Corbyn the brexiteer unmasked

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So some labour supporters were shocked to learn last week that Saint Jeremy Corbyn, the lord and saviour, was actually a brexiteer, who has no intention of reversing or stopping brexit. Indeed, even if he gets his early election, he wants labour to campaign on a leave platform. Needless to say this is at odds with what was agreed at the party conference. And the fact that 90% of labour supporters voted remain and 86% of whom want another referendum.

Of course this is only news to those who never googled “corbyn” and “eu”. Or those willing to ignore the fact that he’s voted against every piece of pro-EU legislation that has ever come up. So it should only come as a shock to aliens recently arrived from outer Glaphobia. And the polls now show labour’s lead slipping, even despite the chaos within the Tories. In fact among young voters Corbyn’s support has fallen by 12% since the start of the debate on May’s deal. And those same young voters have previously indicated that if Corbyn was to back leave then support for him drops from 60% to as low as 26%.

In fact, just to highlight the insanity of Corbyn’s policy, let’s pick it apart. His grant scheme is to first win a confidence vote, get a general election, win it, then go to Brussels and get a better deal than May managed (in about 4-5 weeks, while she had 2 years). Well firstly, he ain’t going to win a confidence vote. The only way he’d convince all of the opposition parties and a handful of Tory rebels to back him is if labour were backing remain. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Even then in any election Corbyn’s brexit policy would fall apart in the first week. The EU have made clear there will be no re-negotiation. I’d guess they might be open to further discussion during the transition phase (and allowing an extended transition) but they’d probably insist and May’s deal being accepted as an interim solution. In short, Corbyn’s choices are May’s deal or no brexit. So he’s going to go to the country having provoked an election at one of the most inconvenient times in UK history, because he didn’t like May’s deal….only for his brexit policy to be May’s deal!

Voters will inevitably see this for what it is, a cynical power grab, and punish labour accordingly. And the idea of young millennial remainers, who are going to get screwed over by brexit (a right wing project that strips millions of both UK and EU citizens of their rights), going out and selling his leave policy on door steps is fanciful to say the least.

In the best case scenario, the vote’s he’ll lose to pro-remain parties of the left will be cancelled out by gammon’s, angry at May, voting for UKIP. But that still leaves the Tories the largest party and leading a minority government. The worse case scenario is a party spilt and a collapse in labour support. And in any event, the only way he’s getting into power is via a coalition. And none of the other parties will back any coalition with him, while labour adopts a leave position.

Of course, what Corbyn won’t mention is that not only does he wants leave, but he actually doesn’t mind if there’s a no deal. Because the chaos of a no deal might be what it takes to get the country to vote for him. However, if this is his plan, its a crap plan and it won’t work.

The Tories are clearly trying to position themselves so they can blame Corbyn for any no deal chaos. They’ll point out that they had a perfectly good deal with the EU, which would have passed if he’d have supported it (and, if like him, you are committed leaver there really is no other alternative to May’s deal). No doubt some pro-Tory hack will come out in the middle of any election with revelations from a whistle blower (real or fabricated) that the above was labour’s strategy all along. Again, the odds are he’ll still lose the election, possibly by an even larger margin, as the consequences of any no deal are likely to be strong shift to pro-EU parties (or the far right), not other forms of euroscepticism.

Bottom line, a labour party that is committed to leaving the EU at all costs, is a labour party committed to losing the next election no matter how badly the Tories screw up. Doubly so if Corbyn is in charge. Yes a policy of remain will cost them votes, but not as many as they’d lose by supporting leave.

And recall, we’ve been here before, Corbyn would be PM already if he’d been willing to do an election deal in 2017 with the other left wing, but pro-EU parties. He refused and as a result about a dozen Tories got in by margins of a few hundred votes or less. And he’d have destabilised and brought down the Tories by now, or killed off their EU withdrawal bill, if he’d been a bit more aggressive and willing to delay or disrupt the brexit process. I mean he’s had an open goal for the last month, which he’s failed to exploit. Bottom line, Corbyn has already chosen supporting leave over becoming PM. And as a result, he will almost certainly never be PM. So what’s the point in labour having him as its leader?

What’s that I hear labour party supporters say, well we’ll censure him. We’ll call an emergency conference on the matter and maybe even force a leadership contest if he doesn’t listen. LOL. Did you not learn anything at the last conference? Corbyn doesn’t give a damn what the members of the party want. He’s not changed his mind about anything since the 70’s. Trying to reason with Corbyn is a waste of time, his actual reasons for backing leave are simply wrong and ignores certain realities (notably that the EU does allow state aid, they just want to prevent states turning their state owned companies into monopolistic money burning machines). You’d have more luck trying to talk my neighbour’s cat into becoming vegan. And he sure as hell ain’t going to change policy just because a bunch of millennial’s had a vote and are worried about the post-brexit fate of the NHS. What, do you think the labour party is a democracy or something? As for a leadership challenge, that ship sailed some time ago.

