The People’s Flagging

The post truth agenda majors on Brexit and Trump of course, but omits one of the crazier aspects of the last wee while…the rise of Corbyn. It is turning into one of the more puzzling conundrums of our times. A mass membership party chooses a leader without leadership skills and gorges itself on a struggle to get rid of him before eventually re-electing him with an increased majority. Meanwhile effective opposition is dissolved in the democratic acid.

Yet curiouser and curiouser…the radical politics Corbyn represents have been muted to the point of a whisper and compromise has blunted any cutting edge. Now we hear that Labour will not oppose Brexit and wants to make it work – just like the Tories and UKIP. They may be giving up on globalised trade as represented by Brussels but are they also surrendering on workers’ rights? With the Tories in the ascendency do Jeremy and John McDonnell really think they will influence decisions on employment and markets?

And they may have truly sold the pass on Europe now because May’s announcement to business leaders that she seeks a transitional arrangement to avoid hard Brexit opens up a soft underbelly ready for a killer thrust. The Prime Minister is effectively saying she wants the 27 to agree an overlapping period beyond the exit date in which the UK’s right of access to the single market will continue, allowing business to relax and plan longer term. But that is tantamount to saying Britain won’t be leaving at all as market entry is in reality a key part of membership, requires payment of subscriptions to Brussels, compliance with its regulations and standards and, erm, immigration. To any Leave voter in a barren northern city, that is not Brexit.

In any case, her declaration omitted a telling caveat – any transitional arrangement will need the agreement of the 27. In typically British manner, she has assumed she can get whatever she wants without first testing her plan with the only people who can deliver it. No wonder European leaders can sometimes sound hostile. So far all the signs are that Brussels is sticking to a hard line of following Article 50 precisely – that means negotiating a UK exit, not redrawing a new arrangement to stay in. Every official word thus far has made clear there is a process of extrication and disaggregation that must be completed before subsequent talks on any new deal can proceed.

And why should the leaders of the continental project make life easy for a country that has spent the last decades sniffing at every reform and threatening to leave if it doesn’t get its way, then putting Tory Party obsession before solidarity and misjudging its own people so it falls out unintentionally? The UK’s departure destabilises the bloc when it faces the largest existential threat in its history – the rise of the far right. The way to face down the extremists is to unite and celebrate shared values, offering a clear vision of hope to those seduced by fear mongering and bogus claims to take back control. This is already happening as support for the EU climbs in the wake of the British vote and possible European fears of a buccaneering America under Trump. Le Pen must be stopped next year and Merkel re-elected giving a new impetus to the original founding principles of the EU. It is in nobody’s interests in European capitals to allow the Brits to wheedle a soft deal by voting to come out. The opposite is true – showing how much pain life outside the bloc entails is the best corrective. Britain’s imperial bleat that we are somehow essential to the world community and have automatic rights to trade is easily answered: Member states must choose between trading with a market of 50 million or one with 500 million.

So May’s admission that she is seeking a non-exit or at least a heavily compromised one that keeps us in the EU for an unspecified period against the wishes of the voters, is a soft touch for Labour were they in a position to seize it. They are not.

Odd too that McDonnell has backed the spending of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. I too favour protecting important buildings and believe public cash should be used but when the inhabitant is as wealthy as the Queen, merely signing off on £350m without any element of personal contribution from those who are allowed to live there is preferential treatment. That’s not how the benefits system works for example. Someone I know has been out of work for six months so has Jobseekers Allowance stopped because she has a partner who earns. If you have £6000 in savings, it affects how much Housing Benefit you get and if you have £16,000 you get nothing. Want to take your employer to a tribunal? You have to pay £1200 up front. That’s how the state works – you get nothing for nothing. Except if you’re already housed free in castles and country homes from Windsor to Sandringham to, of course, Balmoral which she owns privately. We are preached to about austerity and how it is essential to make the poorest carry the biggest burden but we reverse the whole philosophy when bending the knee to the Royals. Why would Labour support that when it appears to be a slap in the face of working and non-working families?

Now we also hear the Corbyn leadership supports Tory plans to cut the tax bill of higher earners. If you earn £43,000 today you pay the higher rate of 40 per cent and the Tories are increasing the threshold to £50,000. That’s the amount you can earn without paying more tax, so you’ll get to keep another £1300 a year. (Poorer families will lose £2400 from benefit cuts and Brexit fall-out).

