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Replacing the conspiracy theorists

7th July 2019

US-Mexico

Protests against detention camps on the US-Mexico border continue

The normalisation of reactionary ideas is an increasing trend, which is in danger of pushing what is accepted as mainstream much further to the right in political debate.  The scale of right wing governments across Europe, the election of Donald Trump as US President, the imminent installation of Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, all help perpetuate the ‘normalisation’ of right wing ideas.

It can begin in what appear to be small ways.  The Thatcher government in the UK introduced the concept of the ‘right to buy’, a means of dismantling social housing delivered through local government.  The right to buy emphasised the right of the individual over the collective need to provide working class housing.

The privatisation of state run industries and key utilities in the same period was based on the ideological shift away from services being run for public good and towards an emphasis upon private profit.  Comprehensive state education was dismantled in favour of local management of schools and more recently the academy system, set up to profit the private sector.

In all cases the State was demonised as having failed to deliver and, it was argued, only the private sector could come to the rescue of the economy.  The consequences speak for themselves every day.

The basis of the economics of the European Union, that inflation control is the main objective of economy policy, whatever the consequences for the economy and however little government control that allows over policy direction, is widely accepted, even on sections of the Left.  The collective squeezing of the weaker economies of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland in order to maintain the aggrandisement of Germany, France and UK has been a key feature of the EU for over forty years.  The economic annexation of Eastern European states by the EU has only continued this trend.

The rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, the Brexit Party in the UK and Alternativ fur Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, all fiercely nationalist and against the over bloated bureaucracy of the EU, suggests that the Maastricht Treaty based consensus in the EU is coming to an end.  The irony is that the so called populist parties across Europe are basing their appeal upon the failure of the EU to deliver for the poor across the continent.

As ever, the easy approach for right wing demagogues of this ilk is to focus in upon what appear to be the simple answers.  The free movement of people in the EU results in too many immigrants, taking too many jobs, or as asylum seekers living on welfare.   In the same way the Trump slogan to Make America Great Again resonated with the dispossessed in the United States, the right wing in Europe are playing upon the same fears and insecurities.

Even Russian President, Vladimir Putin, suggested recently that liberalism in the West is dead.

The views of the right are being given further credence by the emergence of theoretical approaches which seek to back up and justify the actions of these groups.  Prominent at the moment is the so-called “great replacement” theory which calls for the forced deportation of ethnic minority communities, focusing upon paranoia that white people are being wiped out through migration and violence.

The “great replacement” conspiracy theory was initiated by right wing French writer, Renaud Camus, who claims that a global elite is conspiring against white European populations and culture.  Not far from Hitler’s view in the 1930’s that the conspiracy was headed by Jews and Communists.

There are a world of madcap theories out there but when one is being referenced by political leaders in Italy, Germany and the tweets of the President of the United States, there is cause for concern.

In practical terms this results in justifying migration detention camps in North Africa, paid for by the EU, in order to prevent potential migrants reaching Europe.  Kenan Malik, writing in The Observer (7/7/19) suggests,

“The EU-funded prisons are places of true horror in which sexual abuse and torture are commonplace.  European government are aware of the conditions.  But these prisons are far enough away to allow them to wash their hands of any responsibility.”

Similar detention camps on the US-Mexico border were recently condemned by US Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as concentration camps.  Even after two terms as President, Barack Obama could not close down the US internment camp in occupied Cuba at Guantanamo Bay.

Whether it is defending values under threat, protecting our way of life or stopping overcrowding, the justifications for these actions are always spurious.  The ordinary people of the world, of whatever colour, race or creed have more to unite them than divide them.  Those seeking to perpetuate division, under whatever theory or banner, are seeking only to defend their own vested interest in the status quo.

Speaking out and taking action are essential to combat the rise of the right and bring about control, which can truly see the emergence of governments of the people, by the people, for the people.

 

Trump walks the tightrope

23rd June 2019

Missile batteries

Iranian missile batteries disabled by cyber attack

US President, Donald Trump, continues to walk a political tightrope in the Middle East.  Trump has been trying to paint himself as the great statesman in recent days, for pulling back from a decision which may have resulted in the deaths of 150 innocent Iranians.  Trump claims that he called off air strikes upon Iran at the last minute last week, after being told of the potential death toll.  The threatened strikes were in response to the Iranians shooting down an unmanned US spy drone, which had ‘strayed’ into Iranian air space.

