Skyfall : What next for the Left in the post-Brexit world?
It seems inevitable that the UK will now leave the EU within the next 12 months. Even if No Deal is avoided and the can is kicked down the road after Halloween, the EU itself wants the saga over by March 2020 when the new budgets need to be agreed. A lot has been written about how the Left should challenge Brexit, modify Brexit and even mitigate Brexit. Surprisingly little has been written about the challenges that the post-Brexit wasteland will pose to all sides of the political divide.
I guess that’s not surprising as even the advocates of Brexit (give or take the odd shadow puppeteer who wants to use it to sell the NHS or asset strip the UK) don’t seem to have any idea of how to handle the post-Brexit stage of UK politics. I think this gives the Left a short window of opportunity to decide what its own position will be. For the first time since the referendum it will be able to choose its own path and not simply react to the right-wing onslaught of Brexit related propaganda.
Some things are already clear to me about the post-Brexit world. Firstly, the main advocate parties of the right (UKIP, Conservatives & Brexit Party) have no understanding of just how unpopular Brexit will make them. They are sitting on a stack of dynamite, desperately trying to light the fuse and shouting down any of us pointing out the obvious folly of their position. To use my unscientific analogy there will be 3 phases to post-Brexit politics:
The first stage is the obvious, initial damage that quickly causes supply chains to shudder, tariffs to descend, jobs to be lost and the very pillars of the economy to crack. This will be a period of such informational overload that the public will do little other than try to survive and adjust as best they can. Then we enter the second stage where the UK walks around the world, stunned at the damage it has sustained and unable to form a coherent strategy to recover from it. This phase will see the first failed attempts at new trade negotiations, failing because they will demand freedom of movement for citizens that was the core reason for leaving the EU in the first place. Finally, the public will scream at the politicians and the politicians will then have to find someone or something to blame for the damage. I expect we will be at the blame stage within 4-6 months of the initial day we leave.
Some in the right are already preparing the narrative that the EU is to blame if everything goes wrong. The right specialises in using fear and hatred to polarise the public, divide opposition and create a unifying narrative that blames everyone but themselves for everything bad in people’s lives. The Left need to be ready to fight this fire with the fire of anger. We cannot let the ones to blame for this disaster fade from the public’s mind. Anger at the ultra-right that lied to them, anger at the injustices that caused many to vote Leave in the first place, anger at the inequalities of society, anger at the devastation inflicted upon them and their families by Brexit. We are all in this together if we, the people, remain angry and unified in that anger towards the elites who inflicted this new post-Brexit world upon us.
It starts now by widening the Left’s narrative away from Brexit and towards social justice and challenging inequality. It would be a lot easier if Mr Corbyn wasn’t in bed with Brexit but hey, his party will reap whatever it allows him to sow once the people do a Brexit post-mortem. We have a chance to present a comprehensive alternative to the status quo against a background where the status quo have just caused economic hell to every family in the UK. The prize is a complete change of narrative that could go beyond Brexit, throughout the next decade and fundamentally alter the public’s acceptance that Capitalism must mean wage slavery for the majority and non-waged excesses for the few.
The alternative is that we let the period of stunned silence within the right slip through our fingers. We to just react instead of planning and we let them recover, building a narrative that the UK was stabbed in the back by the EU , immigrants or whatever other hate figure they can nail to their banners. If they win this battle then the next decade could mark the end of socialism as a force in the UK. We will lose our country to the American style system of naked Capitalism where there is no value to any human other than their ability to consume.
Never have the right been so vulnerable in the UK. Never have they been so dangerous in the UK. Their only hope is to pull everyone into their pit of hatred with them and it is up to us, comrades, to offer an comprehensive alternative when the public are looking for a way out of the damage Brexit will cause.