Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Farage Could Lose It For Johnson

Trump's attempt to buy Britain has taken a setback.  The global national populist movement that brings together Putin, Erdogan, Trump, Netanyahu (and probably Gantz as his clone), Orban as well as a string of other ultra-right-wing nationalists in various right-wing populist movements across Europe, such as Le Pen, Wilders, Farage et al, all with their ideas represented by a variety of organs such as Breitbart, Spiked Online, not to mention the efforts of Cambridge Analytica and its various offshoots, each financed by billionaire mavericks, had done all they could.  Russian money was channelled into various Tory nationalist groupings, anonymously through Northern Ireland.  The Russian bots and trolls intervened in the referendum in the same way they intervened in the US elections.  No wonder Johnson has ensured that the House of Commons Report on that has not been published ahead of the election.  Trump himself came on to Farage's LBC radio show to proclaim what a good guy Johnson was, and how terrible Corbyn is, to implore Farage and Johnson to form an ultra-right, nationalist alliance.  To no avail.

One problem is that none of these people are actually very good politicians.  The other problem is that nearly all of them are unsavoury kleptocrats.  They present themselves as being anti-elite, whilst actually themselves being marginal elite figures themselves.  They talk about politicians being in it for themselves, but that factor is the most identifying feature of their own behaviour, rather than any commitment to a particular ideology.  By some accounts, Putin is the richest man in the world from all of the wealth he has sucked out of the Russian economy.  Trump has steadfastly refused to disclose his tax returns, and although he is such an incompetent businessman that he's gone bankrupt four times, usually also asset stripping the businesses he takes over, and decimating the surrounding economy, as happened, for example, in Atlantic City, there are serious questions as to where the money came from for him to engage in his latest incarnation.

The revelations about Trump's withholding military support for Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian government to provide dirt on Joe Biden, are just the latest example of the way he has used the occupation of the White House to further his own personal quest for wealth and business opportunities.  Again illustrating the global connections between these different ultra-right wing nationalist forces, several of Trump's associates worked for these other leaders, such as Erdogan, as well as the former Ukrainian regime etc.  One of Trump's associates Paul Manafort, put forward the totally spurious conspiracy theory that the hacking of Clinton's e-mails, and the Democrats server was done from Ukraine, not Russia.

Trump did his best to get his two puppets Farage and Johnson to come together, but failed.  Johnson himself, of course, has no commitment to Brexit.  He famously wrote those two Telegraph articles one arguing why he should back Remain the other why he should back Leave.  His decision to back Leave, and indeed to lead that campaign, was based not on any commitment to that project, but purely the project of propelling himself into the leadership of the Tory Party, a prospect that would have been impossible for him without being a proponent of Leave.  But, the same factors mean that Johnson could never form an alliance with Farage.  Johnson needed to neutralise Farage to win the election, which he appeared to have done.  Johnson and Cummings core vote strategy could win, provided that a) the Faragists were neuralised, and b) the Remain vote was split between the actual Remain parties, and the fake Remain party (Labour).  Indeed, some of the same forces emanating out of Moscow backing Trump, Farage, and Johnson, have their followers amongst Corbyn's own entourage, so its perhaps no wonder that Corbyn's pro-Brexit stance, splitting the Remain vote is acting to gift the election itself to Johnson.

Johnson can't form an alliance with Farage, because it would lose Johnson votes and give Farage prestige he does not deserve.  Johnson knows that the Faragists will not win any seats, a reality that Farage himself knows, which is why he has decided not to stand himself, having failed to get elected on 27 previous occasions!  This is not a small local election, or the European Parliament elections, in which parties like UKIP/BP can do well because of a combination of low polls and/or proportional representation.  The Faragists, even if they do well, might take around 10-12% of the poll, but that will give them no seats whatsoever.

Johnson also can't do a deal with Farage, because if Johnson wins the election, he knows that within a fairly short period of time, he will have to ditch the reactionary wing of his party, around Rees-Mogg and the ERG, which acts as a fifth column for the Faragists inside the Tory Party.  Johnson will have to do that, because the reactionary policies of the ERG/Faragists are unsustainable.  Johnson knows that he will have to adopt a strategy of Keynesian intervention, and the indications of that are already apparent with his splurge of spending commitments.  In fact, with interest rates at 5,000 year lows, and negative in real terms, why would any one with any sense not take that opportunity to borrow at fixed rates over as long a period as possible, to finance capital investment in infrastructure, just as individuals, where they can have used that to acquire assets.  The same approach has been adopted by the right-wing nationalist regimes in Poland and Hungary that have splurged on public spending, increasing welfare, introducing a form of universal basic income and so on.

