What's Left 2016-06-26 Volume 63

Whatever happened to 'Keep Calm and Carry On'?; Book review: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill; Left Noise This week.

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Whatever happened to “Keep Calm and Carry On”?

The British establishment is panicking. For the first time in as long as they can remember, the working people of Britain decided to thumb their noses at their rulers, the elite, the mainstream press, and the liberal demagogue spin machine.

Workers of England and Wales have come out and voted according to how they see the world instead of how they are told to see it. And now the British ruling classes will have to negotiate a new type of economic relationship with Europe.

Over the previous three days, the press, business leaders and the government have engaged in actions that expose the utter contempt they have for the British people. The press is entirely focused on reexamining the campaign, asking how their very own Remain side, the side of economic reason and dominant narrative, could have possibly lost.

The ruling elite around the world continue to heap blame on the “stupid” workers, old people, young people for not voting, David Cameron, populism, and racist campaigning. Absent from all of this hand wringing is analysis. This abandonment of all reason is the panicked response of the ruling class, more dangerous than the result of a simple vote on EU membership.

So arrogant are the ruling elite in the UK, that Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron thought he could control the democratic process and the far right-wing to produce the desired short-term political result and convince citizens to vote to Remain. The elite on the Leave side are equally in the wrong, knowing full well that the echo chamber of the press would repeat the nastiest campaign slogans as a way to drive division and vulgar nationalisms which is their bread and butter. In the end, this was a campaign of elite Remain against elite Leave with the people viewed simply as a means to an end for their petty internal political battles.

The results demonstrate the degree to which the British working class have been disenfranchised and ignored by the powers that be. Millions of working-class voters cast their ballots against the urban agents of financial capital and the likes of Cameron’s Conservatives and New Labour politics of social exclusion.

The votes have been cast and counted. The people have decided. There is no better saying for such a situation than the very working-class British saying “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

The Labour Party has an opportunity to come out ahead in all of this. That is, if the minority Blairite right-wing does not succeed this week in destroying the whole party with their third coup attempt since the election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took a rather rational position throughout the Brexit campaign supporting the Labour Party’s Remain position, but also criticizing the right-wing of the Remain and Leave campaigns for their excessive and anti-worker rhetoric. Corbyn made it clear that he thought the real issues were the conservative cuts to social supports, public healthcare and jobs, not EU rules on immigration. As such, Corbyn’s Labour Party can take just a few steps to allow Britain to move forward.

Those moves should include: rebranding the current Labour Party as the UK Labour Party; a detailed plan for a future economic, trade and social relationship with the EU that follow the Norway example; a national vision that includes the necessary state intervention to stop Brexit-caused economic hardship for workers; an economic plan based on expanded public investment and ownership of rail, power, and the National Health Service; and a built in the UK economic strategy to rebuild British industry now that the Pound Sterling will be depreciated compared to their trading partners.

The people have spoken, it is time to unite the country around a common vision of an independent UK. In other words, a UK Labour plan to keep calm and carry on.

Generational divide is not meaningful | Graham Cox

Book review: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The Illegal has been much talked about in recent months since it won the 2016 edition of Canada Reads this past winter. It is the latest book by Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill, also known for the Book of Negroes which chronicles the life of a young girl taken from her village in West Africa and sold for slavery – and was turned into a mini-series by the CBC.

The Illegal tells the story of an elite runner, Keita Ali, who finds himself in Zantoroland, a fictitious country where he is undocumented. In this country, the popular consciousness prizes itself on its welcoming nature, on the fact that the country is prosperous and that people can live well there. Meanwhile, thousands of people are living in the shadows, including in an isolated neighbourhood called Africville, where they have to struggle to access housing, water, and basic amenities. Keita’s life is precariously organized in order to get him from one race to another, where he hopes to rank first and get prize money.

The book is plot-driven, telling Keita’s story and that of the people who surround him. Characters range from the power-hungry politician looking to make gains from anti-immigrant sentiments, to a generous older woman who finds a way to offer library cards to hundreds of undocumented people, to an over-bearing agent trying to make a dime off of other people’s talents.

While the story is enjoyable based purely on its narrative merits, illustrating the life and challenges of undocumented people, refugees and migrants is a very political topic. As the refugee crisis rages on, and islamophobia and xenophobia continue to define politics across the world, it is clear that the author is making a statement. Through fiction, Hill breaks down barriers and makes the reader understand that hate, fear-mongering, and racism serve the purpose of particular forces in society, and are in no way a path to building a better world. categories: [“What’s Left”]

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill




  1. From queer hardcore punk band G.L.O.S.S.’s new album “Trans Day of Revenge”:

We Live by G.L.O.S.S.


  1. This song - the chorus of which is “S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M. is here to stay, S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M. is the only way” was actually sent to Barak Obama on a ‘Canadian music sampler’ when he became President!

Sam Roberts - The Canadian Dream - SOCIALISM


  1. CUEpoint’s opinion on 12 Powerful Songs that Inspired Social Progress.

Music can still uplift the world


  1. It was a rough week, hold on!

Eddie Kendricks - People, Hold on