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Draft Brexit Plan Approved By British Cabinet, Released To Public
Breaking: Senior Tory Brexiteers to 'call for no confidence vote' on Theresa May 'tomorrow'.
'No words are adequate to dscribe such cynicism'
"Centrist Labour MPs spent months accusing Corbyn of supporting May's Brexit. It was never true. Now - at the crunch - it is reported that some of those MPs are contemplating defying Corbyn and voting to secure May's Brexit..."
May Brexit Deal 'Worse' Than Remaining in EU - Galloway
"Anya Parampil reports on UK PM Theresa May's emergency cabinet meeting. 'It would be better to remain in the EU than to leave it on this botched basis' - Galloway.
The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has become the second senior minister to quit the cabinet, following the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, out of the door and throwing Theresa May’s government into turmoil.
The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has become the second senior minister to quit the cabinet, following the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, out of the door and throwing Theresa May’s government into turmoil.
"Betfair are giving odds of 5/1 Theresa May will be gone by the end of the day. William Hill are giving odds of 4/7 by the end of the year..."
Jacob Rees-Mogg sends letter of no confidence in May
The leading Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg called for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May on the most perilous day of her premiership, after claiming she had broken her own red lines on Brexit.
The outspoken chair of the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiters, who rejected the prime minister’s plan moments after it was published on Wednesday night, announced he was submitting a letter to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
Up to a dozen other Tory backbenchers have confirmed they have submitted letters calling for May to step down over her Brexit proposal, including the former Brexit minister Steve Baker and fellow leavers Nadine Dorries and Andrew Bridgen.
Time For UK General Election To Handle Brexit - Galloway
"Recent shake-up in British PM Theresa May's cabinet as multiple ministers resigned on Thursday in protest of her negotiated Brexit agreement. Former UK MP George Galloway asks how much longer May can hold on to power."
Rebel Tory MPs press for vote of no confidence in Theresa May
Four more Conservative MPs have submitted letters expressing no confidence in Theresa May amid growing speculation in Westminster that a confidence vote could come later in the day.
Maria Caulfield, Adam Holloway, John Whittingdale and Chris Green said they could no longer support the prime minister, taking to 21 the number of letters MPs say they have submitted demanding a vote.
Forty-eight Tory MPs have to write to the chair of the party’s backbench 1922 Committee to trigger a confidence vote in May, which would happen within a day or two of being announced. She would then need the backing of 158 MPs to keep her job....
Government takes Brexit article 50 case to UK supreme court
The UK supreme court is to reconsider the terms of article 50 of the treaty on European Union, which formally triggered Brexit, amid mounting political pressure for the procedure to be reversed.
The government has applied for permission to appeal against a ruling by the Scottish courts that the question of whether the UK can reverse the clause should be referred to the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.
A date has been set for 27 November for an emergency hearing by ECJ judges of an application brought by a cross-party group of six Scottish MPs, MEPs and MSPs, along with Jolyon Maugham QC, the director of the Good Law Project.
The attempt to divert the European legal process has been initiated by lawyers for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).....
John McDonnell: people's vote on Brexit still on table
John McDonnell has said a people’s vote remains on the table, but Labour would first prioritise negotiating a Brexit deal that protects jobs and the economy and fighting a general election.
The shadow chancellor said the party would not back Theresa May’s deal and called for the prime minister to step aside for a minority Labour government to renegotiate a new deal. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonnell confirmed that Labour would first pursue negotiating a deal that respects the results of the referendum.
“If we can’t get a deal that does respect that and at the same time protects jobs and the economy, our priority is for a general election. [If] we can’t get that, yes, a people’s vote remains on the table,” he said.
He admitted a general election may not be easily available to Labour because of the constraints of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which allows for an early general election if two-thirds of MPs vote in favour.
He believes May does not have the votes to get her deal through parliament. He said: “What is absolutely certain is that the government’s proposal won’t command a majority in the House of Commons and we have to recognise that. There’s no use not facing that reality now.”....
George Galloway, MOATS, Friday, Nov 16, 2018 (audio)
"It's been the mother of all weeks at Westminster and we'll be surveying the scene and looking forward at what might happen next..."
Labour gains three-point lead as May’s Brexit plan hits buffers
Labour has opened up a three-point lead over the Tories as Conservative Leave supporters appear to be deserting Theresa May’s party in droves, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer.
Compared with a month ago, the Tories have dropped five points to 36% while Labour has gained three to stand on 39%. The Liberal Democrats have fallen by one point to 7%, while Ukip has gone up two to 8%.