The only alternative is to force Corbyn out and to do it quickly. And failing that, set up a new pro-EU labour party. That means his MP’s need to resign the party whip en-mass, give him a week to resign (changing policy isn’t good enough, he’s flip flopped so often you can’t trust him anymore at his word) and if he doesn’t, switch to another party (or set up their own party). And his supporters heed to follow their lead, notably those in Momentum, leaving labour and joining the lib-dems, SNP, greens (or this new party) all at once. Only then when confronted with the threat of total annihilation can we expect any form of movement on Corbyn’s part. But even that’s unlikely to succeed.

9 thoughts on “Corbyn the brexiteer unmasked

  1. On the 35th anniversary of the UK miners strike with Theresa May blocking the release of information that Thatcher, and the conservative party, were going to teach the minors a lesson back in 1984, one would think that Corbyn would want to do everything to set himself in the opposite light of May and the conservatives. It now seems that Britain is in the same political shape as the US: “there is no real difference between parties on the left vs. right”. What’s really sad is this: BREXIT will be way worse for the working and middle classes than the political or financial classes. When the dung-hits-the-fan Corbyn will be seen as complicit. If BREIXT was bad for the upper class then May’s husband (an investment banker) would have already advised her to back remain by having a second referendum.

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    • There is a bit more of a difference between Corbyn and the Tories in terms of ideology, he’s much more to the left than any recent UK labour leader, while they are much more to the right.

      However, he suffers from the same problem that the Tory brexiteers do. He, like them, is stuck in the past. He’s thinking in terms of what existed in the 1970’s, ignoring everything that’s happened since then and how applying the policies of the 70’s will probably lead to economic ruin (and of course those policies weren’t exactly successful, it led to hyper inflation and the UK needing an IMF bailout).

      Obviously yes, if brexit was such a terrible idea for the wealthy, you’d assume they’d be trying a bit harder to stop it. But its all too easy for them to simply move their money overseas. This is perhaps the other problem with Corbyn, like the Tory brexiteers, brexit doesn’t effect him with his gold plated pension. And his unwillingness to listen means he doesn’t understand how devastating it could well be to many labour voters (who will never forgive the party for this, and I fear will head for the political extremes post-brexit).

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  2. If I understand correctly (feel free to correct me), the 2017 Labour better-than-expected results hinged both on keeping pro-remain liberals as well as picking up a large portion of the “Michigan” part of the Uk – in economically depressed northern areas. If that’s true, Corbyn walked that tightrope by not saying very much about his (obvious) true Brexit opinions. If that strategy really is approaching its sell-by date, what happens if Corbyn backs a 2nd referendum and campaigns for remain? I suppose he makes a lot of yuppies in London very happy but also risks losing any chance of a Labour majority. I suspect an effective way forward for him would be to call for a referendum but openly campaign for Brexit.

    Because there do seem to be important ways that the EU would/could prevent Corbyn from his policies:

    What I suspect on privatization/nationalization/bailouts (based on very limited reading): The existence of so many state-owned enterprises on the continent would appear to mean that the ‘state aid’ rules wouldn’t be a problem. Big exception would be that the position on the state investment bank (possibly the most important part of the platform) vs these rules seems questionable. The way that “exceptions” to competition rules are written, I suspect the real driver of whether they’re allowed is whose ring is kissed and how much “main character armor” the country in question has. Apparently some of the rules will also get worse in the near future (e.g rail post-2023).

    Austerity/Maastricht (a much simpler, and very important issue): Enforced austerity is enforced austerity. Playing favorites and “main character armor” are also obviously huge factors with this one, witness the recent France budget ‘exception’ (to neoliberal-golden-boy Macron) vs treatment of Italy (populist foes).

    In summary, the EU rules suck and aren’t enforced fairly. And I don’t think that’s going to get better in the near future, because the overriding EU governing agendas appear to be 1) protecting northern-european banks 2) preventing direct confrontation between France and Germany.

    Btw regarding ‘main character armor’ – I’m sure it wasn’t lost on you how Ireland’s ‘reward’ for being a teacher’s pet was to be made a high-profile scapegoat on tax havens (which was a legit issue, but where was all the outrage for Luxembourg?).

