Tuesday 15 January 2019

After the Biggest Defeat Ever

"The risk of a disorderly Brexit has increased" mused Jean-Claude Juncker. A fair assessment after Theresa May suffered the biggest Commons defeat by a government in, well, ever. Certainly something to keep the constitution nerds and Trivial Pursuit fans happy for centuries, and useful fodder for Labour's next general election campaign. Of course, there is zero sympathy for the Prime Minister round these parts. She has consistently misread the politics, has subordinated the needs of what bourgeois politicians call the 'national interest' to those of managing the Conservative Party, and from the outset brushed aside the concerns of others. Well, until some provided a fig leaf.

May's thumping 432/202 defeat is nothing less than catastrophic for her premiership and the capacity of the Tory party to govern. She might muddle through the vote of no confidence, in fact it is quite likely, but the margin of failure was much greater than any backbench Tory feared, or Labour bencher dared. Its consequences are scouring deep scars in the Conservative psyche and for some sections of the so-called natural party of government, there is little but numb shock. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch ... Nevertheless, while May is batting away the resignation demands it's difficult to see how she can go on. As we've noted plenty of times, May has been in a historically unique situation in which her weakness affords her a strange sort of strength vis a vis the other factions and petty leadership contenders in her party. As they cancel each other out, she had autonomy and wriggle room. But tonight her opponents came together and collectively thwarted the raison d'etre of her premiership. Largely because she forgot that getting the deal through parliament meant getting it through parliament, not just her backbenchers.

Now what? In her brief speech following the defeat, May said the government would reach out and was now "listening". An approach, wiser heads suggested, that she should have adopted since she gave away the Tory majority. This, it seems, is the only sensible approach left assuming there isn't a general election. It would mean turning a tin ear to the hard Brexiteers of Jacob Rees-Mogg's ERG and your Boris Johnsons, and staking out where the majority of the Commons is at. And that would be in the direction more congenial to Labour's position, with its six tests, including the maintenance of a customs union, or the Norway-style option getting traction on the Tory benches. However, it's difficult to see how May could possibly facilitate such a process considering her obsession with immigration and her maniacal interpretation of Brexit in its light. The second difficulty concerns the electoral interests of the Tory party more generally. If we interpret the national interest in terms of getting a deal, how can this party be trusted to deliver a Brexit at odds with the membership, and its coalition of voters? In short, it can't.

Want more problems, because Brexit's got them! Assuming somehow the Tory party is able to overcome these insurmountable difficulties and act as a clearing house of ideas and amendments, these have to be packaged up and negotiated with Brussels. True, more reasoned heads than May and her awful coterie are surely going to be in the driving seat but the EU can say no, or maybe, or whatever. And then there's getting it all through in time for exit day, which is looking shakier by the hour. Revoking Article 50 is the sensible option with a view to starting the clock again, but that is not without consequences. And so, the mess reigns, but May's defeat has opened up new possibilities for something else, which was absolutely closed before her historic loss.


Unknown said...

Fraser Nelson (of all people) made the point that the only thing in law so far is Brexit (of some sort or other). This vote has pushed us closer to a no-deal Brexit.
Another Newsnight panellist made the point that, just because Parliament is broadly against a no-deal Brexit doesn't mean then anyone in particular is going to have the gumption to prevent it - they are all assuming someone else will do it.
My friend has a Cassandra complex about a no-deal Brexit and remaining public services can be butchered and sold off to hedge funds being the plan all along, and this development could well send him over the edge.

Anonymous said...

The question is surely, what is the best way of that HoC majority that opposes no deal asserting itself?

(no, I don't buy the line that is somehow impossible)

One thing I am sure of - the #FBPE cultists demand of "SECOND REFERENDUM NOW!!", when there isn't majority support for that either amongst MPs or the electorate, isn't going to cut it.

Johny Conspiranoid. said...

Hang on, is it still the case that the EU says they are not going to start negotiating anything until after the UK leaves the EU? Because if it is then the debate about May's Deal is a very very pointless argument. It would be better to go straight to "what shall we do after we crash out of the EU?".

