Scottish Socialist Party, Sinn Féin, Momentum and Left Unity on Brexit referendum result

June 26, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum which ended with a vote in favor of the UK leaving the European Union, Links has republished a variety of statements reflecting the views of key left forces in England, Scotland and Ireland.

Brexit vote spells political crisis in Scotland and UK

Scottish Socialist Party website — Commenting on the Brexit vote SSP National Spokesperson Colin Fox said: “This result first and foremost represents an unprecedented rejection of the anti-democratic, neo-liberal EU by one of its most significant and powerful constituent nations. Regardless of this Brexit vote socialists must work here and across Europe in alliance with other progressives to replace the neo-liberal xenophobic policies which put the needs of working class people way behind the profits of a rich elite. Described throughout the referendum campaign by both sides as the most important political decision Britain has taken in 40 years the decision to leave the EU has worldwide reverberations economically and politically. David Cameron’s gamble to keep the Tory party together has failed spectacularly. His ‘Project Fear’ tactics backfired too and the UK electorate has in effect rejected the EU saying ‘better the devil you don’t know’. The belief in greater prosperity outside the EU has won out, as did the idea the UK would enjoy greater political sovereignty and be able to “take back control” from a faceless, unaccountable, undemocratic institutions in the grip of the 1% rather than the 99% of its citizens. But the Leave side won on the back of popular worries over immigration and the impact on jobs, wages and public services like health and education. The consequences of this outcome will be far reaching politically and economically. David Cameron will resign as the result represents a humiliating vote of no confidence in him. His resignation will ignite a bitter leadership battle inside the Tory Party and will likely be followed by a General Election within the next 6 months as the new Tory leader seeks to capitalise on Labour’s disunity and disarray. Westminster can sidestep the 5 year fixed term rule if the Government loses a vote of confidence or if two thirds of MP’s vote to dissolve and force a new election. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership will also be challenged as the Labour right wing blame him for this result and a bitter battle every bit as vicious as the Tory contest can be expected. For the SNP, it must face the reality that this vote does not ‘automatically’ trigger a 2nd referendum on independence. Not only will Westminster not grant it there is no clear majority for Yes on this basis. The left must face the new political circumstances and highlight the social and economic problems facing working people of insecure work, falling wages, cuts to public services and austerity which impact on our lives every day.”

Sinn Féin : Brexit from Ireland logical conclusion following EU Brexit

June 24 —Sinn Féin website — Sinn Féin Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht spokesperson Peadar Tóibín TD has stated that there is an immediate imperative FG/Independent government to open negotiations with Britain over the constitutional future of the north of Ireland. The Meath West TD said: “The Brexit decision will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Irish people north and south with regards trade, work, education, shopping, leisure and sport. Brexit will physically reduce the market within which our businesses function and it will reduce opportunity for all the people on the island. “Before the Brexit referendum, Fine Gael admitted that normal life would not be the same if Britain chose to leave. Will they now passively simply accept this negative change? “To protect people north and south from this damage, the Government has a moral responsibility to institute the necessary changes to rebuild the all-Ireland economy. Also if it is unacceptable for Scotland to have its democratic will obstructed, the same is true for the north of Ireland. “This is a once in a century opportunity for us all on these islands to redesign our constitutional future. We should grasp this opportunity with both hands. We need a government that will be ambitious, bold and creative for Ireland at this critical juncture. However, I am concerned that the ‘Little Irelander’ mentality within the regional political parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will paralyse the southern establishment at this vital time.” 

