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Mon Jun 19, 2017, 04:46 PM

Reassessing Corbynism: success, contradictions and a difficult path ahead

The trickle of mea culpas from the rapidly diminishing band of Corbyn-sceptics following the election result has now turned into a flood, and not without cause. Once widely-held truisms – Corbynism is a ‘movement’ more clicktivist than canvasser, Corbyn himself is electorally toxic, Labour face a 1931-style demolition and the collapse of its Parliamentary presence – have been shown to be categorically wrong. Corbyn ran an energetic, positive, smart campaign, founded on an unashamedly tax-and-spend manifesto. The quick-witted air war was backed up online and through unprecedented numbers of volunteers taking to the streets to engage potential Labour voters and getting them to turn out on polling day. Such mass activism had long been promised by Corbyn’s most vocal supporters, but aside from his own leadership campaigns, had been in sparse evidence on the ground. But there is no doubt that when it came to the crunch, Corbynism cashed its activist cheques. This level of enthusiastic political engagement would simply not have taken place with another leader – although the suspicion persists that a lot of the urgency was the product of retrospective regret on behalf of younger Remainers that they had not done the same (or perhaps even voted) during the EU referendum.

The election result also clearly demonstrates that Corbynism has not destroyed the party’s parliamentary presence. Labour has made some promising gains, particularly in England, and as Paul Mason notes, seem to have somehow picked up votes both from the liberal and green metropolitan left, and a decent sized portion of the former UKIP vote. This was undoubtedly a remarkable and wholly unexpected achievement, one which few in the top echelons of either party thought possible up until the moment of the exit poll. But while Labour are rightly still celebrating a welcome electoral step forward, not to mention capitalising on the total collapse of Theresa May’s authority as Prime Minister, unpicking the reasons why Corbyn was able to bring this unlikely electoral coalition together reveals that many of the criticisms levelled at the Corbyn project continue to hold. Indeed, in some ways this election has merely postponed a true reckoning with the contradictions and regressive tendencies that run through the Corbynist worldview. In particular, Corbyn’s success postpones once again the moment of reckoning at which the left finally recognises that the acceptance of Brexit and the end of free movement constitutes a fundamental, generational defeat, one for which gains in the House of Commons, however welcome, are scant recompense. With this in mind, then, this article is not yet another mea culpa. It is rather an attempt to take stock of what has changed and what has not, in the form of some first thoughts on how this election result – and in particular Corbyn’s Green-UKIP alliance – was possible.

This was the first post-deficit election

Direct comparisons with previous elections (whether on seats or vote share) are misleading. Each election takes place in an entirely different context, which shapes what can and cannot be said within the campaign, and what is regarded (rightly or wrongly) as ‘credible’. Much of the day to day grind of politics consists of the battle to shape that context (as can be seen with the struggle over the ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ interpretation of the referendum result, a battle which until Thursday night at least, May seemed to have comprehensively won). The 2015 election was dominated by discussion of the deficit and debt. The endless repetitions of how the Tories were still ‘clearing up Labour’s mess’ trapped Ed Miliband in political-economic territory from which he could never win  –  every word from his mouth was framed by the context of how Labour’s supposed overspending had led to the crash and the ‘deficit’. This frame has, incredibly, now virtually disappeared. Labour were careful to cost their manifesto nonetheless – demonstrating that the difference between their position and Miliband’s cannot be explained by mere hard left ‘will power’ – and the Tories failure to bother doing the same, lazily assuming the line from 2015 still held sway, left any attacks they made on Labour’s spending plans seem hollow and hypocritical. But it was the combination of austerity finally starting to bite the lower middle classes in a way it hadn’t in 2015 (school cuts and the NHS winter crisis cut through in a huge way) and Brexit that really wiped the economic slate clean. The Leave promises of an extra £350m a week for the NHS, regardless of their veracity, put public spending for services back on the ‘credible’ electoral playing field in a way that we have not seen since 2005. Add in May’s own desire to boost infrastructure spending, and Corbyn and McDonnell had the space to make spending commitments that were just not available to Miliband. They made the most of it.

The left’s instinctive trust in Corbyn allows him to successfully triangulate

The idea that Corbyn is a truly authentic man who has stuck to his principles through thick and thin is prevalent even amongst his fiercest critics. It is also his greatest weapon when it comes to keeping the left (and the youth vote) onside while in reality triangulating as ably –  if not more so –  as any Blairite. Labour’s policy on immigration in this election was well to the right of the 2015 manifesto. Miliband was pilloried by the left for proposing ‘controls on immigration’, which slogans on mugs aside, amounted to a two year ban on EU migrants receiving benefits. Corbyn’s manifesto went even further than May herself by pledging to end free movement of people from the EU come what may in the Brexit negotiations. While the effect of this was to almost entirely drain the ‘immigration debate’ from the election in a way unimaginable even six months ago, this was only due to the total capitulation of both Corbyn and the broader left on the issue. The immigration policy in Labour’s 2017 manifesto was more extreme in concrete terms than what most of the Leave side were proposing in the referendum -  in essence assuring full withdrawal from the single market, whatever the consequences -  and yet Corbyn’s supporters on the left accepted it because they refuse to believe that Corbyn himself, as a man of principle, can really mean it. While every word Miliband (or indeed virtually anyone else who is not Corbyn) is treated with suspicion, despite the pro-single market arguments of the contemporary Blair being inherently far less punitive on immigration than Corbyn’s position, Corbyn is given the benefit of the doubt every time, even when the policy is written down in black and white. This is triangulation of the highest order, enabling Labour to appeal to hardline anti-migrant UKIP voters while also keeping the trust of the ‘cosmopolitan’ urban left. It is doubtful any other Labour leader would have been capable of achieving this. Yet the faith in Corbyn’s supposedly unshakeable core beliefs is such that his party’s policies on immigration barely register amongst people who would be incandescent with rage if another Labour leader even vaguely gestured towards them.


