Category: EU

For Scottish Independence and Irish Unity! by Paul Anderson

The relationship between  Scotland and Ireland has never been far from my thinking.  I am the offspring of a Scottish mother  Isobel and an Irish father Freddy. Both of them left the Catholic church and theism for atheism and became revolutionaries in that they were deeply influenced by the events surrounding the Russian revolution.   I would term them “gut” socialists in that their own experience of life led them to socialist ideas, not the dry reading of theory.   The poetry of “The Communist Manifesto” was powerful enough in itself.    Even today it is a striking call for human liberation.   Freddy was a propagandist.  I often saw him as a one-man political party.  He never waited for any party line.

It was him, more than my mother who was a very well read working class woman, who had more than a working knowledge of both Scottish and Irish culture and history.  It was his life. He produced a novel, many plays, and numerous poems, but this I will leave for another day.   I am only trying to relate the importance of the subject matter to my life.

There are core similarities between Scotland and Ireland that not merely have to do with the Gaelic language and its traditions.  Frederick Engels in his  “Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” points to the structure of the clan system and even to “mother right” where goods were passed along through the female line.  The relative closeness of primitive socialistic economic structures which bypassed much of the feudalism that had developed in England for centuries, (for a time both systems coexisted), caused John Maclean, the pioneer of  Scottish socialism to create the slogan “Back to Communism, Forward to Communism!”

In my own studies of the Gaelic language. I found that there is no basic concept of ownership, like the Red Indians who could not grasp at least initially the idea of land ownership. it was alien to their thinking,  The Gaels do not have possessive terms like my, his or hers,.. they say things are at, or on, or by. That is indeed one of the charms of learning the native tongue.

The beauty of Celtic culture is the stuff of legend, in this, it shares much with other aboriginal nations.

However, like large swathes of aborigine culture, it shares a great tragedy that has led to the Diaspora.  We can find pockets of Irish and Scots all over our planet. Both the Irish famine and the Highland clearances, being prime culprits.  Some of the saddest and most angry writing in the world’s poetry and song reflect these events. Not to mention other forms of literature. There are many great plays and novels on these themes.

Another aspect of  Irish and Scottish history has been the “auld alliance”  with France, in which successive  rebellions against  the British empire added misery to misery through failure and partial victories but not without much impressive heroism that has come to be a huge cultural force in the rise of the national consciousness in both Ireland and Scotland.   This is the cultural backdrop to both countries relationship with Europe. It may not explain the pro-European affinities of both these Celtic nations but it cannot be dismissed as an influence.  There is the radical influence of the French Revolution and its slogan of “fraternity, equality and liberty”  which still haunts the financial oligarchies of this earth. The European Union ever more usurped by neo-liberalism has moved to the right with the notable exception of  Portugal which has implemented some anti-austerity measures. European states do not all use a single social model, but welfare states in Europe do share several broad characteristics. These generally include a commitment to full employment, social protection for all citizens, social inclusion, and democracy. Examples common among European countries include universal health care, free higher education, strong labour protections and regulations, and generous welfare programs in areas such as unemployment insurance, retirement pensions, and public housing.  Austerity is damaging this social model but even in Greece, it is at least ostensibly what is being rebuilt.

This social model contrasts with the American “way of life” which has a much weaker commitment to the welfare state. The so-called  “special relationship”  between the UK and US has been criticised because many US neo-liberal policies are transmitted to Europe by this route.  There is a great fear that Brexit will be used as cover to allow whole scale privatisation of the NHS in England which will do untold damage to the funding of Health Service in both Scotland, Wales and the six counties of Northern Ireland.

The sterile debate about the EU has its root the Irish border.  Both the Tories and the Labour Party want to leave the single market and have frictionless borders.  Essentially they want to stay in the single market and leave it at the same time.

Traditionally, “England’s weakness has been Ireland’s opportunity”.   Scotland too can take advantage of this historic moment.  Both Sinn Fein and the SNP  are looking for referendums.  Sinn Fein is calling for a referendum on Irish unity.   The SNP are saying that leaving the single market is the cue for Scottish independence.

I agree.  There is no doubt in my mind that a hard Brexit will be an economic disaster and break the law when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement.

Arguing that the EU is merely a capitalist club just corrupt as the UK is like not seeing the wood for the trees.  The EU is the world biggest trading partnership, which if we leave, it will leave the UK competing with the EU.  That is utterly insane, from a capitalist point of view.  Socialism is a relatively weak force on our planet. We have a long distance to go before we have the basis of a  needs-based democratically planned world economy.

What will help is Scotland and a United Ireland fighting for a truly social Europe.  As Lenin said, and that doesn’t make it sacrosanct “Politics is the art of the possible”

 

 

 

EU freezes Brexit talks until Britain produces Irish border solution | The Independent

The EU has thrown down an ultimatum to Theresa May in Brexit talks, warning that it will not open discussions about trade or other issues until the Irish border question is solved. Speaking in Dublin alongside the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, European Council President Donald Tusk said talks would be a case of “Ireland first” and that “the risk of destabilising the fragile peace process must be avoided at all costs”.

Source: EU freezes Brexit talks until Britain produces Irish border solution | The Independent

Brexit:- The Games Begin

Brexit:- The Games Begin.  9/2/2018

To-days opening of the Winter Olympics coincides with the delivery of an ultimatum from the EU to the UK.  Just a reminder that leaving the single market and customs union will lead to tariffs at the Irish border. Meanwhile, the UK government who have fudged the issue by saying that they don’t want a border, that if there is to be one it would be an Irish choice. They also agreed if in a vague manner to having no hard border.

