The new Labourite spin is that their own spectacular failure to oppose the inevitable Tory Hard Brexit deal is that the SNP is supporting a ‘no deal Brexit’.
This is an absurdity that ought not to require comment, but given the witting and unwitting stupidity that abounds, here’s what’s really happening:
Labour are now supporting a Hard Brexit. This isn’t simply a case of Labour deciding to vote for a deal that averts no deal, but rather them openly embracing Brexit. It’s a course they’ve been on since Jeremy Corbyn assumed the leadership, being a lifelong opponent of the EU, and his consequent failure to oppose Brexit in any meaningful manner and paving the way for Hard Brexit to be on the agenda.
Take a moment to think of the switch in the lingo. After the Brexit vote in 2016, the unthinkable thing was a ‘Hard Brexit’ – this meant leaving the customs union and the single market. But now this outcome, which is the reality of the UK right now, is regarded by both Labour and the Tories as the best outcome. No deal, the genuine catastrophe of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal, became the new Hard Brexit, while the other genuine catastrophe of Hard Brexit has become Johnson’s moment of triumph.
A moment of triumph that Starmer’s Labour will happily and abundantly vote for.
Keir Starmer, once a People’s Voter, is now a reborn Brexiteer, spooked, as his party so easily is, by nonsensical racist code phrases like ‘Red Walls’ and ‘the people’s will’, as well as the mythic ‘white working class’. Since Johnson’s crushing landslide against Corbyn’s Labour last December, an election in which Corbyn wanted to talk about everything other than Brexit, Starmer’s wing of anti-Brexiteers have crumbled.
They are all Brexiteers now. In the context of Brexit, which isn’t only the greatest act of socioeconomic self-destruction in UK political history, but is also the largest and most assured triumph of the far-right and their logics in UK political history, you couldn’t have asked for a worse opposition than Labour.
Corbyn pretended, for the sake of the party, to oppose it, but his wing of Stalinoids opposed the entire EU project before many Tories did. Hence his lacklustre campaigning on behalf of Remain during the referendum and hence why it was his left hand man John McDonnell, the then shadow chancellor, who called for the invocation of Article 50 (to trigger Brexit) on the night of the referendum – before even Nigel Farage did. Hence he and his allies’ constant sinister churning out of ‘left’ xenophobia regarding the idea that EU workers ‘undercut’ the wages of ‘indigenous workers’.
This crypto-Brexiteerism by Corbyn, as well as open ‘Lexitism’ by his alt-left cheering squads, aided a Labour policy that gave two successive Tory governments free reign to shape Brexit unopposed. For two elections on the trot, Corbyn attempted to obfuscate and deflect from Brexit, instead focussing on issues that would be rendered null and void within the context of the Brexit the Tories were striving to achieve.
It’s possible that if Labour provided a coherent alternative to Brexit, it could’ve been averted. Or it could’ve been scrutinised and its most destructive spikes blunted.
But here we are. In Scotland, we can only look in horror as England puts the gun to our unwillingly collective heads. Those holding the gun, waiting to pull the trigger, are not just Conservatives, but Labourites. Though Labour will attempt to portray themselves as pragmatists on this matter, the Tory Hard Brexit deal could easily pass through commons without Labourite support, but Starmer has so publicly backed the deal to recast Labour as the party of Brexit – the party of the ‘white working class’ and the ‘Red Wall’. There is no principle in the Labour position – it’s the same old attempts by Labour to beat the Tories by becoming more like them.
And then comes the propaganda against the SNP, who have vowed not to vote for the Hard Brexit deal that is guaranteed to pass through commons by a large majority. According to Unionists, this is the SNP ‘voting for a Hard Brexit’.
No such vote is on the table. Nicola Sturgeon has said quite clearly that if the SNP had to vote to stop the catastrophe of no deal they would do so, but they’re not going to vote for a deal that makes a semi-tyrannical mockery out of Scottish self-determination.
Scots, in huge numbers, and in every single council area in Scotland, voted against Brexit. Support for Scotland remaining in the EU remains massive, while it has become explicitly intertwined with the now unprecedentedly popular movement for Scottish independence. For the SNP to vote for a Hard Brexit deal in this context, would be to defy the principles of the party, their members, activists and the democratic will of the vast majority of Scots.
It would make the SNP complicit with the Brexiteer will to piss over Scottish self-determination.
It would make the SNP complicit with the Brexiteer will to steal more powers away from the Scottish parliament in a blatant attempt to undermine the Scottish government in an extra-democratic manner.
It would make the SNP complicit with the Brexiteer will to create a more isolated, xenophobic and racist UK.
It would make the SNP complicit with the Brexiteer will to rip up and cut through almost every single progressive political reform that has occurred across these islands in the past 30 or so years. They call this stuff ‘red tape’, but look a bit closer and you’ll find it’s the kind of rights and protections that defied majoritarian chauvinism in the work place and society in general.
These are all the things that Labour are complicit with. Hence the projection.
Labour, always attempting to deflect their own regressive inadequacies by projecting fantasy betrayals, heresies and malign conspiracies onto the SNP, have decided that this is the SNP supporting no deal, as opposed to facing up to the 4 years in which they managed to let the catastrophe of a Hard Brexit to become normalised.
We know that Keir Starmer is a fundamental enemy of democracy, with his stated will to oppose a Scottish independence referendum under any circumstances, including if a majority of Scots vote for one, which is almost guaranteed to happen (again) in May 2021.
Britain is now the Hard Brexit state. Labour have, by incompetence, ideology and a noxious mixture of the two, helped create this new ultra-regressive landscape for the Union that they so wish to defend from evil treasonous Scottish separatists.
The case for Scottish independence was always one of progressive creativity and predicated on a shared vision for a Scotland that transcends the fundamentally regressive contradictions of the British state. Now you can add ‘survival’ into the mix. In the world of Covid-19, the last thing any country needs is a suicidal reduction in standards, which is precisely what Brexit represents.
Yes, Scotland wants to stand alone, but ‘alone’ in the same sense that Germany or Italy or the Republic of Ireland is ‘alone’ – ‘alone’ as part of an imperfect collection of nations that pioneer the ultimate progressive aim of sociocultural transcendence. Despite Brexiteer and Unionist absurdities, Scotland independent in Europe will have both national sovereignty and all the benefits that brings, with unfettered access to the largest single market in the world – the largest space for the movement of goods and, more importantly, people on earth.
This Hard Brexit deal further bars Britain up, turning it into a Tory prison state in the North Sea – the workers, who Labour likes to bang on about in the most mawkish and insipid terms, will be slaves to the whims of Brexiteer business barons and their right-wing libertarian Neo-Victorian vision for Britain.
Starmer’s newfound Brexitism rings of Miliband’s infamously self-destructive endorsement of the ideology of Tory austerity, but this is much, much worse than that. Labour are once again nestling down amidst the gutter, but they’re trying to bring us all down with them – in the case of Scotland, against our will. Brexit is austerity on steroids, combined with a new strain of the long gestating virus of good old British xenophobia and racism.
This is what Labour represents. And this is what the British Union that they would keep Scots chained to represents.