Blog

Week One: No billionaires, no poverty

9th November 2019

Corbyn Change

Jeremy Corbyn – launching Labour’s campaign for real change

The first week of the General Election campaign in the UK has already seen fault lines open up between the two main parties in a way which will define what this election is about.  The commitment of Labour to address the needs of the many, not the few has been evident in announcements on housing, public spending, maternity pay and childcare.  The position of the Tories has largely been to play catch up, by making public sector spending promises which are a poor shadow of those made by Labour.

It is remarkable that the Tories have miraculously discovered that the NHS, industry and pubic services might be things worth investing in.   The difference of course is that the Tories are merely paying lip service, in order to win votes, whereas a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would be committed to a real effort to shift the balance of power in favour of those currently paying the price for the failures of capitalism.

In spite of their efforts to steal Labour clothes the Tories have stumbled through a chaotic first week of campaigning, which has seen the supercilious Jacob Rees-Mogg forced to apologies over remarks about the Grenfell Tower fire; the resignation of Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, who supported a former aide whose testimony caused a rape trial to collapse; and Johnson himself being caught on video making a rambling speech in Northern Ireland, at which he appears not to understand the terms of his own Brexit deal.

Johnson had set the tone earlier in the week with a column in the Daily Telegraph in which he compared Jeremy Corbyn to Joseph Stalin.  Johnson accused Corbyn of hating “profit so viscerally that he will destroy the very foundations of prosperity in our country.”

Johnson went on to suggest that Labour Party members “pretend that their hate is only directed at certain billionaires, at whom they point the finger with a vindictive pleasure that has not been seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks.”  The absurdity of Johnson’s remarks were summed up by Corbyn who responded via Twitter on “The absurdities the ultra-rich can come out with in order to avoid paying a little more tax …”

The media have done their best, no doubt in the interests of balance, to cover issues that have been problematic for Labour.  The resignation of Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, was plastered across the press as a shock which had “stunned Labour.”  In reality Watson’s decision had been known to Corbyn’s office a week earlier and the timing agreed with the Labour leader.  In spite of Watson stepping down for genuine personal reasons the media narrative inevitably ran the story they wanted about splits in Labour.

The antisemitism bogie was also given a further run with former Labour MPs, Ian Austin and John Woodcock, being given airtime disproportionate to their importance to wheel out the old trope that Labour is lax in tackling antisemitism.  Both went as far as to say they would rather see Boris Johnson continue in Downing St than Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister.

Margaret Hodge, recently reselected as candidate for her seat in Barking, who knows Corbyn’s record as an anti racist of many years standing, also refused to endorse the Labour leader.  When pressed as to who she would rather see as Prime Minister, Johnson or Corbyn she responded,

“I want a Labour government.  I think any government is more than any individual. And I want a Labour government.”

The real low point came when the 8th November front page headline and editorial of the voice of the conservative Jewish community, The Jewish Chronicle, addressed a call “To Our Fellow British Citizens” it stated,

“The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an antisemite. In the most recent poll, last month, the figure was 87 per cent.

Putting oneself in the shoes of another person, or another group, can be difficult. But we believe it is important — and urgent — that you do that. Perhaps the fact that nearly half (47 per cent) of the Jewish community said in that same poll that they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Mr Corbyn wins on December 12 will give you an indication of what it feels like to be a British Jew at a time when the official opposition is led by a man widely held to be an antisemite.”

The subsequent article is a disgraceful fabric of lies and unsubstantiated allegations, including asserting that antisemitism in the Labour Party is “inspired by its leader” and that Corbyn personally has “racist views”.

Not surprisingly Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, tweeted the Jewish Chronicle front page, swallowing the slurs lock, stock and barrel.

With four weeks still to go every effort will be made by the media, the political establishment and those opposed to justice and human rights for Palestine to caricature Labour’s position and slur Corbyn personally.

For his part Corbyn has stood by his pledge not to get into the politics of the gutter.  He has stood by the clear message of Labour’s first week of campaigning; no billionaires, no poverty.

It is a message which those siding with the few fear.  It is a message which is having an increasing impact with the many.

 

 

 

 

Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer….

29th October 2019

GECorbyn

Corbyn – ready to fight the General Election

With the date for a UK General Election now established as 12th December 2019, mobilisation to support the manifesto of the Labour Party has to be an absolute priority for the labour and trade union movement.  The austerity loving Liberal Democrats have demonstrated that they are fully paid up members of the pro EU Remain tendency, blind to the devastation EU membership has wreaked upon the UK economy over the past forty years and indifferent to the impact upon workers’ rights.  As their time in coalition with the Tories demonstrated, their interests align with those of big business, not the working people of the UK.