Momentum statement on Britain's vote to leave the EU

June 24, 2016 — Momentum — Yesterday, the British people voted to leave the European Union. Momentum, which campaigned to remain in the EU to transform the EU, respects the decision taken by the electorate. We recognise that people voted ‘Leave’ for many reasons. Much of this vote reflected anger in communities which have experienced many years of industrial decline with the subsequent loss of secure employment. Many such working class communities have been utterly neglected for years by those in power. Millions appear to have chosen ‘Leave’ to vote against the unfettered globalisation that has seen living standards stagnate or fall, as the cost of living rises. We share this scepticism of big business dominance, austerity and distant elites, be they British, European or Global, and share that demand for a country where working people have control. Many ‘Leave’ voters usually vote for Labour or are working people Labour should represent. Now the Party and the whole labour movement needs to show the country that it alone can offer working people genuine control over their lives, workplaces and communities. Labour must clearly demonstrate how it will improve lives through policies that will increase wages, tackle the housing crisis, and give people a greater say at work and in their communities. If we do not, we will not only be failing to advance the policies that will benefit working people but also could enable the populist right, who blame immigrants, not the powerful for the problems in our country. Part of the Leave campaign empowered these racist, reactionary forces, who peddle hatred and offer false hope. We must redouble our efforts to stop migrant scapegoating, focus our attention on the needs and desires of the overwhelming majority, and offer a real programme of hope for our people. Although we will leave the EU, our movement remains an internationalist one. We must continue to work with our friends, partners and allies across Europe in the shared struggle against austerity, to tackle climate change and to build a sustainable economy with full employment for all the peoples of Europe.

EU Referendum: a disastrous outcome

June 23, 2016 — Left Unity — Left Unity Executive Committee has issued the following statement on the outcome of the EU Referendum: Left Unity deplores the Leave outcome of the EU Referendum. This referendum came from pressure from the far right – driven by anti-immigration sentiment, fuelled by racism. This has been the most reactionary national campaign in British political history, resulting in an open emergence of the extreme right. In Brexit Britain, we still face austerity, poverty and extreme inequality: the rotten policies of our government are still here. Brexit will not be a loosening of the shackles of neo-liberalism as some on the left have argued. It will be an unmitigated compounding of the same policies by the British ruling class. We deeply regret that the working people of Britain have been deceived and manipulated into believing that Brexit will bring about relief from the grinding austerity that is destroying lives and communities. We will now work tirelessly to oppose those who would divide us further. We will fight to defend the rights of working class communities and rebuild support for socialist ideas. We will step up the fight against neo-liberalism here – opposing all cuts, defending the NHS, fighting for decent housing – and across Europe, because the problems we face cannot be solved on a national basis. These are international problems faced by the working class internationally and this requires solidarity and cooperation across national boundaries. We cannot cut ourselves off from our allies: the peoples of Europe in our shared and common struggles. Unity is strength and that means unity of working people, poor and exploited people, across borders. We call on all those who reject this disastrous turn in British politics to unite to oppose racism, to defend the rights of migrants and to fight to protect and extend workers’ and other rights that are now under threat. We reject the ‘divide and rule’ methods of our ruling class, setting one worker against another, wherever they come from, and turning one community against another. The problems we face result from the neo-liberal, deregulatory, anti-working class policies imposed by successive British governments, not from immigrants and refugees – our fellow working people. We have been proud to share this position with the Labour leadership, the TUC and the overwhelming majority of trade unions and we will work together to take these principles forward. We may be heading out of the EU but it is more important than ever to work in solidarity with other workers and communities. Movements and left parties throughout Europe are mounting their own massive political opposition to neo-liberalism, against austerity and poverty. We stand a better chance of defeating our own ruling class by working together with the people of Europe with shared strategies in common campaigns. We watch the advance of the left in Europe – particularly where there is newfound cooperation and unity in Spain and Portugal – with our hearts filled with hope. We send our solidarity and best wishes to Unidos Podemos in Spain for success in their election this weekend. We see the struggles of the French workers against the imposition of the new labour laws and convey our solidarity to these and other struggles. But we also watch with grave concern the rise of the far right across Europe as well as in Britain. We need urgently to consolidate our forces against this growing tendency. Left Unity emerged from the struggles of the European working class and is proud to be part of the European Left Party. We must unite the working class across Europe, to defeat neo-liberalism and the far right. We are in a period of profound economic and political crisis – both in Britain and across Europe – with increasing political polarisation and intensifying class struggle. The basis on which that struggle can be fought and won has to be absolutely clear. We will fight to rebuild the British left on uncompromisingly anti-racist, pro-immigration terms, making no concessions to the false narrative that has dominated the referendum debate. We appeal to all those who share this perspective to join us and work with us.