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Reply Reassessing Corbynism: success, contradictions and a difficult path ahead (Original post)
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 OP
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #1
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #2
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #3
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #4
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #5
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #6
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #7
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #8
T_i_B Jun 2017 #9
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #10
T_i_B Jun 2017 #11
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #12
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #13
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #14
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #15
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #16
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #17
T_i_B Jun 2017 #18
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #19
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #25
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #27
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #28
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #29
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #30
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #32
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #33
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #21
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #22
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #23
Ken Burch Jun 2017 #26
Denzil_DC Jun 2017 #31
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #24
LeftishBrit Jun 2017 #20

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 07:23 PM

1. I'd have a bit more respect for the arguments there...


...if the guy didn't insist on working the "Corbyn supports terrorists" slur into it. There was never anything to that...especially when it came to Northern Ireland.

The piece reads to me as a combination of the most grudging-acknowledgment possible that Jeremy isn't a disaster as leader, combined with at least a passive-aggressive effort to encourage the hardline "dump Corbyn" crowd to keep going.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 08:28 PM

2. Ha, wondered when you'd be along.

The Corbyn-led Labour Party is riding high at the moment (well higher than it has for a long time). For once (maybe not for long), some of its arguments are getting a fair airing. Part of the deal on that is that they must be amenable to analysis after the furore of an election campaign has died down, and their policy flaws pointed out. Because if that doesn't happen sooner rather than later, the whole surge in mobilizing sectors of the populace to nominally vote for their own interests for a change will be squandered, and all that will be left will be the smoking ruins of a personality cult, a lot of if onlies, and a whole lot of very disillusioned people who once upon a - possibly only too brief - time voted Labour and got screwed by triangulation all over again.

Ken, skip all that you're objecting to right there for a minute (I can think of a few things in the article that made me bristle, but he has some very valid points) and get to the Brexit discussion.

Then please explain to me how the hell Labour will be able to finance any meaningful public spending while the country weathers the decade(s?)-long hurricane that will result from the disruption to trade and consequent loss of revenue. In fact, explain to me ANY coherent ideas Labour's come up with for the process of disentangling us from the EU that don't sound disturbingly like Tory "have our cake and eat it" wishful thinking.

There's more meat there, but it's a big essay, and too much to tackle all at once.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 09:03 PM

3. Is there any possible honorable way for Labour to go full-on anti-Brexit at this point?


I'm a bit suspicious of the author's motivations on that, since the myth that the Leave victory was Corbyn's fault(it was actually solely the fault of the horrible campaign the pro-Remain forces ran, and Corbyn himself had little say in how that campaign was run) was the most damaging accusation the anti-Corbynites made. At the same time that the anti-Corbs kept screaming that the man was "unelectable", they insisted that he somehow had the magical ability to stop Brexit by personal force of will. Seems to me that THAT is a bit of a "contradiction".

I think some means should be arranged(perhaps under "devo max"for Scotland to stay within the EU, but it's hard to see how trying, at this late date, to reverse Brexit for the whole of the UK can achieve anything other than to bringing UKIP back from near-death...and god help anyone trying to organize antiracist, anti-xenophobia movements if THAT happens.

The EU is a deeply mixed bag...good on the social liberal aspects, reactionary on the economic constraints it imposes. If an Eu member country obeys the internal spending constraints the EU mandates-constraints the EU never had any right to impose on any member nation-it is impossible for that country to have any economic policies other than Thatcherism. Those constraints make it impossible for a Labour(or social democratic on the European mainland)governments to do anything pro-worker or pro-full employment. Those parties can't even stop making the kinds of benefit cuts only right-wing governments use to make.

And even if none of that were the case(if you believe social democracy and a full-employment economic system is possible under perpetual spending constraints, I'd love to hear why) how could Labour look anything but antidemocratic and, frankly, pathetic in trying to reverse Brexit now? In what areas of the UK could making a last-ditch all-out fight to stop Brexit gain the party any votes? It looks as though this is a demand that Jeremy commit electoral suicide and give Nigel Farage a chance for a comeback.

As I've said, if I lived in the UK, I'd have campaigned for Remain...I wish Remain had prevailed...at that TIME, that was the progressive position to take...but what's the point in trying to restart, at this late date not only a losing battle, but a LOST battle? I simply can't see how doing so can lead to anything but large Labour losses at the next election and a restored Tory majority by default....an outcome, btw, that would make Scottish independence impossible, as far as I can see.

The only possible way it could work would be if the PLP and the right-wing majority on the Labour NEC were to accept Corbyn taking a "Remain and Defy" position...that is, fighting to stay within the EU AND announcing that a Labour government would defy EU spending constraints-in other words, making it clear that Corbyn's Labour would never be forced to be the next SYRIZA.

Short of that, I don't see how Jeremy or any other possible Labour leader could manage to relaunch the fight to stop Brexit.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 10:06 PM

4. OK, I'll try to take this para by para. But first your OP line:

If Labour's boxed itself in right now, that's Labour's problem. (Sorry if that sounds bitter, but I support a party that's consistently been principled and responsible and detailed in its reasoning about this issue, immigration and all, and saw a drop in its still overwhelming majority of MP seats in Scotland - losses to the Tories cheered on by Labour up here - partly as a result. I like some guts in my politicians.) It's all of our problem if it lets the Tories off the hook by continuing to buy into the same anti-immigration rhetoric etc. that's gained currency, as the author of the article points out very clearly.

