Friday, 21 December 2012

Untapped Seams

Seeing the aged Arthur Scargill on television after he had lost his court case against the NUM, a most startling thing occurred to me.

Far from being a creature from beyond the grave, Scargill remains the Leader of a political party which, although in January Radio Four had to apologise on air for having declared it "defunct", last year out-polled the BNP at the elections to the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies, beat that party in every local council ward that they both contested, and achieved the same against the English Democrats. Read that over again: in every ward where the SLP stood against the BNP, the SLP beat the BNP; and in every ward where the SLP stood against the English Democrats, the SLP beat the English Democrats.

Now, don't get me wrong. The SLP was never just the straight breakaway from Labour that it was often assumed to have been. At least half of its members belonged to the pro-Soviet faction rendered homeless by the winding up of the CPGB and the transition to the proto-Blairite Democratic Left, the revisionism of the CPB being altogether unacceptable to them. It says a lot about any party that it can suffer a significant secession calling itself the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), which can then spend its time denouncing the Morning Star for criticising North Korea.

But mention of Britain's original Eurosceptical newspaper, much loved by the 2010 intake of Labour MPs and subscription to which by Departments of State is vigorously promoted by a hugely ambitious Labour Whip even more lately returned to Parliament, places this situation within a broader context. The Morning Star's masthead appears on the montage illustrating the BBC's newspaper review (although Tribune does not even get that), but the paper itself is never featured, and some Departments of State take the comic cuts Daily Star, which is owned by a pornographer, but do not take either of the only voices, daily and weekly, of trade unionism, of the peace movement, and of the Left's unbroken opposition to Eurofederalism over more than 60 years and counting.

Likewise, a party in broadly similar vein, albeit with very serious failings both ideologically and organisationally, simply does not exist to the BBC and the wider media, not even when it out-polls the BNP and the English Democrats, of which former, in particular, media coverage can on occasion approach saturation level. That was never more evident than in the run-up to the last European Elections, when the media blackout of the SLP was joined by the media blackout of No2EU - Yes to Democracy, even to the point of heavily editing Question Time prior to transmission in order to excise an articulate expression of support for it from the audience.

Will that happen again next time, both against the SLP and against TUSC? Not that there ought to be any reason for TUSC, in particular, to contest those elections. If Labour has the wit to declare itself in favour of an In-Out referendum and the significant repatriation of powers by primary legislation regardless of the outcome of that referendum, as well as the wit to have purged the decrepit federalist nutcases of the EPLP as ruthlessly as Blair purged the Tankies and fellow-travellers who were once a sizeable presence within it, although at least that position involved opposition to the Monster Plot itself. By these means, UKIP might very well be kept off the top spot, with Labour taking it instead in all 11 mainland regions. Why not?

In the meantime, look at the people campaigning against the withdrawal of their bus services or the closure of their libraries. That is Middle Britain, the land of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, the country that opposed the Iraq War but which no one was able to lead well enough in order to stop that war, or at any rate to stop British participation in it. There is a very British lack of anything to anchor the Left while also co-ordinating broad-based, inclusive campaigns like those, and while acting as a friendly critic and a critical friend of, in British terms, the Labour Party. At best, and just imagine what the worst must be if you do not already know, we have to make do with the SWP, "Workers" who have never so much as ironed a shirt or changed a light bulb in their lives.

A venerable old national daily newspaper and a venerable old national weekly newspaper, both with Parliamentary Lobby access, are treated as if they did not exist. An electoral coalition extending even to the Liberal Party was blacked out by the entire media other than that national daily newspaper. As is a political party, however flawed, which beats the BNP and the English Democrats whenever it fights them at local level.

And both the cuts and the wars carry on, and on, and on, and on, and on.


  1. Why would anyone on the Left be eurosceptic today?

    Sure, in the days of Michael Foot it made sense for them to oppose the EU.