Boffy said...

May is able to continue, particularly after winning the No Confidence vote, because of the insanity of Corbyn's position. Some Tory Remainers might have been convinced to rebel - had Labour being offering a different course than that offered by May, but essentially they are not. Even now, as the Labour Party starts to collapse around his ears, Corbyn continues to push the same line as May that it is necessary to "respect" the will of the reactionaries who vote for Brexit in 2016, and idiotically that if there is a General Election, he will continue with that policy of Brexit that is currently tearing the Tories apart, and which threatens to impose the greatest setback for workers in decades. His position is even more ludicrous than May's in that he wants us to beleive that the EU's conservative politicians and bureaucrats would give him of all people a better deal than they have given to May who is one of their own. He wants us to believe that they would give him a deal that would destroy the EU itself! But, really he knows that would not happen. His position is essentially that of Mogg, to go through that process, see it fail, and then say, look, so now we have to have a No DEal Brexit, which is what his Stalinist driven, economic nationalist agenda requires.

Corbyn's position of the need to "respect" the will of the people is totally dishonest. In 1975, the people voted 2:1 to stay in the EEC, which then implied also agreeing to the establishment of the EU, the legislation for which had already been put in place. But, that did not stop Corbyn opposing the will of the people, and arguing to leave the EEC. Indeed, Labour Manifesto for 1983 and 1987 committed it to opposing that more clearly expressed will of the people, and demanding that Britain leave the EEC/EU, as did that of the other reactionary nationalists such as the NF et al.

Even after Labour changed its position in 1992 to argue for staying in the EU, Corbyn not only set his face against the "will of the people", but also against the will of Labour Party members, and the trades union movement, by continuing to argue his nationalist agenda of leaving the EU. For 40 years, Corbyn was prepared to ignore the "will of the people", and for much of that time the will of the labour movement too! Only now that the will of the people, in a very bogus referendum, marginally voted to Leave, and thereby became aligned with his own view has he discovered this sudden need to "respect" the will of the people, and to promote this reactionary agenda.

Why would you line up behind Corbyn against the Tories simply to pursue his pale pink nationalism rather than the bright blue nationalism of Theresa May? No reason at all, which is why an increasing number of younger LP members that initially saw Corbyn as a new hope are deserting the party in disillusionment. This will go down as one of the worst betrayals of socialist principle, and of throwing away the prospects for the Left in Labour Movement history. Shameful.

Speedy said...

Boffy, I don't see why the EU would reject, basically, the Norway option - it simply demotes the UK to the Championship while the rest get on with it, and as Toynbee writes today, that will be it - demographically Remain are now in the lead anyway, so no fear of the decision being overturned.

Anonymous said...

“EU's conservative politicians and bureaucrats”

So instead of trying to get a better deal off those same conservative politicians and bureaucrats he should ask them if he please be allowed back into the EU because this will do his election chances the power of good and possibly spark a socialist revolution across Europe?

Boffy said...

The Norway or Customs Union is a diversion. Firstly, it doesn't deal with the Irish border question. The problem with borders is not a Customs Union which deals only with tariffs, but the Single Market. It is the Single Market which deals with things such as common standards for goods and services - though the EU is still developing and extending its own single market for services, which will increase, and create inevitable divergence with economies outside it - as well as common standards for the workers producing those goods and services, common rights for consumers of those goods and services, common requirements on environmental protection from the effects of producing those goods and services.

In other words, as Marx describes in Capital I, in talking about why capitalists ultimately had to have their state impose such common standards within the single market of the nation state, in relation to the Factory Acts etc., it creates their essential requirement that each capital competes on a level playing field, though as Engels described later in his Preface to The Condition of the Working Class, those common standards that impose some minimum levels of civilisation, also necessarily benefit the larger capitals, and increase concentration and centralisation - itself a bonus for workers, as those processes create the conditions for the transformation of socialised capital into socialist property - which is why all of the small, backward, reactionary forms of capital that the Tories depend on, despise the process,a nd those conditions imposed on them.

