Guest article: a working-class revolt

In the summer, South Yorkshire teacher and union activist Andy Searson wrote a hard-hitting, two-part article on the working-class Brexit vote, New Labour’s estrangement of the working class and what Labour now needs to do to reconnect with those communities and win back their trust.

Now, with the remnants of New Labour coalesced into the so-called “people’s vote” campaign in what he describes as tinnitus-like ‘white noise’ that fails that ignores the real needs of those hardest hit by Tory policies, Searson returns with a stark verdict both on them and on the other face of the Establishment – the arch-Brexiters they claim to loathe.

A Working Class Revolt

Again we hear millionaires Blair, Umunna, Mandelson, Campbell et al calling, through the chaos of the Tory Brexit deal, for a ‘People’s Vote’. Like a bad bout of tinnitus, their continuous white noise plays out in the background as the rest of us struggle on through austerity.

The semantics used are never pursued or explored by the commentariat. Just who are the ‘people’ in this ‘people’s vote’? The British public who have already voted two years ago? It is not a people’s vote nor is it a people’s referendum, its a second referendum to try and overturn the last one which hasn’t even been implemented yet.

As soon as the referendum result was announced we immediately saw the old prejudices used to attack those mainly in the Labour heartlands who voted to leave. They were dismissed as racists, xenophobes, thick, uneducated or confused as to what voting leave actually meant.

We know from history that this is a well trodden path for the establishment. From the Chartists and Suffragettes to Brexit, the working class vote has always been dismissed, questioned or denounced by elites in Parliament as a mad mob, rabble or an uneducated, uninformed mistake by the masses. Let us not forget these people defeated project fear. The majority (in democracy terms, the winners) rejected the scaremongering and apocalyptic warnings of the establishment who sought to maintain the status quo.

This fact renders arguments for a second referendum non-credible. We are hearing a replay of the fear-packed warnings presented during the referendum from Blair et al. Surely then a replay of the referendum with the same arguments would get the same outcome.

Don’t ignore the fact that those citizens from the Labour heartlands walked away from these New Labour uber-remainers years ago. These very wealthy people using their media contacts to gain a platform in order to tell those struggling through austerity to change their minds is laughable.

Firstly, people don’t like their opinions being ignored. Secondly, due to undemocratic practises, there is a possibility that even remain voters (like myself) would vote leave due to the establishment overturning democracy. In general the people are ahead of the politicians again. Just like the ‘Yellow Jackets’ protesting in France, the current political climate suggests people are rising up against a system that no longer meets the majority of people’s needs. We need authentic voices who will act in the interests of the majority not the wealthy few. Only Corbyn and his allies seem to get this zeitgeist.

The centrist, uber-remainers and their Tory, Lib-Dem bedfellows still don’t understand what drove people to vote leave in the first place. They have learnt nothing from the first result. A second referendum shows they are on the side of a bourgeois reaction, a spasm at angry working-class action.

Democracy and control were the key to many of these working-class leave voters. They were given a chance to send a clear message to the establishment – and they did: after years of political alienation, they engaged like never before.

How would these people react when every other referendum in our country’s history has been accepted and honoured but not this referendum, their referendum? Those pursuing a second referendum know it would decimate Labour in their heartlands, which is why it is driven by those who do not want Corbyn.

Overturning a democratic vote in another country overseas would be deemed an act of a banana republic, anti-democratic and denounced by the same people endorsing it here in the UK.

Those in Labour who are pressing so hard for another vote on Brexit know only too well that the parliamentary arithmetic just doesn’t add up. They also fully understand that approximately 59% of those identifying as working class voted leave and that number increases in those left-behind communities in the Labour heartlands.

It’s more about stop Corbyn than stop Brexit.

Andy Searson

The top 60+ target seats Labour need to win for a clear majority are also areas that voted leave. Add to this the fact that 80% of the electorate in June 2017 voted for parties endorsing exiting the EU and honouring the referendum result and you begin to see the price Labour would pay in any subsequent general election if they betrayed the democratic wishes of those voters. It’s more about stop Corbyn than stop Brexit.

May’s current deal betrays what the majority of leave voters wanted. It cedes control and as a country we would end up with less sovereignty than we had. In short it is ‘Brexit in name only’.

We need a Brexit that works for those left-behind communities and working-class areas. We cannot sign up to more neoliberal structures, rules and treaties that make it impossible for Keynesian economics in terms of state intervention, re-nationalisation and sovereignty over our own nation’s economic needs.

The undemocratic actions taken by the EU toward Greece and Italy are examples of why we need to be outside the EU. We should be arguing relentlessly about what we can achieve outside the EU in terms of state aid. Let us face reality here, the EU will not save us from Tory austerity and cuts. Only our nation as a state outside the EU and led by a Corbyn government, can give us re-nationalisation, state intervention and transform our economy so it works in the interests of the many not just the few.

During the referendum, the masses of ordinary people in the Labour heartlands rejected Project Fear. Mainly, in my view, because life in these communities that were left behind and ignored during years of consecutive governments pursuing neoliberalism couldn’t get any worse.