The Scottish Nationalists continue to bluster as paper radicals but like the Lib Dems align themselves to the EU and will work towards preventing Brexit at any cost.  The DUP continue to tread their sectarian opportunist path, in defence of partition and the protection of Protestant privilege, in the North of Ireland.  They do not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to other parts of the UK, unless they say so.

The Tories have gathered some momentum under Boris Johnson but will still be vulnerable to hardline Leavers defecting to the Brexit Party and pro-EU one nation Tories drifting towards former bedfellows the Lib Dems.  Enough disaffection across the country could see the Tory vote dwindle and, in some cases, let Labour in through the middle.

Labour, while having a compromised position on Brexit, negotiate a new deal then go to a referendum with Remain on the ballot paper, are still the only Party with policies which will give hope to working people in the UK.  The core manifesto promises represent the best chance in a generation of effecting anything like a shift in the direction of travel in social policy and would begin to challenge some of the core economic assumptions which have underpinned the neo-liberal consensus of the past forty years.

Public sector investment is the engine of the economy.  Without it the private sector cannot function.  Without schools, roads, hospitals and welfare provision the private sector could not operate on any significant scale.  Labour’s commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030 is the biggest single commitment of any party to taking seriously the climate emergency and linking environmental concerns to the need for progressive industrial investment.

The Green Deal will be at the heart of Labour’s pitch to the electorate in general and young people in particular.

Labour are committed to the re-nationalisation of the failing railway infrastructure; bringing the Royal Mail back into public ownership; taking back the water industry from foreign investors profiting from water supply, a basic human need.  Labour will be committed to more Council housing; more investment in and co-operation with local government; a rebuilding of the NHS and adult social care programmes.

Ofsted will be abolished and a National Education Service established.  University tuition fees will go.  Anti-trade union legislation introduced by the Tories to shackle workers’ rights and left unchallenged by the EU, will be repealed.  Universal Credit will go.

Housing bought purely for profit and standing empty while people are homeless will be subject to compulsory purchase.

Ironically, the major barrier to Labour implementing such a radical programme is membership of the EU itself.  The four pillars of the EU, the so called four freedoms for the movement of goods, services, capital and labour are not freedoms in any real sense at all.  They are the freedoms of the free market, the freedom for capital to move and cheap labour to be exploited.  They are constraints, they are chains.

The manifesto which still stands up to scrutiny, published in the 19th century, had a bit to say about chains.  As Marx and Engels quite rightly observed in Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), workers of the world “have nothing to lose but their chains.”

As importantly, and even more relevant now than it was then in the face of the worldwide climate emergency, is the closing sentence of the quotation, “They have a world to win.”

A Labour victory in December may not be quite on the scale of winning the world, but it will be a first step in the right direction.

 

No ifs, no buts, General Election now!

20th October 2019

Last Chance

Jeremy Corbyn – last chance looming

Boris Johnson has sent a letter to the EU requesting an extension to the UK withdrawal process until 31st January 2020.  Johnson has sent the letter because he had to, under the terms of the Benn Act, but he as not signed it.

Johnson has also sent a second letter, which he has signed, making it clear that, while he was obliged to send the first letter, he does not agree with it and will press on to deliver his declared position of securing UK withdrawal from the EU by the 31st October 2019. This position has been confirmed by Cabinet Minister in charge of exiting the EU, Michael Gove, on Sky News this morning, who claimed that the government had “the means and the ability” to leave on 31st October.

EU Council President, Donald Tusk has acknowledged receipt of the UK’s letter requesting an extension and has said he will consult EU leaders “on how to react.”  It is likely that EU leaders will sit on their hands for as long as possible, waiting to see what new drama unfolds in the UK Parliament before taking a view.

The Parliamentary chicanery which resulted in this position looks set to continue this week when the government proposes to bring its Withdrawal Bill to the House of Commons, in order to get agreement in principle on Johnson’s deal, before the hand to hand combat of scrutiny and amendment proposals begins.

This process could be quickly circumvented however with a vote of no confidence from Labour and a motion resulting in a General Election.  There is no prospect that the Bill the Tories present will be amendable in any way acceptable to Labour’s current position.  Labour conference policy is to press for a General Election, after which a new deal can be negotiated with the EU and put to a referendum with Remain also on the ballot paper.