Dealing with tariffs os easy, dealing with all these different conditions of production, rights etc. is not. That is why if you are not in such a single market, all of the checks at the border are required. Being in the single market also requires accepting free movement and so on.

Secondly, the EEA/EFTA countries have no desire for Britain to be in their club. Its typical British arrogance that British politicians think they can simply impose themselves upon the Norwegians et al.

Thirdly, Corbyn's position in relation to the Customs Union, is to have a right to sit at the EU table in determining its policies, and also for Britain to establish its own trade deals with other countries. He knows that is impossible, because it destroys the whole basis of a Customs Union. Would a trades union allow one of its members to leave, stop paying subs or having responsibility for abiding by its rules and obligations, and yet allow that member to vote on union business, whilst scabbing on union action, and negotiating separate deals with the boss, and at the same time demanding the right to have every benefit of still being in the union? Of course not. Any union that agreed to that would destroy itself, which is why the EU won't do it, and Corbyn knows it.

Norway is just being used by different politicians dishonestly. For Corbyn, Gove and others its cover for knowing it would fail, and then providing cover to go to a No Deal Brexit. For Kinnock and others, its a holding position to wait to get back into the EU in a few years time, as people realise there is no benefit from it, if you don't have a vote etc.

Far better to tell the truth. There is no Jobs First or good Brexit. Its a reactionary endeavour. Labour should oppose it, and join with other progressive social-democrats and socialists across Europe to create a Workers Europe.

Boffy said...

Irish Marxism has set out a good account of why Corbyn's reactionary nationalist approach to the question of the EU and the Customs Union offers no way forward, and why we should look not to the British capitalist state to reform the EU, but to British workers, acting in solidarity with the EU brothers and sisters.

Unknown said...

One feature of Brexit is that people on either side have become deaf and blind to good/bad elements of the EU depending on what side they fall down on. Before the referendum people were, rightly, much more ambivalent and displayed more balanced, nuanced understanding.

Lexiters forget that much of our environmental protections, employment and civil rights that (I would assume) most of us (reading this blog) value are directly because of our membership.

Remainers forget how Greece and Spain have were treated in the crash and have become indifferent to its neoliberal bent and democratic deficit.

For my money, Lexiters need to explain why Gramsci's position on Parliamentary representative democracy (i.e. that even though the odds are stacked, withdrawing would be to concede ground to the capitalist classes) does not apply in this situation.
I think it does apply, so despite all the things wrong with the EU, of which I still remember there are many, I believe we should remain.

Boffy said...


You are quite right that its necessary to spell out the need to struggle against the conservative social-democratic political regime of the EU, which created the conditions for the situation in Greece and elsewhere to occur. But, the answer to that is not to set up the conservative social-democratic nation state as somehow the way forward or credible alternative to that, as opposed to a struggle by a united EU wide working-class.

It certainly was not the EU that demanded Thatcher impose her austerity measures on Britain throughout the 1980's, or Major in the 90's. Nor was it the EU that insisted that Blair and Brown focus their economic policy on a continuation of Thatcherism, and the inflating of asset price bubbles, so as to create the delusion of rising paper wealth.

Indeed, it was no the EU that forced the Greek, Spanish and Italian governments to use a period of low interest rates to inflate their own debt levels, and as in Ireland to inflate huge property bubbles based upon that debt. It was not the EU that forced the Greek conservative governments to give huge tax handouts, and fail to collect taxes from Greek capitalists, and to engage in widespread corruption that inflated the Greek deficits. And, the real basis of the Greek economic problems was not caused by the EU, but decades of weakness of Greek capitalism that was uncompetitive in the global market, and would be even more uncompetitive if it stood alone outside the EU.

