Lindsey German on Farage’s non-aggression pact, media warmongering and imminent strikes
Boris Johnson was going to die in a ditch if he failed to achieve Brexit by October 31st. And Nigel Farage was going to field 600 candidates in the election because he thought Johnson’s Brexit deal didn’t deliver Brexit.
But we can’t believe a word these two say. Because Johnson hasn’t found his ditch and Farage has now made a total climbdown aimed at securing a majority Tory government. He has stated that his Brexit party will not stand in any seats that the Tories currently hold, but will stand against Labour and other parties. The overriding issue here is to prevent the left from forming a government – something both Johnson and Farage fear more than their differences over Brexit.
Despite denials from both sides, this decision is clearly the result of a deal between Farage and the Tories, for which he will be well rewarded – perhaps with a place in the House of Lords. This is a deal by the rich and for the rich – he is propping up the Tories, as befits a public school-educated former stockbroker, who is part of the establishment and who has no doubt been egged on by Trump, following his intervention last week.
Farage knew that he was losing votes to both main parties and that he would be humiliated in many instances – hence his decision as well that he would not stand anywhere. This is partly that Johnson has successfully stolen some of his clothes, but also because even among Leave voters, many are not fanatical no dealers in the way that Farage is – or was until he discovered Johnson’s deal was one that he could stomach.
We’ll see how this plays out. Farage wants to do maximum damage to Labour, but by standing in all Labour held seats he may allow the present occupants to hold on to them, as the pro-Brexit votes will be split between the Tories and Brexit party. It may, too, be resented by voters who don’t want parties deciding for them how they vote. It may be of course that the Tories don’t put up candidates in certain seats but this is difficult for them.
I hope very much that those one-time Labour voters tempted towards voting Brexit party in places like Doncaster, Wakefield and Hartlepool will reconsider. Farage is just a right wing Tory and will always follow his own class instincts. Voting Brexit party is voting Tory.
Anger with Labour in lots of Leave areas is understandable, but the alternative is much worse. And the deal underlines exactly what this election is about – a determination to stop a left government.
What should be the response of the left to this? It obviously allows the Tories a free rein in seats they already hold, but a number of those can be won by Labour. It will also cause problems for the Lib Dems who are targeting a number of Tory seats.
The message from it for Labour supporters should be ‘stop playing with any kind of Remain alliance’. Only Labour can win against this right wing lash up and the tactical voting argument should end. In addition, it is absolutely clear that Jo Swinson will not stop her huge attacks on Labour, because – while she differs from Johnson and Farage over Brexit, she too is fanatically opposed to Jeremy Corbyn and any sort of left government.
The most important take on this from Labour is that it can win if it puts forward class politics but not if it allows this to be the Brexit election. It has to say that these people are all in the same boat and will all work to attack working class people. It has to put forward policies which can win working class people at the same time as exposing the Tories and the Brexit party. And it has to be much more courageous about standing up for its ideas and beliefs, and pointing out the weakness of the other side’s arguments.
The crazy nuclear warriors
This last point was brought home to me by the seeming inability of Emily Thornberry to do so in the face of Sun style questioning by Tory Nick Robinson on the Today programme. What war has Corbyn ever supported? Would he be prepared to press the button and start a nuclear war? It seems that the default position of the whole media and much of the political establishment is that any political leader has to be a bloodthirsty warmonger who is prepared to launch unimagined devastation on civilians in another country.
Nuclear war is annihilation – simple as that. And first strike use of nuclear weapons is an indefensible war crime. A few years ago defence minister Michael Fallon refused to confirm whether Britain would use first strike weapons. Yet this is what they are demanding Corbyn does. It is to his great credit that he has always refused to do so or support nuclear weapons in any way.
YouGov published a very interesting survey yesterday which showed majority public opinion opposed the late 20th and 21st century wars, apart from the Falklands. So Corbyn has not only been on the right side of history but of public opinion as well.
When votes don’t count
There really couldn’t be a better strike vote than that of the communication workers with a 97% vote in favour on a turnout of around three quarters of the members. But employers Royal Mail don’t like democracy when it goes against them, so they’re seeing the union in court today, because of supposed irregularities in the ballot. Full solidarity to the CWU today and let’s hope the strikes go ahead soon.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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- Where do we go from here? – election briefing 13 December