This in itself is a hugely compromised position, reflecting the extent to which the pro-Remain faction within Labour has gained ground and is effectively holding Corbyn hostage.  However, the danger of pressure mounting inside Parliament for a second referendum, which poses Remain against a leave deal negotiated by Johnson, must surely be less acceptable to many on the Labour frontbench.  A General Election is the only logical demand to make.

The schisms within Labour however may run too deep for this position to gain traction.  Significant front bench weight, including John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Kier Starmer are weighing in behind a pro Remain position.  Starmer has already said that Labour would support an amendment requiring Johnson’s deal to be put to a referendum, a proposal he expects to be tabled.  The net effect of this would be a Johnson deal vs Remain referendum, effectively forcing those supporting Leave to back Johnson’s deal.

In any event a General Election would be certain to follow, which Labour would go into significantly weakened and divided, either because of a Remain outcome to the referendum, or having to live with Johnson having succeeded in his deal being endorsed.

Having tactically failed to press home the advantage of forcing a weakened Tory Party into a General Election in September, it would be a crime to compound the error further and not press for an election now, ahead of any discussion on the Johnson Withdrawal Bill.

Corbyn has a last chance to retrieve something from the current mess and outflank the backstabbers in his own party.  Failure to do so is likely to set back the chances of a radical Labour government for a generation.

Turkey – NATO attack dog or ISIS ally?

13th October 2019

SANLIURFA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 09: A photo taken from Turkey's SanlNortheast Syria burns after Turkish missile attacks

The withdrawal of the limited US contingent of troops based in Northern Syria this week undoubtedly opened the door for the increased Turkish military presence and its assault on the Kurdish population.  The Turkish incursion is undoubtedly an invasion but it is effectively a stepping up of the ongoing invasion of Syria which has been happening for the past eight years, routinely characterised in the Western media as the Syrian Civil War.

Having effectively stepped aside to allow Turkish troops free rein to attack the Kurds who were, up until this point, allied to the United States in the fight against ISIS, US President Trump then tweeted,

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…”

Whatever Trump meant precisely, the response of the Turkish government, from Vice President Fuat Oktay, left little room for equivocation.  Oktay said Turkey was intent on combating Syrian Kurdish fighters across its border in Syria and on creating a zone that would allow Turkey to resettle Syrian refugees there.

“Where Turkey’s security is concerned, we determine our own path but we set our own limits,” Oktay said.

As a member of the NATO military alliance it would be usual to expect some consultation with partners before embarking on unilateral military action against a neighbouring state.  Some weak kneed disapproval of Turkish action has been voiced in London, Berlin and Paris but no suggestion that this should be universally condemned and certainly no suggestion that the rights of the Kurdish people to self determination should be on anyone’s agenda.

The Syrian government has reacted through Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, who called on the country’s Kurds to rejoin the government side after being abandoned by their US allies.

As an oppressed minority within Turkey the Kurdish people, under the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have been engaged in armed conflict inside Turkey since 1984, in their struggle to improve the rights of Kurds in the country.  While the original desire of the PKK for an independent Kurdish state, which would incorporate parts of existing Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, has been dropped, the demands for equal rights and fair treatment remains.

Turkey considers Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists and has already launched two major incursions into northern Syria in recent years. The first was in 2016, when Turkey and Syrian opposition fighters it backs, attacked areas held by ISIS west of the Euphrates River. Last year Turkey launched an attack on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 people.

There is little doubt that energy spent by Kurdish forces consolidating areas regained from ISIS control will now have to be diverted to defend against the Turkish threat.  The opportunity for ISIS to exploit this division and reassert itself in areas of northeastern Syria is obvious.

Western media reports that Turkey gained clearance for its attack from Russia, as part of the agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran in relation to the Syrian conflict, appear to be at odds with the condemnation of the Turkish incursion by Iran.  It is equally likely that, whatever its notional alliance with Russia, or for that matter NATO, Turkey saw the opportunity to weaken or wipe out the PKK opposition and has seized it.

A more sinister interpretation is offered by the New York Post (21/9/19) which notes that,

“Since 2012, the Turkish intelligence service MIT, under (Turkish President) Erdogan’s direction, has been providing resources and material assistance to ISIS, while Turkish customs officials turn a blind eye to ISIS recruits flowing across Turkey’s borders into Syria and Iraq.”

