Monday, January 02, 2017

Why Trump and Leave won - and how the left should respond

Summary : While Trump and the Leave campaign certainly got the support of racists and bigots, this is not enough on its own to explain getting 46% and 52% of the vote respectively.

The stereotype of Trump voters as mostly poor uneducated whites is not accurate. In fact a majority of the poorer voters who voted at all voted for Clinton. While about half the population of the US earns under $30,000 a year, only 17% of voters in 2016 were from that income group. Around 53% of those low-income voters who did vote voted Clinton. So the problem was more poorer voters thinking neither candidate would change their lives for the better, so not voting at all.

Trump voters were mostly less educated and white, but most of them earned well over the median and average income. Leave voters, like Trump voters, were more likely to be older and have less education, but unlike Trump voters, were more likely to have lower incomes – and to read the Sun, Daily Express, or Mail – newspapers which have churned out anti-EU and anti-immigrant and refugee stories for decades. But like Trump voters, some Leave voters may have thought any change – or revenge on those in charge – was better than no change.

Trump is not popular with a majority of voters. In fact he got less votes than Clinton, and in polls more voters disliked him, and more of his voters said they were voting against Clinton than for him. But he remains dangerous all the same. Hitler, another demagogue who got support by whipping up hatred of minorities and blaming foreigners and refugees, never won a majority of the popular vote either.

Clinton wasn’t popular either though. As a politician who had been in office for decades and part of the Republican – ‘New Democrat’ concensus on free trade, deregulation and “welfare reform, was the ultimate establishment candidate. So the worst choice to stand against a candidate selling themselves as anti-establishment. Deregulation was one of the main causes of the banking crisis and subsequent recession which saw a swing back to the right.

Clinton’s campaign spent too much time criticising Trump’s racism, sexism and bigotry instead of promising jobs or better wages or holding the banks to account.

Trump’s condemnation of NAFTA (and the Clintons’ backing for it), his promises to provide more and better paying jobs, and to punish the big banks and politicians who had caused the banking crisis, were effective in the ‘rust belt’ states. Especially as they continue to lose jobs as firms move production to Mexico.

(Of course Trump won’t punish the big banks – he’s already chosen several former Goldman Sachs executives for his administration. Another similarity to Hitler – denouncing big banks and companies in opposition, then making deals with them in government).

The focus of the Remain and Clinton campaigns on prejudice and racism among some of their opponents backfired at some points by not appealing to voters self-interest enough. Claims about creating jobs or funding public services better (whether true or false) may have been more effective than talking about ideals.

Nationalism was a strong factor in both Trump and Leave’s campaigns – though with Leave voters it was as much English as British nationalism.

Some members of Black Lives Matter and some anti-racism/sexism/bigotry campaigners have also scored own goals by making their own prejudiced statements. Talking as if all white people or all men were responsible for the prejudice of some alienated some voters.

Identity politics has also been an own goal. Obama did not say “vote for me because I’m black’ but Clinton and some of her female supporters
repeatedly said “vote Clinton because she’s a woman”. Trump certainly pandered to racists and got the votes of racists and sexists, but making the election about race, citizenship status, or gender was never a good idea – especially in a country with a majority of white voters.

Too many Democrats had convinced themselves that the growing proportion of non-white and Latin/Hispanic voters now determined election results. Not this one.

The Electoral College, which was designed to prevent demagogues being elected, failed spectacularly in this election. Since the EU referendum was one person one vote, the voting system can’t be blamed for the Leave result though. Nor can any voting system prevent demagogues or prejudiced people winning elections if enough voters agree with them.

The lessons for the left are to focus on opposing free trade deals that are designed more with the interests of big firms that donate to party funds than the average voter, on controlling the big banks that caused the crisis, and on reducing inequality. While racism and other prejudice have to be opposed and condemned, condemning opponents as racist or prejudiced in other ways is not enough on its own to win elections or referenda. So campaigns should not focus too much on these issues at the expense of economic and trade policy, job creation and reducing inequality. Nor immediately label anyone who opposes current immigration levels racist (even if some of them are).

Pointing out the broken promises, hypocrisy and lies of Trump , the Conservative brexiteers and UKIP on their main campaign pledges is vital too. They must not get off with claiming to be “anti-establishment” while appointing Goldman Sachs executives.

