Remain Alliance


We are all upset, we are all angry, we are all panicked.

Those of us who voted Remain have lost our country. The Britain I asked citizenship in was a tolerant inclusive place. The place where I lived my entire adult life was a place I was proud of, where I felt free and safe. This all changed.

I live in Barnes, on the other side of Hammersmith. The same Hammersmith that has become a target for racist attacks. The Polish Centre where my kid’s school had their end of year show last week has been vandalised. People had swastikas painted on their cars.

This is not the country I swore allegiance to. This is the country Mr Farage and his fascists have been dreaming of.

Those on the Leave side have a lot to be angry for too. They voted Leave, yet Britain does not seem to be leaving. The conservative party and labour seem to be changing leadership, but not much more is evidently happening politically. A lot of things are happening economically. They are all bad. The self-imposed recession, augmented by spending contraction and tax increases to keep to the Conservative agenda,  will hit the poorest (and their regions who voted Leave) the worst. This is something to be angry about.

As a dual European national I am also offended. I am offended that I do not know whether I can stay together with my family. Yes, Leave seems to have been motivated by hatred of ‘foreigners’ in this case Europeans, but the campaign always assumed the rights of current residents will be protected. Today in Parliament Mr Cameron refused to ensure this. Is this to spark a revolt in London against Leave, or is it to use our families as hostages in the negotiation with Europe?

To go back to the Remain side, we have reason to revolt. We have something to defend, the Britain of modernity, not the racist hovel of the 1970s frustrated leavers wish to recreate.

This is my country as well, you hear?

You may be native born, living in an estate for generations in the North in poverty, viewing me as an alien metropolitan elite, but I will not abandon this fight and leave. You will have to fight me and all like me for this, and it will take more than a 1.9% majority in a referendum.

I have explained in an earlier post that the best way to fight this fascist coup is to hold an immediate general election. Leavers have to gain from this too. If a Leave majority emerges it will be able to form a proper government able and willing to carry Brexit through. You want an added sweetener? If this happens I will pack my bags and leave too. I gift you the country if we have one last fight – a general election.

I call for a ‘Remain Alliance’ of everyone wishing this country to remain the Great nation that it is.

This Alliance can fight the election with the single goal of preventing Brexit and saving the Union with Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Liberal Democrats are asking for an election, but not yet for a grand alliance. This is what we need. Labour can defect, or break up, or die, I do not much care so long as its people, MPs and the Unions support the Alliance. Once the Remain Alliance is victorious it can stabilise our relationship with Europe and the regions, restore the economy to normality and then it can resign so elections can take place on traditional party platforms, if this is required.

Brexit is an existential threat for the nation. We cannot lie down while the country disintegrates because Mr Farage and Mr Johnson lied and tricked enough people to vote for their self-destruction. We will not.

There is a practical step for this, something you can do to help. There is a way you can resist.

I have submitted a petition to Parliament to debate a motion for an early general election. This is required by law. The petition did not make it onto the Parliament website as another one had just been accepted on the same issue. I urge you to support this petition. 

Support a Remain Alliance to save our country!

My petition had the following wording:

Parliament to debate a motion for an early general election in 2016

The advisory EU Referendum has returned a result that is at odds with the composition of Parliament that emerged from the May 2015 General Election. The majority of MPs cannot be obligated to legislate the steps to leave the EU against their expressed beliefs as to the interests of the country.

The advisory nature of the EU Referendum means that there is no legal compulsion for Parliament to legislate activation of Art. 50 TEU which begins the process of UK exit from the EU. The current Parliament was elected on a mandate not containing a promise to leave the EU. The conflict between the democratic will of the people as expressed in May 2015 and June 2016 can only be resolved via an early general election, for which the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 requires Parliamentary approval.

Thank you


An Open Letter to Leave Voters


Dear Leave voter, whatever is wrong with your life is not Europe’s fault. It is YOUR fault.

