Dear comrades,

June 24th hasn’t quite panned out as you Lexiters claimed it would. All those workers “justified” in supporting Brexit have not followed up their crushing victory over Cameron by taking to the streets or striking against the Tories’ austerity drive; nor does a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party look particularly likely to replace the Tories in any immediate general election.

You put down that British chauvinism and overt racism in the EU referendum campaign to the leadership of the Tory Right and UKIP. But Johnston and Farage have gone. Yet, there is still a rising wave of hate crimes, which is not being organised by these forces. It represents a much deeper racism that you have been in denial about. Oh, and during your Lexit campaign you seem to have missed out on the fact the majority of people in Scotland and Northern Ireland were not wanting to be dragged down the Brexit road – we know where walking backwards would take us!

You are now worried about a new EU referendum, which given you got it so wrong about the last one is not surprising. I agree that the Left should not be calling for another EU referendum. Nor should it support the other more likely possibility. Referenda only have advisory status under the UK constitution, so this one could be set aside with a majority Westminster vote. Such a move would certainly represent a salutary lesson for all those Brexiters, who were talking about bringing back power to the British people. However it would only provide the Right populist and neo-fascist Brexiters with an even better opportunity to organise. Although, I would not write off the possibility of certain Left groups forming a Red-Brown alliance in such a scenario, given their cheering on the ‘Red’/Brown alliance in eastern Ukraine at the moment.

Now that attacks on migrants and non-white UK residents have greatly increased since the Brexit vote, I think it is imperative to highlight the exclusion of non-UK and Commonwealth EU migrants from the EU referendum vote. 16-18 year olds, who would suffer the longest effects of any Brexit, or follow-up compromise, were also excluded. Yet both these groups were given the vote in the Scottish independent referendum, so there is a clear precedent. This also goes a long way to highlight the political difference between the two referenda campaigns

The two main wings of the Scottish independence campaign (SNP and the non-official campaigns such as the Radical Independence Campaign) clearly supported  ‘Yes’ on a civic national basis (anybody living in Scotland who wants to be part of Scotland is welcome). In contrast, the two wings of the Brexit campaign, led by Johnson and Farage  (with the support of the mainstream Remain unionist parties) clearly promoted an ethnic version of Britishness, excluding huge numbers of non-UK EU residents who wanted to remain. Their refusal to extend the vote to 16-18 year olds is an indication of their conservatism.

However, the Brexiters can not complain if a general election is held to decide on the way forward, where candidates can openly state where they stand. The Brexiters provided no programme for Brexit negotiations and sold their followers ‘a pig in a poke’ – demonstrated by their ditching any increased funding for the NHS within a day (shades of Cameron’s sudden support for ‘English Votes for English Laws’, straight after the Scottish independence vote).  The SNP government had at least published an extensive White Paper in 2014 (whatever we may think of its political limitations) to show the electorate what it was going to do after any independence vote.

The most legitimate resolution, at present, is a general election, where parties put forward their programmes for the new political situation. I think the Left could create an independent political profile by saying that we oppose the EU set-up too, but want to remain united with migrant EU workers and other non-UK subjects.

During the Scottish independence campaign, RIC fought on the basis of ‘Another Scotland is Possible’, ‘Another Europe Is Possible’, ‘Another World is Possible’, Now that the focus is on the EU/Europe (two different things) we need to put forward a clearer idea about ‘Another Europe’ should be – i.e. a federated, secular and social European Republic. This challenges the implicit politics of the mainstream unionists – ‘Another UK is Possible’, ‘Another EU is perhaps Possible’, ‘Another World is Impossible’, and to the reactionary Brexiters ‘ – ‘Back to 1972/1956/1939/1914’ (take your choice), ‘Fuck Europe’, ‘For a White Christian World’.

What makes this ‘Another Europe is Possible’  a possibility under the current political conditions? Some of us have argued for the latent reality of a European Democratic Revolution. The Scottish independence referendum and the Catalan independence struggle have already shown this.  The vote of the Greek people to defy the EU bureaucracy was another indication of this. It is to the credit of RIC, in the context of its own contribution to the democratic revolution, that we recognised this. With the support of the STUC, we organised the biggest demo in the UK in solidarity with the Greek people.

