Some Options for Corbyn

26 Jun

The BBC – and probably most of the rest of the British media – are now doing their best to push the Labour Party into crisis. But, as I just pointed out, the apparent crisis is an opportunity for the Left within Labour, as well as the Left more broadly – and the correct response is to use it to give Blairism the boot. To that end, here’s some initial thoughts on things that are now possible which were not possible two days ago.

Giving the Scottish Labour Party Independence

Labour in Scotland lost its hegemony because it was willing to campaign against the independence vote alongside the Tories and the Liberals.  Since then having a Scottish Labour Party formally tied to the ‘British’ Labour Party has become an embarrassment.

Corbyn was savvy enough not to repeat that mistake over the Brexit vote.  It’s probably thanks to his decision to campaign independently over exit that the vote to Leave was as narrow as it actually was.  It certainly avoided the Labour Party going into meltdown prior to the vote.

With the resignation of Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray, it is now possible to neuter Scottish Blairism.  Corbyn should not replace Murrary quickly or permanently.  Instead – as quickly as possible – he should announce a Labour membership consultation on Scottish Labour gaining formal independence from (or perhaps ‘fraternal status with’) the Labour Party as currently constituted.  And he should suggest a permanent joint working committee drawn from the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments to take over the responsibilities of the Scottish Secretary.

The Labour right in Scotland could respond by either leaving in protest (as the right is already threatening) or desperately argue for its rightful place in a working-class party (meaning reversing the attitudes and complacency of the entire Blairite era).  Or they could try to stay in and cause trouble, whilst being relentlessly mocked, undermined and ignored by all sides north of the border.

Forestalling New Trade Deals & Big Business Privilege

The big problem with the EU for those on the Left has been the way that it has embedded privatisation and neoliberal economic policies.  That no longer applies.  Labour – or those elements of it with the courage – can now promise to nationalise failing and unaccountable industries.

The most immediate candidates for that are the incredibly unpopular rail companies. Others include steel plants at risk of closure – including the TATA plant in Stephen Kinnock’s constituency.

It also has the potential to undercut the US-centred trade deals Boris & Co will seek by simply saying it will refer membership of contentious international Treaties such as TTIP to referenda.

A New Tax Settlement

With Britain opting out of the EU, we are seeing the sad demise of free movement of people.  This is going to lead to brutal and nasty outcomes, with the graffiti attack on a Polish cultural centre only an early taste.  Much of the defence that can be given to refugees and foreign nationals in the near future will need to come from outside the established parties – from ordinary people.

But the flipside of this negative is that it will not be possible for the international rich to simply leave – or even realistically threaten to do so.  As the borders go back up, so taxes on the richest can rise.  Especially as there is no requirement for the free movement of capital to be maintained either.

Corbyn, and the left more generally, can take advantage of the superficial appearance of unelectability furnished by the attempted Blairite coup to rush out announcements that Labour will react to Brexit by raising taxes on the highest earners and – especially – on unearned income.










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