I am upset that immigration has become the central theme of this referendum. Of course this was predictable and indeed predicted. Very few politicians have made with conviction a case in favour of immigration for a long time, and certainly not the Labour party. The LibDems are in favour but with caveats. The Greens are the ones strongly and principally in favour, and this is why I have voted for them since the early 2000s.

Let me ask you this. Do you have a problem with immigration?

Do you see a lot of foreigners about? Does that bother you? In case you do, I am going to try to explain this without branding you a racist. Yes, it bothers me too that there are communities here that seem to disrespect key British values, but what are those values?

Ask a French person what France stands for and they will have no problem telling you. They will probably say things like secularism, equality of citizens, freedom and solidarity. Whether this works out in practice is something else, but the above are core to their identity.

What are considered key British values? I should know, I passed my life-in-the-uk test recently. These re listed as Democracy, the Rule of Law, Liberty, Tolerance, Participation in community life. Let me add a couple more: Meritocracy and Entrepreneurship. These don’t always work well, but they are defining to the character of the country.

While I may dislike certain people at certain times and disapprove of their choices, I am letting them be, because this is the British thing to do. This country does not ram its version of Britishness down people’s throats.

Yet this referendum is changing all that, by this sordid focus on migration. Do you dislike foreigners? Do you mind your Greek dentist? No, of course not. Do you mind your French lecturer? Not really (depending on marks). Do you mind your Polish plumber? No. the Bulgarian girl at the café? No. Who do you mind?

Do foreigners come here to steal your jobs? Do you need someone to blame your failings on? Is it the fault of the Poles you cannot get a council house? Is it the fault of the Greeks you cannot get a job and have your benefits cut? It is YOUR fault. Not because you are poor, or ill-educated, or unlucky. It is YOUR fault for voting in the Tories TWICE. It is your fault for empowering the people that screw you over and over and over again, because you are so gullible you have been made to believe it is the fault of ‘migrants’.

All this is YOUR fault.

Do not compound your problems by voting for the people that have, do and will screw you by giving THEM back control.

Voting LEAVE disrespects British values.

Vote Remain


The return of violence

black rose.jpg

On 16 June 2016 Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered outside her constituency surgery. A week before her birthday this well-loved woman with a young family was killed by a man in broad daylight.

I am shocked as well as the rest of the nation, and the world.

While the police has not made official announcements, there is a lot of speculation in the media that the attacker shouted “Britain First” during the attack. It seems that the attack was premeditated and sustained. It appears the attacker had far-right sympathies, if not actual connections.

Everyone is writing about this at the moment, so why am I joining in? I am writing this because I have a simple point to make.

Brexiteers are morally responsible for this crime.

They may not have ordered the attack. The attacker may not be one of them. They will certainly not benefit from it. Yet I blame them.

Should the Cox atrocity become a stick to beat Leavers with? Yes it should. Isn’t that unfair? No it isn’t.

A healthy political climate is a dynamic thing. Polarisation and anger, hatred and tension breed monsters. Monsters commit violence on the innocent. The murderer of Jo Cox is such a monster.

The EU referendum started as an intra-Tory battle and has turned out to be a fight for the moral heart of the nation. Let us remember of few things about the leadership of Leave.

  • They are enemies of human rights

Hard core Tories and the fascists of UKIP have been campaigning against human rights, your rights, for years. Human rights are not about evil Muslim hate clerics who cannot be deported. They are about YOUR life, your rights. Sadly one realises that they are threatened always too late. You do not want to be the hapless crab that cooks as the temperature increases slowly. The erosion of human rights will take away those of migrants and foreigners first. Then it will take yours.

  • They are enemies of the working class

The Tories who support Leave are the hard right elements of the party who care about their business buddies and personal interests. If you are an average Joe, they don’t care about you, never have never will. Nigel Farage is a posh fascist who plays funny to win over working class people he would not spit on, never mind share a beer with. Boris is even worse.