The lesson for the Labour party is less clear. Corbyn is certainly an anti-establishment candidate, but unlike Sanders in the US, he is behind rather than ahead of his party’s political opponents in the polls. And Clinton lost partly because she was supported by a majority of Democrats, but not a majority of voters (due to ‘closed’ primaries in most states in which only voters registered as Democrats could vote on selecting a candidate). Corbyn similarly seems to be popular with a majority of Labour party members, but not a majority of voters. The Trump vs Clinton polls were out by several per cent, but the polls here being out by the 17% that the Conservatives now lead Labour by seems less likely.

And those who say Labour must become a crusade for the EU are selling a doubtful proposition when a third of Labour voters voted Leave and losing votes to UKIP is now Labour’s biggest threat.

Just racism and prejudice?

There are a lot of opinion pieces putting the victories of Donald Trump and the Leave campaign in the UK’s referendum on EU membership down simply to racism, sexism, bigotry against Muslims, and prejudice against immigrants and refugees, combined with ignorance among voters and propaganda by politicians and some of the media.

There is some truth in this, but it is not the whole truth.

Yes all the racists and bigots in the US voted for Trump, and all the racists and bigots and neo-Nazis in the UK voted Leave.

But Trump would never have got 46% of the vote – 63 million votes – if all his voters were ignorant racists and bigots. And ditto for the Leave campaign’s 52% of the vote (1).

They included votes against the status quo, against the establishment, against the effects of globalisation policies – especially lost jobs in manufacturing in the UK and US. Also votes for instance by left wingers against the extreme austerity policies imposed on Greece by the EU.

Clinton was the worst possible candidate to put up in the current climate, because she is not only associated in voters’ minds with the establishment, as Bill Clinton’s wife, a senator and then Obama’s Secretary of State. She is also one of the most prominent supporters of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Area) trade deal that is still resulting in factories in the US closing down and moving to Mexico today (2) – (3).

This was brought up over and over again by Trump in campaign speeches – and one of the reasons he won the “rust belt” states that have suffered most.

Clinton’s conversion to opposing TTIP and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (both of which would let multinational banks and firms sue governments merely for regulating them) came only when she feared Sanders might win the nomination from her, and was unconvincing (4).

Many senior Republicans were voting for Clinton on the calculation that her opposition was purely tactical and would end once she was elected.

David Cameron and George Osborne were also establishment figures who oversaw austerity and were 100% for every free trade deal.

The Clintons are the ultimate representatives of the concensus between the Republicans from Reagan on and the ‘New Democrats’ of the 1990s on free trade, deregulation and “welfare reform”.

It was Bill Clinton who in 1994 successfully concluded negotiations with Mexico and Canada on NAFTA which had been begun by President Bush Senior.

NAFTA established the Maquiladora zone on the Mexican border with the US. In theory it also included comprehensive workers’ rights and environmental protection, but in practice neither has ever been enforced, with the Maquiladora’s barely regulated at all (5).

Clinton also deregulated the banks as much as any other President from Nixon on, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which had been the cornerstone of banking regulations brought in by Franklin D. Roosevelt after the 1929 banking crisis. It had prevented high street savings banks from also being ‘investment’ banks (those involved in high risk trading in financial derivatives).

On top of this Clinton, albeit reluctantly, approved Republican states’ governments’ ‘Workfare’ welfare “reforms”, which forced unemployed people to work unpaid for private companies or else lose any welfare payments (6).

At the same time changes were brought in to reduce the maximum period anyone could receive welfare payments for to 60 days, (except where congress and the President approved emergency packages).

The long term result was jobs moving by the hundred thousand from the US to Mexico, but no reduction in the overall poverty rate in Mexico either.

Deregulation of the banks, combined with Clinton’s administration demanding banks and other lending institutions give mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them (instead of public housing, which was seen as too socialist), led to the banks being able to create Collateralised Debt Obligations – packages of thousands of largely worthless debts, so many together that no one could check individual credit worthiness, which in many cases was none. They then counted these as assets and sold them to other banks as if they had value .

When this was discovered, the banking crisis resulted and recession followed. The people with mortgages they couldn’t afford lost their homes. So did lots of other people who could afford their mortgages until the recession hit.

With “welfare reform” having cut the safety net for those made unemployed by NAFTA or the banking crisis recession, was America left with a lot of people who feel neither main party could care less about them and wanted to give the establishment concensus a slap in the face? For people who feel the status quo gives them nothing any kind of change, or some revenge, may seem better than no change.

NAFTA certainly provided cheaper imported goods for many Americans, but it also put many of them out of a job. It provided more Mexicans with jobs but without improving terrible working conditions or reducing poverty (7).