Labour can't be all things to all people, and it's a cynical act of political cowardice to pretend that one can square, for instance, the interests of the generally idealistic, outward-looking, accustomed-to-being-European with all that entails "youth vote" (not monolithic, of course) with the insular, inward-looking, scapegoating "UKIP vote" (more correctly those who have voted UKIP in the past, but may have done so as an anti-establishment protest, for lack of appealing options, or from less laudable motives). It can't satisfy the far larger numbers of Labour voters who are still inclined to Remain (look at recent opinion polls, and even if you take them with a pinch of salt, the trend is not in Brexit's favour) and those who're committed to Leave, or have plain given up and are going along with it because of the constant media onslaught about "the will of the people" which you seem to have fallen for.

para. 1 - Despite the focus of the article, it doesn't all come down to settling old scores from past battles, as you seem to assume, it's about the future. And I can't be bothered fishing out polling evidence right now, but I believe you're wrong in your understanding "that the overwhelming majority of the UK population now accepts that Brexit can't be stopped". They've been fed contradictory lines right and left - we can have the single market without free movement. No, wait, that was last month. We can be Norway. Oh. There's those Four Freedoms again. The much-trumpeted Labour manifesto couldn't have been much clearer on leaving the single market (which would have lost them my vote if it had been up for grabs), but that got lost in the Tory implosion and all sorts of other electoral chaff. But I'm willing to bet that a fair proportion of those who cheered on Labour's unexpected relative success and then heard O'Donnell spell it out after the election (when strategically he'd have been better keeping his trap shut) would have been dismayed. They were probably hoping it was an electoral ruse.

para. 2 - Try floating anything like the idea of "devo max" in Scotland nowadays, and beyond the delusional uselessness of Scottish Labour, you'll be deafened by hollow laughter. We got bitten by that and Gordon Brown's strange interventions during and after the indyref. Labour representatives voted AGAINST the devolution of a whole range of essential powers that Holyrood needed to be able to conduct joined-up government. Since it lost its grip on Holyrood and its easy coalition with the Lib Dems in Scotland, Labour's largely lost interest in that assembly except as a forum for bashing the SNP on a weekly basis and a handy source of revenue because it's got no membership base to speak of up here any more. There's no way it will grant more powers to enable the SNP to show it up by running a country on more communitarian lines while being sneered at for "embracing Tory austerity" and not being "left-wing" enough (Corbyn's a real bobby-dazzler on his rare visits up here, when he comes out with this guff; you'll have gathered I've not been in the Corbyn-hater/basher camp in the long run, but he can be a barefaced fucking liar when it suits him, which came as a bit of a shock to me; he is a politician, after all).

"Devo max" or anything like it would not solve the problem anyway. Scotland would still be part of the UK, and so would be out of the EU. The problems of trying to negotiate let alone administer any sort of half-in, half-out deal (which neither Labour nor the Conservatives would countenance in any case, let alone the EU itself) are similar to those that will face Northern Ireland (without, so far, the threat of serious civil unrest if things go pear-shaped).

And fuck UKIP. You don't fight fascism by becoming more like the fascists. You argue the case, strongly and consistently. You join the dots where people can't or don't have the time to do so themselves, and you certainly don't go around whining "They're right - don't vote for them!"

para. 3 - Read the article in the OP about Labour's sketchy record on benefit cuts and listen to the statements in recent times from prominent Labour figures who bought into the whole "dole scrounger" mentality etc., despite the campaign rhetoric. And that's with the luxury of being out of power, nor expecting to come within long-range spitting distance of it any time soon. The EU isn't perfect, but it's doing a hell of a lot better than a lot of other trading blocs, for its people and as a whole. Pissing on it from outside the tent isn't going to do anything to reform it, and it will still be a very influential neighbour - and, heaven forbid, rival - even if Brexit comes to fruition.

para. 4 - If you define "democratic" as having our futures dictated by the whims of the Tory Party trying to cobble itself together and parley an advisory referendum into an unconstitutionally binding one, then we're not going to find any common ground. If you believe "Brexit means Brexit", and hence anything the party in power chooses it to mean, then you're no democrat. Labour's apparent abandonment of a "soft(er)" Brexit approach while still banging on about having its cake and eating it is shameful and - yes - pathetic.

para. 5 - I won't point out yet again that you don't live here. It's nice that you take an interest in our politics, but what you consistently fail to get is that this is actually an existential issue for many of us. The stakes are very high. If people had argued the way you're doing about previous social struggles, there'd never even have been a Labour Party.

At the moment, there's a window as the reality of just how weak and directionless in negotiation the Tories are and how divided the country still is on this issue becomes more and more obvious - remember, May called the election because she for some reason felt that parliament was divided on Brexit whereas the country was coming together and demanded people vote for her because "every vote makes me stronger", and suffered a major humiliation, if not an outright loss on that basis. My concern is that before there's another election, if Labour doesn't shape up its ideas, stop resting on the laurels of having unexpectedly avoided annihilation, and come up with a coherent approach that's not conning people, it's likely to face a very much rockier ride if the Tories do have to call another election any time soon, and have to explain where it actually stands and how it sees the whole thing working. It can't use current revenue estimates to finance the sorts of programmes it wants to without REALLY discovering a magic money tree, as the revenues won't be there.

This is the time to push harder, not throw our hands up and say nothing can be done.