Johnson may, depending on the size of majority he obtains, even use the transition period to negotiate to stay in the EU.  that after all was his original perspective, of a referendum with what he expected would be a large vote to Leave, but not a majority, that would enable Britain to renegotiate further concessions, as had previously been done by Thatcher.  To do that, he will have to marginalise the ERG elements.  He will have to carry out a similar process as that undertaken by Kinnock in the Labour Party, of expelling oppositional elements, closing down associations, and so on.  That is made easier in the Tory Party because of its undemocratic nature, and primacy of the parliamentary party.  Johnson, who has repeatedly touted his "One Nation" credentials, could make a turn having obtained a sizeable parliamentary majority, to such a stance, focusing on a technological, managerialist reconstruction agenda, similar to that proposed by Moseley in the 1930's, and currently being seen in Poland, Hungary etc.  He could rebuild the Tory Part associations in that image.  The Labour Party itself is turning away some of those working-class elements that Johnson could then recruit.

Those elements would not be those proposed in the Workington Man hypothesis, but would be all of those scientific, managerial workers required for a technological programme of reconstruction.  In other words all of those elements of the working-class that Marx describes as taking on the role of "functioning capitalist", the role of day to day management, development and administration.  But, to do so, Johnson would have to ditch Brexit as a project, because it is precisely amongst these sections of the working-class that the strongest support for Remain is to be found, along with their associated layers of educated workers.  They represent the antithesis of the small capitalists that currently dominate the Tory rank and file, and who grew in importance during the 1980's and 90's.  Johnson would simply be taking the Tories back to the kind of party it was prior to the Thatcher revolution of the 1980's.

Johnson knows that two-thirds of Brexit company voters are prepared to vote for his deal, rather than No Deal.  So, he must have calculated that Farage posed no threat.  he undoubtedly calculated that Farage would then focus his attention on Labour seats, not Tory seats, further facilitating a Tory win.  But, again, that fails to recognise that what fundamentally drives Farage, and many of those in the Brexit company, is not any commitment to an ideology, but purely self-interest.  Johnson may have calculated that what drives Farage is a desire to get Brexit done, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Farage's main concern is Farage.  Farage can bluff and bluster all he likes about taking Labour votes, but he knows full well that just as he was originally a right-wing Tory, so the vast bulk of Brexit company votes also come from right-wing Tories.

Farage might take some right-wing Labour votes, but they represent a small minority.  The Workington Man thesis is baloney.  It simply reiterates what anyone who grew up in a working-class community already knew.  That is that there are, and always have been working-class Tories, and indeed, working-class supporters of parties further to the right than the Tories.  They are the people who are peripheral to the working-class, largely poorly educated, atomised and remote from the organised labour movement.  When I was a kid, my parents, and others who formed part of the traditional working-class, scorned the few such people that could be found in the street, who never did a day's work, had loads of kids, would never engage in any kind of collective activity, and if they ever could be bothered to even vote, usually voted Tory, who, at the time, were seen as being the party most likely to increase their family allowance.  Yet, today, we are expected to believe that it is this latter group that are supposed to be the "core" Labour vote, whilst the actual core Labour voters, amongst the mainstream working-class are portrayed as being in some way "middle class", simply because they are not in such deprivation!

The reality is that, for every one of these peripheral Labour votes that the Faragists take, they will take two Tory votes.  At the same time, for every Labour Leave vote that Corbyn's pro-Brexit strategy retains, Labour loses 4 Labour Remain votes.  On the one hand, Farage's decision to stand candidates in every constituency could lose it for the Tories, by splitting the Tory Leave vote, on the other hand, Corbyn's reactionary pro-Brexit stance, has probably already lost the election for Labour.  But, whether it is enough to win it for the Tories, or whether the Liberals may take enough seats to create a hung parliament is yet to be seen.

Certainly, every time I see the simpering Jo Swinson on the TV, my stomach turns over, and wrenches.  She combines the typical Liberal duplicity with a ridiculous arrogance and air of fantasy.  She doesn't even seem to understand the British constitution, claiming to be standing for the position of Prime Minister, rather than simply a position as an MP.  She doesn't seem to understand that Britain does not have a Presidential system, and the Prime Minister is not elected by the people, but by parliament.  Yet, it is a dilemma that many progressive Labour voters will have of holding their nose and voting Liberal to stop Brexit, or voting for Labour, and thereby potentially putting into government a Labour party that, whilst its membership, and the majority of its Shadow Cabinet oppose Brexit, may be taken down that road, by Corbyn and other economic nationalists in his entourage.