Some of those jobs may well have moved to other countries anyway as multinational companies sought the cheapest production costs, but NAFTA certainly accelerated this process.

Are these votes evidence of a swing to the right?

There is no evidence of American or British voters having moved to the right, with the possible exception of immigration, which they were already pretty right wing on.

Opposing free trade deals like NAFTA or the EU Single Market is not right wing. The left and trade union wings of the Democrats and Labour party were always opposed to these deals.

Opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is even less “right wing”, as both these deals include clauses that would let big banks and companies sue governments for any regulation that might reduce their profits. Which effectively could mean any regulation at all. That goes far beyond even free trade.

Opposing big banks, big firms and the super rich being able to buy too much influence over government policies is not right or left wing either.

Trump is not that popular

Trump actually got less votes than Clinton – 46% to Clinton’s 48% , only winning due to the Electoral College (8).

Turnout was only 60% , about the same as in 2012. That means only about 27% of registered voters voted for Trump. And many Americans aren’t registered to vote at all (9) – (10).

And the unpopularity of both Trump and Clinton is the likely reason for the mediocre turnout, with 56% of those polled viewing Clinton unfavourably and 63% viewing Trump unfavourably (11).

In 2008, 68% of Democrats said they were voting more for their candidate than against the other main candidate. In 2012, 72% did. This year only 48% did, 50% saying they were voting for Clinton mostly just to stop Trump (12).

The same was true for Trump though, only more so ; 55% of his voters said their vote would be more against Clinton than for him (13).

Trump certainly got people who didn’t usually bother to vote to turn out for him – and this let him replace all the Republicans who voted for Clinton, or didn’t vote at all, out of distaste for him or for his protectionist policies.

Trump did not win because he was popular. He’s even more unpopular than Clinton. He narrowly scraped a win because he was seen as anti-establishment and got more votes in the ‘Rust belt’ states – and because Clinton was seen as so establishment and such a “no change” candidate by many voters that she could not motivate enough of them to turn out to vote for her.

Race

Race was certainly a big factor. Trump won a majority of votes among white voters and a heavy majority among non-college educated (but not poor) ones, while Clinton got a majority of Hispanic/Latino votes and the vast majority of black voters.

The many Republican voters who wouldn’t vote for Trump were replaced by a mixture of racists, bigots, neo-nazis and sexists.

Trump pandered to them by demonising and dismissing Black Lives Matter, and by mocking one of his rivals with the line “I, I, I can’t breathe” - the last words of Eric Garner, an asthmatic black man choked to death by police for the crime of selling cigarettes without a licence. Not one of the police were ever charged. A passer by who shot a video of the killing on his phone was (14).

But there were also people who had lost their own jobs or seen their family and friends lose jobs when factories moved from the US to Mexico. And people who were sick of the establishment consensus and voted for Trump as a protest vote.

The rust belt states where he mostly won all have a large majority of white and non-Hispanic / non-Latino voters. The states where Clinton won most heavily – like California – are some of those with the most Hispanic and Asian voters.

It wasn’t mostly poor white people voting for Trump

He didn’t get all the working classes voting for him – Clinton got 53% of votes among people earning $30,000 dollars or less (15).

Only 17% of voters were people earning less than $30,000 annually. Yet 50% of Americans earn less than that amount. The median US income is just over $30k, and the average is $44k (16) – (17).

But Trump did get a majority of votes from white people without a college education or better – though most of them were on incomes of $50,000 a year or more (18).

So the result of the election is not down to poor white voters voting for Trump. In fact it’s down to most poor voters – including most of the victims of the banking crisis and “welfare reform” not voting at all.

And the likely reason is the same one most voters in the UK give – the big political parties don’t care about us, so why should we vote for them? Which is a self-reinforcing cycle, as if most poorer voters don’t vote, why would politicians have policies aimed at appealing to them?

Candidates now need to be seen as outside the establishment – i.e not have held elected office at senior levels for a long time, nor be close to those who have. Being seen as trustworthy is also vital.

While for 2012 we only have figures for what percentage of voters earned under $50k a year, 41% of voters in 2012 earned less than that amount. Only 36% of voters in 2016 earned under $50k (19) – (20)

 

This Doesn’t Mean We’re In No Danger Though

Hitler and the Nazis never managed to get a majority of the vote either. That doesn’t mean they weren’t dangerous. Trump is an unpredictable narcissistic demagogue with the support of an “alt-right” (alternative right) who include racists, white supremacists and neo-nazis.