Brexit vote is a disaster, but the struggle goes on…

The Brexit vote to leave the EU is a victory for the right-wing xenophobes and a disaster for the struggle against austerity in Britain. It is a victory for racism and a mandate to strengthen the borders of Britain against migration.

We say that it is a disaster not because we have the slightest illusion in for the EU or its institutions—we regard it as a neo-liberal bosses club. Nor because we have any time whatsoever for the reactionary official ‘remain’ campaign led by Cameron, who with his so-called renegotiation set out to worsen the conditions of workers in this country including migrant workers. It is because an exit from the EU at this time and in this way will push the political situation in Britain sharply to the right and weaken the struggle against austerity. It will also be a disaster for every migrant, refugee, and minority in the country.

It is interesting that Cameron said in his resignation speech that there will be no change in the status of EU citizens in this country – ‘at the present time’.

The millions who voted for Brexit did so because they accepted the argument that the worsening of living standards and public services were caused by immigration, not by austerity imposed by a Westminster government. Nor did the Remain camp blame the British banking and finance establishment for the 2008 economic crisis.

As Left Unity puts it in their statement: “This referendum came from pressure from the far right – driven by anti-immigration sentiment, fuelled by racism. This has been the most reactionary national campaign in British political history, resulting in an open emergence of the extreme right.”

They are absolutely right. The atmosphere was poisoned, hatred whipped up, and an MP assassinated by a fascist shouting ‘put Britain first’, one of the top themes of the mainstream exit campaigns.

Whilst Jo Cox’s assassination was a deeply tragic event it was also direct result of the carnival of reaction generated by the referendum campaign. Jo Cox was a defender of refugees and a supporter of the remain campaign. The filth and bile pumped out by the mainstream exit campaigns, backed by the bulk of the media and right-wing politicians, has not only taken Britain back decades in term of racism and xenophobia but it created the conditions for a far right fanatic, with links to white supremacists, to gun her down in the street.

The referendum has legitimised racism and xenophobia as never before. Vile statements with echoes of the Tory racist MP Enoch Powell have been spouted with impunity and accepted by the media as some kind of fair comment. Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech back in 1968 resulted in him being sacked by Tory leader Ted Heath and Powell being turned into a political pariah—Farage’s racist poster ‘Breaking Point’ resulted in some mild and belated criticism, entirely as a result of the assassination of Jo Cox. Similar images have been published repeatedly in the papers without comment or objection. A complaint has been made against the Daily Express on the basis that it had migration headlined on its front page for 17 days in succession.

Some sections of the left and the labour movement recognised these dangers. The launch of Another Europe is Possible was an important step. Corbyn and McDonnell, Momentum, Left Unity and Ken Loach, most Greens and especially Caroline Lucas worked hard to stem the racist bile. The majority of trade union leaders took the right view—and both UNITE and UNISON put out important material against racism and defending migrant workers. Matt Wrack of the FBU and Manuel Cortez of TSSA played particularly important roles. That is to their profound credit.

Most of the radical left, however, supported an exit vote and the so-called Lexit campaign – which had zero influence on the entire referendum. It peddled the illusion that a left exit was on offer when it was not, and falsely claimed that were Cameron to be forced out it would open up opportunities for the left. Even now, after a victory for the Farage and the Tory right, those in Lexit such as the SWP claim that it was a “revolt against the rich and powerful” and that the danger from racism “is far from inevitable”.

They failed to recognise the dangers that the mainstream exit campaigns, led by right-wing xenophobes, represented. They were oblivious the racism and hatred that would be generated by them, the reactionary impact this would have on the political situation and the balance of class forces, and dangers involved of being in any way associated with them—particularly in the case of an exit vote.