The only real guarantee against that would be if local Labour parties commit to a Socialist Campaign for Labour and Europe, and commit to revoking Article 50, taking Britain back into the EU if the Tories take us out, and thereby by passing Corbyn's reactionary nationalist Brexit position.  Those who wanted to give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt, now can see the  reality.  Having initially agreed with McDonnell, Abbott and others to ditch the pro-Brexit stance, he has reneged on that commitment under the influence of Milne.  The difference between Corbyn and Johnson over Brexit has been reduced to just one word.  Johnson is committed to "Getting Brexit Done", whereas Corbyn is similarly committed to "Getting Brexit Sorted"

What Johnson and Trump failed to recognise is that for Farage, Brexit without him being in a pivotal position would be disastrous.  The trolls of Spiked Online would no doubt simply find some other issue to adopt a contrarian stance over, in order to be able to continue to be invited on to the TV screens by the BBC and Sky.  They have made a profession out of that from the days when they were known as the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Living Marxism.  But Farage has made his living for the last 25 years by being the face of Brexit.  He knows that if Brexit were to go ahead, his raison d'etre would disappear with it.  All very well if as Trump requested, Johnson had given him a boost by forming an alliance, so that Farage might have got a Cabinet position, but otherwise, it would mean that Farage would have to take retirement, losing all of the fawning by the Tory media that has been afforded him for the last two decades.  As Trump faces impeachment, and the likelihood of not being elected for a second term, even the prospect of Farage acting as Trump's global representative disappears into the distance.  Indeed, if Trump's affairs are investigated in detail, who knows what may come out from beneath various stones, implicating those with whom he has been in alliance over the years.

As soon as Johnson refused to give Farage any space, it was inevitable that Farage would try to scupper the Tories chances of winning by standing in every seat.  That way, Farage can try to scupper Brexit, thereby ensuring that he has a continued reason for existence and can keep drawing his money from the European Parliament, and keep being fawned by the Tory media.  What we have is a strange situation in which the Leave vote is now split between a tiny minority for the Faragist, a large majority for the Tories, and a small minority for Labour.  Corbyn is competing with the Tories for the Leave vote with little hope of securing it, whilst in the process alienating its much larger support amongst Remainers.

Simultaneously, Labour is competing with the Liberals/Green/Plaid alliance for those Remain voters, and is thereby splitting the Remain vote.  As seen in 2017, simply because of the much greater electoral weight of Labour, it tends to retain Remain voters by inertia, because they feel that voting for the Liberals would be a wasted vote letting the Tories in.  Despite labour's reactionary Brexit stane they feel compelled to vote Labour.  But, that is a very fragile basis of support.  the reality of that is seen in Scotland.  The SNP went over night from 6 seats to 56 seats, though its since fallen back.  But, in this election, the SNP could easily sweep the board, annihilating Labour, Liberals and Tories in Scotland, because of Brexit.  This is an effect of the undemocratic first past the post electoral system.  Similarly, if in England and Wales, labour starts to see its vote fragment, due to its reactionary Brexit stance, a dynamic can quickly be established that gathers the force of momentum.  If progressive voters no longer see Labour as the best bet for stopping Brexit, they can switch at a moment's notice to the Liberals or Greens, or Plaid, knowing that, defeating Brexit is the most important issue now, and that once stopped, the other important issues of the day can be addressed.

It will come down to the extent this happens, and the extent to which the Faragists take Tory votes.  Its not necessary for the Liberals to win the election to stop Labour winning.  They only need to take away a sufficient number of votes from Labour.  But, similarly, its not necessary for the Faragists even to win seats to stop Johnson winning, they only need to hoover up a sufficient number of Tory Leave votes.  Will progressive voters be able to hold their noses and vote for the obnoxious Liberals to prevent a Corbyn government committed to a reactionary pro-Brexit stance?  Will the Faragists get through the election without too many of the loons and fruitcakes being brought to the media's attention, so that they take votes from the Tories?  Those are the questions likely to determine the outcome of the election.  Already, we have seen one BP candidate removed for claiming that the world is governed by aliens, and that she herself is an alien from the Sirius star system.  There will be lots more such BP candidates given the nature of the party and its core voter base, but then given the nature of that core voter base, would such revelations actually make much difference to the votes it obtains.  A belief in such nonsense and conspiracies is pretty inseparable from the bigoted, uneducated views of that section of the Leave vote, as opposed to the core Tory leave vote that supports it out of the pure immediate, economic self-interest of the small capitalist.

The tragedy is, as has been the case over the last four years that there is no independent international socialist alternative to these reactionary views being offered by Labour.  It is up to Labour's rank and file to create it.

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