    Also, I suppose another option pre-referendum was a Melenchon-ish strategy of “adopt my proposal or else Brexit”. I don’t know enough about Europe to know if the Uk has enough main-character-armor for that one to work. I suppose Corbyn could do a reverse of that proposal now (‘we’re only back in if you change the rules for everyone’), but that seems like a big political liability (re the Michigan-part-of-the-Uk) plus the main-character-armor issue.

    Re the 1970s…
    This is an important piece of history. Given what I know about the US, if the Uk experience was at all similar, this deserves some serious heterodox economic attention instead of use as a knee-jerk political one-liner. I don’t know what happened then in the Uk – admittedly. Regarding America (in case that’s informative) the post-war economic boom featured a falling government debt ratio but rising private debt. The 70s featured two major oil supply shocks. What this tells me is that materials/energy matters, and private debt (US private debt growth stagnated in the 70s) matters and that these are the missing legs in the table of successful macroeconomic policy. It’s not enough to simply do counter-cyclical spending, there also need to be ways to respond to material/energy shortages and to counteract the long-term accumulation of private debt (and the resulting over-sizing of the financial sector in high-private-debt economies like the Uk and US). The one-dimensional ‘keynesian’ approach fails because it encourages long-term accumulation of private debt. The one-dimensional monetarist approach manufactures recessions (e.g early 80s in the US, and possibly the very near future as well) while also ignoring the underlying private debt & material/energy issues. Also, requiring balanced budgets is nonsense – to also have simultaneous economic growth, that can only be sustained by trade surpluses (Germany) and/or speculative private-debt bubbles (USA late 1990s) and/or (possibly) vast increases in energy/materials productivity (possible case of early-1900s USA around the switch from coal to oil). When physics-based (as opposed to politics or financial speculation) oil/gas shortages start appearing in the future (possibly in the near future? What are your latest thoughts on that?), I doubt it will cause inflation like in the 70s – the conditions now are so different. In the late 2000s, oil got expensive in the US and the inflation rate briefly approached 5%…before going negative in 2009. I expect that the effect of future oil-supply issues (including long-term declining EROEI) will be deflationary, not inflationary. When energy/materials become an issue again (from shortages and/or long-term declining oil/gas EROEI), I think it will be good to respond effectively – and learning the RIGHT lessons from the 70s would help.

    Oh, and I know you didn’t ask for a reading list, but here it is: Charles Hall, Steve Keen, ‘sectoral balance’ economics, Richard Vague.

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    • Given that Corbyn is not exactly known for listening to other people’s opinion’s, I think the odds of him backing a 2nd ref (even to campaign against it) are between slim and zero. Consider labour’s poll numbers are slipping (against a Tory party in open warfare against itself!). Those in the party talk of a mass exodus and polls suggest that labour would slip behind the lib dems to 3rd place if they back leave:
      https://www.channel4.com/news/is-jeremy-corbyns-brexit-stance-costing-him-support
      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-labour-lib-dems-jeremy-corbyn-tory-deal-poll-yougov-a8685786.html

      But yes, it could be forced on Corbyn by circumstances. In which case it will be the end of him. This was Cameron’s mistake, calling a ref and then going against the bulk of his own party. It was clear a few weeks in that leave or remain, his goose was cooked. Hell I went on holiday and posted his political obituary two weeks in advance. Only difference is the Tory spilt on brexit was like 60/40, while its more 10/90 with labour. And a 2nd ref, given all that’s happened, is going to be a grudge match. The idea that at the end of a bitter campaign, after him standing shoulder to shoulder with Farage, Boris, Mogg, May et al and then still be party leader is fanciful at best.

      As the links I include in the article point out, Corbyn’s objections to the EU represent a fundamental misunderstanding of how the EU works and its rules. The UK currently has opt outs on state aid, and various options in terms of veto’s. The irony is, on leaving the EU it loses them. But, as the UK will likely need to be part of the customs union (a central plank of Corbyn’s policy) its all but certain that said rules will still apply. The only difference is that the UK will now hold no veto. And as a non-EU member, have no right to edit these rules. Its the worse of all possible worlds.

      This the the dilemma that brexiters face. Regardless of how bad you think the EU is, being subject to its laws, yet having no say in them is far worse than being a member (where you have at least the option of trying to drive reform from within). And the UK can’t cut itself off from the EU complete because A) we’d starve, most of the country’s food comes from the EU. And B) it would violate the terms of the Good Friday agreement, which would not go down well with the UN, the EU or with the 30-40 million Irish Americans (more enough to swing an election) in the US.

      Given this, the only sensible option is to remain….or spend the next twenty years preparing for a hard brexit. But you’ll find few brexiters (be they Corbyn or anyone else) who’ll admit that. As in many cases for them, its about settling personal scores against their old enemies, the country be damned.

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