These communities have been crippled and crushed by years of cuts, outsourcing, privatisation and now austerity. In my experience, working-class people merely want fairly-paid and secure employment to provide a decent lifestyle for their families. Most of all, they have aspirations for their children to go on and have a better life than themselves, achieve more and become financially secure. The British promise that every generation will be better off than the one before has been broken.

 The broken Britain that Cameron talked about so much was mere finger pointing at those victims of 30 years of alienation from a political elite that looked to corporations rather than the needs of its working class. Years of planned cruelty and propaganda were aimed at blaming the most vulnerable in our society for their own economic situation whilst paying no attention to the causes of poverty.

Those elites continued turning a blind eye to zero hour contracts, precarious work, diminishing working conditions and crumbling high streets. The Tory- and centrist-backed austerity was a political choice which set about ensuring the majority paid for the excesses of the few. The 99% were made to pay and suffer the burden of the greed and gambling debts of the casino economies whilst the 1% grew richer.

From 2010 we saw the largest transfer of public money to private corporations in history as the Tories (and Lib Dems) set about turning our NHS, schools, care homes and public services in to cash cows for privateers who put shareholders before patients and profit before people. All this whilst our communities fell into despair and the civic infrastructure in which we all live and rely upon crumbled around us.

Wage stagnation, the worst since Napoleonic times, has struck another blow to the masses of ordinary people. With energy companies continuously raising prices, transport costs soaring and everyday living costs swallowing up salaries, millions of everyday families are struggling to make ends meet.

This is the reality of our economy in 2018 after nearly a decade of Tory failure, 40 years of neo-liberal governments and, let us face facts, all whilst we were in the EU.

Brexit was a genuine democratic revolt. Millions of ordinary citizens came out to use democracy and suffrage to have a say on issues that affect their daily lives. They voted for self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism. It was the elite versus the people, The average citizen versus an establishment that wasn’t listening any more! A detached set of establishment elites. The expenses scandal exacerbated the feeling of political alienation – and if the elitist, powerful few renege now, trust in Parliament will be destroyed for generations.

As someone who was born into one of those left-behind Labour heartlands, I can tell you that we’ve had enough of class tourists such as Farage and other charlatan posh boys claiming to represent us, like Johnson, Gove and Mogg. They don’t represent the ordinary hard-working people of our regions and never will. Neither do Blair, Mandelson or Leslie.

We need to look towards ourselves as leaders and answer a patriotic call to arms to fight poverty and need, homelessness and hunger, rip-off energy companies and corporations. We need to fight for fairness and decent living standards for all not just the few.

Only a Corbyn-led Labour government is willing to take on those forces that would ensure the status quo and business-as-usual for the 1% at the cost to the 99%.

As Franklin D Roosevelt said, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” Look at those who are against Corbyn and his policies and you’ll see why he is the man to change Britain in favour of the many not the few, for the millions of ordinary people not just the millionaires.

As for Project Fear, let us also remember Roosevelt’s words as he faced with the threats and merchants of gloom from the establishment and stood up for the people over the establishment status quo:

This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’

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  1. “Overturning a democratic vote in another country overseas would be deemed an act of a banana republic, anti-democratic and denounced by the same people endorsing it here in the UK.”

    Yes, of course it would, except it was done in Ireland, with its two Maastrict referenda.

    1. Sorry, correction! I meant about the TWO referenda in Ireland—both ‘had’ to be run again for the Nice Treaty (2001 and 2002) and the Lisbon Treaty (2008 and 2009), after the first votes didn’t get the ‘required’ result.

  2. The referendum was a Tory solution to a Tory problem and Tory europhiles & Tory europhobes seem determined to tear their party apart and happy to take our country with it. Only another People’s vote will solve this. Whether it’s May’s Brexit or remain, I’ll accept the result. Most who voted leave hadn’t the first idea of what they were voting for. Democracy demands regular elections to check what the country wants and this is no different. Give votes to all those 16+ and hope that many leavers are past voting.

    If Parliament rejects May’s deal, then rejects a series of alternative options (no deal, Norway, Canada etc) using ‘indicative votes’ and finally uses a free vote to agree a people’s vote, they could define the wording & timing and agree votes for 16+; May’s leave deal or remain. May would have to accept or risk being in even further contempt. A free vote would free Corbyn of criticism from Labour leavers. Done & dusted!

    After the electorate realise the Tories are a busted flush and Corbyn wins the next GE, he should demand the EU improve its democracy. A Europe of the regions free of austerity as demanded by democrats across the continent from Scotland to Catalonia.

    By the way, the Conservative & Unionist Party may well provoke the end of the union. Scots people voted to remain and are fed up to the back teeth being ruled by Westminster Tories. N. Ireland also voted remain and the solution to the border is staring them in the face; a united Ireland! End of!!!