Opinium found that the Tory decline was primarily a result of Leave supporters deserting the party. Last month (on 11 October) 59% of Leave supporters said they would vote Conservative.
But in Sunday’s poll, conducted entirely after details of May’s Brexit deal were made public last week, the proportion of Leavers backing the Tories has dropped by 10 points to 49%. Labour’s support among Leavers has risen by four points to 26%, while Ukip has surged by six points among Leavers to 16%....
..this piece is behind a pay wall.
Letter signed by hundreds of business leaders urges Tory MPs to vote down Theresa May's Brexit deal
More than 200 chief executives and entrepreneurs have called on Conservative MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, describing it as “the worst of all worlds”.
In a letter, seen by the Telegraph, business leaders who run medium sized companies say Mrs May’s deal represents “the greatest act of national humiliation in this proud nation’s recent history”.
Brexit Agreement: A Deal Between German Manufacturing and UK Finance Sectors
JOHN WEEKS: But the reality was it was a pretty straightforward agreement. And that agreement is one the business community wanted. They have helped design this. I mean, the fact of the matter is this agreement is brought about by two major parties, or two major players, if I can use that cliche. German manufacturing capital, which wants to maintain access to the British market. German manufacturing runs a tremendous trade surplus with Britain across the board. That’s what’s- that’s the big player on the continent that want to sort out this agreement. And the big player in Britain that want to sort it out is British financial capital. So they didn’t really care what happened with the trade in goods. What they wanted was to be able to maintain their access to European financial markets so that what’s called the City of London, which is where all the big banks are, so that the City of London would be able to maintain its premier position in world financial markets.
So that’s really what the negotiations were about. It was pretty clear from the beginning that both the City and German manufacturing capital would come to an agreement, and everybody else would have to fall into line. So these two big players, German manufacturing capital and British financial capital, they were going to bring the government of Ireland in line. The government of Ireland is deeply indebted to German banks. The idea that they could hold out over the border issue was ridiculous. Serious issue about the Irish border is that in Northern Ireland, the extreme right-wing party which holds most of the seats there supports Theresa May’s minority government. So Theresa May, over the Irish border issue, was really not negotiating with the European Union. She was negotiating with this far-right party which was part of her coalition.
GREG WILPERT: And actually, recently May leaked- Theresa May leaked one key detail from her Brexit plan, which is that it will, quote, “stop unlimited immigration,” as she put it. So this seems to be an appeal to right-wing voters.
JOHN WEEKS: And it does appear that the European Union has conceded to the British government that it does not have to accept freedom of movement of EU nationals, so that the British government in the future under this agreement will be able to restrict European Union citizens by continent, citizens from the continent, coming in and out of Britain.
So that big issue was dealt with. As you say, that was part of the, I would say, really neofascist right. And racist right, too. That was their big issue in Brexit. And pretty much they achieved that. Again, that’s an issue that wasn’t that important, either to the German manufacturing capital- I mean, I testified at a committee of the Bundestag, German Lower House of Representatives, a year ago, and I happened by chance to sit next to the head of the German Confederation of manufacturers. And he said in his statement, just before mine, he said we should be able to sort out the question of free movement. In other words, it didn’t make any difference to him; as long as he could export all of those machine tools and automobiles to Britain, what did it matter if Europeans move around Europe?
The European Union is For the Ruling Class (and vid)
"Why liberals should support BREXIT!"
Operation 'No Deal?'
"UK army braces for Brexit chaos as May faces fierce rejection of divorce plan..."
May's Brexit Deal is a 'One-Way Agreement'
"Jeremy Corbyn described PM Theresa May's EU withdrawal deal as a 'one way agreement' in which Brussels 'calls all the shots' today..."
Ireland's New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss
"The new European reality is unreality. Its one of illegitimate power and unnecessary subservience. It's a fool's game. The democratic, national and continental charades try to distract the eye from the naked truth. However, the feeling of shame is inescapable. As is the feeling of entrapment. Voting nationalist or voting for a president or for exit may momentarily cover the abyss, but within seconds, reality bites: Europe is a tool in the hands of global capitalists. And no one has a clue what to do. No one knows how to get back to the real..."
Brexit Cliff Edge: May Bets on Lawmakers Stepping Back from Brink
"Britain is on a cliff edge. But the other direction is not much better either..."