They chose to ignore (even when challenged) the damaging outcome that an exit vote would have for the 2.2m EU citizens living in this country who’s status would have been threatened as a direct result. Yet they are organisations that have opposed the racism and xenophobia for the whole of their existence. Rock Against Racism struck a massive blow against racism in the 1970s, and for which the SWP can take great credit.

Immediately the result was announced, Farage was on the media crowing about an historic victory for the liberation of Britain and outlined his reactionary vision for a new Britain. He was treated as the leader of the winning side. He said that Cameron would have to go forthwith – which he did a few hours later – and that the new Tory Prime Minister would have to be a Brexiter in order to carry out the mandate of the referendum.

A leadership election will now be triggered in the Tory Party to be completed in advance of the Tory Party conference. We can then assume a general election will be called soon after with a manifesto designed to implement what they will claim is the mandate of the referendum: a clamp-down on immigration, a strengthening of the borders, and no doubt a restricted status for EU citizens living in the country.

An election at the end of the year under conditions where the political situation is moving to the right is very dangerous. The left needs to rapidly gear up for it, and so does the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn played a principled role during the referendum campaign – calling for a vote to stay in but with no illusions in the EU or its institutions. His interview on Sky TV News in the final week, for example, was filled with opposition to xenophobia, privatisation and austerity in front of a predominantly young and engaging audience. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell made a radical call against austerity and racism at a large ‘Another Europe is Possible’ rally in London with Matt Wrack of the FBU, Caroline Lucas and Yannis Varoufakis.

But the mainstream media mainly presented the referendum for months as predominantly a battle between the two wings of the Conservative Party. Many Labour MPs hostile to Corbyn went along with that and they appeared on platforms as subordinates to the Tories. Thirteen years of the pro-austerity Labour government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and five years of ineffective opposition under Ed Miliband played their part in the disillusion of Labour voters. Labour councils in power for decades have failed to stand up for local populations under attack. Hostility to the lack of affordable housing, the downgrading of local health services, cuts in school budgets and so on were allowed to be deflected into the Right’s xenophobic campaign against migrants.

In some parts of the country – often where Labour and the left is best organised – the Labour vote swung to Remain: in London eg Lambeth, scene of recent frontline battles around library cuts, voted 79% for remain; in Bristol where a Corbyn supporter dramatically snatched the Mayoral role only seven weeks ago there was a Remain majority; in some of the largest northern cities – Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle – there were Remain majorities. But in the vast majority of Labour heartlands in England and Wales where local Labour Parties have been moribund for decades and where the Party machine is firmly in the hands of the right of the Party, Labour voters protested against their condition by voting Leave.

The former Labour heartlands in Scotland in opposition to Labour’s unionist position have now swung behind a more left talking Scottish National Party and every single one of the 32 local districts in Scotland voted to Remain, also creating a constitutional crisis that may lead to a second independence referendum.

Now Corbyn faces challenges from the largely hostile Labour Parliamentary Party for his alleged failure to mobilise the vote sufficiently. Yet is was the areas in which the right were in control of the Party where the Labour vote failed to be galvanised by the need for a Remain vote against austerity and xenophobia. The rank and file of the Labour Party and unions needs to fight strongly to defend Corbyn against the Parliamentary Party and any moves to remove him.

If Labour is to win an election, likely to come at the end of the year, against a Tory Party led by a newly invigorated and right-moving Boris Johnson-Michael Gove leadership with a manifesto to curb immigration and claiming the authority of the referendum, it can only do so with a radical left programme that opposes austerity in all its forms and supports the right of migrants and all workers.

If Corbyn is prepared to fight on such a platform, which we expect he would, the left should get fully behind him.


Brexit and the Crisis on the British Left

Neil Faulkner

Taking a position on the EU Referendum was not easy. The in/out choice was essentially an argument inside the political and corporate elite about what was best for British capitalism. We do not wish to be ruled by either the City of London or the European Central Bank. Both are run by bankers. Both are hard-wired for financialisation, privatisation, and austerity. Both are mechanisms for hoovering wealth upwards to the 1%.

