If Brexit goes ahead, say goodbye to radical redistribution

by Chris Bertram on December 29, 2018

Here were are, at the edge of the Brexit precipice, and I find myself disagreeing with friends about Jeremy Corbyn and his attitude towards it. It is surprising that, with three months to go, we don’t actually know what that attitude is. Some people think he’s playing a long game, or a super-clever n-dimensional chess match aimed at keeping Labour voters in the north of England who backed Leave on-side. Some think he’s just reiterating Labour Party policy (to push for a general election, but keep a second vote on the table as a possibility). Others think he was a closet Brexiter all along. My own view is that we have less than 100 days to stop this thing, that the time for keeping your powder dry until you see the whites of their eyes etc has passed, and that passionate Remainers need some signal, at a minimum, to keep them voting Labour and that if they don’t get it, then Corbyn’s prospects of leading a radical Labour government are gone: they will defect to Lib Dems, Greens, Nats or (a few) even to the Tories if Labour doesn’t reposition on Brexit.

In fact, I think the Tories (or maybe right-wing anti-redistributionist politics more generally) will do rather well out of Brexit – if it goes ahead – and it will be the end of Labour. The reason why exposes a contradiction in the position of those on “the left” who have positioned themselves as pro-Brexit, or not-really-arsed-about-Brexit, together with the people who sometimes refer to themselves as “left” but clearly aren’t (Goodhart et al). I’m thinking of all those who make a big deal about “left-behinds”, “somewheres v anywheres” and “(white) working-class community”. For these people, the vote to Brexit was a spasm of pain from those who had been too-long been ignored by the “liberal elite”. To be sure (at least now) Brexit might come with an economic hit, perhaps of 4 per cent of GDP, but the redistributionist capacities of the state are still intact and we can do something about Britain’s very real social problems (170,000 homeless households) and make the UK a more inclusive and equal society, even by the economic envelope Brexit leaves us with. Besides, a second referendum, needed to give remaining in the EU any democratic legitimacy, would be a nasty and xenophobic affair, sure to sow division and hatred.

Here’s where that goes badly wrong. A redistributionist politics needs the support of millions of middle-class “liberal” Remain voters to succeed. What those who say we’ll-take-the-hit-and-redistribute are asking us to imagine is that those people will, in sufficient numbers, support redistribution to those whom they identify as having, by voting for Brexit, just made them and their families worse off. Not going to happen. A staple of Blue Labour/Goodhartian thought is that immigration and increasing ethnic diversity has made it hard to sustain social trust and that this risks undermining support for welfare-state institutions. The thought is that people need to be committed to the idea of an inclusive national community if they are going to be motivated to make sacrifices on behalf of others in the form of economic transfers: they won’t stump up for people who are too unlike themselves. But by fighting a culture-war against immigration and the “liberal elite” in order to secure Brexit, those Blue Labour types have succeeded in destroying the illusion of an inclusive national community. They have produced two hostile camps, ranged against one another, who will be unwilling to make the payments those very leftists think are necessary.

I confess that I myself have had some ugly thoughts as a result of the Brexit experience: why should I pay taxes to bail out a bunch of racist idiots in Sunderland or Stoke? What do I care if some elderly xenophobe can’t find a nurse or a doctor because too few EU nationals have stayed to look after the people who voted to take their rights away? Usually, I put away such thoughts: the homeless in the doorways of our major cities provide urgent enough reason for a redistributive and reconstructive politics. But enough people will stick with their anger and resentment against Brexit for disaffected Remainers to be electorally significant. There will be no healing of the division, no national coming-together. Corbynite tweeters will rail against the selfishness of middle-class people who won’t vote Labour any more. Maybe they’ll have a point. But the fact is they need the targets of their anger to vote with them rather than for an individualistic set of policies that abandon the worst off. The future looks surprisingly bright for people like George Osborne and the Orange Book Liberals, and the left has stuffed itself, again.

{ 236 comments }

1

chris s 12.29.18 at 10:57 am

The big assumption here seems to be that they (Labour) have a chance of doing something that has a reasonable chance of ‘stopping Brexit’ and that consequences of being identified as having ‘enabled Remain’ are any more benign.

I mean you can run this sentence around in the opposite direction (leaving aside the fact that we are where we are because middle-class ‘liberal’ voters voted the way they did in 2010/2015):

“Here’s where that goes badly wrong. A redistributionist politics needs the support of millions of middle-class “liberal” Remain voters to succeed. What those who say we’ll-take-the-hit-and-redistribute are asking us to imagine is that those people will, in sufficient numbers, support redistribution to those whom they identify as having, by voting for Brexit, just made them and their families worse off. “

2

Phil 12.29.18 at 11:14 am

I commend you on your honesty, but this is appalling stuff. At best it’s an inversion of the Mafia logic that everyone from Goodhart to John Harris have employed about Leavers – you and I, we’re civilised people, we don’t agree with those people, but we wouldn’t want to upset them, would we? If you start upsetting them you might not like the consequences, if you know what I mean…

At worst… well, it seems to me that there are certain argumentative paths that you just don’t go down, because of the assumptions you’d end up legitimating if you did. Racism is one: if the data seem to say “people don’t care about your so-called Economic Factors, they just don’t want foreigners next door” you don’t say “hey ho, people just are racist, that’s what we’ve got to deal with,” you work the economic (and other) explanations harder. But indifference to poor people dying for lack of shelter and healthcare is another. If people genuinely are thinking – and believing, and voting on the basis of believing – what do I care if some elderly xenophobe can’t find a nurse or a doctor?, then we cannot be on those people’s side, any more than we’re on the side of people thinking what do I care if some asylum-seeker drowns in the Channel?. We have to be on the side of the leftists who “rail against selfishness” (and indifference, and callousness, and class hatred, and inhumanity).

Up to now I hadn’t thought that the previous sentence was at all controversial on this site.

3

Chris Bertram 12.29.18 at 11:51 am

Wow @Phil ….

The post simply argues that the politics of (in country) redistribution depend on a minimal level of common identification with that collective and can’t be sustained without it, and that Brexit is going to destroy that. Do you disagree with that factual assessment?

Actually, there are good non-relational (as we say in the trade) reasons for wanting to relieve the absolutely destitute, wherever they are. Ditto opposing racism. But beyond that, to have reasons to prefer to making things better for other co-operators in a common project (rather than for people in the world quite generally) you have to actually be in a common project with them. The divisions fostered by Brexit make any sense of that pretty difficult to achieve and mutual indifference will lead to less support for taxation to pay for things like decent hospitals.

4

SamChevre 12.29.18 at 12:04 pm

For this analysis, I do not think all falls in GDP are created equal. Some of the GDP falls I’ve seen projected for Brexit seem to be in the best category: themselves redistributive, and making further redistribution easier.

The central type of redistributive fall in GDP is falling asset values, especially of assets that enable exclusion. Yes, I’m thinking centrally of housing in London, and particularly of housing in “nicer” areas. Yes, the owners will be angry if their houses lose value–but in both the US and the UK, getting the top 10% of the housing stock to fall in value would be beneficial stand-alone. And, long-term, it would enable more redistribution, since less income would be needed to maintain any given lifestyle in a major city.

5

Chetan Murthy 12.29.18 at 12:08 pm

Chris,

Your piece is perceptive and painful. As it should be. I know I certainly feel this way here in the US, about the residents of East Bumf**k, TX, where I grew up, and they voted for Kaiser Quisling. I know they hate people like me, and I feel no good reason to want to make their lives easier. If they died off faster, it’d make the lives of people of color that much easier. That’s pretty awful to contemplate. But OTOH, even though these people of my generation are (to my mind, and from the evidence) mostly irredeemable racists, misogynists, and homophobes, their children are *not* [or at least, might be salvageable]. And we need to recruit those kids, if only for self-preservation — a bigger vote for our policies is a good thing, right?

Why doesn’t that sort of calculus apply in the UK? Sure, we have little love and even less caring for the old codger assholes. But their kids — they’re hopefully future Labour voters, no?

6

chris s 12.29.18 at 12:33 pm

@2: “The post simply argues that the politics of (in country) redistribution depend on a minimal level of common identification with that collective and can’t be sustained without it, and that Brexit is going to destroy that”

To an extent Brexit was brought about by the policies of austerity supported by many middle-class Remain voters because they didn’t feel it would cost them anything (where was the common identification there?). There’s simply no guarantee that those folk won’t return to voting that way post an averted Brexit. (Similarly a thwarted ‘working class Leave’ contingent is unlikely to deliver the kind of majority Labour needs).

I’m not sure this is an entirely fruitful road to go down.

7

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 12:48 pm

I confess that I myself have all kind of funny thoughts as a result of the Brexit experience.
Like why I am not bothered as much about that bunch of British racist idiots as about my American or my German ones?

Or better said:
Why am I not bothered about all of these efforts of a bunch of narrow-minded British idiots to exit from something they can’t ”exit” from – BE-cause they never ever will be able to ”do it” – as it already has been proven that any possibility for them to succeed in our openminded reality is a few (hundred) years too late.

So it’s a lot more fun watching them – than for example Baron von Clownstick trying to get funding for his wall – as my British friends try to do it with such a lot of… may I say ”Charming Folkloric Vigor”?

8

Hidari 12.29.18 at 12:55 pm

This is (so far) a free country, and of course, Chris Bertram (and everyone else) is fully entitled to think about Jeremy Corbyn what they want.

But as a piece of political analysis (i.e. which must be, of necessity, predictive, in order to have a scientific character), this piece stands and falls on this section here:

‘passionate Remainers need some signal, at a minimum, to keep them voting Labour and that if they don’t get it, then Corbyn’s prospects of leading a radical Labour government are gone: they will defect to Lib Dems, Greens, Nats or (a few) even to the Tories if Labour doesn’t reposition on Brexit.’

Well it would seem to be a very strange thing for ‘passionate Brexiters’ to consider changing their vote to the Tories.

Also, may I remind everyone that almost all of the Labour vote in Scotland (and no small amount in Wales) did in fact pivot to the Nats, so that disaster has already happened (needless to say, everyone ignores the North of Ireland in these analyses because everyone, in their heart of hearts, really knows that that piece of land is not really part of the UK, so I will too).

The Greens remain highly marginal in British political life, apart from in local government, and there is little sign of that changing anytime soon (they lack, in Marxist parlance, a social class which they represent. They are also too new for the ‘I’ve always voted X like my father and forefather before me’ vote. They also actively promote an ‘anti-growth’ ideology that the British public are just not ready for (yet)).

That leaves the LibDems. Now: to point out the obvious: the OP might be right! Who knows.

But it’s worthwhile pointing out that, at the moment, more people in the UK state that they believe that aliens have made contact with the British Government and the government is hushing that up, than state that they will vote LibDem at the next election.

Things can change, sure. But that much? In any case, even if there is a LibDem surge they could easily take votes from the Nats, remainer Tories, or even ‘right wing’ Greens….there is not, in actual fact, much overlap between LibDem supporters and the Corbyn era Labour party. So even in the unlikely event of a LibDem surge, it might not be fatal to Labour.

A much bigger threat might be Labour voters simply not voting, but, again, is there any evidence that that will happen at the next election?

There’s also the not entirely trivial point that the long-term future of the EU, is, shall we say, hypothetical. (I guarantee that everyone will ignore this point in the ensuing conversation).

9

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 12:59 pm

– and what I’m tremendously thankful for is – that our British friends show the world that all of these funny ideas about ”Splendid Isolation” or ”If we just built a Wall everything will be Okee-dokee” (again) – are just unrealistic illusions.

As it seems to be that people really need to get these ideas out of their system -(even if there already was that very infamous ”wall”) – and of all people some (pretty racist??) Anglo-Saxons helped to tear it down.

But isn’t that the funniest thought of this funny ”Brexit-effort”?

10

Hans 12.29.18 at 1:00 pm

Mr Bertram, to further your redistribution aims, there
is a simply solution for its implementation.

Form a leftest colony, wherein only Socshevik dogma
can be administrated and all other ideologies strictly
prohibited.

Just like Burger King, have it your way on every byway.

11

Hidari 12.29.18 at 1:06 pm

I might also play Devil’s Advocate here and ask: to those who claim to be oh-so-pro-EU….why on Earth do you want the UK to stay in for?

‘For anyone rooting for a stronger EU, there should be nothing more terrifying than the U.K. overturning its Brexit decision and simply staying in.

If the result of the second referendum goes against the first, millions of bitter Brexiteers will feel betrayed by an elite who promised them their initial vote would settle the Europe question for good.

Given the passions a second referendum would unleash — reigniting deep divisions between poorer and richer parts of the country — the U.K. would resume its EU membership as a nation — or, rather, a collective of nations — recovering from a profound sense of disruption, even trauma.

The last thing any British leader would do in a house so divided is contemplate any deeper entanglement with Europe. The U.K. would slow down or block essential EU reforms, seek to extract special favors, and ruthlessly use any available alliance within the bloc to protect a narrowly defined national interest.

And, of course, the U.K. would always be teetering on the brink of a new Brexit process. Brexit believers would not give up….

Looking for levers to stop closer EU-wide cooperation has shaped British policy for the best part of 30 years. Until 2016, this was an element of its strategic calculus, or an act of self-preservation for the ruling party of the day. But after the trauma of two bitterly fought referendums, shaped by visceral distrust of Europe, it would become an existential national priority.

Past performance of both Labour and Tory governments suggests that London would look for allies not just in Copenhagen or The Hague, but would seek them in Warsaw, Rome and Budapest as well.

Old EU hands will remember how former Labour prime minister Tony Blair traveled to Sardinia to cozy up to Silvio Berlusconi recovering from his latest hair transplant. Recently, the Tories have sought to shield Hungary’s authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán from EU measures challenging his ability to govern as he pleases.’

In other words, the UK voting to remain in the EU, would provide a huge fillip for the rising forces of the radical right who want to destroy the EU, just immediately after a time when the Blairite Remainy left chose to support austerity and therefore commit suicide.

https://www.politico.eu/article/why-the-eu-should-fear-a-second-uk-referendum/

12

rjk 12.29.18 at 1:31 pm

I agree with basically everything the original post says, Chris. I think you’ll get some stick for actually voicing the emotional response, particularly because – in the manner of emotional responses – it sounds harsh and unreasonable. But politics runs on these emotions, and it’s best to be honest about them.

Corbyn’s enigmatic positioning is frustrating. In a way, he’s doing what opposition figures always do, which is to let the government screw up and let the people project their varied hopes and ambitions on to him as an alternative. Nick Clegg did pretty well out of this in 2010 – and to the extent that he failed (in political terms) it was by over-committing on tuition fees and then not keeping the promise. Corbyn is making even fewer promises, but it’s hard to see this remaining tenable in the face of serious economic dislocation.

On a separate point, it seems clear that the strategic battle with the Blue Labour types has been lost. I had presumed that Corbyn would counter them with good-old-fashioned socialism: yes, the white working-class has had a poor deal, as has the working class of all ethnicities, which is why we need redistribution and restructuring of the economy. Instead of a working class divided along ethnic (or, more subtly, gender) lines, a working class united against predatory capitalism, non-existent trickle-down economics, and industrial scale tax evasion, and in favour of opportunity, development and care for all. Yet the debate is still largely proceeding on Blue terms: how much should we allow immigrants to take from the mouths of the children of council estates? I’d really like to see more on how to reverse this situation (though it may be too late to have any impact on the current crisis).

13

Benjamin C Kirkup 12.29.18 at 1:32 pm

Goodbye to Radical Redistribution is a feature, not a bug.

However, the reply that “minimal level of common identification with that collective” will be killed by Brexit is just … willful blindness, to put it kindly. The very idea of Brexit is to restore that common identification with the collective and a sense of meaningful collective self-governance which is required to make mutual support a possibility.

14

Murali 12.29.18 at 2:10 pm

Chris @2

The post simply argues that the politics of (in country) redistribution depend on a minimal level of common identification with that collective and can’t be sustained without it, and that Brexit is going to destroy that.

Is Brexit itself going to do that or was this trust destroyed by the Brexit vote itself. If not for the likes of Johnson, Rees-Mogg and their ilk I might be a liberal tory. Now, I’d rather be a lib dem. The lib dems may yet come out of this as the biggest winners if liberal tories and centrist labour switch parties

15

Faustusnotes 12.29.18 at 2:21 pm

It’s hard enough for labour to win on redistribution policies at the best of times but if they lose a bunch of young remain voters through their failure to fight this brexit it seems impossible to me.

I think labour’s current trajectory will also encourage cynicism – if they wouldn’t stop brexit, which was the single biggest thing affecting a lot of peoples economic fortunes, why should I vote for their redistribution policies now that it’s done? I’ll vote for tax cuts and my own narrow interests, will be the cynical view of many.

I also agree with the impulse Chris describes in the op. Especially for those of us who have spent a lot of time working to try and encourage a more inclusive and equitable politics, brexit is a real kick in the teeth. For those of us who grew up in brexit Britain we know how the brexit voters think and feel, know how the eu has benefited them and know how much of their decision was driven by racism. But now we’re supposed to fight one more time for the social services these aging racists need, after this? It’s very tempting to just think screw you, you made this bed you can lie in it until you get bed sores. It’s especially easy to think that if labour is going to stand by and let it happen in order to pander to these old dickheads.

But I don’t agree with the last sentence. The left hasn’t stuffed itself. This whole disaster is entirely the Tory’s fault, and we should never let anyone say otherwise.

16

Mitchell Freedman 12.29.18 at 3:18 pm

I am one of those who firmly believes Corbyn wants to have a chance at negotiation with the EU, and help reform the EU as part of the negotiation. He has essentially the same view as Varoufakis, with whom he is fairly close. There is a great interview from the Edinburgh Festival of Books from August 2018 with the two men speaking about Brexit. Also, Brits should not act like there is only Remain or Leave. Norway does not have a full on agreement with the EU, and there is good reason to oppose EU’s appalling behavior toward the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, especially Greece, and then Spain), its pro-banker and pro-austerity positions. Such EU policies undermine positive redistributive policies pretty well, or badly I should say. And an abject return to the EU with Brits’ tails between their legs, the Liberal Democrats’ position, would only strengthen what is bad about the EU. To me, this attack on Corbyn is just another example of how Blairites and the corporate/BBC media in Great Britain have poisoned the waters when Corbyn represents the best possibility to achieve positive redistributionist policies. I think Corbyn is correct to say, vote in Labour, and let’s negotiate with the EU. This allows for a completely different and positive dialogue, as Corbyn and Varoufakis both recognize and support what is best about the very idea and existence of the EU.

17

steven t johnson 12.29.18 at 3:22 pm

Fallen behind here, forgot when the UK said hello to redistributionist policies. Had been under the distinct impression that the UK said goodbye decades ago, you know, Thatcher/Blair.

Also, forgot when the EU didn’t stand for hard money, limited public debt, free movement of capital, repudiation of industrial policy, and all those other great left wing ideals. Thought redistribution in the EU was exemplified by German policy towards Greece, the pressure on Italy’s current government and, well, basically, Macronism here and everywhere, now and forever!

Also forgot when the EU was the designated standard bearer for antiracism. It always seemed to me to have something to do with reuniting Christendom, which is why no Turkey, never, never, never.

18

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 3:23 pm

”why on Earth do you want the UK to stay in for?”

BE-cause WE – the Europeans – like our Brits – or actually – we absolutely LOVE them – even if they sometimes don’t like US – Or they can be difficult from time to time –
Or the might have… issues!

19

Doctor Memory 12.29.18 at 3:50 pm

As an admitted outsider here, posts like Mitchell’s above mystify me. Yes, it’s entirely possible to imagine a world where the UK (possibly allied with like-minded forces in Italy and Greece) forced the EU to institute major reforms in the aftermath of the obvious disastrous failure of the post-2008 austerity regime, but that world would necessarily have required a reform-minded government in place, negotiating behind the threat of withdrawal (and better yet the creation of an alternate arrangement between countries that found the status quo untenable). And this process would have needed to have begun years ago.

But the actual reality appears to be that you are mere months away from reverting to WTO rules, are incapable of dislodging the May government in that timeline (or indeed at any plausible time in the future), and have already fired the one bullet in your chamber (A50) that anyone in the EU cared about. Varoufakis occupies no position of power in Greece or the EU higher than “man on a book tour”. As Mr. Davies has repeatedly pointed out here, your negotiating position is very, very weak and it is not getting stronger as the clock counts down.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

20

Hidari 12.29.18 at 4:20 pm

‘The left hasn’t stuffed itself. This whole disaster is entirely the Tory’s fault, and we should never let anyone say otherwise.’

This is something that must be focused on with laserlike precision.

21

Anarcissie 12.29.18 at 4:21 pm

‘I think Corbyn is correct to say, vote in Labour, and let’s negotiate with the EU.’

This would be after the exit, right? Because it has been my impression from reading this and other material that the referendum is over and the negotiations are essentially over and the UK will go out one way or the other, neither being beneficial and either possibly catastrophic. Fulminating about the inevitable racists and other tribalists is beside the point; the die is cast, if not de jure then certainly de facto. I don’t see what Corbyn is supposed to do about this now, other than try to make the best of a bad situation.

22

Chris Bertram 12.29.18 at 4:31 pm

@Anarchissie “the UK will go out one way or the other”. No that’s not correct. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the UK can unilaterally withdraw A50. The UK could also (with agreement) postpone A50 to allow a second referendum. The politics of this are difficult, but constitutionally and legally it is possible for the UK not to leave the EU.

23

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 4:35 pm

@16
”…Corbyn wants to have a chance at negotiation with the EU, and help reform the EU as part of the negotiation”.

That’s it!
Corbyn is one of these guys who wants to change the EU and doesn’t understand -(like the Brexiters) that if you are a member of such a ”great and awesome club” – it’s YOU (Corbyn) who has to ”reform” himself.

24

Phil 12.29.18 at 4:42 pm

Chris – I certainly don’t agree that Brexit “is going to destroy” the shared identification with a common project on which redistributive taxation depends. I’d agree that, if Brexit goes ahead, there is a risk that social solidarity will be eroded by the ill-will (some) Remainers bear towards (groups they perceive as) Leavers, just as it may be eroded by the ill-will (some) Leavers bear towards the (groups they perceive as) non-British; to that extent you’ve identified one more reason to hope that Brexit can be averted.

My disagreement isn’t just a question of degrees of probability, though. As my second example suggests, I don’t think that social solidarity and identification with the common good is in a state of pristine wholeness now in Britain – or that it ever has been. Any divisive measure will erode solidarity in one way or another – and few things are as divisive as proclamations of unity (my name’s G.K. Chesterton, goodnight). Thatcher had her landslide victories and her “enemy within”; New Labour brought unity across the political spectrum, while actively eroding solidarity with the ‘underclass’ of ‘sink estates’ and ‘bog-standard comprehensives’. Reversing the referendum result now will run the risk of creating a whole new division, potentially making a few million people wonder if they should bother to vote Labour any more – or vote at all.

In short, I don’t disagree that there are likely to be some angry Remainers if Brexit goes through, or that angry people tend to articulate their self-interest in selfish, short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive ways. What I object to – apart from the catastrophising collapse of “is likely to erode” into “is going to destroy” – is the sympathy you seem to express with those people in their anger and alienation. What you’re describing – and to some extent diagnosing in yourself – isn’t some sort of impersonal transformation of the political landscape against which moralising “Corbynites” will tweet in vain; it’s the rise of a new form of scapegoating mentality in response to economic hard times and political defeat, and we shouldn’t give it any more time than we do in its myriad other forms.

My objection to this post can be summed up by referring back to something I wrote in response to Polly Toynbee (far from the worst offender) in June 2016:

some maps are better than others, and racism and xenophobia are particularly bad ones; they obscure real differences and draw lines where no lines need to be (this isn’t very advanced stuff). As such, discovering that working-class people are prejudiced against incomers is on a par with discovering that they believe in astrology or don’t believe in vaccination. It’s a bad, dysfunctional belief: you work round it when you can; you challenge it when you must (which, admittedly, may be almost immediately); and, above all, you put forward better, more functional beliefs.

Discovering that Remainers are happy for old men in Bolton to die from curable diseases, same thing.

25

CP Norris 12.29.18 at 4:50 pm

My prediction is that they will get scarily close to No Deal, postpone A50 with the promise that they’ll negotiate a great deal very soon, and return approximately to the status quo of early 2017.

26

rjk 12.29.18 at 4:52 pm

steven t johnson @17:

Also, forgot when the EU didn’t stand for hard money, limited public debt, free movement of capital, repudiation of industrial policy, and all those other great left wing ideals. Thought redistribution in the EU was exemplified by German policy towards Greece, the pressure on Italy’s current government and, well, basically, Macronism here and everywhere, now and forever!

The EU’s position on monetary policy is complicated. The ECB is definitely of the ‘hard money’ school (Trichet’s interest rate increases were disastrous and he received insufficient blame for this), and everything to do with Greece and Italy flows from this. The UK is not a member of the Euro and isn’t under the jurisdiction of the ECB, though. I’m stretching a bit here, but preserving a decent-sized group of countries in the “in the EU but not the Euro” group would seem like a reasonable way of undermining the hard money faction.