And alliance of convenience between some of Germany’s wealthiest industrialists, the Nazis and conservatives in the 1920s and 30s in Germany led to the rise of Hitler.

We can’t afford to start accusing anyone who voted for or supports Trump of being a Nazi, fascist, or racist though. We need to convert some of his supporters to an alternative anti-establishment movement, not alienate them. Remember, 55% of Trump voters said they were voting more against Clinton than for Trump.

While Trump may be an opponent of free trade deals, he has shown by his proposed appointments to his cabinet that he is very willing to do deals with big banks and big firms. Four of his choices are former executives from Goldman Sachs bank, including his campaign manager Steve Bannon. His chosen Secretary of State is currently the Chief Executive of Exxon-Mobil. Hitler similarly denounced big banks and firms and “the establishment” when in opposition, but was happy to do deals with them. (21) – (23).

And Trump’s support being highest in rural areas, while his opponents’ was highest in cities is also a similarity with German elections of the 1930s. As is both Trump and the Nazis getting most of their votes from people middling or higher in income and class.

How the Leave Vote was Similar – and how it was different

The Leave vote in the UK had some similarities to Trump’s vote in the US. But there were also big differences (for sources see sources (24) and (25) and (26) and (27)) .

Leave voters, like Trump voters, were more likely to be less educated (possibly because they were also likely to be older, from before the majority went to college or university, with younger voters far more likely to vote Remain or Clinton).

Multicultural London, like multicultural California voting for Clinton, mostly voted Remain (though some poorer areas had a majority for Leave). And in other big cities there was mostly a majority for Remain – but in many cases only a narrow majority. And the small towns and villages were more likely to vote Leave.

Leave voters , like Trump voters, were opposed to current levels of immigration and to jobs being moved abroad.

However the Leave vote was higher among lower income voters and the Remain vote higher among higher income ones – the opposite to Clinton vs Trump. This was similar to the pattern in the Scottish independence referendum where poorer voters were more likely to vote Yes (i.e to back leaving the UK).

The similarity is that both Leave and Trump voters were voting for a change to the status quo – 82% of voters who thought their candidate was most likely to bring about a change voted Trump (28).

The turnout was much higher, likely because this was a referendum – a rare event on a single big issue, rather than a regular election.

Leave voters, like Trump voters, were more likely to be nationalists – though with Leave voters they were more likely to see themselves as English first.

While some have argued the Leave vote was a vote against the government’s austerity policies, there hasn’t been any real evidence provided to back this claim up.

The media – and social media

While the media in the US was mostly hostile to Trump (with only 6 newspapers – most of them small and local – endorsing him for President) he got a lot of support from many Fox News anchors.

The tabloid press in the UK has been churning out anti-immigration, anti-refugee and anti-EU stories for decades, some exaggerated or presenting unusual cases as if they were typical, others outright lies. (For instance British tabloids have run stories that Euro coins will give you cancer, that the EU wants to ban curved bananas).

So it’s no surprise that 70% of voters who read The Sun newspaper or The Express voted Leave, and 61% of Daily Mail readers (29).

 The Sun has the highest circulation in the UK, partly due to its low price of 50p, subsidised by Rupert Murdoch’s profits from his satellite TV channels to give him influence with politicians.

This is probably the biggest factor in explaining the majority vote for Leave, just as in the Scottish independence referendum the majority of newspapers were for a No vote and that was the end result.

But the importance of facebook, twitter and new “news” websites with a very strong bias has been increasing relative to the traditional media. Completely false memes (photos or graphs with a list of supposed facts on them) and fake news stories are widely shared.

Whether these changed many peoples’ minds is open to question. Maybe the majority who believed them were already going to vote the same way anyway. But it may have changed the minds of some poorly informed voters, or people who aren’t interested in politics.

The dubious claim that “everything in the mainstream media is a lie” is becoming increasingly widely believed.

Identity Politics Is Not Enough – And can backfire

It’s pretty clear that saying “vote for me because I’m a woman” was not enough to win. Nor is slating your opponent as a racist or bigot (even if he is).

As some American women have pointed out, Trump’s boasting about groping women was disapproved of by just about everyone, but for a lot of women who had lost their jobs – or whose husbands, fathers or brothers had lost theirs due to NAFTA – it was minor stuff compared to the bigger issues.

Obama did not campaign in 2008 or 2012 by saying “vote for me because I’m black and a man”. He won because he convinced enough voters he would bring about change for the better. That he was not just another establishment politician who would maintain the status quo.