And none of what you've written has answered my initial questions, so I'll repeat them:

Please explain to me how the hell Labour will be able to finance any meaningful public spending while the country weathers the decade(s?)-long hurricane that will result from the disruption to trade and consequent loss of revenue {from Brexit}. In fact, explain to me ANY coherent ideas Labour's come up with for the process of disentangling us from the EU that don't sound disturbingly like Tory "have our cake and eat it" wishful thinking.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 10:38 PM

5. I'm aware that a large group of Labour politicians before Corbyn came along


were joining the Tories in the poorbashing hysteria...that was despicable and unforgiveable...it was the outrage about that among the Labour rank-and-file that led to Jeremy's upset victory in the leadership contest. Corbyn can't be blamed for words of betrayal that were said before he was elected leader.

If Labour fights now to stop Brexit and its vote goes down, which is what would have to happen, what is achieved?

In answer to your question Labour will be able to spend whatever it needs to spend after Brexit...The EU didn't exist when Labour created the post-war social welfare state, after all. And there are no EU member countries where social welfare spending isn't being relentlessly and savagely slashed. Implementing pro-worker legislation is impossible within the EU. Look at what happened to Holland just for trying to bring in a 35-hour week...a bare minimum measure for the protection of worker's rights. Macron, his successor, is now going to "reform" labor laws-i.e., eliminating job security and removing most legislation that gives working people any protection at all from injustice in the work place.

If there had ever been any chance, or ever could be any chance, of establishing the space for social democracy with EU membership, you'd have a case. But we both know that space can never exist-people like Merkel will run the EU forever and they will forever bloc any egalitarian measures.

And the Social Charter is now basically a meaningless remnant, thanks to the mandatory spending limits. It no longer offers any meaningful protection to the working or kept-from-working poor in terms of their economic rights.

In spite of this, I supported Remain on anti-xenophobia grounds and would do so again. But we're past the time when the EU can or will do anything to fight xenophobia or any other form of bigotry, and it will always be on the side of the rich against the workers, so really, at this stage, what's to like?

The work now should be to create a European economic alliance from below...an alliance run for the good of the working and non-working poor in Europe. Why not move on to working for that, rather than trying to salvage what can't BE salvaged?

Why insist on trying to save Remain, when Remain CAN'T be Remain and Rebel, when the EU will always be exactly like it is now, no matter what?

At this point, a new fight to stay in the EU can only be a fight for the interest of the billionaires of Britain. The EU is no longer a way to fight xenophobia or protect anyone's rights in the UK.

The way to beat May is to mobilize the mass opposition to her austerity proposals and the outrage that has arisen from her party's handling(all the way down to the council level)of the Grenfell tragedy-not by restarting a battle most people in the UK see as over and see as having nothing any longer to do with their lives. It's no longer possible to make a left-wing case for going back.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #5)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 10:57 PM

6. Do you have any idea the economic mess the UK was in before it joined the EC?

There were pressing reasons why the UK joined. You're sounding exactly like those blinkered Leavers who drone on about "We used to be fine in the old days, warm beer, dollies in mini skirts, yadayadayada." It was known as "The Sick Man of Europe" and - not coincidentally, "The Dirty Old man of Europe", as its attitudes to ecology were terrible. Something then changed ...

If you can't grasp the economic implications and how much Brexit is going to feed us exactly into the hands of the very billionaires who sponsored the ruddy thing in the first place, then I can't help you. I'll break out my crystal ball and predict that the punitive measures that will be brought in and the erosion of workers' rights will make the EU look like paradise.

Your own crystal ball showing what can and can't be achieved within an evolving 27-nation democratic body an ocean away is remarkable. There are changes coming within the EU. They may not go all the way I'd like to see, but this whole Brexit fiasco has done nothing to help. So no, "we both" don't know the future, not least with the major European elections happening this year.

I'm glad I'll never be in a foxhole with you - you'd surrender before a shot was fired.

Your prime consistent concerns seem to be the survival of the Labour Party and what serves its interests, not what serves people's interests.

That there is the fucking problem, and has been for decades.

To paraphrase an old line from US politics: Corbyn's the Leader of the Opposition. He's not your boyfriend.

I'm actually getting bored hearing about him at the moment. I'd hoped the sense of relief after the election might have lasted a bit longer.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #6)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 11:47 PM

7. What was done to Greece is what will be done to ANY left government under the EU.


If they weren't allowed to break the neoliberal consensus, no EU member ever will be.

You claim there are changes on the way in the EU. But in which way? There's been no change in any progressive direction under the EU(other than some nice bits of bourgeois social liberalism that were never transformative). Why would you possibly believe that the spending constraints will ever be lifted in the future? That the no-deficit requirement will ever be lifted? That "labor market flexibility"-i.e., the right to screw workers into the ground-can ever be rolled back? Which of these minor "changes" you mention will ever be on the side of the workers, rather than the wealthy? If the EU has always been neoliberal up to now, what makes you think that can ever change

The only institution in the EU anyone other than France or Germany has any real say in is the European Parliament-a body that, being powerless and irrelevant now, will always be powerless and irrelevant.

I'm not nostalgic about the past. I only mentioned the Attlee example because it was an illustration of possibilities.

Corbyn is the leader of the Opposition. He can only lose seats by fighting against Brexit now. It's impossible to elect a Labour government on a "stay in Europe" plank AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME. Why even try when all it can lead to is lost seats? How is anything that gives the Tories a chance of a comeback ever in "the people's interests"?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 05:59 AM

8. You mentioned the Attlee example simply because you don't have any answer at all

to my questions about where this money will come from beyond "Labour will be able to spend whatever it needs to spend after Brexit".

To which the only response is, "Oh, really?"

Pitch that to the electorate, and the prospect of losing seats would be the least of Labour's worries. It's nonsense.

And again, for you it's all about what's good for Labour. A pox on that attitude. It's why we're where we are.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 07:23 AM

9. There is some pretty good stuff in Labour's platform...

...but their EU policy means that they are effectively promising a cruise ship when all they really have is a rubber dinghy.