ISIS re-established in Syria would add to the de-stabilisation of the Assad government, potentially undermining it, which has been the intention of the West since fighting began.  A de facto alliance with ISIS to undermine the PKK would suit Turkey’s domestic objectives as well as retaining a NATO foothold in Syria.

It may just be that, for Turkey, being an attack dog for NATO and at the same time an ally of ISIS, are simply two sides of the same coin.

 

 

Corbyn rallies the troops in Newcastle

6th October 2019

CorbynCOLLAGECorbyn lays out Labour plans in Newcastle

In a pre election General Election rally in Newcastle upon Tyne last night, Jeremy Corbyn set out the vision for a Labour government which would transform the economy of the UK and change the lives of many working class people.

Nick Brown MP (Newcastle East) set the tone at the start of the rally by declaring that the key issue facing the country and the world is the climate change emergency.  Ian Lavery MP (Ashington) agreed that compared to the climate emergency Brexit was merely a sideshow.  Chi Onwurah MP (Newcastle Central) gave an informed and intelligent assessment, based upon her own experience as an engineer, of the practical steps which could be taken to deliver a green industrial revolution and meet the Labour commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Rising local star Laura Pidcock MP (North West Durham) gave a barnstorming performance with a blistering attack upon the employment legislation of successive Tory governments, the inequities of universal credit and the need to address poverty by creating well paid, unionised jobs for working people.  A deserved standing ovation followed.

Corbyn synthesised and built upon the commitment which had been outlined by speakers before him.  He stressed that Labour would take back into public ownership the railway system, the Royal Mail and the water industry for starters.

Corbyn outlined a social, economic and environmental programme which would address life issues for working people from the cradle to the grave including:-

  • a National Education Service with the abolition of private schools and investment in local neighbourhood school provision;
  • abolition of university tuition fees;
  • continued support for and investment in the NHS;
  • a programme of investment in Council house building and penalties for investors buying empty property for profit, while thousands go homeless;
  • co-operation with and investment in local government;
  • local transport and highway infrastructure investment outside the South East of England;
  • the abolition of universal credit;
  • a green deal which would prioritise investment in manufacturing and new technology to both create jobs and reduce climate emissions;
  • a four day working week with no loss of pay;
  • an end to fracking.

Brexit was, inevitably a feature for all speakers.  Corbyn stressed the dangers of a no deal exit from the EU, suggesting that such a scenario would inevitably lead to a reliance on trade with the US, with the opening up of the NHS to market forces and the international pharmaceutical companies.

Such a scenario is already a danger.  Whether a no deal exit from the EU would exacerbate that would depend on the political character of the government elected after the next election.  While Ian Lavery’s declaration that,

“Labour is not a Remain party, it is not a Leave party it is a socialist party”

was greeted with stormy applause, little was added to clarify the position Labour would take in any referendum situation post election.  Continuing to ride both horses may prove increasingly difficult, especially as the Tory position sharpens around Leave and the austerity loving Liberals pin all of their hopes on a Remain campaign.

It would be a tragedy if Brexit became Labour’s Achilles Heel when such a radical programme of change is on offer and there is a real chance that the orthodoxy which has prevailed since the 1980’s can be challenged.  As things stand Labour will go into the General Election with a compromised position, offering a new deal with the EU which will be put to a referendum, with Remain also on the ballot paper.

It is a high risk strategy and not a simple one to sell.  It is also an irony that departure from the EU would actually give Labour far greater freedom to implement the programme of measures which are shaping up as the next manifesto.

Any further reference to the international situation, regarding the migration crisis and participation in adventurist overseas wars was for Corbyn to clarify.  The message was inclusive, supportive and directly opposed to the hostile environment created by the Tories.  It was light touch but positive nonetheless.

There were gaps.  No mention of the cost of the Trident nuclear submarine programme and the need to cancel it.  No reference to withdrawal from NATO.  No discussion about the overblown military budget.  No mention of the Palestinian question. These are always controversial issues for Labour, easily avoided in front of a home crowd but ones to which Labour will need to have responses under the scrutiny of a General Election.

There is no doubt however that Corbyn was in his natural environment.  As an intelligent and articulate speaker he sees the complex links across a range of issues and is able to transmit his enthusiasm and ideas to a crowd desperate for change.  The mood at the Newcastle rally was buoyant, it will need to continue to be so in the North East and beyond, for the coming election and its wake, if Labour is to make good on its promises and begin to make the changes the people of the UK desperately need.

