FAQ: Antigone1984 and Brexit

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

11 January 2019

As the Brexit (Britain’s Exit from the European Union) train heads at warp speed for Armageddon, we provide the answer to a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ).

Why is hard-left blog Antigone1984 in bed with hard-right Brexiteers in the reactionary British Tory Party?

Well, readers who have managed to stay awake during our pro-Brexit screeds should know the answer to this one. We have supported Brexit consistently for at least three decades – before the word itself was coined. However, the Brexit saga has dragged on for so long that it is understandable if people’s eyes glaze over now whenever the dreaded “B” word is mentioned. 

Here is a short answer to the above FAQ.

A friend recently singled out for coruscating criticism Tory MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Daniel Hannan, who published two crystal-clear fast-paced fact-packed page-turners on Brexit (“Why Vote Leave” and “What Next”) before and after the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016.

Our critic said: “He [Hannon] is the most ideological conservative that I have heard in ages. Steve Bannon would pale into insignificance in comparison. He is glib, massively rightwing, utterly selective about his evidence, and lacking in emotional intelligence when he he is in front of the general public. He insists private sector solutions are the answer to every social and economic issue. He is a Hayek disciple and his hero would, I am sure, denounce his naiveté…[He is] wholly shallow.”

Our response is as follows.

“It is indisputable that Hannan’s economic aspirations – post-Brexit – are classically rightwing. However, his non-economic arguments in favour of Brexit  – for example, restoring democracy, national identity and sovereignty (“bringing back control”) – are, in our view, highly persuasive. 

And sometimes in politics, in order to achieve an overriding objective, one has to forge temporary alliances with other parties some of whose views may be uncongenial. Consequently, we support Hannan up to the point where Britain exits the EU but not beyond. 

Post-Brexit, the gloves come off. 

If the Tories are still in government, they will aim to prune external tariffs between Britain and the rest of the world, recognise the equivalence of foreign product standards (instead of, as at present, only trading in products that meet EU standards),  introduce huge tax cuts, decimate spending on public services (including education, housing, local government and health and welfare), cut social benefits, discourage trade unions and privatise public services. The free-wheeling economy of authoritarian Singapore is their model.  

A truly leftwing Labour Party, should it gain power,  would aim to do precisely the opposite: increase taxes, jack up public spending and social benefits, double the minimum wage, welcome trade union contributions to economic development, and re-nationalise the commanding heights of an economy then unfettered by EU commitment to “free” markets. And that would be only for starters.

At some juncture after Brexit, in a two-party contest within UK national boundaries, it is likely that, as in the past, the opposition Labour Party would come to power in a country untrammelled by the corset of EU regulation. What happened then would depend upon the extent to which the Labour Party had moved to the left or to the right. A leftwing Labour Party, free to carry out the wishes of the people who elected it, could act swiftly to roll back the so-called “end of history” (the allegedly irreversible manipulation of western democracies by free-market elites) and launch a root-and-branch transformation of society in a socialist direction – something unthinkable as long as Britain remained trapped in the clutches of the economically liberal European Union. 

Such a transformation would be inconceivable, however, without the repudiation by the Labour Party of the capitalist ideology that has been the hall-mark of European social democracy since shortly after the end of the second world war.  Here, sadly, the signs are not encouraging. When the current Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was first elected to that post in September 2015, there were high hopes on the left that this inveterate Eurosceptic and self-styled democratic socialist would move the party firmly in a socialist direction. To do this, however, he would have had to defang the Blairites, a reactionary die-hard capitalist faction within the party named after the ideologically rightwing  Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, who was UK Prime Minister from1997 to 2007. Alas, Corbyn did nothing of the sort. Chickening out, he made the fatal mistake of trying to sweet-talk left and right to come together in a single big tent in which they would smoke the calumet and sink their differences. This never works. To thank Corbyn for his pains, the Blairites forced a new party leadership contest in 2016 but fortunately failed to unseat him. They are still there, however, a tightly organised faction within the party, waiting for the next window of opportunity to defenestrate him. Moreover, with the party split down the middle between progressives and reactionaries, Corbyn has not been able or willing to hammer out a radical socialist platform for the party’s policy manifesto. The few ideas that have been mooted, eg greater protection for workers, are milk and water rather than red meat. Finally, in the Brexit referendum itself, Corbyn, supposedly a Eurosceptic since his election to Parliament over three decades ago, turned coat and voted in favour of Britain remaining within the EU. Today you could not put a cigarette paper between the Labour Party’s current policy towards the EU  – “keep as close to the status quo as possible” – and that of the current Tory Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Brexit policy can be summed up as “BINO” (Brexit In Name Only”. As far as Labour and the Tories are concerned, it’s tweedledum and tweedledee. In these circumstances, it has to be admitted that even if the Labour Party succeeds in ousting Mrs May, which is unlikely but not impossible given the shifting sands of party allegiance, not much is likely to change for the better in the immediate future. 

Sadly, things have moved on from those happy days when Daniel Hannan’s hopes for a clean Brexit, cutting organisational and structural ties with the EU, were in the ascendant.

The Prime Minister’s current “deal” is BINO (Brexit In Name Only).  Antigone1984 does not support it. In fact, we go so far as to agree with those Brexiteers who maintain that it would be better to stay in the EU than leave under this fake prospectus. 

What we have now, of course, is the logical result of putting Remainiacs – Theresa May and her Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary) Philip Hammond – in control of the Brexit negotiations. We have engaged arsonists to put out the fire. They have done their damnedest to sabotage the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016. 

Hats off to the Remain Camp!

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You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

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