Quite where Trump imagines he gets the authority to toy with the lives of 150 Iranians, or anyone else, is anyone’s guess.  The fact that he can portray himself as magnanimous for not indulging in this arbitrary execution is monstrous.  The position is further compounded by the fact that Trump is responding to a crisis which is largely of his own making.

In pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal signed between Tehran and Barack Obama, Trump triggered increased tensions with Iran.  The renewed sanctions as a result have upped the pressure upon the Iranian economy, given the hardliners in the Islamic Republic greater prominence and squeezed the living standards of ordinary Iranians to breaking point.

Trump may not have killed any Iranians in a direct military strike, on this occasion, but the US sanctions regime, combined with the profiteering, corruption and ineptitude of the Iranian government itself, is ensuring that the people of Iran are suffocating slowly.

Recent reports indicate that US retaliation has taken the form of cyber attacks upon Iranian weapons systems.  US officials claim that the cyberattacks, part of a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions, have disabled the Iranian computer systems that control its rocket and missile launchers.

The United States is determined to stem the tide of Iranian influence in the region, particularly its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi rebels in Yemen, its role against intervention in Syria and its influence upon the government of Iraq. The US is supported by its regional proxies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are equally concerned that the power and influence of Iran does not upset their own designs to be regional superpowers.

The US, Saudis and Israel have a collective interest in keeping the flow of oil to the West, while at the same time ensuring the flow of weapons from the US and UK into the Middle East.

White House hawks in the form of National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have argued for military strikes against Iran.  Trump’s recent stand down is by no means a guarantee that the threat of conflict is over or that one could not erupt due to mistake or misunderstanding.

The recent attacks upon oil tankers in the Persian Gulf appear to be the first steps in a pattern of provocation in which Iran is blamed for actions which the US has to then address, in order to protect its ‘vital interests’.

Whatever the US may say publicly the only endgame for the Trump administration is regime change in Iran.  The economy in Iran is on its knees, protests continue to sweep the country, the credibility of the regime is lower than ever.  Oil exports are virtually at zero, further compounding the weakness of the economy and the misery of the Iranian people.  In short, Iran poses no economic or military threat to the United States.

The Iranian people have suffered 40 years of mendacity, poverty and oppression under the Islamic Republic.  They are undoubtedly ready for change, just not change imposed by the US or its proxies, but change which they lead and the direction of which they determine.  That is something the Trump White House will not be comfortable with as regime change for the US means change that is pro US.

Given the history of US intervention in the region a US friendly government in Iran is not something which can be guaranteed, or which the Iranian people should be expected to deliver.

The keys to the door

16th June 2019

JohnsonIt’s no joke – a Johnson premiership is possible

Anti-working class, misogynist, racist, homophobes seem to be the order of the day for what passes for leaders of the so-called free world at present.  Donald Trump is the exemplar of course, with a sprinkling of European demagogues close behind.  However, the Tory Party election for a new leader in the UK sees failed Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, coming up on the rails.

Laughingly described, largely by themselves, as the world’s most sophisticated electorate the Tories are engaged in a process of sucking themselves and the UK into a vortex, the outcome of which is likely to see Boris Johnson with the keys to 10, Downing Street.

The media insist that this process is driven by fear of Nigel Farage, as many Tories are scared of losing their seats to the Brexit Party at a general election if they do not elect an openly pro Brexit leader.  Johnson is also seen by many Tories as the only candidate with sufficient ‘personality’ to oppose the people’s stockbroker.

This is course plays into the media’s hands.  The UK press have for many years insisted on reducing the political process to a personality contest, it makes for easy confrontational headlines.  The BBC has for some time also been complicit in this delusion.  Having been a cheerleader for Farage for some time the state broadcaster would like nothing better than a Farage vs Johnson heavyweight Brexit bout.  Pay per view watch out!

Back in the real world there is only one thing that all eleven Tory candidates, now down to six at the time of writing, have in common.  That is their antipathy towards, and fear of losing a general election to, Jeremy Corbyn.  The Labour leader has studiously avoided the politics of personality throughout his political career and is showing no signs of wavering from the politics of principle which have characterised his political judgements.

The fear of the Tory candidates is not about Corbyn’s public image, it is about the substance of his policy positions and the manifesto commitments likely to form the basis of a Labour General Election platform.

Tackling austerity by reinvesting in public services, nationalising the rail network, building much needed Council housing, increasing rates of corporation tax, creating jobs for young people, tackling the military budget, squeezing the corporate tax dodgers who leech on the economy; these are the sorts of policies that make every Tory candidate afraid.  These are the sorts of policies which won Labour the Peterborough by-election, seeing off the challenge of the Brexit Party and reducing the Tories to a feeble third place, following their derisory fifth place finish in the European elections.