On other policies, the EU has generally been slightly to the left of the position of the British government at any given moment – the Major government opted out of the social chapter on workers’ rights in the 1990s, and the Brown government opted out of some of the provisions of the charter of fundamental rights due to a concern that this would legitimise certain strike actions (yes, really).

Also forgot when the EU was the designated standard bearer for antiracism. It always seemed to me to have something to do with reuniting Christendom, which is why no Turkey, never, never, never.

This hinges on whether you define European nationalism as a form of racism. If it is, then the EU would seem to be substantially anti-racist. If it isn’t then the anti-nationalism alone would still seem like a good thing.

27

Chris Bertram 12.29.18 at 4:53 pm

@Phil, the problem for you is that Leavers and Remainers are not symmetrically situated. Leavers are older and less economically active, Remainers are younger, more economically active and some even have credible exit options (ie emigration). Moreover young Remainers are justifiably angry that older Leavers just voted to strip them of a whole bunch of valuable rights. Old Grouchy Leaver’s lack of solidarity has already been massively consequential for Young Active Remainer’s life, but won’t be so much in the future. Your moralizing appeal to Young Active Remainer may be worthy, but ineffective.

28

Anarcissie 12.29.18 at 5:01 pm

Chris Bertram 12.29.18 at 4:31 pm @ 22 —
Hence I noted the distinction between jure and facto.

29

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 5:02 pm

@17
– and please stop always giving the EU such a bad name – as everything you mention happens to be far – faaar worst outside of the EU –
and it just doesn’t help if on top of racist idiots also so many ”not racist idiots” for whatever reason -(because they are in love with a Varoufakis-dude?) – badmouth the EU – while at the same time – as @16 wrote – they pretend like ”Corbyn and Varoufakis to recognize and support what is best about the very idea and existence of the EU”.

So what is ”best about the very idea and existence of the EU”?

PEACE and that racist idiots are in the minority and narrow-minded nationalists -(in their majority) are a thing of the past?

For that alone Corbyn should be willing to stay in the EU unconditionally!

30

Hidari 12.29.18 at 5:26 pm

As I thought would happen, much fact free speculation based on what the various commentators believe to be the case. Here’s some cold hard facts.

‘The vote to leave the EU has caused the most acute problems for Labour. By a solid majority of 61% to 33% its 2015 voters backed Remain at the referendum. However, the 33% of Labour-Leave voters are disproportionately the traditional working class Labour voters that the party is struggling to keep hold of. 70% of Labour Remainers are middle class, drawn mostly from the professional classes. Labour Leavers are 60% working class, mostly those working in routine occupations or surviving on benefits. Labour Remainers tend to be graduates, Labour leavers tend to have few or no qualifications.

If we break down these two Labour tribes by their current voting intention Labour’s problem becomes even clearer. Amongst 2015 Labour voters who backed Remain, 60% have remained loyal to Labour and would vote for them tomorrow. When it comes to Leave voters who backed them in the last general election, only 45% would vote for the party now….

Asked what the party’s position on the EU should be at the next election Labour Remainers predictably go for opposition to Brexit. Some 50% of people who voted Labour and remain want Labour to have a policy that is anti-Brexit (23% are for total opposition and 27% want a second referendum) and 30% want a policy that is in favour of Brexit.

Labour Leave voters are just as predictable – 69% want Labour to have a policy that is pro-Brexit, and either seek a purely trading relationship with the EU (46%) or a close relationship outside the EU (23%)…

Each stance would anger some people and presumably lose some votes, but which would upset the fewest?

The most divisive policy would be for Labour to wholly oppose Brexit. 40% of Labour Remain voters would be delighted by the stance, but 55% of Labour Leave voters would be angry’.

The most viable compromise to keep the Labour family together appears to going ahead with Brexit, but then seeking a close relationship with the rest of the EU – a “soft Brexit” of some sort. This doesn’t particularly delight either side of the divide (8% of Labour Remain voters would be delighted, 7% of Labour Leave voters), but it doesn’t drive many to anger either (6% of Labour Remain voters would be angry, 10% of Labour Leave voters)….

Whatever your opinion of him, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is not one that has been associated with triangulation or picking policy positions based on hard-nosed evaluations of what will appeal to target voters. For once, however, it appears to be the Labour leader who has picked the position that is most likely to keep the party together and alienate the fewest voters.’

This really is the crux of the biscuit, and the reason why Corbyn has chosen this particular position. A lot of people on Twitter are fond of waving their hands around and screaming about the Brexopalypse. The cold facts are that if Brexit were as important to ordinary British people as it is to the ‘liberal’ commentariat, the LibDems would now be undergoing a gigantic electoral surge. Needless to say, they are not. Other pro-remain parties (e.g. the SNP) saw a decline in their support at the last election.

That doesn’t mean that Corbyn’s position is beyond criticism, and, as everyone has pointed out, at some point he is going to have to decide whether he is a remainer or a leaver. But that time is not quite yet. At the moment he is trying to bring down the Government (at which point he will go to the EU and ask for more time to negotiate, which the EU will obviously give him, because they don’t want the UK to leave). It’s only if that possibility is completely ruled out that he will explore other options (e.g. 2nd referendum).

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2017/02/07/what-brexit-stance-can-keep-labour-together

@19

I don’t think the British position is necessarily as weak as everyone thinks it is. The EU is falling apart. Now, one could read that two ways: perhaps it will fall apart more slowly if the UK is kept out: for sure, in retrospect, De Gaulle was right to be suspicious of the Brits: they have done everything in their power to keep the EU weak and disunited. If I was a very pro-European EU politician I might well want the UK out.

But maybe the EU is not that cynical. Maybe they think there is strength in numbers and would rather have the Brits inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in. Hard to say. But certainly the entire EU project now seems to be in jeopardy in a way it just wasn’t 10 years ago.

31

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 5:31 pm

and about @21
”the die is cast, if not de jure then certainly de facto”.

Yes! –
de facto London -(which lies in the UK) is the ”Europe Mini-Me” -(with the utmost diverse and inclusive ”European” populace) – and no ”de jure acrobats” or politicians coming up with the craziest ideas of pretending that this ”de facto” isn’t ”de-facto” will change that – fact.

And so the whole deal is and will be a lot like Von Clownsticks ”Wall”.
Just there in pretension.

There never will – and can be anymore the real ”Wall” the racist and nationalistic idiots are dreaming about – as there never will – and can be – a real ”Brexit” – as reality -(and not only Ireland) – always makes it ”de facto” impossible.

And some idiots still may call whatever – ”a Wall” or a ”Brexit” – but WE (Europeans) will eat our Fry-ups together!

32

Phil 12.29.18 at 5:48 pm

Chris: I’m baffled that you think I’m in some way pitting Leavers against Remainers (and siding with the former?) – and, for that matter, that you describe (or dismiss) the political strategy I advocate as a ‘moralizing appeal’. It’s hard to respond to being so comprehensively misunderstood.

33

Barry 12.29.18 at 5:51 pm

Hidari:

“If the result of the second referendum goes against the first, millions of bitter Brexiteers will feel betrayed by an elite who promised them their initial vote would settle the Europe question for good.

Given the passions a second referendum would unleash — reigniting deep divisions between poorer and richer parts of the country — the U.K. would resume its EU membership as a nation — or, rather, a collective of nations — recovering from a profound sense of disruption, even trauma.”

In the end, this is what Chris described (in the US, we call it ‘concern trolling’), the attitude that ‘we must let them win, because otherwise they will get mad and win’.

One mistake that liberals make a lot is to pre-concede sole legitimacy to the right. Instead of calling them liars and traitors, too many liberals want to understand the right, where ‘understanding’ means ‘excusing’.

I don’t know what Corbyn is thinking, but it’s clear that Labour is ineffectual. It looks like the leadership are banking on the Tories screwing things up catastrophically *and* not being able to pin the blame on ‘The Left’. The first is a decent bet, but IMHO the latter is much less so, and is also dependent on a successful propaganda campaign basted on hitting back first.

34

Quite Likely 12.29.18 at 6:00 pm

I’m confused, why would those middle class liberals stop supporting labour post-brexit? I can see them bailing on a pro-brexit labour party pre-brexit, but once it’s off the agenda I would expect them to move towards voting based on other issues.

35

engels 12.29.18 at 6:53 pm

What do I care if some elderly xenophobe can’t find a nurse or a doctor because too few EU nationals have stayed to look after the people who voted to take their rights away?

Commendable honesty.

Corbynite tweeters will rail against the selfishness of middle-class people who won’t vote Labour any more. Maybe they’ll have a point. But the fact is they need the targets of their anger to vote with them rather than for an individualistic set of policies that abandon the worst off.

Actually we tried giving them what they want and appealing to their better nature for two decades. It doesn’t work.

36

Chris Bertram 12.29.18 at 7:15 pm

@Phil “It’s hard to respond to being so comprehensively misunderstood.” Indeed it is.

37

engels 12.29.18 at 7:17 pm

The thought is that people need to be committed to the idea of an inclusive national community if they are going to be motivated to make sacrifices on behalf of others in the form of economic transfers [… ] The post simply argues that the politics of (in country) redistribution depend on a minimal level of common identification with that collective

Read some effing Shelley.

38

Charlie W 12.29.18 at 7:18 pm

Phil @24: you talk of “the rise of a new form of scapegoating mentality in response to economic hard times and political defeat”.

People might scapegoat and develop other unhealthy cognitive patterns, sure. But a behaviour will follow, and this is what counts, for politics. The behaviour is voting, and the hunch has to be that those votes won’t go to Labour. Or to flip this around: if Labour wants to govern, it has to first build a coalition. Either a coalition of voters that deliver a majority, or if the votes fall short of that, then a literal coalition of parties. The EU, meanwhile, isn’t going to go anywhere, and is likely to continue to model – on balance, and with exceptions – attractive forms of statehood and enlightened governance in places close by. Comparatively so, anyway. And the basic idea of European cooperation – a form of solidarity – is attractive in itself. The EU might eventually decline: conceivably, we might eventually get to a position where inclusion of an EU membership ambition in a party manifesto carries little appeal. It’s hard to see that happening within a lifetime, though.

39

RobinM 12.29.18 at 8:06 pm

First off, I’ll plead guilty to finding most of her comments mostly incomprehensible. Still, 18’s reply to the question, why on Earth do you want the UK to stay in? seems to me to trivialize what I’d take to be a serious question. But then, or again so it seems to me, that is a question which much of the discussion of Brexit has trivialized. Response 23—same person— seems to assert that it is up to those who have issues with the EU to reform themselves in order to fit in with what she calls, perhaps ironically, a “great and awesome club.” Comment 29 is worse. It goes on to badmouth as “not racist idiots” those who “badmouth the EU,” as if the EU was some sacred object which is beyond criticism. Surely there are some among those who wish to Remain who can countenance that the EU as presently constituted and as it presently acts is in need of some significant reform. (Varoufakis has, in fact, been one such.) But comments such as these I’ve listed do nothing to encourage serious, mutually respectful exploration of the issues.

It is, I imagine, a forlorn hope. But I would have liked to see some discussion—amidst all the passionate, mostly pointless discussion of the last couple of years—some critical discussion of the political criticisms of the EU as raised by, e.g., John Gillingham in his “The EU: An Obituary”; in the debate between Habermas (a Remainer of sorts, I suppose) and Streeck ( Leaver); by Perry Anderson in his The New Old World; and maybe even by implication in Peter Mair’s “Ruling the Void.”

And for those in the US who want to go on trying to view Brexit through the lens of trump (e.g., comment 5), there’s an interesting piece here

https://newleftreview.org/II/114/dylan-riley-what-is-trump

Be clear, I’m not claiming that any of those to whom I’ve referred are the last word on these difficult, consequence-laden matters. But it would have helped and it will be a help in the future to acknowledge that those you disagree with aren’t all racists, xenophobes, narrow tribalists, stupid populists, demented geriatrics, and the like.

But to close on a positive note, I like comment 24.

40

Hidari 12.29.18 at 8:32 pm

I’m not going to continue to flog this dying horse, before I leave, but here’s a good article on British attitudes to the EU.

http://theconversation.com/polling-history-40-years-of-british-views-on-in-or-out-of-europe-61250

tl;dr

Attitudes to the EU in the UK have varied widely (and wildly) over time. There have been many long periods in the UK when attitudes to the EU were far more hostile than they are now. Moreover, the so to speak ‘deeper’ EU project (more and more integration, especially political and monetary) has never been in the slightest bit popular.

However, the key thing, as the article concludes, is volatility: attitudes to the EU in the UK can swing, very very sharply, very very quickly. Do not be fooled, in the slightest, by current opinion polls stating that most people would like to remain. The remain lead is very small, and attitudes can change quickly (and have done, in the past). People calling for a ‘second referendum’ because of what the polls say now should be very aware of this.

Another point is this: https://www.ft.com/content/1740f3a6-2cc2-11e6-bf8d-26294ad519fc

This is not just a British issue. While there has been a slight move towards a more ‘pro-EU’ attitude recently (mainly, ironically, because of Brexit) there is a growing hostility to the EU across Europe, and this increasingly manifests itself at the ballot box.

41

Hidari 12.29.18 at 8:39 pm

‘It looks like the leadership are banking on the Tories screwing things up catastrophically *and* not being able to pin the blame on ‘The Left’. The first is a decent bet, but IMHO the latter is much less so, and is also dependent on a successful propaganda campaign basted on hitting back first.’

Every single thing bad that happens in the UK is pinned on ‘the left’ in the UK, by the right wing press (almost all the relevant newspapers and magazines), the state broadcaster, that takes its editorial cues from the right wing press, and a barely liberal ‘liberal’ media that can scarcely conceal its contempt for the Labour Party project (under Corbyn). There is nothing the Labour Party could or would do that would not result in its being excoriated in all forms of print media (literally, all) all forms of televisual media (again, literally all) and most forms of internet media. This is the environment in which the Labour Party must function. It simply does not matter what the Tories do, they will be supported and when they are attacked (as Cameron was) they will be attacked from the perspective of the radical right.

This is the reality, and to deny it, or to pretend that there is something that Corbyn could do that would not involve him being blamed by the UK media for all evils committed by everyone, everywhere, is to live in a fantasy land.

42

J-D 12.29.18 at 9:15 pm

A House of Commons vote under section 13 is scheduled for the week beginning on 14 January. Based on what’s been reported so far about the attitudes of MPs, I find it hard to imagine that the vote will pass; but I find it just as hard to imagine what people will do if it fails, and hardest of all to imagine that the Government will attempt a second postponement of the vote. All sequences of events seem unlikely to me, and yet one of them, no matter how unlikely, will actually take place. So if you think the possibilities I’m about to mention seem unlikely, I agree, but any discussion of what happens next has to explore possibilities which seem unlikely (at least to me).

If the Commons does approve the Government’s motion under section 13, the Government still needs to introduce legislation for the implementation of the withdrawal agreement, but if the section 13 motion has been approved that will make it very difficult for Parliament not to approve the Government’s legislative proposals. So it could be that the next election will take place in 2022, three years after the UK has left the European Union. In that scenario, the things that people say now (in opinion polls or elsewhere) about Brexit, or about what the political parties and their leaders are or should be doing about Brexit, will have little or no value as a guide to what happens at the election. It is unlikely that people will be voting in 2022 on the basis of what Jeremy Corbyn said about Brexit or about a second referendum in 2018 and 2019. If the dominant public feeling in 2022 is that Brexit has been a major disaster, the most likely result is that the incumbent Conservative government will be voted out. If the dominant public feeling in 2022 is that Brexit has been managed adequately, the most likely result is that the election will be fought on other issues, and past stances on Brexit will have little effect on voting behaviour.

If the Commons rejects the section 13 motion, there is a statutory requirement (under another subsection of section 13) for the Government to make a statement about how what it proposes to do next and to arrange a motion in the Commons to consider it, and it will be possible for the Commons to amend that motion. If the Commons rejects the section 13 motion, it’s possible that Theresa May will tender her resignation, but that won’t dispose of the statutory requirements of section 13. If the Commons rejects the section 13 motion, it’s possible that the Commons will subsequently carry a motion of no confidence in the government, but that too won’t dispose of the statutory requirements of section 13. If the Commons carries a motion of no confidence and a new government is formed with the confidence of the present House, that stil won’t dispose of the statutory requirements, it will only shift to the new government the responsibility to come up with a proposal about what to do next. If the proposal of the government (whatever government) is to seek a return to negotiations with the EU, the EU may refuse to restart negotiations. If the government’s proposal is to leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement, the Commons may amend the motion to direct the government to seek a return to negotiations, but the EU might still refuse.

If there is an election in 2019, as a result of a successful no-confidence motion or otherwise, then the chain of events that has led up to it will have included, one way or another, a specific outcome to the section 13 vote (or votes) and the options still available will have been reduced and clarified. At that point, both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party will have to include in their election manifestos statements about what they intend to do next about Brexit, and that will presumably be the decisive election issue: unless both parties take the same stance on Brexit in their manifestos, in which case presumably they will have to fight the election over other issues. Whatever the outcome of that election, there may not be another one until 2024. In a 2024 election, if the dominant public feeling is that Brexit has been a major disaster, the most likely result is that the incumbent government (whatever that may be) will (fairly or unfairly) be blamed and voted out; otherwise, the election will most likely be fought on other issues.

If, somehow, Brexit is thwarted and some chain of events leads to the UK not leaving the EU, then by 2022 or 2024 Brexit may have been superseded as the major political issue by other events.

I understand why many people in the UK now feel angry or disappointed or outraged or grieved by how Jeremy Corbyn has been handling the Brexit issue up to now, and if I were British I might have strong feelings about it myself; but I don’t think the effects of those feelings on British politics are likely to last. If Brexit happens, and is widely perceived to have been a calamity, the effects of those feelings about Brexit will probably swamp any effects of feelings about Jeremy Corbyn’s current performance; in a scenario where Brexit does not happen, or in a scenario where it happens but is not widely perceived to have been calamitous, then the odds are that other issues will displace attention from Jeremy Corbyn’s current performance on the Brexit issue.

A year and a half ago Harry published a post with the (ironically intended) title ‘I’ve got a good idea: let’s all blame Corbyn!’ I wonder what he has to say now?

43

Dipper 12.29.18 at 9:19 pm

@ Phil “It’s hard to respond to being so comprehensively misunderstood.”, well, welcome to Brexit. Two sets of people talking right past each other, neither understanding what the other is going on about. In particular, as a Leaver, I’d say Remainers simply don’t get it. They haven’t understood the basic problem from the outset, and so construct narratives that they can understand but no Leaver will recognise or accept, and in so doing, simply dig a bigger hole.

Hidari is firmly on the case. “it appears to be the Labour leader who has picked the position that is most likely to keep the party together and alienate the fewest voters.” Whilst I think Corbyn is completely useless, it is clearly Seamus Milne who is pulling his strings and has diagnosed the situation most clearly. The issue is that Labour is now clearly two parties in one; Starmer, Reeves, Umunna, Hilary Benn all have one single policy, which is to rejoin the EU at the first opportunity. McDonnell and the left have a set of hard left economic policies that cannot be implemented if the UK is in the EU. There is not a single policy objective the two group shave in common. Corbyn’s silence, whilst frustrating for many, is the only policy which doesn’t blow the party up.

As for the future, and I’m talking the next four weeks, No-one knows anything. The deeper you look, the less clear it is. Lenin allegedly said ““There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.””. We are in those weeks.

44

engels 12.29.18 at 9:59 pm

(I seem to remember having this discussion a couple of years ago. In my opinion the motivation Chris is describing—bluntly: punitive sadism directed at the poor caused by righteous resentment of their [mis]perceived politics—is barely significant within the other powerful motivations middle-class people have always had for opposing ‘radical redistribution’, not least crude self-interest.)

45

Magpie 12.30.18 at 2:11 am

After reading #44 I suppose my own interpretation of Chris Bertram’s post is not as crazy as I had feared.

I’m not sure I’m relieved.

46

eg 12.30.18 at 4:19 am

Presumably the goal is to allow the Conservatives to soil themselves as thoroughly as possible for electoral gain.

Presumably there is simultaneously an internal war being waged within Labour over what to do with the spoils of that electoral gain.

Those who favour “radical redistribution” or its analogues probably ought to concern themselves more with the latter.

47

Sebastian H 12.30.18 at 4:39 am

“The post simply argues that the politics of (in country) redistribution depend on a minimal level of common identification with that collective and can’t be sustained without it, and that Brexit is going to destroy that. Do you disagree with that factual assessment?…

But beyond that, to have reasons to prefer to making things better for other co-operators in a common project (rather than for people in the world quite generally) you have to actually be in a common project with them. The divisions fostered by Brexit make any sense of that pretty difficult to achieve and mutual indifference will lead to less support for taxation to pay for things like decent hospitals.”

Take it one step further back and you might be able to see a little empathy with the Brexiters. The project of the EU has been sold as an ever deeper union which is supposed to make those joining it better off. The fact of the matter is that the fruits of the EU/globalization project have been already been distributed very unequally for decades. A very good position for Corbyn/Labour would be something like “we understand that many of you haven’t done as well under the EU/globalization project. Leaving the project is going to be worse than staying, but we will commit to really pushing redistribution of the fruits of the EU/globalization project before going further into an even deeper union”.

The problem is that he can’t credibly commit to that because Labour has, throughout our lifetimes, put the deeper union side of things above the distribution side of things. Politics is about priorities. Whenever ‘deeper union’ comes into conflict with ‘redistribution of the fruits of deeper union’, the former wins. So at this point, Remainers can’t credibly promise to prioritize the redistribution side because they have spent 20-30 year prioritizing the deeper union side.

From the point of view of the Leavers, they have been committing to the common EU project for decades. They have been asked again and again to bear the costs of deeper union, while people in London get the fruits of deeper union. While the large cities price them out (which they can do because they get the fruits of deeper union) they see a constantly dwindling set of work options.

So when you say “…and that Brexit is going to destroy that” (minimal level of common identification) you are failing to understand the basic Brexit problem, which is that Labour Leavers feel that the ever deeper union policies which the Remainers always prioritize over the redistribution policies HAVE ALREADY DESTROYED THAT.

If you really want to stop Brexit, you need to be asking yourself questions more like “what part of the EU project am I willing to put on hold in order to prioritize the redistribution side of things?” So far the answer appears to be “no part is worth putting on hold for that” so it isn’t surprising that Leavers don’t feel listened to.

48

J-D 12.30.18 at 4:50 am

Dipper

Two sets of people talking right past each other, neither understanding what the other is going on about. In particular, as a Leaver, I’d say Remainers simply don’t get it. They haven’t understood the basic problem from the outset, and so construct narratives that they can understand but no Leaver will recognise or accept, and in so doing, simply dig a bigger hole.

The first of those three sentences suggests a symmetrical framing: Remainers don’t understand Leavers and Leavers don’t understand Remainers. The second and third, on the other other hand, suggest an asymmetrical framing: Remainers don’t understand the situation and therefore can’t communicate with Leavers. I feel as if this contrast might be worth drawing attention to.

49

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 5:14 am

@39

50

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 6:06 am

@31
”as if the EU was some sacred object which is beyond criticism”.

First off, I’ll plead guilty to mostly write incomprehensible comments – that’s why I tried to trivialize the very serious question, why on Earth do you want the UK to stay in?

But then, or again so it seems to me, that is a question which much of the discussion of Brexit has trivialized. Response 23—same person— ME – assert that it is up to those who have issues with the EU to reform themselves in order to fit in with what I called, perhaps ironically, a “great and awesome club.”
Comment 29 was worse. It goes on to badmouth as “not racist idiots” those who “badmouth the EU,” as if the EU was some sacred object which is beyond criticism. Surely there are some among those who wish to Remain who can countenance that the EU as presently constituted and as it presently acts is in need of some significant reform. (Varoufakis has, in fact, been one such.) But comments such as these I’ve listed do nothing to encourage serious, mutually respectful exploration of the issues.

That is so… so… true?

– and the only excuse I have is that I really – REALLY! want to move to London -(or Bath?) as I’m completely in love with British humor – but if Great Britain throws London out of the EU it will get seriously difficult for any ”European-American to live in London.

But comments such as these I’ve listed do nothing to encourage serious, mutually respectful exploration of the issues or as my favorite British Philosophers once said:

“Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what has the EU ever done for Great Britain?”

51

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 6:22 am

and@Dipper

”Two sets of people talking right past each other, neither understanding what the other is going on about”.

Let’s not limit that to some ”Labour Leaders”?

In particular, as a Remainer, I’d say Leavers simply don’t get it. They haven’t understood the basic problem from the outset, and so construct narratives that they can understand but no Remainer will recognise or accept, and in so doing, simply dig a bigger hole.

ME is firmly on the case. “it appears to be the Brits who have picked the position that is most likely to keep Britain together and alienate the fewest Brits.”
The issue is that Great Britain is now clearly two countries in one;
There is not a single policy objective the two group shave in common.