Panic in Westminster
Parliament is riven with division over Brexit: there are MPs convinced that a second referendum could stop the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; Conservative MPs (and a tiny handful of Labour MPs) concerned the proposed Brexit leaves the UK too closely linked to the EU; those backing May’s fudged plan; and those on the Labour benches convinced that a general election that would likely hand the party a majority is the only way forward to exit the EU with social welfare and workers’ rights at the heart of any EU withdrawal agreement.
Attempting to find an exit plan to appease all camps was always an impossibility: that May’s proposed route out of Europe has met with so much opposition it can’t pass through the Houses of Parliament is not a surprise but an inevitability. This was always going to be the outcome. May simply had to decide when she would expose herself to a public reputational battering, not whether she was going to do so.
The result is a tense wait as Conservative MPs decide whether to submit letters declaring no confidence in the prime minister. As an antiquated joke of a party, the Conservatives rules around leadership are impenetrably obscure: forty-eight letters must be received by Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, a parliamentary group of backbench Conservative MPs without cabinet roles. Only Brady knows how many letters have been received, and keeps them secured in a safe; so far, twenty-five MPs have publicly declared their letters have been sent in, though there is no obligation to make a submission public. If the threshold of forty-eight letters is reached, a no-confidence vote in the prime minister is called; if she survives it, she carries on as prime minister and cannot face another vote for 12 months. If she loses, she is forced to resign.
There’s a possibility the threshold will be reached, but May will win the confidence vote. No other Conservative MP wants to take the mantle of leadership at such a toxic time: the frontrunners are power hungry, but also care deeply about how history will remember them – Brexit is likely to taint any leader’s record, whereas May can be left in place as a scapegoat.
So if May survives, and her draft withdrawal agreement fails to pass through Parliament, what then? The EU and Irish government have been clear they’ve had enough of Britain’s attitude to negotiations and have already given enough. There is no real time to renegotiate another deal before the March 29 exit date, and regardless, no deal is possible that can satisfy enough people to ever see it pass through parliament. Either the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal and falls back to World Trade Organisation rules; asks for an extension to the Article 50 exit period, meaning the exit date is pushed into the future to allow more negotiating time; or a general election is called, since parliament remains in absolute deadlock.
CrossTalk: Broken Brexit? (and vid)
"To Brexit or not to Brexit, that is the question. How did it get to this point...?
John McDonnell: Labour should form minority government if May deal fails
McDonnell told business leaders that if the government’s deal was rejected in a meaningful vote next month, May would return to Brussels to seek concessions. If it fell again, then Labour should be given the chance to form an administration.
“At that stage, we will be saying give us the opportunity. You’re a minority party, give us the opportunity to take over and see if we can form a government, a minority but with a majority position in parliament,” he said.
“If that’s denied us then we will be pressing for a general election, but as you know you need that two-thirds majority it’s very difficult to get. Anything could happen at that stage.”
At the Reuters event in London, McDonnell confirmed that Labour would support a second referendum if it was unable to form a minority government or to force a general election – but was equivocal on whether remain would be on the ballot paper.
“Then it is coming back to parliament, then seek a majority for going for some second referendum, that’s when the discussion takes place about the nature of the vote,” he said.
Picking the lesser evil
We need to situate this debate in relation to the urgent need to reform British capitalism. Anything less is an evasion. Life in Britain, before June 2016, was not working for millions of people. Capitalism wasn’t delivering. Official measurements showed a recovering economy, reasonable corporate profits, high rates of employment. This didn’t resonate with real life. There had been nearly a decade of stagnation in living standards, unseen since the nineteenth century. There was a crazed financial property market driving young people into a housing crisis. The public sector, especially the NHS, was being driven into the red. Every single NHS trust was reporting deficits and strains. Welfare cuts had driven a surge in suicides. Privatised energy firms were driving up prices. Public-private partnerships were sucking funds out of the public purse. There were serious and growing regional dysfunctions, with large parts of the north of England and Wales effectively shuttered and forgotten about. The financial sector, having crashed the economy, was empowered and largely unreformed.
That’s partly why the Brexit vote happened, but more importantly it is why the Left took control of the Labour Party for the first time in its history. The Labour Left’s agenda is not just a list of nice things: free education, higher wages, renationalisations, redistribution, modernised/green energy, shorter working week, democratised media, public housing, regional development, infrastructural upgrade, and so on.
