Sunday, 31 March 2019

Demand An Emergency LP Conference Now – Revoke Article 50

Labour MP's continually hide behind weasel words. We could be weeks away from a General Election, and yet still they refuse to say what programme Labour would stand on, in respect of Brexit. They use the get out that the manifesto is drawn up in the Clause 5 meeting, but in respect of Brexit the party policy, itself, that should determine the outcome of that meeting, is not clear. Corbyn managed to prevent the clearer position put forward by CLP's, of backing a second referendum, with Remain on the ballot watered down into the composite which put that position as the last stage in a convoluted process that has allowed the leadership to, essentially, continue to argue that its preference is to implement Brexit, and only to support a second referendum if that becomes impossible. All of the statements from the leadership suggest that, if an election is called, they will fight it on the disastrous basis of supporting Brexit. That is opposed by 90% of the party membership, and by more than 70% of Labour voters. We need an emergency conference now, to set down a clear progressive position on which to fight the election. That position should be, Brexit is reactionary, Labour will oppose it, because it is reactionary, and if elected we will immediately revoke Article 50, and begin to build a progressive alternative with other progressive social-democrats and socialists across Europe. 

Labour's position is not credible, and parties do not get elected with programmes that are not credible. Labour's plan in which Britain is allowed to have cake and eat it, as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove also suggested, by being outside the EU, and yet having all of the advantages of being inside it, is totally ridiculous. No one believes it is credible, because it quite clearly isn't. For Labour to go into an election promising a Brexit that 90% of its members oppose, and that more than 70% of its voters oppose, is a quite obviously stupid strategy, and deserves to result in disaster. To go into such an election promising such an incredible position, in the vain hope of winning over a handful of Tory bigots, or worse, in a handful of seats, and thereby risk losing millions of votes from Labour voters, and others, who would lend the party their vote to stop Brexit, is naïve in the extreme. It reminds me of the current adverts which point out the folly of companies that offer potential new customers benefits over existing loyal customers. In fact, its notable that this week, when, eventually, Corbyn, whipped the PLP to support the option of a second referendum, Labour's standing in the polls rose sharply, putting Labour 5 points ahead, in one poll, having for months being on the decline, as Corbyn continued to back Brexit. 

Right-wing Labour MP's like Gareth Snell and Lisa Nandy have tried all sorts of ploys to be able to find some justification for their scabbing on party discipline, and voting with the government to pass May's deal, as witnessed by the amendment they, and others, attempted to put to May's third failed attempt to get her deal passed last week. That amendment tried to cover their scabbing, by asking that parliament be given some say in the next stage of negotiations. That is no better than the attempts to cover up such scabbing by saying that MP's had been persuaded by the Tories commitments to abide by workers' rights and so on. Really? Are you that naïve that you would trust this Tory government to look after workers rights, let alone the Bojo, or Gove Tory government that is likely to succeed it in coming months? Anyone, who has seen the problems that parliament has had in trying to have any meaningful say in controlling the government over Stage 1 of the negotiations, must be wilfully blind, and self-deluding, if they think that there would be any chance at all of exercising control over a Tory government in Stage 2, when all the leverage that parliament has, whilst Britain remains inside the EU, is gone, and an increasingly Bonapartist executive, acting in an increasingly authoritarian and undemocratic manner, rides roughshod over parliament and the rule of law, and appeals directly over their heads to a reactionary mob, whipped up by a reactionary Tory media. This is the stuff of the development of totalitarianism in a mass society. 

What their willing self-delusion represents is a willingness to kowtow to reactionary ideas, rather than confront them, and to appease bigots within their own electorate, in the hope of holding on to their seats - a goal they prize far above actually defending any kind of progressive, let alone socialist principle. But, as I've shown in previous posts, even that is a naïve outlook. Take the seats in Stoke, which voted by around 65-70% in favour of Leave. That might suggest that a lot of Labour voters also backed Leave, but the reality is different. What it actually shows is that a far higher proportion of Tory voters, in those seats turned out to vote Leave. Some of those Tory voters are people who often would not bother, because they know their candidate is not going to beat Labour. In addition, the Leave vote was bolstered by a turnout of people who generally do not bother to vote, or who in the past have voted for the BNP, and other fascists. As I pointed out before the referendum, it was this phalanx of a core reactionary vote of bigots that would win it for Leave, and so it turned out. In places like Stoke, it meant that core vote of bigots was mobilised, including some that often vote Labour, but the proportion of those bigots who normally vote Labour is still a minority. As the studies by the BES and others has shown, even in the North and Midlands regions which voted Leave the proportion of Labour voters who voted Leave was not significantly more than in those other regions of the country that voted Remain.  Moreover, those amongst them who vote Labour, continue to do so for other more significant reasons that are unlikely to change.

In 2017, Snell's vote was 17,000, which was a 12.2% point increase on Labour's vote in 2015. Much of the increase came from the fact that the Liberal and Green vote collapsed. The Liberal vote which had been 7,000 in 2010, and had fallen to 1200 in 2015, fell to just 680 in 2017. The Greens who had scored 1100 in 2015, fell to 294 in 2017. By contrast, the Tories who were in third place in 2015, with just 7,000 votes, saw their vote nearly double, due almost entirely to the collapse of the UKIP vote from 7,000 in 2015 to just 1600 in 2017. In the referendum, Stoke Central voted 65% Leave to 35% Remain. If all of the remaining UKIP vote in the constituency can be counted as having voted Leave, whilst 80% of the Tory vote of 13,000 voted Leave, which is highly likely, especially given that half the Tory vote comprised returning UKIP voters, then it only requires around 40 - 45% of the Labour voters to have voted Leave for Leave to achieve the overall 65%. In other words, even in a heavily Leave voting constituency like Stoke Central, a clear and large majority of the Labour vote is comprised of people who voted Remain, not Leave

Trying to appease bigots in places like Stoke will only act to legitimise the bigotry, to encourage the bigots to demand even more appeasement, more reactionary policies in future. 

The other weasel words used by Labour politicians comes in the form of the argument put by Emily Thornberry on the Sunday morning politics shows. She argued that whilst she supported Remain, and continues to believe that Brexit will be damaging, she thinks its necessary for Labour to pursue the reactionary Brexit policy, because that is what people voted for in 2016. This is a nonsensical argument. A reactionary policy does not stop being reactionary, just because a majority voted for it at some fixed single point in the past, or indeed at any point! 

Let's assume that in 1973, Britain had never joined the EEC. In the following period of 40 odd years, the UK economy then continued to decline, and seeing all the advantages of being in the EU, the Labour Party came to the conclusion that it would be in the interests of Britain to join the EU, for all the same reasons that they now argue it would be a mistake to Leave. They would then attempt to implement that policy, and in doing so they would attempt to win over sufficient support from the electorate to put that policy into effect. So, why not do that now? Put that another way, if in five years time, having Brexited, it was obvious that Britain would indeed be better off to have stayed in the EU, wouldn't the Labour Party be bound to want to argue that Britain should rejoin the EU, so as to correct that error. In which case, why stand by and allow that pain and suffering to happen during the intervening period? Why not do the obvious thing, and argue for what you believe in here and now, rather than pander to bigots, and democratic primitivism. 

It was, indeed, a serious mistake for Labour to have fought the 2017 election on a programme that committed it to “respecting” the referendum result. Labour should have fought the election on the basis that Brexit is reactionary, and that it would seek to stop it at the earliest opportunity. But, even in 2017, Labour did not come out to say that it was a pro-Brexit party. It continued to make clear that it thought that Britain was better off in the EU. This is the real nub of the problem in respect of Brexit, and the conflict between the plebiscitary democracy of the EU referendum, and the parliamentary democracy, which is the basis of the British political system. 