  • They are enemies of democracy

Hard core policies have failed at the ballot box time and time again. Yet they now achieve the aura of a movement, of momentum, of a majority through the trick of the referendum. This is not democracy, this is a coup.

I apologise to my friends and neighbours who support Leave. I know they are not racists and bigots. If they were, I would not be able (or allowed) to live amongst them. Yet the leadership of Leave are racists and bigots. The Labour elements in them are just deluded fantasists, the few that have joined Leave.

Let us return to the Cox atrocity and why I think it can be attributed to the poisoned political climate emanating from Leave.

If a Muslim man, in a bout of moronic fanaticism kills a couple of defenseless commuters shouting Allahu Akbar, would we think that he is a psychopath acting on his own? While he may well be a psychopath acting on his own, we will call him a jihadist and go bomb ISIS in retaliation (and we should).

If an English white man in a bout of moronic fanaticism kills a woman on the street shouting Britain First, would we think that he is a psychopath acting on his own? Yes, and he will be. Yet we do not want to blame the neo-nazi, fascist, rotten hatred-peddling ideology that informed his thinking. We will avoid at all costs to make the connection between such hatred and the angry anti-everything nationalism of Leave.

Is this the right thing to do?

Should you base your decision on the 23rd on the murder of Jo Cox?

I think you should.

Hands in blood


#ThisIsACoup UK Edition


The British Right are staging a coup, under the cover of the EU Referendum.

Yes, you heard it here first. Those who failed at the ballot box in 2015 are now leading an organised insurrection against Parliament.

The only all-UK Brexit supporting party with Parliamentary representation is UKIP, with 1 MP and 12.6% of the national vote. Yes, not all Convervative MPs (the Tories won 36.9% of the vote and 131 of their MPs favour Leave, while 171 support Remain) are pro-European, but only one party ran on a completely anti-Europe, anti-immigration platform and was rewarded with 12.6% of the vote in May 2015. Nigel Farage the leader of this band of unpleasant bigots and racists is now a leading figure in #Leave, the campaign for Brexit. He is assisted by the ultimate political opportunist Boris Johnson, who sees a chance to steal the leadership of the governing party from hapless Cameron, who was shortsighted enough to call this referendum.

Lets set some things straight for the record. Brexit is 100% economically damaging. The only reason why people are seriously considering it is because they are concerned about immigration, and Leave offers an avenue to express these (largely unfounded and irrational) concerns. The price to pay for restricting European immigration however is losing access to the Single Market, as has been made perfectly clear by everyone in Europe. Brexit means significant, long term financial harm. People may be hopeful and look fondly upon pleasant sounding fairy-tales, but the result is the same. Brexit will mean a poorer Britain for a very long time.

Nonetheless, Brexiteers seem to have bamboozled enough voters, if you believe the polls, to stand a chance of winning. Their win may not take the country outside the EU necessarily (recent statements by the Leave camp try to explain how long-winded the process of leaving will be, casting doubt on their desire to actually achieve it). What it will manage however is to undo the democratically expressed wishes of the British people in the May 2015 election. A Leave win will precipitate a takeover of the leadership of the Conservatives by Brexiteers and opportunists like Boris who never enjoyed any significant support in the ballot box. A Leave win will allow the UKIP fanatics of Farage to dictate policy with 1 MP to the other 649. My argument here is that most of the 150 MPs who support Brexit post-election would have struggled to get elected on such a platform in 2015.

This is not a democratic outcome, this is a coup. Do not let it happen.

Vote #Remain



Brexit and the garden fairies of Leave


People do like a bit of a fairy-tale. Hope sells well. We all drink diet coke thinking it won’t make us fat, we buy creams that will make us younger, toothpastes that will turn us American. It’s all pie in the sky, but we feel better doing it and why not?

When in the summer of 2015 Greek PM Tsipras and his merry band of bandits announced a referendum on the supposed acceptance of a non-available foreign language “offer” that was not even on the table, we all thought that the people would vote against him due to the sheer stupidity of the exercise. Yet more than 60% supported this debasing of democratic consultation. Why?

