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September 25, 2017

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MikeofYork

How did leftists think Corbyn was going to do his thing whilst the UK was still a member of the EU?

He was pretty opposed all the way through - all the way up to the Lisbon Treaty.

I'd have thought that anyone voting for Corbyn back in 2015 must have thought things were on a collision course. This assumes they gave any thought to the issue at all, and assumes they thought he was a realistic chance for power.

Anarcho

"There might be a parallel here with the mess the Russian communist party made of economic policy after 1917: having wanted revolution for years, the party didn’t know what to do with it. Yes, there’s nothing conservative about the Tories."

Actually, the Bolsheviks pretty much implemented what Lenin had been argued in 1917, itself a reflection of standard social-democratic ideology -- centralised State institutions based on the structures developed under capitalism (most notably, the banks and the Tsarist Glakvi system).

As part of this vision, they systematically undermined attempts at workers' control of production, factory committees, and so forth -- these were "anarchist dreams" and did not fit with the ideologically-correct definition of "socialism" (which was basically state-capitalism, in anarchist eyes).

It was a mess because they had no notion of complicated a centralised, statist system would be -- Marx and Engels had proclaimed it would be easy, and they believed them. It also quickly generated a massive bureaucracy around it -- which quickly became a new ruling class.

All in all, the Bolsheviks just proved us libertarian socialists correct...

Patrick Kirk

Are the Tories making a mess of Brexit? It seems to me that almost all EU deals are settled in the small hours of the morning on the last day possible after days of exhaustive haggling. Until this process is completed and some kind of document agreed, its hard to argue that the UK or the EU is making a mess of things.

coprolite

I object to your framing of the issue of immigration

Immigration should not need to be defended. Free movement is the natural state.

Artificial borders and "nations" are the concepts that have no good justification.

Walex

«He was pretty opposed all the way through - all the way up to the Lisbon Treaty.»

This seems the product of baseless fantasy, please produce evidence of your delirious allegations.

Walex

«Immigration should not need to be defended. Free movement is the natural state.»

On an alternaive "planet coprolite" perhaps, but we have evidence of systematic discrimination against "metics"/immigrants for thousands of years pretty much everywhere on "planet Earth".
For example the germanic tribes that occupied much of western Europe were exercising their right of free movement by mowing down late roman armies.

Your delirious contention needs to be weakened considerably before it can be related to vastly-overrate reality.
For example I would be ready to concede that in the past up to the early 20th century freedom of movement was considerably greater as to *residence*, but also that effective *citizenship* has been very tightly restricted pin most places for most of history.

Walex

«a centralised, statist system would be -- Marx and Engels had proclaimed it would be easy»

Is that so? :-)

Walex

«political differences are due not just to different values but to differences in what people think important»

And this is the really interesting quote: liberal centrists seem to believe that politics is or should be a calculation where philosopher-king technocrats optimize a blend of values and of the importance of choices for the greater good of "the economy", and for example that the “intelligent state” makes a mere mistake in choosing regulation over tightness of the labour markets, or that colossal hugely redistributive "wealth effect" policies seem to happen.

Other people who think in terms of "political economy" reckon it is mostly about interests rather than values and importance, and that often when values and importance are alleged as political motivation that is deliberately or not a mere excuse for interests.

Which reminds me again of what G Mikes wrote in a book about british culture and the british value of compromise as to politics:

«The Labour party is a fair compromise between Socialism and Bureaucracy; the Beveridge Plan is a fair compromise between being and not being a Socialist at the same time; the Liberal Party is a fair compromise between the Beveridge Plan and Toryism; the Independent Labour Party is a fair compromise between Independent Labour and a political party; the Tory-reformers are a fair compromise between revolutionary conservatism and retrograde progress;
and the whole British political life is a huge and non-compromising fight between compromising Conservatives and compromising Socialists.»

Tony M

"Which goes to show that there’s a surprisingly big difference between being obsessed with a subject and being knowledgeable about it."

In the US, the mess Republicans are making over healthcare is a great example. They talked about nothing else for the last six years, but have no clue what to do or how Obamacare works.

Steve H

Playing the innocent bystander and continually hedging their bets is really no way for a prospective party of government to proceed.
The problem here is one of disconnect between leadership, which is anti EU, and the great majority of members/supporters who are pro EU.
Under a different leader I've absolutely no doubt Labour's response to the Brexit vote would have been completely different.

Tony Maher

An anti EU leadership, a pro EU membership but seven out of ten labour held seats voted leave. The leadership might be on to something.....

Blissex

«An anti EU leadership, a pro EU membership but seven out of ten labour held seats voted leave.»

The leadership has been pro-EU, but many of them not uncritically, for a long time; it is not just pro-EU referendum campaigners like J Corbyn or A Johnson, most of the MPs have been pro-EU too since the late 1980s, as they came to see the EU as helping against the predations of thatcherism. Both the whig and socialdemocratic wings of Labour have thus been pro-EU (but not uncritically) for a long time.
The real difficulty is the latter point, "seven out of ten labour held seats voted leave", because the "Remain" vote was very concentrated in a small number of constituencies.