Clinton and supporters such as Madeleine Albright continually talked as though Clinton being a woman and Trump a man was a good enough reason to vote for her (30).

What’s more an excessive focus on gender, race or sexuality can make those who don’t share it feel they are being criticised just for being born white, male or straight.

Black Lives Matter are not, as some Trump supporters claim, all racist against white people. But some Black Lives Matter campaigners do say things that are racist against all white people – some even saying “kill all white people” – and this has the predictable result of outraging some white people (31).

Some of the people pointing to racism by some BLM campaigners are themselves racist against all black people, and looking for a way to try and justify the unjustifiable, as if two wrongs could make a right. But not all of them are. Some people who are not racist will be alienated by this kind of black vs white racism.

Of course that doesn’t mean that anyone should stop criticising outright racism or prejudice, or some of the shocking killings of black people by police and failure to charge, try and jail those responsible. But for instance refusing to discuss immigration or Islamic extremism at all could alienate people needlessly.

Campaign slogans and speeches matter – and so does appealing to self-interest

Most voters have no idea what most of a candidate or party’s policy positions are. But more of them have heard some of their campaign slogans or bits out of their speeches.

Trump’s message over and over included the jobs lost due to NAFTA and the Clintons’ support for it ; that he would bring back “good paying jobs” and stop jobs going overseas – and that he would punish the big banks and the corrupt politicians who had allowed this and the banking crisis and all the suffering since it.

Clinton’s message was mostly that Trump was “divisive”, “racist”, “sexist” and so on. Clinton’s message seems to have worked with the majority of black and Latino voters. But it failed with the majority of white voters, particularly those with little or no education.

Now Trump’s claims included a lot of hypocrisy and lies given his appointments already including so many former big bank executives, but it’s pretty clear that his lines were more effective with white, non-Hispanic voters and that this won him many states.

Clinton should have spent more time saying she would create more jobs and less time slating Trump’s prejudices.

Of course that wouldn’t have worked with every voter. There are plenty of resentful and poorly educated voters who have a chip on their shoulder about others having more education than them and “them thinking they know better than me”. But it would have helped with some.

 

Our Voting Systems are Out of Date –
but no voting system guarantees a particular result

The Electoral College has now let a candidate with less votes win the Presidency in the US twice. And with Trump’s election the theory that this helps prevent demagogues and extremists get elected is looking pretty ludicrous.

In the UK the Conservatives won the last General Election with just 37% of votes cast due to First Past the Post

However electoral reform, while more democratic, is no guarantee that the left or liberals will win elections. Under Proportional Representation the 2015 General Election would likely have led to a Conservative/UKIP/Unionist coalition with just under 50% of the vote between them. A Labour/SNP/Plaid Cymru/Lib Dem/Green coalition would have been theoretically possible with 48% of the vote between them.

A change to a PR voting system would probably have meant many more votes for smaller parties than larger ones, but likely no big change on the totals for the whole left and right.

The EU referendum on a simple one person one vote, majority wins, led to a marginal win for Brexit, but then staying in or leaving the EU has never been a straightforward left/right issue, with both divided on it.

Lessons for the left in the UK

The trouble is that there is more than one way to read most of the results.

Does Clinton’s defeat show that the party elites choosing establishment candidates is a good idea? And so Corbyn should stay on as an anti-establishment candidate? Or does it show that the candidate chosen by party members may not be the candidate who can win an election?

Clinton won due to closed primaries in most states – where only Democratic party members could vote. Sanders won in states with ‘open primaries’ where Independents (voters not registered as supporters of either main party) could vote.

Sanders outperformed Clinton in polls of the whole electorate , up to leading Trump by 20% or more in some polls. Labour under Corbyn is 20% behind the Conservatives in many polls. But is this down to the party being divided with voters not knowing if they’ll get Corbyn or ‘New Labour’ if they vote Labour? Or just disliking division? Or do not enough voters think Corbyn is up to the job to vote for him?

It may be that Corbyn is simply the wrong candidate, not because he is left wing, but because he is neither capable of making an inspiring speech, nor of doing well in debates. The problem being that most of his rivals are ‘New Labour’ politicians who want to go back to just adopting most of the Conservatives’ policies.

One of the few exceptions is Clive Lewis, whose main policy differences with Corbyn are on Trident (which he wants to renew) and NATO (which he wants the UK to remain in). On other policy issues though he is on the left. And given his positions on defence on his military service in Afghanistan, it would be difficult for the Conservatives to paint him as unpatriotic or soft on defence.

