ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : LabourParty, Brexit

Quora Answer : To what extent would Brexit be different if Jeremy Corbyn wasn't the Labour leader?

Oct 26, 2019

Not nearly as different as you imagine.

Let's suppose TonyBlair had been leader.

In 2016 he's faced with the Leave result in the Referendum. Blair doesn't want to Leave the EU, but he's also a strong believer in Labour occupying the centre ground, and being able to take votes from the Tories by being seen to accommodate their concerns.

The Tories are gung ho for Brexit. Blair's pal RupertMurdoch who he likes to stay on the right side of, is gung ho for Brexit. Most people in the country are in favour of Brexit.

And Blair is pragmatic, he knows that crucial seats he needs to regain in working class regions in the North of England are also strong for Brexit and that he has to be careful not to lose those seats at the next election.

You think Tony Blair is going to position Labour as "the Remain party"?

Of course not. Blair is going to triangulate. He's going to try to come up with a form of words, much as Corbyn did, which says that he respects the referendum result, and that some kind of Brexit probably needs to happen. But only if it's a good Labour-negotiated Brexit, not a bad Tory-negotiated Brexit which will irresponsibly mess up the economy.

In other words, Blair's policy on Brexit, if he were in Corbyn's position, would be remarkably similar to Corbyn's.

Now, of course, there are many people who'd buy that policy from Blair who wouldn't buy it from Corbyn. But that's another issue. The policy would NOT be much different.

Quora Answer : How do you believe that Emily Thornberry, Sir Keir Starmer, and Barry Gardiner would fare as a Brexit negotiation team?

Jun 1, 2017

I'm guessing what they'd do is start by reassuring the EU with a unilateral commitment to EU nationals currently living and working on the UK.

Hopefully this display of good-will and serious commitment to not playing games would inspire Europe to reciprocate with similar commitments to UK nationals and we'd go from there.

To be honest, I kind of suspected that this is something that Theresa May was keeping in reserve for the beginning of the negotiations too. A big "win" and agreement in the first couple of weeks.

Recently I've become less confident of that hypothesis WRT the Tories. But I believe Labour would do it in a heart-beat. It would be a quick, cheap win for them, in keeping with their "brand" values, and show them hitting the ground running.

Given the degree to which Brexit isn't turning out to be the biggest issue in this election, it might be that even closing off future freedom of movement isn't going to be the shibboleth that May believed it to be.

Now, on current polling, Labour isn't going to win the election without doing some even more spectacular pull-back work than they've achieved so far. But if they did, one thing we can't underestimate is how big a blow to the credibility and prestige of the right-wing press this would be.

If Theresa May wins, she will be beholden to and running scared of the Daily Mail and Murdoch in every step she takes in the negotiations. She's terrified of them.

Corbyn has already demonstrated that he doesn't give a fuck what the Daily Mail and Murdoch think of him. They've thrown most of what they've got at him already. (I'm sure they have a couple of smears and bacon sandwiches up their sleeves, but they're scraping the barrel.) If Corbyn wins, Labour's team will be able to negotiate without worrying about their grumbling. This gives Labour far more freedom to negotiate a good deal, on their terms, than Theresa May's Tories would get.

Sure, Labour can't undo Brexit. They can't announce a second referendum or just cancel the whole thing. But within that constraint, they'd have a lot of freedom. One of the advantages of Corbyn winning with such a radical manifesto, over a more centrist Labour leader winning with a timid one, is that he will be able to claim a strong mandate for what he does. He can demand workers protections and rights. And then tell the working class that this is what he's doing for them instead of restricting immigration. His team can get as close to a Norway or Switzerland model as they like without being seen to be making an embarrassing u-turn.

Now, we shouldn't be getting ahead of ourselves. Labour can't win without its MPs, members and activists doing a hell of lot more work to convince people. Labour is still 12 points behind. But if they did win, their negotiating team would be in a far better position than the Tories to get as good a deal as possible given the circumstances.

Quora Answer : Why does Jeremy Corbyn want Britain to leave the Single Market?

Jun 29, 2017

Because he can think about more than one thing at a time.

I'm sure Corbyn, like everyone else, realizes that leaving the Single Market is going to do a lot of damage to the UK economy. And leaving is a BAD THING. (TM)

OTOH, there ARE many issues of concern with international trade deals. The EU, for example, has already signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada. It's only Donald Trump who has saved us from having the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. (And frankly, you know you're in trouble if you're having to rely on Donald Trump for a good outcome.)

Both the TTIP and CETA came with Investor-state dispute settlement clauses which could easily be invoked against a government that, say, wanted to re-nationalize certain industries, as Labour has promised in its manifesto.

Would staying in the Single Market commit the UK to CETA rules? Would it open the UK government to being fined for re-nationalizing the railways or Royal Mail?

Everyone on the left recognises that leaving the EU and Single Market is a catastrophically damaging decision. But at the same time, no-one on the left should be happy eliding from that fact, and a desire to stay within some kind of free-trade deal, into a naively uncritical belief that trade deals are the highest principle of governance and every other consideration is secondary to them.

Corbyn almost certainly wants to try to negotiate some kind of Brexit deal that suits the sort of government he wants to run. Given that, right now, we're in an open negotiation for the kind of deal we'll get, and that he still may be in the running to create a government during that process, this is an incredible opportunity for him.

Clearly he's not going to throw it away. He's not going to say "put me in power, so I can give all the trade-making decisions back to Brussels".

Quora Answer : Why can’t Labour Party members make up their minds about Brexit?

Jun 19, 2019

As in all parties, it's a question that genuinely cuts across the usual concerns that bind party members together.

My mother was reminding me the other day that in 1975 my father, an activist in our tiny local Labour party, was campaigning for EEC membership, against his closest friend and fellow party activist. There were like four members of the local party, and still they were divided down the middle over the pros and cons of tying the UK closer to Europe.

Most positions in politics cluster. If you are against the exploitation of workers by greedy bosses you are probably against racism too. And when presented with the issue explicitly probably don't support homophobia either.

Whereas if you don't like paying taxes you probably don't think the government should be telling you how to run your business or telling you what pronouns to use.

That's why we can have parties in the first place. That natural affinity between political positions.

BUT ... Brexit really cuts across this. It's an argument about local vs. distant, "Roman" vs "common" law. The trustworthiness of the English character vs. the trustworthiness of the "French". Your intuitions here don't resonate with your other intuitions that lead you towards Labour or Conservatives.

Now, pretty much no-one in Labour wants a Tory Brexit and the "disaster capitalism" that will unleash.

But there is genuine room for difference of opinion on the best way to fight it. To oppose Brexit entirely? Or to try to take control of it, avoid the worst aspects and shape it to Labour's agenda?

Is committing itself to the Remain cause the thing that will push Labour to victory in the next election? Or the thing that will permanently lose it 10% of the working class and keep out of power for another decade?

Stuck between rock and hard place, and all else being equal, do we prefer Labour to lose 20 Remain inclined seats to the Lib Dems or 20 Leave inclined seats to the Brexit party? The expected disutility of these outcomes is not the same.


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