    Leavers (just like Trump voters) have legitimate concerns but are distracted by the drip, drip, drip over decades of our, so called, ‘free press’ owned by tax-haven based billionaires. They define patriotism as monarchy & flag rather than as investment in all our people. and blame all the problems caused by Tory austerity on everything from migrants to the EU. Corporate media bias is a much more fundamental problem than UKIP. Corbyn has indicated he wants to fix the corporate media too….

    1. After wading through 1750+ words I’ve finally reached a comment that is based on reality.

    2. “who voted leave hadn’t the first idea of what they were voting for. ”

      Oh Jesus wept! Just after posho Alastair Campbell claimed “I should also point out that the only people I ever hear saying that Leave voters voted out of ignorance or racism are people such as yourself and Nigel Farage who wish to make it an issue.” along comes second referendum fan David Cannon to prove him wrong.

      1. Apparantly, there are two leave options; May’s negotiated option or crashing out. Your preference???

      2. I would very much like to walk away. However, that isn’t going to happen. There won’t be a second referendum for remainers, the political establishment doesn’t want to invoke class war. The most sensible debate I have yet heard, predicts we will end up with a Norway + trade agreement. This will be acceptable to the majority of people.

      3. At what stage will a Norway + deal be negotiated and how long willTHAT take???

    1. At the moment we have a strange amalgamation of obsessives, i.e. the crazy right wing Little Englanders of the Tory Party and the living in the past eccentrics in the left of the Labour Party. These two groups have joined together to say that we must leave the EU to make our country poorer!

      When anyone says, “hang on, now that we have a better idea of the consequences, lets look again at what 37% of the electorate voted for and ask them in another vote if this is what they really want?” they are literally shouted down and told they don’t respect democracy – it’s perverse. For the Leavers, it’s the wrong type of democracy.

      In certain circles it’s unfashionable to listen to experts but here is one who really does know about the consequences of Brexit

      1. Ah, but Jack – Rogers is one of ‘the establishment’.

        (Def : someone who disrupts Lexit given simplicities with argument).

      1. Yes but I didn’t expect you to attack me with your new found weapon 🙂

  3. Excelent piece. As a left wing democratic socialist I felt there were 2 options to try to build such a society here as an example to other countries, firstly via our EC socialist partners including trade unions in Europe to break EC Neo-Liberalism collectively or secondly via independent nation states cooperating.
    I held my nose and voted Remain but accept the result and it has to be option 2.
    If middle class liberals and Labour Neo-Liberals win a second vote (and as Brecht argued (try to) find another public then like the author of this post I would vote Leave!
    But some of the Left I would argue are perhaps taking a UK centric view – migrant workers come here and make us richer and our rich richer but as internationalists have you ever wondered when we take all these free workers from the EC who is looking after their older and vulnerable people, who is looking after their health, teaching their children etc. etc?
    Of course their is the pull of generally better wages but some Right Wing Govts like the vile Polish Govt stop unemployment benefits after 3 months so there is also a push but as internationalists does this concern you?
    It was pointed out recently (Guardian) that £8b a year goes back in overseas remittances but how much did these countries spend in making sure they had healthy and educated workers (which we get for free from them) whilst denying their own economies?
    I would argue if we could get democratic control of labour (and capital) supply then we could take skilled and unskilled workers needed from anywhere but we could also be the first as an example to break the chain of Neo-Liberalism in Europe (as again the New Left Review argues Neo-Liberalism is in structural decline in the US).
    I also argue the first great victory of Neo-Liberalism was to stop many on the Left from dreaming (but fortunately not all of us) whilst now in Europe it has perhaps captured some of the Left in a Neo-Liberal straight jacket where it could be argued some just cannot imagine an internationalism without a (Neo-Liberal) EC structure?
    But of course we can, and build deals on trade, security, movement (but not on Neo-Liberal single market terms), a customs union on non NeoLiberal terms but we may have to pay a fee collectively for UK companies to trade tariff free, student exchanges, reciprocal health arrangements etc. etc. perhaps time to start dreaming again!

  4. But…these are all emotional or political reasons. The fact is Brexit is doing and will do massive harm to our economy and we will all suffer. Just don’t do it and be normal and get on with trying to improve the critical situation in this country.

    1. Economists completely and utterly disagree with you. History shows that when a country coming from a low base, undertakes restructuring, it grows at a faster rate then it would otherwise have done and due to retooling/updating, it achieves a far higher level of sustainable growth than would have ever been possible if it maintained the status quo.
      I do wish people wouldn’t come on these blogs and write stuff they want to believe as if it were cast iron truth. The person writing emotionally, is you. I would also remind you that your outlook is extremely conservative.

      1. “Economists completely and utterly disagree with you”

        A few do. Most don’t.

        The British economy is structurally weak; too much depends upon the funny money industry and domestic consumption; too little is invested, and manufacturing exports are weak.

        There is no conceivable way that all the diversion caused by disrupting links with our nearest neighbours is going to help any restructuring – except towards more of the right wing mecca of low wage, low regulation model.