One clearer lesson is that economic interests, a desire for more economic equality, and opposition to some of the unintended effects of free trade ‘trump’ (or ‘Sanders’) identity politics.

But does it mean the left should be for leaving the Single Market due to opposition to globalisation? Or will that result in even more jobs being moved out of the UK , higher unemployment and more support for demagogues backed by the far right?

It’s not certain. What we do know is that arguing that free trade deals are always good in themselves, and benefit everyone, is blind ideology. It does nothing to address the people who suffer as a result of them (and there are always losers as well as winners). So if we are to support free trade deals details of them matter – and they require plans to help those who lose their jobs as a result retrain for new ones and/or create new ones. Or else we’ll need to move towards a Universal Basic Income.

This is complicated by Single Market membership also requiring Freedom of Movement for people between all members.

We also know that arguing that all immigration is beneficial is not going to win elections. This is an issue which helps the right, not least due to decades of tabloid propaganda against all immigrants and refugees.

Left wingers should be campaigning on equality, on ending unfairness, increasing wages and benefits for the poorest and capping them for the richest, on regulation, on closing down tax havens and loopholes for big firms and banks. Not getting drawn into focusing the debate on immigration during elections.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep supporting taking in genuine refugees, nor that we should be closing the borders to other immigrants entirely, nor that we shouldn’t challenge actual racism or prejudice. But it does mean discussing immigration calmly when we discuss it at all ; not shouting down anyone who argues for reduced immigration as racist or prejudiced, but arguing our case and hearing voters’ views.

The left also need to motivate the unemployed and people working on low incomes to vote – and to show that it’s going to do something to help them. Too many have got the false impression from the right wing press that Labour and other left wing or liberal parties are only concerned with refugees, immigrants and people who don’t want to work.

(1) = CNN politics Presidential Results , http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/president ; (Click on ‘popular vote’)

(2) = Industry Week 32 Feb 2016 ‘Who is Killing American Manufacturing?’, http://www.industryweek.com/who-is-killing-manufacturing

(3) = Los Angeles Times 19 Dec 2016 ‘These three U.S. companies moved jobs to Mexico. Here's why’, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mexico-jobs-20161212-story.html

(4) = www.independent.co.uk 02 May 2016 ‘After the leaks showed what it stands for, could this be the end for TTIP?’, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-leaks-shocking-what-are-they-eu-us-deal-a7010121.html

(5) = Mcclatchydc.com 12 Jul 2012 ‘Mexico's 'maquiladora' labor system keeps workers in poverty’, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24730981.html

(6) = Department of Work and Pensions (UK) Research Report No 533 (2008) ‘A comparative review of workfare programmes in the United States, Canada and Australia’ by Richard Crisp and Del Roy Fletcher, http://www.splunderousnoog.com/rrep533.pdf

(7) = Texas Observer 13 Dec 2013 ‘Thanks to NAFTA, Conditions for Mexican Factory Workers Like Rosa Moreno Are Getting Worse’, http://www.alternet.org/labor/after-20-years-nafta-thanks-nafta-what-happened-mexican-factory-workers-rosa-moreno

(8) = CNN politics Presidential Results 2016, http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/president

(9) = uk.businessinsider.com 21 Dec 2016 ‘Americans beat one voter turnout record — here's how 2016 compares with past elections’, http://uk.businessinsider.com/trump-voter-turnout-records-history-obama-clinton-2016-11?r=US&IR=T

(10) = CNN 12 Nov 2016 ‘Voter turnout at 20-year low in 2016’, http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/popular-vote-turnout-2016/ ; (the headline is inaccurate as it’s taken from before all votes were counted – it was 60% , but graphs of past election turnouts are accurate)

(11) = USA Today 31 Aug 2016 ‘Poll: Clinton, Trump most unfavorable candidates ever’ http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/08/31/poll-clinton-trump-most-unfavorable-candidates-ever/89644296/

(12) = Pew Research Center 07 Jul 2016 ‘2016 Campaign: Strong Interest, Widespread Dissatisfaction - 2. Voter general election preferences’, http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/2-voter-general-election-preferences/

(13) = See (12) above

(14) = www.guardian.co.uk 04 Dec 2014 ‘'I can't breathe': Eric Garner put in chokehold by NYPD officer – video’, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video

(15) = CNN politics Presidential Results – Exit Polls , http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls/national/president