Whoever wins the Tory leadership race will become Prime Minister.  A new Prime Minister does not however change the existing arithmetic in Parliament without having a general election, the very thing they all wish to avoid, for fear of a Labour victory.

As a consequence, the bluster about renegotiating the EU withdrawal deal, which the EU insist is not up for renegotiation, has in one form or another been in all candidate pitches.  Johnson insists up front that preparation for no deal is necessary, both as a negotiating position and in order to be ready for the potential reality.

Johnson’s stance relies upon the EU shifting its position massively or the UK Parliament allowing a no deal option to be on the table.  Neither look likely at the moment.

It has been the case for some time now that the only way out of the political deadlock facing the UK is a real people’s vote, in the form of a general election.   For all of the bluster, the Tory leadership race may turn out to be a prelude to just that.  Boris Johnson’s grip on the keys to No.10 may not be very firm after all.

 

The orchestration of war against Iran gathers pace

4th June 2019

As US President, Donald Trump, arrives in the UK increased tension in the Middle East raises the real possibility of further conflict in the region.  Jane Green for the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) assesses the dangers.

anti Trump

Anti Trump protesters fill the streets of London – 4th June 2019

The visit of United States President, Donald Trump, on a state visit to the UK, coincides with the most belligerent and threatening period of US foreign policy since the war on Iraq in 2003.  The focus of the Trump administration upon the Islamic Republic of Iran, clearly the new public enemy no.1 for the US, has escalated in recent weeks to the point where Iran is being accused directly of terrorist action against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.

The incident, which occurred early in May, remains shrouded in mystery.  However, the suspicious issue of the attacks on four Saudi tankers, at the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, on 12th May has clearly been used to engineer an anti-Iran climate.

At the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, convened in Saudi Arabia last weekend, King Salman used his opening address to condemn the attacks, stating,

“We emphasise that these subversive terrorist acts are aimed not only at the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also on the security of navigation and energy supplies to the world.”

The Saudis clearly blame Iran for the attacks and are attempting to unite Muslim and Arab opinion against Iran.

US national Security Adviser, John Bolton, speaking in London last week claimed that he will be able to present evidence that Iran was behind the attacks, although it was evident that producing evidence was not the main issue for Bolton, who stated,

“I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates.”

In the year since President Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal which lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran reducing its nuclear programme, pressure upon the Iranian regime has been steadily increased.  Sanctions have been tightened to the point where Iran’s oil exports, its main foreign currency earner, have been reduced to zero.

In April the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group with Trump stating that the move “recognises the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft”.

The policies of US administrations for over 40 years, from Jimmy Carter and Reagan to Trump, have consistently focussed on how to engineer regime change in Iran.  The United States remains keen to see Iran return to its role following World War Two.  During that period Iran was the most reliable ally of the US in the Middle East, both in terms of supporting US strategic interests and in securing the flow of cheap oil to the US, Europe and Japan.

Opposition to the Iranian revolution was most brutally manifest in US support for the attack of Saddam Hussein upon Iran, which led to the 8-year long war with Iraq in the 1980s and hostile relations with the regime ever since. The US has supported all attempts to destabilise and overthrow the regime. George Bush famously characterised Iran as being one of the countries in his ‘axis of evil’ and threatened regime change.

Even after the JCPOA agreement reached in 2015, which supposedly lifted sanctions, the US continued to maintain paralysing banking sanctions on Iran that prevented it from trading easily with the rest of the world. Since May 2018 the sanctions regime has become untenable.

In a tweet on 18th August 2018 Trump boasted that: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.  I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The irony of this statement aside, it is clear that the actions of the US do not tend towards peace, either in the world or in the Middle East.  Provocation, duplicity and lies have been the stock in trade of US foreign policy for decades and this is no less the case in the present situation.

The United States has sent some of the its most deadly weapons of war to the Persian Gulf close to Iran, including several warships, an aircraft carrier and fighter jets as well as B52 bombers.  This is in addition to the deployment of the US Patriot Missile system to the region. The US Navy announced that on Sunday, 19th May the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, in coordination with the US Marine Corps, conducted military exercises in the Arabian Sea highlighting US “lethality and agility to respond to threat”.  On the same day, Donald Trump threatened to “destroy Iran forever.”

In response to the ongoing US pressure the Iranian government has stated that it will reduce its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, making clear in a statement of the National Security Council of Iran that “the Islamic Republic of Iran at the current stage is no longer committed to complying with restrictions on maintaining only a certain inventory of the enriched uranium and heavy water.”

