Saturday, January 28, 2017

To Be or Not To Be EU: The Left's Confusion on Leaving

The UK Supreme Court's ruling that the Houses of Parliament must have its say in UK's invoking Article 50 caused trouble, yet again, for Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour Leader, just as our Prime Minister, seems to love the 'Have Your Cake and Eat It Too' options, and now, he is keen to let go of a chance to have a proper debate about the wisdom of Brexit.

Mr Corbyn was a reluctant remainer, just as Mrs May was, in the summer's referendum. For all those who supported his elevation as the Labour Leader, including myself, Mr Corbyn was supposed to represent a new kind of politics: One of conscience, as against the reed in the wind policies of career politicians. However, his stances on Brexit, in summer and now, have been totally devoid of courage and conscience, and now, in its latest form, has become totally cowardly. 

To be fair to Mr Corbyn, he is one of those old Socialists whose antipathy to EU comes from its basic nature as a Capitalist institution. For him, EU is not an internationalist project, but a machine to recycle German capital and manufacturing. He is sensitive, more than others, to the inherent exploitation of Southern and Eastern European nations, which are turning those countries increasingly authoritarian and destroying their industrial capacities. And, this is what, perhaps, makes him lukewarm in his support.

However, Mr Corbyn has perhaps forgotten that the economic nature of the EU was not on the referendum, and getting out of EU would not make Britain a more equal or fairer country. It is, in fact, likely to do the opposite. The battle of British Tories against the EU are based on their intent to control the British public as they please: Their battles are against environmental protection, against Human Rights legislation, against Free Movement of People. All those leftist qualms about the workers' rights and movement of capital were not even on the agenda.

The reason why Parliament gets a say in triggering Article 50 is not merely procedural. It is because the men and women in the Parliament are supposed to lead the country, showing better judgement than one could do in a referendum, with limited information and personal constraints and concerns. This is the reason we leave big decisions to them. the idiotic and entirely political reasons behind a referendum should not bind them to follow its mandate, and the Supreme Court's decision to offer them a debate should be welcomed. This is an opportunity to ask questions about all those NHS funding promises etc., and it is stupefying that Mr Corbyn is intent on letting the Tory government get away with murder, just because he really does not have a stance.

One could argue that the Labour stance is muted because the doomsday projections that the Remainers made did not come to pass. But, Britain has not left the EU yet. Remember that Cameron antic of invoking Article 50 morning after the election: That has not come to pass yet. The British economy, if it has shown resilience, has done so in the context of a general economic recovery, which now stands threatened with Trump's hardheaded policies in the US. Some of the effects of Brexit are delayed because people are still hoping that the politicians will pull back from the precipice. 

If MPs vote along the lines their constituents have voted, the Government's bill may still pass. But putting a whip and forcing the MPs vote against their conscience, and against the wishes of their constituents, is a sign of cluelessness. This comes, I suspect, from twin jeopardies of an outdated world-view and accommodation of politics as usual. However, this vote, for and against Article 50, should be one opportunity for the MPs to stand up and have their say, and not doing so would be to allow the fanatical wing of the Tory Party to destroy the British economy and society and pass the blame on at a convenient moment. 

If the Labour Party maintains the whip, this would possibly be the biggest political blunder made in recent times. The politics of the moment are not about the Working Class and the rest, but between openness and closedness, globalisation and anti-globalisation. And, while one may think globalisation hurts the working classes, the alternative - indulging in fratricidal conflicts with working classes of other countries - is just as much against the Socialist ethic that Jeremy Corbyn pretends to hold. He should perhaps reflect on the political compulsions that is turning him from a socialist internationalist to a little islander in a few short months, and pull back from the precipice. 

 


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