The reason Greeks voted OXI is that they wanted to believe a fairy-tale of resistance, hope, empowerment. On the night of the referendum they danced in the streets while the world thought they had just signed their death warrant. The NAI side had failed to project a positive message.

While I watched the snake oil peddlers of Leave yesterday on the ITV debate I became convinced they will prevail for the same reasons Tsipras prevailed in the Greferendum: they sell hope.

“Take back control” sounds appealing to a population bombarded with decades of EU demonising. The last person to successfully maintain a pro-Europe stance was Tony Blair, and we all know what people think of him. People don’t care about data or facts and would not believe the real ones anyway. People want to react to self-imposed austerity by blaming someone other than themselves (for voting-in the Tories, twice). They want to let off steam about immigration (rightly or wrongly). They want to stick it to the establishment which happens to support Remain.

And what about Remain? Why are they doing such a terrible job demolishing the Leave fantasy? I predicted this in September already. Most Remain supporters (yours truly included) don’t much like the EU. Remain cannot articulate a positive message because one is difficult to find. Yes, Europe has kept us from killing each other (within the EU boundaries) for a long time. Yes, even the “neoliberal” EU is less neoliberal than the Tories. But Europe has betrayed its values in the migration crisis, botched its response to the Eurozone crisis and is committed to both enlargement AND deepening that no one wants. The Eurozone can only survive via greater union and this has consequences on the wider EU.

I am voting Remain because I believe Brexit is bad for the nation, not because the EU is great. The economic argument is 100% against Leave. Restricting migration is the only possible benefit (for those who consider EU migration a problem – and I am not one of them), but at a great cost in terms of growth, wealth and jobs.

The “take back control” mantra is false. Britain will not get more power to do anything outside the EU. If anything, everything will become more challenging. Even Obama says so. The additional problem is who will be getting control. Do Leave supporters realise that they are handing the keys to the most reactionary parts of the British right? Hard core Tories seeking to privatize everything. The racist bigots of UKIP. Take control means the hard right taking over the Conservative Party.

Do Leave supporters really believe the Tories care about the NHS or that £350 trillion per minute (or whatever) is sent to the EU? No, but it does not matter. They are buying hope of something new, for the first time after the end of the Blair era. I was here in 1997 when Labour won. There was a sense of excitement about the land, Leave is offering people this. Pie in the sky it may be, but it will win.



Lefty zika-heads and Brexit

lefty idiots

The lack of a positive message:

The ‘stay’ campaign in the EU referendum is having difficulty finding its feet. The reason for this is the lack of a clear, easily transmittable positive message about the EU. It is possible to win on the basis of fear, scaring voters about the consequences of an exit. This seems to have been the strategy of the stay campaign in the Scottish referendum. The issue is however that this is a dangerous strategy for two reasons. First, negative campaigns do not work very effectively. Second, negative campaigns do not settle the issue conclusively.

If pro-Europeans want to win this referendum and stop the demagogues of the right from demanding another one in a few years, they need to offer a positive narrative about Europe. Can one be found however that will work for the ‘leave’ leaning British voter?

I am not so sure. We can all come up with a fairly convincing list of arguments on why Brexit is a bad idea, but can we think of reasons why staying in the EU is good, other than the velocity of existing arrangements?

EU law is positive in protecting the consumer as most lawyers know. This is unlikely to have much impact on a public ‘disgusted’ with ‘health and safety gone mad’ and other such tripe.

Should we try and convince the public that EU immigration is good for the country? It is, but good luck with that argument. So far as third country immigration is concerned and the refugee crisis, best not go there at all.

Let’s show how EU institutions have effectively dealt with economic crisis in the Eurozone… Eh, maybe not.

You get I hope the nature of the problem. The ‘stay’ campaign needs a positive narrative, for sure. How to come up with one is less sure.