(16) = See (15) above

(17) = US Social Security Administration online 30 Dec 2016 ‘Wage Statistics for 2015’,
https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2015

(18) = See (15) above

(19) = CNN 10 Dec 2012 Presidential results ‘’, http://edition.cnn.com/election/2012/results/race/president/ (once on page click on exit polls)

(20) = See (15) above

(21) = Bloomberg 22 Dec 2016 ‘Goldman Is Back on Top in the Trump Administration’, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-22/goldman-is-back-on-top-in-the-trump-administration

(22) = CNN 13 Dec 2016 ‘Trump Picks Exxon Mobil’s Tillerson as Secretary of State’,
https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-12-13/trump-said-to-pick-exxon-mobil-s-tillerson-as-secretary-of-state

(23) = Stephen J. Lee (1996) ‘Weimar and Nazi Germany’, Heinemann books, section 2.4, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=eRDg5_Ay_PcC&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=nazis+hugenburg+thyssen&source=bl&ots=T1afeyX2c-&sig=CPIKL07gra9yeSs6bJ74b7USLR8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi99PHeop3RAhXXeVAKHRwFAdwQ6AEIUTAJ#v=onepage&q=nazis%20hugenburg%20thyssen&f=false

(24) = Lord Ashcroft Polls 24 Jun 2016 ‘How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why’,
http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/

(25) = Lord Ashcroft Polls - EU Referendum ‘How Did You Vote’ PollONLINE Fieldwork : 21st-23rd June 2016, http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/How-the-UK-voted-Full-tables-1.pdf (see especially pages 8 to 10)

(26) = National Centre For Social Research / Kirby Swales (2016) ‘Understanding the Leave vote’,
http://natcen.ac.uk/media/1319222/natcen_brexplanations-report-final-web2.pdf

(27) = CNN politics Presidential Results – Exit Polls , http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls/national/president

(28) = See (27) above

(29) = National Centre For Social Research / Kirby Swales (2016) ‘Understanding the Leave vote’,
http://natcen.ac.uk/media/1319222/natcen_brexplanations-report-final-web2.pdf

(30) = www.guardian.co.uk 06 Feb 2016 ‘Albright: 'special place in hell' for women who don't support Clinton’, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/06/madeleine-albright-campaigns-for-hillary-clinton

(31) = IBTimes 09/03/2015 ‘Black Lives Matter Maryland Twitter Threat: 'Kill All The White People' Tweet Results In Arrest’, http://www.ibtimes.com/black-lives-matter-maryland-twitter-threat-kill-all-white-people-tweet-results-arrest-2082257

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The propaganda campaign against Corbyn

The propaganda campaign against Corbyn

Ever since Corbyn became party leader the New Labour faction who still make up the majority of MPs (but not party members any more) have spent more time joining with the Conservative party and right wing elements of the media to try to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader than they have criticising the tories.

Corbyn and Scotland

The story that Labour lost the 2016 Scottish parliament elections due to Corbyn is pretty far fetched, given that Labour had already lost Scottish parliament elections when Blair and Brown were leaders – and had lost all but one of its MPs in Scotland in the May 2015 General Election, months before Corbyn was elected leader.

Labour didn’t win seats back in Scotland under Corbyn, but the fact that New Labour MPs retained so much influence and could move against Corbyn at any time will have made it hard for Labour to get back trust with Scottish voters. As did Kezia Dugdale MSP remaining Scottish Labour leader, as she is well known to be on the New Labour wing of the party.

Corbyn and the EU referendum

The pretext the New Labour MPs have used is that Corbyn failed to get a Remain vote in the EU referendum. It’s true that 37% of people who voted Labour in 2015 voted Leave. But 37% of SNP voters did too. So did 30% of Lib Dem voters, the Lib Dems being most pro-EU party in the UK. Yet no one is calling for Nicola Sturgeon or Tim Farron to resign (1).

The “disaster” of Britain leaving the EU is also being hyped up a lot. The likeliest outcome is that the EU will negotiate a deal with the UK similar to the ones Norway and Switzerland have – free trade in return for two-way Freedom of Movement of people and annual financial contributions to the EU budget.

There might yet even be a second referendum on whether to accept the final deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU, or remaining after all.

The EU is hardly the model of international brotherhood, solidarity and equality it is made out to be either, or it would not still be imposing levels of crippling austerity on Greece that make Conservative austerity in the UK look mild by comparison (and the tory austerity is bad enough). (And I say that as a Remain voter) (2).