One could have made a strong argument for abstention. It would have run like this. This is a dispute between two rival factions among our rulers about how best to organise exploitation and the accumulation of capital. It is an argument about how best to make profits. Either way, we get ripped off and they get richer. Working people are deluded if they think that either side represents them, or that either choice, in or out, benefits them.

In theory, this argument is sound. But, as Goethe said, theory is grey and the tree of life is green. What is true in an abstract sense – that there is nothing to choose between the City of London and European Central Bank – is not true when you translate it into the concrete terms of a live political debate. I will come back to this. Before doing so, I want to say something about Lexit.

While one could have made a strong argument for abstention – albeit an abstract one – the same cannot be said for the argument for voting Leave. It did not matter that the EU is a bankers’ club, that the EU is undemocratic, and that the EU is imposing austerity and privatisation. All true, and all irrelevant. Because exactly the same can be said for the alternative: the City of London.

A somewhat more sophisticated version went like this. The EU is the mega-project of Europe’s political and corporate elite, including its semi-detached British syndicate. Brexit will throw this project into crisis. The crisis of their system will be our opportunity. We welcome the crisis of European capitalism caused by the breakup of the EU.

Similar arguments have been presented in the past. The German Communist Party, under orders from Moscow, welcomed the crisis of the Weimar Republic in the early 1930s, refused to form an alliance against fascism with the German Social-Democratic Party (dubbed ‘social fascists’), and claimed that a Hitler dictatorship would be a stepping-stone to socialist revolution. We know the outcome.

Let me spell out the basic underlying mistake here: it is to assume that any crisis – and any outbreak of mass discontent – must somehow benefit the Left. In fact, as Lenin explained, the ruling class can survive any crisis if the workers let it, and, as Trotsky explained, there are two parties in a crisis, the party of revolutionary hope (the socialists) and the party of counter-revolutionary despair (the fascists).

I cannot condemn comrades on the Left who got this wrong during the Referendum campaign. They include many friends whose commitment, idealism, and decency are beyond question. But they must now stare reality in the face. So too must any abstainers who sought refuge in abstraction.

If the monster of nationalism and racism incubating inside the Brexit camp was less than wholly apparent during the campaign, it is undeniable now. Yet I have seen revolutionaries whose opinions I used to respect claiming that the EU Referendum result represents ‘a class vote’ and that, because working-class communities voted heavily against the Remain camp, we are witness to a popular revolt against austerity and inequality.

This is breathtaking stupidity. It is to make a nonsense of any distinction between ‘class in itself’ and ‘class for itself’: a vital distinction for Marx, who knew the great difference there was between the mere fact of class position – a matter of sociological description – and conscious mass struggle by working people acting for themselves to change the world. Indeed, in some sense, the whole of socialist activity is accounted for by this distinction.

For socialists to think that millions of working people voting for Johnson, Gove, and Farage – who conducted the most racist election campaign in recent British history – can somehow be interpreted as ‘a class vote’, or, as the Lexit website claims, that the result constitutes ‘a left-wing victory’ leaves me struggling for the words.

In a crisis, the Centre cannot hold, and popular discontent can be captured and channelled by the Right or by the Left. The Left has no hope if it cannot even tell the difference. So let me spell it out.

The Brexit campaign was an anti-EU, anti-Westminster, anti-Establishment campaign – just as Hitler’s campaign was anti-Weimar in 1932. The Brexit campaign drew upon great pools of bitterness among those at the bottom of society, the victims of globalisation, neoliberalism, and austerity – just as Hitler was supported by the unemployed, the unorganised workers, the broken small businesses, the ‘little people’ who felt forgotten, ignored, and abused. And the Brexit campaign fanned a great upsurge of anti-immigrant racism – just as Hitler blamed the Jews.