Greek workers themselves recognised that, which is why they voted to not only stay in the EU, but also in the Eurozone. The motivations for Brexit, whatever the proponents of Lexit might delude themselves into believing have far more to do with a continued hankering after Britain's colonial past, and the jingoism that goes with it, which is why all those that voted for Brexit have been shown to have reactionary and bigoted views not just in that regard, but in relation to immigration, to homophobia, to misogyny, to the environment and so on. It is a thoroughly reactionary social movement that socialists and even progressive social democrats and liberals should oppose.

George Carty said...

I'd say that Spain was more like Ireland than Italy or Greece: its government spending levels were reasonable and it was property speculation that laid them low. Greece's problems were far more fundamental: its mountainous and fragmented geography impeded capital formation, while its thousands of islands in the Aegean Sea (very vulnerable to its far more populous rival Turkey) demand a powerful and expensive navy and air force to defend them.

Arguably modern independent Greece has never been a viable economy: it depended on vast sums of aid first from the British Empire, and then (after World War II) from the United States. This aid was given partly because of sentimentalism towards the "cradle of Western civilization" but mainly because of Greece's strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean. Once the Cold War ended, Greece lost its strategic significance, and its economic collapse was only a matter of time.

I agree that Brexit is motivated primarily by nostalgia, but I strongly disagree that it is specifically colonial nostalgia: after all Scotland, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol (which were all disproportionaly important in the Empire) all voted Remain. The most strongly pro-Brexit county was Lincolnshire, which was only minimally touched by the Empire, but where the local culture is obsessed with World War II (and particularly with RAF Bomber Command, which had many bases there).

Isn't the pitiful decline of British military power less due to decolonization, and more because an ageing population meant far more government money had to be spent on pensions and the NHS, leaving less for defence?

Boffy said...


The colonial era nostalgia, jingoism, and other bigotry is a function of age not geography. I'm currently writing a blog post on that showing that the idea that Brexit or Trump can be explained by an outpouring of the "left-behind" is totally fatuous, and does not stand up even on casual inspection.

Support for Brexit came from elderly Tories, not young Labour voters. It like support for Trump came from those that are relatively well placed, and who because of their age benefitted from buying cheap houses in their youth, which then inflated in price, and who benefited from other aspects of "neo-liberalism", for example the inflation of other asset prices such as their ISA's and mutual funds into which they were able to put their savings from disposable income which rose as they had paid off their mortgages by the 1980's/90s.

The real left behind, the youth who have been frozen out of housing in the last 20-30 years, who have no savings to put into the stock market and so on, overwhelmingly support Remain!

Similarly, in the 1960's, when unemployment stood at around 1%, or about 500,000 (mostly frictional), when houses were plentiful and cheap, when wages were rising steadily, and so on, it still did not stop the demand for immigration controls being raised, and it was not any left-behind, but was rather the Tory voting landlords, who put signs in their windows saying "No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish", and gave their support for Enoch Powell.

They largely didn't vote against the EEC in 1975, because they didn't see it as being about immigration. Had the vote been to ban immigration, and particularly immigration of darker skinned immigrants in 1975, it would have had a similar result as the Brexit vote of 2016. That large chunk of bigoted, racist opinion has always been there, and it has nothing to do with anyone being "left-behind".

DFTM said...

There is no evidence whatsoever that the EU has fostered closer ties between the 'brothers and sisters' of the EU. There is no mechanism put forward by those claiming the EU is all important as to howthe EU takes us a step closer to socialism.

Boffy makes the EU sound like the international working men's association. It isn't, it is an association of capitalists, set up in the interests of capitalists. It in no way represents the labour movement and has in no way contributed to the development of the labour movement. Actually during the lifetime of the EU even capitalist social democracy has become intolerable and the labour movement has been utterly emasculated.

The EU is a neoliberal behemoth.

So why did I vote remain? Well because of the people who voted leave, who appeared to be a collection of little Englanders, racists and tax Dodgers (the real traitors).

If there is a second vote I will abstain, why? Because people like Boffy vote remain.

I think the left should abstain from this sideshow. Though I do wonder if a dose of isolation might be the cure for British people's obstinate hatred of dark skinned people!