As for the future, and I’m talking about ”THE future”- everybody knows that sooner or later Great Britain will be (again) as much as an integrated part of the EU as Great Britain always was – and all the silly ”moves” -(to kind of quote again my favorite British Philosophers) the Dippers show US right now will be NOT forgotten but forgiven.
-(especially by every Italian – but by Greeks only – if Great Britain agrees to pay as much for Greece as the Germans)

52

Charlie W 12.30.18 at 7:15 am

44: “punitive sadism directed at the poor caused by righteous resentment of their [mis]perceived politics—is barely significant within the other powerful motivations middle-class people have always had for opposing ‘radical redistribution’, not least crude self-interest.)”

Come to think of it, the class framing is not altogether helpful here. Brexit promises to hit employed people at all income levels, and across the whole of the UK, stripping them of rights and job opportunities, domestically and abroad. Remainers recognise this (which is why Remain is not a small constituency). It’s rare (and I think extremely damaging) for governments to set out to impoverish an entire population, even if only ‘by a few percentage points of GDP’, as the let’s not worry about Brexit framing has it; hasn’t happened within living memory in the UK.

Also, how do you get from ‘decline in solidarity’ to “punitive sadism”; Chinese whispers?

53

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 9:08 am

@Sebastian, your comment is wholly misconceived. A sign of this is the way you shift constantly between asserting P and asserting “Leavers feel that P”, which are different things. You write:

From the point of view of the Leavers, they have been committing to the common EU project for decades. They have been asked again and again to bear the costs of deeper union, while people in London get the fruits of deeper union. While the large cities price them out (which they can do because they get the fruits of deeper union) they see a constantly dwindling set of work options.

It is false to say that the UK has promoted a politics of “deeper union”. In fact it has done the opposite, by carving a series of opt outs from the EU project. It is also false to say that the EU is responsible for regional disparities within the UK, those result from a combination of technological and social changes (similar to the forces that have driven regional disparities within the US) and the decision of successive UK governments not to pursue regional and industrial policies to mitigate those changes, which the UK could have done.

54

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 9:30 am

I’m afraid that Engels (and others) who bang on about middle-class people (as if there were no young working-class Remainers) are going to have to think harder about the fact that it is hard to sell a politics of reciprocity to people who’ve just been fucked over by the very people they’re now being asked to care about. That’s the case with many young people who may not themselves have a lot of assets, are probably renters, can’t afford to start of family etc and whose future has just been blighted by their elders. The politics people have in the future is often conditioned by how things look when they are about 20, and at one point Corbyn looked as if he could fold them into a transformative coalition. There are already research findings that suggest that younger people are unwilling to face higher taxes to fund better welfare and health. My pessimism here isn’t just focused on the next election (though Corbyn will pay the price there) but also on the way people will think about their social obligations in the future. I’m guessing that their political attitudes will be more individualist and indifferent than we need them to be if we want to make a better society, and understandably though regrettably so.

55

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 10:16 am

@
”the way people will think about their social obligations in the future”.

I’m guessing that Mr. B is guessing right: ”that their political attitudes will be more individualist and indifferent than we need them to be if we want to make a better society”

As a very ”individualist” and anti-political attitude has been… ”established” everywhere – understandably and regrettably though – as a backlash to the backlash of racist idiots against the so-called ”establishment”.

56

novakant 12.30.18 at 10:28 am

What have the Romans ever done for us?

https://www.myeu.uk/

57

novakant 12.30.18 at 10:31 am

58

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 11:18 am

@56+57

Yes!!

And these ”links” very much encourage myself to post what I -(ME) has done for the ”Great Empire”!

As the current ”Lady in Waiting” for ”Her Majesty Queen Anne” I have traveled all across the US of A -(from Montecito CA to NY) and then across the Ocean – accompanying the ”Homecoming Queen” – in order to save Great Britain from itself.

And we -(the Queen and I and her secretary and camerateam) – have already visited her relatives and friends in London – Windsor – Oxford – Stratford-upon-Avon – and we even had – tea –
at the Oranger-ie –
in Blenheim Palace.

And after her majesty’s extensive facelift -(finished in spring) – she gladly will be visiting anybody here who needs a ”saving” from him – or herself – too!
-(and I will send the photo-contact to Mr. B)

59

Jim Buck 12.30.18 at 11:45 am

I spent Xmas in the Mosell Valley, on a coaching holiday with other rich, retired, white people. The dining-room arrangements lumbered us with two brexican couples ( and they may consider themselves to have been lumbered with us). When the topic came up in conversation, we made clear our position, but tempered it with a platitudinous acknowledgement the democratic process. Five us around the table were beneficiaries of public sector pensions. All of us are of the luckiest generation of our demographic, living the life of Larry— thanks, mostly, to Attlee’s Labour Party. It became clear that what motivates the anti-EU sentiments— of those temporary companions of ours—is not concern for local victims of neoliberalism. In fact the plight of the latter group gave rise to schadenfreude: “Serves ‘em right! Should have put in 40 years like we all did!” and “ If you can’t afford to keep your kids— stop having them!”
I reckon that there is a strong connection between such people and their Trumpian peers.
One of the blokes had definitely been radicalised online:
“We may need more coppers, but there’ll never be enough money to pay for ‘em. What we need in this country (UK) is a second amendment. Give everybody a gun and see how that sorts out all these foreigners doing knife crime.”
The same bloke had recently decided never to set foot in Spain again. He has come to that decision as a result of an American Facebook friend explaining to him who Hispanics are, and how they are all criminals:
“Times I’ve been in that country— and I never realised they are all Hispanics! It explains a lot. Many a time things gone missing from the room . I always thought they looked a bit funny. Same goes for Portugal, brother chips”.
On possible consequences of travel, after Brexit:
“ I tell thee, if they start closing up to us, if they start treating us as if we’re foreigners! Well, I’ll just stop coming!”
His explanation for the fall in value of the pound against the euro: “They are just being spiteful because the UK’s going our own way”.
His explanation for the pounds fall against the dollar:
“Governments doing it deliberate! Ten years ago we had a blinding holiday in Las Vegas. For every pound we took they gave us two dollars back! No need to go to Venice, you can see it in Vegas— same goes for Paris, Eiffel Tower, the lot! That’s why’t governments put pound down against dollar— trying to keep us in Europe!”
Happy holidays.

60

Mitchell Freedman 12.30.18 at 11:48 am

I think what should be added to this mixing discussion is: To what extent have the pro-austerity, pro-banker positions espoused through the EU contributed to the growth of nationalist, fascist oriented politics in Europe, and even the backlash known as Brexit?

This is why I think the criticism of Corbyn is self-defeating if one is promoting a positive redistributionist set of policies. And it is why I think attacking Varoufakis as a guy on a continued book tour is misplaced and misguided, when Varoufakis’ position is one which most of us who espouse progressive oriented policies, including the idea of a federation of nations for healthy trade relations that support or raise wages, benefits and rights of workers, should find agreement. Joining in with the Blairites at The Guardian or worse the other British newspapers that are firmly in the pockets of Tories seems to me a grave error. What next, an endorsement of the Liberal Democrats because of their fealty to the pro-banking interests in the EU?

61

Hidari 12.30.18 at 12:24 pm

The age divide thing is not as salient as people think.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45098550

tl;dr

Yes young people are more pro-immigrant, yes young people are more likely to vote remain, yes young people are more likely to want a second referendum.

BUT.

only half of 18 to 24-year-olds said that they would be certain to vote in a second EU referendum, according to recent polls by Survation. This compares with 84% of those aged 65 and over.
So if there were another ballot, it is far from certain that young people would necessarily take the opportunity to register their distinctive views.’

Moreover: https://www.statista.com/statistics/692470/labour-party-voting-intention-of-public-age/

Tl;dr

As I pointed out (and no one has responded to this) the OP posits a hypothesis: that young people think that staying in the EU is so important that they will ditch Labour (why? who knows) for a more pro-EU party, like the LibDems. Now as I also pointed out, this might be true. But equally one can clearly state that at the moment there is no evidence of it happening.

There is no mystery about why. Young people are pro-EU, yes, but it’s by no means the only thing they think about. They also think about immigration (and see, correctly, that the Labour party are more pro-immigrant that the Tories: young people are not dumb enough to believe the lies of the Liberal ‘we won’t raise tuition fees’ Democrats). They also think about tuition fees, austerity, imperialism, pointless foreign wars, Donald Trump, etc. etc. etc. And balancing all these things together, young people will probably vote for Corbyn en masse, despite the fact that his EU policy is not wholly satisfactory (i.e. to them).

A much bigger threat for Corbyn is young people not voting at all, which has traditionally been the case. In that case, he has been well advised to try and keep the working class Leave vote onside.

‘ are going to have to think harder about the fact that it is hard to sell a politics of reciprocity to people who’ve just been fucked over by the very people they’re now being asked to care about.’

What a bizarre statement! Generally speaking, old people have more money than young people in the UK. It certainly used to be the case that young people worked hard and ended up wealthy, but that won’t happen any more. Young people work on zero hours contracts in shit McJobs for no money, and this will not change. Young people are less likely to want to be taxed because they want less money to be taken off their miserable pittance of a salary. And this will not change, regardless of whether the UK stays in the EU or not. The good jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back.

So it’s the old people with money who will have to (and are currently) bailing out the younger generation, who will never have meaningful jobs or careers. Not the other way round.

Incidentally there is no politics of reciprocity in the ‘United’ Kingdom and there never has been. The United Kingdom is deeply divided by age, yes (with the young overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn, a point you neglect). But it’s also extraordinarily divided by religion, by gender, by sexuality, by ‘culture’ and by region. The very idea that British people have ever given a toss about anybody in the North of Ireland is ludicrous, and may I remind you that there are still ambitious nationalists in both Scotland and Wales (and the North of Ireland) who are willing Brexit onwards because they see this as a once in a lifetime chance to break up the union (they are not wrong). Brexit is shining a hard light on vicious and long-standing differences that have their origins, in many instances, in the ‘United’ Kingdom’s imperial history. It has not created these differences. Nor will they go away if ‘Great’ Britain is persuaded to remain in the EU (an event which will greatly expedite the EU’s dissolution).

62

Faustusnotes 12.30.18 at 12:57 pm

It will be sad to see Corbyn let brexit through so he doesn’t alienate voters, then with the newfound political freedoms hard brexit gives him, going to an election on a strong redistributive platform, confident he hasn’t alienated the working class leavers – only to be throughly trounced as that same group leave him anyway because they hate redistribution that doesn’t go to them.

It’s also sweet to imagine Corbyn naivelybsitting at his table, plotting to bring down the government through the parliament. Does he think there is even one Tory in parliament who would put country over party or their own profit? I sincerely hope he is not so naive.

The left wing fantasies of the lexiters might work in France or Greece but they’re nothing more than dreams in the uk. Corbyn can win the next election by opposing leave now and running to the next election on a promise to fix the mess. He can’t achieve anything with no confidence motions (even non symbolic ones!), or by keeping the old uneducated leaver working class with him only to lose them at the next general election because he can’t promise them nationalism, xenophobia and punishing the unemployed.

Dipper, we aren’t talking past each other. We who are right are telling you how dangerous and stupid your plans are, and you are ignoring us because you think you’re smart. When it all goes wrong you’ll come crawling on your knees to labour to fix the mess and, as Chris has rightly observed, your children and your children’s children will tell you that this time they aren’t listening.

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engels 12.30.18 at 1:04 pm

The class framing was in the post (‘A redistributionist politics needs the support of millions of middle-class “liberal” Remain voters to succeed…’). I don’t personally think Leave vs Remain is a class divide, hence why I broadly support Corbyn’s ecumenical approach. Now if the argument is the Bressentiment will eat away the fraternal ties that bind Our Nation™ together generally I’d cautiously suggest you might have missed four decades of non-stop dismemberment of all material expressions of such sentiments together with a relentless barrage of individualist ideology. The reason young working class people may not feel much fraternity towards their elders is that they’ve never been shown any.

On reflection, I do think there’s a grain of truth in the post somewhere in that post-Brexit the favoured liberal 10%er pretext for looking after number one (while caring deeply, deeply about the plight of the less fortunate) may go from ‘Corbyn is a horrible sexist/racist/IRA supporter’ to ‘Corbyn stuffed Brexit’. But it will remain just that: a pretext.

64

Hidari 12.30.18 at 1:28 pm

Just your regular reminder to those doing the right wing media’s (AKA ‘the media’) work for them, in blaming Corbyn for Brexit…to reiterate, just a reminder that Corbyn simply cannot stop Brexit.

This is an objective fact and anyone who says different is a liar. The numbers are simply not there, and the ‘smuggled in’ assumption by those who claim otherwise (and wrongly) is that there are ‘moderate Tories’ who will put ‘country before party’ and vote with Corbyn….ergo…defeat of Brexit.

Sorry to have to rain on liberals’ various parades but, just as in the United States, there did not turn out to be any ‘moderate’ Republicans who would vote against Trump in any meaningful way, in Britain, there are no moderate Tories who will put ‘country before party’.

In other words, Corbyn cannot stop Brexit, nor could any Labour Party leader, no how, no way.

As I say, anyone who claims otherwise is simply doing the Tories’ work for them.

65

Dipper 12.30.18 at 1:52 pm

@ Faustusnotes “Dipper, we aren’t talking past each other. We who are right are telling you how dangerous and stupid your plans are, and you are ignoring us because you think you’re smart.”

Okay lets talk immigration. In the early 2000s Blair opened up immigration from Eastern Europe. Immigration Watch famously stated that the government forecast of between 5,000 and 13,000 per year was too low and forecast about 40,000 per year. We now know that the Migration Watch number massively underestimated the scale of the migration.

Where does that leave me as a voter? If probably the most significant cultural change in the UK this century happens despite the public being assured it won’t, then I’m not sure what the point of my voting is. If political parties and governments are either unwilling or unable to exercise control over whether or not the population is going to increase by 25% in a generation then I don’t see how, come the election, I’m meant to make a choice between those putting themselves up for election given nothing they say matters.

And if a major issue such as who lives here is unable to be controlled, what next? Can I believe any political who says we won’t enter the Euro? Or we won’t have our armed forces directly controlled by European governments?

What the Remain faction is asking us to believe is that if we give up political control over massive parts of the government then by some magical process we are going to become better off. How? How do we extract benefits as a nation if as a nation we have no power? For a peripheral European nation such as the UK to be drawn into a Federal Europe with no means of control over events is, to borrow a phrase, dangerous and stupid.

66

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 5:01 pm

@engels “Now if the argument is the Bressentiment will eat away the fraternal ties that bind Our Nation™ together generally I’d cautiously suggest you might have missed four decades of non-stop dismemberment of all material expressions of such sentiments together with a relentless barrage of individualist ideology.”

Actually, I’d missed none of that (not that I personally care for “the nation” as such). But I’d also noticed that there remained a kernel of solidaristic sentiment, focused on institutions like the NHS and broadly national in scope and egalitarian in character. You’d find this symbolically expressed, from time to time, as in Danny Boyle’s Olympic ceremony not so long ago. My fear is that this is what Brexit kills and with it the politics that nourishes itself on that tradition.

Your claim engels (and not just yours) seems to be that such a sentiment was always bullshit. Well maybe. But if you’re right then so was egalitarian socialist politics of the left Labour kind all along. If so then my mistake would be to say that Corbyn is chucking it all away now, since, by your logic, he never had a chance to begin with, as there was nothing to latch on to. Maybe left-wing politics can only be a kind of impotent raging on the interwebs of which you are such a specialist, but if so then it is a peculiar kind of hobby and one would try to persuade a friend to cultivate a different one.

67

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 5:04 pm

@Dipper You want to know what having no control is like? It is becoming a rule-taker with no chance of influencing the rules. And that’s what your choice is going to get you. Congratulations.

68

Magpie 12.30.18 at 5:24 pm

I’m afraid that Engels (and others) who bang on about middle-class people (as if there were no young working-class Remainers) are going to have to think harder about the fact that it is hard to sell a politics of reciprocity to people who’ve just been fucked over by the very people they’re now being asked to care about.

Funny, I see things differently.

From where I stand, the ones who need to think much, much, much, much harder are precisely the young working-class Remainers, whom Prof. Bertram apparently forgot in his post, but managed to remember in time for #54.

It is those young working-class Remainers who entered into in an inter-class alliance (Bertram’s middle-class led “left”) designed to further the class interests of the petty bourgeoisie, not theirs. It’s them who were misled into believing they can have “radical redistribution” while Remaining.

It’s them who — to use Prof. Bertram’s own words — will be “fucked over”. They are the ones who really need to read his post and it is to them whom he must explain it.

Not to me.

69

Phil 12.30.18 at 5:37 pm

I’ve got a few minutes spare, so I’ll have one more crack at this.

Chris @66:
a kernel of solidaristic sentiment, focused on institutions like the NHS and broadly national in scope and egalitarian in character … My fear is that this is what Brexit kills

Chris @54:
it is hard to sell a politics of reciprocity to people who’ve just been fucked over by the very people they’re now being asked to care about.

The thing is, it has never occurred to me to think of the taxes I pay as a transfer from hard-working well-to-do me to The Undeserving Poor, let alone The Undeserving Poor Who Vote The Wrong Way. It’s never occurred to me that what I’m doing is subsidising other people – as distinct from paying into institutions like the NHS in a spirit of solidaristic sentiment … egalitarian in character: remember Ben Elton’s line, “I want the full resources of a hospital to be available to me free of charge whenever I need it – but I don’t mind if they’re available to other people when I’m not using them”. Come to that, it has never occurred to me that any significant proportion of the Poor are Undeserving – certainly not on the grounds of their political views.

OP: What do I care if some elderly xenophobe can’t find a nurse or a doctor because too few EU nationals have stayed to look after the people who voted to take their rights away?

Those three framings – tax as a transfer from rich people to poor people; poor people as either deserving or undeserving; political views qualifying some people as undeserving – are fundamentally anti-solidaristic, anti-democratic and anti-socialist in themselves. Just like the “very real concerns” uncovered by the Good Brothers*, these attitudes should be combated – countered with better, more emancipatory framings – rather than our taking them as social realities which we should structure our politics around, let alone welcoming them in a spirit of schadenfreude at their effects on our political rivals.

*Win and Hart

70

engels 12.30.18 at 6:01 pm

Your claim engels (and not just yours) seems to be that such a sentiment was always bullshit. Well maybe. But if you’re right then so was egalitarian socialist politics of the left Labour kind all along.

Tbc I don’t think left-labourism is bullshit; I think that ‘labourism’ that preoccupies itself with what middle-class voters think rather than, ahem, labour, is bullshit.

Maybe left-wing politics can only be a kind of impotent raging on the interwebs of which you are such a specialist, but if so then it is a peculiar kind of hobby and one would try to persuade a friend to cultivate a different one.

Actually I’m trying to get a government elected that will socialise important parts of the economy, improve life materially for the vast majority and end imperialist warmongering abroad. How are the Greens doing?

71

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 7:42 pm

@65
”if we give up political control over massive parts of the government then by some magical process we are going to become better off. How”?

As we -(the people) – always give up political control over massive parts of the government to our elected governments – we are always going to become better off if our governments -(Achtung – ”trivial”) – ”Do a good job”.

And that’s ”the thing” –

Are you really sure that the ”National(istic) UK government will make you -(and your fellow citizens) ”going to become better off” without the EU helping??!

@56 and @57 somebody posted some information about ”what have the EU ever done for U” – and if WE have to explain the Brexit to a Californian -(or an Italian) – WE always show them the Monty Python Sketch about ”What have the Romans ever done for us” – first.

And if you have missed it – perhaps you finally should take a look at it?

How”?

72

engels 12.30.18 at 7:57 pm

Don’t entirely agree with this but it’s an interesting perspective:
https://mobile.twitter.com/gainstthewall/status/1078703840277467141#tweet_1078703840277467141

73

RobinM 12.30.18 at 8:02 pm

When you say, Chris (at 67),

@Dipper You want to know what having no control is like? It is becoming a rule-taker with no chance of influencing the rules.

you surely are aware that that’s precisely why at least some of those-who-want-to-Leave want to leave.

Maybe these Leavers err in thinking that the EU’s political and economic arrangements for making the rules are beyond reconstitution and that–just maybe!–the UK’s own such arrangements are bit more, and with an awful lot of hard political work, amenable to being reconstituted. But maybe many Remainers err in not–seemingly from what I’ve been reading–countenancing that the EU is now a quite problematical regime. As, certainly, is the UK itself–something I do see a lot of Remainers emphasizing. But it still remains a matter of political judgement how we might get to a better place than where we all are now. I take your passionate concern for the future of the young and for redistribution to be an expression of your desire and commitment to get to a better place. But, as some others have also indicated, it’s disturbing to see you being so dismissive of those who also have other concerns which surely have played some part in their arriving at their political judgements respecting the EU and Brexit. (Being of a certain age myself, I’ll insert paraphrastically that surely the oldest person that is in the UK has a right to live as much as the youngest person–though certainly will not in most cases continue to do so for so long. And so too does the poorest as well.) Someone above, as I recall, simply asserted that he, a Remainer, was just “right.” Maybe were we ALL to start proclaiming, “I think I’m right, but maybe I’m wrong,” some way into the future, whether Britain remains in or exits from the EU, might be fashioned in a way which did not begin from the notion that politics is just war by other means between irreconcilable opposites. Of course, I see that could be a dangerous course. After all, Cromwell did go ahead and massacre the inhabitants of Dunbar when they ignored his admonition, I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think that you might be mistaken.

74

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 8:11 pm

@Phil, well, like you said, it is hard to argue with someone who is so unable to understand what you write. I’ve not said anything about anyone being undeserving, nor have I advocated a politics where people think of taxation as being a matter of subsidizing the poor. What I have said is that in a deeply divided (by Brexit) society people will come to see themselves as paying for people who’ve brought a mess on themselves and will think “why should I” and that this psychological shift will undermine the possibility of a solidaristic left politics and will promote other kinds of politics (Osbornism on the one side/Mayism on the other perhaps). I’ll find that psychological shift regrettable, it isn’t something that I am endorsing, though I am saying that I find it understandable.

75

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 8:12 pm

@engels, well, good luck with getting enough votes to form a government without getting the votes of the many people you despise.

76

Chris Bertram 12.30.18 at 8:32 pm

@RobinM … as someone said the other day, you can take rules from the EU, the US or China, you can’t make your own on matters like trade. Since the UK can’t influence the rules of the US or China from inside and it can influence those of the EU from inside (plus, ahem, geography) then the conclusion follows.

As for the dismissiveness: well, these are people who out of spite or ignorance voted the throw the EU nationals who live amongst us under the bus, together with the Irish peace process. My feelings towards people who did that are ones of revulsion, basically.

77

William S Berry 12.30.18 at 8:40 pm

good luck with getting enough votes to form a government without getting the votes of the many people you despise

I am definitely stealing that (perhaps paraphrased to “enough votes to govern” for the U.S. context) .

Thanks for understanding how politics actually works!

78

Lynne 12.30.18 at 9:04 pm

“As for the dismissiveness: well, these are people who out of spite or ignorance voted the throw the EU nationals who live amongst us under the bus, together with the Irish peace process. My feelings towards people who did that are ones of revulsion, basically.”

Ah. It shows.

79

J-D 12.30.18 at 9:06 pm

Chris Bertram

The politics people have in the future is often conditioned by how things look when they are about 20, …

I don’t know how things will look in two, three, or five years time (there is more than one possibility, and I don’t know which to expect), but it is practically certain to be drastically different from the way things look now. Therefore, to the extent of the truth in your observation, and if ‘about 20’ is a critical period, the effects on people now in their teens will be radically different (although in what direction I have no idea) from the effects on people now in their early twenties. It’s likely that many politically aware people now in their early twenties are thinking, among other things, ‘What does Corbyn think he’s been playing at?’, and it’s reasonable to suppose that this will have some degree of lasting effect on their attitudes to Corbyn’s favoured political projects; but there’s a probably larger cohort of people just slightly younger most of whom are not yet politically aware and who will have their attention differently focussed when they do become so.

80

J-D 12.30.18 at 9:14 pm

Dipper

Possibly I have misunderstood you, but it reads to me very much as if you are asking: ‘If voters can’t stop increases in immigration, what’s the point of voting?’ I have to say first that it’s a fair question, and deserves a considered response; but I also have to say that I think I have one. It seems to me, in general, that the impact of voting is limited, but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent: in other words, there are things it can’t affect, but there are also things it can affect. If I’m right about that; and if you’re right in suggesting (as you may be, for all I know) that voting can’t affect the level of immigration; then surely the answer to your question, in that hypothetical scenario, would be this: ‘There may be no point in voting if immigration is all that you care about, but there may still be some point in voting if there are other things you care about as well.’

I also have to add that I can find no reason to suppose that withdrawing from the EU will increase the effectiveness of your vote. As far as I can tell, complaints (largely justified) about the limited impact of voting are a global phenomenon, not particularly an EU one.

81

J-D 12.30.18 at 9:20 pm

Chris Bertram

As for the dismissiveness: well, these are people who out of spite or ignorance voted the throw the EU nationals who live amongst us under the bus, together with the Irish peace process. My feelings towards people who did that are ones of revulsion, basically.

