The fake workerism of Remainiacs

There is nothing left-wing or anti-austerity about overturning Brexit.

Tim Black

Tim Black
Columnist

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Topics Brexit Politics UK

The overturners and revokers of Brexit labour under many delusions, but few are as bizarre as the conviction that these EU cheerleaders are somehow on the side of the workers, and the least well-off, in a battle against austerity.

You would have thought the fact the EU is the very embodiment of their neoliberal nightmares might have given them pause for thought. Yes, there is the EU’s Social Chapter, which offers workers some protections, but it has always been entirely subordinate to the EU’s founding treaty commitment to the free movement of capital, labour, goods, and services. Anything that threatens this commitment, indeed anything that endangers the capitalist imperative underwriting the stability of the EU, from striking workers to a nation-state spending spree, is ruthlessly dealt with, as Greece has found out to its near-enough eternal immiseration.

Indeed, you would have thought that even a cursory knowledge of the history of working-class struggle might have occasioned some reflection among those self-styled progressives clinging to an image of the EU as a bastion of workers’ rights. It’s a history that would show that workers’ rights have been won (and lost) in the course of national workers’ and trade-union struggles, not dispensed by a benevolent ruling class, let alone the motley crew currently huddling together in Brussels.

You might even have thought that the Eurozone’s Stability and Growth Pact, which enforces strict state-spending limits on its members – or at least the least powerful, inflationary ones, like Greece and Italy – would have prompted a few revokers and overturners to question whether pinning their anti-austerity hopes to the mast of the EU was really that wise.

But there’s been barely a flicker of self-doubt, let alone Remainer remorse. The harsh reality of the EU, from its postwar capitalist raison d’etre to its contemporary promotion of austerity, continues to escape the thought of those now cleaving to it as some sort of socialist nirvana.

And this makes sense. For to question whether EU membership really is in the interests of the least well off in society would require the questioner to be sincerely concerned about those interests. And that is precisely what the talk of workers, of the victims of austerity, of the poorest in society, is not – sincere.

Admittedly, it appears sincere. Anti-Brexit forces intone darkly of job losses, economic devastation, and the baleful effects of an austerity that will supposedly only deepen post-Brexit. Every report prophesying, say, the collapse of the car industry in the event of a No Deal Brexit, is seized on by the overturners with an ostentatious lament, proof once more, they’ll sigh deeply, of the ‘economic self-harm’ of Brexit. Likewise, economic fearmongering, be it from the Bank of England or the Confederation of British Industry, is mournfully, uncritically embraced, evidence, they’ll declaim, of the damage Brexit will do to the very people who, in their poverty and supposed ignorance, voted for it.

Their pity-the-fools shtick appears sincere, however, only when the politician or pundit is in anti-Brexit mode. But when they shift into their green, environmentalist mode, as they all do, from the Lib Dems to the Guardianistas, their position switches from left to right. Everything for which they apparently shed political tears suddenly becomes a reason to get out the party poppers. A potential slowdown in car manufacturing, or a decline in flying, or, above all, the potential inability to consume as much as we once did – all amount to progress in the green, environmentalist sense.

Be it in the name of the Net Zero climate policy, which parliament nodded through with barely a murmur of dissent, or the so-called climate emergency, austerity is pursued with zeal by the very same people who claim to be against it when attempting to overturn Brexit.

It shouldn’t be a shock. Those now claiming to be speaking on behalf of the poor and needy when urging a revocation of Article 50 from the pages of assorted liberal broadsheets have long been happy, as one of them put it, to ‘campaign not for abundance but for austerity’. But, even so, the disingenuousness of what amounts to ersatz workerism still takes one hell of a brass neck.

So, don’t be fooled by the overturners’ and revokers’ crocodile tears. They are merely invoking workers and the language of anti-austerity to lend their anti-democratic, anti-Brexit mission a leftish, radical veneer. Peel that back, and you’ll see the self-serving face of the status quo.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty Images.

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Comments

Christopher Tyson

29th August 2019 at 9:10 pm

Political concepts are inherently difficult, the one that really captured my imagination and did my head in was ‘the sate’. Not too many people talk about ‘the sate’ these days, but I think that it is pretty much central to any politics. When we think of the state we are inclined to think about institutions and constitutions, parliament, civil service, the police, the army. I remember long ago spiked’s own James Heartfield describing the state as a relationship. But what relationship? Class, race, religion, ethnicity, are labour and capital no more than competing groups? Here’s the answer, the state manages the relationship between labour and capital. In a modern capitalist economy the link been capital and labour becomes blurred, we have a middle class who are prosperous and even run and benefit from the capitalist economy, directly as CEO, accountants and lawyers, or indirectly in the arts and culture. In former times Europe was controlled by Aristocrats, they married each other and Europe’s Royal families where all related to each other. The EU represents Europe’s capitalists and affluent middle classes. The move towards a United States of Europe was a move towards a state in which the working class was to be subordinated for ever. We would have an international working class, like travelling journeymen moving to where labour was required, rootless and unable to form associations or present a challenge to the status quo. It is not in the interest of capital to screw labour into the ground, they need a healthy and happy workforce, they may offer some social mobility and some minimum standards of wages and health and safety, all this keeps things running smoothly, but decisions will be made by the capitalists and their middle class enforcers in their own interests. The saying goes ‘never give a sucker an even break’ I don’t know what it means literally, but Cameron has let the British working class back into the game. After the Russian revolution one of the hot topics was ‘could there be revolution in one country?’ The answer turned out to be a resounding ‘no’. Brexit needs the support of anti-EU campaigners in other countries. The EU in its present form needs to go. European cooperation needs new forms and new relationships. There are many who will argue that class no longer matters, and that there are other more potent divisions in society. But the serious power is economic power. The rich and powerful will seek to appease the peasants, out of vested interests but out of genuine charity too, but as I’ve said before they decide who to give to, how much to give and reserve the right to stop giving. Paternalism, charity and therapeutic intervention, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, actually I am ungrateful, as Mussolini said, ‘better to live a day as a lion than a lifetime as a lamb’ is it okay to quote Mussolini? Probably not.