  5. Nearly two years since the Referendum and our country is a complete shambles.

    We were given a Referendum with no explanation of the most important aspects of leaving or remaining. Where was the information detailing the pros and cons of leaving, versus the pro and cons of remaining?
    It was Advisory! This need not have happened.

    The deal the Prime Minister has negotiated seems to have no chance of passing in Parliament, and appears to please nobody.

    The Government seems to be putting off the big decisions yet again, but we now need to get on with putting the Brexit issue behind us, once and for all. Quite frankly, everyone I speak to is utterly exasperated: it has been an complete waste of two years!

    As an older voter, with three offspring I would have liked to be certain that our young people would have the same opportunities that we had: To travel freely within the continent of Europe to find employment, to learn other languages and customs, to become friendly with people in the countries of mainland Europe: To broaden their minds. I believe that we owe them a duty to ensure that they have a freedom to do that without having to go through hours of waiting in queues to prove their credibility with all the red tape that would be necessary. It is not fair to deny them that right.

    My contemporaries had many opportunities and benefits from being in the EU but the next generation will not be to fortunate. They will have to bear the heaviest brunt of reduction in job opportunities and less money for public services and I am desperately worried that they are being denied a debate by fanatically desperate people who want Brexit without a clue of what effect it will have on our future.

    It would be an enormous mistake to leave the EU with no deal and totally pointless to leave with a worse deal than staying in the EU. But let’s allow the people of this country to make that choice.

  6. “Let us face reality here, the EU will not save us from Tory austerity and cuts”

    Correct – but equally the EU is not responsible for Tory austerity and Tory cuts. I just don’t see any credible connection between legitimate criticism of the Tories’ callous ideology and the need to leave the EU.

    With regard to fears of “overturning democracy”, surely that horse has already bolted? Wasn’t democracy overturned by the Tories’ efforts to implement the outcome of a merely advisory referendum won by electoral lawbreaking, a false prospectus and alleged foreign interference, while trying to circumvent parliamentary scrutiny at every turn?

    I’m hugely pro-Corbyn, but I simply don’t understand why he doesn’t call out the abuse of democracy by which the referendum was “won”. As many others have pointed out, if Brexit were an athlete s/he would have been disqualified and the medals withdrawn.

  7. There’s no moral imperative in supporting the referendum result after the disgraceful way it was conducted. Those who are still Leavers should be thankful of getting another chance of a fair vote rather than it being overturned by Parliament and the UK staying in the EU without a public vote.

    Why anyone on the left considers leaving the EU with the protections it provides is baffling. The only beneficiaries from a Brexit will be the powerful and rich, those who wish to exploit workers, pollute the environment, or launder money. Of course laundering was how Leave funded their campaign in the first place!

  8. Amazing piece! Thanks for sharing this. The writer is truly talented ✊🏼

  9. A referendum result that can’t be overturned by a later one opens the door of logic to the last ever General Election and a one-party state.

    1830/31/32, 1885/86, 1910/11, 1922/23/24, 1929/31, 1950/51, 1974/74 and 2015/17 were all General Election years.

    Claims that a second referendum so soon after the first would be undemocratic are baseless.

  10. Ousting this rotten Tory party is the only way forward or the problems caused by austerity, the issues that led so many to vote for Brexit, will be ignored for yet another decade. I think Labour are right to prioritize an early election as we are functioning almost entirely without governance right now. The ability of Theresa May to stay propped in power without any ability to govern at all is the legacy of the fixed term parliament act. This is not normal or acceptable as it has given our PM the power of a dictator holding both parliament and the public to ransom.

    If Labour manage to win a no confidence vote they should fight for an early election promising to pull the Article 50 letter immediately as that is absolutely within our power. This would remove the unrealistic deadlines that constrain us and it would give us time to fully prepare. We should not even consider resubmitting A50 unless or until those that want Brexit have reached a solid consensus regarding exactly what they want and what is realistically achievable with the EU. Labour should put together a cross party/all party committee including representation from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, in order to agree a plan for Brexit that protects the interests of everyone. There should also be a committee to bargain with the EU for changes, but rather than demanding UK special treatment, we should focus on proposals to benefit all EU countries with the objective of preventing future disillusioned EU countries from abandoning the EU.

    Only after there is a credible Brexit plan, with a solution to serious problems like the Northern Ireland Border, should a Peoples Vote be allowed to proceed. This should have been done the first time but it wasn’t and it was not the only serious flaw delegitimizing the first vote. I worry about the option of a peoples vote while this dysfunctional government still remain in power and able to stack the agenda and co-apt the predominantly right wing press. Any new vote must allow those who were excluded last time to participate: those who were within groups who are likely to be most impacted by Brexit must have a say. EU citizens who have paid taxes here for years and UK citizens living in EU countries who were once promised that they would not lose their right to vote. Young people who will be forced to live with the consequences Brexit will have on their future must be given the vote at 16.

    While in power the Tories have NEVER given a hoot about the “Will of the People” past or present on any issue what-so-ever. The serious concerns of local communities impacted by fracking have had the “Will of the People” trampled on and totally ignored. The multiple efforts to halt and fix Universal Credit are totally ignored too, among the many toxic Tory injustices we are all expected to choke down.

