit more in my Irish perspective Brexit piece tomorrow.

  2. Jeni Parsons aka havantaclu -

    Indeed there are too many people living in a fantasy world in which the British Empire still rules the waves, and Britons never shall be slaves (especially to a bunch of lippy foreigners who have had to be rescued twice in the recent past).
    The irony being that when that particular song was written, corsairs from North Africa had only recently raided villages in the South-West peninsula, and churches were collecting money to ransom those carried off.
    Labour needs to shout the truth from the rooftops – the chains are of your own making. Open your eyes!

  3. Geoff -

    Interesting piece Peter.
    I’m always struck by some of the simple facts about out trade with the EU. In just one industry, car part manufacturing, parts made in the UK can currently be sent for assembly in France before being used in cars built in Germany. According to the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, “it is not uncommon for a single car part to cross 15 borders before it is built into a vehicle.” Without our involvement in the single market and the customs union these parts could easily be made in Europe.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Airbus wings are also an issue. Apparently they are mad in only two countries the UK and China. If relations get really bad, the EU may opt for the latter.

      1. Geoff -

        I was reading Britain is the third largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), after the US and China, receiving more than £1tr (€114tr) of inward investment in 2014. According to the UK parliament, “FDI directly supports around 30,000 jobs in Britain.”
        Surely much of that is directly down to the fact we are a gateway to the EU markets. If/when we leave the EU that advantage will be lost.

        1. Sean Danaher -

          I think that is true though in percentage of GDP Ireland is well ahead of the UK. I have a piece going out tomorrow. Another reason why Brexit is an idiotic idea. Far better to stay in and reform.

  4. Cat -

    I totally agree. I’ve always thought it best to stay in and reform it.

    RE this: “Indeed a more radical strategy would be to formulate a policy with other European left leaning parties on reform of the EU. If a consensus for reform were put together then there would be a good reason for holding another referendum. Given that most European countries would prefer Britain to stay (largely, I suspect, because of our financial contribution, the lack of which is likely to prove problematic for other EU members) there is some reason to hope that reasonable reforms of the EU might be accepted.

    So a proper alternative strategy is likely to be vote winning as well as of benefit to Britain – and could also be of benefit to the EU as a whole.”

    The only organisation that I know of attempting to reform the EU is Diem25, which seems to have quite a lot of activists in Germany and France in particular (although of course they are bigger). People from the UK seem to be less involved – for obvious reasons. There are Labour links of course via John McDonnell and other non-party ones. I also thought Varoufakis had the only sensible post-referendum solution (Trigger Article 50 and go for the Norway option). Although I guess the EU could have played hardball – in fact seems quite likely.

    I don’t know if there are any other organisations? Is there any mileage in this? I feel like we’re running out of time – and waiting for the cinder keg to blow.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Hi Cat
      agreed. Certainly Guy Verhofstadt seems to have got the message that things are badly wrong with the EU. There is a link to his speech in my Brexit piece tomorrow. I am well aware of Diem25; there is link on the site and I was hoping to make the Irish launch about 10 days ago – it got good coverage in Ireland and I discussed it when there last weekend at my class of ’77 reunion. I applaud Varoufakis; reform is the way forward. Sadly for the UK it seems to have reached zugzwang according to Prof Simon Wren-Lewis

      1. Cat -

        Very interesting to hear that the Irish launch received attention. Sounds promising!

Write a reply or comment Comments Policy

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *