I’ve speculated here before about Jeremy Corbyn’s political rapport with his professional climate-liar/ devout Brexit enthusiast of a brother Piers, but maybe it wasn’t fair or right of me to do so. After all, internet conspiracy mongering already has far too much influence in Corbyn’s Labour Party – it is, I believe, the channel through which anti-Semitic effluence is flowing. There is far too much of the same radical-sounding but not actually all that progressive sentiment that lay behind the rise of Italy’s 5 Star Movement, which for all its railing against the insipid neoliberalism of the Democratic Party and its talk of a basic income is now happily ensconced in a neofascist government. In the UK, a loose anti-establishment politics has proven to be a wholly inadequate rival to the far more energised populism of Brexit. Labour hasn’t been able to frame its agenda in a way which makes a connection both with voters who value the social liberalism embodied in the EU and those who want to make sure their fury and frustration at neoliberal austerity and inequality is heard. Maybe the internet compels people to think in terms of easy answers, to respond in a Pavlovian manner to simplistic slogans. Corbyn’s Labour should have stood against that, coming up with nuanced alternatives and using clear messaging based on detailed research into what connects with people beyond vague catcalls against the shadowy ‘elite’. Corbyn should have used his political capital after his second victory to persuade those unconvinced of his leadership of his competence and to win round those who have fallen under the sway of Farage’s Pied Piper act. In this sense, the internet is both Labour’s strength and its weakness. For all that it galvanised Corbyn’s supporters around elections and rallies, it has also left many Labour supporters prey to the insidious propaganda of the far-right, via Facebook groups spreading conspiracist memes about Soros, the “bosses club” of the EU, in favour of a chimeric “WTO Brexit” etc etc etc. Instead the forlorn cheers of his core supporters hark back incessantly to late 2015 and to June 2017, when Corbyn seemed, much more by default that by design, to have brought together a temporary coalition of Leavers and Remainers. Unfortunately that was never destined to hold together in the face of his tactical prevarication.
Or was it, as so many of us so generously assumed, tactical? According to some people in the know, Corbyn’s Brexit policy is actually being dictated by Communist Party hacks. This article on the Socialist Resistance website, written by someone who clearly knows the territory of the British Left intimately, explains:
Corbyn’s most trusted cardinals are Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne, graduates from the seminary of British Stalinism, an order not renowned for its tolerance of dissent.
They were both in the Straight Left faction of the Communist Party (CP), an organisation which proudly says in its own official history that its famous British Road to Socialism programme “had been extensively discussed and agreed with Stalin”. It says of the European Union’s (EU) predecessor:
“In the 1975 referendum campaign, the CP fought hard as part of the broad alliance for a ‘No’ vote against Britain’s continuing membership of the European Economic Community. The Communist position had been consistent since the 1957 Treaty of Rome: based on the free movement of capital, goods and labour, the Common Market was a ‘bosses’ club’.”
And it’s not just Milne and Murray. Len McCluskey of Unite is dead set against a new referendum and so is Karie Murphy, Corbyn’s chief of staff who accompanied Corbyn and Milne to the recent meeting with Theresa May.
“A bosses’ club.” Fuck that phrase. Those who reduce the EU’s role in relation to British society to no more than that of the executive committee of the European bourgeoisie have done far more than most to bring to this point, where a slow-moving far-right coup is going to reduce their beloved proletariat to a penury none of us has seen in our lifetimes. Of course Berger, Umunna and all the rest have no more alternative to the implosion of neoliberal globalisation than did their Italian counterparts. To paraphrase Tina Turner in relation to an altogether more entertaining dystopia, non abbiamo bisogno di un altro Renzi, nor another maledetto Blair. We are in almost all certainty heading for a period of far-right authoritarianism in some form, just like Italy, Brazil and elsewhere. And this so-called opposition party, with this leadership, far from trying to halt this slide into reactionary dictatorship, is, particularly as it runs down the clock much as May is doing, doing a great deal to make it even more inevitable.
As for what Corbyn could and should do now to respond to the democratic will of his party membership before the situations gets any messier: expel all those MPs and prominent Labour members who support a no-deal Brexit, and accept that a second referendum is a preferable option to total chaos. It’s been clear for some time that for various reasons, Umunna et al didn’t want to stay in the Labour Party; Kate Hoey, John Mann, Caroline Flint and all the rest shouldn’t be given the choice. All conspiracy theorising aside, the fact that one noteworthy Labour member advocating a no deal final solution is Corbyn’s own brother should actually be a cause for widespread public concern.