In Ireland, in the 19th century, nationalist political parties fought for an independent Ireland, and there was no doubt, who, therefore, would implement such a policy should the opportunity arise. In Scotland, the SNP has campaigned, centrally, for decades on the programme of Scottish independence. Had Scotland voted, in 2014, for independence, there is no doubt, who would carry through the necessary measures to bring it about. The same could be said of the campaign for Catalan independence. And, when Norway sought to become independent from Sweden, as Lenin said, it was quite a straightforward matter of the Norwegian parties advocating independence, to simply declare, in the Norwegian parliament that they had become an independent state. 

But no such situation exists in Britain in relation to the EU. There have indeed been nationalist parties in Britain advocating independence from the EU. The Communist Party opposed staying in the EEC in 1975. Its successors, and alliances, such as No2EU, have argued the same line in more recent times. The National Front, opposed the EEC in 1975, and in more recent times, the BNP advocated the same line. All of those nationalist parties and alliances obtained less than derisory votes in General Elections. The one party to have done slightly better is UKIP, but again its success has been limited to low polls. When it comes to General Elections, its vote has been only slightly less derisory than that of these other fringe nationalist outfits. Unlike say the SNP, or Sinn Fein, UKIP has serially failed to get any MP's elected to parliament, including its own demagogic leader, Farage, who tried on numerous occasions. 

With no sizeable British National Party focussed around the question of British independence from the EU, it was always going to be the case that there was no real political basis for bringing it about. When Leavers complain that the Leave vote is not being implemented by MP's who overwhelmingly oppose it, that is simply a reflection of this basic fact that, unless national independence is such an overwhelming demand of a people, mobilised behind a party that is geared to implement that demand, it is never going to turn out well. 

The closest to such a party now is the Tory party, and trying to act in accordance with that is tearing that party into shreds, as it has for decades. Whatever happens over Brexit, unless it becomes such a concern for a large enough segment of the population to create a nationalist party whose sole focus on carrying through such a policy enables it to win a parliamentary majority on that basis, as with the Irish, and Scots nationalists, then the idea of British independence will always be fraught, and unstable. No such party has ever been able to win more than derisory support, and that continues to be likely to be the case. 

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 100

It is only because a money-commodity, and the commodities whose values it expresses, all have in common the fact that they are values, products of labour, that they can be equated, on the basis of the quantity of value that each possesses. In order that any collection of objects can be equated on a quantitative basis, (length, weight, hardness, ductility, value etc.) they must first each have the specific quality in common, and the quantity of that specific quality possessed by each must then be measured, so that it can be compared one with another. In order to know that 1 football pitch equals 75 tables, I must know the length of a table, and that of a football pitch, and so on. I can, of course, take a table, and laboriously measure it out against the football pitch. But, that will not then help if I want to measure the length of a tennis court. 

Each of these different objects are infinitely measurable against each other, in a series of proportional relations, just as the value of apples can be measured against oranges, plums, tables, chocolate, ….. But, it becomes easier to establish some common units of measurement that can be more conveniently used to express these relations, though initially, a range of such common units of measurement are developed. For example, in England, to measure length in different circumstances the foot, inch, yard, chain, furlong, mile etc. are developed. Each of these, as with the cubit, are themselves based upon some existing unit. For example, a furlong was the distance a man was able to plough in a day, i.e. the length of a furrow. 

So, instead of measuring a football pitch as 75 tables, or 10 tennis courts, etc., by using a common measurement, for example a yard, its possible to say that a football pitch is 150 yards, the table 2 yards, and so on. For any new object I seek to measure, its relation to every other object is then readily apparent. But, this is only possible because each of these objects, along with the standard unit of measurement, all have in common the quality of length, extension in space-time. 

And, the same is true in relation to value, as Marx described in Capital I. It is the fact that products are values, i.e. the product of labour, which enables that quality of value to be measured, not by some other product, i.e. not purely relatively, but absolutely by the quantity of labour, required for its production. As those products start to be traded these varying amounts of this quality they have in common – value/labour – can be established between each of them, as products become commodities, and these values take the form of exchange values/prices. It is only because of this process that a single commodity is selected to act as the general measure of exchange value – the universal equivalent form of value – just as, over time, all of the different physical measurements of length, which had their own historical origins, all become relics, as a few standard units of measurement were selected to perform that function, such as the yard, metre and so on. 

Incidentally, this historical process, whereby existing exchange relations between commodities, based upon their values, gradually results in the selection of a money-commodity, is what is missing from Ricardo's analysis of money, and the idea that it arises, simply as a convenient means of exchanging commodities. 

But, Bailey also disregards all this actual historical evolution of money, which is impossible without first products having values, and then products becoming commodities, and values thereby assuming the form of exchange-values, which then takes the form of exchange-value incarnate as money. Instead, Bailey announces that the whole question of value measurement is resolved before our eyes, with no further investigation required by the very fact that the relative valuations of commodities, are already expressed in their prices, i.e. in the exchange relation to money. 

He says, 

““The requisite condition in the process is, that the commodities to be measured should be reduced to a common denomination which may be done at all times with equal facility; or rather it is ready done to our hands, since it is the prices of commodities which are recorded, or their relations in value to money” (op. cit., p. 112). 

Estimating value is the same thing as expressing it…” (op. cit., p. 152).” (p 160-1) 

Marx responds, with glee, 

“We have the fellow here. We find the values measured, expressed in the prices. We can therefore [asserts Bailey] content ourselves with not knowing what value is. He confuses the development of the measure of value into money and further the development of money as the standard of price with the discovery of the concept of value itself in its development as the immanent measure of commodities in exchange. He is right in thinking that this money need not be a commodity of invariable value; from this he concludes that no separate determination of value independent of the commodity itself is necessary. 

As soon as the value of commodities, as the element they have in common, is given, the measurement of their relative value and the expression of this value coincide. But we can never arrive at the expression so long as we do not find the common factor, which is different from the immediate existence of the commodities.” (p 161) 

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 99

Expressing the exchange value of these commodities has nothing to do with the constancy of value of the money-commodity, “but it has much to do with first finding the value, before expressing it; finding in what way the values in use, so different from each other, fall under the common category and denomination of value, so that the value of one commodity may be expressed in the other.” (p 160) 

If I come to measure the length of a table, and the length of a football pitch, it does not matter that the thing I measure them with is variable, in itself, provided I undertake the measurement consistently. For example, I might measure using a measuring stick that is 1 metre long, or one that is a yard long. Provided I use the same stick to measure both lengths, although the measurement will be proportionately smaller in metres than in yards, the proportional relation between the length of the table and the football pitch will be the same. But, it's only possible to establish this proportional relation between the football pitch and the table, and the metre or yard measuring stick, because they all share a common property – that of length, extension in space-time. If I asked the question how green is the table compared to the football pitch, neither the metre nor the yard measuring stick would be of use in making that distinction. 

However, that is precisely the position that theories of subjective value place themselves in, because asking the question, what is the value of this particular use-value/utility is the same thing as asking how long is this colour. The value of a product/commodity has nothing to do with how much utility it provides to me or any other consumer. Whether a product has use value to me, only determines whether I might be prepared to expend labour-time producing it or not, as Marx describes in relation to Robinson Crusoe. As soon as I decide that it does have use value/utility for me, the question of how much labour-time I must expend to produce it, is no longer a question of subjective preference, but of objective reality, as determined by the level of technology, and productivity existing at that time. The only question then remains, given this objective value of the product, and given my preferences, how much of my available labour-time, I decide to allocate to the production of this product, as opposed to some other. 