Lefty zika heads:

An additional problem is the attitude of the left towards the EU

There is a problem with the Corbynite Left. Actually there are many problems with the ‘grassroots’ non-Parliamentary left, but I will focus on just one.

They are an unpredictable danger for the In-camp in the EU Referendum. The reason for this is that the condemnation of the EU as a neoliberal, pro market Leviathan, may lead significant numbers of young, newly energized voters (by the Corbyn effect) to vote for Brexit. They may do so thinking that this enables more discretion and more options in their attempt to re-balance the state-market relationship in Britain.

The idea that a Britain outside the EU may allow socialist type alternatives is a fallacy for two reasons.

Reason one is that Socialism in One Country (Социализм в одной стране in Stalin’s words) does not work. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1921 except Russia’s, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. That turn toward national communism was a shift from the previously held Marxist position that socialism must be established globally (world communism). The British hard left seems to think that while leftist movements have failed in Europe (Syriza abandoned its leftist pretenses in Greece, Podemos is fizzling out etc), a left alternative could be built in Britain, starting with Corbyn taking power in 2020.

It will not, because Corbyn cannot and will not win in 2020. No pollster, or betting shop or academic who has looked at the numbers think that Corbyn has a better chance of winning than a snowball materializing in hell.

Reason two is that in the short term defeat in the EU Referendum and Brexit will launch the country sharply to the right. In the mayhem that will ensue, the left message will be lost in the nationalist fervor and right wing anti-immigrant, racist politicking that will dominate between 2017 and 2020.

As Corbyn will have forfeited the higher ground (pro-immigration, pro-internationalist) by not supporting clearly and unequivocally  staying-in, he will suffer even worse in the General Election.

Voting for a Britain outside the EU for the working class is equivalent to turkeys voting for Xmas. Voting for Britain outside the EU is voting for a 1000 year Tory rule (if you will excuse the unpleasant analogy).

Does the working class really want to align itself with the Hedge Fund managers who will support the Leave campaign out of unashamedly expressed self interest? Really?

Now is the time for the working class, the left, to come out strongly in support of the EU.

Thinking people of course do not like what the EU has become. Nonetheless, the interests of the working class and the left are best served by Britain staying in and working for a better future for everyone.

Socialism in One Country did not work too well for the Russians either.

Despite the obvious nature of the above, groups of fantasists like LabourLeave are digging the grave of the working class campaigning for Brexit. In what follows I try to explain why they are wrong, without becoming too offensive.


Hello, I am Kevin:

Let us explore the position of a fictional left leaning voter, currently in the (persuadable) leave group. We shall call this chap Kevin.

Kevin works as a teaching assistant at a University. He is on modest pay, but aspires to an academic career which will see a steady improvement in his salary, coupled with the security of a permanent job. He is a self-proclaimed lefty and supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest.

Kevin hates Europe. For a lot of the more ‘radical’ British left, Europe is a neoliberal nightmare. The ever-closer Union by stealth is building a market based leviathan that sucks away sovereignty and effectively outlaws any policy incompatible with economic orthodoxy. Kevin always held this view, but two recent events have solidified his position as an enemy of the EU.

The first is the crisis in the Eurozone and the treatment of Greece. The depression in Greece, Kevin argues frequently, gave birth to a left alternative. Syriza came to power in 2015 and fought valiantly against the forces of Euro-neoliberalism under the command of Prof. Varoufakis. The Syriza rebellion however was crushed by Merkelism and the unrelenting neoliberal fiends of the Eurogroup. Varoufakis was ousted and Tsipras capitulated after being blackmailed into submission. The EU was always seen as undemocratic, but the latest events make it worse than that. The EU, at least in its Eurozone part, will go out of its way to undermine and subvert democracy, to crush dissent. Schaeuble will roll over anyone who objects to German ordo-liberalism.