So the Brexit victory means a sharp lurch to the right. UKIP is surfing a wave. The Tory Right will take the leadership. New Labour has its slow-motion coup to get rid of Corbyn back on the rails (and those who doubt the right-wing trajectory of British politics should note that the line here is that Corbyn is disconnected from the Labour base because he is soft on immigration). Across Europe, the Far Right is toasting Brexit and demanding their own in/out referenda. The EU may well break up (pulled apart, please note, not by ‘the party of revolutionary hope’, but by ‘the party of counter-revolutionary despair’).

We are living in dangerous times. Despite the juggernaut of corporate power, the grotesque greed of the rich, and the mounting social crisis afflicting working people and the poor, resistance is minimal and the Left – blighted by autonomism, sectarianism, and, in some quarters, a blank refusal to face reality – effectively irrelevant.

Yet the Left must act. The global crisis is deep, intractable, and set to get worse. The historical stakes have never been higher. The Left has to build a fighting alternative based on mass struggle from below. A good start might be the simple recognition that the Brexit vote represents a right-wing tidal wave – a triumph of Trumpism – and that if we don’t get our act together soon, the danger is that the Far Right, here and across Europe, will harden into all-out Fascism.

Neil Faulkner is a revolutionary socialist, a Brick Lane Debates activist, and the author of A Marxist History of the World: from neanderthals to neoliberals.

The wails of "disaster" from some corners of the UK socialist left oddly echo the same agonized cries heard for the bourgeois liberal media.

Naiveté concerning the provincial, ignorant, and xenophobic racist nature of the Brexit vote will not be addressed by a parallel naiveté concerning the role of the pro-EU liberals in bringing about this result. Failure to aim our main fire at the liberals - whose Blairite arm is certainly making taking aim at Corbyn a top priority! - is to mask over the fundamental capitalist class synergy between liberal and far right politics and economics, and to peddle liberal policy as "lesser evilism".

So sorry, no "disaster" occurred here. Unless one wants to consider the work that the socialist left needs to do to communicate with the provincial section of the working class a "disaster". That may require a break with the manipulative and divisive anti-class multiculturalist identity politics of the liberals.

Why not explain the truth to workers rather than peddle a Remain vote as the "the lesser evil"? Because the truth is that no one can know the long term effects of being "in or out" of the EU on English workers. We do know the results for the Greek people. And we do know what the long term will hold for workers if the liberals remain in command of politics, with the assistance of socialists.


Building a progressive majority: Left strategy after the Brexit vote

After the EU referendum we are seeing both horror at anti-migrant sentiment and pandering to it, writes Joseph Todd – but only a radical economic offer can carve a way through
June 2016…

As the recriminations start to fly and the dust continues to swirl, two competing Brexit narratives have begun to emerge.

The first brands the Leave vote as inherently xenophobic and racist. Farage, Johnson and Gove have given political expression to an undercurrent of working class racism, one that is rooted in British identity and small-C conservatism. The regional, small town and rural working class voted in their millions to ‘send them home’ – be it Eastern Europeans, Muslims or black and brown people – and reclaim ‘Britain for the British’.

The left's response, according to this narrative, should be to fight racism and xenophobia on all fronts. Pro-migration and anti-racist movements need to be strengthened. Rising fascist sentiment must be militantly policed. A culture war must be pursued where metropolitan tolerance triumphs. We must battle to keep Britain in the EU, whether it be through the signing of petitions or calling demonstrations in London. The resurgence of working class racism, the reassertion of ‘British’ identity, must be vehemently opposed.

The second narrative runs a little differently. Yes, they admit, immigration was a central issue in the referendum, but at its core the Leave vote was anti-establishment. It was a revolt by the working class, motivated by decades of industrial decline, economic marginalisation and an uncaring metropolitan elite. Every expert roped in by the Remain camp only served to reinforce their resolve to leave. The barrage of condescension and scaremongering made their position all the more resolute.