And, this law of value only takes a different form under commodity production and exchange, where value is expressed not directly in terms of labour, but indirectly, as exchange-value, measured by a quantity of other commodities or money. The same underlying reality persists. Robinson can choose to spend 10 hours catching fish, but in doing so the cost is the rabbits he could have caught instead during that time. For him the value of the fish and the rabbits is 10 hours labour, and he calculates the value of each directly from the amount of labour he expends to obtain the respective quantities of use value. It only means that buyers of commodities, must decide how much of a particular commodity they want to buy given its objectively determined value, in other words, how much of some other commodity/money they are prepared to give up for it. The only difference here is that the value of, say, fish is expressed not directly as 10 hours labour, but as an exchange-value, i.e. x quantity of rabbits, or gold. But, given that these other commodities also represent an objectively determined amount of value/labour-time, this is only a more roundabout means of them determining how much of their labour-time, or congealed labour-time, in the form of money in their possession, they are prepared to give up for it. It is this roundabout means of expressing value as exchange-value/price rather than a direct expression of value in labour-time that is the basis for the creation of commodity fetishism. 

Small Change UK

So, the Tiggers, seeing the prospect of imminent European and Westminster elections on the horizon, have registered as a political party in order to stand candidates in those elections.  They are to call themselves Change UK.  It is an appropriate name, because they do indeed represent that small change, or loose change of UK politics.

The reality is that the Tiggers do not represent any change from the failed conservative social-democratic politics of Thatcher/Major/Blair/Brown/Cameron of the previous 40 years.  They could as well have called them the Continuation Blair-right Project.  In the 17th century, the Pilgrim Fathers who cast themselves adrift from Britain, and other European countries, were a bunch of puritanical religious bigots, who could not accept that, in the countries from which they came, a measure of religious freedom and tolerance of other religions, had been instituted.  As I have written elsewhere, these religious bigots erected a similar kind of regime of intolerance in their new homeland in America, though ask most people today, and they will tell you that the Puritans set sail for America to escape religious persecution.

Much the same is true of the Continuation Blair-rights.  They have created a whole narrative around the idea that they have had to set sail for the New World, because they have been persecuted in their native country.  In reality, it is the fact that these MP's have found that the monopoly on acceptable ideas, and control of power, they have enjoyed for the last forty years, has come to an end, which is the real cause of their departure, as they find themselves unable to accept the greater freedom of ideas, and loss of power that has come about in both parties.

For decades, inside the Labour Party, it was only the ideas of conservative social-democracy that were acceptable, with a few token leftists, such as Corbyn himself, allowed to remain in place, as a suggestion that the party was still a "broad church", whilst thousands of left-wing activists, and even whole branches and constituency parties were closed down, where they strayed outside the bounds of what conservative social-democracy deemed acceptable.  And, in the Tory party, whilst the majority of activists were died in the wool reactionaries, when it came to things like immigration and the EU, the inherently undemocratic nature of the Tory Party meant that they could be kept in their box, with the majority of Tory MP's themselves aligning themselves with the ideas of conservative social-democracy, content to making changes at the margin in cutting the welfare state, and so on, but on the whole simply tacking with the wind, so as to meet the needs of large-scale industrial capital.

As I have set out previously, it was the collapse of the material conditions that had existed for thirty years, and upon which conservative social-democracy had rested, which resulted in the financial crisis of 2008, and which has meant that the political centre has collapsed.  It was the politics and policies of that conservative social democracy that created the huge build up of asset price bubbles, and their concomitant, the build up of huge levels of private debt that led to the 2008 financial crisis, and which has resulted in the recreation of those conditions on an even more astronomical scale since 2008, meaning an even larger financial crash is inevitable, at the same time as implementing policies of austerity, so as to restrain economic growth, whilst promoting further speculation that has also led to the hollowing out of the political centre, and the polarisation of politics.  On the one hand, inside the Labour Party, (and something similar can be seen in the US, and across Europe), conservative social-democracy has given way to progressive social-democracy.  In the Tory Party, it is giving way to outright reaction and Bonapartist, counter-revolutionary tendencies that seek to take the economy back from the social-democratic state that arose in the late 19th century, to the kind of liberal-democratic state of the 18th and early 19th century, founded upon a regime of rampant free market competition, geared to the interests of millions of small capitalists. 

As I wrote recently, this means that Brexit amounts to a battle between two great class camps, one comprises the bulk of the advanced working-class, which forms the core of support for Labour, which is on the side of progress, and opposes Brexit, by a margin of around 4:1, the other comprises that phalanx of around 5 million small capitalists, their families and retainers that seeks to turn the clock back to that less mature form of capitalism, and the associated form of polity, and is prepared to adopt increasingly authoritarian, Bonapartist means of achieving that counter-revolution.

The Tiggers are indeed the small change that has fallen out of the pockets of the two great parties that represent the contending forces in this great class battle.  Indeed, as I have said before, compared to the figures that comprised the Gang of Four, in the 1980's that established the SDP, they are indeed just small change.  They are like the penny pieces of political currency, largely a nuisance, and likely to be phased out in the near future.

The fact, that they have been able to come together from both the Labour and Tory parties shows that they are like loose change, a collection of small coins of different denominations.  They are a purely opportunistic bunch whose only real basis for coming together is the fact that they were now out of place, unable to swim in the tide of the dominant ideas in their old parties, unable to reconcile themselves with either having to accept accountability to the members that get them elected, or to standing down as MP's so as to take up the role of being purely a member of their respective parties, unwilling to give up their lucrative jobs in parliament.  The main thing they have in common, besides being likely to have been deselected by their respective parties' members, is that this has manifested itself in relation to Brexit.

The battle between the two great class camps, sees 80% of Labour voters and members on the side of progress, and opposition to Brexit, whilst 80% of the small capitalists, and their representatives in the rank and file membership of the Tory Party, seek a No Deal Brexit, a return to 18th/early 19th century nationalism, based upon a strong state, gun-boat diplomacy, as in the days of Empire, and a bonfire of all rights for workers, consumers and the environment, so as to maximise the rate of surplus value, and the profits of these small capitalists.  The Tory Loose Changers, as conservative social democrats cannot accept that, because they recognise that it will actually be disastrous for the UK economy, and its dominant form of capital - large-scale industrial capital - and thereby for the class fraction they represent, the large-scale shareholders of those companies.  

But, the tragedy is that whilst 80% of the advanced working-class that supports Labour, and 80% of Labour members, oppose Brexit, and these reactionary consequences that naturally flow from it, the Labour Leadership, itself, continues to align with the reactionary nationalists in trying to pursue the policy of Brexit.  As I wrote the other day, the two great class camps have arrived on the battlefield, but on the workers side, despite its much larger numbers, and more disciplined army, it is hampered in its attack by the fact that its Generals have gone AWOL!  A similar situation existed in France, and led to the unenthusiastic support given to Macron, as a lesser evil to Le Pen.

The massed ranks of the advanced workers are ready for battle, but they see their Generals reluctant for battle, and even hobnobbing with the enemy generals.  In desperation, they look for some other flag-bearer who might at least be providing some kind of leadership,a round which to rally, so as at least to prevent their current strongholds and redoubts being overrun by the enemy.  In France they turned to Macron, as the leaders of the workers parties had failed to provide any progressive way forward.  In Britain, as we head into European Parliament elections, and then a General Election, with Labour's Generals, still with their backs to the enemy, rather like Stalin in 1941, still counting on his deal with Hitler to be sustained, there is a great danger that even the small change of the Tiggers, probably in some kind of "progressive alliance" with the Liberals, Greens, SNP, and Plaid will at least appear to be generals offering a lead by facing in the right direction, as Corbyn and Co. continue to echo in less convincing language the reactionary message of support for Brexit as that of the Tories and our class enemies.

