This strategy was adopted by Another Europe’s first members’ conference, which was held on December 8th 2018.
ANOTHER EUROPE IS POSSIBLE
Another Europe’s strategy and activities are guided by our aims and principles, which are a part of our constitution. This document is designed as a broad overview of our strategy, and does not include every planned activity. However, if members wish to put forward proposals for specific activities they are free to do so.
- Our immediate strategy
Brexit is a project whose aim is to deregulate the economy, undermine rights and protections, and end free movement. It is an attack on public services, the NHS, working class people and the communities which the left is supposed to represent. It is build on a narrative of racist scapegoating, and it legitimises right wing narratives on migration and nationalism. Brexit would also reinforce UK dependence on the US corporate business interests, the US state and NATO, leading to increased spending.
We do not write off all those who voted Leave, or believe that they are all racists, though we must not fall into the trap of denying the role played by racist attitudes and anti-immigration rhetoric. But we disagree with this decision, and we challenge both the final legitimacy of the vote and the idea that there is any mandate for any particular form of Brexit. In a democratic society, we have the collective right to change our minds and persuade others. We assert that right, and demand a referendum on the terms of the negotiated deal – or no deal, if that is what we are left with – with an option to remain in the EU.
The vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be put to a vote of MPs on Tuesday December 11th. It is likely that it will fall, and that the political crisis will intensify. The voting down of the government’s deal marks an important point in our strategy. The defeat of the deal will open up a space in which either a general election or a fresh referendum are very likely. It may be necessary to extend Article 50 in order to do either of these.
While we are a proudly cross-party campaign, we understand that the position of the Labour Party will remain pivotal. We have already had a great deal of success in this. While we did not get everything we wanted, our unprecedented campaign in the run up to Labour conference established a sequential logic in Labour policy which is now playing out: to vote against the deal, to demand an election, and to then keep all options on the table including a public vote. Shifting Labour is not just the work of Labour members. The work done by other parties, for instance the Green Party, has been important in pushing Labour forwards.
Our aim now is to ensure that, whatever happens next, the people get the final say. In the event that a general election happens, we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that there is a majority in the new parliament in favour of calling a referendum. Practically speaking, this means campaigning for Labour to have a manifesto commitment to one and to a Reform and Remain position, and campaigning against the Tories (in the same way that we did in 2017).
If there is a general election, it will be necessary to mobilise a massive campaign inside the Labour Party to demand that the party takes a position against Brexit, in favour of a fresh referendum, and in favour of transforming Europe. It will also be necessary for Labour members who hold this perspective to organise a strong anti-Brexit voice within the Labour campaign. We have been effective at mobilising significant numbers of Labour Party members for our campaigns. However, we are a cross-party organisation, and we must guard against Another Europe’s output being completely dominated by campaigns focused on Labour.
In the dynamic of an election campaign, any campaign aimed at changing Labour’s policy must be free to unequivocally support Labour, which Another Europe cannot do. We will therefore support the creation of a freestanding, independent campaign, open to all Labour members and supporters, with the aim of ensuring that Labour takes the right position, and which allows Labour members who are against Brexit to have a platform in the campaign and a programme of activities.
Assuming that the deal falls and there is no election, a likelihood given the Fixed Term Parliament Act we will continue and escalate our public campaign for a fresh referendum. We need to convince MPs, but our strategy is not just about lobbying. We need bottom-up pressure from constituents, from within the labour movement and from public opinion. As well as conventional and digital campaigns and a press strategy, we need to continue the campaign of protests, marches and stunts, and push the anti-Brexit movement to escalate towards direct action and civil disobedience. Another Europe is in a unique position to deliver this.
If any Brexit deal passes, Brexit becomes extremely likely. Our only hope for success in these circumstances would be to create a crisis from the outside of the political bubble. We would have to be part of a movement that brought down the government, or which made the country so ungovernable that the government went back to the people. For now, it is unlikely that the deal will pass – but we will remain alert to one being proposed again.
Throughout this process, we will also work on an understanding and using procedural levers in Westminster and in the EU. We recognise that we are not the campaign with the most knowledge of parliamentary process, and it makes little sense for us to lead on all of this work. But we will make sure that everyone – at every level of our campaign and in the wider movement – understands what we are doing and why. We will attempt to demystify the process.
- Our relationship with the anti-Brexit movement
Another Europe is part of the wider progressive left. It is also part of a growing and distinct anti-Brexit movement which has grown substantially in recent months. The 700,000-strong demonstration on October 20th was the biggest in the UK since the Iraq War period. While the leadership of the much of the anti-Brexit movement might be dominated by the political establishment, its mass base is hugely diverse both politically and demographically, and it is essential that have a strategy to interact with it.
We do not aim to set out a fully developed perspective on the anti-Brexit movement – which is diverse, complex and contradictory – here. We will aim to improve on our understanding of it in due course. We will continue to relate to the wider movement, including at its marches and meetings, and by building alliances at a local level.
- If our strategy succeeds – our approach to the new referendum
It is increasingly likely that we will end up fighting a new referendum on Brexit. In this scenario, we would work flat out to win the vote, and to do so with our own progressive vision for Britain and Europe front and centre. This means foregrounding our support for workers’ rights, environmental protections, human rights, free movement and a broader internationalist politics – not focussing abstract economic arguments. We will make the case that keeping Britain in the EU, or defeating the government’s deal, is part of a strategy for transforming society, not the status quo.