Our response, according to this narrative, has to be one of understanding and reconciliation. We must recognize that ‘the elite’ does not – in their eyes – constitute only bankers, politicians and European bureaucrats but also the metropolitan, middle class, educated, progressive sections of society who voted overwhelmingly for Remain. Those who for years have implicitly or explicitly denigrated the working class as racist, homophobic and sexist. Who, along with politicians, have ignored their concerns. According to this narrative, such behaviour must change. Working class concerns must not be laughed at or patronisingly thrown aside – but taken very seriously. This would entail the construction of a progressive, long-term migration policy and a radical economic offer to devastated post-industrial communities, with a firm commitment to listening to the economically marginalised and habitually ignored.

Racism and economics

As is usually the case, both of these narratives are partial, simplistic and not as opposed as they first appear. While immigration was the largest motivating factor for Leave supporters, to simply equate concerns over immigration with outright racism and xenophobia is misguided. The working class en masse aren't irreparably racist. Aside from the fact that large swathes of the working class are BME or migrants themselves, concerns over immigration are so often intertwined with economics.

The refrain on the doorstep, again and again, was 'I’m not racist, but I just don’t think we have enough jobs, homes and school places to go around'. Here we see the decades of anti-migrant propaganda take effect. 'Immigrants' are painted as the cause of economic insecurity because the status quo cannot blame capitalism. Immigration is the scapegoat at which they relentlessly hammer away. The implications of this are important. If you tackle the underlying issues, the consequences will disappear. If you solve the economics, then anti-immigrant sentiment will fade.

However, we must recognise that some anti-immigrant sentiment is driven by racism rather than economics. Indeed, this is true of every strata of society and not just the working class. Farage and his inner UKIP circle – let us not forget his ominous, terrifying, and blatantly false statement that victory was achieved 'without a bullet being fired' – must be described as proto-fascist. The catalogue of attacks, intimidation and verbal abuse that has emerged after the referendum is xenophobic, racist and disgusting. The groups who openly perform Nazi salutes on the streets of Dover are fascists on British soil.

But we must realise that these groups represent a minority – a minority that is distinct from the majority of the working class, whose anti-immigrant sentiment is fuelled by economics rather than racism. To tar these two groups with the same brush would be to re-affirm the urban, middle class, educated ignorance of working class concerns. It would be to prolong the culture of disregard that allowed the far right such a victory in the first place.

A radical offer

Recognising this distinction, our strategy becomes two fold. First, the Labour Party must flesh out an economic offer to the northern, marginalised, post-industrial regions that overwhelmingly voted Leave. This offer must be radical. It must come soon. It must differentiate a left Labour opposition from the rest of the metropolitan elite.

At the same time, we must assert the importance of migrant and refugee rights. We must extol the benefits and value of immigration without relent. We must build a counter-narrative that connects economic marginalisation with austerity, the rich and global capitalism instead of immigration. We must mobilise against fascist marches and racist attacks.

On these issues, we cannot compromise. Concern over immigration is prevalent amongst the working class. But the root of this concern is economic. If a radical manifesto is put in place, anti-immigration sentiment will begin to fall away. And shorn of a wider anti-immigrant sentiment, the racist and fascist elements would be left isolated, outnumbered and vulnerable.

These concurrent strategies allow parliamentary and extraparliamentary forces to complement each other. While a left Labour opposition should be outlining radical economic policies and holding a firm line on immigration, anti-fascist, direct action and socialist groups should be mobilising heavily and regularly on the streets. Thankfully, the latter has already begun to happen, with a pro-migrant demonstration on the day of the result.

Corbyn, McDonnell and the Labour leadership – once they see the other side of this unwinnable coup – need to play their part. To form a progressive majority they have to unite two distinct constituencies: the young, metropolitan, university educated and the marginalised, small town, working class. The former they've largely secured – although keeping a firm, progressive line on social issues while also introducing rent caps would be key to enthusing them – while the latter have the potential to drift towards UKIP or abstention. This is where redistributive, socialist policies can trump the base xenophobia and racism stoked by Farage and the press. If Corbyn is going to build a progressive majority in Britain, the adoption of a radical economic policy must be his next move.