The Conservatives are in a much worse contradiction, because their whig wing is mostly pro-EU, and their tory wing is mostly pro-Empire, and most MPs are whigs, but nearly all members and most voters are tories.

Graeme

«He was pretty opposed all the way through - all the way up to the Lisbon Treaty.»

Walex, how would you describe someone with these attributes?

in the 1975 European Communities referendum, Corbyn opposed Britain's membership of the European Communities, the precursor of the European Union. Corbyn also opposed the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, opposed the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, and backed a proposed referendum on British withdrawal from the European Union in 2011.

Bonnemort

"If, for example, it reports (say) government borrowing more than it reports stagnant living standards and inequality, it’s reporting will be biased towards Tory issues."

But do you report stagnant (actually declining) living standards on this blog? Male median wages lower in real terms than 1997?* I must have missed it.


* which underestimates the fall as housing costs have increased way beyond inflation. In 1986 I was on £200 a week in London - and my rent was £10 a week!

Walex

«Male median wages lower in real terms than 1997?»

And here we go again:

* Some Economists point out that *average* wages have grown, and the incomes of hard-working property rentiers have grown even more, so average GDI per capita has grown.
* Some political economists seem to argue that for several millions of people wages have grown 10-50 times since 1997, because in 1997 they were still in Romania or Nigeria, and that a small fall in «Male median wages» is not that bad in absolute terms and far more than compensated by the colossal improvement in the wages of many millions of once desperately poor people.

The latter argument perhaps look better if most of the absolute benefits had not gone to property and business rentiers.

Walex

«in the 1975 European Communities referendum, Corbyn opposed Britain's membership»

That's like 42 years ago... Forget about it.

«Corbyn also opposed the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, opposed the Lisbon Treaty in 2008,»

For a 70% europhile like J Corbyn those treaties were merely not good enough and indeed many supporters of the EU like me thought that they were unsatisfactory. Opposing a particular treaty text is very far from opposing EU membership.

«and backed a proposed referendum on British withdrawal from the European Union in 2011»

At that point the referendum looked like a sure win for "Remain", and it would have been an excellent way to get rid for a long time of the "Leave" issue.
C Lucas from the Green party has been a (fanatical) europhile and she backed that referendum too for the same reasons:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/oct/24/eu-referendum-commons-vote-live-coverage

Besides J Corbyn's main line in politics has been to devolve decisions to voters and workers. One of the very few cases where he seems to have thought it was not the right moment to do it was in 1992, as arch-Leaver T Benn wrote:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n08/david-runciman/short-cuts
«One of the causes that Benn consistently believed should trump the siren call of high office was Europe. Here he sometimes found himself out of step with his comrades on the left, including Corbyn. In 1992 he was passionately committed to a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, on the grounds that Parliament was abrogating the sovereignty of the people.
Not only was the entire Labour shadow cabinet under John Smith opposed to such a view, so too was a group that included Corbyn, Dennis Skinner and Bernie Grant. ‘It disoriented me a bit,’ Benn writes, ‘because you don’t like to go against your own people.’»

It is perfectly possible to be for internationalism and the EU, and against specific EU treaties that are lopsided against policies favoured by the left.
That's indeed why J Corbyn is a 70% europhile. Then as in 2016 if the choice is between having something 70% good and nothing, he has campaigned the something, entirely coherently.

Walex

BTW in 1993 a number of Labour members opposed not the Maastricht treaty, but the Conservative ratification bill as it opted out of the Social Chapters of the treaty, and there are here two interesting passages from J Corbyn (column 389) and J Cunningham (column 397):

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199293/cmhansrd/1993-05-20/Debate-3.html

Bonnemort

Shorter Walex - "the impoverishment of the British working class is a small price to pay for the increased earnings of the Polish/Romanian working class".


"Workers of all countries, unite in competing against each other to drive down wages!"

Guano

"BTW in 1993 a number of Labour members opposed not the Maastricht treaty, but the Conservative ratification bill as it opted out of the Social Chapters of the treaty, and there are here two interesting passages from J Corbyn (column 389) and J Cunningham (column 397):"

The opt-out from the Social Chapters is a forgotten scandal, especially because the UK got the opt-out by dropping its objection to Germany's wish to recognise the independence of Croatia. Two mistakes for the price of one.

Guano

Steve H


"Under a different leader I've absolutely no doubt Labour's response to the Brexit vote would have been completely different."


That could be the basis of an interesting (and long) discussion. A short version of my own view is that Labour's present position isn't Corbyn's view: it is a compromise based on most Labour MPs' fear of being seen to be in favour of FoM (even though they know that opting out of FoM means leaving the Single Market means great uncertainty about the UK's future economic direction).

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