The EU bureaucracy’s hostility towards  these challenges shows that they too were aware of this possibility. Unfortunately the myopic ‘Brit Left’ can’t see this, but want to go back to either 1975 or 1945 on their British road to the past. The bureaucratic British Labour Party and the British revolutionary sects are caught in a time warp, reflected in their anti-democratic behaviour and organisational practice. In relation to these, Jeremy Corbyn must surely be having his eyes opened, but his loyalty to the UK state will likely prevent him drawing the necessary political conclusions.

The Syriza leadership did not have the politics to address the situation in Greece, and it would have needed solidarity support on the scale of the 2003 anti-war protests to force the EU bureaucracy to back down. I would argue that the Podemos leadership is even less prepared, when it sees the way forward as forming a coalition government with the Spanish Socialist Party. The best that can be said about current conditions of political stalemate in Spain is that the ruling class there is being thwarted for now. This is similar to the situation in the UK now opened up by the majority Remain votes in Scotland and Northern Ireland in particular – but maybe we are also witnessing the People’s Republic  of London challenging the City of London’s unionist and imperial empire!

It is the latent reality of a European Democratic Revolution which makes any Brexit so reactionary. It is as if, whilst workers prepare themselves for a major struggle against their bosses, you decide not to join that struggle, but take your lead from those who say, “Hey no, some sub-managers have offered us a way out by giving us employment in a new local arms-length management unit. Let’s follow them”!

Another possible Europe is already latently present in all those migrant communities across the EU, in constant communication with their original homelands. They should be very much a focus for the Left’s attentions in the current situation.

It’s time for you Lexiters to realise you made a major mistake. We can oppose the EU, but only by fighting for another possible Europe alongside all those migrant workers who have contributed so much. They already represent the seeds of that new united Europe living in our midst.


Yours in struggle,

Allan Armstrong, 3.7.16

  • Lexit is an alliance of the Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Labour Party, Counterfire, the Indian Workers Association (GB),  Bangladeshi Council of Britain and Scottish Left Leave  – the Red Paper Collective, SWP, Elaine Smith, Labour MP and Jim Sillars (SNP).


also see:-





  • Of course Allan opposes the struggle in the labour party to defend Corbyn. Yet this is the most important political struggle that faces us at the present time. The referendum result represents a big step to the right in british society.

    As to a second EU referendum- why oppose it? Allan was quick to call for Indyref 2 when his side lost that ref. And as he says there were big democratic problems with the EU referendum- no votes for EU migrants nor for 16 and 17 years olds. But I agree re need for remain to be in manifesto for a general election which might occur before Article 50 is invoked. In Labour’s manifesto under Corbyn I hope. Socialists in the LP are organizing to try to stop the coup against Corbyn. We are fighting for a revitalized democratic and socialist labour party under the control of it members. Why not join us in that fight

  • I had wondered where Sandy had gone after his failure to answer my last comment posted on:-

    In our correspondence in the Comments section then, I went on to correct any factual mistakes provided by Sandy, whilst inviting him to seriously engage in the political issues I had raised. He declined to do so. I don’t think I was surprised, because he had failed to answer the critique I had made of Far Left unionism at the Glasgow branch of the LUP:-

    However, although declining in his last blog to comment on whether he had abandoned the LUP in favour of the Labour Party, we can now clearly see that he has indeed joined up, although he provides no real political argument for taking this turn.

    Sandy just gets caught up in the uncritical euphoria, a bit like others did over the SNP in the ‘Yes’ campaign, or over Bernie Sanders in the US Presidential campaign. Sanders, the official ‘Yes’ campaign and the ‘Jez for Labour leader’ represent initial voices of protest against the current corporate and pro-austerity order from the left, just as Trump, UKIP (and Marine Le Pen et al) do from the right.

    Instead, Sandy claims, without a shred of evidence, that, “Allan opposes the struggle in the labour party to defend Corbyn”. I am not a Labour Party member. I am a declared republican and communist, which would rule me out of membership, if openly declared on any application form. Entryism doesn’t have a good record. It never moved Labour to the Left, but is has moved entryists to the Right.

    If I was in an affiliated union, though, I would use my vote for Corbyn in the leadership election. On Facebook, Sandy has also championed the trade union/Labour Party link. I would not advise support for trade unions to affiliate to Labour. I am for unions having independent political funds, which the members can decide to spend as they see fit. This could indeed include funding for Corbynistas, but not a blanket and usually entirely apolitical affiliation in the hands of trade union bureaucrats. This has nearly always favoured the Right and those Broad Left careerists moving in that direction.