My reaction to spite is also one of revulsion, but my feelings about ignorance are different. We’re all ignorant, even if to different degrees. Small children are the most ignorant of all, but should we feel revulsion when they do harm through their ignorance?

Anyway, whenever you do feel revulsion, what should you do with that revulsion?

82

RobinM 12.30.18 at 9:26 pm

Revulsion? To vote for Brexit could only have been motivated by spite or ignorance?
It seems to me you’re well on the way to talking civil war, not politics.

On your first point about trade rules, I wqs talking about a lot more than the rules ruling trade.

83

Callum 12.30.18 at 9:37 pm

The belief that the uk elites want to promote the rights of labour as agaisnt an EU who’s out to subject us to the will of the capitalist is utterly out of sync with reality. The EU has been ahead of the UK on labour rights at almost every single turn, from holidays to working hours to consumer protections to human rights. Every single one of these will revert to the lowest common denominator post Brexit as we race for cmpetitive advantage over our neighbours.

You’re replacing the real but uneven wins EU rules and regulations have given to labour with an imagined utopia where Britain set free from the EU can valiantly fend off rapacious international capitalism. If Britain had a political system characterised by more independance from corporate power than the EU this might work but it doesn’t.

Many middle class remainers understand this and I think the political apathy towards Labour will have less to do with spite than with despair at a party which seems incapable of expressing the nature of the problems well face, let alone a political strategy which is even vaguely capable of addressing them.

84

nastywoman 12.30.18 at 10:09 pm

@72 Friedrich=
”but it’s an interesting perspective”

Agreed – this morning, shortly after 11am, comedy struck this little house on Dibley Road saying:
”voted remain in 2016 and was hugely disappointed by the result at first, seeing it as a victory for the right. But soon the cheap, condecending, and outright idiotic comments from remainers started rolling in and have continued ever since. They’ve changed his mind”.

= ”Sudden, violent comedy”!

85

Dipper 12.30.18 at 10:57 pm

@ J-D “but it reads to me very much as if you are asking: ‘If voters can’t stop increases in immigration, what’s the point of voting?’ “

No. The issue is that voters never had the chance to stop it. Government introduced a policy which they explicitly said would not have a particular result, it then had that result, and now the parties say well that all worked out okay so that justifies the original policy. I think implementing major policies without any public involvement and then marking your own homework and telling the people you’ve been successful is a rotten way to do democracy.

And now MPs are apparently working out how they can prevent any meaningful Brexit, having collectively voted 6:1 to have the referendum and then voted to trigger article 50. As Douglas Murray wrote, Will it ever be worth voting again?

86

engels 12.30.18 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for understanding how politics actually works!

‘You have win over Mondeo man’ is how politics used to work a decade ago, as evidenced by the robot army of centrist wonks who repeated it up until the last election, when it proved to be nonsense. Surprise: there are a lot of really angry working-class people who never turned out for tepid Blairite triangulation but will for socialism.

87

Hidari 12.30.18 at 11:06 pm

‘Senior Tory and Labour MPs are planning to force the government to delay Brexit by several months to avoid a no-deal outcome if Theresa May fails to get her deal through parliament in January, the Observer has been told.

Cross-party talks have been under way for several weeks to ensure the 29 March date is put back – probably until July at the latest – if the government does not push for a delay itself. It is also understood that cabinet ministers have discussed the option of a delay with senior backbench MPs in both the main parties and that Downing Street is considering scenarios in which a delay might have to be requested from Brussels….

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said that parliament would need to discuss all options, including a possible delay, if and when May failed to get her blueprint through the Commons. “If the prime minister’s deal is voted down in early January, then we will be just nine weeks away from the date we are due to leave the EU,” Starmer said.

“If the deal is rejected, parliament will need to have a very serious debate about how to protect the economy from a no-deal scenario and at this stage nothing should be ruled out.”…

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the trade minister, Liam Fox, put the chances of Brexit being cancelled altogether at about “50-50” if parliament votes down Theresa May’s deal. “If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it [Brexit] much more than 50-50,” Fox, a leading supporter of leaving the EU, told the newspaper.’

Which is interesting, as the chances of the May plan getting through Parliament are zero.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/29/cross-party-stop-the-clock-hard-brexit-no-deal-29-march

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engels 12.30.18 at 11:14 pm

What have the Romans ever done for us

I love Monty Python but I’m not sure that really aged well in the era of Rhodes Must Fall.

89

Doctor Memory 12.30.18 at 11:42 pm

…tick. tick. tick…

Surely no set of modern, well-informed european leaders would ever sleepwalk directly into a catastrophe!

90

chris s 12.31.18 at 12:03 am

@75 “Well, good luck with getting enough votes to form a government without getting the votes of the many people you despise.”

Though this of course works both ways – and goes back to what you think the political route to ‘stopping Brexit’ should actually be.

If it’s a second referendum, then the conduct of continuity Remain has too often lived up to the worst stereotypes of despising the opposition.

Alternatively if you are proposing ignoring the referendum completely, then actions speak louder than words (and what’s the Remain/Leave balance in the next 50 marginals Labour would need to win?).

91

sentinel 12.31.18 at 1:35 am

@Hidari

I think HMG will revoke the Art 50 notification because there is insufficient time to enact nine Brexit bills[*] and pass 700+ Statutory Instruments before 29 March 2019.

[*] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/charts/parliamentary-progress-legislation-introduced-implement-brexit

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faustusnotes 12.31.18 at 5:15 am

Hidari backs up my point that this is an entirely Tory disaster, and reiterates that Corbyn simply cannot stop brexit. It is important to remember that whatever Corbyn and Labour’s failings on brexit (and I think they have many), they didn’t hold the referendum, they campaigned against leaving, their voters voted against leaving, they didn’t negotiate the deal you have, they want a better deal, they have argued at every turn for what is best for the UK. The move to make it seem as if they are somehow responsible is the first step in what is going to turn into a concerted campaign by the far right press to blame Corbyn and Labour for the coming disaster.

If we allow this rhetoric to take purchase, by the time of the next election it will be Labour and the remain left that are held responsible for everything that goes wrong, and the Tories will be victims of some kind of remainer stab in the back.

I predict Dipper will be taking this tone a year from now, as he gnaws on grilled rats in the rubble of his Peterborough home. Don’t let these scoundrels pull this swifty on the electorate.

Dipper, I won’t talk migration with you because you have shown yourself to be persistently dishonest on it and you never listen to any counter-arguments. However I’ll say that your description of history doesn’t make any sense. Blair didn’t “open up immigration from Eastern Europe”: 10 states joined, and he didn’t stop them from migrating. The Home Office did get its predictions wrong, but it said they were wrong in its own report and said that they were “not implausible” (you can see the language and caveats if you bother to use google). But most importantly, Blair didn’t ever campaign on this issue, so your vote on it was irrelevant. There was a general election in 2001, 3 years before the AC-10 states joined, and Blair won a thumping majority. Do you remember being asked in that election to vote on this issue? Because it likely wasn’t an issue in that election on account of being 3 years away. You did, however, have a chance to revisit the issue in 2005, at the general election, and again Blair won a large majority. Was the election dominated by this issue?

This is the problem you face: the electorate is given a chance every 5 years to reconsider their decision about the policies that they are offered, and throughout the period of accession they chose to vote for the party that you blame for increased immigration. It is not the case that you are “meant to make a choice between those putting themselves up for election given nothing they say matters”. What they said did matter and people did get to vote on it, but most people weren’t listening to your niche concerns. It took 11 years after the accession of the AC-10 states for your rump of racists and empire-nostalgists to gather together enough russian money to actually make the issue front and centre, and now you’ve got what you want – but every single one of the Putin-fluffers you support has bottled it in the face of the challenges of Brexit, and refuses to take any leadership role. They are waiting in the wings, sniping and making sure you get a hard brexit, so that the EU can’t uncover their history of money-laundering for Putin. And your children and your children’s children are going to suffer for it while that lot buy themselves Cypriot or Maltese citizenship and bugger off with their gangster money to sun themselves wand watch from afar as your country spirals into ruin.

But yes, the real issue here is that 2 years after an election, and 2 years before the next one, the Home Office miscalculated how many Polish people would come to the UK.

93

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 6:34 am

@88
”What has the EU ever done for us”

The belief of UK workers that the EU hasn’t done anything for them might be the most tragic… may I say -”twist”? in the ”Drama of Brexit” –

As @83 says it like IT IS:

”The EU has been ahead of the UK on labour rights at almost every single turn, from holidays to working hours to consumer protections to human rights”.

And in the very confused and misinformed tweeter-thread you quoted – one – supposedly ”worker” – after another blamed the EU for ”the de-industrialization of Great Britain” and thusly the downfall of ”Great Britain’s Workers” –

While every minimal informed European knows – that the sellout of British Industries and thusly ”the workers plight” was as voluntarily confused and stupid as in the US -where so called ”experts” and economists -(of all political sides) – ALSO thought that an ”advanced country of the future” only could keep on making money by cgetting out of manufacturing and production and changing to a more ”Service” and ”Finance’ dominated economy –

What a self-defeating ”Trumpish Idiocy”?

Which had and had NOTHING to do with the EU either –
as everybody in the EU who kept the industrial base – AND it’s well payed workers is doing ”GREAT” – and Von Clownstick is so full of envy that he tries everything to get all of these jobs back to US.
And for the UK and British workers – to blame the guys – who for example bought nearly all of the UK’s car industry – the UK ”desperately” tried to get rid off – is a true tragedy – and now – of all people ”Germans” are selling ”Mini’s” and ”Bentley’s” and even the Rolls – as mainly ”Made in Germany” – keeping German workers -(and still a lot of workers in the UK) – very, very happy…

That’s even absurder than the ”Roman” Monthy Python sketch?

94

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 6:59 am

and @89
”tick” – ”tick”

Every set of modern, well-informed european leaders already has sleepwalked once or even more times ”directly into” all kind of…
please let’s NOT call it – ”catastrophe”?
let’s call it ”confusione” – in honor of all -(attentione irony!) -”well informed” Italian leaders – who used to be ”the masters of total disaster” in European politics –

BUT now –
it seems – that UK ”leaders” will beat even the ”Comedia del Arte” with a lot of ”Flying Circus – Tragedy” – helplessly – and totally absurd –
RIGHT BACK TO THE EU.
-(more ”sooner than later”)-

BE-cause in reality there actually is NO other possibility !
And isn’t that actually… GREAT? – and we just have to be a bit patient?

95

Dipper 12.31.18 at 7:32 am

@Faustusnotes – I’ve no idea where you get this stuff from, but … this bit “so that the EU can’t uncover their history of money-laundering for Putin”.

I love this Russian Money Laundering stuff, because a major source of laundering has already been found – Danske Bank ‘s branch in Estonia, which laundered at least €200,000,000,000. So that’s right there, in the EU but not London, under these fantastic EU regulations. Of particular interest is the innovative use of SLPs – Scottish Limited Partnerships – which hide the beneficial owners. Perhaps Scotland wants independence so it can continue to benefit from Russian Money Laundering?

96

Jim Buck 12.31.18 at 8:14 am

@86 ‘Surprise: there are a lot of really angry working-class people who never turned out for tepid Blairite triangulation but will for socialism.’

The Hispanic-hating bloke with whom I ate xmas dinner also expressed hatred for Corbyn: “He’s hand-in-glove with the IRA. He’s a semite!”
I was taken aback by that last pejorative. I quickly realised that he did not understand what a semite, nor an antisemite, is. He was parroting a term mondegreened from someone else’s rant. Did he turn out at the referendum in order to get socialism? I really doubt it. National Socialism? Maybe. Butter plus bile, bluster, and the changing of the guard. . The mystery to me is: Why do such materially privileged people seethe so with hatred?
(NB; I do understand why that section of the electorate dependent on benefits and food banks would wish to sink the boat.)

97

Hidari 12.31.18 at 8:56 am

@91

One of the problems of dealing with the (now) ‘slow moving’ blogosphere as opposed to Twitter, is you just lose links to what people said (i.e. on Twitter). So you’re just going to have to take my word for this.

But a few months ago, someone on Twitter pointed out that No Deal simply could not happen, as the requisite planning had not been done. As it stands, if No Deal went ahead, there would literally be people starving in the streets in the UK within a fortnight. Britain, PLC, would simply collapse. That’s why it is not going to happen. No how, no way. There is not enough time, so to speak, for it to happen.

And now it seems we are encroaching on the same territory with Brexit ‘proper’, even with a deal. If we move towards February 2019 with no ‘progress’ on Brexit (and with the wrangling and bickering of May’s doomed deal still going on that’s highly plausible)……by that time there will simply not be enough time to ‘do’ Brexit, as you point out and it will have to be postponed.

For how long? Well that’s an interesting question isn’t it?

Due to the intense hostility to Corbyn by almost all of the corporate media, the extent to which May’s, so to speak, de facto defeat at the last election, was a disaster for the Tories (which is now, let’s not forget, the party of Brexit inheriting this mantle from UKIP) has been greatly downplayed. But since May’s party is now essentially dead in the water (to mix metaphors, it’s currently dying a thousand deaths over Brexit), then whither Brexit? None of other parties really want it (not even Corbyn’s Labour Party, whatever he says….the PLP remains implacably opposed), No Deal is impossible, May can’t put together an ‘acceptable’ Brexit….so…where do we go from here?

Ergo, the likeliest possibility at this juncture is that if Brexit doesn’t get ‘passed’ in January 2019 it will get ‘booted into the long grass’, for….well how long? Interesting question. Possibly this won’t get sorted until the next election. Maybe not till after then. Maybe not till long after then.

In any case, the cancellation (either de facto or de jure) of Brexit is a real possibility now, in a way it just wasn’t a few months ago. Liberals who are tempted to heave a big sigh of relief about this and think ‘well thank goodness! I can’t wait till that happens and we can put all this nonsense behind us” should wake up and smell the coffee.

98

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 9:21 am

and about @92
– ”that the EU can’t uncover their history of money-laundering for Putin”.

It was/is not only ”money-laundering for Putin” –
and let’s say it a bit more… more… ”positive”?

Shall we?!

Great Britain – or let’s say ”London” is the most wonderful address for every Tax-evading -(or money-laundering) European –
AND Russian –
AND all of these other multinational human beings who like to hide most of their dough – and there are a lot of countries in Europe who would ABSOLUTELY love to get ahold of all this money from hundred-thousands of Rich French or 40 000 Rich Greeks – or all these Superrich Sheiks – who love to get in and out of London –
AND concerning this fact is was never comprehendable that a country which is so dependent on the dough – coming from ”EU” -(and other) citizens – suddenly asked:

What has the EU – (or any other ”Foreigner”) done for US?

What a self-defeating question? as the ”Fureigner” financed your homeland a bit!
And it always was understandable that ”the workers” – who didn’t get an acceptable share of this ”moneylaundering” sooner or later would… ”react” –
but it never was understandable that they would react like a ”Dipper” –
in the utmost self-destructing way – by blaming the EU – which always was much more on their side – than their own ”Financial Masters”!

99

Charlie W 12.31.18 at 9:42 am

Phil @69: you write: “those three framings – tax as a transfer from rich people to poor people; poor people as either deserving or undeserving; political views qualifying some people as undeserving – are fundamentally anti-solidaristic, anti-democratic and anti-socialist in themselves.”

I would agree with this. However, you start with Distribution A and you want to move to Distribution B; ideally this is done by addressing the institutional underpinnings of Distribution A (i.e. workplace governance, rights). This is difficult task, so you also introduce a tax system that gets you closer to Distribution B. This can be described as a transfer, or a subsidy (and often is) without thinking of it as ‘the rich paying for the poor’.

That said, the idea of desert won’t go away as easily as all that, and ‘undeserving’ is a label that also gets flung around in left politics. For example, I’ve seen it in talk of ‘greedy developers’. The idea of desert tends to tag along with any thought concerning ‘what should go where’.

All that aside, I think the contours of Lexit are a teeny tiny bit clearer to me after seeing this comments thread unfold. If you’re Eurosceptic on leftist grounds – i.e. you see it as, on balance, a regressive institution – then maybe you should just come out and say that, rather than all this stuff about honouring the result of the referendum. I see at least a hint of this in JC and it’s mealy-mouthed, tbh.

100

dbk 12.31.18 at 10:21 am

The emotions described in the OP are ones I can understand, but endeavor to struggle against – as I’m sure both CB and others here do.

And the fact that ninety-four comments in, no consensus has been reached among highly-educated reader-commenters is more or less indicative of the discussions going on at other venues. I suspect the UK is caught in a classic Catch-22 situation.

How does a nation-state regain control of its future when confronted by the total globalization of both production and finance? The developed world’s economies, for better or worse, are now so intricately and intimately intertwined that going it alone presents an almost insurmountable hurdle.

EU membership – even that of the UK, which did not include membership in the EMU – afforded huge advantages in terms of trading partners (the EU being the most powerful trading bloc in the world), but freedom-of-movement of populations created new demographic and cultural challenges (“difficulties”) which, I would imagine, have been exacerbated by a 40-year slide towards “austerity” – the gradual de-funding of public services such as health care, education, and transportation as these were partially or fully privatized in the name of 21st-c. market forces, aka ne0-liberalism.

In both the UK and the US, the main parties, while differing on issues of social inclusion and openness-expansiveness to minorities, pretty much got on board with the neo-liberal economic agenda of disinvestment/privatization, and with the offshoring of primary production to cheap-labor venues, as workers’ unions – the traditional (well, since the late 19th c. anyway) labour power base – became accordingly weakened.

I would say that Labour has the harder task in the case of Brexit: how do you effect “radical redistribution” in a rich country which has lost / will continue to lose its production base? It could perhaps be done, but only by massive taxation of the top 1% (or perhaps, 5%). And even assuming Corbyn becomes PM and sets out to do this, what will constitute the core driver of the UK economy (and its tax base) in future? Services, exclusively? That won’t work – and production of the type that ensured secure middle-class incomes for workers won’t be coming back; isolated “niche” production may continue in some regions, but will be constantly threatened and thus forced to lower wages if it remains in situ.

This is the quandary US Democrats face as well: they have no viable, long-term alternative(s) to offer formerly middle-class production workers in the so-called Rust Belt regions.

With respect to the EU, it has provided decades of peace to Europe – no small thing, indeed a great thing. But the fact that it provided no permanent mechanism for the regular (as opposed to one-off, such as ESDF) recycling of funds from the richer countries to the poorer ones (something which the US federal income tax system has done since its inception, i.e. permanent recycling of money from richer to poorer states) represents a baked-in feature which ensures that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This holds at the individual, regional, and nation-state levels.

With regard to immigration policy, I would say that the EU has been far less successful, unless one deems “Fortress Europe” a viable long-term policy, which, frankly, it isn’t. The UK’s immigration issues, however, have more to do with internal – and thus, legal – migration from poorer EU member states to a richer one. But shouldn’t the architects of EU policy have foreseen this development? What were they thinking?

How do you explain something this complex to voters?

It seems to me that Corbyn faces a nigh-on impossible task.

101

Z 12.31.18 at 10:26 am

What those who say we’ll-take-the-hit-and-redistribute are asking us to imagine is that those people will […] support redistribution to those whom they identify as having, by voting for Brexit, just made them and their families worse off.

What I have said is that in a deeply divided (by Brexit) society people will come to see themselves as paying for people who’ve brought a mess on themselves and will think “why should I” and that this psychological shift will undermine the possibility of a solidaristic left politics.

Chris, I really wish you would unpack the moral and political logic behind these statements. If I understand them correctly, they seem to state two things: first, that people find it hard to imagine themselves part of a unified political community in which people are deserving of mutual help when they have been harmed by the policies chosen in a majoritarian way and that in, in fact, the opposite psychological reaction ensues – the common decision-taking process, far from bringing the polity together, elicits feelings of despise on part of the losers directed to those perceived as having supported the winning side; second, that this was specifically caused by Brexit (hence my emphasis twice).

If I understood correctly, then my reactions are as follows:
-If it is true that when commonly agreed political decisions are taken, then the psychological reaction among losers is that of hostility against the winners and move to secession, then it is not only leftwing redistributionist policies which are impossible, it is democracy itself. Of course, that unfortunate conclusion does not mean the premise is wrong.
-A 4% hit in economic standards are nothing exceptional in the usual functioning of a democratic country. Anecdotally, that’s just about what my household experienced in just 18 months of Macron presidency (to be renewed in the next 18 months ad. lib., contrary to the impact of Brexit). More generally, we might not like it, but it does not help to pretend that the negative impact of Brexit is somehow statistically anormal (the main victims of the hit are arguably statistically anormal). If such negative impacts are in itself enough to fracture political communities, then (again) democracy is impossible. Of course, that unfortunate conclusion does not mean…
-Purely empirically, if it is indeed true that the British political community has been fractured in the way you described (a statement I would personally find quite credible), I very, very much doubt that Brexit was a cause rather than a symptom, and my reasons for thinking this is the usual international comparison: similar fractures are easily discernible in the US, in France (a particularly good example, as the population there also cast a decisive anti-EU vote by referendum, though of course not to leave, only to see the results of the referendum cancelled, and did it help one bit in terms of cohesion of the community?), in Italy, in the Netherlands, to some extent in Austria etc… I think no good can come in confusing causes and consequences.

My impression is that the fracture in the British society runs through educative lines, that the two-sides of the fracture have gone different social trajectories for quite a while now and in fact that they have been in open socio-political warfare for some time already (with Brexit one of the most spectacular win for the less educated camp in terms of political preference*, I admit even I would not have anticipated such a spectacular correlation). Same in the US, with Trump**. Same in France with Macron, but in the opposite direction***, with the current Gilets Jaunes movement being the other camp striking back.

But whatever your preferred political analysis of the underlying causes of the political and social fracture, anyone who believes in it and who values democracy should, it seems to me, do their best to evaluate which political forces are trying to reduce the fracture and which are trying to tear the two groups apart, and put their energy behind the formers. It is not my place to conduct this analysis for the United Kingdom, but I wish I would be so lucky, as the answer seems to me particularly easy in that country.

*https://public.tableau.com/profile/eva8220#!/vizhome/2_3_6/2_3ScatterHE

**http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/

***https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/files-fr-fr/doc_associe/ipsos_sopra_steria_sociologie_des_electorats_7_mai_20h15_0.pdf

102

Hidari 12.31.18 at 11:31 am

In previous threads on Brexit,8 scepticism (to put it mildly) was expressed at my contention that to the (overwhelmingly white, male, right wing) forces behind Brexit, Brexit was a chance to reconstitute the British Empire.

Well.

‘The UK could become a “true global player” after Brexit by opening new military bases in the Caribbean and Far East, the defence secretary has claimed.

Gavin Williamson said he was looking into new opportunities for the armed forces as he described leaving the EU as ”our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War”.

He did not identify any locations but a Sunday Telegraph report suggested the possibilities included Singapore or Brunei in the South China Sea and Montserrat or Guyana in the Caribbean….

Mr Williamson also predicted Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Caribbean states and nations across Africa would look to the UK for “the moral leadership, the military leadership and the global leadership”.’

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-uk-military-bases-caribbean-far-east-eu-global-player-a8703816.html

103

Charlie W 12.31.18 at 11:34 am

104: it’s the pointlessness of the Brexit sacrifice that marks it out as special. Nothing is achieved by it that couldn’t have been done while remaining an EU member, afaict. And a lot is lost. Normal politics / democracy isn’t like Brexit, to my mind anyway.

104

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 12:15 pm

@101 -Z
”with Brexit one of the most spectacular win for the less educated camp in terms of political preference”

You mean they ultimately will loose -(or already have lost) – with a win for racism and idiocy? –

And or they are not aware of it yet?-

Or they never will be aware of it? –

Or they only will become aware of IT – IF – how would you call it? – the ”statistical normality” -(of a 4 percent downturn) – will teach them the lesson your family has experienced?

105

Faustusnotes 12.31.18 at 12:26 pm

Z if you want to understand the sentiment Chris describes, witness dipper, who is deeply butthurt that the electorate voted for the party he believes increased immigration, to the point he thinks his vote doesn’t count, and pushed to have his country leave the eu in response. Now he refuses to consider the possibility of a second vote to chose whether to brexit now we know the conditions, because he doesn’t want to have others in his polity have a say. And he sniffs petulantly at all the young people who have benefited from the eu. That spirit has been circulating amongst the brexit era for twenty years. Why shouldn’t their victims have the same view now?

Dipper you said let’s talk about immigration and again you refuse to provide a serious response. Is there any point talking to you?

106

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 12:36 pm

and please @100
– can’t we finally get rid of the silly narrative about:
It’s all some ”Neo-Liberals” fault -(however ”Neo-Liberals” are ”defined”?)

Not only did and does that confusing narrative give ”Liberals” and thus ”the Left” a really bad name it’s also responsible for most of the confusion of our workers about who to blame.

The workers just don’t know (yet?) that crazy stuff like ”the Brexit” or electing an a…hole as President is ”totally and exclusively ”right wing” –
AS is ”the economic agenda of disinvestment/privatization, and especially the offshoring of primary production to cheap-labor venues.