The issue of leaving the EU affects everything else, and almost always for the worst.

Good OP by the way. Labour have benefited from the Tories cocking up their election campaign, but a lot of the underlying problems remain.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 07:36 AM

10. Thanks, T_i_B.

"Promising a cruise ship when all they really have is a rubber dinghy" is very catchy!

There is some good stuff in Labour's platform, and I can now think of a number of their front-bench MPs who've impressed me so far (which is a step forward from a year or so ago): Emily Thornberry (despite the "white can man" debacle demonization a while back), Angela Raynor, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Barry Gardiner all had good election campaigns.

Unfortunately there are also aspects of the Labour platform, as the article points out, that are either terrible or don't stand up to any scrutiny and don't make sense, except as wishful thinking. And the Shadow Cabinet members who've impressed me are mixed in with the likes of Tom Watson and John McDonnell, who I have no time for whatsoever - he's a total liability, and I hope Starmer replaces him (fat chance unless Corbyn's hand's forced, and I can't see that happening any time soon).

And as for the new Shadow Scottish Secretary, well, it just shows you what happens when "paper candidates" unexpectedly win:

She, apparently, was the pick of the Scottish crop!

The differences I think you and I - and the article in the OP - are highlighting are between a party of opposition and a potential party of government.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 01:15 PM

11. The reason why they can get away with it right now....

....is that quite frankly the Conservatives don't look like a potential party of government either!

Politics in 2017 has degenerated into a contest to see who can bugger up the least! Pretty awful when you think about it.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 01:36 PM

12. "white van man", not "white can man"


(btw, in the UK wouldn't that be "white tin man"?)

I would rather Remain had won(on anti-xenophobia grounds). And it would be a lot easier to support what you want if the EU weren't permanently neoliberal.

But the polls now show most of the UK electorate are past that issue.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #12)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 05:35 PM

13. Dude, if you're going to pick on an obvious typo

after such a marathon typing session, then I'm about done with such pettiness.

Polls? What's the saying? - They're often more about shaping opinion than reflecting it. Nevertheless, this is from three days ago:


Brexit: British people have changed their minds on leaving the EU, poll finds

The majority of Britons now want a second referendum on the UK quitting the European Union (EU), according to a new survey.

Fifty-three per cent of people would back a vote on whether to accept the terms of the final Brexit deal, with 47 per cent opposed, a Survation poll found.

When the same question was asked in April, a majority of 54 per cent were against a second referendum.

The survey results suggest there is increasing opposition among the public to a “hard Brexit”.



The poll was by Survation (who did well in the election), commissioned by the Mail on Sunday (not quite as bad at the Daily Mail, but not exactly Remain Central). It came up with 69% against "hard brexit". You might find the article's results from Labour voters in another poll for Global Future interesting.

Here's Wikipedia's Poll of Polls roundup on Brexit for mid-2016: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum#Polls_of_polls

Remain was ahead in each one.

Here's Wikipedia's roundup of post-Referendum polls up to 12-13 June (relying heavily on YouGov, who also did well in the election): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum#Post.E2.80.93referendum_polling

It's pretty even (bearing in mind margins of error), with 11% or so "undecided", and if there's any trend evident, it's that Remain is gaining ground marginally.

Here's a dandy graph tracking the trend in opinion according to BMG Research, ComRes and Survation: http://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/should-the-united-kingdom-remain-a-member-of-the-european-union-or-leave-the-european-union-asked-after-the-referendum/

It shows much the same.

Here's a similar graph tracking support for a second referendum from Survation: http://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/would-you-support-or-oppose-having-a-second-eu-referendum-to-vote-on-the-exit-deal-when-the-details-are-known/

Similar trend.

Here's another graph tracking YouGov and gfk results on whether people thought in hindsight it was right to vote to leave: http://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/in-highsight-do-you-think-britain-was-right-or-wrong-to-vote-to-leave-the-eu/

Similar trend.

Polls which are no doubt the ones you're clinging to that show a substantial majority for Leave only do so if they count "Re-Leavers" - those who've bought into your line that "the people have spoken" so even though it's a rotten idea, what the hell, we should do it anyway. In most political contexts, they'd be seen as "persuadable" or "low-hanging fruit" given a concerted information campaign. And we haven't seen the worst of the chaos that's being unleashed yet.

And all these polls rely on condensing a very complex issue into glib answers - just like the referendum itself.

If you whine any more about the EU, I'm going to be forced to post the YouTube of Monty Python's "What have the Romans ever done for us?" You have been warned.

Be honest, for heaven's sake. The reason you're so gung-ho and dismissive about it is because you're the biggest Corbynite partisan I've ever encountered, and I reckon there's literally nothing he and Labour could do that you wouldn't find a way to excuse and defend. If they did a 180-degree turnaround tomorrow and came out for Remain, you'd be here lecturing us at length on why it was the right thing to do, etc. etc. Meanwhile, you have no skin in the game. Can't you grasp that this is rather annoying?

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #13)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 09:56 PM

14. Sorry, the "can man" thing was meant as a joke


I'm dismissive because fighting to stop Brexit now can only have right-wing results. It can't create a progressive future for the UK. It can't bring a "progressive coalition" to power-and the SNP wouldn't be part of such a coalition.

As to Corbyn, I won't apologize for supporting the only decent party leader at Westminster.

And I agree that the EU is socially progressive. In all other respects, it is reactionary. And there's no real evidence that the parts of it that are reactionary(the completely unjustified spending constraints and balanced budget requirements)are ever going to be abolished or even modified. If they aren't, nothing to the left of Gladstonian liberalism will ever be possible for any EU member state. Why pretend otherwise?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #14)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 10:14 PM

15. Read this thread here:


I imagine it's all an anti-Corbyn plot.