The position of the Iranian government resulted in a rapid and negative reaction from the European Union, and many European politicians expressed concern about the decision of the Iranian government.

There is little doubt that the increase in sanctions has exacerbated the profound economic and social crisis inside Iran, as the regime continues to suppress waves of protest against its political and economic policies, as well as its widespread human rights abuses.  The theocratic dictatorship in Iran is only interested in protecting its own position, whatever the cost to the Iranian people.

The United States is clearly seeking to use this situation to its advantage, in order to force regime change upon Iran, in a shape that will be consistent with maintaining US interests and hegemony in the Middle East.  The stepping up of both rhetoric and action by the United States could, at any point, provide the spark which sees the Middle East go up in flames.

With both Israel and Saudi Arabia, the heavily armed allies of the United States in the Middle East, increasingly strident in their denunciation of the Iranian regime, the prospect of conflict is further intensified.

The visit of President Trump to the UK must be accompanied by a clear anti-war message.  The people of Iran have suffered at the hands of the theocracy for over forty years.  It is their right to shape a democratic future in their own interests, not those of the existing dictatorship or any external power.  For that they need peace and continued international solidarity from labour, trade union and peace groups across the world. They do not need to be staring down the barrel of a US gun.

Poverty and no philosophy

26th May 2019

Child-poverty-729642

Millions still suffer poverty in the UK

The United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, this week published his final report on deepening poverty in the UK.  Alston accused the government in his report of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population.”   Alston is a 69-year-old law professor at New York University and has been UN poverty rapporteur since 2014, carrying out investigations in that period in the US, China, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Laos and Chile.

Alston usually expects a detailed analysis or refutation of his reports but this has not been forthcoming from the UK.  So far, the response from UK ministers has been to dismiss the report as “barely believable” and to suggest that the report is “a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty.”  Work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, has claimed that the report is politically biased.  The government is preparing a complaint to the UN as well as requesting a meeting with the UN high commissioner on human rights.

Alston’s claim, that the government’s approach to benefits has been to create “a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse”, inevitably infuriated the Daily Mail who described the claim as “simply ridiculous” and “an insult to our national intelligence.”

Alston has indicated that changes to the welfare system are essential, to tackle the fact that, in one of the world’s richest countries, even official figures show that 14 million people are living in relative poverty.   He defends his claim of the creation of a 21st century workhouse stating,

“I think breaking rocks has some similarity to the 35 hours of job search for people who have been out of work for months or years.  They have to go through the motions but it is completely useless.  That seems to me to be very similar to the approach in the old-style workhouse.  The underlying mentality is that we are going to make the place sufficiently unpleasant that you really won’t want to be here.”

The publication of Alston’s report last week has inevitably been lost in the welter of publicity around the European elections and the resignation speech of UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, resulting in a feeding frenzy in the Tory Party as the battle to replace May gets underway.

Alston does not frame the report’s conclusions in this way but it is an indictment of capitalism as a system that the lives of millions can be wasted due to lack of education, opportunity and employment.  In the day to day cut and thrust of political debate it is easy to forget that exploitation is endemic within capitalism and, as Karl Marx pointed out, the extraction of surplus value from wage labour the source of all wealth.

While the views of Karl Marx get about as much airtime as those of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK media these days, Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson remains a darling of the British liberal press.  Writing in The Observer (26th May 2019), Watson is pessimistic about Labour’s performance in the European elections and the Party’s expected loss of support.  Watson states,

“This was the first election I can remember where Labour members said they couldn’t support us.  One member I met in Bristol broke down in tears as he told me that, after 44 years of voting Labour, he was going to vote Lib Dem.”

As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party you may think that Watson would have been quick to point out the record of the Lib Dems in propping up the Tory Coalition government, inflicting years of austerity upon the country, reducing public services to the bare bones and the NHS to an organisation struggling to fulfil its mission of delivering free health care at the point of  use.

Watson may have pointed out the Lib Dem position on student tuition fees, their support for which has ensured many years of debt, and in many cases anguish, for many young people.  All this and more was inflicted upon the people of the UK while Lib Dems cavorted in a Tory led Cabinet.  Not to forget the fact that, as UN rapporteur Philp Alston has pointed out, an estimated 14 million people in the UK are living in relative poverty.

