The red and the rainbow

Maurice experiences déjà vu…and puts out a call for a meeting to combine campaigns

After the storm…

There are currently two big stories dominating the news: Brexit and Trump. It’s like 2016 all over again.

But this time, the Brexit that has riven our politics for over three years has finally arrived. We have left the EU. And in a couple of days from now, Donald Trump will be acquitted by an evidence-allergic Senate, and will launch a braying, triumphalist campaign against the Democrats, whom he will portray as failures, ‘partisans’ full of hatred for Trump’s ‘great’ America, traitors whose ‘baseless witch-hunt’ only hampered him from making it even greater.

That this narrative will be entirely false will not stop him repeating it at full volume, and will not stop his followers swallowing it without even chewing.

So now what?

Well, it’s déjà vu time again: as I said in a blog post in 2016:

“the left needs to give itself a shake, pull itself together and start articulating a new message. It needs to address the anxieties that the losers of the globalisation game have felt (and which Mr Trump played expertly). It needs to set out a new, positive and inclusive vision, to counter the narrow, US-first and Britain-first xenophobic version successfully sold in this [Donald Trump’s] election”.

One problem of the left and progressive movement in the UK, as I argued then, is that it has split into at least two broad movements – one more traditional, appealing to workers, trade unionists and so on, another appealing more to a multicultural, socially progressive community – and that the two dynamics have been allowed to run in parallel, separately, or even set against each other. You can be ‘red’ or ‘rainbow’, but apparently not both.

Except that you can. You can be red and rainbow. Indeed, it is imperative now that Brexit has gone through, and with Mr Trump about to emerge claiming ‘total vindication’ that we create a new discourse beyond the related binaries of Remainers versus Leavers, and red versus rainbow.

Doubtless there will still be differences between us – but what kind of movement, or indeed society, does not make room for difference? Not one to which I would want to belong. For all their differences, then, former Lexiteers and former progressive Remainers need to rapidly ditch those labels and start building towards our shared goals of creating a democratic, sustainable, inclusive and equitable political economy. 

How to get started? Well, let’s meet up. Let’s set a date, borrow or hire a room, or do it virtually, and start working out a programme we can agree on. Let’s share communications, promote one another’s events, connect the issues and combine the campaigns. Ready to join in? Contact me here: jointhecoo@gmail.com

Maurice Macartney

3 February 2020