by Jack J.

War and austerity serve the interests of the British establishment, and are contrary to the vast majority of the UK population. If we define ‘war’ as the bombing and invading of other countries plus the threat of annihilation through nuclear arms and ‘austerity’ as the roll-back of the welfare state we can divide the political forces of the UK into establishment and anti-establishment.

Establishment Forces

  • Tory Party
  • UKIP
  • Lib Dems
  • The Blairites

Anti-Establishment Forces

  • ‘Real Labour’ i.e. Jeremy Corbyn backed by a growing number of MPs and MSPs.
  • The SNP
  • The various Green Parties
  • Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein

Both sides are further divided by:

  • Europe
  • Scottish Independence

Membership of the EU divides the establishment forces: UKIP and various Tories are against being part of the EU whilst most Tories plus the Blairites and Lib Dems are in favour. All of them are very much against Scottish Independence.

In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn and ’Real Labour’ are against Scottish Independence, whilst the SNP and various other nationalist and Green parties are in favour. All these anti-establishment parties and politicians backed Remain.

However, Corbyn is a life-long euro-sceptic (for reasons entirely contrary to Johnson and Farage) who was forced to side with Remain in order to maintain party unity (which was already threatened, and has since been broken). Meanwhile, the SNP, as a pro-independence party could hardly have sided with Brexit, given that EU membership was highly popular in Scotland and hence presented them with their best opportunity for independence yet. So, in very different ways, the Remain stance of the anti-establishment forces (i.e. Corbyn and the SNP) was never optional in practice.

(Moreover, no opposition party is likely to favour handing more power to their opponents, even if they have various valid reasons to view of EU membership as a hindrance should they be in government.)

What looks likely in terms of timing is that article 50 will be activated early in 2017 (see link 1) and that INDE. II will happen in the subsequent 2-year period (see link 4).

What is of great interest is how Real Labour, after Jeremy Corbyn wins a second leadership contest, will go about:

  1. Appealing to the 52% of English and Welsh voters who voted for Brexit (including 1/3 of Labour voters) whilst maintaining support of the 2/3s of Labour voters who voted Remain. (The former is key to winning over the long-term disenfranchised Labour voters at risk of voting UKIP, whilst the latter is key to preventing/reversing desertion to the Lib Dems/ Greens/ Blairites (if they form a new Party).)
  2. Opposing Scottish Independence: Jeremy Corbyn will be expected to play a leading role in opposing it, even though in many ways it will play into ‘Real Labour’s’ hands by a) dealing a fatal blow to the Trident Nuclear Weapons, which is the issue the Blairites have chosen to distinguish themselves from Real Labour, and b) dealing a grievous blow to the Tories (due Scottish INDE. being a direct result of them holding the Brexit referendum), all in the run-up to 2020.

With regards to A I believe that Corbyn’s ‘sceptical Remain’ was the right thing to do and puts him in a position to reach out to both Brexit and Remain voters once the ChickenCoup has finally flopped, although it is certainly no easy task.

With Regards to B, I believe Corbyn will somehow find the right stance again, based more on opposing austerity and raising living standards etc. than on the constitutional matter as such, although I do fear that Smith has a point (see link 6) in that Corbyn perhaps underestimates or misunderstands the progressive nationalism of the Scottish Yes Movement. (I’m glad Smith has raised this actually.) The weight of Corbyn’s intervention is a big question as it might be enough to actually prevent Independence: his anti-Iraq anti-trident stance carries a lot of weight in Scotland.

Best case scenario: Scotland goes about writing a progressive constitution circa 2019 and Corbyn goes onto to win 2020: happy progressive neighbours going about reforming Britain, and perhaps the EU. Worst case, Scotland remains in the UK and Corbyn loses 2020, or is deposed beforehand: status quo austerity and war. If Scotland doesn’t get INDE. and Corbyn wins the next election then all is well enough:

It’s all certainly to play for.

Some Links:

  1. Merkel backs May on extra time for EU exit talks https://euobserver.com/uk-referendum/134439

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out her five Brexit demands for Scotland that may determine possibility of second independence referendum http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14639406.Sturgeon_sets_out_her_five_Brexit_demands_for_Scotland/?ref=mrb&lp=1

SNP moves away from ‘land of milk and honey’ vision of independence http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14629224.SNP_moves_away_from__land_of_milk_and_honey__vision_of_independence/

  1. Alex Salmond sets out prompt timescale for second Scottish independence referendum Any vote would have to be within the Brexit timetable, the former first minister said http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/alex-salmond-sets-out-prompt-timescale-for-second-scottish-independence-referendum-a7154781.html

Irish PM opens door to reunification vote https://euobserver.com/uk-referendum/134404

Owen Smith says Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t understand patriotism and national identity http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/owen-smith-says-jeremy-corbyn-8493150

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world