Or as I like to call it, "protecting their constituents' and the country's interests".

Oh, and I warned you:

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #15)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 12:00 AM

16. I know the routine. And I'd have voted Remain.


What I don't understand is why you care more about trying to reverse Brexit than you do about getting the Tories out of power. If an all-out effort to reverse Brexit leads to a restored Tory majority, everything is pretty much over, even if Brexit is reversed. How could anything progressive happen at any time after the Tories regained a majority? For that matter, how could a second Indyref ever happen?

Why not put defeating the Right first? There's no way staying in the EU, important as it might be, is more important than ending the sadistic benefit sanctions policy May has going and saving the NHS.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #16)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 05:36 AM

17. See, for you it's the luxury of being a hypothetical issue.

It's not for us. It's all too real.

You have little idea of the dynamics at play here. You're craven that standing up for something that's right will deprive your precious "Jeremy" and Labour of their chance to screw up as badly as the Tories if they don't change their current trajectory.

It's not sequential. The very process of Brexit hands theoretically pretty much unlimited power to the Tories via the Great Repeal Act because of Labour's failure to take a stand earlier in the process when the way was cleared for the government to repeal any legislation that Act will embody into UK law without having to consult parliament, let alone hold votes.

As things stand, there's nothing constitutionally standing in the way of a future government (this one technically hasn't taken power yet) stripping away decades of human rights and worker and environmental protection legislation. Part of that is opening up our NHS to increased privatization and greater involvement of (especially US) multinationals.

Labour may hit lucky if we have another election soon, but it's a gamble, no government should have unlimited power like that, and as we've seen recently, political fortunes can turn on a sixpence at the moment. You can't grasp this, and I'm tired of having to explain all this to you over and over again (in this thread alone!). If you read the post at the link I gave you, those 51 Labour Party members have put out a pretty coherent statement of what's at stake, so read it if you're that interested.

And if I was very cynical and independence meant more than anything else to me, I'd be rooting for a Tory majority in the UK - which party was in power when Scotland held the last referendum? But I'm not a Scottish Labour Party politician, so I never root for the Tories.

If you were very cynical, you'd be thanking your lucky stars that Labour didn't win the last election, because Brexit is unworkable, and the party in power while it's being negotiated is likely to pay very dearly electorally, as they'll own the disaster.

Now give it a rest, huh?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #16)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 07:17 AM

18. This is pretty much the same argument....

....that we heard ad nauseum from the Blairites about why we must support them while they were in office. It was rubbish then and it's rubbish now.

There is nothing in the Labour platform that requires exiting the single market to achieve. However, what leaving the EU will do is cause an economic collapse, which will in turn starve the government of revenue (especially VAT revenue) and make all of Labour's aims unacheivable.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #18)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 07:31 AM

19. Well, the Labour manifesto's carefully worded.

It says (paraphrased as I'm too busy to look it up for now) "Freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU" (note that's just a descriptive sentence, not an active commitment), but also talks about preserving "access" to the single market and customs union.

People like Ken who are rabidly anti-EU on the grounds he claims should be far more worried about a "soft" Brexit than a "hard" one.

Unless it's a species nobody's been able to identify yet, "soft" Brexit would mean the UK being subject to EU laws while having given up any influence at all in their framing!

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #19)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 10:39 PM

25. I'm not "rabid anti-EU". I support them on the parts of what they do that are progressive.


Last edited Thu Jun 22, 2017, 01:33 AM - Edit history (1)

I oppose them on their ultra-Thatcherite economic requirements.

And it's hard to see how you could even have a second EU referendum without the Tories being ousted. What could possibly force them to do it?

If anyone was even trying to democratize the EU and pressure if to be humane on economics, it would be different. I've been shown no evidence that it's even possible to make the organization stop demanding cuts, privatization and "labor market flexibility"-i.e., the right treat workers as if we're back in 1847.

Why couldn't it have just reflected the social democratic values of Europe from the start? It's not like the people of the European countries wanted an organization that would impose permanent austerity.

(btw...I only use call the guy "Jeremy" because that's what everybody calls him. Why is that such a big deal to you? Is there something wrong with having a party leader that isn't a dismissive, cynical bastard? Why do you equate simple admiration for a decent man with idolatry?)

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #25)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 10:59 PM

27. Well, "Jeremy" must be a grave disappointment to you.

He's now in favour of continuing the UK's involvement with the EU through access to the single market. That's what we call a "soft Brexit".

That means that the UK will have to comply with EU laws and regulations. But the UK will no longer be able to vote to shape them. That's kinda stupid. So if all you've been rabidly ranting on about at great length (just pointing out how it comes across) is true, your only consistent position would be a "hard" Brexit.

That's a position that definitely has minority support.

As for "Jeremy", people usually reserve first-name only status for pop idols or people they actually know. I don't know who this "everybody" you're referring to might be, but it's not common among the UK public when referring to Corbyn, so yes, it does sound rather odd and fanboyish.

Now this whole discussion is just going round and round in circles, and you're arrogantly refusing to take into account (or even respond to at the moment) what a number of people on this thread are telling you about the politics of their own country. That's not a good look, you know.

You complain about being shown "no evidence" when your pigheadedness doesn't exactly encourage anyone to waste the time offering you any, because you'll either ignore it (like the polling info I took the trouble to fish out for you) or dismiss it and keep banging on over and over with the same points even after they've been countered.

I don't think you're persuading anyone, and you're obviously beyond persuasion. It's a waste of time and energy that would be better directed elsewhere.

