Who needs the “horseshoe” theory?

Submitted by AWL on 17 July, 2019 - 11:23 Author: Jim Denham

Having to follow the Morning Star (and, therefore the politics of the Communist Party of Britain) on a regular basis, teaches you to read between the lines.

Various themes and leitmotifs are hidden away in apparently innocuous asides (eg pro-Remain forces within Labour routinely referred to as “Blairite”) or contained in articles that are superficially about something else entirely.

Thus last Wednesday’s Morning Star carried a quite lengthy piece by one Nathan Akehurst, denouncing the so-called “horseshoe” theory which posits that the far right and far left eventually converge.

Akehurst claims that the recent BBC drama Years and Years, in which a radical left government in Spain clamps down on migrants, is an example of this “theory” being used by “centrists” to attack the left as anti-migrant. Akehurst protests that “the left at its worst has merely failed to oppose the violent excesses of what already exists.”

Later in the article, Akehurst complains that “the existence elsewhere in Europe of forces like migration-sceptical left-wing party Aufstehen in Germany, has been deliberately twisted by neoliberals keen to play up the ‘liberal’ side of their credentials as demonstrating that the left is not much more progressive than the far right”.

“To this end”, continues Akehurst, “evidence as absurd as the existence of Mette Fredricksen in Denmark (a mainstream social democrat who is a migration-sceptic) or Jeremy Corbyn’s relative pragmatism over the Brexit referendum is conscripted into the narrative of a radical left that can be thrown in with the far right in a bag labelled ‘populism.’”

I’ve never heard the (simplistic and unhelpful) “horseshoe theory” used in political discourse. Undeniably, though, significant sections of the left, or what considers itself the left, are pandering to nationalism.

Aufstehen’s Sahra Wagenknecht in Germany and La France Insoumise’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France are both militantly nationalist and anti-migrant: France is no longer an “independent country”, says Mélenchon; “Open borders in Europe means more competition for badly paid jobs,” says Wagenknecht.

The support for Brexit by the SWP, Counterfire, the Socialist Party, George Galloway and especially the Morning Star is another case in point; Corbyn’s betrayal of the principle of free movement, yet another.

Not so long ago, the Morning Star was denouncing the Brexit Party. An editorial on April 24th sneered: “Even the news that the Brexit Party confected by Nigel Farage is to present the Moral Maze’s shape-shifting Claire Fox as a candidate fails to astonish. There can hardly be a more suitable candidate for the Brussels talking shop than a motor-mouth Trotskyite turned right-wing libertarian.”

Claire Fox and her in-absolutely-no-way-Trotskyist organisation, Spiked, support something called The Full Brexit (TFB), a pro-Brexit organisation that claims to be on the left. Another leading light of the Full Brexit is Peter Ramsay, Professor of Law at the London School of Economics. And who do we find writing a conspiratorial, nationalist twaddle for the Morning Star on 9 July?

Why, none other than Peter Ramsay. His article denounced John McDonnell’s for backing a second referendum and a Remain position for Labour. That would, says the author, represent the “Syrizafication” of Labour, making “Tony Blair’s political divorce of the party from Labour’s working class base irreversible” and mark Labour’s going over “to the elite resistance to Brexit” … “the middle classes [and] big business.”

Ramsey, with fellow academic Chris Bickerton, has an article on TFB’s website on the Irish border question and Brexit which effectively recommends: send in British troops.

“Behind the intransigence of Michel Barnier and Leo Varadkar”, the article continues, “we find potential threats from diehard republican grouplets, effectively recruited as the armed wing of the European Union. In London, we find a British political class that has been willing to send its armies on bloody adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but is unwilling to face down even the slightest hint of violence closer to home to ensure that a democratic decision over the constitutional future of the UK can be implemented.”

Also on TFB, Ramsay has argued that although Farage’s Brexit Party is not “the answer to the deep problems of British politics”, nevertheless “all democrats” should support it.

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