    How many other times has this Tory government totally ignored reason to consciously inflict pain and suffering on the public? This reality should make any savvy person wonder why the “Will of the People” is so vitally important to the Tories on this one particular occasion? I am not fooled by millionaires like Jacob RM ranting on about how much he really cares regarding the cost of our footwear! The Tory elite will move all of their money offshore and not feel any of the pain that Brexit will inflict on the poor in this country. They do not care!

    With all this talk of the fantastic global trade deals available after Brexit no one is bothering to question how the extra air and sea miles will exacerbate global warming? No one is questioning why the Tories axed the Nursing bursary that supported training UK staff for our NHS? A career in nursing now requires an unpaid 36 hour a week apprenticeship in addition to a hefty student debt. Think about the toxic underlying agenda of restricting UK immigration to only “the best and the brightest.” In reality this is a morally bankrupt Tory policy of “scavenge, exploit and deport:” why? Because it is far cheaper than bothering to invest in UK training. Poorer young people in the UK will in future have a lot fewer training options and much lower wages after the Tories force us to endure the reality of Brexit. Time to slow down and think again very carefully about our future.

    There is a very serious problem here. A total inability for our current UK population to fully recognize the toxic underlying Tory agenda. Why would a responsible government reduce the possibility for local UK training opportunities at the very same time as EU staff headed home or were discouraged from coming to the UK? We can recruit qualified staff from the developing world cheaper and they will tolerate far poorer pay, conditions and rights in a way that EU staff would not tolerate. This opens up the opportunity for the post Brexit Tory party to cripple all our trade unions and turn the UK into a massive workforce of starving, compliant, impoverished serfs with no future. That is the horrific underlying agenda to which we will destine British youth after Brexit.

    What is so desperately needed is a series of ideas that allow those currently disadvantaged by abject poverty to gain a tangible stake in the advantages of free movement of people. This would include better opportunities to train or retire overseas under government supported schemes as part of what I call, “Collaborative Circular Migration.” I have tried forwarding such proposals to several Labour Party MPs and our one Green MP, but no replies. Everyone so fixated on obsessing over a Peoples Vote should think about what might make a difference this time around: none of our politicians are thinking outside the box yet.

    1. Kim Sanders-Fisher, good analysis.
      What was called “headhunting” has always been around to some degree but iirc it really took off in the 80’s when the yuppie that hadn’t yet been hh’d kept quiet about it – it was as much a badge of status as a Guards Red 911.
      Around the same time the JIT principle was imported from Japan (Toyota I think) because some corporate beancounter calculated that all the little suppliers of components could be made to bear the cost of warehousing and save the corporation that cost. Great for the corporation but not so great for the supplier, the customer, after-sales service or the independents providing that service – I once waited 13 months for a parts shipment from Japan to a corporation’s UK subsidiary.

      Headhunting on a global scale is the reason we no longer teach medicine or anything else to enough of our young people. It was an early example of the drive to cut employment costs that has also led to zero hours contracts and every other abuse.

      JIT is one major reason the customs and border issues around Brexit are such a big issue and and a major reason for increased numbers of delivery journeys even in a time of much reduced manufacturing output.

      Accountants are responsible for both of these ridiculously short-term ‘solutions’ to problems that didn’t exist – both just boosted corporate profits and share price at the expense of suppliers and gave a temporary business advantage until the competition caught up.

      Those clever bastards are blissfully unaware that, come the revolution, we only have to shoot the beancounters and lawyers to strip the 1% of their assets.
      Just sayin’ 🙂

      1. Good elaboration on the sad reality few are aware of. There are other scary realities that the Tories have factored in with regard to immigration. The reality is that we have a poor track record of tracking down those who are working illegally right now and it is getting worse as the government has cut staff and funding. However when EU nationals join the ranks of illegal workers by moving into the illegal job market the problem of enforcing compliance will grow exponentially. This will quickly become a situation that is beyond our ability to police even after forcing UK citizens to rat out their neighbours.

        The Tories know the system of regulating the illegal work force is destined to be totally overwhelmed after Brexit, but that plays right into their agenda of crippling the unions and further impoverishing the working poor. With compliance hard to regulate unscrupulous businesses will choose to hire cheap illegal workers and right of the occasional fines as a business expense. Already changes to the law disproportionately punish the person found working illegally rather than the person hiring them. This is Nirvana for the Tories with desperate UK workers forced to compete with a growing number of overstay EU citizens ready to risk the consequences. Soon after Brexit the Tories will insist that workers rights will need to be stripped back if people want to keep their jobs.

        In 2009 during a ten country tour, “needs assessment of anaesthesia care in Sub-Saharan Africa,” I saw first hand the impact of our morally bankrupt system of scavenging medical staff from countries that cannot afford to train them. NHS England has shamefully adopted the name I selected for one of my Collaborative Circular Migration initiatives, calling it “Earn, Learn and Return” when in reality it represents the ramping up of “Scavenge, Exploit and Deport. I say this because those who come here to “Learn” must already be fully qualified practitioners trained at the expense of their own country. After we have finished with them they are unlikely to return to their country of origin, but will probably move to a second industrialized scavenger nation like the US.

