A New Beginning

As in most workplaces I guess yesterday, some colleagues and myself had a frank discussion about the referendum.  The age-division was apparent but the reasons not as straight-forward as have been caricatured by the mainstream media.  We are all professionally employed people so I’m not going to claim that this is representative of anything than among our group.  My younger colleagues voted Remain, but some did so reluctantly, as whilst they don’t like the EU and they don’t trust any politicians (both healthy outlooks in my opinion), they are worried about the future and didn’t want to risk the uncertainty of Leaving.  They are too young to know any different and should not be derided for that.  I can no more put myself into their mindset than I could that of my parents’ generation, born during wartime, experiencing austerity that I have never known.  These ‘millennials’ are well aware that Brexit could lead to the break-up of the EU and the Eurozone if other countries follow suit.  This will no doubt lead to the next financial crash being blamed on Brexit, rather than on the creation of the Eurozone.

So whilst some ‘millennial’ Remainers are being cast as cry-babies, I believe that that the vast majority are not.  Their worries should be respected and not ridiculed.  There are a minority of Remainers who are cry-babies, just as there are a minority of Leavers who are xenophobes, would be and still will be regardless of whether the EU exists.  The cry-baby Remainers are so angry that they don’t know what to do.  I heard a student couple this morning, with private school educated accents, talking loudly enough so that everyone around them could hear, how angry they are.  They’ll carry on being angry long after they should have grown out of it, but hey ho.

But it is not just the ‘millennials’ who need re-assurance, skilled workers from other EU countries need to be assured that their employment and residential status are not under threat.  Many may feel that it is and decide to leave, but if better employment opportunities existed in other EU countries then they would already have made that decision.  I’ll admit a bias in that I work with professional people from other EU countries and I don’t want them to feel threatened; but I also work with professional people from outside the EU and they have to meet skills and qualifications criteria in order to live and work here.  That the British economy depends on importing skilled workers, especially in STEM fields, is itself a damning indictment of the failure of our education system.  Migrants from other EU countries without professional qualifications should not fear deportation, if they are employed on a permanent or fixed-term contract basis and paying taxes; or if they work freelance in some field and can prove that they are self-supporting and paying taxes.  We need to stress to EU migrants that we do not object to the presence of the vast majority of them, but that the scale of immigration that the UK has experienced since 2004 is more than our infrastructure can cope with.  This is especially true in England.

There is one group of people who have been overlooked and who are justifiably likely to feel the most insecure.  In the first post on this blog I mentioned about Poland having lost part of a generation to children born in the UK to Polish parents.  These children and those uprooted from Poland by their parents should not feel that they or their parents are threatened with deportation; many of those who moved to the UK during their childhood sometime during the last 12 years are now young adults and stuck in limbo.  If they do not already have British citizenship they should be offered it.  The same applies to the children of other EU nationals though the scale of immigration from those countries has been nowhere near as large.  Of course the very fact that we were denied a referendum on the Treaty of Nice, which led to EU expansion, is why this issue has arisen in the first place.  Behind the issue are thousands of people who should not just be dismissed as statistics.

Immigration is a thorny issue and the fact that it came to dominate the referendum is that since 2004 anyone who expressed concern about the scale of it, and particularly its economic impact on low-waged, low-skilled workers, was slandered as a ‘racist’ by the ‘progressive’ corporate globalists.  That the scale of immigration has led to the slumlordisation of many inner-city areas and council estates, in which the housing stock was sold off by the Thatcher government, is something which these ‘progressives’ are happy to ignore.  Immigration policy henceforth should be to reduce the scale to a level which is more sustainable, no more than fifty thousand people a year say, rather than six or seven times that amount as it is now.

Apart from the privileged cry-babies, whom I mentioned above and who want the referendum result to be invalidated to force another one, the other group of Remainers for whom I have no sympathy are Labour voters (there is an overlap between these groups).  What happened on Thursday was the revolt of Old Labour (mildly patriotic and mildly socialist) against New Labour (corporatist, ‘liberal’ and globalist).  The late Peter Shore MP puts the latter group to shame:

Contrary to the lies told by ‘progressives’ in their defence of the EU, we British are not, by nature, an insular people.  We have long been more outward looking than most of the nations of continental Europe.  For more than four decades we’ve been continually derided that Britain is ‘small and weak’.  Britain is small but not weak and there are more than sixty million of us on this island.  We have been derided that Britain is ‘old and tired’.  Britain’s infrastructure is old and tired, but that is because our taxes have been diverted from upgrading our own infrastructure to finance the infrastructures of the countries of southern, central and eastern Europe, with lovely highways and bridges from Nowhere to Nowhere Else, such as appear on the Euro notes.  We can and shall develop bi-lateral trade agreements with other countries, that is what the ‘progressives’ are frightened of, that the EU itself is becoming redundant.