Boffy has continually told us the Trade Unions (those associations of workers) can have little or no affect on the living standards of workers, he plays down the struggles of workers to improve their conditions and claims the inner mechanics of capitalism determine the standard of living, workers struggles do not. Yet he tells us the most important factor in working class living standards are those associations of capitalists. So workers struggles achieve nothing, capitalists collaboration makes all the difference!

Boffy's motto is capitalists of the world unite!

George Carty said...


I was actually looking at the nature of contemporary British jingoism: I don't see any real desire by white Britons to rule over non-whites again. If there is an empire-related driver behind Brexit it more likely relates to the white settler dominions (and also to the United States, which was also a British-created settler state, albeit one that broke away relatively early on).

Britain was by far the most successful European country at settler colonialism: France failed in North America due to lack of colonists and in Algeria due to successful native resistance, while the British in World War I defeated Germany's attempt in Namibia and in World War II defeated Italy's attempt in Libya. The only real parallel with Britain's dominions were the Southern Cone countries, where (unlike the rest of Latin America) the native population was small enough to allow European settlers and their descendants to become the majority population. I wonder why those countries don't occupy a similar place in the Spanish imagination, as Australia, New Zealand and Canada do in the British imagination.

A common driver of support for Brexit was the notion that the UK is an overpopulated country, especially among non-metropolitan people who spend a lot of time stuck in traffic jams. I can't help feeling that a lot of these people were looking longingly towards the sparsely-populated United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Talk of the "left behind" was always referring to communities rather than individuals: is it your belief that the reason "left behind" areas voted heavily Leave was almost entirely down to the fact that their populations were disproportionately old (due to youth flight to big cities), and that would be little if any regional variation in the EU referendum vote (at least once Scotland is discounted) if we examined how specific age cohorts voted?


I was also a reluctant Remain voter (although I wouldn't be reluctant to vote Remain again if we have a second referendum), although in my case it was because I thought we could do with some protectionism in order to re-industrialize (something which I now believe would be against WTO rules anyway).

In fact the event that pushed me decisively into the Remain camp was Cameron's vetoing of EU tariffs on Chinese steel, which convinced me that no Tory government would ever protect British industry against cheap imports.

Boffy said...


They may be realistic enough to know that British whites are not going to rule over colonies of non-whites again, as in the golden days of Empire, but they do still think that the clock can be wound back 60 years, so that all of the colonies will come flooding back to do deals with Britain that will result in cheap goods coming in, and our expensive manufactures going out to them. That is why they delude themselves about the approach of New Zealand, a country on the other side of the globe that today does most of its trade with China, which 50 years ago did 90% of its trade with the UK, and today does just 3%!

As I wrote at the weekend, the idea that the Leave Vote is a response by the "Left Behind" is total BS, as is the argument that the Trump Vote came from the Left behind. The Leave Vote everywhere comes overwhelming from aged Tory Voters, from those that have benefitted from the last 40 years of inflating house and asset prices. Those that have really been left behind in that process, the under 50's, and particularly the younger cohorts, who have been frozen out of the property market, and unable to acquire savings and other assets, everywhere voted overwhelmingly for Remain.

Take an area like the North-East, which incidentally according to the C4 News survey before Xmas, now backs Remain. The Leave Vote was made up of those same Tory voters, though in slightly higher proportions than in London and the South. Who else in such an area might be thought to have a reason to back Leave? Well, if you are retired, you are no longer worried about losing your job? If you are long-term unemployed, or precariously unemployed, you might think that Brexit will make little difference. But, if you are a worker at Nissan in Sunderland, with a fairly steady paycheck, you might have every reason to be worried about Brexit!!

Anonymous said...

I was told a story by a friend who works in a engineering factory and before the Brexit vote the boss called a meeting with all the workers and urged them to vote remain because he said Brexit could seriously affect the future of the firm.

My friend told me most of them voted Brexit!

