The Tories made this Brexit crisis: we refuse to pay for it

Photo: Craig Maclean

by Ken Ferguson • Amidst the smoke of the Brexit battle and May’s defeat with the rejection of her EU deal by a stunning 230 votes, the official media endorsed hand wringing about the process is in the spotlight.

Back stops, EU letters, Norway plus, WTO trade and so on all swirl before our eyes with the aim of persuading us that all this is fiendishly complex and should be filed as a job for experts.

But Voice readers have longer memories than that dictated by the 24/7 news cycle and its sensation seeking.

This process was set in motion by then Tory golden boy David Cameron—fresh from his victory in the 2014 independence referendum—not as a matter of principle but simply as a tool of party management.

The EEC/EU issue has divided the Tories since the time of the Heath government’s 1971 decision to join the then EEC—only carried with the help of the votes of Labour rebel MPs—and the 2016 referendum was Baldrick Cameron’s “cunning plan” to resolve it.

Neither in the political elite or their media and academic cheerleaders did the notion of Brexit get a hearing. It would be walkover and the EU project would march confidently forward.

The idea that they needed a plan if Leave won was never a consideration, hence the crisis of the past two years.

Voice readers will also recall that, like the SSP, we advised a Remain vote in 2016 but as the lesser of two evils and underlining our major concern about the neoliberal nature of the EU.

Most importantly we warned that Brexit, although supported by some on the left, was a project of the right and would be dominated by them.

The reality which has seen racism mushrooming,street violence by the far right and the shifting of `UK political debate into a union jack tinted vision led by buffoons like Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson is even worse that we predicted.

Beside this incessant chorus of reaction the voice of those supporting the left case for leaving—Lexit—has barely won a hearing and is marginal to the unfolding events.

Whatever else may be said the UK and Scotland face a crisis on a monumental scale not seen since that of Hitler’s 1940 Blitzkrieg forced Chamberlain to resign and saw Churchill ascend to Prime Minister.

However the glaring difference with 1940 and 2019 is that then a united response was the result whereas now “all that’s solid melts in air” and politics is consumed with faction, claim and counter claim.

Yet amidst all the growing clamour and predictions of the end of democracy,street violence, food and medicine shortages one glaring fact goes unremarked about the long EU/UK negotiations—the working class majority and their interests didn’t have a seat at the table.

Indeed it is this fact, which is the continuation of the marginalisation of working people in the last 30 years of market dominated politics both here and across Europe, that lies at the heart not just of Brexit but of the wider rise of the far right in Europe.

The Thatcher war on organised workers symbolised by the brutality of the miners strike and resulting defeat was followed by the adoption of ‘Social Partnership’ floated by both the EU and New Labour.

Essentially this aimed at reducing unions to “partners” with bosses and ending any idea of industrial struggle.

The long hold of this idea not just in the UK but in much of the industrial world including the US “rust belt” along with the wholesale closure of manufacturing with “globalisation” left million of workers forgotten.

Alongside this the capitulation of forces from the US Democrats, New Labour and European social democrats to big businesses needs left a vacuum now filled by so called populists from UKIP to Le Pen.

Yet the slogan “another world is possible” remains true.

Leave, Remain, deal or no deal the real way to safeguard and advance the interests of Scotland’s working class majority and our comrades across Europe is independent action for change.

Here in Scotland that must mean constructing a programme which welds together the needs of our working class majority on jobs, wages, health and housing with independence to lay the basis for a Yes victory.

This approach which soberly recognises that fact that the UK is run by a pro-market, big business friendly militarist elite does not mean that the EU is a ready made worker friendly alternative.

Of course the minimal workers and environmental rights are welcome but at its heart the EU is an economic and political formation founded on free market capitalism, imposing austerity across Europe and hostile to collective solutions to worker’s problems.

That is why they crucified Greece, back privatisation and are moving towards a European army.

The core values of the EU are hostile to the demands which can transform the lives of working people and it is vital that here in Scotland, the UK and across Europe the hard work of forging a united response to the attacks coming our way starts without delay.

Irrespective of the outcome of the Tory Brexit drama only a united people’s movement can hope to defeat the renewed attacks on them which will follow any outcome.

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