It’s unlikely that any Labour leader could have avoided many Labour voters voting Leave.

Tom Mauchline, who heckled Corbyn over the referendum, is an employee of Portland Communications, a public relations firm established by former Blair adviser Tim Allan and employing Alastair Campbell (3) – (6). (credit to The Canary)

The allegations of Anti-semitism

The attacks on Corbyn for having referred to “our friends in Hamas” are pretty hypocritical coming from New Labour and Conservative MPs who have actually provided arms to dictatorships like the Saudis and Egyptian military

Corbyn was attempting to encourage peace negotiations between Israel and the entire elected Palestinian government – which includes Hamas.

Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, is among  Israelis who have said Israel should accept Hama’s offer of talks. Is he meant to be an anti-semite too? (7)

The “anti-semitic slur” supposedly made by a party member to Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at a Corbyn press conference does not seem to exist when you watch a video of the incident on The Independent newspaper’s website. (8)

Labour member Marc Wadsworth can be heard saying “I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order.” (credit to Craig Murray here)

Ruth Smeeth and some of the media spun this into a “traditional anti-semitic slur” of “Jewish media conspiracy” though her being Jewish had not been mentioned at all.

It also turns out that Ruth Smeeth is a former employee of BICOM – a pro-Israeli government lobby group. (9).

So it seems very likely she will be hostile to Corbyn, who is a well-known critic of some of the actions of the Israeli government.

The majority of the criticism of Corbyn and his allies equates any criticism of any of the actions of the Israeli government to anti-semitism or hatred of all Jews.

That is as ridiculous as claiming that any criticism of the Iraq war makes you “anti-British” or “anti-American”.

No doubt some anti-semites use the cover of anti-Zionism or opposition to Israeli policies, but these are a small minority even on the left of the Labour party, most of who, like Corbyn, believe that Israel has a right to exist, but should allow Palestine to exist alongside it.

Death Threats and “mob rule”

The police are absolutely right to treat allegations of death threats and threats of rape by Corbyn supporters against some Labour MPs seriously in case they are real (10).

But given all of the above there has to be a bit of doubt in anyone’s mind about whether they are.

If they are there is no way that Corbyn or MPs close to him have approved or encouraged it.

It also turns out that one of the people posing with an elderly man wearing an “Eradicate the Blairite vermin” t-shirt is Anna Phillips, an employee of the Blairite campaign group Progress – and the other is another public relations media strategist (credit to Craig Murray again). Did they provide the t-shirt too?

 

(1) = Lord Ashcroft polls 24 Jun 2016, ‘How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why’, http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/

(2) = Salon 29 Apr 2016 ‘“Ponzi austerity” scheme imposed by E.U. and U.S. bleeds Greece dry on behalf of banks, says ex-finance minister’, http://www.salon.com/2016/04/29/ponzi_austerity_scheme_imposed_by_e_u_and_u_s_bleeds_greece_dry_on_behalf_of_banks_says_ex_finance_minister/

(3) = BBC News 25 Jun 2016 ‘EU referendum: 'It's your fault, Jeremy' - Corbyn heckled’,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36629976

(4) = https://uk.linkedin.com/in/thomas-mauchline-84538644

(5) = http://www.portland-communications.com/people/tim-allan/

(6) = http://www.portland-communications.com/people/alastair-campbell/

(7) = www.independent.co.uk 10 Jun 2015 ‘It's time for Israel to talk to Hamas, says former Mossad head’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/its-time-for-israel-to-talk-to-hamas-says-former-mossad-head-10311651.html

(8) = www.independent.co.uk 30 Jun 2016 ‘Labour activist who berated MP Ruth Smeeth says he did not know she was Jewish and denies Momentum links’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-activist-who-berated-mp-ruth-smeeth-says-he-did-not-know-she-was-jewish-and-denies-momentum-a7111366.html (see video on the page)

(9) = BICOM 11th May 2015 ‘BICOM Analysis: UK General Election – Implications for Israel’, http://www.bicom.org.uk/analysis/25415/ ( scroll down to bolded sub-heading ‘What can we expect from the new House of Commons?’ – 2nd paragraph under it, final sentence ‘Incoming Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North Ruth Smeeth is a former BICOM staffer.’)

(10) = www.telegraph.co.uk 29 Jun 2016 ‘Revealed: Labour MPs go to police over death threats after refusal to back Jeremy Corbyn’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/29/revealed-labour-mps-go-to-police-over-death-threats-after-refusa/