Only – a-social and utmost greedy right winging a…holes do such… ”stuff” –
and as Mr. B has… felt it might be HIGH TIME that the voters of ”a-social and utmost greedy right winging a…holes” really understand this fact!

107

engels 12.31.18 at 12:55 pm

Why My Christmas Dinner Table Conversation With A Couple Of Racist Affluent Northerners Means We Must Support My Politics

108

Chris Bertram 12.31.18 at 2:33 pm

@Z Thanks. Salutary thoughts as ever. My pessimistic and incompletely thought-through reaction is to say that perhaps democracy has become impossible, or at least has disappeared.

There’s an obvious sense in which this is false: there are still elections, democratic procedures etc and these are better than decisions imposed by force. But democracy as a system of norms where everyone feels bound to play fair(ish) and to abide by the result is gone, on all sides. Moreover this is not restricted to the UK but is true in other places such as the US. Now, people openly try to win according to the procedures formally open to them and regard the other side not as fellow citizens but as enemies to be crushed. Should they lose, they regard those in power as fundamentally illegitimate. This was the case in the US as early as Bill Clinton’s term of office, but is deeply entrenched now.

In the UK, the referendum was not a means for us to take a collective decision by democratic means, but an instrument of an internal party squabble, which went wrong. It was won by a campaign of disinformation bankrolled by dubious characters who broke the rules at every turn. (And the franchise didn’t, imo, meet democratic requirements.) Once the vote had been won on a very narrow margin, the Conservatives didn’t reach out to other political forces to try to achieve a constitutional consensus, but tried to own the process for themselves, with disastrous effect. Of course, “democracy” has a powerful ideological and legitimating valence, which infuses arguments about what we should do now, but the sense of mutual restraint in the common interest has gone and the side that plays fair when the the other side does not simply exposes itself to defeat.

(I don’t deny that there are reforms that could start to reverse this. In the UK, proportional representation would help, but Labour won’t go for that because they hope (as the Tories do) to win big under FPTP and then impose their policy on their enemies.)

109

John Quiggin 12.31.18 at 2:55 pm

It seems to me that the most likely outcome is a last-minute revocation of Article 50, when it’s too late for anything else. Alternatively, the EU would probably give an extension of time for a second referendum, if the system could get its act together for this,

On the implications for democracy, I don’t see why a referendum should be seen much differently than an election. A majority voted for the Brexit “party”, which ran on some vague and contradictory promises. The Brexit party got a term of several years in which they tried and failed to deliver anything resembling those promises. They weren’t constrained in any significant way by the courts, Parliamentary obstruction etc. Just by reality.

So, just like a government that hasn’t delivered on its promises they should go back to the people and see if a majority still backs them.

110

Z 12.31.18 at 3:21 pm

Chris My pessimistic and incompletely thought-through reaction is to say that perhaps democracy has become impossible, or at least has disappeared. [D]emocracy as a system of norms where everyone feels bound to play fair(ish) and to abide by the result is gone, on all sides. Moreover this is not restricted to the UK but is true in other places such as the US. Now, people openly try to win according to the procedures formally open to them and regard the other side not as fellow citizens but as enemies to be crushed.

Yes, I agree with all that (with the nuance that I think what disappeared is not quite exactly the system of norms, but the sense of social cohesion that make these norms meaningful, a sense of cohesion which I envision not at all as an abstract “feeling” or “belief” but as the reflection of objective social properties that have now ceased to prevail). And because I agree, I share the pessimism. But it seems to me the only thing that remains for pessimists like us is to try to identify the objective social properties referred to above and to fight for their re-establishment (or if, as is much more likely, we discover that they cannot be re-established, to fight for the establishment of new ones that will equally ground the sense of cohesion required for the functioning of genuine democracy). Since I believe both 1) that democratic systems are the only ones currently known able to deal in a satisfactory way with hard collective problems and 2) that we are facing a terminally serious collective problems in the form of environmental destruction, I would even say I feel some urgency in that task. Since, I see the rise of educative inequalities as one of the most if not the most important reason for the destruction of democracy, I side with the political forces which, even if very imperfectly, seem to try to bridge them or, if this proves to be impossible, seem to ensure that people live a livable life even if on the wrong side of the educative divide. Such meta-politics is perhaps (probably) hopeless, but I don’t see what alternative we have.

@nastywoman. From time to time, I feel bound by the norms of politeness to mention that I usually don’t answer your comments even when directly directed to me not because I wish to purposefully ignore you but because your comments very often appear to me so saturated with irony, double-entendre, allusions and ambiguous stylistic constructions that I, a non-native speaker, have little idea of the meaning you are trying to convey (this is the case of your comment 104). Consequently I usually have little idea of how I could contribute something useful in response.

111

robo_friend 12.31.18 at 4:42 pm

John Quiggin:
“On the implications for democracy, I don’t see why a referendum should be seen much differently than an election. A majority voted for the Brexit “party”, which ran on some vague and contradictory promises.”

Exactly this. The original campaign for Brexit seemed to involve substantial misunderstandings, false promises, and poor information on both sides. There were completely novel political negotiations that needed to occur, with no precedent to guide expectations for reasonable outcome, and the original question was vague in the extreme as there was no concrete scenario on either side of “Remain” or “Leave” (though the former was more of a devil-you-know).

What we embarked on over these past two years was an extensive fact-finding mission and negotiation, cutting through the bluster by politicians and industry to see what terms would actually come to pass, how thorough the changes to the UK government would need to be, and how life might actually be affected for the broad array of communities in this country. And now that we have more information on the potential outcomes and how they might affect us, it’s possible to make a more informed decision.

That fact finding should have occurred before such a monumentous decision was submitted to a referendum, but the failed gambit of a past government shouldn’t prevent us from making a more informed decision as a body politic now.

112

Jim Buck 12.31.18 at 5:12 pm

@107. ‘ Why My Christmas Dinner Table Conversation With A Couple Of Racist Affluent Northerners Means We Must Support My Politics.’

Not at all, I offered the vignettes for your disabusement only.

113

chris s 12.31.18 at 6:07 pm

“On the implications for democracy, I don’t see why a referendum should be seen much differently than an election. “

Largely because of the wording on the ballot, which for a number of people who were voting for the first time or voting after a long hiatus took on the status of a absolute promise.

114

nastywoman 12.31.18 at 6:11 pm

@110
thank you for your politeness and kind words – and sometimes I have no idea either of the meaning I’m trying to convey – and in what language? –

But with the comment about your comment:
”with Brexit one of the most spectacular win for the less educated camp in terms of political preference” – it was just questioning if it wasn’t the most spectacular defeat for the less educated camp in terms of political preference”? -(one of these Pyrrhus-thingy’s – right after the so called ”win” of a complete moron in the US)

And I’m really and honestly sorry that you and your family have to endure the so called ”win” of the so called ”more educated camp” in France.

And – seriously – bonne année!

115

Jim Harrison 12.31.18 at 6:43 pm

With or without Brexit, you can say goodbye to radical redistribution. What would make anybody believe it’s in the cards absent some sort of calamity that would even the playing field by destroying wealth on a planetary scale as happened in the wars of the first half of the 20th Century?

116

engels 12.31.18 at 6:51 pm

Thanks, and consider me disabused of my romantic illusions that all angry blokes with regional accents (a) are working class and (b) share my politics.

117

Dipper 12.31.18 at 7:19 pm

So much frankly jaw-dropping stuff on here from people who should know better. One of the revelations of Brexit has been the number of people who, when push comes to shove, feel they are entitled to overturn democracy to get their way.

Firstly, as soon as the referendum was called (and passed 6:1) there were roughly speaking three outcomes possible: Vote to Remain, in which case we have called our own bluff and now have no reasonable means of stopping the slide to Federalism, Vote to Leave and negotiate an exit deal with the EU on the way out, which as we have seen is basically remaining without a vote, or else walking away and negotiating a FTA from outside. So, No deal is implicit in the vote. If we can’t do No Deal, then just don’t have a referendum.

Secondly, the horrors of No Deal. We are told that No Deal would be so dreadful people will die, and so we cannot contemplate it. Now, pretty much the #1 responsibility of any government is the security and independence of the nation. And here we are with a government that triggered Article 50 with a two-year time limit, gets to the end of that time limit, and publicly announces that because it has failed to make the necessary preparations we have no choice but to accept foreign rule. Quite simply it is hard to imagine a worse performance. This is surely the most shameful achievement in history. Far worse than Suez.

I should also point out in passing that the flow of critical medicines is two way, so if without a deal people will die in the UK, they will also die on the continent. Yet I don’t see any EU representatives saying we must give the UIK whatever they want or people will die. Somehow in the hands of the UK Remain establishment every two-way interdependence is a weakness for us only which means we must submit. It has been a masterclass in how not to negotiate.

Thirdly, Laws. Having told us during the campaign that the claim by Leave that the EU makes lots of our law was rubbish, we are now told we should Remain in the EU because the EU makes lots of our Laws. Apparently, the EU makes better laws then the UK does. the British people should be denied the right to elect their own lawmakers because they would choose the wrong ones.

Fourthly a “people’s vote”. We were promised that this was a once in a generation vote, and that whatever the country voted would be enacted. A “people’s vote” is a break of this promise. A second vote represents a clear moral hazard to so screw up the negotiations so that the original vote can be forcibly overturned. If there is a second vote now, No one will ever take any referendum again seriously.

Fifthly, the Irish Troubles. Both sides have said they will not increase border checks. Varadkar himself said at the point of leaving the regulations are the same and so there need be no initial concerns, but love time as the EU and the UK regulate there will be divergence. If only there were some arrangements that could be put in place to enable bi-partisan discussions to take place that allow such matters to be managed. And there is – The Good Friday Agreement. Threats of terrorism if people don’t get what they want should have no place in democracies. The GFA appears to have made bombings and assassinations legitimate political activity in some people’s minds the great of which can be used to overturn votes. Frankly this is a disgrace.

Sixthly, “reaching out to Remainers”. From 24th June a large portion of the political establishment made overturning the vote the primary aim. They even have been negotiating directly with the EU to achieve this against the interests of the elected government. I’m not sure that reaching out is the appropriate response here.

And all you overseas folks chipping in. Do you have protestors in your capitals waving flags of foreign nations demanding they make your laws? Do you expect, when you sign Free trade Agreements, that you will pay to allow other nations to export their goods to you? That other nations will demand the right for all their citizens to settle in your country? That their courts should overrule yours? That you should ultimately accept their currency and allow your armed forces to be subsumed in their armed forces? No, so why do you think it reasonable I should accept that?

You lot don’t own democracy. It isn’t your personal play thing to be tweaked and twisted until you get the results you want. You may be convincing each other that you are right, but you aren’t convincing any Leavers.

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engels 12.31.18 at 8:16 pm

*Comcerned liberal voice* Adieu Britsh democracy—the glory days of near-50% turnouts for meaningless choices between left/right parties of neoliberal careerists with minuscule memberships are forever behind us

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engels 12.31.18 at 8:50 pm

I’d also like to virtually raise my eyebrows at the suggestion that the Danny Boyle circus show, lavishly funded with public bread which Tory/LibDem austerity cuts had already been taking out of the poor’s mouths for two years, was really symbolic of anything more than phoney middle-class self-congratulation: nationalism with a bobo face.

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J-D 12.31.18 at 8:55 pm

sentinel wrote

I think HMG will revoke the Art 50 notification

Hidari wrote

In any case, the cancellation (either de facto or de jure) of Brexit is a real possibility now, in a way it just wasn’t a few months ago.

John Quiggin wrote

It seems to me that the most likely outcome is a last-minute revocation of Article 50, when it’s too late for anything else.

Who thinks that a majority can be found in the Commons for revoking the notice of withdrawal? (and why do you think so?)

Who thinks that no majority can be found in the Commons for revocation? (and why do you think so?)

Both propositions seem unlikely to me, and yet one of them must be true. I don’t know what to think.

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J-D 12.31.18 at 9:17 pm

Dipper

@ J-D “but it reads to me very much as if you are asking: ‘If voters can’t stop increases in immigration, what’s the point of voting?’ “

No. The issue is that voters never had the chance to stop it.

I’m not clear on what the difference is supposed to be between ‘voters couldn’t stop it’ and ‘voters never had the chance to stop it’, but in any case it seems to me that the two responses I gave still apply, as follows: even if there are some things that voters never had the chance to stop, there may still be other things that voters do have the chance to stop; and there’s no reason to think that leaving the EU will give UK voters more chances to stop things, because the problem you indicate of things happening without voters having the chance to stop them is a global complaint, not an EU-specific one.

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Scott P. 12.31.18 at 9:33 pm

This to me makes as much sense as wondering how Oklahoma can regain control of its future.

The last 250 years of European history has shown that the fate of the small-medium European nation-state is to be bombed, invaded, annexed or rendered an economic satellite by its larger neighbors, sometimes all four in succession. Ironically, in view of the stated opinion, it’s precisely the existence of the EU that makes the continuing existence of countries like Luxembourg or Lithuania possible. Without it, they’d last about 10 seconds. Hang together, or you assuredly will hang separately, as the UK is about to demonstrate.

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J-D 12.31.18 at 10:11 pm

engels

Surprise: there are a lot of really angry working-class people who never turned out for tepid Blairite triangulation but will for socialism.

I am generally suspicious of assertions which seem like approximate equivalents of ‘if only politicians would advance the policy proposals that I favour, lots of people would vote for them’. I have always felt that very few people would vote for the kind of policy proposals that I would favour.

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J-D 12.31.18 at 11:24 pm

Z, would you consider it a violation of the norms of politeness to adopt my policy of not reading comments posted by nastywoman?

If we don’t know what the comments mean, we miss nothing by not reading them.

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Annie 01.01.19 at 12:18 am

How do you get ” the top 10% of the housing stock to fall in value” without crashing other sectors of the housing market, and/or the economy in general?

I’m no expert on any of this, but in my area (San Francisco Bay Area) one effect of the Great American Recession was that real estate speculators bought up a lot of foreclosed homes (condos as well as houses), held them til the market revived, and then sold them at high prices. There was nothing redistributive about it.

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John Quiggin 01.01.19 at 6:23 am

“We were promised [by David Cameron] that this was a once in a generation vote, and that whatever the country voted would be enacted.” Cameron lost and scarpered. May tried to deliver what he promised, and failed.

Their promises aren’t binding on anyone except their followers, any more than Corbyn could make a commitment to socialism binding on the Tories if he won the next election and pronounced the magic words “once in a generation”.

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J-D 01.01.19 at 6:46 am

Dipper

Firstly, ‘what is a possible outcome?’ and ‘what is a preferable outcome?’ are two different questions. People can disagree with you about whether leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement is a preferable outcome without denying that it is a possible outcome.

Secondly, as far as I can tell the majority of the people who disagree with you about the preferable outcome agree that the Conservative Government has made a terrible mess of handling this issue over the last two years. If you tell Chris Bertram, for example, that (in your words) ‘it is hard to imagine a worse performance’ and that it was ‘a masterclass in how not to negotiate’, I suspect you will find him in furious agreement.

And all you overseas folks chipping in. Do you have protestors in your capitals waving flags of foreign nations demanding they make your laws? Do you expect, when you sign Free trade Agreements, that you will pay to allow other nations to export their goods to you? That other nations will demand the right for all their citizens to settle in your country?

There’s no particular reason why you should ever have heard of this, which is why I’m drawing it to your attention:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Tasman_Travel_Arrangement

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nastywoman 01.01.19 at 6:58 am

@
”If we don’t know what the comments mean, we miss nothing by not reading them”.

How true – said the Archaeologist who encountered Egyptian hieroglyphs – and at an Archaeological Film Festival I once had the duty to explain what ”Archaeology” is – and with my obsession for British humor I picked the Monty Python Sketch about ”Archeology today”

So could I please politely ask all of you -(with the exception of J-D – as he doesn’t read my comments) – to watch the clip?!

It might be ”essential” in order to understand what ”Brexit” really means – and everybody involved!

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engels 01.01.19 at 8:50 am

I am generally suspicious of assertions which seem like approximate equivalents of ‘if only politicians would advance the policy proposals that I favour, lots of people would vote for them’.

This is a fascinating insight into your psychology but I was referring to the 2017 election, not making a prediction.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-election-result-vote-share-increased-1945-clement-attlee-a7781706.html

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nastywoman 01.01.19 at 9:01 am

And NOW!!! –
as we all have seen the clip ”Archaeology Today” –
-(and thusly had a great start into the New Year) –
Let’s quickly decipher what it ALL means – and I understand that there is a lot of ”pivoting” in the clip – so it’s not ”that” easy to decipher what it ALL meansBUT!! – for sure – we ALL have noticed the awesome and terrific ”philosophical” FINALE? –

(original script)
”Dipper and Faust and Gretchen charge each other.
They fight in amongst the trestle tables with rare pots on them breaking and smashing them. When the fight ends everyone lies dead in a pile of broken pottery. The interviewer (J-D?) crawls up to camera and produces a microphone from his pocket. He is covered in blood and in his final death throes.)

Interviewer: And there we end this edition of ‘Brexit Today’. Next week, the Beatles with ”Back to the ususEU”! by Teresa Corbyn without Jeremy May and how to talk about his shoes without being sexist!

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J-D 01.01.19 at 10:22 am

engels

In an earlier comment you wrote

Surprise: there are a lot of really angry working-class people who never turned out for tepid Blairite triangulation but will for socialism.

In 1997, 13.5m people voted for Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair. In 2017, 12.9m people voted for Labour under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Given only that information, it is mathematically possible that all of the people who voted Labour in 2017 were people who did not vote Labour in 1997; it is mathematically possible that all of the people who voted Labour in 2017 were people who did vote Labour in 1997; or it could be anywhere in-between. In the article from the Independent which you linked to there is nothing to narrow it down any further. We don’t know how many of the people who voted for Labour in 2017 are people who would not have voted for Labour under Blair (and we also don’t know how many of those people are working class, or angry, or both).

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novakant 01.01.19 at 11:05 am

“Labour’s Refusal to Opppose Brexit is Becoming a Historic Error”

The attitude of Corbyn loyalists is that Remainers have nowhere else to go besides Labour. If Labour enable Brexit, this will have no noticeable impact on how Remainers vote in any general election. They dismiss a poll that suggests Labour could lose a large number of votes by attacking the poll: it was funded by the People’s Vote campaign, and “who believes polls?”
(…)
I would agree that one poll tells you little about any future general election, but what it does reveal is the intensity of feeling over the Brexit issue. I think many among the Labour leadership and Corbyn loyalists fail to understand this. They prefer instead to misplace Remainers as the centrist enemy, and see attacks on Corbyn over Brexit as just one more means by which the centre and right of Labour attack Labour. This is a serious mistake.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/12/labour-s-refusal-oppose-brexit-becoming-historic-error

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casmilus 01.01.19 at 11:25 am

I think the people who are going to get the nasty surprise will be the comfortable Leadsom-supporting Tories living near Theresa May’s constituency, who think everything would have been fine if their preferred candidate had won in 2016. They think a “short-term hit” is fine because it will jolly well shake the country and shift the layabouts and deadwood. It will… but it’ll people like them suddenly surprised by the contracts and “consultancy” jobs vanishing, the big companies pulling out and moving to the continent. The miserable Northern housing estates won’t notice things being any worse than they already are, but the Daily Telegraph will be filling up with heartbreaking human interest stories about how school fees are unaffordable nowadays.

Let them have it.

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steven t johnson 01.01.19 at 12:01 pm

The two poles of the argument seem to be expressed by Chris Bertram’s belief that the EU permits an industrial policy in the UK although it doesn’t in Greece, and therefore the EU is the path to a just capitalist democracy, vs. Dipper’s belief that the EU tyrannizes over the “British” people even while complaining the elites are satisfied with the EU thumb on the scale in their favor. Is this really anti-racism vs. racism, or is it big business democracy versus small business democracy?

Historically, whenever large numbers of people are actively engaged in politics, they support what were once acknowledged to be left goals and policies. Reactionary and moderate conservative policies usually fare quite poorly at these times. This is notoriously true of revolutions, which is why conservatives would like to redefine “left” to exclude revolution as tyranny.

My judgment it is the disconcerting appetites of the majority that are so offensive. Indeed majority rule aiming at the left is generally regarded as the essence of tyranny. This is why the Venezuelan governments that kept winning elections were customarily regarded as dictatorships. So-called ordinary times, when the ruling class has the terms of permissible discussion well in hand, is tacitly assumed to express the true will of the people. And it is with great satisfaction the conservative can declare that the leftist is simply making shit up out of their library, like libertarians, rather than taking a lesson from history.

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Hidari 01.01.19 at 1:33 pm

@132
That article in the New Statesman is ok, as far as it goes, but it labours (sic) under the misapprehension that Labour could stop Brexit (this is stated above using the ambiguous phrase of Labour ‘enabling Brexit’ whatever that means) but for some mysterious reason are choosing not to do so.

It’s not so. Labour can NOT stop Brexit. Ipso facto, they cannot enable it either. As I pointed out above, the numbers are simply not there. There are no ‘moderate Tories’. There was no (at the last election, which is the only time it might have mattered) a LibDem ‘surge’. Nor was there a ‘surge’ in the other Remainer parties. The only conceivable way that Labour could stop Brexit would be if there was a general election between now and March, but every day that passes, that seems less and less likely.

Ergo, we move towards March. Now, whatever deal the Tories put on the table, Labour will vote against it (as has been pointed out, Keir Starmer’s ‘6 tests’ are openly modeled on Gordon Brown’s ‘5 tests’ to decide on whether or not the UK joined the Euro: criteria which were ‘covertly’ written so they could never be met). Labour will obviously do all in their power to prevent ‘No Deal’. If No Deal goes through (highly unlikely) Britain will collapse and the Tories will be out of power for a generation: a point that is sometimes missed.

Will Labour’s vote be enough? Who knows: it’s all to do with the Tories. This was their game, their project, their referendum (which they lost) it’s the Tories who have been in the driving set 100 percent of the time. The right-wing press and their enablers in the ‘liberal’ media (the Guardian etc.) have been desperate to try and blame Corbyn for this clusterfuck. But it is simply not true.

In any case, No Deal will not happen*, May’s Deal will (probably) not happen, and there’s not enough time to renegotiate. So the likelihood is, as I said above, that Brexit will be postponed, possibly for a loooooooong period of time.

So to ask Corbyn to make a principled moral stand (or whatever) on Brexit is to ask him to make a stand on something he has no control over and which probably won’t happen. (or at least probably won’t happen in March).

Me and Faustnotes have been continually making this point on this thread, and some people who posit themselves as being ‘liberal’ are willfully not understanding it. At what point are we allowed to question their real motives?

*Don’t be fooled by Tories and their enablers in the ‘liberal’ media bigging up the possibility of No Deal. May has a vested interest in stating that it’s much more likely than it in fact is, to scare MPs into voting for her own worthless deal.

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Barry 01.01.19 at 1:58 pm

Dipper: “…feel they are entitled to overturn democracy to get their way.”

There was a right-wing saying about getting rid of apartheid in South Africa: ‘one man, one vote, once’. Like all right-wing sayings, it’s pure projection.

Dipper, you got a vote, and want that to bind forever, also overriding all previous votes on entering the EU, which are for some reason non-binding. If you had lost that referendum, there’s 0% chance that you would have just accepted it.

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Lee A. Arnold 01.01.19 at 3:04 pm

I fear that Brexit may be a step in the wrong direction. It is downsizing, but the way into the future is to accelerate increasing returns, in order to produce goods and services to satiety for everyone (i.e. no longer subject to scarcity), thus to create enough surplus for public goods and other fiscal eases. One way to do that is by increasing the gains from specialization-and-trade, by greater globalization. That still leaves us with the problems of economic and social distress in localities and nations, but these should be handled in another way. The way to reassert local control and to support those workers disemployed by trade is to promote public sector monopsonies in specific goods and services in order to create the increasing returns of the myriad of positive externalities that are non-monetized and hardly calculable, e.g. goods and services such as healthcare, education, old-age provisions, etc. which improve the standard of living in countless ways. Basically create focused public corporations with Ostrom-style, very simple rule sets, and which still preserve individual initiative in cost-saving by being private on the provider-side. In other words, treat capitalism as so successful in cost-saving that it has begun to mandate the slow elimination of labor costs globally, and we should all welcome that and deal with it by public monopsonies that make up the shortfalls to labor locally. Taxation to pay for this should come out of international trade and be mandated by new policy for all who are subject to multilateral trade agreements. (E.g. the EU should become realistic about the need for a supra-fiscal policy.) Brexit & Trump-style nationalism etc. are all retrenchments to less increasing returns, and there is going to be a crunch, and the crunch in some goods, and for some people, may be profound, but without local fiscal ability to make up the shortfalls without eventually devaluing the home currency. Essentially it will be a return to the enslavements of international finance at the local level but without the people having an opposing voice in multilateral agreements with the forward momentum to change the whole understanding. At the same time, the developing countries must continue to emerge in trade to compete everybody else down to the same low wages, phony shortages, financial crises and unemployment episodes as before, and as always. So, over the long term: less redistribution, more hatred and wars.