Winston Stanley

29th August 2019 at 6:14 pm

The lefty Remoaners have not got a clue what they are doing. The EU, anti-austerity and greenism are three different horses headed in different directions. Trying to ride any two of them is enough to leave them flat on their backs – let alone three. The only “plan” of the lefty Remoaners seems to be to make British society just as incoherent, bonkers and strained as themselves – as if it is not bad enough already. Of course they can still find some consolation in their “fashion moralista” feelyism – but pls do not try to do that in the name of “Marxism”.

James Knight

29th August 2019 at 5:20 pm

Who can forget the left wing group “Riot for Austerity”. I’m not making it up.

David Barker

29th August 2019 at 5:01 pm

Boris, Nigel, Jacob and co have nothing but contempt for the working class…. I have nothing but contempt for their lies.

Jerry Owen

29th August 2019 at 10:30 pm

D Barker.
And which lies would these be ?

David Barker

30th August 2019 at 1:02 pm

Easy trade deals, million to one against leaving without a deal, not in favour of proroguing parliament, extra money for nhs…etc…etc….take your pick.

christopher barnard

29th August 2019 at 12:38 pm

The most ardent Remainers fall into two main groups who care little for ordinary working people – big business, and middle class people in comfortable, secure jobs, often professional types and often paid by the taxpayer too.

Peter Jenkins

29th August 2019 at 2:04 pm

And the most ardent Brexiters are rightist free marketers who want to loosen regulations in order to accumulate wealth – and therefore of course the most hysterical climate crisis deniers.

Jim Lawrie

29th August 2019 at 2:41 pm

It is not about money. I voted Brexit because I want my country back. My views on immigration, The ECJ, The ECHR etc .. do not chime with the demands of big business, although increasingly people see those views as fitting in the with the needs of The British People.

The milieu described by Christopher Barnard above exists on borrowed money and borrowed time. This they know and wish to extend it for as long as possible. Greece is what awaits them. But unlike the Greeks they will have nowhere to go to as economic immigrants. Even had they a worthwhile skill set, Chian, India, Africa, South America etc … will not allow them in. If things do go belly up, it is that milieu who will lead the calls for curbs on immigration and the sending back of illegals, justified by non-reciprocation.

Peter Jenkins

29th August 2019 at 3:15 pm

I voted BREXIT too but I am uncomfortable with those who are leading the charge IE people like Nigel Lawson arch- free marketer and therefore arch climate change denier because any regulation would stop businesses making money.

Jerry Owen

29th August 2019 at 10:32 pm

Peter Jenkins
You’re having a bad day here. I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t want to accumulate wealth. The fact is that we all want to accumulate wealth as it pays for mortgages, food, holidays etc.. get with the script man !

Stephen J

29th August 2019 at 8:26 am

If lefties/remainers had brains or even a single collective brain, it would probably have exploded by now.

One of the best exponents of this strange juxtaposition of views is one James O’Brien of the manor of LBC.

If one can bear the tinny whining noise that it makes, it will have you in fits of laughter. When somebody says “literally” at the end of a sentence, it is rarely so, but he manages to present himself as an idiot… literally.

Hugh Bryant

29th August 2019 at 11:31 am

We should be thankful for James O’Brien because his arrogance and preference for insult over persuasion have contributed mightily to the abject failure of the remain campaign to change anyone’s mind.

Jim Lawrie

29th August 2019 at 1:11 pm

I occasionally hear him on the radio and it occurs to me that some callers give him free rein to vent his spleen, knowing it has the effect you describe, which is more so if it’s a working class, London accent at the other end.
It is beyond him to even consider that he is being played by such people.

A now common feature of LBC presenters is interjecting over callers with sarcastic and rude jibes. It is why I no longer listen to the station, as it is now just a self satisfied, self congratulatory echo chamber.
They have a very heavy screening process, one result of which is that we hear the same, compliant, working class, “frequent” callers.

cliff resnick

29th August 2019 at 3:55 pm

I love the advert for his new podcast where the guest numpty in a high pitch voice say’s that the best thing about the NHS is all the foriegn faces in it’s employment, as if the goal of a national health service is really just a vehicle for a equal opportunites drive, nothing to to do with health outcomes. As they might say on the Sky’s “the Pledge” James O’brien you are our numpty of the year! Maybe of all time.

jessica christon

29th August 2019 at 7:07 pm

I find Shelagh Fogarty even more unbearable, she’s like James O’Brien with a gender studies degree.

Jerry Owen

29th August 2019 at 10:40 pm

Stephen J
I gave up lbc some ten years ago because of JOB. He has become increasingly bitter and unhinged.. a man btw that wasn’t sure which way to vote in the referendum. Now he is the most rabid remainer. Why ? Because he has now worked out that remain is more closely aligned to his Marxism than leave. He has to have a dog in every fight.
He is a demogogue.

Hana Jinks

29th August 2019 at 5:14 am

Really. What about all of the workers the puked orifice neglects? Or are people that don’t like having their country invaded by the third-world too reprehensible and bigoted to care about?

Fey-Gays.

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