        Our relentless depletion of human resources in developing countries will further exacerbate the poverty, instability and unrest that drives the desperation of migration. Why did Ebola spread so quickly in West Africa? Can we afford to continue decimating healthcare infrastructure around the world just to avoid investing in UK training? A discussion I had with a nurse in Malawi who had worked in our NHS started me thinking about a more equitable solution: “Collaborative Circular Migration.” The UK could select stable countries in the developing world to set up UK sponsored training schemes with the help of our Foreign Aid Budget. The concept would involve paired training of UK and local students alongside one another and taught by local staff who had spent time working in our NHS.

        The reality is that we would not be scavenging Africa’s Doctors and Nurses unless they were properly trained. It is also true that the cost of training in the developing world is far less than in the UK so why not train our staff overseas? This plan offers benefits on all sides. It would provide funding for training facilities overseas sponsored by our government. It would cost the UK less to train our staff overseas where they could learn from the ground up with far less reliance on high tech. It would boost local healthcare infrastructure and provide incentives for countries to prove stability and good governance to court UK programs. It would train local staff with a commitment to remain working in country for a reasonable pay back period. Paired training might help establish professional bonds to endure throughout the working career of participants.

        Concepts like this for Collaborative Circular Migration offer a tangible, ethical way forward that a newly enlightened “Global Britain” under a Labour Government should adopt. We cannot continue to ignore the obvious push factors driving migration because we can never succeed in building a big enough barricade to keep people out. Immigration is market driven: to reduce net migration we could just destroy the market which is what may happen under Brexit. I have sailed thousands of miles, lived and worked all over the world; I would be a hypocrite if I denied people the right to come here. However the real enemy that we must focus on destroying is the desperation that drives migration. A fairer more equal EU and beyond will make immigration a lot more manageable.

      2. ‘Sailed’ got my attention since I’ve been stuck on the hard ‘getting around to’ fitting a bow thruster for longer than I’m willing to admit – so, in an entirely non-stalking way, I looked you up.
        Impressive 🙂

  11. Because the media and elite are so pro Remain they manage to drown out contrary thinking. It was that arrogance as much as anything that got up people’s noses in 2016. Now they’re doing it again! I voted Leave because the EU Commission demands adherence to their very conservative views. Socialism is effectively banned. It’s not really just a question of sovereignty but liberty. A 2nd Referundum is not wise; the result is likely to be similar to 2016. A close Remainish vote would surely result in a 3rd Referendum – or those soldiers will be required and more. That might mean another 2-3 years without any decision! Then we’d be back to exactly where we are now.

    1. Paul 19/12/2018 at 12:37 am

      A close Remainish vote would surely result in a 3rd Referendum

      Or alternatively cancelling A-50 may give the country the breathing space it needs and if the Brexiteers still want to fight their corner it will give them the opportunity to actually agree on what sort of Brexit they want and to also come up with a credible plan. Failing so miserably to achieve either of these is not a good look and doesn’t inspire much confidence in the abilities of the Brexiteers to run anything

    2. “Because the media and elite are so pro Remain”

      This is observably nonsense, Paul. The propaganda of the plutocrat press – from the Sun to the Torygraph was a major engine of the referendum result. The ‘Remain’ view dominated a minority of the press coverage in total.

      … and I suggest dropping the term ‘elite’ – it has lost all real meaning with its use by that press.

      As to another vote – I don’t relish it, but it may be the only way out of continuing to travel down a constantly narrowing path to nowhere. The hard fact is that the probability of Brexit bringing any benefits to anything but hedge fund short selling has decreased to a vanishingly small percentage during two years of pointless waste.

      And underlying the case is that there was no clearly defined way forward in the referendum result. The country is split, and those supporting Brexit are probably in an even smaller minority than they were when very little thought had been given to the issue.

    3. Paul, remind me again how many times the BBC and SKY wheeled out Farage to promote Brexit? To say nothing of the Brexiteering MAIL and the SCUM.

  12. The slaughter of Labour in its target seats is a strong point here. But of course most supporters of the arrogantly-titled “People’s Vote” would be horrified at the prospect of a Corbyn-led majority Labour government anyway.

    Here is another analysis on the Leave voters and how the way they are defamed by the “PV” clique is mired in hatred of the working class.


    1. Doesn’t “the slaughter of Labour in its target seats” imply that the people living in those seats are immune to persuasion – a homogenous, undifferentiated mass – ballot box fodder?

      1. No one is immune from persuasion David, that’s why, when the leave campaign disbanded with “job done”, the remain campaign went into hyper-drive and virtually unlimited cash flooded in from all over the world. And since then, project fear has been taking pride of place on our TVs, newspapers and computers. The power of marketing has seen Labour supporters flocking to join the neoliberal lobbyists “Best for Britain” and lining up with the likes of the CEO of the Virgin group…..you couldn’t make it up.