So, Watson may have said, get real, pull your socks up and vote Labour!  Of course not.  Watson chooses instead to wallow in the Brexit debate and suggest that,

“Our performance is a direct result of our mealy-mouthed backing for a public vote on Brexit when it is being demanded loud and clear by the overwhelming majority of our members and voters.”

Other than the opinions of his dinner table guests and friends in the media, there is no evidence for Watson’s assertion that the majority of Labour members and voters back a public vote.  If anything, the outcome of the European elections is likely to show that there is a far greater appetite for leaving the EU as soon as possible, as the Brexit Party sweeps to the top of the polls.

Watson may not like it but he has to face up to the reality that the EU is not only undemocratic and unaccountable, it is unpopular.  It is a sad fact that some of that unpopularity is based upon the erroneous anti-people messages pedalled by Nigel Farage and his ilk.

However, some of that unpopularity is based upon the reality that after 40 years of EU membership the UK still has 14 million people living in poverty, including 30% of children, and is engaged in creating a digital 21st-century workhouse.  Why should anyone vote for that?

Watson cannot see this because he has no political or philosophical framework within which to view the world.  He is an opportunist simply wanting to catch the next media trade wind to carry him into office.   As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson should be out there arguing the case for a people’s Brexit and the socialist transformation of the UK economy, whether the BBC and the media like it or not.  Otherwise he should just stand down.

 

No deal looms large

19th May 2019

May buried

Theresa May – politically dead and almost buried

There can be no doubt that any marriage of convenience brings with it grounds for divorce.  The coupling of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in talks to find a Brexit deal, certainly had more the aspect of a shotgun wedding than a match made in heaven.  It is no surprise that we have now reached the point of irretrievable breakdown.

As Corbyn states in his letter to May, ending the talks,

“…there has been growing concern in both the shadow cabinet and parliamentary Labour Party about the government’s ability to deliver on any compromise agreement.”

With May making clear during the week that she would outline a timetable for her departure, following the European Union Withdrawal Bill going before Parliament in the first week in June, the talks had clearly run out of road.  As shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, observed recently, “negotiating with the Tories is like trying to enter a contract with a company that’s going into administration.”

With European elections looming on 23rd May, in which the Tories could trail in an embarrassing fourth or fifth place, and for which they have not even offered a manifesto, there can be little doubt that the momentum will be with the pro-Brexit tendency when it comes to electing a new leader.

Under these circumstances it is clear that any deal negotiated between May and Corbyn would effectively have been ripped up the moment a new Tory leader was installed.  As Corbyn states in his letter to May,

“As you have been setting out your decision to stand down and cabinet ministers are competing to succeed you, the position of the government has become ever more unstable and its authority eroded. Not infrequently, proposals by your negotiating team have been publicly contradicted by statements from other members of the cabinet.”

It would certainly strengthen Corbyn’s position if members of his own party, notably Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, and Shadow Brexit Secretary, Kier Starmer, had the wit to hold the line with regard to Labour Party policy, rather than pursuing their own careerist agenda.  While the BBC and much of the media continue to caricature the Labour position as ‘confused’ Gary Younge, writing in the The Guardian (17th May 2019) put the Labour position succinctly stating,

“The policy itself is pretty straightforward.  It supports a second referendum if parliament rejects the prime minister’s deal and a general election doesn’t follow.  They just can’t get their story straight.”

There is little doubt that the Labour position is one of compromise. The fact remains however that the likes of Watson and Starmer are hell bent on distorting the story.  Their intention is to force Labour away from its policy position of delivering on the outcome of the 2016 referendum, to one of supporting a so called people’s vote, in the hope that this will result in a Remain outcome thus avoiding Brexit entirely.

Using Labour policy, of the second referendum as a last resort, to push a pro-Remain position is consistent with the overriding will of the UK political establishment, including most MPs, the City of London and the establishment media.  Watson and Starmer are clearly welcome bedfellows in this company.

The joker in the pack however remains the anti-EU ultra tendency within the Tory party and the anti-EU character of the party’s membership.  It is unlikely that a Tory leadership contest will go beyond the party conference in September, allowing that event to be a coronation for the new leader.  That will give the new leader, and new UK Prime Minister, less than two months to settle a deal or leave the EU with no deal on 31st October 2019.

Will a pro-Brexit Prime Minister, perhaps the Tory grass roots favourite, Boris Johnson, be concerned about a no deal exit?  They will certainly claim that their election by the 160,000 or so Tory Party members will give them a ‘mandate’ to deliver on whatever platform they put forward.  It will be hard for any of the Parliamentary Conservative Party to resist the position of its own grass roots.  Ironically, getting no-deal across the line just means sitting it out for two months, no messy votes in Parliament to deal with, no protracted negotiations.