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engels 01.01.19 at 4:13 pm

J-D, targeting the relatively happy and comfortable swing voter is not ‘how politics works’ in 2019. If you seriously think it is maybe you should try to present a positive case rather than redundantly observing that a brief Independent article doesn’t prove mine. And let us know which mountain top you’ve been inhabiting for the last half-decade.

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Neville Morley 01.01.19 at 4:21 pm

I’m professionally obliged to say this, but I would sincerely recommend reading Thucydides’ account of the ‘civil war’ in Corcyra, 3.82-3. Part of his genius was writing scenes and narratives that are simultaneously specific to their historical context (which is one reason why Graham Allison’s idea of ‘The Thucydides Trap’ as a means of understanding US-China relations is largely twaddle) and yet at the same time invite comparison with the present; he is ‘good to think with’, as the cliché has it, exactly as the US Naval War College in the 1970s used his work to talk about what went wrong in Vietnam without ever mentioning Vietnam. The above discussion has tended on the whole to reinforce my feeling that we haven’t a hope of understanding Brexit, or the wider context, so long as we keep talking about Brexit.

What Thucydides offers is a portrait of a society in which any sort of consensus has collapsed (and he hints at a range of reasons why, both internal and external, both long- and short-term); politics becomes ever more factionalised, shared values and culture are replaced by partisanship, the ‘sensible centrists’ are the first to get squashed because they fail to understand that reason is no longer playing a significant role, and moderation becomes a form of cowardice. Thucydides implies questions rather than offering answers: how does one restore any sort of consensus, except by one faction triumphing over the other? Is the best model we can hope for Athens, which eventually restored democracy only after a series of terrible decisions and military disasters and a couple of oligarchic coups? How can we even talk about political issues when each of our perspectives is intimately bound up with our partisan positions – unless we adopt the external position of the elitist technocrat, who is incapable of effective action within what’s left of the democratic institutions?

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engels 01.01.19 at 4:26 pm

PS. I can’t help thinking there’s a better target for your pedantry today as the statement of mine you’ve fixated on is so weak as be almost irrefutable.

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engels 01.01.19 at 4:32 pm

There is no universal right answer to the question “are EU state aid & competition rules problematic?” This is because the answer depends on your political standpoint. Broadly: EU state aid & competition rules are accommodating of social democracy, but not democratic socialism
https://mobile.twitter.com/L__Macfarlane/status/1078359247816179712?p=v

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engels 01.01.19 at 5:24 pm

Ah yes our golden age of compromise, moderation and reason, when eg a million of us marched against initiating a war on the other side of the planet which would murder millions and were ignored by both parties in parliament…

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RobinM 01.01.19 at 6:40 pm

I want to put forward the possibly untimely thought, that those of us who value democracy should actually be welcoming the vigorous discussion now, as evidenced here, going on in Britain respecting Brexit and that we should simultaneously be dismayed that—am I wrong?—no remotely similar debate is going on in the rest of the EU.

In his essay on “fugitive democracy” Sheldon Wolin puts forward a couple of propositions:
(1) “the political [is] an expression of the idea that a free society composed of diversities can nonetheless enjoy moments of commonality when, through public deliberations, collective power is used to promote or protect the well-being of the collectivity,”
(2) “democracy is a project concerned with the political potentialities of ordinary citizens, that is with their possibilities of becoming political beings through the self-discovery of common concerns and of modes of action for realizing them.”

I take these to be somewhat in line with Peter Mair’s assertion that “Political opposition gives voice. By losing opposition, we lose voice, and by losing voice we lose control of our political systems. It is not at all clear how that control might be regained, either in Europe or at home, or how we might eventually restore meaning to that great milestone on the road to building democratic institutions.”

I’d note, in passing, that Wolin’s propositions suggest that, as I think some have done here, to predicate democracy upon common feeling is to put the cart before the horse. But to continue:

Perhaps I’m just being fanciful, but it does appear to me that, just as in the debate over the Scottish independence referendum a few years back, now around Brexit a great many more people than usual have become involved in political debate and are learning an awful lot about collective responsibility. It would seem, in other words, that democracy has come alive again in Britain, that people are in the process of trying to discover “common concerns and of modes of action for realizing them.” What has become mere political routine evidently will not serve at this juncture, though I do realize that the dead hand of routine is still in a position to set tight limits on the debate’s consequentiality.

I won’t say more on the failure of a significant debate over Brexit—which would surely also have to be a debate over what sort of EU people wanted—to emerge in any significant fashion elsewhere among the EU countries, other than to ask whether that doesn’t point up that democracy within the EU is absent or gone missing (if it can reasonably be maintained that it ever existed) at a critical moment for that organization.

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J-D 01.01.19 at 7:52 pm

engels

J-D, targeting the relatively happy and comfortable swing voter is not ‘how politics works’ in 2019. If you seriously think it is …

Why is it so important to you to insist on telling lies about me?

… redundantly observing that a brief Independent article doesn’t prove mine.

Is it redundant to suggest that you are making up a story out of thin air with nothing to support it?

And let us know which mountain top you’ve been inhabiting for the last half-decade.

I’m on the other side of the world. I’ve mentioned this before.

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Stephen 01.01.19 at 8:52 pm

Scott P@122: “it’s precisely the existence of the EU that makes the continuing existence of countries like Luxembourg or Lithuania possible. Without it, they’d last about 10 seconds.”

Actually, the present State of Luxembourg dates from 1839, when the French-speaking parts seceded from the previous Duchy to join Belgium.by the Treaty of London, 1867, France and Prussia agreed to guarantee Luxembourg’s neutrality. Germany set that aside and invaded in 1914 and 1940, but was later expelled. Luxembourg joined the European Union when it was founded, in 1993. Previous EU-independent existence rather longer than 10 seconds, I think: possible threats to current existence, surely not Germany again or France? But if not those, who is threatening Luxembourg?

Lithuania was independent without the assistance of the EU from 1918 to i940, after which it was invaded by the USSR, then Germany, then the USSR again. It declared independence again in 1990, and remained free with no EU assistance through a Soviet economic blockade and attempted coup. It did not join the EU till 2004, and its current strong position might be thought due to having a little earlier joined NATO, which has effective armed forces to oppose the obvious threat, though the EU does not.

There are some good things to be said about the EU. Fact-free rants don’t reinforce them.

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RobinM 01.01.19 at 9:01 pm

Shouldn’t it be noted, by the way, that the portrait Thucydides offered not only may have implied questions but that he held certain things to be true of certain sorts of people as well of human nature in general? His conclusions respecting Corcyra—at 3.84—shouldn’t go unremarked:

“Meanwhile Corcyra gave the first example of most of the crimes alluded to; of the reprisals exacted by the governed who had never experienced equitable treatment or indeed anything but insolence from their rulers—when their hour came; of the iniquitous resolves of those who desired to get rid of their accustomed poverty and ardently coveted their neighbour’s goods; and lastly, of the savage and pitiless excesses into which men who had begun the struggle not in a class but in a party spirit, were hurried by their ungovernable passions. In the confusion into which life was now thrown in the cities, human nature, always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed itself ungoverned in passion, above respect for justice, and the enemy of all superiority . . . (Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides, p. 201).

Previously, there were “shared values and culture”? Really? The superiority of those who govern is simply a truth universally accepted? And what were the sensible centrists up to while so many others in their polity were experiencing inequitable treatment, elite insolence, and poverty?

But more to my point: must Thucydides assumptions about ‘the governed’ and about human nature simply be allowed, unchallenged, to guide our thinking today?

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Collin Street 01.01.19 at 9:03 pm

J-D, targeting the relatively happy and comfortable swing voter is not ‘how politics works’ in 2019.

It does if your turnout is high enough. Compulsory voting probably adds at least 1% average annual growth to australian GDP growth over the long term, by significantly reducing the amount of time the country is run by the lunatic right.

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Dipper 01.01.19 at 10:08 pm

Firstly, Robert Tombs gets how many Leavers view the UK so if you have the time and the inclination …

… and @Barry “Dipper, you got a vote, and want that to bind forever, also overriding all previous votes on entering the EU, which are for some reason non-binding…”

I got a vote. I’d like it to be implemented as promised. At some future date, we may wish to re-enter the EU, and obviously that would entail another vote, but that debate and negotiation needs to happen after the original promise to implement the 2016 vote has been fulfilled.

“… If you had lost that referendum, there’s 0% chance that you would have just accepted it”

well, it would have been a different debate about the UK in Europe. Remainers seem to be split between those who want to be in the EU because they support its objective of ever closer union and want to work with other nations to achieve it, and those who want to be in the EU because they don’t support ever closer union and want to use the veto to stop other nations achieving it. So there would have been a lot of pointing out the differences of opinion, and a lot about calling on the government to implement the promises they made about what the UK could achieve within the EU, and a lot about how individuals and communities can get their voices heard and get fair treatment in the EU. But I think many would have accepted the vote.

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Brian 01.01.19 at 10:45 pm

I’m very sympathetic to the idea that high levels of migration have made certain communities *much* poorer. Conventional economic analysis says certain jobs have either seen a small amount of wage reduction or worse caused wage stagnation. Not so bad! But what this analysis misses is the impact on social capital of no longer knowing your community. Want an informal loan for a medical bill? There’s no whip-around anymore. Take your chances with Wonga instead. You feel lonely because all your mates live miles away. Toughen up buttercup: catch the bus. I hate this reality. I’m pro-EU. But I see no recognition of the fact that all some communities have is social capital, and endless inward migration threatens this.

That said, I agree with the premise of the blog post. Young people will abandon the social contract when Brexit has flipped the bird to the quid pro quo. Those communities fucked by immigration will be further fucked by the end of the redistributive welfare state. It’s heads they lose, tails Rees Mogg wins. The cvnt.

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Neal 01.01.19 at 10:56 pm

This site is a gem isn’t it?

I stumbled across a post from 2016 which was arguing that it was fine to call people that voted for Brexit racists on the basis that they either knew (and didn’t care) – or didn’t know (and didn’t care enough to find out) – that their actions would result in taking away the rights of EU national living within our communities.

It never occurred to the OP that it doesn’t (and never did) follow that their rights could not (and would not) be secured in other ways. And, of course, that is exactly what has happened. EU nationals that are not UK citizens will be able to apply for settled status provided they are resident in the UK prior to the end of the transition period.

Based on the fact that literally nobody’s rights have been taken away from then, I had assumed that the OP would have updated his position. But, apparently not:

“What do I care if some elderly xenophobe can’t find a nurse or a doctor because too few EU nationals have stayed to look after the people who voted to take their rights away?”

151

faustusnotes 01.02.19 at 6:11 am

One point here where I disagree with hidari is I don’t think that Brexit will be delayed or cancelled by the Tories, because the Brexit “leader”ship (BoJo, moggy, etc) are hellbent on a no deal brexit. They want Britain out of the EU before the new tax evasion and money laundering rules are introduced, and are happy to burn it all down to avoid being caught by those rules. So I think they will turn up the pressure in the next few months to make sure the worst outcome happens. These are nasty, treacherous people!

152

Neville Morley 01.02.19 at 7:49 am

@RobinM #146: I don’t for a moment suggest that we accept Thucydides’ assumptions without question; the fact that he saw the world differently from us is precisely one of the things worth talking about, just as with any major political thinker from the past – it’s a problem if one is looking for infallible principles, not if one is looking for food for thought. Is there *no* truth in his comments on the attitude of the ‘governed’, once you take into account his aristocratic perspective?

Pedantic classicist’s note is that the Richard Crawley translation on which the Strassler edition is based is notoriously loose, so room for serious debate as to whether this is what Thucydides actually wrote or meant. It’s unfortunate, given that it’s so popular.

153

Chris Bertram 01.02.19 at 7:52 am

@Neal And, of course, that is exactly what has happened. EU nationals that are not UK citizens will be able to apply for settled status provided they are resident in the UK prior to the end of the transition period. Based on the fact that literally nobody’s rights have been taken away from then, I had assumed that the OP would have updated his position. But, apparently not:

1. You obviously haven’t bothered to familiarize yourself with the settled status scheme. Even now many EU residents are finding their applications refused on grounds of insufficient information. Their rights to live with family members in the future are curtailed compared to the present. They are more vulnerable to restrictions based on criminal checks. Applying for the settled status costs money, which may be a problem for people with large families from some communities. (I could go on)

2. People who are cross-border commuters, both British people in EU countries (like my own sister) and EU residents living in EU countries but working in the UK face a period that is at best uncertain and may end up with them losing their jobs because the right to live in one country but work in another will disappear.

3. All UK citizens who do not have access to an EU passport lose their rights under freedom of movement to live and work in the UK.

I could have made a much longer list. But perhaps you’d like the withdraw the claim that “literally nobody’s rights have been taken away from them”. Alternatively, you are just an ignorant troll.

154

Chris Bertram 01.02.19 at 7:54 am

@Brian “Want an informal loan for a medical bill? There’s no whip-around anymore.” I assume the IP address you’re posting from represents your actual location rather than a VPN. We don’t usually have whip-rounds for medical bills in the UK, because we have socialized medicine.

155

Neal 01.02.19 at 8:27 am

Ys, Chrs, prptrtrs f srs crms my nt b sccssfl n thr pplctn fr sttld stts. S tchnclly thy my hv thr rghts tkn wy frm thm. lthgh th schm hsn’t ctlly prprly pnd yt, s stnd by my pnt tht nbdy’s rghts hv bn tkn wy frm thm.

s fr th rqrmnt fr ppl t b bl t prvd prf f thr dntty (nd ths ntnlty), r y sggstng tht smn wh ws nt bl t stblsh tht thy r n ntnl wld b llwd t sty nw? pssprt s rqrd nly fr th plt phs f th sttlmnt schm. thr frms f dntfctn wll b prmttd nc th schm frmlly pns n Mrch.

156

Chris Bertram 01.02.19 at 8:36 am

@Neal Zero tolerance for bullshitters. Please don’t come back.

157

Hidari 01.02.19 at 8:39 am

@151 ‘One point here where I disagree with hidari is I don’t think that Brexit will be delayed or cancelled by the Tories, because the Brexit “leader”ship (BoJo, moggy, etc) are hellbent on a no deal brexit. ‘

Oh I don’t deny for a second that Bojo and the rest want No Deal…or at least are prepared to tolerate it.

But, again, it’s the same situation with Corbyn….ultimately it’s a numbers game. I”m just not convinced that the Tory ‘hardliners’ have the numbers to push it through. Although I’m sure they’ll try.

Here’s a good article on why ‘No Deal’ (probably) won’t happen.

‘The biggest clamour for a no-deal Brexit is coming from the hard Brexiters led by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. They have the microphone, when it comes to media exposure, but they do not have the numbers. Despite a disproportionately large media profile, the core hard Brexiters in the Conservative Party number just 50 MPS. Every time UK Prime Minister Theresa May has pushed them, they have backed down.’

Don’t be fooled by Boris Johnson’s tough guy act. Like Gove he’s a serial liar and a serial quitter. When the going gets tough, BoJo invariably runs away. Rees-Mogg has no serious following in the country: and at the moment he is too extreme even for the DUP aligned Tory Party. So the ‘hardcore’ leavers have no leader, and are, in any case, too small to really influence events.

So either May will somehow be able to cobble together some new deal, which satisfies everyone (unlikely, and remember time is running out) or some kind of postponement seems inevitable.

As usual, don’t pay attention to the worthless mewlings in the media: everyone has a vested interest in pretending that ‘No Deal’ is much more likely than it, in fact, is.

https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/richard-curran-10-reasons-why-a-nodeal-brexit-wont-happen-37334383.html

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faustusnotes 01.02.19 at 8:45 am

This is just weird:

Not so bad! But what this analysis misses is the impact on social capital of no longer knowing your community. Want an informal loan for a medical bill? There’s no whip-around anymore.

How is it that immigration stops you knowing your community? I am an immigrant and I know the dude who lives downstairs from me, even though I’m not a particularly fluent speaker of the local language. When I worked in the UK I knew my neighbours, they invited me over for tea. If you don’t know your neighbours in a highly mixed community I would suggest it’s because you don’t care to know them, not because the fact they’re foreign stops it happening.

Also in cities people often don’t know their neighbours, even in societies with very little migration. Community-mindedness is famously strong in Japan but even here young people living in rental blocks don’t have the same sense of neighbourhood as e.g. elderly people in established rural communities. This has nothing to do with migration, though it might have a lot to do with internal migration – something very common in London.

I wonder when people make these comments what they’re really saying about their own attitude to migration. If you don’t know your neighbours, maybe the problem is you? And if it’s a fact that the neighbours you don’t know are only the dark-skinned or foreign-looking ones, maybe there’s some self-reflection you could do about why?

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faustusnotes 01.02.19 at 8:46 am

BoJo has a tough guy act? I must have missed that …

160

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 9:52 am

@143
”I want to put forward the possibly untimely thought, that those of us who value democracy should actually be welcoming the vigorous discussion now, as evidenced here, going on in Britain respecting Brexit and that we should simultaneously be dismayed that—am I wrong?—no remotely similar debate is going on in the rest of the EU”.

Similar debates” in the rest of the EU” -(and currently not only in Spain and Italy) are ”going on” to a dimension that even some commenters here (like Hidari) have the illusion that the EU will fall apart.

And – as mentioned before –
For anybody who ever lived in Italy -(or Greece)- this type of… let’s call it for a change:
”Democratic Improvisation” –
Is so widely known in the EU – and most ”Continental” Europeans are sooo familiar with it -(and NOT only in Catalonia) that –
indeed –

You are ”wrong”!

-(and – ”a contraire” to all the ”Democratic Improvisation” – or actually BE-cause of it? the love for the EU get’s stronger every day – even in Great Britain!)

161

Morzer 01.02.19 at 10:31 am

@engels

“Surprise: there are a lot of really angry working-class people who never turned out for tepid Blairite triangulation but will for socialism”

Factually false: Corbyn’s Labour is more of a middle-class party than Blair’s Labour and the Tories actually took working class votes off Labour during Theresa May’s attempt to commit electoral suicide in 2017.

162

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 10:35 am

And whoever came up with this silly narrative of an ”Undemocratic EU”? –
-(a bunch of ”right-wing idiots” – calling themselves ”Populists” and trying to pull some ”Von Clownstick Covfefe”?) –
should HAVE to visit right away Brusssels or Strasbourg and watch ”Democracy in UTMOST process”.

163

novakant 01.02.19 at 10:37 am

Of course the opposition doesn’t have the numbers to ensure that their policy preferences can be implemented – otherwise they would likely not be the opposition but form the government. But you’re saying the opposition shouldn’t oppose government policy because it’s futile or tactically inconvenient, never mind that the actual policy is disastrous – that’s a strange view of democratic politics.

And yes, Brexit is Tory government policy as has been repeatedly noted, not Labour policy. And Labour should oppose it wholeheartedly as a huge majority of its members (and supporters) are against it:

72% of Labour members back a second referendum
88% of Labour members would vote to remain

73% of Labour supporters think Brexit was a mistake
89% of Labour members think Brexit was a mistake

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/02/most-labour-members-believe-corbyn-should-back-second-brexit-vote

So not only are you saying that the opposition should not take a stand and just wait for better times, you’re also saying that the Labour leadership should ignore the overwhelming majority of its members and supporters. This is not how a democratic party should be run.

Furthermore it is becoming increasingly clear to even the most naive and sympathetic observers that the Labour leadership is in favour of Brexit, as they feel it gives them a shot at establishing “democratic socialism” – and they’re trying everything they can to hoodwink their members, but it’s not going to work and will instead ruin the party.

164

engels 01.02.19 at 11:09 am

maybe you should try to present a positive case

That’s a ‘no’ then…

165

engels 01.02.19 at 11:30 am

”a contraire” to all the ”Democratic Improvisation” – or actually BE-cause of it? the love for the EU get’s stronger every day – even in Great Britain!…And whoever came up with this silly narrative of an ”Undemocratic EU”…should HAVE to visit right away Brusssels or Strasbourg and watch ”Democracy in UTMOST process”

Lol

166

Hidari 01.02.19 at 11:37 am

‘Jeremy Corbyn is getting a lot of stick just now – certainly on the anti-Brexit Facebook pages I subscribe to – for not coming out clearly in favour of a second referendum, and for Remain. The Guardian is especially critical: but when hasn’t it been, of this untidy bearded radical who flouts even liberal standards of political respectability? I have to say, a part of me is disappointed too. I’d have liked Labour to have taken more of a pro-European lead. But then I think again.
There are three reasons for suspending judgment on Corbyn until the whole sorry affair has worked itself out. First, he is at least being consistent in his career-long Euroscepticism, which is more than you can say for Theresa May: pro-Europe one day, leading the anti-Europe charge the next. What would the press have made of a similar volte-face by the famously principled Corbyn?
Second, he has always been a Eurosceptic, not an anti-European; and for totally different reasons from the right-wing antis: he sees the EU as having been taken over by global capitalism and so an obstacle to the democratic socialism he wants for Britain. …

The third reason for giving Corbyn the benefit of the doubt is that he has his Northern working-class and other ‘left-behind’ voters to think of….At the very least it may be wise for Corbyn not to come out as a Remainer until the practical flaws in the Brexit enterprise have been clearly revealed to everyone, as well as the cheating on the Brexit side….

In the meantime we should try to see the problem from Corbyn’s – and Labour’s – point of view. The party’s priority must be to make radical changes to Britain’s economy and society. The relationship with Europe is secondary to this. A social democratic Britain could be reconciled either with membership of a reformed EU or with a soft Brexit. But it isn’t compatible with any Tory policy towards Europe, either out or in. So: an election must come first; followed either by a renegotiation on Labour’s terms, or another referendum, with Remain as an option, which should give us a more accurate picture of the ‘people’s will’ – a more informed will this time. It might even allow us to crawl back, tail between our legs, into the EU. (That would be my preference; but then I live there.)’

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/12/31/bernard-porter/what-is-corbyn-thinking/

I might add that many in the ‘liberal’ media and indeed on this thread who are giving us the benefit of their precognitive powers to predict a ‘Labour wipe out’ or the ‘end of the Labour Party”* are in many cases people whose same powers of fortune telling mysteriously failed them when it came to the Brexit referendum, Trump/Clinton, the results of the UK 2016 election, the long-term health of the global economy in 2007, and, going further back, what would happen when ‘we’ invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. **

(*In many cases this should be parsed: ‘The Labour Party, a party whose long-term goals I am uninterested in, and whose move towards democratic socialism I abhor, will lose support if they don’t follow my centre-right policy prescriptions, although why I care about this is unclear.’)

** Fortune telling skills shared by those belonging to the strange cult of Blairism. There is a lot of what one might term ‘Performative Blairism’ in the ‘liberal’ media and on this thread. If The Usual Suspects were to come out of the Closet of Decency and actually state ‘Well you can say what you like about Blair, he actually won elections’ then everyone would laugh at them, because Blair is a crook and a fraud who can almost literally not step outside in the street in the UK without someone trying to arrest him.
So instead we have a lot of people attacking literally every political position it is possible to have except what one might term ‘post-Blairism’….leading to ‘a nudge and a wink’ Blairism where post-Blairites use language and adopt positions that function like the ‘secret handshake’ of the Masons, without having to actually openly pledge their troth to the disgraced former leader.

167

Collin Street 01.02.19 at 12:47 pm

I’d like it to be implemented as promised.

What, precisely, were you promised?

Who, where, what were the words used. Exact quotes would be good, but implication and “I interpreted those words to mean” are fine: I’m after your beliefs, here.

168

Doug 01.02.19 at 1:52 pm

Stephen @145: “[Lithuania] declared independence again in 1990, and remained free with no EU assistance through a Soviet economic blockade and attempted coup. It did not join the EU till 2004, and its current strong position might be thought due to having a little earlier joined NATO, which has effective armed forces to oppose the obvious threat, though the EU does not. “

Phare, Tacis, and numerous other programs offered assistance from the European Union to Central and Eastern European countries in the run-up to admission. Regional assistance, cross-border cooperation, and many other approaches lent technical assistance, financial support, and personal attention through the entire pre-accession period. Accession itself was carefully negotiated, and bringing Lithuanian (and other) legislation, regulation and practices in line with the EU acquis involved significant assistance all long the way. It looks like you are claiming that the EU did nothing for Lithuania between 1991 and 2004; that is not correct.

Further, it was always understood that NATO and EU membership were two rails of the same track. Their timing and staging were closely aligned, and many of the people working on one were also involved in the other. Nor would it have been possible for the Central European states, despite the 1995 “enlargement of the neutrals,” to have joined the one and not the other.

Further still, the clear commitment to joining both NATO and the EU, articulated soon after independence and repeated in all political weather thereafter, improved the security situation for Lithuania (and its peers) throughout the period. The commitment of existing members to eastern enlargement provided benefits to Lithuania well in advance of actual membership.

169

Hidari 01.02.19 at 2:24 pm

‘Labour’s ambivalence towards Brexit is coming under attack from good people… Chris Bertram says Brexit could be “the end of Labour”. I fear such criticisms are too harsh….