      2. “No one is immune from persuasion David”
        My point exactly.

    2. But of course most supporters of the arrogantly-titled “People’s Vote” would be horrified at the prospect of a Corbyn-led majority Labour government anyway.

      For once, you’re bang on the money!

    3. ” But of course most supporters of the arrogantly-titled “People’s Vote” would be horrified at the prospect of a Corbyn-led majority Labour government anyway.”

      Take the tinted glasses off and have a look at the reality.

      Large numbers of Labour voters in general and Corbyn supporters in general simply see another referendum as a mechanism for getting out of a situation that has made the country a laughing stock and that, two years on, has no convincing argument to sustain it.

      In a situation where the vote for ‘Leave’ was a minority vote of just above 1/3rd, anyone who can count will recognise that Labour need (a) ‘Remain’ voters and (b) a broad swathe middle class voters (the fictional ‘elite’ of Lexit fantasy)

      Labour is not simply a ‘working class’ Party (however defined) – it’s a coalition. Always has been. Always will be.

      P.S. I love how the much bandied term ‘People’ has become a term of arrogant abuse when the ‘Peeple Swill’ fiction doesn’t work any longer.

  13. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday – my oldest friend.. He’s married to a German, and they’ve lived happily in both this country and Germany. Being in contact with them – right back to before the 1975 referendum – has always put an interesting perspective on this country in relation to Europe, both positive and, as now – negative.

    I’m sure if I I forwarded this wordy tapestry, they will instantly abandon their current inclination (where they are very happily settled) to move back to Germany ahead of the Brexit debacle. The prospect of a New Jerusalem and booming economy based on windy rhetoric must surely convince them.


    Others have covered the myths contained in the weave, but I have to comment on this absurd linking of historical fact :

    ” From the Chartists and Suffragettes to Brexit …”

    Sorry, but Brexit isn’t a revolutionary, progressive working class movement – any more than kicking the cat is a political act.

    I am quite aware that dispossession, dis-empowerment and poverty have fueled a resentment that found expression for some in the ‘Leave’ vote. I have lived in the Yorkshire coalfield ever since I started work, and need no reminder of the devastation and dislocation of community that the dismantling of the coal and steel industries has caused. I am also desperately aware of the success of Thatcher and followers in shattering the associated political and social ties.

    But to jump from that perception to seeing a fictional act of working class solidarity in the vote is just wishing.

    As we all know, the Brexit movement is in essence of the extreme, plutocratic right, and its inspiration is Ayn Rand, not Marx. The extreme right is pretty good at ‘populism’ – a con for recruiting support by those who have done the pre-existing damage.This really isn’t difficult to see when you line up the main protagonists (and note the influence of the hedge funds).

    And – from all the evidence, we know that whilst resentment may have fueled the Leave vote, it’s object wasn’t to create a socialist society. Much of the rhetoric came straight out of the Sun and Mail rather than any left-wing text. The plutocrat press – owned by non-doms and foreigners played a blinder with the Johnsonian lying propaganda.

    All the major ‘Lexit’ tropes – the notion that everyone is calling ‘Leave’ voters ‘stupid’, or that the referendum displayed a clear ‘People’s Will’, or that ‘Remain’ is ‘betryal’, or that a new referendum is ‘antidemocratic -all are toys thrown out of the plutrocrat press playbook.

    And now the ‘Lexiteers’ follow on behind their populist wire-pulling, creating a fantasy society where class is reduced to inane simplicities of binary opposition (just like referendum choice). Thus we have an ‘elite’ of about 50% of the population, the ‘Guardian’ is entirely evil (and I’ve had a few run-ins with that rag) whilst the Murdoch/Barclay/Bile press becomes the tribune of the Peeple.

    A visit to Planet Earth is much needed.


    1. Something you don’t mention is the discontent now being voiced within the EU, for all the same reasons as here at home. Where is your certainty that that the EU is as rosy as you would have us all believe. Its like clinging on to the decks of Titanic after the music stopped playing.

      1. “. Where is your certainty that that the EU is as rosy as you would have us all believe.”

        I note the common tendency of True BLeavers to hear voices. Not a good marker of balanced judgment. But a signifier of a religious mind-set.

        Who has said that the EU is ‘rosy’???

        As I’ve written elsewhere, the point is that it is just a better pragmatic choice than a fantasy La La Land occupied by a joke Little Britain as a client of the US.

      2. RH: if you really really understood what is happening in the EU at the moment the pragmatic choice would be leave in the manner outlined by Labour’s current policy.

        Do you understand the relationship between our own sovereign currency and the Euro controlled by the likes of Schaeuble, I would say no you don’t or you would recognise the economic futility currently pursued in Europe, giving rise to growing fascism, and rising poverty levels throughout Europe, hence the protests.