That may well in the proportional representation system of the European Parliament elections result in anti-Brexit candidates sweeping the board, as a mobilised force of Remainers, now with the wind behind them flock to the polls in unprecedented numbers.  The media, ever keen to whip up the next hysteria, moral panic, and story to fill their pages, or attract viewers, are spreading the idea that the elections will result in a large rise in the number of populists being elected.  The opposite is true.  Support fort he EU has never been higher either in Europe or in the UK.  The Brexit vote has acted to mobilise the forces of progress that until then had been passive, just as in Europe that together with the success in recent years of right-wing populists has caused the forces of progress to mobilise, a process also seen in the US in response to Trump's election. 

Where, in Britain, more than a million marched, a week ago, to oppose Brexit, the forces of reaction could only manage a demonstration of a few thousand fascists and hard-right thugs from the BNP/EDL.UKIP and Leave Means Leave, to protest on March 29th. that Brexit was not going to happen, and that obviously Leave did not actually mean Leave.  Where more than 6 million have signed the petition calling for Brexit to be scrapped, just 300,000 have signed a petition calling for Britain to leave on No Deal.  The idea that three is going to be some kind of large-scale backlash from Leave supporters is farcical.  The most any of them can usually offer is that they will never vote again.  Given that many of them never bothered to vote in the past anyway that is not much of a statement, but if a few hundred thousand bigots and reactionaries decide they are not going to vote, I'll take that as a bonus!  It will mean fewer right-wing politicians elected in future.

A success for a progressive alliance of anti-Brexit forces in the European elections will undermine both the Tories and Labour, probably causing a few more MP's from both to join them if that occurs ahead of a General Election.  It means Labour will probably get wiped out in Scotland and Wales, and may lose seats in heavily Remain supporting areas in London and other large cities.  The majority of people now identify themselves as Remainers or Leavers, not Labour or Tory.  In Scotland and Wales, Remainers will have credible alternatives to Labour in the SNP and Plaid.  In large cities, the Liberals, in alliance with the Greens and Tiggers may be able to pose a credible challenge to Labour in some seats.  But, as the SDP showed, in the 1980's, even where that is not the case, with Labour under Corbyn appearing to only offer a form of Brexit that differs only in the language used, there will be no reason for Remainers to vote Labour, rather than casting a protest vote against both Brexit supporting parties.  The hope that existed in 2017, that a radical Corbyn Labour Party would come to offer a progressive, internationalist alternative to Brexit has gone, and all those that lent it their vote in 2017, on that basis, no longer have any reason to do so.

In the General Election, therefore, as opposed to the EP elections, the consequence is likely to be that the Brexit vote is hoovered up by the Tories, whilst the larger anti-Brexit vote, will be dissipated between Labour and the other opposition parties, allowing the Tories to win the election.  As with the SDP in the 980's, the Tiggers, having failed to provide any real change, will themselves disappear, like loose change down the back of the sofa.

Northern Soul Classics - I Am Nothing - Al Williams

Just a week to go to probably the best Northern Soul All-Nighter in the world, at Stoke Town Hall, where you can expect to hear more classics like this from Al Williams.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Friday Night Disco - Land of 1,000 Dances - Wilson Pickett

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 98

[γ) Confusion of Value and Price. Bailey’s Subjective Standpoint] 

Correctly identifying the fact that a commodity that acts as a money-commodity, measuring exchange-value, does not have to be invariable, Bailey writes, 

“…the capability of expressing the values of commodities has nothing to do with the constancy of their values…” (p 159) 

And, as seen earlier, not only is this not necessary, but it is impossible, because every commodity, including a money-commodity, by necessity, must also possess value, and that value will vary as a consequence of changes in social productivity. As the general commodity, against which the exchange-value of other commodities are measured, all that is required is that changes in its own value are then proportionately represented in its exchange-value against every other commodity. Any other changes in the exchange-value of particular commodities are then identifiable as resulting from a change in the value of these particular commodities, as opposed to changes in the value of money

But, that illustrates the problem for Bailey, and other theories of subjective value, because, whilst it is not necessary, and indeed not possible for a money commodity to be an invariable measure, this all the more highlights the requirement for some other invariable measure of value that the money-commodity has in common with all commodities whose value it acts to express. In other words, it is not necessary to have an invariable measure of exchange value, but it is necessary to have an invariable measure of value, and that measure is abstract labour-time. It is why, as Marx says, in his letter to Kugelmann, it is only the form of the law of value, under commodity production and exchange, that exchange-value represents. Outside commodity production and exchange, including the form that takes under capitalism, the form of that law as expressed by exchange-value (prices of production under capitalism) no longer applies, because exchange-value no longer applies. It no longer applies because the law of value can operate openly, without the interference of commodity fetishism, so that values can be measured not indirectly (exchange-values, prices, price of production) but directly in terms of their intrinsic measure – abstract labour-time. 

As Marx says, 

“...after the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, but still retaining social production, the determination of value continues to prevail in the sense that the regulation of labour-time and the distribution of social labour among the various production groups, ultimately the book-keeping encompassing all this, become more essential than ever.” 

Or, as he says in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, 

“Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labour, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labour in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labour in another form.” 

Thursday, 28 March 2019

The Bonapartists Drive Forward Again

The decision of the british government once more to show its contempt for parliament and democracy has been shown today.  Having continually failed to get even close to winning support for its withdrawal agreement, and looking set to lose any other vote on it, as the DUP and Tory Brextremeists lined up with opposition MP's to reject it, the government has tried what amounts to another trick, to force parliament into a corner.

The Withdrawal Agreement as the Prime Minister has always said, is inseparable from the political statement that goes with it.  Now, in order to try to get the Withdrawal Agreement passed, so as to prevent Britain from participating in the European Parliament elections in May, the government has proposed splitting the two parts of the deal, and to have parliament vote tomorrow on just the Withdrawal Agreement, separating from it the political statement.

As the Shadow Leader of the House has set out, to do so is to ask parliament to break the law, because the law as set out means that the two elements cannot be separated.  In constitionali language this means that the government is acting ultra vires (beyond its powers) because the government cannot pass act so as to ask someone to act illegally.  In the United States, the Supreme Court exists to prevent such abuse of power, as it did by striking down Trump's orders to prevent muslims entering the country.  In Britain, we saw something similar when the government's attempts to bypass parliament by seeking to undertake the EU withdrawal negotiations without any role for parliament, or legislative approval, were ruled ultra vires by the Supreme Court, when challenged.

The government's contempt of parliament, here, and its preparedness to itself ask parliament to break the law is yet another twist in the ratchet of the government towards the introduction of some kind of authoritarian Bonapartist regime.  Bill Cash, who is not a member of the government, but who is part of the right-wing, Brextremist faction that has held the government hostage over the last three years, even yesterday, on TV, referred back to the situation in the 1650's, when Britain's own first Bonapartist, Oliver Cromwell, marched into parliament and disbanded it by armed force.

Britain is entering truly dangerous times.  The first acts of Bonapartists is to increase their authoritarianism, to seek to remove any vrestighe of democratic control and oversight over their activities, and to mobilise the mob against their political opponents, all features of what has been seen over the last three years.  The next stage is for the Bonapartists themselves to begin to act illegally, having removed the potential for any restraint on their illegal activities, as order increasingly gives way to disorder, and arbitrariness, as the prelude to the break down of the rule of law.  

Its possible, as with Gina Miller's case against the government in 2017, that someone may go to court to get an injunction against the government's attempt to act in a manner that is ultra vires.  Generally, the courts do not interfere with parliamentary business, as parliament is sovereign, and determines its own business.  However, as the Miller case showed that is not absolute.  The Speaker, when questioned on the matter, correctly stated that it is not his responsibility to pronounce upon the legality or otherwise of motions brought before the house, only to pronounce upon whether they comply with the standing order of the house, which the government's motion does.  However, clear in his statement is the fact that that does not mean that the court's might not rule, before tomorrow that the government's motion is itself ultra vires.