Corbyn concluded by emphasising the hope that was of offer to working class people in the UK from a Labour government, stressing the values of cooperation, community and commitment that would drive, and be reinforced by. such a programme.

The Labour Manifesto may not be a completely perfect package but there is much to play for and the alternative is infinitely worse.  The sooner that Labour’s prospectus for change is put to the people of the UK, the better.

History Will Judge

28th September 2019

Supreme Court

Boris Johnson – guilty as charged

The past week has been dominated by the judgement of the Supreme Court that the proroguing of Parliament by Boris Johnson was not legal.  In effect the proroguing was pronounced null and void and Parliament resumed sitting on Wednesday.  The furore was fuelled further by the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday night when, following a statement by Johnson in which he expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court outcome, he went on to make a series of provocative statements in support of his stated position to leave the EU by 31st October.

In a remarkable outburst Johnson told MPs the Supreme Court was “wrong to pronounce on a political question at a time of great national controversy”.

Many regard the current period in UK politics as one which will be the subject of intense study by future generations, a period upon which history will pass unfavourable judgement upon the actions of the politicians of the UK.  Textbooks will be written, theses will be drafted and philosophers will pontificate.

It is unlikely that the judgement of history will conclude anything other than that David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson were weak and ineffectual Prime Ministers.  Many hope that the Supreme Court ruling this week will be seen as evidence of the independence of the judiciary, reinforcing that no-one, not even the UK Prime Minister, is above the law.

Within the current parameters of the debate this is true.  While the decision of the Supreme Court has split legal opinion, it is widely accepted that it represents a final judgement on the proroguing of Parliament and its effect of stifling the ability of MPs to scrutinise the actions of the government.  The judiciary can bring the executive to heel and only the Queen is above the fray.  The system works….except…..

What is actually being played out is a struggle exposing the splits within the UK establishment over the country’s future direction.  Within these boundaries the Supreme Court judgement is one which gives slightly more emphasis to one side than the other but is only independent within the terms set by the establishment itself. Having been wrapped in a life of ermines and fur the Supreme Court judges, many Eton educated like the Tory Party politicians, could only pontificate within the class boundaries set by the system.

If the judgement of history is to be any measure of progress it must be far harsher than anything pronounced by the Supreme Court this week.  History must question why any system would allow for a small minority to become rich beyond imagining, while sections of the population live with unemployment and poverty.

It must judge with amazement the desire of political leaders to persuade the population to be tied into a European wide structure which reinforces the inequalities and prejudices inherent in the system.  It must question the motivation of those on the other side exhorting the population to leave the EU in order to pursue their own personal aggrandisement and ambition, rather than the real interests of the people.

History must surely frown upon all of this being played out against a backdrop of austerity, insecurity and uncertainty for much of the population, while a small minority continue to get rich playing the gambling halls of the City of London.

History may be able to judge that a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government was able to stem the tide, that the period of mendacity and misjudgement turned a corner in 2020 and the first steps towards a socialist Britain were taken.

A vote of no confidence in the government this week would be a first step in the right direction, followed by a swift General Election in which the forces of progress, inside and outside Parliament, mobilise for a Labour government to be elected on a progressive platform.  Anything less and the judgements of history will, in all likelihood, be being made from a dark place.

Populism is not a dirty word

15th September 2019

Allende

Populism – winning for Salvador Allende in Chile 1970

The crisis of British imperialism has been playing out in one form or another for over a century.  The re-division of the nineteenth century colonial empires was the driving force behind the recently, widely commemorated, First World War.  The widespread massacre which that conflict represented saw Britain emerge, still as a world power, but a weakened one.

The outcome of the Second World War was to reinforce the hegemony of the United States, ahead of Britain in terms of its imperialist influence, and accelerate Britain’s relative decline upon the world stage in economic, political and military terms.

Not that the influence of Britain was diminished entirely.  As a nuclear power, permanent member of the UN Security Council and founder member of military alliance NATO, Britain still had a role to play in imperialist power plays around the globe.  The days of Britannia “ruling the waves” were however, long gone, and the UK has largely played second fiddle to the world policeman role of the US ever since.

The military hegemony of the United States has flourished in proportion to its economic dominance, while the reverse can also be said of the UK.  The push to join the European Community in the 1970’s was part of a bid by the UK establishment to shore up its global position, as its independent economic power waned.  The former colonies of the Empire were kept within some degree of political and economic orbit, through the Commonwealth, but increasingly looked to non-capitalist models of development to assert their identity.