I seriously doubt the formulation presented by Boffy is accurate and is more a distortion of the truth.

Still having another vote and then dictating there will never be any more votes on the subject seems one option.

And in the meantime why have any votes at all on anything? Just let the technocrats get on with it, and get rid of politicians and the bureaucracy that supports it.

George Carty said...

Boffy, Leave only won the 2016 referendum because they were able to appeal to a reactionary segment of the population that didn't vote in General Elections. The main danger with Labour adopting an explicitly anti-Brexit stance comes not from its own voters (as I suspect a good chunk of Labour supporters who voted Leave have now realized they were conned and would now support Remain), but that it would bring those aforementioned reactionaries to the polls to vote Tory (instead of abstaining, as they would in an election where Brexit was not an issue).

The North East was the one region which voted much more heavily for Leave than was predicted: perhaps because working-class conservatives disillusioned with New Labour's social liberalism turned to the Tories elsewhere, but in the North East just abstained from General Elections (because they still couldn't forgive the Tories for destroying British coal mining).

Similarly, I suspect the reason why the West Midlands has become so Tory (and so Brexity) is because a lot of people there hate (New) Labour for allowing Rover to die.

Also, I've heard claims that some Leave voters in Sunderland were actually driven by jealous spite towards Nissan workers, and welcome the prospect of the factory closing due to Brexit. That could apply more so to those West Midlanders whose own local economy was ruined by the death of Rover, and so hardly care if car factories in other parts of the country are killed by Brexit!

Boffy said...


The analysis of the referendum shows two things. Firstly, the bulk of votes for Leave came from Tories (about 70% of their 2017 vote), and that the bulk of Leave Votes came from the over 55's, and the proportion for Leave increases as the age of the voters rises.

As I pointed out in my blog post Brexit and the Left Behind Myth, there is a clear overlap here that the Brexit vote came from elderly Tory voters. Those elderly Tory voters are not the people who by any stretch are the "Left behind". They are the people who bought houses in the 1960's, and 70's, when they were cheap and plentiful and saw them rise astronomically as a result of the policies of Thatcher/Major/Blair and Brown. They are the ones who bought Council houses in the 1980's, and supported Thatcher's anti-union policies, and so on.

The left behind, are all those under 55, who have been frozen out of the housing market, seen social housing disappear, and who have not been able to acquire savings and assets that have inflated, in the way that older age group have done. Yet, it is precisely this group of younger, left behind sections of the population that backs Labour, and that also opposes Brexit.

The latest poll shows that of these two characteristics, a majority are now more defined by their commitment to oppose Brexit than to support Labour, which is deadly to Corbyn.

I doubt that chunk of apathetic voters you refer to would turn out to vote in large numbers for the Tories, any more than they did previously. Certainly, even if Labour stood on a pro-Brexit stance, they would not turn out to vote Labour! Moreover, it would be lethal to base your electoral strategy on the expectation of such non-voters would decide to vote. Its like a marketing strategy that is geared to privileging new customers, and thereby results in pissing off and losing most of your existing loyal customers.

Anonymous said...

Academic research of the EU referendum has shown that vote leave was higher in areas with a higher degree of manufacturing.

This seems to contradict the speculations presented by Boffy.

George Carty said...

Boffy, why do you insist on trying to redefine the term "left behind"? That term is a reference not to people but to places: deprived deindustrialized small towns in the North and the Midlands. And while it is clear that the core Leave vote was made up of middle-class social conservatives mostly in the Tory shires, Leave only won the referendum thanks to strong support in those left-behind areas.

If we look at the referendum vote by housing tenancy, we see that private tenants voted overwhelmingly Remain (no surprise as they tend to be young), mortgaged homebuyers voted weakly Remain, outright homeowners voted weakly Leave, while the heaviest Leave votes came from those living in social housing. I hope you aren't over-reacting to middle-class Remainers (who use the Brexit vote to justify their contempt for the working class as a whole) by denying that the working class has any responsibility for this disaster.

