Now that both David Davis and Amber Rudd have told us that Brexit won't change immigration levels, it's time to say clearly that the anti-immigration rhetoric leading up to the Referendum and since were lies. The rhetoric was a deliberate attempt to use racism and xenophobia as a means to win votes, raising 'hopes' in people that their lives would be made better if immigrants were sent back and/or prevented from coming to Britain.
The result is that people in power, backed by the media have repeatedly inflamed hatred, false illusions in how people's lived can become better, deflected attention away from what has really cut standards of living, and public services.
This is one of the great scandals of our day.
Remember, we have the evidence: David Davis and Amber Rudd have told us, Brexit won't change it. People were told lies for votes.
(note: it won't change levels because the bilateral deals the govt want to negotiate will involve some degree of free movement of labour. )
Monday, 27 February 2017
Sunday, 26 February 2017
The varied approaches in the attempted destruction of Jeremy Corbyn:
Note, the reason for the attempted destruction is that in an extremely mild way, he and those who support him are in favour of higher pay, better conditions of work, no cuts to public services, no Trident, no punitive sanctions system for benefits, no Trum-led drift to war, plus pro- nationalisation of the railways and an assault on the tax haven/dodging going on.
Even this limited defence (it's hardly an attack) on austerity and what the ruling order wants (ie low wages, cuts in public services, privatisation of everything) has inflamed and enraged the ruling order and all those who speak for it.
It therefore became immediately essentially for them to vilify and caricature Corbyn across the whole of the media - along these lines:
1. Corbyn is a tatty old hippy whose jumpers need darning.
2. Corbyn doesn't love Britain. That's why he doesn't sing the national anthem.
3. Corbyn is a sinister terrorist.
4. Corbyn is incompetent.
5. Corbyn is middle class.
6. Corbyn lives in Islington
7. Corbyn is extremely wealthy.
8. Corbyn is wrong.
(There are many variations of these and many others.)
The drift is the same: on no account can the electorate be allowed think that the ruling order can be opposed or defied through the ballot box.
I hear some people who are essentially pro-Corbyn imagining some other person in Corbyn's position and somehow getting more support from the press - a Tony Benn figure, perhaps? People who think that should look back at the press coverage Tony got at the time of his leadership challenge. Here was a youngish, good-looking chap with impeccable background in government with a long pedigree of politicians in his family. A fluent, witty, speaker with lots of anecdotes and concrete ways of describing what's wrong etc etc. He was vilified variously as being too posh to be a socialist (yawn, yes, always that one), cynical, a secret Communist, surrounded with dangerous revolutionaries and marxists and 'loony lefts' and so on.
Ed Miliband had hardly a left policy in his baggage. He mildly proposed a 'growth' alternative to austerity. Look back at what they did to him: the man who looks odd - so he's not electable. What?! Seriously?! Yes. In fact, he was the man who couldn't even defend the fact that Labour was not responsible for the problems that global finance got itself into.
Another 'left' voice I see expressed on my timeline yearns for a great leader. I'm going to suggest that the more we yearn for a great leader, the less well we do in opposing low pay, worse conditions and cuts in services. I'll caricature it as a throwback to longing for a Jesus-Lenin figure to save us. It's tough but there really is no alternative to campaigns, and struggles on the ground. Whatever strengths and weaknesses Corbyn and the Labour leadership have, they can't do it on their own, they won't do it on their own. If a person broadly supports the Corbyn policies, there really is no point in moaning about the Corbyn leadership - particularly if you're not involved in some kind of activism, no matter how limited, how small, how local. It's armchair sniping and vilification.
This morning I've read reams of insults and criticism of Corbyn (from supporters of the Labour party) without them posing immediate, practical, viable alternatives. What's the point? He's said he's not standing down. If such people broadly support the Corbyn opposition (mild) to austerity and, let's say, the Trump drift to war, why not 'accentuate the positive' - do all you can to support these policies, do something, no matter how tiny, how limited to campaign on pay, conditions and cuts, which will draw in people to fight the Tories anyway....and avoid joining in the volley of abuse being directed towards him and the Labour leadership mostly coming from people who don't want that kind of government no matter who was leading it.