    And Corbyn should mind his back, whilst he’s looking at the treacherous Right in front of him – the Conservative-lite neo-Blairites and Gordonites and the UKIP-lite Blue Labour MPs. Broad Left and very highly paid, Len McCluskey has appeared on TV saying UNITE gives its total support to Corbyn – just like he said on the massive pensions strike (he capitulated before the end of the day), just as he said to the Grangemouth workers, and I seem to remember him supporting Trident very recently too.

    Nevertheless, if Momentum issues a wider call for support, particularly if the Labour Right invoke the state (through the courts) to unseat Corbyn, I would certainly join any public demo.

    Sandy then goes on to make another claim, without a shred of evidence. “Allan was quick to call for Indyref 2 when his side lost that ref.”

    I have never issued a call for an indyref2. My comments have been on the unlikelihood of the UK state granting another referendum and the need to prepare for a republican response to meet such a scenario.

    However, Sandy has claimed to support the right of Scottish self-determination, so if indeed a strong majority emerges wanting indyref2, I can not see on what grounds he could oppose that, other than continued support for the maintenance of the UK at all costs.

    The SSP didn’t call for an immediate indyref2 either, merely that an electoral manifesto commitment should be made to allow the exercise of that right should there be significant majority support for doing so. RIC has taken no position, but has certainly distanced itself from the 45ers for whom a indyref2 can never come too early. I have made many critiques of 45er politics.

    I am happy to allow Sandy, a longstanding left British unionist, to post his comments, but I wish he would answer the points raised, rather than just playing that same old 45 record. Neither 1945, nor 1975 for that matter, is going to come back and the UK state is being torn apart from above and below.


    A Response to Alan Armstrong’s Open Letter to So-Called Lexiters1

    It does you little credit to place false arguments in the mouths of those who called for the UK to leave the European Union. You make no devastating criticism by demolishing them. Furthermore, you do yourself little credit by the sneering tone of condescension you use. Sadly this approach has been typical of many in the Remain camp. John Pilger has called it “sheer arrogance”2; John Harris in his Guardian videoblogs also observed this, “I had been in Manchester at a recruitment fair where nine out of ten of our interviewees were supporting Remain, and some voices spoke about Leave voters with a cold superiority. ‘In the end, this is the twenty-first century,’ said one twentysomething. ‘Get with it.’ Not for the first time, the atmosphere around the referendum had the sulphurous whiff not just of inequality, but a kind of misshapen class war.”3

    It is sad you claim that those advocating a Leave position believed that there would be “taking to the streets or striking against the austerity drive.” You know that is not true. I cannot speak for all those voting to Leave because the poor response of the left did not allow a “consensus” approach to form. But you know the position I advocated so your generalisation is entirely unfair.

    Firstly, I was always clear about what the issues were in this Referendum. The issues in the forthcoming referendum have little to do with wider issues such as immigration, European unity, greater trade and economic co-operation, more mobility, and the right to work and study in other European countries, but are:-

    a. should support be given to the EU as an institution; and,

    b. should endorsement be given for Prime Minister David Cameron’s so-called reform package.

    It is worth remembering what Prime Minister Cameron’s reform package4 was:

    1. Restrictions on EU migrants being able to claim in-work benefits for seven years
    2. Restrictions on EU migrants being able to claim child benefits at the domestic rate but only at the rate of their donor countries;
    3. An “opt-out” from attempts to forge “an ever closer union”;
    4. An exemption for the City of London from further financial regulations although he also advocated a so-called Financial Markets Union.

    A vote to Remain would have been taken as an endorsement of these proposals and put in place as quickly as possible. You are correct to claim that the “Brexiters provided no programme for [future] negotiations.” They did not need to. The leaders of the official state financed and approved campaigns were windbags who had no idea what they wanted. But the vote to Leave was an expression of anger and disenchantment with many issues such as employment rights, housing, even as a protest against the cuts in the NHS, and many other opinions at drastic divergence from what the formal leaders of the various Leave campaigns promoted. However, the massive number of powerful forces that backed the Remain camp throughout the referendum revealed where real power always lay.

    Secondly, I never confused Europe with the European Union as an institution. There are many interpretations of Europe as well as actions within it that can and should receive support. At no time have I ever advocated withdrawal from the larger Council of Europe. I notice that for different reasons Professor John Foster also takes this position.5

    Thirdly, I promoted the old socialist position that workers’ organisations should not give political support to capitalist governments, states, laws, or treaties. That is why workers must build organisations and pursue politically independent goals from all other classes as well as create the necessary socialist consciousness to power them. It is sad that by trying to be too clever many missed the point and became supporters of different capitalist interest groups and factions.