There's a chance we might have been able to spend this thread discussing other issues raised in the OP, and there are important ones that are worth considering at this key moment, but just look at where you've taken it. Swamping the discussion like this on the only DU group dedicated to UK matters is out of order, IMHO.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #27)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 02:10 AM

28. I'm fine with what Corbyn's doing there. I've never been rabidly anti-EU and you know it.


It's just that I've acknowledged the problems with the institution.

I don't oppose grassroots organizations trying to reverse Brexit. Our only real point of disagreement here is the idea that Labour should put reversing Brexit above all other things. I'd rather see Labour lead the fight against the barbaric benefits sanctions policy the Tories implemented, for repeal of Thatcher's anti-worker laws, for the creation of a economic model that treats people with dignity and respect. You think Labour SHOULD put the fight to stop Brexit above all of that. For some reason, you think that doing so could actually lead to the election of a progressive government of some sort for the UK. You have the right to your opinion.

I think your feelings about Corbyn are driven by he apparent Labour-Tory cooperation in Scotland. It was Kezia Dugdale who did that, and the way Labour is set up, Corbyn could do nothing to stop her. I doubt that he wanted to see a Tory comeback north of the Tweed. The cooperation with the Tories there was indefensible, as it was in the Indyref-but I doubt Corbyn could have stopped it, or survived in the leadership if he'd made it known that Labour wouldn't try to make any gains in Scotland. And I think you'd have to acknowledge that some of the seat changes happened there simply because the SNP has declined in support as a party. When that happens, a party is going to lose some seats.

I'd like to see either an EU that stops being rigidly neoliberal and rigidly anti-worker and gives the 99% some say in what it stands for. I followed the referendum campaign online pretty regularly, and don't recall hearing any of the major figures supporting Remain making any pledges to fight for EU reform or challenging the EU to ease off on the spending constraints it imposes-constraints it never had any right or justification for imposing in the first place. Would you at least agree that Remain supporters should have taken a Remain and Reform, or Remain and Rebel position, rather than just universally saying "Remain and live with everything staying just the way it is now"?

It should be possible to have a united Europe with economically humane values. If the Remain campaign had pledged to fight for that, to make that a priority, I think the outcome would have been different.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #28)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 06:13 AM

29. First of all, I do agree that the Remain campaign was very poor; that if it had been better we might

not be in this mess; and, in particular, that George Osborne lost votes for Remain every time he opened his pie-hole.


You are treating opposition to Brexit and opposition to the economic and other policies of the RW government as separable. In fact, Brexit is a vehicle for right-wingers to be able to pursue their policies in an untrammelled manner.

It is like someone saying in 1960s America, 'It is more important to make the country more liberal than to insist on Southern states complying with federal directives', when in fact 'states rights' were being used as a vehicle for resisting civil rights. As an abstract constitutional issue, the relations between state and federal government could indeed be seen as a relatively low priority. But it was not just an abstract constitutional issue. It was crucial to fighting hard-right policies. And the successes in doing so were only partial - nevertheless this does not mean that 'states rights' should have just been accepted in the service of Jim Crow.

Similarly, while we may not get into a perfect situation even if we remain in the EU, we are certainly fucked if we don't; and the main REASON why the right-wingers want to Brexit is to enable their policies. Some are mainly anti-immigrant; some want the UK to become a tax haven for the super-rich; some want a 'bonfire' of employment, environmental and employment regulations. All resent the EU for interfering with their untrammelled 'freedom' to pursue their right-wing goals.

I would add that all UK DU-ers, to my knowledge, are very anti-Brexit. It is not just Denzil's specific Scottish concerns. It is the unanimous view of people from different parts of the UK, with different views on a number of political issues, but all left-of-centre to varying degrees; all anti-Trump - and all anti-Brexit.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #28)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:10 AM

30. "I think your feelings about Corbyn are driven by he apparent Labour-Tory cooperation in Scotland."

(a) Oh, for heaven's sake. There's nothing "apparent" about it. It's documented, and if you actually bothered to read the earlier thread about it, you'd know that and we wouldn't have to go over old ground yet again.

(b) My feelings about Corbyn are coloured by concerns that include those raised in this article, which we've barely touched upon because of your vapid squid-cloud obfuscation in response to my initial question about where Labour were going to find the money to fund their promised social programmes if Brexit goes ahead. You have no answers. If Labour has no answers when it comes to the crunch, then the whole thing's going to turn nasty for them and us all very quickly. (And quit projecting what you "think" are my feelings - I've worn out my fingers explaining what they are, so there's no need to guess.)

That's the point you seem unable to grasp. The fact Corbyn visits Scotland and supports Dugdale, who's bitterly opposed many of the positive moves in the Labour manifesto when the SNP has actually enacted them as the Scottish government is just another example of the contradictions in their current stances. One minute it's "out of the single market and the customs union" and no freedom of movement, the next it's "access" to the single market and still no freedom of movement. As T_i_B pointed out, they're only getting away with it at the moment because people and the media are so distracted by how spectacularly awful the Tories are. That distraction won't last forever (well, the Tories are likely to continue to be awful, but boredom with that will set in and attention will turn to "the government in waiting".

You've spent the entire thread detailing how you think the EU is irredeemably neoliberal and antithetical to workers' rights etc. and how nothing will ever happen to reform it, yet you seem happy to see the UK give up any opportunity to have the ability to vote to change it while submitting to EU laws and rules. If you can't see the illogicality of that, then there's no point in continuing.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #30)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:58 PM

32. OK, I withdraw the word "apparent"...I use that word to mean "essentially proved"


not "assertion that is still in question". Sorry if I sounded dismissive on that.

And I don't defend anything Dugdale's done. I don't know enough about how Labour is structured on an internal level to be able to determine if Corbyn had any capacity to push her out as Scottish Labour leader.