        Just because all we hear about is the Tory version of Brexit people like yourself allow themselves the disservice of believing anything would be better in the EU than that, in truth the Neo- Liberal politicians in the EU are pursuing identical policies as the Tories, working in the interest of international corporations at our expense.

      3. Just to make clear : I don’t discount or deny the effect of neoliberal policies in Europe. Not at all.

        What I do challenge is (a) the notion that the EU is the prime driver (the UK provides the perfect example of home-grown neoliberalism being ahead of the game) and (b) the notion that an isolated and impoverished client of the US (as implied by Brexit) stands any chance of implementing socially progressive policies. The scenario envisaged by the right-wing Brexit seems far more likely.

        In summary – staying in the EU is a necessary condition for moving forward, even if it isn’t sufficient.

  14. I speak as a resident of France and the only time we were allowed a referendum about the EU was over the EU constitution. A similar thing happened as 2016 in the UK; the establishment all campaigned for a yes vote and the people (who were very well informed because every household was given a copy of the constitution) shocked them by voting against it. They voted against it because it enshrined capitalism as the state religion of the EU, and not only that, the Dutch did too. The EU response? Pretend to be defeated and then come back again with the same thing in a different guise – this time called the Treaty of Lisbon and not requiring referendums because it was pitched as an amendment to the Maastricht Treaty. Ring any bells? The EU won’t take no for an answer, any more than their allies in the British bourgeoisie will, which is why they and and May came up with a “deal” that is Brexit in name only. The way things are going right now, with the Gilets Jaunes insurrection, we may end up being rid of the EU before the British.

    1. ” The way things are going right now, with the Gilets Jaunes insurrection, we may end up being rid of the EU before the British.”

      … and in hoc to the far right as an alternative? Another parallel.

      (I also note the similar give-away of the loose use of the term ‘the people’ as a single, unproblematic entity. Another marker.)

      The main problem in both countries isn’t primarily the EU – it’s the domestic inability to elect a progressive government.

  15. What a superbly reasoned and excellently written article, particularly the first four paras, and then this: “The centrist, uber-remainers and their Tory, Lib-Dem bedfellows still don’t understand what drove people to vote leave in the first place. They have learnt nothing from the first result. A second referendum shows they are on the side of a bourgeois reaction, a spasm at angry working-class action.” Indisputable stuff, in my view.

  16. Mr. Searson draws conclusions based on his own unproven assertions even in his first few paragraphs.
    I prefer not to point them out unless I’m pressed – I feel Scrooge enough as it is.
    Some people – and it seems like many to me – never develop the facility of logical thought.
    Those are the people without whom propagandists would starve.
    Others knowingly ignore the logical flaws in the arguments of those whose opinions they share – I’m guilty of biting my tongue right now on another issue here but at least I draw the line at repeating it.
    Not knowing Mr. Searson I don’t know whether he believes his arguments stand up or he just takes us for an uncritical audience.

  17. I note the latest polling confirms the observation that says that there is no mileage in Labour supporting ‘Leave’. Quite the contrary.

    (Yes, I know – Kellner and YouGov are all an elite conspiracy making it up)

    But the implications, which gel with general observation, are that If the Party is seeking a general election, it had better get serious about a strategy for winning it – and that means the leadership aligning more with the grassroots rather than vice versa.

  18. I’m not convinced by your idea that people in the left-behind areas voted Leave because they were throwing off their shackles. Some did it because of heavy-duty sustained brainwashing from the Tory media about how we must leave. I read yesterday that in Liverpool, where people boycott the Sun newspaper, the majority was for Remain. But thanks for your thoughts; we need to remember, and remain humble enough to listen to those who don’t have a voice.

    1. Frances Kay, you are correct, the majority of us scousers saw through the the lies and spin of Farage and no one can say we are not a working class area but we are different because we don’t allow the Sun to influence us having seen how deceitful it can be.

      The power of suggestion is often overlooked but this is how the referendum was ‘won’. By telling the confused to take back control of this that or the other, when in fact we had never lost control, many took a chance and voted Leave. Derren Brown uses this power to great effect in his shows. He knows exactly what course of action his ‘subjects’ are going to take because he has already triggered them to do it by using suggestion. The right wing press had been doing this for years and when the bell rang the Pavlovian response kicked in.

      Skwawky is just re-hashing old stuff because he knows he has lost the Leave argument.

      1. If you haven’t listened to this series of programs I strongly recommend them. I found tonight’s episode particularly good.

        Poland – As Others See Us https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0008432
        2019 is a year of potentially momentous change for the United Kingdom, and in a continuation of his series, Neil MacGregor visits five different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain.
        In the final programme of the series, Neil makes the journey from South Ruislip on the A40 to the centre of Warsaw – to find out how Poland, our wartime ally and recent European partner, now sees Britain, as we prepare to leave Europe, come what may. He talks to Paweł Ukielski, political scientist and Deputy Director of the Warsaw Rising Museum; Oscar nominated film director, Agnieszka Holland; Radosław Sikorski, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current MEP; and writer and rights activist, Agnieszka Graff.

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