    Fourthly, I was clear that any campaign should be advanced in a republican manner. The UK state’s use of hangovers from the seventeenth century of political and administrative government such as the doctrine of the Crown-in-Parliament as well as the use of various Crown Powers make it absurd to claim that Westminster is more “democratic” than the institutions of the EU, or conversely that the corrupt and elite mechanisms of the EU are more “democratic” than the UK parliament. Both approaches are wrong and that fundamental republican changes are required of both such as clear rights. Ideally, this Referendum should have raised the level of popular conscious about what is wrong with the European Union. Instead we underwent a faux debate on immigration that also failed to address the many dilemmas that arise from creating a mobile, disposable workforce. But you know that too.

    It was alarming how all levels of Remain supporters used fear and panic as well as a fixation on the pompous self-serving absurdities of the official Leave campaign to slander those calling to Leave by using guilt-by-association types of arguments. Everything from greater risk of nuclear war, collapses in house prices, loss of credit ratings, falls in the pound etc., etc.. But it has not just been the leaders of Remain who have used these arguments. There is now a large layer of officials in numerous so-called professions who have a vested interest in promoting fears of imminent disasters. It has made it very difficult for some to see the real dynamics of the Referendum. This social layer believe themselves a “meritocracy”; they are not the capitalist class or even a petty bourgeoisie; they may even work for charities or the liberal and caring professions. John Pilger describes them this way, “The most effective propagandists of the ‘European ideal’ have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the twenty-first century zeitgeist, even ‘cool.’ What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumer tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority.”6 I do not entirely agree with that last sentence because there are numerous “lower” professionals who are not a bourgeoisie but identify themselves with this group; this was apparent during this debate.

    It will not be easy to leave the EU, because it involves thousands of different treaties and practices; some of them with governments and organisations outside the EU’s orbit. It may take a generation. Powerful interest groups were happy to unleash this Referendum in the mistaken belief it could be easily defeated. They were wrong. It is unlikely that another Referendum will occur. It also seems unlikely that Westminster dare so blatantly override the “democratic” mandate that it did not believe would occur. Instead legal challenges, including judicial reviews will be used to circumvent the result. At present, there are seven legal actions lodged. “The lead case for the legal challenge,” according to The New European, “will be that brought by an investment manager and philanthropist, Gina Miller 51, who lives in London. Her claim is being co-ordinated by the law firm Mishcon de Reya. Other cases involve French expatriates and one from a Polish national.”7 Many of the individuals in these cases currently wish to remain anonymous. However, it is unlikely that the initial batches will succeed, but cases designed to undermine the result will occur again and again until its authority is substantially eroded.

    The Referendum debate was side-tracked away from a discussion about the nature of the European Union as an institution, European integration or the most appropriate ways this could be achieved. Because the left does not see its purpose as pursuing governmental power for the working class by political means, it becomes fixated on social issues that disable it from challenging for power. This is true for this social layer of so-called “meritocrats.” This produced a debate that supposedly centred on immigration. It was a false debate because it failed to outline the real issues about migration either. It seems bizarre to fight to remain in the EU on behalf of migrants when many are only in the host countries because of the economic failures of the EU. Most importantly, it ignore that one of the main conditions of membership of the EU is to “privilege” migrants from EU countries at the expense of those from non-EU countries who feel the pressures more acutely. One Ghanaian nurse explained why she was voting to Leave, “otherwise all the Eastern Europeans will take away the jobs that Africans can do, making it more difficult for Ghanaians who want to work in the UK.”8 The issue of migration is complex and requires a more developed understanding or it will simply play on liberal guilt that always manages to ignore the most disadvantaged to address the concerns of those with the loudest voices.

    This campaign saw the murder of one Member of Parliament by a lone individual who used racist arguments to justify himself. He was universally condemned. There are claims that there have been increases in racist/ anti-migrant/ and anti-muslim incidents. However, because of the nature of the way these are channelled by self-interested groups and individuals it is hard to establish if they are wholly accurate. As one writer who believes there has been an increase in such incidents puts it, “Every fortnight the Institute of Race Relations publishes a round –up of racist incidents and far right activity. Many of the stories – verbal abuse on public transport, vandalism of religious memorial or places of worship, poorly attended protests by extremist groups- are culled from the local press. They’re not usually considered important enough to merit national attention. … Now they are.”9 These are hardly the most reliable methods of gauging if an increase in racist activity has occurred.