Joining a European trading bloc that could both mitigate some elements of the UK’s decline and potentially offer routes into guaranteed European markets seemed like the smart move for British ruling circles.

The European question has been a fault line in both major UK political parties ever since.  The Left in the Labour Party led the campaign against EC membership in 1975, rightly arguing that the constraints imposed by the Community at that time would not allow a Left Labour government to deliver radical measures, such as increased public spending or nationalisation, to change economic direction.  The transformation of the EC into the European Union, with its mission of ever greater economic and political union, has only tightened those constraints.

The Conservatives, as the key representative of ruling class interests in the UK, have taken a pragmatic approach to the EU.  The Thatcher negotiated ‘opt out’ essentially ensured reduced contributions while accepting the Thatcherite economic policies of the EU itself, focussing upon inflation control over public spending or employment rights.

This pragmatism has however always been tempered with a strand of right wing Conservatism which sees the EU as a constraint upon the independence of the UK, a barrier to the UK being able to make trade deals, and a block upon the ability of UK business to exploit cheap labour.  Such arguments have been wrapped in the flag of sovereignty, control over borders and limiting immigration but are essentially part of the Little Englander mentality which has fuelled the rise of Nigel Farage and placed Boris Johnson in 10, Downing Street.

For the Left in the UK the position has been complicated by the leadership of the Labour Party and TUC welcoming aspects of EU membership, such as the working time directive and free movement of labour, then elevating these notions into great examples of international co-operation and friendship between peoples. The fact that EU membership has done nothing to prevent the mass privatisations of the Thatcher years, the sale of Council housing, the tearing apart of the education system, the destruction of local government, zero hours contracts, or the contraction of the NHS does not appear to register.

Add to that the liberalisation of the rules governing the movement of capital and the obscene profits made from stock market gambling in the City of London, it should be clear that the interests of the EU are hardly those of defending, protecting or expanding the rights of ordinary people.

The Leave driven elements of the British ruling class, fronted by Boris Johnson, are clearly pushing for a new deal for the UK which will see it as a European offshore tax haven, outside the EU but closely aligned, and still a major player due to its nuclear capability and high levels of military spending.  This tendency also sees the transatlantic relationship with the United States as key to the UK’s future.

The more pragmatic tendency in the UK establishment continues to be to Remain.  This position is supported by elements of the Conservative Party, the austerity loving Liberal Democrats and sections of the Labour Party, not least Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who are now openly flouting Party policy and suggesting that Labour should adopt an openly pro-Remain position.  With the TUC and CBI on board for Remain positions there will clearly be a significant push on this front before the next General Election.

The problem is that remaining in the EU solves nothing.  The German economy is slowing, the French and Italian systems are in crisis, mass unemployment plagues Spain and Greece, the Eastern Europeans economies are feeling little befit from EU membership.  The migration crisis continues to be a live issue across the EU.  Talk of reuniting the country divided by the outcome of the 2016 referendum is tosh.  The referendum outcome reflected the divisions in the UK, it did not cause them.

There is a crisis of capitalism across Europe.  Constraining public investment and limiting the rights of workers, to maximise corporate profits and enrich the City of London, has had its day.  Spending on weapons of mass destruction when schools, hospitals and transport infrastructure go begging for investment, has had its day.  Zero hours contracts, the free movement of cheap labour, constraints on the operation of trade unions, have had their day.  Racism, xenophobia and prejudice against migrants and asylum seekers, has had its day.  Failing to acknowledge the climate emergency and invest in new forms of energy when the planet is dying, has had its day.

The European Union is not Europe.  It is a particular club formed with particular objectives, which do not meet the real needs of the peoples of its constituent nations.  The argument to remain and reform is spurious, just as the idea of a peoples capitalism is spurious.

However the current Parliamentary shenanigans play out in the coming weeks, the first step towards a socialist path of development of the UK must be to leave the EU.  Membership over the past 40 years has illustrated time and again the failings of the EU for the peoples of Europe.  It is time for the people to fight back.

Populism has become a dirty word, hijacked by the right wing to describe the politics of Trump, Johnson and Farage.  Yet populism brought Castro to power in Cuba, Allende in Chile, Mandela in South Africa.  It fuelled the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.  A populism of the Left is needed now more than ever in order to mobilise against demagogues on the Right and crush the arguments of the weak kneed liberal centre.  There is no fence left to sit on, it is time to take sides.