Labour’s (and my) dilemma

Graph on Brexit voter choices from NBC News July 17th 2016

I am pro-EU and strongly anti-racist.
I’m not pro the EU in its present structure and economics, but I am pro remaining as part of the EU and reforming from within, because I truly believe that there is a strong movement throughout the EU which could come together and bring about that reform.
In fact, to leave now is a lost opportunity to take part in this movement (note to self – is that why those on the right/leave side want us to leave?).

So, although I understand why Jeremy Corbyn decided to put in a three line whip to get Labour MPs to support Article 50, I cannot support it.

But most of all, I cannot support this because I am an anti-racist and I just cannot condone any part of the Leave campaign; its focus being so much on immigration and pushing the falsehood that immigration is the main problem in our country.
And neither, I think, should Labour.

People will of course tell me that there are many Leave voters who did not have immigration as their main issue over the EU and I believe them:

  • I saw what the EU did to Greece (or to be more precise, what they were able to do because Greece is part of the Eurozone [we are not]).
  • I know that the neo liberal economic structure in the EU is thriving only for the rich on the back of a totally unsound economics of austerity.
  • I know that EU expansion into Eastern Europe is sending out worrying signals for those who want peace in Europe (and the world).
  • I therefore know that the EU, in its present structure, is no friend of the working class, the poor, the old and the sick or the pacifist.

But I go back to my earlier statement. I truly believe that we cannot solve these problems by turning into an isolationist nation, and ‘socialism in one country’ has already been tried… So for those on the left telling me that ‘the brave British working class will send out a fine example of how socialism can be achieved’… you are kidding me, right?

And I cannot agree with any result brought in on the back of anti-immigration scaremongering. Because, even though there were Leave voters who voted leave despite the ‘immigration issue’ rhetoric, it cannot be denied that ‘immigration’ was a major focus of the Leave campaign.

All of this has left me with a huge dilemma.

I am a Corbyn supporter. I believe that, if allowed to reach fruition, his policies are sound. His ten pledges are sound. And I want to see a Socialist Labour Party win elections.

But, for me, along with all this, I need to see a full-on anti-racist rhetoric.
I don’t want to see Labour picking up and discussing ‘immigration policies’ which take on the populism of the anti-immigration lobby.

Labour shouldn’t be being led by the ‘immigration’ lobby; they should be making and leading their own political agendas.

And that brings me in a roundabout way back to my dilemma…

The majority of Labour MPs voted to trigger Article 50 because ‘the people had spoken’ and ‘we have to follow democracy’.

I’m sorry, but to me that sounds like pandering to a confusion of fascist rhetoric with ‘the will of the people’ and a strange understanding of democracy.

I’m not going to go along the road of ‘the referendum wasn’t a democratic mandate’; I haven’t time for that here. I’m more interested in the image that Labour is projecting – that ‘the people’, as some mass ‘lump’, are above democracy – if you ‘speak’ in large enough numbers, to hell with the outcome, we will follow you anyway…

Sod the fact that MPs are representatives not delgates; in fact, sod Parliamentary democracy anyhow; and sod any feelings/knowledge that Brexit is so wrong and harmful for the very people who voted for it.

And sod the fact that any demigogue who has the money and the contacts to speak loudly enough and to enough people can say that he or she ‘represents the will of the people’…

‘The people have spoken’ and Labour, along with all but one of the Tory party are so afraid of losing votes in current and upcoming elections, that they will work ‘on the people’s behalf’.

I think this was a bad move by Labour as a whole (well, except for the 50 ‘rebels’, some of whom sadly had their own agenda…).
It wasn’t just Corbyn’s three line whip that was wrong. It was and is the whole misperception that ‘immigration is a major problem’.

Austerity politics are the BIG problem.

Anti-austerity may not provide such good ‘soundbites’ and the economic arguments can be complex, but I cannot believe that there is not someone in Labour who could not provide the arguments in a fashion that will catch people’s attention and immaginations.
Look at what happened when Corbyn spoke, off the cuff, about capping bosses’ salaries. Some in the Labour Party hated this ‘unplanned statement’, but it was an attention grabber…and people loved it.

So, please Labour..I know you have two by-elections to win (some would say) against the odds, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that hiking onto the populist ‘immigration is a big issue’ bus is the answer to your electoral needs.

You may win votes in the short term, but you will lose others:
Because voters will not believe you and think you are simply being opportunist.
Because your core vote is anti-racist and anti fascist rhetoric and will not be prepared to take on anything that has elements of fascism at its base.

Either way, the ‘immigration is an issue’ part of the Brexit campaign should not be taken on by the Labour Party.
I really hope you are better than that….


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