So let me ask a seemingly stupid question. Why is the Labour leadership unwilling to leave the EU with “no deal”? Why is that self-evidently not on the cards? Why is any deal better than no deal? You’ll say, the economic consequences. The financial shock. British banks, acting as a clearing house for EU transactions, would reel into chaos. There would be a loss of investment, layoffs, shortages, price rises. Much of that is plausible, I think, with all due allowances for Project Fear. But it can’t be the whole answer. Left-wing economists like Larry Elliott will claim that these consequences are overstated and could be managed with sufficient state action. At any rate, the British economy tied to central Europe is not a particularly good or just economy. One couldn’t reform this without some sort of rupture. And one can see Corbyn and McDonnell, at a different stage in their career, agreeing.
I think the underlying issue is political. To make a hard Brexit work for the Left, not the apologists for Singapore-style capitalism, would not just be a matter of emergency programmes. It would require a fundamental renegotiation of the terms on which the economy, society and state operate. It would require a far-reaching radicalisation, a social rupture. Were there some sort of Oxi-style mass movement, precipitated by a direct confrontation with the European Union over a popular policy agenda, one can see how a hard Brexit could be a red Brexit. That would be an audacious experiment. But it is not where we are. Most of the direct conflicts that Labour-voters in this country have with the state are with the Home Office and the defence and security establishments. Most of our potential conflicts with the EU are, because long-range and mediated, rarely experienced as such. And, of course, since popular belief in the potential of a radical, expansive public sector is as yet underdeveloped, there isn’t yet a significant base for the kind of radical policies that would be necessary to make hard Brexit work for the poor, for migrants, for public sector workers, and so on.
This much isn’t a condemnation of Labour’s leadership. It is, rather, a status report on the development and cohesion of the British Left. But the situation is such that the Labour leadership now has to go beyond its six tests and set out in detail what it wants out of the negotiations and what it is and is not prepared to give up. And the grassroots Left has to start thinking about how, in the medium-to-long-term, it is going to do better than that.
BBC One offers to clear Sunday night schedule for Brexit debate
Rather than showing the documentary, BBC One has offered to clear its schedule for a special 8pm debate on 9 December between the prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn on the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Downing Street has already signed up to the plan but Labour insists negotiations are continuing and it still prefers a rival bid from ITV to hold a debate in the same time slot with a more straightforward format.
Corbyn said on ITV’s This Morning that he had yet to formally accept any debate but an early Sunday night programme made sense as it would enable people to watch other programmes later in the evening.
“One should always have respect for the viewers,” he said, adding that he was keen to watch the final of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! “It is important because parliament will have to vote on the 11 December on the agreement that prime minister has reached.”
However, Labour’s decision to publicly support a rival ITV bid to host a head-to-head primetime Sunday night debate shortly before the finale of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! resulted in a rethink, as BBC executives battled to land the rights to the high-profile programme.
The ITV proposal is for a straight head-to-head debate format with a single moderator and no audience questions.
“We want there to be a debate with the largest and most diverse possible audience,” said a source with knowledge of Labour’s position.
By contrast, the BBC has offered to include a panel of leading individuals from both sides of the Brexit debate who would be able to put questions to both May and Corbyn, ensuring a focus on the Brexit deal. Smaller political parties, proponents of a second referendum, and supporters of a hard Brexit have already threatened legal action against broadcasters to ensure their voices are heard.
Brexit: Labour threatens contempt action over withheld legal advice
Theresa May has been warned she is on course for a “historic constitutional row” unless the government releases its full legal advice on the Brexit deal.
Labour has said it is ready to combine with other opposition parties to start proceedings for contempt of parliament unless the legal opinion of the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, is published in full.
The DUP, which props up the Conservative government in the Commons, was said to be ready to sign a joint letter to the speaker, John Bercow, on Monday unless ministers back down.
The clash potentially represents another hurdle for May as she struggles to win backing for her deal in the crucial commons vote on 11 December.....
Italy, the EU and the Fall of the Roman Empire
"The EU leadership is trying to contain a crisis that is emerging at increasing speed: this challenge comprises the rise of contumacious states (i.e. the UK, Poland, Hungary and Italy) or of defiant, historical 'cultural blocs' (i.e. Catalonia) - all of whom are explicitly disenchanted with the notion of some coerced convergence towards a uniform EU-administered 'order'..."
Full Brexit legal advice to be published after government loses vote
MPs have passed a historic motion to hold the government in contempt over its failure to release the cabinet legal advice on the Brexit deal.
The Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, said the government would comply and publish the advice in full on Wednesday.The vote is an unprecedented move in recent political history, in the midst of five days of debate leading up to the final vote on her Brexit deal next week.
