Tag Archives: brexit

The future, and other things I have no idea about

I’ve not been blogging here a lot lately. Partly because I’ve been doing that horrible thing known as “working for money and trying to forget”, partly because now that Facey and Insty exist, there’s no real need to stick amazing holiday photos up here, and partly because Brexit has completely fucked up my predictions and comprehensions about how the world goes.

Instead, here are some very different views (reproduced with permission) from very clever people who I know and respect on the future of the UK and how that affects the future of Labour. I struggle to disagree with any of these positions, which is unfortunate, because they are somewhat incompatible.

Richard / Academic:

I know many people who were heavily emotionally invested in Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, so I understand strong reactions to the Parliamentary Labour Party’s coup: feelings of betrayal, anger, frustration, sadness, outrage.

What I can’t understand is denial that it has happened or what that implies. It is unprecedented to ask the country to elect a PM who does not command the confidence of the government that he would need to lead. The reason it is unprecedented is that it is an obviously terrible idea. It is mad.

Voters up and down the country will be perplexedly asking their Labour MPs “You said that you didn’t have confidence in Corbyn, so why are you now saying that I should?”

Tom / Nurse:

Jeremy Corbyn is taking the honest strategy of canvassing and sticking to his beliefs that he has fought for for the last 30 years. By the time the next election comes along the country will see that the media can’t lie about him longer than he can be him.

The “coup and constant infighting” ( which he isn’t rising to) is led by those elected not following the wishes of those who elected them. The huge rise in party members shows that. For MPs to lie is normal; for MPs to go against the majority wishes of those who voted for them is just shameful. The current situation isn’t working for the people under the Tories – and I don’t see any natural Labour voters voting for people like Smith, who abstained on cutting welfare and has no real policy alternative.

It’s sad that, like myself, many traditional Labour voters have become middle class – but they’ve forgotten where they came from and the hardships it entails. This leads to leaning to the middle with the loss of real socialism, and  forgetting how a little help makes a big difference to those on the breadline. It’s just so disheartening.

John / Banker:

Brexit will be discredited as the reduction in investment and rise in unemployment bite over the next several months. The autumn financial statement will likely be a horror show and next year’s budget even worse. Davies, Boris and Fox will end the year empty handed without the treaties they promised would be easy to negotiate when they campaigned for Brexit. The constitutional problem with Scotland and Northern Ireland needs more time to fester.

While the government is tilting at windmills, the cost of denying the Blairites the chance to regain control of the Labour Party is not that high.

It is much more important to give the PLP conspirators a thrashing and continue a radical reorientation of Labour Party policy to the relief of poverty and effective housing and regional policies.  Maybe next year a challenger will emerge who is more effective as a leader and yet embraces the politics of inclusion rather than elitism. Owen Smith is most unlikely to be that person.

Do you have a completely incompatible position on the current state of the UK that I also have sympathy towards? Why not post it in the comments?

 

Actually, it’s about ethics in plebiscite campaigning

I’ve refrained from long-form comment on the UK’s EU referendum, partly because the debate is generally painful, but also because there are extremely clever people who’ve already made most of the points I’ve wanted to make.

One thing that I think is worth addressing, though, is the current suggestion that people are switching back to Remain because they “don’t know what Brexit looks like” (thanks to Paul Evans for the formulation here). I think this is definitely true; I also think it’s a positive response to a specific failure within the Leave campaigns [1], not just a fear of change.

The reason “we don’t know what it looks like” is that the people who are in favour of it have polar opposite, completely contradictory visions of what it should look like.

When Scots voted on their Remain/Leave decision, the SNP – to its great credit – published a long document containing the details of exactly what it would do in the event of independence. Some of these were criticised for over-the-top optimism about the actions of rUK and the EU, and others on the basis of their effect, but crucially Scots knew what the people in charge after a Leave vote would try to do [2].

That simply doesn’t exist for the UK EU referendum. The Leave campaigns, all of which include people likely to be in government in the event that Leave wins, have adopted positions that range from “staying in the free migration zone and the common market” through to “deporting settled EU migrants and relying solely on WTO basic rules for trade access”.

That – not the inherent uncertainty in doing anything that hasn’t been done before – is the crux of the “not knowing what it looks like” problem.

That deliberate, dishonest ambiguity is also why Leave has done far better than it would have done had it been forced to outline what it would actually be attempting to do in the event of a referendum win. As it is, “build a libertarian paradise with no tariffs and open borders”, and “Britain first, deport all the immigrants” types can rally round the same banner, even though they disagree with each other at least as much as they disagree with the current model.

[1] The existence of “Leave campaigns” with an S is probably the tl/dr of this.

[2] The SNP white paper was flawed and optimistic, but at least it was there for you to be able to critique its optimism and flaws. Similarly, a Leave manifesto that committed to a Norway model could reasonably be critiqued on the basis that the EU might not let us have one – but in the actual campaign we’ve seen every model of multilateralism/autarky from Norway through to North Korea thrown up, dependent on what the politician in question thinks the audience wants to hear. “Is their plan credible” is secondary to “do they even have one”…