    But the Labour Party came to understand the true left-wing purpose of the EU (and thus embrace it) when Jacques Delors famously explained to the trade unions that he would undo Thatcherism by the back door through the EU Social Chapter; it effectively imposed a trade unionists wet dream on the private sector, now buried under an avalanche of workers rights, minimum wages, minimum working hours, health and safety laws and the like which are killing small enterprise the world over.

    The Labour Party also understood (as Peter Hitchens has argued) that the European Court of Human Rights gives them an opportunity to impose left-wing laws on the country which they could never have hoped to get past Parliament.

    From "privacy laws" (emanating from the "right to privacy") which threaten a free press, to laws which impose abortion (the right to abortion) and protect the rights of criminals against those of their victims, the Human Rights Act is a left-wing wet dream.

    They'd never get any of this past the people. But the EU gives them a chance to bring in left-wing dictatorship through the back door. And Parliament has to abide by it.

    Why on Earth would Labour or anyone on the Left be against the EU now?

  2. Well, they are.

    Whereas next to no one on the Conservative benches really is, as was recently exposed on the floor of the House. Fewer than the number of Lib Dem MPs, versus every Labour MP without exception.

  3. Apart from the fact you didn't give an argument, thats easily exploded.

    A number of Conservative MP's and major Party figures have publicly stated they desire EU withdrawal, including David Davies, Liam Fox and John Redwood.

    The 91 MP's who defied Cameron's three-line whip (when none of the Opposition did) and voted for the principle of a referendum on withdrawal, were all on the Tory benches.

    All the papers that oppose the EU are Conservative-supporting papers.

    All of the Labour-supporting nationals are fiercely pro-federalist.

  4. What Labour-supporting nationals?

    The only British national paper to have opposed the EU consistently from when it was first proposed even on the Continent is very definitely Conservative-supporting, Read this post. It also supported the No2EU list at the last European Elections, whereas none of the talk-the-talk lot has ever endorsed UKIP, and don't hold your breath that any of them ever will.

    There were in fact Labour votes in favour of that motion, but it was a daft motion in itself. Whereas Ed Miliband has as good as announced an In-Out referendum as Labour policy for 2015, and the publication of Jon Cruddas's Policy Review will confirm that once and for all. (Seamus Milne also used his Guardian column this week to call for one.)

    Every Labour MP without exception recently voted for an amendment requiring a real-terms cut in the British contribution to the EU; the number of Tory rebels in favour was fewer than the number of Lib Dem MPs in the House. On third of Labour MPs voted this year to be chaired by an advocate of outright withdrawal, and all four candidates, of whom three were elected, to represent MPs on Labour's National Executive Committee this year were staunch Eurosceptics, two of them of very long standing, while the other two were from the 2010 intake.

    None of the figures whom you list has ever called publicly for withdrawal from the EU. Liam Fox, in particular, is the worst possible example of a champion of British sovereignty. He is guilty of treason.

  5. The Guardian, Observer and Independent (all three read by more Labour/Lib Dem voters than supporters of any other Party) are fiercely pro-federalist.

    The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph (read by more Conservative voters than any other paper) are both either for total renegotiation or, implicitly, for withdrawal.

    Labour supported cuts to the EU budget?
    You mean the budget that they agreed inflation-busting increases to, TWICE, while in power, while surrendering much of our rebate for NOTHING?

    Theyre all disgusting hypocrites.

    They only voted for a cut, to undermine Cameron, by siding with his rebels.

    The people I mention have all publicly said they would ultimately like Britain to leave. (I'm not commenting on anything else Fox has done, since that's irrelevant to this issue).

    Many Tory MP's favour withdrawal-which is why UKIP doesn't field a candidate against them.

  6. The Guardian is a Labour paper? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Although we could have guessed this, he has obviously never attended a Labour party meeting. That he thinks Labour and the LDs are sort of interchangeable suggests he must be a Guardian reader himself.