The government is clearly attempting a contemptuous trick.  It hopes that by separating the Withdrawal Agreement from the political statement, it can obtain a majority.  That would mean it believes that it would comply with the EU's requirement that the UK must approve the Withdrawal Agreement by tomorrow, in order to extend the Article 50 period to May 22nd., and to avoid holding European Parliament elections.  But, if the UK then does not hold those elections, the government is trying to back parliament into corner, because it would mean that a Brexit deal would have to be agreed by May 22nd, or else Britain would collapse out of the EU on that date.  However, if parliament rejects the government motion, that would mean no extension of Article 50 being April 12th., and the UK collapsing out of the EU on that date, because the Withdrawal Agreement itself could not be submitted again to parliament, having been defeated.

This is just another version of the government's attempts to bully parliament into voting for May's deal.  But, for the reasons set out above, it is not only likely to fail, but it could easily backfire on the government.  If the government loses the vote, then the only alternative to crashing out on April 12th will be to revoke Article 50.  had Labour whipped behind the SNP proposal for revocation last night, in the event that no deal was reached by 5th April, it could well have secured the largest number of votes.  All those right-wing Labour MP's that have been giving comfort to the Tories, like Caroline Flint, John Mann, and Gareth Snell, should now see the kind of people they have been lining up with, in their quest to hold on to their seats by appeasing bigots.  It should be a wake up call to them and others to mobilise to stop this right-wing authoritarian regime from proceeding further in its quest to undermine parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

May's Gamble Has Failed

Theresa May is a gambler. But, as with most of her other traits, she is a bad one. She gambled in her negotiations with the EU, bluffing, with an empty hand, that the card counters from the EU knew, all along, was empty. She bluffed the UK parliament with her threat to push through a No Deal Brexit, if they did not agree her deal, but MP's knew, all along, that it was also an empty threat, as to carry it out would be to send Britain into a death spiral, for which she, and the Tories, would take the blame. Never learning from any of these lessons, she put her deal to parliament over and over again, expecting a different result, even though it was voted down by huge majorities. As the last throw of the dice she has now offered to throw herself on her sword, if only the Tory Party will back her deal. Those Tories for whom the chance of taking over the Leadership is more important than being seen to act consistently, have been swayed, but, unfortunately, for May, even this last throw of the dice has failed, as the DUP, and a still sizeable chunk of the ERG refuse to back her bad deal. 

The problem for May, is not just that her deal is a bad deal that has little support in parliament, or in the country. Her problem is that which has afflicted the Tory Party for the last 40 years. The vast bulk of the party membership, made up of small capitalists, mostly the smallest of the small, seek to turn the clock back. They want Britain to resemble the world they inhabit, of sharp practices as the way of making a buck, of low wages and poor conditions, with no regulations, so that they can maximise their profits. They want the British capitalist state to protect them from foreign competitors, and from domestic unions and socialists. These are the class forces that stand behind Brexit, and behind the ERG, who far from being extremists, within the Tory Party, represent its mainstream. But, the Tory Party, as a prospective party of government, also has to inhabit the real world, in which the fortunes of the economy, whatever the propaganda they might promote in regards the small business myth, is determined not by those small businesses, but by the huge oligopolies, whose operations are dependent upon the very planning and regulations, not just at a national, but an international level, that the small capitalists, and their Brexiter representatives abhor. 

May's problem, as with all Tory Prime Ministers is trying to reconcile these two irreconcilable forces at war with each inside the party. That was bad enough when May became Prime Minister with a small majority, inherited from Cameron, but it became impossible, when she lost the 2017 election, and then had to contend with the added complication of reliance on the DUP. May's dilemma, all along, has been that if she concedes to the majority in her party, and to the ERG, which she began by doing in setting out her red lines in the Lancaster House speech, that soon runs up against reality, and she is then forced to backtrack on those commitments, whilst trying to pretend that “nothing has changed”. In the case of her red lines, to reject being inside the Customs Union and Single Market, set out, at the beginning, at Lancaster House, it meant that this ran up against both the desire of the Remainer wing of her party to retain a close relationship with the EU, as vital to Britain's future, and against the EU/Ireland, which pointed out that such a commitment was incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement, which requires that Northern Ireland have the same regulatory regime as the EU/Ireland, so as to ensure frictionless trade between the two, so as to remove the need for any border. 

As May rowed back, she showed what a poor politician and negotiator she is, because, now reliant on the votes of the DUP, she immediately through the DUP under the bus, by agreeing to a backstop in which Northern Ireland would remain inside the Customs Union and Single Market, requiring a border down the Irish Sea, which Unionists rightly saw as the first step towards Northern Ireland being cut adrift, and its reunification with the Republic. Dependent on DUP votes, May was then quickly forced to change course once again, now trying to square the circle by making the backstop one which covers the whole of Britain. But, that necessarily meant alienating the ERG, and the vast bulk of Tory members, for whom continued membership of the Customs Union and Single Market is anathema, and the whole point of Brexit – many of them may also share the xenophobia of the other layers of society attendant upon the Tory Party, and those to its right, for whom Brexit was about stopping immigration, but for the small capitalist wing of the Tories, it is the ability to cut themselves free from EU regulations, workers rights and so on that is most determinant. 

It's quite clear that the backstop can only be removed if some agreement is reached, between Britain and the EU, that ensures the requirements of the backstop, for the same regulatory regime in Northern Ireland with that in the EU, can be found. All the talk about technology, at the border are irrelevant, from that perspective. The fact is that the same regulatory regime can only be achieved if Northern Ireland remains inside the Single Market and Customs Union. So, the ERG are quite right to say that the backstop ties Britain into the Single Market and Customs Union indefinitely, because the only way to remove the backstop, is for Britain to actively seek to be a permanent member of the Single Market and Customs Union! And, the DUP are quite right to distrust the Tories, on this matter, because they have every reason, on the basis of the way the negotiations have gone so far, to think that the Tories will throw them under the bus, if it's necessary to get Brexit and keep the rest of Britain outside the Single Market and Customs Union. If May had had a majority in December 2017, when she agreed, with the EU, to have only N.I. in the backstop, she would have pushed it through, then. It was only her need for DUP votes that stopped her. 

The DUP has no reason to back May's plan, therefore, because they have every reason to believe that, in the subsequent negotiations, they would be thrown under the bus, as May showed she would do, in December 2017. But, May's offer to resign once her plan is passed only complicates matters further. If May stands down, once her plan is endorsed by parliament, say in May 2019, then the Tory Prime Minister that actually takes over the negotiations on the important part of the deal will almost certainly be a Brextremist. The front runners are Gove and Bojo. Gove has already set out his strategy and reason for staying in the Cabinet and backing May's plan. It is that once Britain is formally out of the EU, all bets are off. 

In the current stage of negotiations, parliament eventually grabbed some power back to exercise some control over the process, but in the next stage of negotiations, should Brexit happen, it would have no such control. Power passes almost exclusively to the executive. It's quite clear that a Brextremist Prime Minister will start by cutting the ties of Britain with the EU, ending any prospect of being in the Customs Union, or close to, let alone in, the Single Market. Those right-wing Labour MP's, like Caroline Flint, who have always been prepared to take a hard line on immigration, and thereby blame foreigners for the ills of British capitalism, and so appease the bigots in their own electorates, are either fools or willing dupes, if they cover their support for Tory Brexit by saying that they are convinced by the Tories pledges to defend workers rights. These are the same same Tories that have sought to extract Britain from the existing EU regulations protecting those rights; who have argued for Britain's labour laws to be tightened even further, despite them already being the most restrictive in Europe; who have called for strikes in the public sector to be banned; who have demanded that strike ballots must get more than 50% of those entitled to vote, rather than just a simple majority of those voting; who have introduced charges for industrial tribunals; and so on ad nauseam. The whole purpose of these Tories seeking Brexit, as they have themselves said previously, is to have a bonfire of regulations, turning Britain into an equivalent of Cuba under Batista in the 1950's. Indeed, being able to push through such measures is another reason that the Tory right have been driving forward the ideas of authoritarianism, and a strong state, of driving ever closer towards some form of Bonapartism. 

