I doubt any reader of this blog voted out because they were ‘concerned’ about migration, but if you did, you’ve been had, because it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference. If the net population of this island falls, it will be from petty bourgeois fleeing the crashing economy. We hear the people in the Calais jungle still fancy it though, and they are most welcome.
Whilst the media kept herding the debate back to migration neither campaign presented any plans or targets for reducing it and certainly not for removing existing EU workers. The reason is obvious – capitalists don’t want to swap young, working taxpayers for retired bent car salesmen, and if they want to take advantage of the free trade area, they will have to accept free movement. Globalisation of capital means globalisation of labour, like it or not. We know that migration is not controlled by politicians but is entirely at the convenience of the bourgeoisie, but the Labour party and the TUC has been unable to say so because they are afraid of upsetting the bosses and being labelled ‘anti-business’. Plus, if you destroy the infrastructure of four countries, their populations are likely to shift, they couldn’t say that either, because most of them support the neoliberal wars. In short, the issue nearly everyone claims was central to the vote was all wind and piss.
You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see this coming.
No one offered us anything, it was all threats: poverty, higher food prices, fewer rights, more austerity, TTIP, a continent-wide security state. The official ‘remain’ campaign, led by people who’ve been telling us for years we must work or we’re not fit to live, was that in the ‘national interest’ we must compete for work on the bosses’ terms with citizens of 28 countries. The official leave message was just the first bit.
The left case for leave stemmed from the late Tony Benn’s failed ‘possiblist’ strategy of creating a socialist state in a capitalist world through parliamentary democracy. You’ve seen what happened in Greece:
“To suggest that everything is going to change because there’s a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality … There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
It was never fully elaborated, partly because of the fractured, authoritarian nature of the parties involved, but mainly because their priority was getting their man, Jeremy Corbyn elected with a parliamentary party that was mostly neoliberal. This version of Catch 22 left the field open to the state’s two right wings, with their appeals to fear and xenophobia; the racist media being fully let off the leash for the duration of the campaign.
The left case for remain was even thinner, all those who spoke of reforming the EU from the inside were unable to say how or when, and more to the point, why they had never mentioned it before. The Lisbon agenda was adopted in 2000 and the treaty ratified in 2009. John Major negotiated a full opt-out from the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, denying British workers its protection while exposing them to the worst excesses of the single market. Blair demanded a special protocol in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights so that it could not apply to the UK, then opted out of the EU Working Time Directive. Cameron negotiated further opt-outs to deny in-work benefits to new arrivals, thereby creating a two-tier workforce that would further drive down wages.
In radical circles the usual line was that the EU is shit but the alternative would be shitter, and usually concluded with “we’re all fucked either way”. How would you sell that in your factory canteen or union branch?
Successive UK governments have driven the most anti working class legislation in the EU, if I were a striking worker in Belgium, France or Greece, I would cheer to see those bastards dragged away from the table. If the British state ever reformed the EU, it would be for the worse. Now people are getting all emotional and waving EU flags as if they were symbols of freedom and equality. The only thing anyone ever liked about the EU was the conditional free movement of labour, which was always driven by poverty or the threat of violence, the result of EU policies. That is not freedom of movement.
Q. Why didn’t more people vote with their wallets?
A. Because their wallets are empty.
On the positive side, the whole sorry spectacle has put the ineptitude and dishonesty of politicians on display for all to see. It has utterly discredited the idea of voting, majority rule being no better than any other form of dictatorship. This undermines the basis for representative government. Half the voters didn’t get what they wanted, entire regions didn’t get what they wanted, and the other half will wake up in a little while and find out they didn’t get what they wanted either.
The Parliamentary Labour Party is shown up as a bunch of self-serving prima donnas after the choreographed flounce of the Blairites, who represented no-one whatsoever. Almost the last Bennite possiblist in the P.L.P. is Dennis Skinner who sheepishly backed the leave campaign. Corbyn now stands astride a chasm, as a possiblist who advocated something that makes his aims impossible.
Boris and Nigel are just a couple of shifty con men. I’d just finished a piece on why Boris wouldn’t be Prime Minister when he jumped. Gove has accepted the poison chalice because, as anyone in the teaching profession will tell you, he is a complete fucking idiot. He will go down in history as the politician who presided over the break up of the United Kingdom, because Scottish independence is going to happen now. The SNP government will not consent to the change, provoking a constitutional crisis. They will be overruled and the resulting fury will carry the day (don’t fuck it up, Nicola!) Britain will lose its last colony in the North of Ireland and the sun will finally set on its empire.
Much has been made of the fact that Porky declined to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon before resigning. That can’t happen until the 1972 European Communities act has been repealed. A bill must be presented to parliament and obtain a majority in both houses, which with their present composition is unlikely. This will get a lot messier, the next election will be fought between two labour parties and two tory parties, plus UKIP (renamed EWIP) and the others, so any trade negotiations will be conducted by a feeble coalition government.
Let’s make the country ungovernable.
Even Cornwall may go, so we could be looking at cantonalism, autonomous regions that aren’t economically self-sufficient so will have to federate, in the absence of any significant political power such federation will have to be mediated by the working class – because we do all the fucking work!
What matters now:
Fascists and racists think they’ve been vindicated, and the right-wing press are simpering about it; they need putting back in their box a bit sharpish. One racist attack is too many, though I believe a narrow remain vote would have provoked a bigger right-wing backlash. We are more than capable of containing this if everyone turns a hand, as shown by the size of pro-migrant demonstrations such as the one in London last weekend. Please contact your local antifascist group or send an e-mail to the Anti Fascist Network, who will put you in touch. The number of fascists willing to actually risk life and limb for their warped idea has been dwindling for some time, and this time it’s the right who are going to let their own side down because none of their deluded followers are going to gain anything from this.
It’s all about class and always was.
The ruling class have scored a massive own goal! We must seize the narrative and replace nationalism with class war, before they come up with plan B.
Working or otherwise, you need to be in a union, we recommend the I.W.W. or similar grass-roots organisations, but if your workplace already has a union presence get involved. The TUC unions are mostly weak and reformist but that is because there aren’t enough members. You can be dual-card and supplement collective bargaining with direct action tactics; get in there and radicalise the fuck out of them.
Let’s replace “take our country back” with Take Our Lives Back.