Anyway, unless another referendum is forced through or the exit negotiations stall, there is no point in doing numerous blog posts about Brexit.  That David Cameron has tendered his resignation as Prime Minister should mean that the government is not going to over-ride the referendum result.  The EU, worried that the electorates of other countries will demand an ‘exit’ referendum, wants Brexit completed as soon as possible before the trend catches on.  The SNP want a Dependence referendum so that Scotland can continue being ruled from Brussels, whilst Sinn Fein want an Irish Unification referendum to liberate English taxpayers from the economic burden of the Six Counties, so that all Thirty-Two Counties of Ireland can continue being ruled from Brussels.

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International Labour Day

tony-blair-finger

Today is International Cheap Disposable Migrant Labour Day, the 12th anniversary of Britain’s Labour Government – New Labour under Blair – opening the floodgates to unrestricted immigration from three former Warsaw Pact countries (one of which had already split in two), three former Soviet Republics and one former part of Yugoslavia (or part of former Yugoslavia, if you prefer).  It is strange that those so keen on multinational political unions overlook the fragmentation of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.  Some multinational political unions are obviously ‘good’, others ‘bad’, the ‘good’ ones being those that provide unscrupulous employers with the largest possible pool of cheap disposable migrant labour; that provide affluent householders in the host nations with the opportunity to hire immigrant tradespeople at the lowest possible prices; that provide so much demand for rented accommodation that landlords can charge what they want.  Hurrah for the Labour Party.  Hurrah for the European Union.

Now you might think, hang on a minute, surely the Labour Party would be concerned that too high a rate of inward migration might just put downward pressure on the working-class that it once claimed to represent?  Not at all, for under Blair and his spinmeister Peter Mandelson, any pretensions of Labour being ‘working-class’ were washed away, except when it became necessary to hold on to ‘safe’ seats such as Hartlepool.  Mandelson was appointed Labour’s Director of Communications by Blair’s predecessor but one, Neil Kinnock, who like Mandelson has a left-wing background, of which he divested himself to become an EU Commissioner and a wealthy one at that (aren’t they all?)  Labour’s support among the working-class had already declined along with the trade unions and through the rise of self-employed, Sun-reading, Thatcher-voting, ‘white van man’, many of whom bought into the Tories’ property-driven boom-bust of 1987-92 and paid the price for it, by over-leveraging themselves and getting their homes repossessed.

So as the working-class had adopted Thatcherism, why shouldn’t the Labour Party go even further, to out-Tory the Tories, to pursue an ideology of Social Darwinism, the survival of the fittest and get rid of any elements of patriotic paternalism?  Those who support competition shouldn’t complain about that being from overseas.  The problem is that plenty of the working-class didn’t adopt Thatcherism and not just those in the former mining communities; millions stayed loyal to Labour principles and misguidedly voted for a Labour Party, whose leadership had abandoned them.  Millions of others, the low-skilled, the unskilled or the potentially talented but just dirt poor, got left behind by Thatcherism.  But even Thatcherism offered some hope for the last group.  In Thatcher’s Britain, all students had their fees paid by their local authority and those from a low-income background were eligible to receive a susbistence-level maintenance grant, which was enough to pay for rent, bills and food.  The Blair regime soon put a stop to all that malarkey.

The legacy of this disgusting policy of the Blair regime, implemented within a year of taking office, is the disenfranchisement of a generation from higher education; and hence the chance to improve their economic prospects by upskilling themselves.  Concomitant with this, manufacturing industry continued to decline under Blair and received little support, except where it became politically expedient to do so.  Labour’s legacy was rampant house price inflation between 1999 and 2003, which moderated but continued to grow during the following five years, with the encouragement of buy-to-let, which priced that same generation out of housing.  New Labour’s New Landlords must have rubbed their greedy hands with glee in 2004, knowing that unrestricted immigration would keep them in business; and better than that, they’d receive housing benefit from the government to pay for the cost of their low-income tenants.  Overall, Labour’s legacy was to shit on the indigenous working-class, removing all hope from them for a better life.

It should be no surprise therefore that when Labour needs to rely on the indigenous working-class, which were once the mainstay of its support, that support is now lacking.  Labour failed to regain office last year precisely because of this.  It lost a few million votes to UKIP, a party led by and still largely personified by a former commodities broker from ‘The City’ who was a Thatcherite Tory.  The ‘Kippers played the ‘left-wing’ card very well, but they didn’t really need to.  It doesn’t need to be explained to those who are too young to remember when Thatcher was in office that the Labour Party doesn’t care about them.  Labour has become the party which was happy to bail out the debts of its merchant banker friends, with Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and former MP for Edinburgh Central & South West, who is one of the leaders of the ‘Remain’ lobby, being the person responsible.  The Labour Party supports the single European labour market (with immigration from outside the EU where ‘needed’ by its corporate benefactors).