I call it the George Clooney test. Would you support Labour if Clooney was leading it? No? Then your criticism of Corbyn is just disguised left-hating then, isn't it? Let's discuss politics instead of personalities, then. And if Clooney was leading the Labour Party, the press would think up a hundred reasons why he was wrong for the job too! (too handsome, not married for decades, gave up his job in medicine, etc )
Saturday, 25 February 2017
Apologies for saying this before, but it seems to be relevant this week: I thought that the Referendum had the consequence (I don't know if it was intended or not) for being a huge and convenient distraction from 'working people' (ahem) being involved in fighting for pay, conditions and services. Some people (we'll never know how many) took it to mean that the 'right' result would keep foreigners out. Some people still think that. Again, apart from this being full of racist undertones, it's a huge and dangerous distraction from fighting for pay, conditions and services.
Some more honest commentators are asking this morning to what extent the Referendum (and result) is still working on the electorate - that is May is the truest and best person to represent the Brexit vote? If there is anything in this, then the Referendum has done a fantastic service to the ruling class: it has enabled the ruling class to grab a serious and large section of working people who are totally attached to this phase in what one chunk of the British ruling class is trying to do: save itself by 'freeing' itself from a 'European' ruling class and 'go global'. The irony is of course that those who voted for this thinking that it would keep foreigners out may well find that each one of the bilateral arrangements May sets up with countries round the world, will demand free labour interchange!
The campaign (and it is a campaign) against Corbyn is not really about how 'ineffectual' he is. It's about the fact he in a mild way challenges the idea that any of us should detach ourselves from what the ruling order wants. We must, must, must stick with what the ruling order gives us: cuts, cuts, cuts. Tax breaks for the rich, rich, rich. Bombs, bombs, bombs.
When the beginning, middle and end of your politics is Westminster, parliament, constituencies and parties then the key point emerging from Copeland is that 11,000 Labour voters in Copeland don't exist. I notice that bulletins and the comments programmes hardly ever mention the raw figure itself. It sounds irritatingly big, doesn't it, boys? It's as if they think that the best way to say what happened is 'Copeland became Tory'. The whole constituency is now Tory. That's why it's a 'disaster'. Beginning, middle and end of parliamentary politics.
Now let's suppose, there is going to be a battle over the closing of the local hospital in Copeland. Who is going to lead the fight against that? Who is going to be involved? Presumably, according to Westminster/parliament politics, no one. Copeland is Tory. There is no one in Copeland who disagrees with the Tories. There are no Labour-minded people who want to defend services. We get the message: there is no one left to fight. No, I've put that wrong: we get the message, there is no one left who should fight. Don't fight. You don't exist.
Saturday, 18 February 2017
We must always remember that when a politician talks of a principle, he or she is talking of something for sale.
The Tory on Today programme said the rights of EU citizens in UK depends on the rights of UK citizens in EU! Yet in the referendum they talked of immigration with no reference to UK citizens in EU.
So there you have it. When they campaigned they said that immigration levels from the EU were intolerable. They hardly spoke of the fact that this was a reciprocal arrangement that many UK citizens benefited from or chose to use.
Now when it comes to the negotiation suddenly they threaten to use people as a bargaining chip. That's millions of people's lives to be affected.
(In discussing this, please don't put me in either the Brexit or Remain camp.I've explained elsewhere why I didn't vote.)
Friday, 17 February 2017
People who argue against immigration often use phrases like 'native population' or 'indigenous people'. When they use it on the media, it usually passes by as if people listening are all agreed on what they mean and that what's being said has some kind of universal agreed meaning.
It may seem obvious in a place that has had a largely stable population (apart from 'native' people heading to Canada, Spain, France, Cyprus etc over the last 50 years) and that more recently some migrants have arrived. Perhaps it's more obvious to them. But what about in big cities where people come and go, people arrive, take up UK citizenship, have had children here, while some 2 million Brits have moved abroad and had children overseas...Who's 'native'? Who decides? Quite clearly, from interchanges I've had with people who say they're 'not racist but...' they have ideas about parentage that are positively 'racialised' if not racist. That's to say they have unwritten, unsaid notions of who is 'really' British, and it usually means white, and with both parents and probably all four grandparents as having been born in the UK.
Ireland of course raised a problem here because clearly the big cities have large populations of people with at least one Irish grandparent in them. Hurrah for that. But this 'native population' bit often slides 'Irish' into the category 'native' partly because Irish people are mostly white, mostly speak English and because of the nearly 100 year arrangement re freedom of movement between the Republic and the UK. However, that obscures the fact that 'native' in this case, really means 'native' (whatever that means) plus 'Irish'. ie another inconsistency, another unstated anomaly.
Of course, none of this is stated openly, it just emerges from chat. By not challenging the phrase 'native population' and 'indigenous population' we leave this sort of racialised stuff going on under the surface.