I fear that Corbyn’s critics are are insufficiently sympathetic to the philosophical dilemma that Labour faces. On the one hand, Brexit is a stupid idea: escaping weak constraints upon state intervention in the economy is too small a gain to offset the cost of leaving the single market. But on the other, there is a clear mandate for it. As Phil says, seeing Brexit through is “the democratic thing to do.”

This dilemma has little force for technocrats who think voters are Putin’s dupes or for paternalistic centrists. But it is a problem for the left. A big part of our philosophy is the desire to give working people greater voice in work and in public services. It’s difficult to say people should have more voice in boardrooms whilst denying that voice in a referendum…

From this perspective, I suspect Paul Cotterill is right to interpret Corbyn’s now-notorious Guardian interview as a tactical gambit. His claim that he could negotiate a less-bad deal with the EU is necessary if Labour is to demand a vote of no confidence in the government; an opposition can only demand the fall of the government if it can claim to do a better job.

I don’t think such a claim means that a Corbyn government would take us out of the EU without a second referendum. The fact that most Labour members want one – and that Conference asked for the option to be kept open – must weigh heavily with the Labour leadership.

But as Paul says, timing is important. Demanding an early referendum would risk a no-deal Brexit, as this would be on the ballot paper if May set the referendum question whereas it probably wouldn’t be under a Labour government. Also, such demands could be presented as a way of thwarting “the will of the people.”

It would be better to call for such a referendum as a last resort. Under a Tory government, Labour should claim that as parliament and the government are unable to resolve the matter it should be put again to the people. And under a Labour government, the party should say: “this is the best deal we can do: do you want this or to remain?” Either approach has a chance of overcoming that fundamental dilemma, of how to reconcile staying in the EU with respecting the voice of the majority.’

https://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2019/01/brexit-in-defence-of-corbyn.html

The Paul Cotterill article mentioned is here:

https://medium.com/@Bickerrecord/parliamentary-vs-public-process-a-defence-of-corbyns-strategy-cd12ed072d31

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engels 01.02.19 at 2:48 pm

171

Chris Bertram 01.02.19 at 3:11 pm

@engels, yes including bankers, but also my friend who works in at UK university economics department, my own sister who has an office job in Geneva and lives in France, and thousands of other people who live near borders, you absolute ignorant fuckwit.

172

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 3:19 pm

@165 Engels
”Lol”

You think ”British Brexiters” are Lol funnier democratic Improvastionists than the Euro-parlamentarier?

You might be right?

173

Phil 01.02.19 at 5:06 pm

Chris @74:

I’ve not said anything about anyone being undeserving, nor have I advocated a politics where people think of taxation as being a matter of subsidizing the poor.

You have (repeatedly) articulated a view of taxation as a transfer from people with resources to others without, and suggested that some of group A are likely to start looking askance at some of group B, so I can’t imagine that the applicability of the concept of ‘undeserving poor’ is completely opaque to you.

But no, I don’t believe that you personally genuinely believe that anyone is undeserving, and I’m not suggesting that you’re advocating a view of taxation as subsidising the poor. Similarly, I don’t believe that the “very real concerns” crowd think that non-White immigration is inherently undesirable, or that they are advocating ethnic separatism. What both you and they are doing is articulating a politics of division and resentment, which (both you and they argue) is going to become more widely diffused in the near future, a development which (both you and they argue) we may deplore but cannot reverse, and which (…etc) high-minded left-wing idealists ignore at their peril. What you (and they) are not doing is dismissing this mentality as a destructive and self-destructive dead-end, denouncing any attempt to justify or naturalise it, and focusing on the articulation of alternative and more constructive ways of framing the social world*. We don’t buy this set of arguments – and tend to push back against them rather hard – when the resented others are Muslims, Travellers or people who have chosen to travel to Britain without any documents; I can’t see why our response should be any different when the people the other side of the line are people who chose to vote Leave.

*Not that you haven’t done this elsewhere – but then, if I didn’t value your perspective generally I wouldn’t have reacted to this post as strongly as I did.

174

jrkrideau 01.02.19 at 5:41 pm

I am totally fascinated by the worry about immigration. I live in Canada and the more immigrants the better. Do you realize what this does for our cuisine?

175

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 6:18 pm

@
”Do you realize what this does for our cuisine”?

That’s what I say! – as my parents -(and grandparents) always told me:
A generation ago you couldn’t go out in London or Great Britain – without – after every Lunch or Dinner – thinking about suicide – and this Italian I know – still thinks the EU never – ever should have let any Pub’s into EU without sending every Pub owner before to a eduction course about how to produce eatable food – but now you might be able to eat better ”Italian” at… – am I allowed to do some ”promotion” here?
Yes!
– well then – at TOZI -(close to Victoria Station) where Mellanzane Parmigiana -(which is really difficult t ”master”) than the Parmigiana at the Cangrande -(the BIG dog) in Verona.

Which could remind US all -(again) – that Great Britain without US – THE Europeans wouldn’t even have decent – cheese!

176

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 6:25 pm

– and thinking about it –
If from now on every Brexiter would have take his vote seriously and ”exit” completely from any type of ”EU Food” – and thusly would end with Fry-Ups -(for Breakfast Lunch and Dinner) – how long would it take before they would ALL cry ”Pizza”! – and then WE -(the EU) will tell them:

Only for ‘free movement” of the Pizza Baker”! -(and all of his European friends!)

Capisce?!

177

Stephen 01.02.19 at 7:52 pm

Doug@168: you have written a very clear and accurate answer to an argument that I never put forward.

You may remember that I responded to Scott P@122: “it’s precisely the existence of the EU that makes the continuing existence of countries like Luxembourg or Lithuania possible. Without it, they’d last about 10 seconds.” I regard that as not simply hyperbolic, but ridiculous nonsense that does something to discredit the pro-EU cause: don’t you?

You are quite right to say that after the accession process began, the EU was supportive towards Lithuania and other central and eastern European states recovering from the damage of Soviet socialism: as I said, the EU has done some good things. I am not at all claiming that “the EU did nothing for Lithuania between 1991 and 2004”.

But of the programs you mention, TACIS never applied to the Baltic states; PHARE was originally for Poland and Hungary only; and you will remember that actual EU engagement with Lithuania in the pre-accession period, as distinct from fine words, did not really get going till the SAPARD programme of 1999 and the ISPA programme of 2000.

Previously there had been a historically unusual period when the Moscow government had not been interested in intimidating or if possible annexing its neighbours. I suppose that you could argue that in the period when there was marginal EU support for Lithuania, nothing more was needed.

But as for the continuing existence of Lithuania, I’m not sure why you think that joining the EU and joining NATO were irretrievably linked. There are a significant number of European states that are a member of one but not the other. After all, Finland joined the EU but not NATO in 1995, as did Ireland with the EEC in 1973; Norway is a founder member of NATO without ever being in the EU; France withdrew from NATO in 1968 while remaining part of the EEC and subsequently the EU; Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 but not the EU.

What I am fairly sure of is that if Lithuania were a member of the EU but not of NATO, its survival with that of the other Baltic states would by now have ended. There are no significant EU armies.

I add “the other Baltic states” because the only direct Russian invasion route is via Kaliningrad, far less favourable than via Latvia. Incidentally, thinking about geography, Scott P added Luxembourg as a state dependent on the EU for survival. I suppose that if, as is wildly unlikely, Luxembourg were to attempt to withdraw from the EU, the avenging armies of France, Belgium and Germany could very rapidly subdue it: but I don’t think that’s what he meant.

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J-D 01.02.19 at 9:09 pm

engels

maybe you should try to present a positive case

That’s a ‘no’ then…

The reason I have not attempted to make a positive case in favour of a claim fabricated by you is that it is a claim fabricated by you, not one advanced by me.

Why is it so important to you to insist on telling lies about me?

179

Brian 01.02.19 at 9:34 pm

@Chris: health costs are socialized to a degree. Good luck with those waiting lists to see a specialist, when you have to cough (literally) if you want to see someone quickly. But I think you take my wider point. And the whip-round could apply to funerals, losing your job, a Christmas hamper etc etc etc. Richer people don’t rely on social capital as much, because they are cash rich and have the financial capital to meet all these needs. Immigration may have weakened social capital. To a lot of people, they might not put it in those words, but that’s what they feel. Polite society feels uncomfortable acknowledging that. But it should, because then policy steps could be taken to offset the loss. When we hide from problems, they ultimately bite us on the backside and Brexit is an example of this,

180

Collin Street 01.02.19 at 9:46 pm

Do you realize what this does for our cuisine?

I’ve pointed this out before, but: a person’s political preferences is a part of their personality and shares commonalities with the rest of their personality. A person with what the cognitive scientists call I think a low “openness to new experiences” isn’t going to value the availability of new and interesting foods; they’re also

I mean, stereotypes are bad ’cause they’re not true, but they’re useful if you remember to think in terms of population-wide differences and ranges. And, well, stereotypically you’re looking at conservative/anti-immigrant/anti-diversity voters who are… pretty nervous about anything they’re not already used to? Trying new food, shifting ethnic breakdown around them.

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Collin Street 01.02.19 at 11:09 pm

“they’re also” … not going to value the new experience of having people of new and different cultures around them or not being able to &c&c&c.

Sorry.

182

nastywoman 01.02.19 at 11:30 pm

@
”you’re looking at conservative/anti-immigrant/anti-diversity voters who are… pretty nervous about anything they’re not already used to?”

The only… ”thing” which helps in this case – is to have them exposed to lots and lots of ”anythings” they’re not used to.

Take for example this ”conservative/anti-immigrant/anti-diversity German voter I know he always –
”Hatte Angst vor’m Schwarzen Mann” –
– and then his daughter married – one – and NOW he is NOT nervous at all anymore -about anything he is not used too –
And isn’t that a real nice and ”human” stereotype?

183

RobinM 01.02.19 at 11:49 pm

@Neville Morley no. 152.
Thanks for your response. I’m interested in seeing the wording from a translation you think is a good one of the passage I quoted. I’m a bit restricted wrt what I have access to. Thanks.

@Nastywoman nos. 160, 162

Evidently we think about democracy in different ways. If I may be forgiven for another long quotation (again from Sheldon Wolin, this time from a critical essay on Rawl’s “Political Liberalism”):

“The idea of democracy that I employ runs roughly like this. Democracy should not depend on elites making a one-time gift to the demos of a predesigned framwework of equal rights. This does not mean that rights do not matter a great deal, but rights in a democracy depend on the demos winning them, extending them substantively, and, in the process, acquiring experience of the political, that is, of participating in power, reflecting on the consequences of its exercise, and struggling to sort out the common well-being amid cultural differences and socioeconomic disparities. The presence of democracy is not signified by paying deference to a formal principle of popular sovereignty but by ensuring continuing political education, nor is democracy nurtured by stipulating that reasonable principles of justice be in place from the beginning. Democracy requires that the experiences of justice and injustice serve as moments for the demos to think, to reflect, perchance to construct themselves as actors. Democracy is about the continuing self-fashioning of the demos.”

To clarify: his argument, scattered in many places throughout his writings, is that again and again waves of democratization eventually become enmeshed in institutions/constitutions which in actuality rein in the people and limit the activities just outlined. Institutionalised/constitutionalised democracy has, of course, its defenders. Often enough most of us will perceive some virtue in a settled order. But often, too, a settled order will (come to) be seen as inhibiting and unresponsive to genuine needs. If you don’t see this to be an aspect—for me, an important aspect—of the politics of Brexit and of trying to understand what is going on, I can’t imagine what else I might say.

Since a certain “von clownstick” is summoned up once more at no. 162 (although I hate to intrude American extraneousness), I’ll go on to say that I understand recent politics in the USA after the same fashion: both Sanders and Trump gained support from a great many who felt that institutionalised American democracy was unresponsive to their needs. The Democrats managed to bring the Sanders movement to a halt. The Republicans failed to contain those motivated to go in the Trump direction. And then the Democrats failed to contain Trump. Awful as Trump is, and ugly as is some of his support, it would simply be to stick one’s head in the sand to ignore that there were quite deep seated problems within the US political system contributing to his—and to Sanders’ —emergence as significant political leaders.

And so to end by flogging my dead horse, it is equally ostrich-like to simply go on ignoring that the EU has some deep seated problems. To my mind, the discussion between Leavers and Remainers would benefit from some acknowledgement of that. To ignore it is to talk past each other.

But I’ve said far too much on this matter anyway. rm

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Faustusnotes 01.03.19 at 1:34 am

Yes Engels, bankers and also all those people who live and work at the Irish border. You know, refusing to take anything seriously and dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as a rich prat is not actually a mark of advanced dialectical thinking. It just makes you look like a wanker.

Brian, immigration doesn’t damage the social capital of the locals. Your friends don’t move out when a polish worker moves in, and that polish worker isn’t forcing you not to go bowling with your mates. You can’t suddenly not have a whip around for your vasectomy because the dude up the road is polish. Your friends may choose to move out because they don’t like the neighbors, but that’s not the fault of immigration- that’s because your stuck up, priggish friends are racist. You might find your social capital improved if you tried taking to your new neighbours.

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Anarcissie 01.03.19 at 5:47 am

Stephen 01.02.19 at 7:52 pm @ 177:
‘What I am fairly sure of is that if Lithuania were a member of the EU but not of NATO, its survival with that of the other Baltic states would by now have ended….’

What would the strategic advantage for the Russians be in that, equal to the costs? Going down through the Baltic states doesn’t get you anywhere. Well, it gets you to Poland. If you want to invade central Europe from Russia/Belarus through Poland, you’d just start with Poland, not fool around up north. But you probably don’t want to invade central Europe anyway, seeing as how it would lead to a lot of unnecessary trouble and lose you customers.

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nastywoman 01.03.19 at 7:59 am

@183
”To my mind, the discussion between Leavers and Remainers would benefit from some acknowledgement of that’ –
”the EU has some deep seated problems”.

Acknowledged that ”the EU has some deep seated problem! –
and so in order to end me flogging MY dead horse, it is equally ostrich-like to simply go on ignoring that the Brexiters have a much much deeper seated problem with ”democracy” than the EU.

And so evidently we think about democracy in different ways and if I may be forgiven for another very short quotation of a famous Italian Philosopher:
The ”democratic quality” of a society depends on the amount of ”democratic changes” (governments) a democracy presents – which makes Italy (and the EU) about the ”most democratic” –
and emphasize mine:
– ”this Brexit-thing much less ”democratic” if it doesn’t get changed – PRESTO – again”!

Capisce?!

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nastywoman 01.03.19 at 8:21 am

and the final@183
”it would simply be to stick one’s head in the sand to ignore that there were quite deep seated problems within the US political system” –

How true – which doesn’t mean that the ”good democratic alternative” is choosing a racist idiot?
or ”the absolute horrific Fascism” which once was chosen in history –
or… may we even say ”an obvious racist and narrow-minded Brexit”?

So to say it even more ”trivial”:
This ”democracy-thing” may turn out ”real good” or real ”bad”!

Which – if I read it right – is kind of Mr. B’s point?

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steven t johnson 01.03.19 at 2:14 pm

Despite the rage, I’m pretty sure the problem with Brexit at the Irish border has nothing to do with UK sovereignty or lack of it, nor with the EU’s perfection of capitalist democracy or lack of same. The problem with the Irish border is that it’s there. No part of Ireland is “British.” But this prompts a related question, how much of Labour Remain support is Scottish? And how much of Scottish Leave support is Tory or Liberal Democrat?

I’m incredibly confused as to how Brexit of any kind causes problems at the French-Swiss border.

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Chris Bertram 01.03.19 at 2:58 pm

I’m incredibly confused as to how Brexit of any kind causes problems at the French-Swiss border.

It causes problems at the French-Swiss border because 3rd country nationals (as UK nationals become) will lose the right of free moment within the EEA. Those already resident within particular EU (or EEA) countries will probably retain rights to live and work within that country. So if you live and work in Paris then your life will be unchanged, but if your rights of residence are in one country and your job is in another you will probably be in more difficulties (and there are knock-on problems re health and social security contributions made in one country when you then live in another one).

The problem with the Irish border is that it’s there. No part of Ireland is “British.”

I suspect many, if not most, people living in Great Britain would be happy with a united Ireland. But obviously the Ulster unionists would not, and I wouldn’t bet on a majority of the population of the Republic voting to incorporate the north at this point because they don’t want to live in the same state as the unionists either.

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vasiliy 01.03.19 at 9:45 pm

I can’t comment on the internal politics of Brexit, but this little external bit looks like a certainty: A hard border between the Irish Republic and Ulster. More Troubles, anybody?

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Neal3 01.03.19 at 10:52 pm

Me again Chris!

@steven t Johnson

It doesn’t affect the French-Swiss border. I send Chris a link to the UK-Swiss Agreement (including details of the position relating to “frontier workers”) .

He declined to publish my comment because, well, he’s a liar, and doesn’t accept facts that are contrary to his argument. And to think I bought a copy of his book to try an figure out where he was coming from. Still, I only paid £4.99. Go Blackwell!

[Actually Neal, you’re banned for being a twat. But I’m allowing this comment because of the claim it makes about the UK-Swiss agreement. From what I can see, it does indeed guarantee the position of frontier workers of Swiss or UK nationality living in the UK or Switzerland. Since it does not bind the French or other surrounding governments, it cannot guarantee the position of people working in Switzerland but living in those other states. Notice that your original claim was that nobody experience a loss or rights as a result of Brexit. That is obviously untrue and you refused to withdraw it, despite it being the case that all UK citizens lose their right to live and work in other EU states (a loss of rights) and those existingly resident in particular EU states may retain their rights of residence in those particular states, but lose the right to locate to other EU states. Again, a loss of rights thanks to Brexit. Your continuing insistence on a falsehood and refusal to correct your initial statement (and calling *me* a liar!) means that your comments will be auto-directed to the trash folder as this one was until I rescued it and the previous one was. Now go away. CB]

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J-D 01.04.19 at 7:54 am

Chris Bertram

I suspect many, if not most, people living in Great Britain would be happy with a united Ireland.

I’ve often wondered about this. The evidence about what would happen if the people of Northern Ireland were given a vote on whether they wanted to stay in the union with Great Britain may not be absolutely decisive, but there is at least enough evidence for drawing reasonable conclusions about probabilities. What’s the evidence, though, about what would happen if the people of Great Britain were given a vote on whether they wanted to stay in the union with Northern Ireland?

Perhaps I should make it clear that I am fully aware that the Good Friday Agreement, asymmetrically, treats the views of the people of Northern Ireland about the Union as dispositive but the views of the people of the other member of the Union as irrelevant; still, I do wonder what those views are.

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J-D 01.04.19 at 9:22 am

Collin Street

What, precisely, were you promised?

Who, where, what were the words used. Exact quotes would be good, but implication and “I interpreted those words to mean” are fine: I’m after your beliefs, here.

In the Conservative Party’s 2015 election manifesto I read:

We will legislate in the first session of the next Parliament for an in-out referendum to be held on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017. We will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in the EU. And then we will ask the British people whether they want to stay in on this basis, or leave. We will honour the result of the referendum, whatever the outcome.

To me it seems reasonable to interpret that as including the promise that if the majority vote in the referendum was to leave the EU, then the UK would leave the EU: therefore, it seems reasonable to me to say that if the UK’s departure from the EU is prevented or averted or forestalled or blocked by the Conservative Party, then the Conservative Party will be breaking its promise.

Obviously I don’t know for certain that’s exactly what Dipper means.

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Sebastian H 01.04.19 at 5:53 pm

This thread is probably dead, but this European Commission report strongly suggests that anti-EU sentiment is most strongly correlated with local areas of economic and industrial decline (as opposed to racism/age/gender/class) . Which should be unsurprising but apparently isn’t.

https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/publications/working-papers/2018/the-geography-of-eu-discontent

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J-D 01.04.19 at 9:24 pm

This thread is probably dead, but this European Commission report strongly suggests that anti-EU sentiment is most strongly correlated with local areas of economic and industrial decline (as opposed to racism/age/gender/class) . Which should be unsurprising but apparently isn’t.

Isn’t it? Do you know of people being surprised by it, or is that just one of your fantasies?

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Bornagaindem 01.04.19 at 10:04 pm

As someone living in tRump’s america I have to say anytime I hear that tRump country voters are hurting my reaction is yeah!! And no I woudl never vote to do anything to save them from anything bad that happens. Same with gun owners whose kids die- no sympathy. So I think you are right there will be no sympathy for redistribution.

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nastywoman 01.04.19 at 10:30 pm

@don’t forget:

”The latest polling from the Eurobarometer survey, published in May, highlights the fact that two-thirds of Europeans believe their country has benefited from being a member of the EU; the highest number for 35 years. In addition 60 per cent consider EU membership a good thing. This includes Italy where more than twice as many view EU membership as a good thing than a bad thing. Likewise, in Brexit Britain, almost twice as many people view EU membership as a good thing, by 43 per cent to 23 per cent.

Despite the licking of lips by those who see every major issue facing a member state as heralding the breakup of the EU, the simple facts which highlight its popularity get in the way of this happening”.

198

Sebastian H 01.05.19 at 12:45 am

Considering at least half of the commenters and the original poster appear to believe that age and racism is the major factor… shrug…

Oh and I promised myself that I wouldn’t respond to your rhetorical circles without pinning you down. JD do you personally believe economic and industrial decline is a stronger factor than racism or age?

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Collin Street 01.05.19 at 5:11 am

Obviously I don’t know for certain that’s exactly what Dipper means.

It’s more that he keeps on talking about how staying within the single market would be a betrayal of what he was promised, &c… and I was kind of hoping he could show someone who, you know, promised to make the UK leave the single market.

I mean, I live in australia. I’m pretty well-informed, politically, but even ten years ago I knew that the EU and the single market had different borders. I didn’t know enough to know the difference between the single market and the customs union until after the brexit vote, but… the UK is part of the political systems of the EU, it’s as much a part of your structure of government as the scope of authority of local governments, and a citizen really should know how it all works in a general way. And it’s really hard to argue that the difference between the political and economic spheres of european unity is not part of “a general way”… so why does Dipper think what he thinks?

200

Dipper 01.05.19 at 7:28 am

@ J-D “To me it seems reasonable to interpret [the Conservative Party’s 2015 election] as including the promise that if the majority vote in the referendum was to leave the EU, then the UK would leave the EU … Obviously I don’t know for certain that’s exactly what Dipper means.”

Yes

Parliament voted to hold a referendum and decided on the question. For Parliament to then come back and say there is ambiguity in the answer is disingenuous at best.

201

faustusnotes 01.05.19 at 9:13 am

Sebastian, I keep having to say this here, but it seems to have no purchase with you, but I will say it again: we have no evidence that the victims of deindustrialization or economic decline are the same people who vote for leave. It’s perfectly possible but these studies (like the one you cite) that link area-level voting patterns with area-level economic issues don’t offer proof of anything, especially in low-turnout electorates. If 60% of voters turnout, and a study finds that an area has 20% unemployment, and 80% of the electorate voted to leave, it doesn’t tell us that there is any link between these things. It could be that the 60% who turned out were 95% employed, and that the 5% unemployed who voted were 100% remain. We just don’t know. It’s perfectly possible that an electorate can have 60% labour voters in 2015 and 60% leave voters in 2016, but due to turnout changes almost all the labour voters were remain voters.

When we see studies which actually link voting intention or voting action with measures of economic wellbeing, racial resentment and party affiliation, we don’t see the same clear relationship between economic discontent and leave voting.

In epidemiology this is called the ecological fallacy and studies of voting behavior are absolutely full of it.

202

Faustusnotes 01.05.19 at 11:48 am

Yes dipper! In 1938 parliament backed chamberlain in his decision to accept the annexation of the Sudetenland. How disingenuous of them to have a fresh vote in 1940 and dump him in favor of Churchill. No doubt you would have considered the multiple debates on German aggression after that first 1938 debate to be disingenuous, right? I mean, parliament revisiting its own decisions!? Preposterous!!

The nation was better served by chamberlain than it ever will be by you and your brexiteer buddies.

203

Dipper 01.05.19 at 12:25 pm

@ Faustusnotes

“No doubt you would have considered the multiple debates on German aggression after that first 1938 debate to be disingenuous, right? I mean, parliament revisiting its own decisions!? Preposterous!!”

Parliament can do whatever it chooses. It can have a referendum every week if it so wishes. But Parliament gave me a vote on whether I wanted to be in or out of the EU, and promised to implement it. If Parliament then decides to have another referendum before leaving with an option not to implement the result of the previous referendum in breach of its own promise, it can do that too. But it has consequences, of which the two most obvious ones are that no-one will ever take a referendum seriously again, and that a lot of people will either turn away from politics or vote for extreme parties on the grounds that the mainstream parties cannot be trusted. Actions have consequences.

204

Dipper 01.05.19 at 12:40 pm

@ vasiliy <"… this little external bit looks like a certainty: A hard border between the Irish Republic and Ulster. More Troubles, anybody?"

Lord Trimble doesn’t see why Brexit is a problem or should lead to a resumption of terrorism.