Surely Jeremy Corbyn, as an ally of the late Tony Benn, must oppose this?  Unfortunately not, Corbyn recently claimed that the immigration that Britain – and mainly England at that – has experienced since EU enlargement, isn’t enough.  Although he refuses to campaign with David Cameron, it is clear that Corbyn is singing from the same pro-EU songsheet.  His middle-class preparatory and grammar school background is not as privileged as that of Cameron or Blair, but it is clear that Corbyn has never had to compete at the bottom of the economic pile for council housing or shop work.  That he has sold out is therefore unfortunately unsurprising.  By contrast, Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, who was one of those that nominated Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership, is part of an honourable minority of Labour MP’s who do understand the impact that the increased economic competition, due to EU enlargement, has had on the indigenous working-class.  He is a man of social conscience in an otherwise overwhelmingly rotten Labour Party.

 

The Brexit Sideshow

If you are bored witless with how long this issue has been dragging out, you are not the only one.  It has only taken twenty-four years and six general elections to have a referendum on British membership of the European Union; and even then it was seventeen years since the one and only referendum on British membership of the European Economic Community, which at the time was known to most people as the ‘Common Market’.  Hardly a resounding endorsement of British democracy, is it?

Thatcher Europe 2

The ruling elites and professional middle-classes have always supported the removal of not just trade barriers, but immigration restrictions, because they know that increased competition for jobs and housing increases the disparities of wealth between themselves and the lumpen proletariat.  It should be no surprise therefore that a Tory government, that of Edward Heath – in which Margaret Thatcher was Secretary of State for Education – took Britain into the EEC in 1973, without a referendum.  Nor should it be surprising that the principle opposition came from within the Labour Party, whose electoral base was predominantly working-class and highly unionised.  Only when a Labour government was elected in 1974 was a referendum promised and held the following year.

As you can see from the picture above, the spin in 1975 was as it is today with ‘Europe’ being used as a shorthand way of referring, not to a geographical entity, but to a political project, the endgame of which was always the creation of a continental superstate.  At the time there was no way of knowing that in a decade and a half the Iron Curtain would have fallen and Germany been re-unified, but stealthily moving towards a Western European superstate was on the agenda, even though it was deliberately obscured from the voting public.  In 1975, Britain was held to be ‘the sick man of Europe’, the legacy of Heath’s terrible government which created an inflationary credit boom – so much for fiscal conservatism – when the global economy was already suffering the inflationary effects in commodity prices caused by the Nixon Administration’s dropping the gold standard in 1971.  The outcome was numerous strikes with trade unions demanding and getting inflation-busting pay rises, something which continued when Labour took over.

It was Margaret Thatcher’s successor as Prime Minister, John Major, whose government refused to hold a referendum on British membership of the EU and whose government later suffered the humiliation of the pound crashing out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the forerunner to monetary union.  The deep rift within the Conservative Party caused by this refusal to hold a referendum still exists today.  The real change has come within the Labour Party and the trade unions, who have bought into the ‘Social Europe’ propaganda with the price being paid by working-class Britons in the form of increased competition for jobs and housing.  For middle-class Guardian readers and even more privileged Labour MP’s this is a price worth paying.  For Labour’s natural electoral base it isn’t, which is why Labour’s support among working-class Britons continues to dwindle.  The Green Party, formerly known as the Ecology Party, whose electoral base is among those who follow E. F. Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’ world-view, has also gone arse-about-face by supporting the EU.

So what hope is there of opposition, of democracy returning to the people?  Forget the EU-worshipping Lib Dumbs, they are worse than useless.  There are ‘dissenters’ within Labour and the Greens who haven’t whored themselves to the EU and whom we should all support to promote the ‘Left Leave’ view, particularly those of us who were brought up in ‘Old’ Labour voting households, who do consequently feel some sense of patriotism.  Hope however, appears to be coming in what ought to be the blindingly obvious, namely that a political union of more than two dozen countries, many with no common language, culture or history, simply cannot be held together, even by dictatorship.  This has become evident in the resurgent nationalism taking hold throughout Europe.  This in itself is not something to celebrate, but it is a natural reaction to the centralisation of political power in Brussels, including the EU’s demands upon countries that they take quotas of economic migrants from as far away as Afghanistan and Somalia, whose cultures are totally incompatible with those of the respective host nations.

Even a common language, culture and history are not enough to successfully hold a political union together, but having at least one of these is a minimum requirement.  The UK itself is under strain from Scottish separatists, who are ironically pro-EU, as they genuinely believe that Scotland, with one per cent of the EU’s population, can influence how it is run.   This weekend the Irish commemorate the ‘Easter Rising’ (led by a Scottish socialist) against British rule.  That the Irish ended up being dominated by the Catholic Church, ultra-conservative governments and more recently the European Central Bank are all separate issues.  They understand, from bitter experience, that if a referendum yields the ‘wrong’ result, they have to hold it again until the result is ‘correct’.

Notes

I shall be lazy in not putting comprehensive references, but if you haven’t read Dominic Sandbrook’s excellent popular history books of the 1970’s, State of Emergency and Seasons in the Sun, I have to recommend that you do.  The former details British entry into the EEC and the latter the 1975 referendum.