And, the consequences of that are clear. Whatever the Bretremists claim about not imposing a border in Northern Ireland, the fact is that if a Gove or Bojo, quickly moves to separate Britain from the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as part of some quixotic desire to create a free market, free trade nirvana, the reality, in Ireland, will be, as I wrote recently, that it will create a smugglers paradise, with goods and people flooding across the Irish border into the North, on their way into mainland Britain. In contrast, despite what the EU and Ireland has to say for now, that they too do not want to introduce a border, they will first have to impose tariffs on Northern Irish goods and services each time they cross the border, with a devastating impact on the Northern Irish economy, that would quickly be followed by the imposition of border checks on goods and people, and so the introduction of a hard border. It would massively increase the chances of a border poll, resulting in a reunification of ireland.  The DUP, obviously see the consequences of that, and the likelihood that, for all their current protestations, a Tory government, no longer dependent on DUP votes to get its Brexit deal passed, would again throw them under the bus, introducing a border in the Irish Sea, and increasingly casting Northern Ireland adrift. 

So, it is no wonder that the DUP have not been attracted to vote for May's Plan, with its offer for her to resign. But, May is also trapped in the same old dilemma. By offering to resign, she hoped to bring on board the Brextremists, given a nod and a wink that, once Britain is officially out, they can let rip, with one of their own in charge. But, the Remainer wing inside the Tory Party, as they have all along, also see these nods and winks to the Brextemists. They are not a blind horse, and each time May picks up a couple of votes on her right flank, by such gestures, she loses a couple on her left flank. If Tory Remainers, believe that her offer to resign is her giving an open invitation for the Brextremists to put one of their own in Number 10, then more of them will vote against her plan, even if they are not led to join the Tiggers in their slow decline into oblivion. 

Moreover, whilst a handful of right-wing Labour MP's like Caroline Flint, John Mann and the other usual suspects, might still be prepared to vote with May, their actions will be seen as the scabbing it is. As Labour members see the inevitability that Brexit will simply lead to a hard right, Brextremist sitting in Number 10, the more they will pressure such scabbing MP's to come into line, including the threat of deselection, in short order. So, the chances of May's plan being approved are probably declining rather than growing. That is why she did not put it up for voting on in the indicative votes, along with the other options, because she knows it would have scored badly. 

In those indicative votes, Ken Clarke's proposal for Britain to remain in the Customs Union scored highly, with only a majority of 4 against it. That is because, although it differs negligibly from Labour's proposal, and so Labour whipped to back it, all of the Tories that also backed Clarke's proposal, would instinctively vote against Labour's plan, which also suffers from being confused, unclear, and impossible to achieve. The largest number of votes were cast for the proposal to subject any deal to another referendum, but there was also large scale support for simply revoking Article 50. Had Labour whipped in support of that option, rather than whipping against it, it could have had the largest number of votes of any option. 

The most likely outcome of the votes next week, are then that parliament might vote for a deal involving remaining in the Customs Union, but with the proviso that any deal be subject first to another referendum. May will not agree to either, as she has made clear. That means that she will call a General Election, and she will request that the EU give a further extension of Article 50 for that purpose. Such an extension is likely to have to be at least until the end of the year, and possibly for two years. I expect that, in that event, she will fight the election on the basis of a hard Brexit, in which she will use the extended Article 50 period to negotiate a “managed no deal”, whereby the UK would negotiate bilateral agreements on aviation, drug licensing and so on, with the intention of then negotiating a Canada style FTA. 

The question then is, what Labour's stance will be in that General Election. At the moment, Corbyn continues the line that Labour will itself argue for Brexit, and negotiations after the election on that basis. If that continues to be the case, Labour will lose the election badly. May will get a workable majority, and will push through her proposals. The fact that Labour spokespeople continue to prevaricate, and hide behind the nonsense that the Manifesto will only be determined by the Clause 5 meeting, is a bad sign. It means that the chances are that Labour will fight the election on its current reactionary pro-Brexit agenda. That means many of Labour's core voters, that strongly oppose Brexit, will be demoralised, and look, where possible, to vote for anti-Brexit candidates as an alternative. It will demoralise Labour's activists, leaving them with a contradictory, and confusing message to try to sell on the doorstep. It will open the door once again to the Blair-rights, who have been allowed to present themselves as the only opponents of Brexit, and will, thereby open the door to their champion, Watson, to organise his party within a party to remove Corbyn from office, and begin the process of purging, the left from the party. 

That is why, we need an emergency LP conference, so as to replace the current confused and inadequate Composite agreed in 2017, with a clear statement of the party's opposition to Brexit, and its intention to Revoke Article 50, once elected. 

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 97

Bailey writes, 

““… if commodities are to each other as the quantities, they must also be to each other as the values of the producing labour; for the contrary would necessarily imply, that the two commodities A and B might be equal in value, although the value of the labour employed in one was greater or less than the value of the labour employed in the other; or that A and B might be unequal in value, if the labour employed in each was equal in value. But this difference in the value of two commodities, which were produced by labour of equal value, would be inconsistent with the acknowledged equality of profits, which Mr. Ricardo maintains in common with other writers” (op. cit., pp. 79-80).” (p 159) 

But, as Marx points out, what Bailey identifies here is not a flaw in the law of value, but in Ricardo's misapplication of that law. In other words, Ricardo equates profits with surplus value, when, in fact, these are two different things. Surplus value relates to, and is a function of variable-capital, whereas profit relates to, and is a function of the total capital. That capitals of equal size will tend to appropriate an equal amount of profit does not at all mean that they will produce and appropriate an equal amount of surplus value, because this latter depends upon the proportion of variable-capital to constant capital, i.e. the organic composition. Total profit is determined by the total produced surplus value, but profit is a function of distribution, whereas surplus value is a function of production. 

If commodities are sold at their exchange-values, they will produce different amounts of surplus value, and consequently different rates of profit. But, commodities are not sold at their exchange-value (at least where competition is allowed to equalise profit rates), but at their prices of production. This does not at all invalidate the law of value, as Bailey or Bohm-Bawerk suggest, because these prices of production are themselves a function of the law of value. Unless the law of value operates to establish values, from which are derived exchange-values, it is impossible to derive surplus value, and consequently any objective or rational basis for profit, or the rate of profit, and so no basis upon which to derive those prices of production. Moreover, taking the whole of production, the law of value still operates to explain and provide an objective basis for its total value. All that the prices of production represent, therefore, is the phenomenal form in which the law of value manifests itself, as a consequence of capitalist competition, which thereby acts to distribute the total produced surplus value, so as to effect an average rate of profit.  Exchange-value is the phenomenal form that the Law of Value assumes under generalised commodity production, whereas prices of production are the phenomenal form that the Law of Value assumes under capitalism.