This is the same threshold that Nicola Sturgeon was attacked over. When she refused to raise the tax levels she nevertheless said she wouldn’t pass on George Osborne’s raising of the 40 per cent tax for higher earners. Labour scoffed yet here is their own leadership doing the Tories’ job for them by putting more money in higher earners’ pockets through the higher threshold. At the same time Corbyn himself says he would re-introduce a 50 per cent tax rate. Radical, eh?

I thought Jeremy’s election would precipitate a genuine debate about Labour values and aims. It didn’t. Labour has shown it is incapable of such a dialogue. Instead it fell into internecine warring. Now it is stuck with a weak leadership, confused policies and disillusioned voters. That’s before we take account of the Scottish wing. And what has it spawned? Nothing less than the re-emergence of Tony Blair as the centrist avenger, aided by Jim Murphy (with McTernan touting for work).

The People’s Flag is Deepest Red;

From Shame at Where New Labour Led…

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13 thoughts on “The People’s Flagging

  1. Corbyn, like the “radical” Tony Benn before him, is a British nationalist. As a result his understanding of Scotland’s politics is very limited.

  2. Less than a year ago, some of us mused, with just a hint of a patronising titter, that if the world wasn’t diligent, the Tories would march us out of Europe against the will of the citizens of Scotland, Cameron would resign and Boris would take over, and Trump would win the US election. Oh, how we laughed!
    Corbyn rising without trace was supposed to be the political upset of the decade. (Notwithstanding the 56 SNP’s at WM, and NS returned for a Third term.)
    Nobody in their most aberrant state of mind predicted the May triumph.
    Corbyn is quite simply clueless. He is not a leader, and the New Labour Tony Blair acolytes are keeping their powder dry, watching him flounder and fail badly. They are prepared to wait for another decade even, before mounting a serious assault on the Blue Tories.
    To many politics is a career now, the portal to great wealth when they stand down. It matters not one whit whether they are in Opposition or the Administration.
    Europe will almost certainly tell May and Co to Brex Off. No transition, no special deals, no nothin’.
    rUK will descend into a mess politically, economically and socially. It has been holed below the water line and is sinking into the Also Ran Sea of Heartbreaks.
    The Red Flag cannot feed the hunger for change of the multitude. You can’t eat flags. Now who said that?

  3. Why do we bother with Labour any more? They have nothing to offer. Corbyn’s radicalism has disappeared like the proverbial snow off a dike. He’s now about as radical as a Saturday night in watching Strictly and the X-factor with a mug of cocoa and a bag of Harribo.

    All the things that a left-of-centre socialist party should be opposing they either support or abstain on (which amounts to much the same thing – not to oppose means to support).

    The dictionary defines abstaining as not doing something which you know to be bad but also fun. Labour have whittled abstention down to a fine art.

    If they do not openly oppose Brexit then that is tantamount to supporting what Brexit will bring about – the removal of the EU working time directive and other workers’ rights; the ignoring of the EU convention on human rights; the right to reciprocal medical treatment in the EU; minimum standards on pensions and welfare; and so on. All the things the Labour party should be defending they are instead abstaining on or positively rejecting.

    Anyone who still votes Labour (or LibDem for that matter) any more seriously needs their head examined. At least with the Tories you know exactly what you are going to get if you vote for them (which is why I don’t).

    But voting Labour is like giving your money to a bookie to put on a horse race and he puts it on the greyhounds instead. You really have no idea what your vote is going to deliver (though, of course, the answer these days with Labour is nothing).

  4. The yoon parties north of the Tweed are in limbo. They await Instructions from dahn sath while defaulting to their position of the Union-for-ever irrespective of the Scottish vote and developments.
    But for the yoon-labourites, the current scene is distressing. As Rowley said recently, his party had become yoonier than ever before. To hear Dugdale waxing eloquently about the glorious union one wonders where the adulation came from.
    A UK parliament that hot wired in EVEL, thus undermining the concept of it as a UK chamber, instead of creating an English parliament to solve, not the West Lothian question, but the English question, is no longer worthy of adulation by Scots. Labour’s rapid slide in popularity would, one thinks, lead to a re-think north of the Tweed, but no. It yoonifies itself even more sinking to SNP-baaaad.
    As for the LibDem yoons, they have just given up on their EU principles north of the Tweed.
    The Tory yoons just bleat and rely on Westminster to do the dirty work.
    All three have one MP each, so their UK masters do not need them to form governments any more, so they just act like jesters at the HoC. Ironically, there are more yoon Lords than yoon MPs. So much for egality and meritocracy!
    But the yoons simply ignore such inconsistencies. They are in limbo.

