The anti-EU “left” and its embarrassing friends

April 2, 2016 at 11:11 am (Europe, ex-SWP, Lindsey German, posted by JD, stalinism, SWP, wankers)

This way to a cul-de-sac

Alan Thornett reports on the London meeting on March 23 called by Counterfire and the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) in support of an exit vote in the EU referendum.

It’s worth noting that until the announcement of the forthcoming referendum, Alan Thornett and Socialist Resistance, of which he is a leading member, favoured withdrawal from the EU. They still show little sign of fully thinking-through the implications of their change of line, welcome as it.

From the Socialist Resistance website:

It generated a lively debate amongst the hundred plus people who attended.

The platform speakers were Tariq Ali, Lindsey German from Counterfire Liz Payne, chair of the CPB, Harsev Bains from the Indian Workers Association Aaron Bastani from Novara Media, Joseph Choonara from the SWP, and a speaker from the RMT. There was no sign of the Socialist Party who hold a similar vote for exit position.

The stance taken from the platform was that the EU is a reactionary anti-working class project. I suspect most in the room, including myself, agreed with that. Therefore, and this is the controversial part, the only position to have in the referendum a was a vote to leave.

Given this, much of the discussion was about what exit would mean in terms of the political aftermath in Britain and where it would leave the workers’ movement.

The platform was unanimous on this. They argued, incredibly in my view, that an exit vote would create a good situation for the left. It could well bring down the Tories and even bring a left wing Corbyn government to office.

This was strongly challenged by Charlie Hore from RS21 who said that all this completely misunderstood the character of the referendum and the conditions under which it was taking place. It was a Tory leadership project designed to placate the Tory xenophobic right and gather a few votes from UKIP at the election.

I spoke on similar lines and saying the idea that the left would gain from an exit vote was fantasy land. If the vote goes for exit it will be a huge victory for UKIP, the Tory right and for racism and xenophobia. The idea that such an event could push the political situation to the left is simply not credible.

It is far more likely that it would push the situation sharply to the right and could split the Tory party, bringing about a realignment of the xenophobic right which would put them in a stronger position. It would be seen as an endorsement of racism and xenophobia in a referendum and you would not want to be a migrant or an asylum seeker in Britain after such a vote had taken place.

Other floor speakers talked about the need to win back national sovereignty and others talked about how the EU had helped to precipitate war with Russia in Ukraine.

The platform was somewhat embarrassed by the first speaker from the floor. He said he was from People Before Profit in Lewisham and that they were having joint stalls with UKIP. In fact, he said, the UKIP people preferred to hand out the PBP leaflets rather than their own!

All the platform speakers rightly disagreed with this and took the first opportunity presented to say so.

One worrying thing in all this was the complacent attitude taken by the platform regarding the precarious situation that citizens of other EU countries living in Britain would be in the event of an exit. I had raised this in my contribution saying that both of the main exit campaigns had been asked about this and neither had been prepared to say that their situation would remain the same. They have both said that it is not possible to say at this stage.

Joseph Choonara replied to this saying that he thought that it is unlikely that moves would be made against them in the event of an exit because there are a lot of Brits in other EU countries, particularly Spain. Not much comfort there.

Although there was talk at the beginning of the meeting of the need to set up a left exit campaign. At the end of the meeting nothing happened in this regard. You got the distinct feeling that no one was bursting to launch it.

4 Comments

  1. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    The following, all from Thornett’s report of the meeting, are examples of the (male) Left saying – ‘Look at me. I’ve worked it all out!”

    But nobody knows whether any of this stuff is true or not: –

    – “Exit vote would create a good situation for the left. It could well bring down the Tories and even bring a left wing Corbyn government to office / It was a Tory leadership project designed to placate the Tory xenophobic right / The idea that such an event (a vote to leave) could push the political situation to the left is simply not credible / it would push the situation sharply to the right and could split the Tory party.”,

    There’s nowt wrong in saying ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘maybe’ but no-one gets to be a Left Leader like that. You need to have an ill-based high opinion of them. Then you can lead a party for 50 years (like Taaffe and the SP),get nowhere and still be in charge!

    And then when you have worked out the correct line on say, the Bolivian revolution of 1952, you can use that to denounce other Trots whose line on that event isn’t exactly identical to your own.

    So ignore all this guff in the article about what an exit or leave vote will mean. None of these clowns know, and you are a clown if you think you do.

    I’m basing my vote for leave on what I don’t think is a prediction. I think it will be qualitatively more democratic outside (with no commission, Europarliament ,etc.) but 1. I’m not completely sure on leave and 2) I have no idea what a result for stay or leave will mean for the Left.

    And that admission of ‘ignorance’, I think, makes me a lot cleverer than these idiots who do claim to have crystal balls.

  2. Mike Killingworth said,

    The basic problem for the Left is that it assumes that class is determinant in the last instance. This thesis was, of course, developed in ethnically homogeneous societies and it is only in such societies that class politics can hold sway.

    Britain is no longer such a society – identity politics, ranging from civic nationalism to neo-fascism are nowadays at least as powerful as class politics.

  3. Steve Komarnyckyj (@SteveKomarnycky) said,

    The fact that many on the left believe Russia’s propaganda on Ukraine is a damning comment on its intellectual bankruptcy- Russia has attacked and invaded Ukraine repeatedly for centuries before the EU’s existence. The motive is xenophobic hatred of the most primitive kind- an imperialist desire to expand its territory. A trade agreement with the EU of the kind that organisation has signed with Chile and other countries is cited as the EU provoking war with Russia. Western imperialism bad- Russian imperialism good. The Russian imperialist piggies “Oligarchs” cruising Moscow in their Bentleys. Their UK PR is conducted in part by a coalition of the corrupt and the clueless. The Left in the UK is at present, with a few exceptions such as the NUM, a dictator’s megaphone. Meanwhile many Ukrainian leftists are dying on the front line to protect the freedom of this lot to stab them in the back.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    Why don’t they tell us the truth, that in or out of the EU, workers will continue to be exploited? The problems what exist in Britian in the EU will still be there waiting for us if we leave.

    “The platform speakers were Tariq Ali, Lindsey German from Counterfire Liz Payne, chair of the CPB, Harsev Bains from the Indian Workers Association Aaron Bastani from Novara Media, Joseph Choonara from the SWP, and a speaker from the RMT”

    What a line up! Could it get any worse?

    “There was no sign of the Socialist Party who hold a similar vote for exit position.”

    No!

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