Since the Thatcher era, UK General Elections had increasingly become struggles for the baby boomer vote, which meant that New Labour ended up embracing the same pro-house-price-inflation policies as the Tories in order to buy these voters. As a result the turnout among 18-24 year olds (young people were royally screwed by house price inflation) in the 2015 General Election was less than 40%.

The EU referendum was the first vote in a long time where one side (Remain) really badly needed the votes of young people, but politicians had no practice in appealing to them. As a result, the official Tory-led Remain campaign ended up attacking Brexit primarily as a threat to house prices and to the City of London. The effect of the former is clear in that London's affluent hinterlands in the M40/M3/A34 triangle (where house prices are no doubt extremely high) were one of the few areas where the vote swung towards Remain in the last few weeks before the referendum (and also one of the few areas of non-metropolitan England to vote Remain), but it no doubt also made young people less enthusiastic. And emphasis on the threat to the City may well have encouraged spite-driven support for Brexit in the left-behind places!

I also wonder if the Brexiteers bullied Cameron into letting them set the specific date for the referendum such that it reduced the turnout of demographics likely to vote Remain? Not only did the date most likely reduce the youth turnout (due to Glastonbury, as well as students being registered to vote at the wrong address as they'd only recently moved back home from their term-time digs), but perhaps it also affected the Muslim vote as it was during Ramadan? (To be exact, Ramadan 17th 1437 AH.)

Boffy said...

Manufacturing accounts for less than 20% of UK employment, so nothing much can be adduced from voting where this proportion of manufacturing was marginally higher.

The fact, remains, and this is not at all a matter of speculation that more than 65% of 2015 Tory voters and around the same proportion 65%, of voters aged over 55, voted Leave. The biggest cohort of Leave Voters, in fact, came from people who were no longer in employment, whether manufacturing or any other industry, i.e. from the over 65's.

By contrast, and again not a matter of speculation, around 65% of 2015 Labour voters, and around 70% of 2017 Labour voters, voted Remain, and around the same proportion of Remain voters came from the under 55's, i.e those of working age.

Moreover, who said anything about "manufacturing". It is a strange bourgeois sociological definition of working-class that limits itself to only workers employed in manufacture, and were it valid, would mean that all possibility of socialism has long since passed, given that workers employed in manufacturing have been a small minority for around 30-40 years!

Boffy said...


Its people not places that vote.

Boffy said...


Do you have a link to the details of vote by housing type? I'm glad that you recognise that the main vote for Leave came from elderly Tories.

I'd point out, provisionally, prior to seeing your data on vote by housing type, that in recent decades the proportion of the population living in social housing has continually declined. Even today, around 60% - seem a familiar figure? - live in owner occupied (including mortgaged) - properties, and the growing percentage has been of those in privately rented property, which as you recognise voted overwhelmingly Remain.

The vote of the minority who live in social housing, which would typify those sections of society that Marx characterises as the dangerous class, the atomised, isolated from the labour movement, in high levels of precarity, existing on the periphery of society, are indeed those that traditionally have provided the footsoldiers of fascism, and Bonapartism.

No one denies, I hope that that section of society has always, including more recently provided the basis support for the BNP, EDL and so on, and their support for the reactionary Brexit agenda, but they are a small minority of the total Brexit vote, as witnessed by their failure to muster more than a couple of thousand EDL'er behind Tommy Robinson at the recent Leave Means Leave rallies.

Anonymous said...

"Manufacturing accounts for less than 20% of UK employment, so nothing much can be adduced from voting where this proportion of manufacturing was marginally higher."

You were the one who brought up Nissan workers! Talk about incoherent!

George Carty said...

Looks like I wasn't quite right about the referendum vote by housing tenure – according to the IPSOS polling estimates private tenants were indeed the most strongly Remain demographic, but not by the landslide I thought they were:

The actual stats were:

Private tenants: REMAIN 56%
Mortgaged homebuyers: REMAIN 54%
Outright owners: LEAVE 56%
Social tenants: LEAVE 63%