As the Irish Times reports ““It’s important to tell the truth,” Barnier said, suggesting that British officials have not been forthright about the implications of their public pronouncements. “A U.K. decision to leave the single market and leave the customs union would make border checks unavoidable.””   With Arlene of the DUP being an obstacle to any real compromise this issue is liable to be dragged out a long as possible.  The delay of any realistic possible solution is already weakening the position of the Tory Government with continuing leaks of significant documents including one that shows that all scenarios are bad for the UK economy.

This would signal a possible u-turn if it were not for polls that show that many of those who supported Brexit would rather be worse off than “overrun” by immigrants. The ideology of Brexit has little regard for economic realities.  Those from the left promote democratic arguments, so-called Lexit and point to the bureaucracy, dictatorship, and neoliberal policies of EU countries but this is much at present an aside considering that Portugal is the only country that has moved to the left as far as government power is concerned. Though passions still run high in Greece – leaving the common market has little appeal to those struggling against austerity.  Neoliberalism is bound to be the dominant force in Europe with or without the EU.  Protectionism offers little economic advantage. Leaving the world’s largest trading partnership and the having to compete with that very same partner for Asian, and American markets is very much a no-brainer for practical-minded people.

Corbyn has been a disappointment for the pro-EU left, the mantra of  a “Brexit in the interests of working people” based on the above analysis is a position of staying in the single market.   While it is true that the market in itself is not in the interests of working people, Brexit merely cuts us off from a larger market it does nothing to change the interests of workers in the marketplace. One poll says that 70% of the Labour party membership is for the single market.  The  TUC too has an anti-Brexit outlook and are worried about where the Tories are headed.   A tax haven with no workers rights.

Corbyn is shilly-shallying. This may have some basis in reality and ties into the mood against the Conservatives and their mismanagement of Brexit, the prostitution of themselves to the DUP, and the continuation of austerity in all government departments including the police force.  It does look as though he is giving them enough rope while hoping that the severity of the situation will help win ex-labour UKIP voters back. However, there will be far less room for Corbyn to manoeuvre if the Hard Brexiteers get their way.

The SNP who have been consistent insofar as they have argued against Brexit from the days of the slogan “Scotland in Europe” are also among those putting pressure on Corbyn to declare support for the single market and customs union.  While both Sturgeon and Corbyn have been waiting for clear mandates to push their agendas, the weight against the Tories is mounting.  The demise of the NHS in England, the possible inclusion of the NHS in  a secret trade deal with the US which could allow US companies to gain compensation from the Scottish government if privatisation is not allowed, should alert us all to the need to build an anti-austerity movement capable of bringing down the Tories and their Brexit shenanigans. A lead from Scotland in this direction can push the Labour party more rapidly towards a clearer position on Brexit that reflects the views of its members and trade union backers.

Editorial: Is Jeremy Corbyn playing the long game?

 

One of the biggest shifts in British politics after the Scottish referendum was the announcement of the EU vote. I was surprised by the result. How could the Tories make such a mistake? Some of my more conspiratorial friends thought that was impossible. Yet there was always a hubris about the British Imperialists. This was excellently captured by “Carry on Up the Kyber” . In which the British ruling elite sat through the bombardment of their colonial palace, drinking tea and exploring their stiff upper lips.
The gamble was to keep us in Europe indefinitely more or less. Staying in the EU was such a no-brainer that surely that even the bottom rungs of society would get it.
Yet we saw a large difference between Town and countryside in the referendum. Little England became defiant and largely for the wrong reasons, not least racism. Yet there was some good reasons for leaving the EU. The Bankers treatment of Greece was imperialistic. Baited by Goldman Sachs into bad debt then given impossible and inhuman austerity measures to impose.
Yet the UK was not Greece. It was a privileged member of the EU and was forever trying block anything progressive that moved in The EU,. Playing at being the US junior partner. Even going to war with Iraq did not have the approval of France and Germany initually. The UK could even maintain its own currency within the eurozone.
Despite everything Greece stayed in the EU. The main reason for this was the single market; The largest trading bloc in the world. As Michael Moore put it the UK had voluntary demoted itself from the premiere league. One of the things to plague the left was the idea of the common market . This supposedly gave too much power to Brussels. Hence protectionism became a badge of hard leftist faith. Something that would have been frowned upon by Karl Marx. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1888/free-trade/index.htm

What is clear about protectionism is though it may be a tempory fix for this or that industry it will hurt most industries. This is why when Corbyn says “As he said in his letter back to Ian Blackford, the summit (Blackford proposed a summit for the Single Market)rests on the falsehood that the single market is a membership organisation which you can join, which it is not. Our approach for a jobs-first Brexit, which involves retaining the benefits of the single market, is through negotiation with the EU.”
He is effectively saying we want both protectionism and the free market. The best I can think of this is that it is a stalling mechanism. The SNP are trying to force his hand seeing the recent report from the Labour List saying 75% of the Labour party membership want to remain in the single market as members.
The political long play which I gathered was also the SNP’s  strategy up till now  who seemed to want to let the Tories sink with brexit. The hubris of the Tories is indeed sinking if not drowning. The show of strength by Dublin seems to have pushed hard brexit at least sideways towards the mainland hurtling towards a vote in parliament of some sort. Perhaps towards a new referendum on a deal that will by its very nature will be worse than brexit.
The Tories are in a death agony. If the leadership of the Labour party emerges from hard brexit it has a much better chance playing to its strengths in Metropolitan areas than in Middle England Tory heart lands. Another reason for stalling is to keep a hold of labour voters who voted  for brexit.

As Europe Moves Right, Portugal Veers Left—and Thrives

Since taking power in 2015, Portugal’s Socialist Party has paired economic tailwinds with an effective political narrative about rolling back austerity. It’s unclear, though, whether the party’s success offers lessons for socialists elsewhere in Europe who are losing ground in the current political environment.

Source: As Europe Moves Right, Portugal Veers Left—and Thrives