205

Barry 01.05.19 at 2:17 pm

Dipper: “Parliament voted to hold a referendum and decided on the question. For Parliament to then come back and say there is ambiguity in the answer is disingenuous at best.”

And if the referendum had lost 48-52, would UKIP have dissolved itself?
Would Murdoch’s tabloids have stopped Operation Fear (the EU)?

206

J-D 01.05.19 at 2:57 pm

JD do you personally believe economic and industrial decline is a stronger factor than racism or age?

I have no idea and don’t know why I should care.

207

Neville Morley 01.05.19 at 4:32 pm

@RobinM #183: sorry for delayed reply. Mynott’s 2013 translation for CUP, which I like, has the following:

“It was in Corcyra, then, that most of these outrages were first perpetrated. They were all the acts of retaliation you might expect men to commit when they see an opportunity for revenge on rulers who have shown them more arrogance than moderation. There were the deliberate crimes of those who were prepared to break the law to escape their familiar treadmill of poverty and who as a result of their hardships cast especially covetous eyes on their neighbours’ property. And there were acts of pitiless and savage aggression by people who were not in this case motivated by personal gain but who turned particularly on their equals in a frenzy of uncontrolled passion, At this crisis in the breakdown of civic life human nature, which is in any case conditioned to defy the laws in doing wrong, now triumphed over them and revelled in showing itself powerless against passion, too strong for justice and hostile to anything superior.”

I’d add two things. Firstly, Thucydides’ syntax tends to be complex and convoluted at the best of times, so that translation always involves a fair amount of interpretation and paraphrase to turn it into anything intelligible – I’ve always felt that he does this deliberately, to force his readers to work at understanding his meaning – but Crawley is generally considered to err too far on the side of imagination; there’s nothing at all in the original to justify his distinction between party and class hostilities, for example, but that’s a pretty obvious influence from his own times. Secondly, majority view is that this particular passage, 3.84, isn’t genuine, as the language is even rougher than normal and it repeats various ideas from the previous section; Mynott suggests that it might be a first draft that got included by mistake, others have suggested that it’s an interpolation by someone wanting to give a more explicitly anti-democratic spin.

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Sebastian H 01.05.19 at 4:55 pm

Faustusnotes. There are things that are perfectly possible, that nevertheless aren’t likely. On voting, prior behavior (especially in non voting) is highly predictive of future behavior. Furthermore your criticism proves too much as it is exactly those kind of studies that lead to statements like “Leave voters tend to be more racist”. If you want to have radical skepticism about discerning voter intentions through theses types of methods, that’s a coherent approach that might provoke an interesting discussion in general. But having intense skepticism of strong results you don’t like while embracing weaker results of the same methodology that you do like is just letting your cognitive biases cloud things. That isn’t the worst sin in the world, it’s very human.

So if you’re open to studies on voter motivations, the most fashionable explanations (age and racism) have quite a bit less evidence than the less fashionable explanations. I would suggest that is because the more fashionable explanations fit into the dominant social science narratives, but that part is just speculation.

209

RobinM 01.05.19 at 5:50 pm

@Neville Morley no. 207
Thanks for your very informative response. I take to heart your warning that the passage in question may not be Thucydides at his best, may not even be Thucydides at all.

But should it be Thucydides, perhaps even in rough draft, wouldn’t the words “They were all the acts of retaliation you might expect men to commit when they see an opportunity for revenge on rulers who have shown them more arrogance than moderation,” go counter to the notion of shared values and culture? And there remains the, to me still troubling, view on human nature.

I can see it might then become all very difficult, trying to figure out whether or not what someone put into a rough draft was a stray thought the writer came to think the better of, or whether the roughly drafted thought was one he didn’t want to be held publicly responsible for. Not only must I, but I’m happy to leave all that to those who go where I suppose one must go, into the language of the original.

Thanks again. rm

210

novakant 01.05.19 at 5:50 pm

The Link Between Brexit and the Death Penalty”:

“If you look at someone’s class status and their income, and you try and use that to guess whether or not they voted Remain, it turns out it’s not that much better than guesswork. It gives you around 55% accuracy, and obviously a guess would give you 50% accuracy,” 

“If you look at attitudes to questions such as, ‘Do you think criminals should be publicly whipped?’ or ‘Are you in favour of the death penalty?’ – those things are much better predictors, and you get over 70% accuracy”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36803544

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novakant 01.05.19 at 6:15 pm

Also, even if the motivation of Leave voters was as you say Sebastian, their vote would still be based on ignorance and Brexit would still be a terrible idea:

http://chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com/2019/01/britain-is-on-brink-of-historic.html?m=1

Semi-Anecdotally: Hackney, Tower-Hamlets, Lewisham etc. are boroughs with widespread and severe deprivation and yet they overwhelmingly voted Remain – but yeah just label them arrogant, urban elite or something…

212

harry b 01.05.19 at 7:06 pm

“What you (and they) are not doing is dismissing this mentality as a destructive and self-destructive dead-end, denouncing any attempt to justify or naturalise it, and focusing on the articulation of alternative and more constructive ways of framing the social world*.”

Try reading this:
https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Do+States+Have+the+Right+to+Exclude+Immigrants%3F-p-9781509521968

and listening to this:
https://talkingmigration.com/2018/07/18/do-states-have-the-right-to-exclude-immigrants/

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Z 01.05.19 at 8:25 pm

Thanks Sebastian for the link to this report. I found it quite excellent and recommend its reading highly. A minor quibble:

So if you’re open to studies on voter motivations, the most fashionable explanations (age and racism) have quite a bit less evidence than the less fashionable explanations. I would suggest that is because the more fashionable explanations fit into the dominant social science narratives, but that part is just speculation

I think what you call “the most fashionable explanation” is not, and by far, the most fashionable explanation in every country, and ditto symmetrically for “the least fashionable [ones]”. A fortiori, the idea that the one you call most fashionable are most fashionable because they fit into some “dominant social sciences narratives” seems ludicrous to me (there might be some truth to your statement in the US, but the US is an outlier in many respects and should always be considered as such). Case in point, France had a pretty important referendum on the ECT (European Constitutional Treaty) in 2005, the results were analyzed to death and the dominant narrative here (among social scientists as in the mainstream media or general discussion) has consistently been that described by the report, in my experience, not “age+racism” or anything else.

214

Orange Watch 01.05.19 at 9:08 pm

Dipper@200:

Parliament voted to hold a referendum and decided on the question. For Parliament to then come back and say there is ambiguity in the answer is disingenuous at best.

Parliament deciding on the question does not make it unambiguous, even to Parliament. It’s a question drafted by committee, so it’s quite unlikely to mean the same thing to everyone who voted for it – indeed, there’s no assurance that there was even a majority understanding of its meaning. And all that must be taken into consideration before noting that the Parliament that voted on it is not the one now seated.

215

J-D 01.05.19 at 10:58 pm

Dipper, Collin Street asked who promised you what. I referred, in response, to the Conservative Party’s 2015 election manifesto. A promise by the Conservative Party is not synonymous with a promise by Parliament; also, as Collin Street has already pointed out, a promise to leave the European Union is not synonymous with a promise to leave the single market or a promise to leave the customs union.

You are, obviously, correct to state that actions have consequences: if the United Kingdom’s notice of withdrawal is revoked, there will be consequences (although not necessarily the ones you predict). But that is true regardless of what promises have (or have not) been made in the past.

216

Sebastian H 01.06.19 at 1:28 am

Thank you Z. I definitely know more about the US situation than anywhere else, but the dominant narrative upthread on the Brexit case seems more in the age/race category than in the (imo proper) deindustrialization/damaged by globalism axis. See also this by Chris, which I think he has backed away from a little if I’ve been reading him right over the last two years, but I’m not sure.

{this is speculative}

I’m not really sure why somethings work as a focus for political anger and other don’t, but it is a phenomenon that I find fascinating. Why does Monsanto get enormous amounts of concentrated and sustained ire, with its mixed bag, while an almost wholly evil company like Halliburton gets occasional notice, but mostly a pass? I kind of think it is because food is more personal. It goes in your body. So it is easier to get worked up about it.

One of globalism’s interesting features (and really its a feature of much of capitalism) is that lots of things you might be mad about related to it, don’t have a clear locus for you to focus your ire on. When you’re mad at a particular company, you at least know where to protest. But where do you protest when your complaint is “everything all the major parties in all the nearby countries do is focused on pushing a process that has taken away my ability to make a good living, prices me out of the cities where the good jobs are, and keeps lying to me about how good it is for ‘the country'”? What is the good symbolic locus for that?

217

faustusnotes 01.06.19 at 4:25 am

So let me get this straight Dipper. The will of the people is paramount, but if the government seeks to ask the will of the people a second time and they decide to do something you don’t like, you and your brexiteer buddies will turn fascist and override the will of the people? Why do you keep threatening to go fascist?

Sebastian, I think you don’t understand. There are lots of studies of people’s voting behavior and their personal beliefs (Z links to one above). There are books written based on these studies. These studies consistently find that when you use individual data that directly links people’s age and racial ideas to their vote, the older and more racist, less educated people vote for Trump/Brexit.

This is a really important point in understanding low turnout voluntary voting systems like the US and the UK, especially systems where the vote is during the week. Consider Barnsley East, for example, which had 55.5% turnout at the 2015 general election and voted 54.7% for Labour – that is about 25% of the electorate. In the EU Referendum it had 70% turnout and voted 61% for leave and 39% for remain. Since about 28% of the electorate voted remain, it is possible that remain and labour overlap 100%. There is a very wide range of possible combinations of these voting patterns, but the first and most obvious question is who were the extra 15% of the electorate who turned up, who never turn up to general elections? Were they the working poor affected by de-industrialization and austerity, voting to punish the government? Or were they lapsed Tories, retired people who don’t usually vote in Barnsley because they know labour will win, or don’t have a preference? We can’t say anything about these people until we study them individually.

This is called the ecological fallacy. Almost every pundit does it. The benefit of the ecological fallacy is it enables you to spin any bullshit yarn you want, since you’re talking without evidence. But when you actually do the tedious, detailed work of asking people individual questions about their personal beliefs and their vote you find that brexit and trump are driven by racism and age, not by the effects of deindustrialization.

Or to put it shorter: young working class people are not racist rubes. Old white middle class people are.

218

Dipper 01.06.19 at 7:36 am

@J-D. Parliament has got itself into this mess. They are free to interpret the vote to Leave the EU how they wish but I think a first-order guess at what Leaving means would be leaving all the institutions of the EU, which includes the CM and SM.

@ Faustusnotes ” you and your brexiteer buddies will turn fascist and override the will of the people?” I haven’t said any such thing. I said people would turn away from politics, or vote for a revitalised UKIP and we are back to square one with the Tories riven by splits over Europe.

and … “But when you actually do the tedious, detailed work of asking people individual questions about their personal beliefs and their vote you find that brexit and trump are driven by racism and age, not by the effects of deindustrialization.” You are falling into your own trap here, as you well know.

219

nastywoman 01.06.19 at 9:06 am

@
”But when you actually do the tedious, detailed work of asking people individual questions about their personal beliefs and their vote you find that brexit and trump are driven by racism and age, not by the effects of deindustrialization”.

For a film about ”US Rust Belt”a German-American TV Team did ”the tedious, detailed work” of asking hundreds of people individual questions about their personal beliefs and their vote they found that brexit and trump were driven by the effects of deindustrialization” -(unemployment etc.) AND by racism and age.

And I mentioned this fact in the first comments I posted on CT with all kind of hint’s that it is very difficult -(even for experiences Psychologists or Anthropologen) to ”divorce” the one –
(”the effects of deindustrialization”)
from the other –
(reacting in a racist or fascistic way)
which doesn’t mean that IT IS just ”the one or the other”.

Or to put it longer:
young working class people might not be as often ”racist rubes” as their older working class people – or even ”white middle class people” BUT if they -(young working class people) are suffering from the effects of deindustrialization – they can become as ”racist and fascistic as a German Neo Nazi or even as SOME young Italian or French working class people – which REALLY doesn’t deny that young British working class people are much more ”pro EU” than the older ones and as this thread is about ”Brexit” and the very disappointing ”racist” and ”narrow-minded attitude” of older ”Brexiters” – can’t we… focus on ”THAT”?

220

J-D 01.06.19 at 9:27 am

Dipper

Parliament has got itself into this mess. They are free to interpret the vote to Leave the EU how they wish but I think a first-order guess at what Leaving means would be leaving all the institutions of the EU, which includes the CM and SM.

As for its being a mess, I agree that it’s been badly handled. You think it’s a mess, I think it’s a mess, about that much we’re in agreement. I suspect nearly everybody commenting here, whatever their other opinions, would agree that a mess has been made.

When the Conservative party put the plan for the referendum in its manifesto, nothing was written explicitly about whether leaving the European Union also meant leaving the customs union or leaving the single market. Maybe the people who wrote the manifesto didn’t mention that explicitly because they wanted to leave room for manoeuvre; maybe they didn’t understand all the distinctions themselves. (I know I didn’t, and I’m still not sure that I do, but then I’m not asking anybody to let me run the United Kingdom.) I also don’t know the detailed understanding the people who read the manifesto, or who voted on the basis of what the Conservative party was promising in it. Maybe, like me, they didn’t really understand all the distinctions; maybe they assumed that leaving the European Union automatically meant leaving the single market and the customs union; maybe they were committed only to leaving the EU and were happy to leave the other questions open for future negotiation; maybe there were people in all those categories, and perhaps others as well.

I can completely understand how some people feel that the idea of leaving the EU but staying in the customs union and/or the single market would be a breach of what was promised in the 2015 Conservative manifesto; but people who argue that leaving the customs union and the single market were not explictly mentioned and therefore can’t be considered part of the commitment also have a legitimate point. This is part of how it’s a mess.

Now, the Conservative Party had a majority in its own right in the House of Commons elected in 2015; so it seems fair to hold the Conservative Party responsible for what that Parliament did. But that doesn’t mean the Parliament election in 2017, where the Conservative Party does not have a Commons majority, has an obligation to stand by the former position.

Theresa May’s government is purely a Conservative one, and it has negotiated a withdrawal agreement which does include leaving both the customs union and the single market. Is there a reason why that doesn’t please you? On the other hand, it’s widely conjectured that the House of Commons will reject that agreement. That’s possible because there isn’t a Conservative majority in the Commons, and the reason there’s a House of Commons without a Conservative majority is because that’s what people voted for in 2017. Do you think the voters didn’t know what they were voting for in 2017?

It is still possible, despite the government’s lack of a Commons majority, that the withdrawal agreement will be approved by the House, in which case the United Kingdom will leave the EU, the customs union, and the single market: is there a reason why that possibility does not please you? I admit that at this stage it seems unlikely, but as far as I am able to reckon (and I know I’m repeating myself) all possible sequences of events seem unlikely, and yet one of them must come true.

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Collin Street 01.06.19 at 10:46 am

I think a first-order guess

Is this something you were promised?

[of course, even if it were it’s important to remember that nobody can break somebody else’s promise for them: promises only bind their maker. If Bob promises you something he can’t actually deliver it’s bob, and nobody else, who you’ve got a complaint with. “You’re making bob break the promise he made to me” is no valid complaint.]

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Neville Morley 01.06.19 at 11:02 am

@RobinM #209: as I think I said upthread, one of the reasons I find Thucydides a productive text to engage with is that he tends to raise questions, via a narrative of events that claims to be accurate, rather than offering answers or explicit propositions – which is frustrating if we *want* him to give us an argument rather than tell us a provocative story, but opens up the possibilities for discussion rather than narrowing them to a binary choice between accepting and rejecting a hypothesis.

So, with the line that troubles you, we might think about whether the problem is a lack of shared values and culture, or the failure of the ruling elite to abide by those common norms – that is, if the rulers had in fact acted with moderation rather than arrogance, as was the expectation, the ruled would have been less resentful. In other words, the implied idea is not that the masses will always be vengeful and there can never be any common ground with their rulers, but that there is a shared culture and communal spirit so long as those with power don’t abuse it. Which obviously isn’t a democratic perspective, but Thucydides certainly wasn’t a committed democrat; it *is* a different sort of view from “the masses are always feckless and violent”, which seemed to be your objection to the statement.

As for “human nature”, the problem is that we have a tendency to assume this implies a modern deterministic and reductivist idea of how humans work, which isn’t directly mappable onto ancient ideas even when the Greek phrase looks the same. In his introductory section, Thucydides uses instead the phrase “kata to anthropinon”, “according to the human thing”, as the explanation of why present and future events tend to resemble those of the past. You *can* translate that as “because of human nature” – and most modern translations do – but I prefer the fuzziness of the actual words: it’s more like “people being what they are”.

Further, even if we do imagine Thucydides sticking to a more concrete and predictable idea of “human nature”, it’s not at all clear what that is; his work doesn’t offer a single definition or explanation, but rather includes lots of different examples of how people behaved in different circumstances, which show certainly tendencies but don’t follow a consistent pattern, and various claims about how people and states behave, almost all of which are put into the mouths of characters with their own agendas, and most of which are then controverted by subsequent events.

The classic example is the line in the Melian Dialogue that “the strong do what they want and the weak have to suck it up” (or variants), which has often been taken by modern readers as (1) Thucydides’ own view rather than a view expressed by the Athenians, and (2) a true statement about the world. The Athenians, presumably holding this view, then decide to attack Syracuse, fail catastrophically, and thus completely undermine their own position. Now, you could argue that this shows they weren’t actually as strong as they thought they were – but in that case, no one else in Greece can have been strong either (maybe the ironic point is that actually only the Persians were strong, but even that doesn’t quite work), and the claim remains either meaningless or unhelpful.

My own view is that, insofar as Thucydides had a view about human nature, it’s bound up with what we’d call cognitive biases; the tendency to be driven by emotion, whether excessive optimism or excessive pessimism; the inability to have a clear sense of one’s own situation, let alone to anticipate future events, without ever being troubled by a sense of doubt about this; the tendency to do stupid things…

Sorry, specialist topic, so tendency to ramble.

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Stephen 01.06.19 at 4:51 pm

I realise that I’m coming into this deplorably late, and from imperfect knowledge of economic history, but could;d somebody please explain (a) what is meant by “radical redistribution” as distinct from the moderately redistributionist policies currently used in the UK (b) given an accepted definition of r.d., when and where has it been achieved without serious drawbacks?

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casmilus 01.06.19 at 8:11 pm

Stephen @223

It may have escaped your notice, but we’ve had a lot of redistribution in the UK over the past 10 years. It has indeed caused “serious drawbacks”.

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Layman 01.06.19 at 8:22 pm

@Stephen, way to passive-aggressively form an argument in the form of a question! Try reading about Sweden’s tax rates. Use the google.

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Z 01.06.19 at 8:46 pm

But where do you protest when your complaint is “everything all the major parties in all the nearby countries do is focused on pushing a process that has taken away my ability to make a good living, prices me out of the cities where the good jobs are, and keeps lying to me about how good it is for ‘the country’”? What is the good symbolic locus for that?

Well, the Gilets Jaunes are doing quite alright on that front. More generally, I think your remark was perhaps valid in 2009 – in 2019 the battle lines have shifted a lot and by and large people now know where they stand, it seems to me (some pretend not to know, but 1% of the time that is disingenuous, other times it reflects the overwhelming privilege of being able not to care). So I don’t worry about people knowing what is good for them, and what harms them. I do worry about the capability of a political movement to overturn what I see as a deep social change (said otherwise, President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is sworn in, now what?).

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Z 01.06.19 at 8:55 pm

(a) what is meant by “radical redistribution” as distinct from the moderately redistributionist policies currently used in the UK

In the UK, and comparable countries, once you take into account the long term trends in education, redistribution is indeed going on, but upwards, so “radical redistribution” would simply mean going downwards (before you protest with economic numbers, note that upward and downward have to be defined dynamically and not solely in economic terms).

(b) given an accepted definition of r.d., when and where has it been achieved without serious drawbacks?

With the definition above (admittedly not widely accepted), redistribution – whether radical or moderate – indeed never occurred historically. What happened historically was downward economic redistribution in the context of massive educational improvements of the base catching up to the educated élite, whereas the current situation is the educative élite leaving the base behind. We don’t know how to “redistribute” in that case. Indeed, we mostly don’t know what redistribute might even mean.

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Dipper 01.06.19 at 9:29 pm

@ Colin Street “Is this something you were promised?”

I think you are looking at this the wrong way round. We aren’t in a court of law where I’m suing the government and have to prove they reneged on a promise. The political parties would like me to vote for them. Arguing about the small print of what they actually promised isn’t going to win me over. The ambiguity risk sits with them, not me.

@ J-D ” is there a reason why that possibility does not please you?” We went into the deal in some depth on a previous thread, and the issue is round the backstop and whether we can get out of it. Pretty much if there is a cast-iron mechanism for us leaving the backstop then I’d support the deal. With the backstop in place there is a real risk the UK finds itself the target of EU legislation which deliberately seeks to undermine the UK economy and the UK cannot legally stop it, or will have to submit to onerous terms if it wishes to leave. Opinion amongst my very engaged Leaver mates is divided on whether the deal is acceptable.

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John Quiggin 01.07.19 at 3:15 am

“The political parties would like me to vote for them. Arguing about the small print of what they actually promised isn’t going to win me over. The ambiguity risk sits with them, not me.”

I think you’ve missed the point repeatedly. There are several different political parties, they promised different things and only one has been in position to deliver or renege. The Conservatives under Cameron promised to hold a referendum (which they did) and deliver Brexit in the event of a “Leave” vote (which Cameron didn’t, and May probably won’t). If you don’t like that, write Cameron a nasty letter, or vote against May next time. But don’t pretend that their promises bind “the political parties” in general.

Labour’s policy is to (attempt to) deliver an acceptable Brexit if it can, and if it can’t (which is almost certain) to support a second referendum. The Lib Dems have consistently opposed Brexit and would revoke it if they could. I can’t see how either of these positions breaks a promise to you.

Then of course, there’s UKIP.

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J-D 01.07.19 at 7:53 am

Dipper, you want the UK to leave the EU. Therefore, a party which promised to do everything it could to prevent the UK from leaving the EU would be doing nothing to attract your vote, and the more confidence you had in that party’s keeping its promise the less attractive it would be to you: if anything, it would make sense for you to be less adamantly opposed to such a party if you thought it likely to break that promise. It makes sense to vote for the party which you think most likely to follow the course of action which you favour, and that’s a separate question from any question about broken promises and shouldn’t be expected to have the same answer.

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Faustusnotes 01.07.19 at 8:05 am

Dipper you can easily get out of the backstop: you can break the Good Friday agreement and bring back the troubles, or you can relinquish your last colonial possession and finally give up your imperial nostalgia. Britain has lots of choices. The fact that those choices are all bad is simply a legacy of 100 years of empire and generations of bad Tory decisions. For the last 20 years your membership of the EU and the many economic benefits it brought you have staved off those nasty choices, but you and your traitor buddies wanted to “take back control”. Now you get to deal with the problems your incompetent leadership and blinkered electorate have been storing up over the past 50 years. That’s what taking back control means- enjoy!

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Collin Street 01.07.19 at 12:51 pm

Arguing about the small print of what they actually promised isn’t going to win me over. The ambiguity risk sits with them, not me.

I’m not trying to convince you that Brexit is a bad idea. I’m trying to convince you — and I think i’ve done a pretty good job of it — that what you thought you were promised wasn’t what you were actually promised That people painted a vague picture and let you imagine the details coloured in to match your desires.

I mean… these people run your country, they presumably know its constitutional framework. Do you think that all this ambiguity, wide open for you to fall into, was left accidentally?

Be serious now. You got conned. Plan accordingly.

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SusanC 01.07.19 at 1:51 pm

The usual view of the British constitution is that Parliament cannot pass a law that binds in successors.

This makes referenda a bit problematic, as it is clear that a new incoming government is entitled to ignore any referenda that have taken place under its predecessor.

Any government that holds a referendum with the hope it will bind future parliaments is attempting to exceed its constitutional powers.

The voters have now had a learning experience in how the British constitution works, and if they are in future skeptical when a PM suggests a referendum to do something the MPs think is a stupid idea, then this might be for the best.

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bianca steele 01.07.19 at 4:07 pm

Probably naively, I’m kind of surprised by some of the comments about Ireland, above. How many years together in the EU might be expected to result in them both saying, “OK, we may as well be in the same country, why not?”

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Stephen 01.07.19 at 8:21 pm

Bianca Steele @233: try applying your argument to the ROI and UK saying, “OK, after so many years together in the EU, we may as well be in the same country, why not?”

Or to France and Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, Spain and Portugal, Austria and Italy …

Probably, as you said, naive.

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Hidari 01.08.19 at 3:26 pm

‘British and European officials are discussing the possibility of extending Article 50 amid fears a Brexit deal will not be completed by March 29, the Telegraph can reveal.

Three separate EU sources confirmed that UK officials had been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on an Article 50 extension, even as the Government said it had no intention of asking to extend the negotiating period.’

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/07/british-officials-putting-feelers-article-50-extension-discreet/

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