Although Bailey stumbles into this correct criticism of Ricardo's application of the law of value, he clearly did not himself understand the underlying problems. He writes, 

“Ricardo on the other hand maintains “that labour may rise and fall in value without affecting the value of the commodity. This is obviously a very different proposition from the other, and depends in fact on the falsity of the other, or on the contrary proposition” (loc. cit., p. 81).” (p 159) 

But, as seen earlier, Bailey himself undermined his own argument, in that regard. The measurement of value on the basis of the quantity of labour is clearly not the same as the measurement of value on the basis of the value of labour, and yet Bailey proceeds as though these are the same thing. When it comes to measuring the value of corn, he measures it on the basis of the quantity of labour, and notes that the same quantity of labour might produce 100, 200, or 300 units of output. If he used his theory consistently, he would then conversely define the value of this quantity of labour as being 100, 200, or 300 units of this commodity. But, he doesn't. When it comes to determining the value of labour, he instead defines it only in terms of the value of the paid labour, i.e. the value of wages. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Stop The Drive Towards Bonapartism

I've written in the past that many of our highly paid pundits do not seem to understand the constitution.  They seem to think that we live in some kind of Presidential system, rather than a parliamentary democracy.  In part, that is understandable, because as Lord Hailsham wrote several decades ago, the British political system had evolved into what he called "an elected dictatorship".  In effect, what he was describing was type of Bonapartism.

In Presidential systems, where executive power is vested in the hands of one single elected individual, the forces pulling in the direction of Bonapartism are strong.  In the US, it is countered by the strict separation of powers, and the role of Congress, and the Supreme Court.  But, as Trump is showing, the vast amount of power granted to the President can be used to overcome these checks and balances.  In France, the executive power of the President is checked by its hybrid political system that also vests executive power in the hands of the Prime Minister, and control over them by the National Assembly.

In Britain, the parliamentary system means that it is parliament that is sovereign, although in strict constitutional terms, it is the monarch, in parliament, that is sovereign.  In reality, since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, it is parliament that is sovereign, with the monarch only fulfilling a ceremonial role, though, in a crisis, there is nothing preventing the Monarch actually using their remaining prerogative powers, including the fact that, constitutionally, the armed forces, and other bodies of armed men of the state, owe their allegiance to the Monarch, and not to parliament.  In practice, if that were to happen, it would already mean that the country was in a pre-revolutionary condition.

Yet, in recent times the trend towards Bonapartism, or the strengthening of the dictatorship element of Hailsham's "elected dictatorship" has increased.  What Hailsham meant was that the Prime Minister, whilst having to be elected as an MP, like any other MP, once ensconced in office as Prime Minister, has considerable powers, much like those of a President, whilst, unlike a President, not being subject to popular election in a General Election.  In a Presidential system, such as that in the US,  the President claims exclusive executive power, on the basis that they are directly elected, in a General Election, by the electorate as a whole.  In fact, of course, in the US, that is not true, because the President is elected indirectly through the Electoral College, which means that although Trump received 4 million fewer votes than Clinton, he was able to obtain a majority in the Electoral College.  The same happened in 2000 with the victory of Bush over Gore.

The Prime Minister, like a President, appoints the government, which in Britain today means a payroll of over 150 MP's.  Those MP's, as Ministers have a vested interest, both pecuniary, and in terms of their careers, and future political ambitions, in being loyal to the prime Minister.  Furthermore, the doctrine of collective responsibility means that they are bound to abide by government decisions, when it comes to voting in parliament.  In a parliament of 650 MP's, having a core government payroll of nearly a quarter of all MP's gives the government considerable power to push its decisions through parliament, and thereby also gives the Prime Minister considerable power to push their own personal agenda through parliament, as it is they who appoint government ministers, and likewise remove them from office.  Moreover, the government is only the government because it has the support of a majority of MP's in parliament.  Normally, that means that the government party has a majority of MP's.  Those same MP's, also have an incentive to back the government, and thereby the prime Minister.  They want to ensure that their government remains in office; they want to ensure thereby that they retain their own seat, particularly if it is under threat in any General Election, a threat the Prime Minister can always hold over them if they become rebellious; they might also personally have their eye on joining that very large government payroll, and so gaining financially, as well as furthering their political career, a possibility that is threatened if they are seen to be disloyal, or a maverick.

A Prime Minister, like a President, also has executive powers, nominally described as Royal Prerogative powers, but actually in the hands of the Prime Minister.  Until fairly recently, i.e, the Iraq War, the Prime Minister had the power to take the country to war, without parliamentary approval.  Even after, the Iraq War, we have seen Prime Minsters commit British troops to combat without parliamentary approval, for example, in Syria.  Its likely that British special forces have actually been committed to combat on many more occasions than that without parliamentary approval, and because their operations are undertaken covertly no reporting of their activities would be provided for parliamentary scrutiny after the event.

Also like a President, the Prime Minister has many other powers and privileges.  For example, in the US, the President is described as having the power of the bully pulpit, meaning that they can use the office to command the attention of the media, so as to promote their views directly to their base, or to the population as a mass, in order to try to bully Congress into agreeing to their demands.  Theresa May has tried to do that in recent days, by going over the heads of parliament to appeal directly to all of the Leave supporters in the population to exert pressure on MP's to back her deal.  The prime Minister, has the ability thereby to have unequal access to media outlets, to promote their own specific agenda, and as there has been this increasing tendency to see the Prime Minister as a President, so it means that they can present themselves as a figurehead, a single representative of the amorphous mass.  That tendency has been increased in recent years, as politics has become reduced to a cult of personality.  The drive to hold "Leaders Debates", as though those Leaders were in some way being directly elected by the population at large, as happens with a President, has also increased that tendency, which ultimately undermines parliamentary democracy, and strengthens the tendency towards Bonapartism.

The dictatorial powers of the Prime Minister are mostly significant in times when the government itself has only a small majority, or is even a minority, as is the case with May's government.  In order to overcome the difficulties that the lack of a clear majority imposes, the government is impelled towards trying to use its executive powers whenever it can get away with it, and to cut parliament out of any role of oversight and scrutiny, so as to ho,d the executive to account.  That has been obvious with Brexit, but in similar ways it was seen in the drive to War in Iraq, with the government attempting to hold information close to its chest, so as to present the idea that it knew something that parliament did not know, but which if it did would lead parliament to back the government. May tried the same thing with Brexit, telling parliament that it could not give a running commentary on negotiations, because that would be to disclose the cards in its hands to the EU.  In reality, the government had no cards of any worth in its hands, and it was to cut parliament out of any involvement that the government refused to provide any details of its negotiation objectives.  In the end, it has had to do, now, what it should have done three years ago, which is to involve parliament via a series of indicative votes, so as to arrive at an objective in its negotiations with the EU.  Its rather like a trades union that goes into negotiations with an employer, having failed to first talk to its members about what pay rise they want.

Now parliament has asserted its sovereignty, but it is telling that the government and its supporters now describe this as somehow revolutionary, or unconstitutional.  They talk about the government having been elected to implement its policies, and that parliament should not seek to replace the role of government.  But, of course, this is nonsense.  The government is not elected by the electorate.  The government is appointed by the Prime Minister.  In fact, the government can include people who have been elected by no one.  The government can include members of the House of Lords, for example.  Gordon Brown, appointed the odious Digby Jones as an industry Minister in his government, though Jones was elected by no one, and unlikely ever to be elected by anyone to parliament.  Nor is the Prime Minister elected by the electorate.  I did not get to vote for or against Theresa May as Prime Minister.  Only the electorate in May's constituency got that opportunity.  As with every other elector, I only got to vote for the candidates put forward by the Labour, Tory, and other parties in the constituency where I lived at the time of the election.  None of those candidates were standing for positions of Ministers, let alone Prime Minister, only as candidates to become a member of parliament.  And, as one of those candidates in her own constituency, that is all Theresa May could stand for too. 