    Unfortunately, there seems a desperate desire to claim an enormous social disaster has occurred. Your Open Letter is yet another example of this phenomenon. Some time ago you were claiming that the outcome of a vote to Leave would be a Carnival of Reaction. This is a term used by James Connolly to describe the likely outcome of the partition or Ireland. This term describes more than the setback of another right-wing government coming to office. It describes a time when workers are driven from their jobs, families burned out of their homes and many other atrocities such as occurred during the Independence war. It could also describe much of Europe as fascism grew in in power during the twenties and thirties. But, perhaps the most important feature of a Carnival of Reaction is the way supposedly “neutral” government authorities encourage or, at the very least, stand aloof from such actions. No such situation exists at this time. Indeed we have a ridiculous Tory government that has no idea how to extricate itself from the EU or why it is even there. There is little difference between it and its immediate predecessor.

    It is to your credit that you are concerned about migrant workers. Their situation is complicated. There is a case for obtaining greater migrant rights. But as you know this is a country where no subject has any rights stronger than existing statutory law and custom and practice. Migrant rights need to be approached from a republican perspective with some form of constitutional rights complementing statutory rights. However, migrant rights should not be used as a reason for remaining in the EU.

    If you believe in migrant rights, then fight for migrant rights. If you believe in greater mobility of labour, then fight for more mobility of labour. If you want more international student exchanges then fight for more student exchanges. But do not use guilt about migrants as means to stay in a corrupt, ever more militaristic, capitalist institution that only addresses the needs of a European elite. By taking attention away from the nature of this institution you have to increase any more consciousness. Indeed you have painted it as less harmful than it really is, especially in producing waves of desperate people who have no other choice than to uproot themselves to find work in other countries.

    The reasons for a drastically different vote in northern Ireland and Scotland have little to do with the rise of a greater civic consciousness. In northern Ireland the issue of the border began to dissolve as various types of economic convergence occurred. That is no longer possible. The border has become an issue yet again. Interestingly, the same is also true for Gibralter and UK-Spanish relations. Scotland is experiencing a period of nationalist hegemony that may last a generation. The demand of the SNP that people vote to Remain carried enormous weight. Nichola Sturgeon’s greatest fear is that she has to lead a campaign for an independent Scotland to join the already discredited EU with its aquis communautaire of compulsory obligations to join the Euro and adopt Schengen border controls and much else. This is why she is hoping to continue existing EU membership. It is a strategy that will most likely fail.

    The chance to break with one component of capitalism’s entangling tentacles occurred. And much of the left failed to take the opportunity. At times you want to condemn the “EU bureaucracy” but when the opportunity arose in this once-in-lifetime Referendum you chose to keep them in place. If you really do oppose them then you must act. Otherwise, if not now, when?

    By voting to leave the EU, the UK government has collapsed. It demonstrated that popular power can change governments. Farage and Gove are gone, they will be quickly joined by Boris and Theresa May. The Tories will have a succession of leaders like they had between 1997 and 2006. It will not be as easy as they imagine to leave the EU; it is an entangling set of treaties. But it means they can no longer blame Brussels for their own actions. No longer will union officials be able to say to workers that actions are against EU law. The real level of the pound sterling –overvalued for decades- is now establishing itself. The fictitious economic growth figures of EU membership will show themselves as worthless. And much else. It removes part of the international mechanisms that reinforce the modern imperialist state. Discovering the real state of affairs is not reaction unless you’ve bought into the fantasy too.

    2. John Pilger, “Why the British Said No to Europe.” June25th, 2016,
    3. John Harris, ”If you’ve got money, you vote in … If you haven’t got money, you vote out.” The Guardian, Friday, June 24th, 2016.
    5. John Foster, Britain and the EU. What Next? A Communist Party Publication. 2016.
    6. John Pilger op cit..
    7. The New European, Friday, July 22nd, 2016.
    8. Cited in “Opinion. Brexit and the Black Atlantic,” New African, July 2016, No 563.
    9. Daniel Trilling in “Where Are We Now? Responses to the Referendum”, in London Review of Books Volume 38, Number 14, July 14th 2016.