  5. Labour, what is it good for?

    Absolutely nothing, abstain it again …

  6. T’be honest, not exactly a shock on either Mr Corbyn or Labour’s actions over the course of this year. Even after his first tilt at the leadership, most folks on hearing word one on anything Scottish or constitutional pretty much had him sized up fairly accurately.

    This chap, for all his so called rebellious nature and his regular two fingers to the party whip over his career to date, STILL stuck with that party regardless of their actions over a thirty year period. Whilst no champagne socialist (obv) he is absolutely a metro Labour man if ever there was one. Reminds me of a college campus prof/rebel kinda thing happening. 🙂

    If he steps one foot outside of Islington north he’ll suffer nose bleed and a near immediate panic response to unfamiliar surroundings. He really, really doesn’t have a feel for anything outside of London, never mind across national borders. With any good fortune he may act as some kind of reforming catalyst for Labour in England and I wish him well in that. But honestly? He’s no leader. He won’t unite the wings of his party and I very much doubt he would unite the populations of the UK and acheive a leadership victory in a UK GE. TBF though, no one in Labour from any part of the party could do that.

    So what are we left with running the governance of the UK?

    Unchecked Tories and an emergent UKIP pushing their buttons for say two, possibly three more terms and their media lashing their electorates into ever rightward, insular, isolationist and intolerant society.

    Oh joy.

  7. We SaVy Scots that ‘can see – THEM through our ‘special sunglasses – that expose their Reptilian form.’ SEE the Madness of some cruel sick time – twisting manipulation in process from the State Media Machine Pounding Us 24 hours a day with their FKG Lies whilst we are Argue about what Brexit means ? F-M

    Independence .. No FKG Brainer !

  8. Good article Derek, just one mistake which is easy made due to historic myth. You said that the queen privately owns Balmoral; this is not true, she leases the estate from a charity run by several members of the aristocracy and the ruling monarch, in this case the queen, is the sole beneficiary of this charity. This was set up by a private Act of Parliament at the time Prince Albert was supposed to have bought the estate; the whole purpose was of course to avoid any tax liability such as death taxes, etc. See the excellent book titled “The Poor had no lawyers” written by Andy Wightman.
    Is that what you call state sponsored tax evasion or just outright fraud?

    • Thanks for that Iain. I wasn’t aware of that fact. On the issue of the Labour Party in Scotland, I think it became apparent during the Scottish Parliamentary elections that the M.S.M realised that they were a busted flush, and switched their support to the tories, as their last chance to save their “Union”.
      When Derek says that by remaining in the E.U single market place we have access to some 500m people I’m sure he is correct, but isn’t it the case that the E.U will have agreements in place worldwide to ensure even greater market access across the globe? Maybe someone could tell me if this is correct, because if so the proposed U.K exit would be an even greater economic folly.

      • Boris Johnson tells us Britain will now trade with the world. I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is about being in the EU that has prevented Britain from doing so until now.

  9. Recent plethora of blogs appreciated, Derek. And the analysis of Corbyn and Labour spot on.

    At what point, I wonder, will the still large rump of labour voters (and the BBC) see that it is hopeless? Will the loss of Glasgow city council convince most that the game’s up?

    Or are the twitches from a slow death still to be hailed as signs of revival?

    The choice is getting much clearer: tories or independence. Well, for those determined to haver, I suppose there’s always wee Wullie.

  10. Yes. I agree with all the above. Corbyn has been a real disappointment – not even as radical as Harold Wilson (and I can remember how right-wing he was). But I must disagree with Derek’s support for Angela Merkel. She is the US government’s appointee in the EU, plodding on doggedly with the anti Russian nonsense. That sort of thing has to stop, or we will all be just part of a nuclear fireball.

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