In a knife-edge vote, MPs voted by 311 votes to 293 to find the government in contempt of parliament, for failure to comply with a Commons motion in November that ordered it to release the advice in full....
Labour could do a better Brexit deal. Give us the chance
The botched Brexit deal that Theresa May has put to parliament this week is a monumental and damaging failure for our country. Instead of the sensible agreement the prime minister could have negotiated, it is a worst-of-all-worlds deal that works for nobody, whether they voted leave or remain.
But its defeat cannot be taken for granted. In an effort to drag Tory MPs back onside, May is claiming that defeat for her deal means no deal or no Brexit, because there is no viable alternative. That is false. Labour’s alternative plan would unlock the negotiations for our future relationship with the EU and allow us to move away from such a damaging backstop.
A new, comprehensive customs union with the EU, with a British say in future trade deals, would strengthen our manufacturing sector and give us a solid base for industrial renewal under the next Labour government, especially for our held-back communities. It would remove the threat of different parts of the UK being subject to separate regulations. And it would deal with the large majority of problems the backstop is designed to solve.
Second, a new and strong relationship with the single market that gives us frictionless trade, and the freedom to rebuild our economy and expand our public services – while setting migration policies to meet the needs of the economy, not fuelling xenophobia with phoney immigration targets or thresholds – makes far more sense than the prime minister’s dismal deal.
Lastly, we want to see guarantees that existing EU rights at work, environmental standards and consumer protections will become a benchmark to build on – not fall behind and undercut other countries at our people’s expense. These rights and protections, whether on chlorinated chicken or paid holidays, are what people actually want. But the government is determined to trade them away in a race to the bottom.
Labour has very different priorities. Our alternative plan would ensure an open border in Ireland, provide security for investment, give our manufacturing sector a springboard for renewal, ensure we have the powers to rebuild our economy and public services and guarantee world-beating support for workers, consumers and our environment. We are absolutely committed to internationalist cooperation and anti-racist solidarity across Europe, in or out of the EU, and determined to ensure opportunities for students to study in other countries are protected.
Unlike the Norway-plus option now being canvassed among MPs, our plan would not leave Britain as an across-the-board rule-taker of EU regulations without a say. It’s a plan that can be negotiated with the EU, even at this late stage, with most of the building blocks already in place. The EU has shown it is prepared to renegotiate even more complex agreements than this, such as the Lisbon treaty. And ours is a plan I believe could command a majority in parliament and bring the country together.
The stakes could not be higher next week. If the prime minister’s deal is defeated, the government will have lost its majority on the most important issue facing the country and lost its ability to govern. The best outcome in those circumstances would be to let the country decide on the way ahead and the best team to lead it. That means a general election.
In the past, a defeat of such seriousness as May now faces would have meant an automatic election. But if under the current rules we cannot get an election, all options must be on the table. Those should include Labour’s alternative and, as our conference decided in September, the option of campaigning for a public vote to break the deadlock. Two years ago, people voted remain because they wanted an open, international relationship with Europe and a multicultural society. Many voted leave out of anger at the way the political class had left them behind, with crumbling infrastructure and low-paid, insecure jobs. Our job is to unite people with a plan that works for the whole country.
Theresa May staggers on after three Brexit defeats in single day
Theresa May has suffered an extraordinary three parliamentary defeats in a single day, as rebellious MPs at Westminster sought to wrest back control of Brexit.
The start of a five-day debate on May’s deal was delayed by several hours, as MPs passed a historic motion finding the government in contempt of parliament for failing to publish in full the legal advice on Brexit.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, called the defeat a “badge of shame” for the government.
“By treating parliament with contempt, the government has proved it has lost its majority and the respect of the house. The prime minister can’t keep pushing parliament away or avoiding responsible scrutiny,” he said.
MPs had already voted down a government compromise, which would have referred the dispute to parliament’s privileges committee, delaying it until after next week’s crunch vote on May’s deal.
With the prime minister still waiting to open the formal debate, MPs then inflicted a third defeat, passing a cross-party amendment tabled by MPs including Dominic Grieve aimed at strengthening the hand of parliament if the deal is voted down.
Backers of a softer Brexit – or a second referendum on May’s deal – cheered the move, which they hope will allow them to demonstrate parliament’s support for alternatives to May’s approach.
Grieve said: “MPs are tonight starting the process of taking back control. No longer must the will of parliament – reflecting the will of the people – be diminished. Parliament must now take back control and then give the final decision back to the public because, in the end, only the people can sort this out.”....