So, it is totally untrue for government ministers and their supporters to claim that they were elected by the electorate to implement their Manifesto.  They were only elected by the voters in their particular constituencies to be MP's, nothing more.  It is only when MP's have been elected, and one party in parliament has a majority, or can command a majority of votes, for example, by obtaining the support of other MP's, that it can be in a position to form a government.  It is parliament, by this process that elects the government, not the electorate.  As evidence of that, for example, in 1940, Winston Churchill, became Prime Minister, not because he was Leader of the Tory Party - he wasn't, and the Tories who never trusted him, never made him Leader of the Tory Party - but because Attlee's Labour Party, voted to install him in that position, along with a group of Tory MP's.

That parliament has reasserted its sovereignty is not revolutionary or unconstitutional, it is a necessary corrective to the increasing drive to authoritarianism and Bonapartism that has been taking place over recent years. 

We Should Have The European Parliament Elections

A lot of time is being spent worrying about the question of holding European parliamentary elections.  Some of it is around the question of what does it say to be holding such elections three years after Britain voted narrowly to leave the EU; some of it is around the idea that it would lead to a load of Farage's being sent as MEP's to the European Parliament.  It's clear that Britain should hold the EP elections, however, for several reasons.

Firstly, it's clear that Britain is not leaving the EU by 29th March, and almost certainly not by 12th April either.  If the forces of reaction are defeated, the UK will not be leaving at all, in which case, it will be necessary that we have elected MEP's to represent us.  The discussions in the European Parliament itself in recent days have been instructive.

Donald Tusk pointed out that the EU cannot ignore or abandon the 6 million people, and counting, who have signed the petition demanding that Article 50 be revoked, nor the 1 million plus people that marched last weekend demanding another referendum.  He is right.  For one thing, the EU should not ignore the people of Scotland, or Northern Ireland, nor Gibraltar that voted by a significant majority to Remain inside the EU.  Indeed, the people of Gibraltar voted 9:1 in favour of remaining in the EU.

The EU has previously suggested that any British citizens who wished to acquire EU citizenship, as a protection against Brexit should be able to do so.  That is something which should be pursued.  Indeed, its time that the EU itself automatically granted EU citizenship to every current citizen of the EU, as an alternative to, and in addition to being citizen's of any particular nation state.  That is the necessary corollary of the right to free movement.  Logically, it should mean that all those citizens are free to move from one part of the EU to another, with no diminution in the rights, which would also mean that things such as their accumulated entitlements to pensions, healthcare, unemployment benefits and so on are transported along with them, when they move from one part of the EU to another.  That right should continue to be extended to each citizen, whether their nation state decides to leave the EU or not.  The logical conclusion of that, of course, is that the issue of payment of pensions and other welfare benefits should be one that is determined by the EU itself, and paid for from the EU budget, not from the budgets of nation states, with the EU collecting taxes to cover this expense accordingly.

In the same way that British citizens living outside the UK, get to vote in UK elections, and the same is true, say for US citizen's living in Britain, who continue to vote in US elections, so, if UK citizens, continued to have EU citizenship, they should continue to have the right to vote in EU elections, even if Britain were to leave the EU.  It would be for the EU to organise the basis of such elections, for its citizens living in the UK.  But, its quite clear that, for example, in Scotland, where the Scottish Parliament supports continued membership of the EU, the Scottish parliament itself might facilitate the EU in organising such elections.  That would only be like Gibraltar facilitating the votes of UK citizens living there, in UK parliamentary elections.  Indeed, its foreseeable, that whether or not Scotland voted for independence, the EU might allocate specific Scottish seats in the European Parliament, reflecting the votes of EU citizens in Scotland.  The same could apply to Wales, and in those large Metropolitan areas where the support for EU membership is dominant, such as London, Manchester, Liverpool etc. some similar arrangement could be arrived at.  It might be that the MEP's from these UK constituencies, might not be able to vote on all issues, for example, on financial matters, but, on the other hand, it might also be possible for these UK constituencies to pay themselves into the EU budget, so as to be able to obtain the relevant rights and privileges.

But, even without that its necessary for the UK to participate in the EP elections, because, its likely that the actual fate of Brexit will not be known until after those elections take place.  Its not conceivable that, in the end, Britain will scrap Brexit, but did not then have MEP's.  The argument that these elections cannot be held because, Britain voted, in 2016, to leave the EU, cannot hold, because, despite that vote, Britain still has not left.  The idea that Leave voters are going to rise up in revolt at having such elections is simply scaremongering.  We have continually been told that they are going to rise up in revolt due to the delay in Brexit, but no such revolt is even close to being seen.  UKIP has collapsed, and whilst more than a million marched to stop Brexit, only a few dozen have marched to insist on it happening; more than 6 million have signed the petition demanding that Article 50 be revoked, only a few hundred thousand have signed a petition demanding that Brexit be implemented.

The true nature of the potential for revolt is the fact that Farage has effectively disappeared up his own backside, despite all of the free publicity provided to him, and his entourage by the Tory media.  As Guy Verhofstadt put it directly to Farage in the European Parliament "Why are you here.  I though you were supposed to be marching.  Of the 200 miles march, how much did you actually march, 2 miles?"   And, that reflects the nature of the forces standing behind Brexit.  All mouth and no trousers, except for a tiny hardcore of fascists.

The truth is, as I wrote several years ago, the likes of UKIP, and the BNP only managed to get any of their candidates elected in conditions where there were low polls.  In the EP elections with turnouts of only around 20%, plus the fact of the use of proportional representation, it meant that these fringe groups could get candidates elected, even though their support in absolute terms was low, and concentrated in specific areas.  The same was true of their success in getting local councillors elected.  As soon as it came to a General Election, it became apparent that their actual share of the total vote was only around 5%, meaning they got no candidates elected, and where local elections were held on the same day as a General Election, the same thing happened, as the larger turnout meant that the fringe elements lost any of the seats they had previously won.

As I also wrote several years ago, this fact is a result of there always being a core vote of around 30% of the population, who are bigots.  Mostly, those bigots are coterminous with Tory voters, or those to their right, or with those that generally do not vote.  The fact that around 35% of Leave voters say that if Brexit goes ahead they will not vote again, therefore, should not cause any great consternation, because even in General Elections, there is always around 30% of the population who do not bother to vote.  The support for UKIP and the BNP, as with the vote for Brexit, was simply a reflection of this phenomenon, that in a restricted poll, the forces of reaction were able to mobilise this core vote of bigots. 

What the EU referendum has done is to take an issue that was only of great significance to a small minority, and to make it into the sole determining issue of the day.  Prior to the EU referendum, the EU ranked only around 7th or 8th on most people's order of concerns, below things like the NHS, wages, jobs, crime and so on.  The same was true of immigration.  So, even for those that held bigoted views on the EU, foreigners, and immigration, in General Elections, it was outweighed by these other more important concerns.  Now, that has all changed.  As I reported recently, the majority of people today identify themselves as either a Remainer or a Leaver, rather than as Labour or Tory.  It is this question that is determinant above all others, if and when a General Election is held, which is why Labour's continued adherence to the reactionary idea of supporting some form of impossible "Jobs First Brexit", is unfathomable, given that more than 70% of Labour voters identify themselves as Remainers!

The truth is that if European Parliament elections are held, those opposing Brexit will sweep the board.  Its inconceivable that in the charged atmosphere, and with the supporters of Remain having the wind in their sails, there will not this time be large turnouts in these elections, and it will be those opposing Brexit that will be in the majority, sweeping away the Farage's and the like.  It will be a further indication of the fact that, a clear majority in Britain today, back Remain, and they are mobilised to stop Brexit.  If Labour were to do he decent, principled thing, and its leadership throw its weight behind that movement, not only could the Brexit madness be stopped, but Labour would put itself in a commanding position for control not of the majority of British MEP's, but to win a General Election too.