What would you have had him do regarding the Scottish seats? I agree with you that there should not have been Labour-Tory cooperation, but was he supposed to withdraw Labour candidates from every Scottish seat they didn't hold other than the one seat each held(going into the elections) by the Tories and the LibDems?

To do that, he'd have to at least get an absolute confidence-and-supply arrangement set up with the SNP, and to carry on with such an arrangement, the SNP would probably have to agree to put aside the goal of a second referendum for at least the next parliament, to agree that, for at least the next five years, Scotland would remain part of the UK. Can you imagine Sturgeon agreeing to anything remotely like that, and hanging on to her job as leader if she did?

As to paying for the programmes, Labour laid out some relatively modest changes in tax policy to provide the funds. It's right there in the manifesto. Even their opponents in the campaign generally conceded the proposals were costed.

Anything that cost less than what Labour proposed in that manifesto wouldn't be worth doing, because little that is inexpensive can produce progressive or social democratic results.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #32)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 04:04 PM

33. Well, if he stopped telling blatant lies about the SNP's record in government when he comes up here

- especially when a number of the anti-austerity measures in the UK Labour manifesto have already been enacted by the SNP in government - that would be a start. It doesn't exactly bolster the case for a left-of-centre approach when he buys into and propagates the right-of-centre rhetoric of his Scottish branch. It doesn't help, either, when Labour goes into coalition with the Tories in the likes of Aberdeen Council (the members in question have been suspended from the Scottish Labour Party for now, but Dugdale's so toothless and the lack of capacity for support from Labour in the Scottish central belt is so blatant that it's unlikely to have any effect). That's just one such council, and a relatively big one, similar things have happened elsewhere. And sometimes it's Scottish Labour itself which is trying to prevent a Labour-SNP coalition, not local party representatives.

Ken, any funding projections that don't take into account the effects of a Brexit-fired recession (or worse) are crap, and can't be taken seriously. That's what a number of us have been trying to point out to you for quite some time.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #16)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 11:39 AM

21. You are assuming that the two are separable

(a) Brexit is going to lead to economic disaster and put the already-burdened NHS and public services under even more threat, possibly beyond repair; (b) One of the main purposes of Brexit, other than xenophobia, is to reduce 'regulation'; to give corporations unfettered right to pollute the environment, deny their employees or tenants basic health and safety protection, and to avoid taxes. The economic right, in what now seems like a tragically unfortunate metaphor, have repeatedly called for a 'bonfire of the regulations'.

If we leave the EU under present conditions, we will be poorer as a country, most people will be poorer, the NHS and public services will be drastically reduced.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #7)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 11:45 AM

22. 'All it can lead to is lost seats...'

No. Labour *gained* seats in the election. This was first and foremost for anti-austerity reasons; but some of it was because the under-25s turned out to vote in large numbers: in part because they thought that Labour is at least less pro-Brexit than the Tories. If Labour join the Tories on a hard Brexit they may lose these voters.

Nearly two-thirds of Labour supporters voted Remain as compared with 40% of Tory supporters.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #7)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 11:51 AM

23. While I do not defend the EU's treatment of Greece, it was not mainly an ideological assault

Greece needed to borrow money from the EU; the EU lent it, but demanded their 'pound of flesh' in return. The IMF were also involved in this, as is rarely mentioned.

'If they weren't allowed to break the neoliberal consensus, no EU member ever will be.'

EU membership has never prevented Finland, Sweden or Denmark from pursuing considerably left-of-neoliberal policies.

'THIS STAGE OF THE GAME' is the last opportunity to prevent Brexit. If we leave now, it may be very difficult to come back.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #23)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 10:45 PM

26. You seem not to have noticed that Denmark now has a right-wing, anti-immigrant government


And that it's "social democratic" predecessors had been making massive cuts in benefits for years before that right-wing government came to power.

If social democracy doesn't, at the very least, mean a guarantee of no lost ground for the most vulnerable, if it no longer means the poor will be safe from further increases in hardship, social democracy can no longer mean anything at all. It can't be social democracy to say "it's enough that it is US making the cuts".

It was not understanding that that guaranteed Calllaghan's defeat in 1979. Callaghan and Healey had spent three years before that making cuts almost as deep as the cuts Thatcher would make in her first term, all due to an IMF loan Healey later admitted the UK never needed.

If you send the message to your base that you will no longer protect them from social harm, you forfeit the right to ask that base to bother voting to keep you in power.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #26)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:11 AM

31. So the EU's responsible for the choices of the Danish electorate?


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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 12:03 PM

24. 'The EU didn't exist when Labour created the post-war social welfare state'

No, and it definitely didn't exist from 1939 to 1945. At least the EU is one of the things that contributes to peace in Europe.

Attlee was in my opinion one of our greatest Prime Ministers ever, and his government did a great job of creating the social welfare state - BUT they did impose austerity in various ways: for example, they continued with the rationing of food and clothes. Postwar Britain struggled badly economically. People lived in overcrowded homes; even middle-class people were mostly unable to afford what would now be considered as adequate heating in winter; and working-class people mostly had only outside loos. People died of chest complaints brought on by air pollution and unhealthy working conditions. Yes, Attlee and his government took us on an impressive upward trajectory from a very low point. But that does not mean that going back to 1950 would be a great idea for the country. A great government can cause massive improvements even under adverse conditions; but why should we deliberately impose adversity on ourselves? Moreover, Brexit did not receive a large majority of the vote (52% would not reach threshold for a constitutional change in most countries), and many of the people who voted for it are unlikely to vote Labour under any circumstances

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Wed Jun 21, 2017, 11:32 AM

20. Good article!

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