The second event is the TTIP negotiation. For decades Europe, while pursuing a liberalising agenda, had resisted American influence on full scale marketisation. Some protection remained for certain market sectors and a European welfare state survived to a degree. While this was not optimal in Kevin’s view, it was still better than the do-or-die American culture. Then the European Commission embarked on secret negotiations on a grand trade deal. A trade deal that would bring the worse of Anglo-saxon capitalism to Europe, a deal that would even lift corporations out of the jurisdiction of national courts, creating ‘special’ investment tribunals tasked with protecting the expectations of the market against the rights of citizens.

All this was too much for Kevin. He will vote for Britain to leave the European Union. His last act of solidarity to the Greeks will be to drop his ballot in the box and stick it to Schaeuble.

Hang on a second….

What would the day after the referendum be like for our friend Kevin? All polling suggests that Corbyn is set to lose in the 2020 general election, and lose badly. If Labour lost in 2010 (being accused of the financial crisis), lost in 2015 (where it tried to advocate for the poorest in society), will it win in 2020 on a classical left agenda?

Lets assume that it will not (at least the bookies do).

Kevin has proudly rejected the ‘neoliberal’ EU, so that he is tormented at home by a Thatcherite right? The Tories, if ‘leave’ wins the referendum are likely to lurch further to the right. Kevin will be left with a country turning right, lose social protections guaranteed by EU norms, lose access to the European Court of Justice, probably lose the Human Rights Act to a reduced Bill of Rights created by a revanchist right. Kevin will have shut himself off, not only from the market lovers of Brussels, but also from social movements and progressive parties that are trying to argue for a more socially inclusive Europe in the European Parliament.

Kevin will be alone, at the mercy of a domestic predatory elite that cares nothing for him.

The message for Kevin and all the Kevins of the Corbynite left out there is this: Yes the EU is flawed and neoliberal and in need of serious change. Leaving the EU will leave you at the mercy of Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and their ‘business’ friends.

Perhaps Kevin should think about where the biggest threat to any left alternative comes from. It does not come from Europe.



PS. I will be happy to come explain this in person (at my own cost) to any LabourLeave supporters and help them come to their senses.



Europe is Kaput


Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Europe is Kaput event at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Srecko Horvat chaired a discussion with Yanis Varoufakis, Slavoj Žižek and (surprise guest, via video-link of course) Julian Assange.

Search on twitter for #europeiskaput for pictures and tweets from the event (despite the lack of mobile/Wi-Fi signal, we managed).

The one point from the discussion I would like to draw out specifically is the position of the left vis-a-vis the Brexit referendum. Yanis, being (surprisingly) pro-European would like to see Britain as part of the EU. Yanis believes that Europe can and has to reform and that Britain should be within and not without this process. I totally agree with him, but I still have a problem. My problem is that Yanis’ presentation is entirely prospective, about how the EU could become once again an institution that serves its people, more democratic, transparent, responsive. As to what Europe represents now, there is little positive to say. We will have to fight the Referendum campaign before the EU has had the chance to reform (on Yanis, or Cameron’s terms). We are still looking for a positive message as to what the EU is about now that we can put forward to the public. There is little of that in sight still.

Slavoj is not pro-European Union so he would not help us with the above problem. He likened pro-Europeans (in the sense of the EU in its current capitalist incarnation) with Communist apologists who were arguing that the USSR was fine overall, just had a democratic deficit. In his view the EU is not fine overall, it has problems wider than the democratic deficit. I am guessing he would see Brexit more positively than Yani.

Srecko who I talked to over a cigarette break (his, not mine) seems in favour of Britain in the EU, but also seems to think that Corbyn has better chances than I calculate. He did not think that the left will vote for Brexit. I hope he is right.

Finally, I have to note that Yanis, Srecko and a number of people went to eat dinner at the cafe across the hall (nothing fancy). Yanis was very nice when we went to talk to him despite a little provocation on my part (I accused him of calling me “internal-Troika” once). I wish most well known professors were as approachable.

I am hoping Yanis, and his cross-European movement (in development) will help us convince the left here to support Britain in the EU.