One thing any Prime Minister fears, whatever their legislative failings and parliamentary struggles, is to go down in history as the shortest serving PM in history.  An ego as inflated as that of Boris Johnson certainly could not tolerate that, so any deal which gets him elected will almost certainly be predicated upon building a sufficient coalition to be able to see him through to 2022, the fixed parliamentary term period.

Theresa May has promised to pull out the stops and come up with a “bold offer” when the EU Withdrawal Bill gets to Parliament in June.  Unless by some miracle that is the case and the Bill passes, the race to watch over the summer will be the Tory leadership contest.  The shape of Brexit may well be determined by it.

 

 

 

 

Euro elections – panic and absurdity

12th May 2019

Euro elections – panic and absurdity

Nigel-Farage

Farage – absurd but ahead in the polls

 

Panic on the streets of London,

Panic on the streets of Birmingham,

I wonder to myself,

Could life ever be sane again?

Panic by The Smiths should be the theme tune of the up and coming European elections, with panic characterising the positions of most of the major UK political parties, and some of the minor ones, in the face of the tsunami of support being garnered by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

The Conservatives in particular appear to have surrendered any hope of mounting even a cursory campaign on the assumption that their right wing supporters will protest by voting with Farage, while the Remain loving Tory centre will simply not turn up to vote.

The media driven Farage machine appears to be hoovering up any hopes UKIP may have harboured of a revival on the back of the Brexit debacle.  UKIP without Farage was always a busted flush and now that the media darling has formed another vehicle for his vanity, his erstwhile cohorts are simply left coughing out Farage’s exhaust fumes.

On the Remain side there are the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, both cravenly pro-EU to the core, and the Tory in disguise Change UK, made up of Labour and Tory splitters and a variety of media personalities hoping to catch the Brussels gravy train.  While this liberal hotch potch share common ground in their love of the EU and hatred of Brexit, it does not extend to them being able to co-operate to generate a pro-Remain platform.

That leaves the Labour Party as the only consistently credible force capable of minimising the impact of Farage and providing some coherence and focus to the EU election debate.  The media, in particular the BBC, are set against the Labour position and will do their utmost to characterise the Labour leadership as not having a clear position.  However, as Jeremy Corbyn states in the introduction to Labour’s European election manifesto,

“Labour has put forward an alternative plan to seek a close and cooperative relationship with the European Union, including a new comprehensive customs union with a UK say, close single market alignment, guaranteed rights and standards, and the protection of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.”

It may be a position based on some compromise, given the make up of the Parliamentary Labour Party and some of the factional infighting Corbyn still has to contend with, but it is a position and one which has been consistently articulated.  It is also a position that is either too subtle or too complex for large sections of the media to be able to grasp as they seem to be largely incapable of reflecting it.

Labour’s position is further clarified in the manifesto introduction as follows,

“Labour will continue to oppose the Government’s bad deal or a disastrous no deal.  And if we can’t get agreement along the lines of our alternative plan, or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote.”

Once again this appears to be too nuanced a position for either the media or the Remain supporting parties and factions to grasp.  Labour is not opposed to a public vote but it is clearly a last resort as it will, of itself, not solve the Brexit question.  It is therefore vital that all other means to find a negotiated solution are explored, in order to deliver on the outcome of the 2016 referendum result, consistent with Labour’s policy position to do so.

The political establishment in the UK has always been in the Remain camp and will continue to do all in their power to overturn the 2016 referendum outcome.  The EU’s status as a capitalist club par excellence for UK banks and corporations is not something they will give up on easily.  The Liberal, Green and Change UK agenda effectively falls within this camp, albeit dressed in a form of faux internationalism which fails to realise that the ‘free’ movement of people is simply a cover for the easy movement of cheap labour.

The incoherence of the Remain position, combined with the difficulty Labour faces in getting anything other than a distorted version of its message across, leaves the field open for Farage to keep plugging away with his single issue Brexit Party campaign.  Farage’s party will end up with the most UK seats in a parliament it is dedicated to dissolve.

The fact that these European elections are happening at all is an absurdity.  It is no more absurd however than seeing the EU as a vehicle for peace and progress.  The tragedy remains that the real reasons for needing to leave the EU have been buried.     A real socialist internationalism, as called for by Labour’s John McDonnell recently, which actually works in the interests of the peoples of Europe, not its banks and corporations, is what is needed.  No amount of voting for Farage and his ilk will achieve that.