The best deal is REMAIN.
Theresa May cancels a vote in the U.K. Parliament on her Brexit deal to avoid a huge defeat, a source says https://bloom.bg/2RPjJlB
"Don't normally share Tories, but this is extraordinary. Watch Mark Francois & remember that this is a Tory MP, ripping into his own Govt: 'We wanted to vote on it, the people expected to vote on it, and the Govt have gone and run away and hidden in the toilets.'
British PM May Postpones Crucial Brexit Vote But Won't Set New Date (and vid)
"It's humiliating the country, her own party and democracy itself." George Galloway on May's Brexit fiasco.
Brexit is a failed project. Labour must oppose it
Sometimes, in politics, you just have to fight for what you believe in. I believe that – amid the current geopolitical meltdown – staying in the European Union and reforming it is safer than casting ourselves adrift with a bunch of rightwing Tory xenophobes at the helm.
But since the referendum, I’ve understood that a leftwing Labour government can only be achieved by building a coalition of voters across the Brexit divide. It’s a belief based on the experience of the 2017 general election, when I campaigned in solidly working-class areas where, to keep a doorstep conversation going for more than 30 seconds, the first sentence had to be: “We will deliver Brexit.”
However, the voters chose Theresa May to deliver Brexit, and it is she who has to take responsibility for the catastrophe that’s unfolded. As she heads for Brussels, and further fruitless days of negotiatons, those who supported Brexit have to face the fact: there is no form of possible Brexit that you are going to like.
The only form of softer Brexit available is likely to be the one called Norway-plus, as advocated by both Tory and Labour backbenchers. It means joining the customs union, staying in the single market and applying an “emergency brake” to free movement. Though not ideal, it is a solution that could achieve what so many voters in hard-pressed towns want: to sort the Brexit issue, give us a modicum of control over migration policy, and move on. I would back it, if it were enacted by a temporary coalition of Labour and the nationalist parties. But the numbers don’t seem to be there in parliament and I expect it to fail.
So what is Labour’s fallback? Should it be, as John McDonnell and Keir Starmer have intimated, a second referendum with the party campaigning for remain? Or should it conduct a rearguard action on behalf of the June 2016 referendum majority, in an attempt to get a soft Brexit deal that can unite the population? It’s a challenge that hinges on a question that many in Corbyn’s Labour party don’t want to answer: who does Labour really represent?
Since 2014 it’s been clear that the tribal alliance that used to put Labour into power is pulling in different ways. Traditionally this included the working-class towns of England, the inhabitants of Great Britain’s largest cities and the wider population of Scotland and Wales plus – to seal the deal – the suburban middle-class swing voter. Once a majority of young, educated Scots had swung behind the independence project, and the Scottish radical left joined them, the old tribal alliance began to fall apart.
Meanwhile a cultural divide has opened up: the cities, the university-educated, the public-sector employees and the professional middle class are more socially liberal, more globalist, more supportive of a migration than before. But in small towns, and among those with low skills and low incomes, the cultural pull is in the opposite direction.
Finally, the middle-class swing voter just wants all the chaos and fractiousness to go away. If Labour had remained a hollow shell, bereft of a vibrant intellectual life and mass involvement, the problem would be less acute – the manias and enthusiasms currently energising grassroots politics would, in Ed Miliband’s day, have been filtered through layers of dull technocracy.
But hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to Corbyn’s project – and it is important to recognise that they come both from working-class towns and university cities; from the manual working class and the educated salariat.
What unites most of them – including, I stress here, those from working-class communities – is a globalist and socially liberal attitude to life, the desire for a radical programme of redistribution and investment in, and support for, human rights. In the industrial town where I grew up, the labour movement was always a line drawn through the working class, in favour of values: social justice, tolerance and solidarity. There were always people on the other side, though they used to vote Tory rather than Ukip.
The answer to “who does Labour really represent?” should be a no-brainer. It represents people who are prepared to put evidence before prejudice, fight for social justice, save globalisation by doing less of it – and who are not prepared to throw their black, brown and eastern European colleagues under the bus of xenophobia. It represents women not misogynists, internationalists not nationalists.
Brexit Update: Fearing Defeat But Not Defeated
"Polly Boiko brings us the latest on Brexit, one day after UK PM Theresa May delayed the final vote announcing it will happen 'before January 21st.' Former UK MP George Galloway joins the show: 'We have a state of absolute logjam.'
No confidence vote?