We want to use the referendum campaign to win a public argument on a deeper level, and the profile of our arguments in the general campaign will boost the anti-Brexit vote across the board. Strategically, we will focus on voters and demographics where our messages resonate most, and where they will make the most difference. This means campaigning among working class voters, especially Labour-voting Leave voters. It also means a drive for turnout from anti-Brexit strongholds in the previous referendum, both demographically and geographically.
To give our campaign most chance of success, we do not rule out attempting to form part of the official designated campaign, so long as this does not compromise our ability to campaign clearly and honestly. The central principle guiding this decision should be to secure the arrangement that best enables us to put forward a clear vision for a vote to remain based on a transformative left-wing programme, and to ensure that we are visibly and credibly distinct from those campaigning to remain in order to defend an unacceptable status quo.
After the failure of the official Remain campaign in 2016, we believe it is important that the same people and ideas do not take the leadership in the next referendum. Therefore we would hope, alongside a broad coalition, to be part of putting forward an alternative designated campaign in a new referendum
Regardless of any attempt to form the designated campaign, we will reach out to form formal and informal alliances with the Green Party, Labour, Momentum, trade unions, NGOs and grassroots campaigns.
In 2016, a large proportion of the legitimate electorate was disenfranchised. We support the right of all residents of the UK to vote in any referendum, as well as all UK residents living abroad and anyone over the age of 16, and we will make this a key demand in our campaign.
- If Brexit happens
The going ahead of Brexit would represent a defeat for the progressive left and for ordinary people in Britain and across Europe. It will almost certainly mean a loss of rights and prosperity, especially for the poorest in society and for migrants. It will strengthen the narratives and mobilisations of the far right. And it will have an international effect in the fragmentation of Europe and the emboldening of a global resurgence of aggressive nationalist and racist politics.
Brexit would also represent a major victory for Donald Trump. His national populist politics do not represent a challenge to neo-liberalism but a turbo-charged reconfiguration, the better to assert the supremacy of US state and corporate interests in a post-2008 crisis-ridden world.
Under these circumstances – which we believe are more than avoidable but for which we must nonetheless prepare – Another Europe would seek to play a critical role in bringing together the progressive left for what happens next. This would include a deliberate attempt to coalesce those parts of the grassroots of the anti-Brexit movement who agree with our aims.
Our political aims in post-Brexit Britain would be:
- To campaign for Britain’s re-admission into the EU before the end of the transition period
- To unapologetically make the case for free movement and migrants’ rights
- Not only to resist any further deterioration in workers’ rights, environmental standards and human rights, but also to campaign for the UK to match further improvement EU measures and exceed them.
- To campaign for a serious internationalist perspective, and to provide spaces to build this. We will continue to work with with socialist, green, social democratic and other progressive political forces across the EU to seek fundamental democratic change in the EU’s constitution and decision making process.
- To support the self-determination of the Scottish and Irish peoples, by supporting their right to a referendum on independence and unification respectively.
- If we win and stay in the EU
We have always known that our mission does not end with stopping Brexit. In the event that we are successful in the short term, the real work will begin. This means:
- We will continue our fight for a new, different better Europe, working closely with European Alternatives with whom we reaffirm our affiliation. We will work for the renewal and transformation of the European institutions. Key priorities for reform efforts in the period ahead are: reigning in the power of multinational corporations through tougher regulation, higher (and coordinated) corporation tax at the EU level, and clamping down on systemic tax evasion; creating a humanitarian system for refugee and migrant settlement, ending the policy of fortress Europe; strengthening digital rights for workers and consumers; leveling up standards for labour and the environment across Europe, including clamping down on the precarious ‘zero hour contract’ economy; pioneering a new economy, transforming the Eurozone, ending austerity, introducing a ‘new deal for Europe’, securing free, high quality, universal healthcare for everyone in Europe, including free and safe access to abortion; to face the climate emergency, a democratic, socially-just plan for transitioning the entire economy to a sustainable, carbon-neutral basis; and also creating new forms of economic ownership, which allow for democratic control by workers, service users and the public.
- Campaigning for the British left to have a serious internationalist perspective, and to provide it with spaces to build this.
- Participating in and improving on a debate within the broad European left about if and how we can transform the EU, developing a realistic strategy. We must attempt to learn from the left’s previous successes and defeats. Syriza came to power in Greece in 2015 promising to confront the Troika and overturn austerity, but soon found itself implementing what it had once opposed. A strategy for transformation cannot rely simply on representatives manoeuvring and negotiating within the bounds of institutions at the national or European level. What we possess and our opponents lack, is a power lying outside those institutions – in the streets and in the collective power of organised workers. We will need to build a pan-European left and workers’ movement rooted in that power; that connects us in cross-border, transnational bonds of discussion, coordination, and practical solidarity; that does not hesitate to put extra-parliamentary pressure on parliamentary power; and that keeps the representatives we send into the corridors of government accountable to the democratic grassroots – not the other way around.
- Alongside internal reforms to the current EU migration system, to campaign for a new coordinated strategy designed to tackle the factors and conditions that force people to migrate, in which western states have some significant historic responsibility.
And a standalone proposal: celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall
The Brexit moment has highlighted and exacerbated a profound set of divisions on the British and wider European left. Across Europe, left wing movements – such has France Insourmise, Aufstehen and sections of the British left – have sought to marry a radical domestic programme with a politics which compromises with the rise of the populist right. We oppose any attempt to accommodate the right’s narratives on immigration and nationalism, and we will seek to create spaces in which the left can debate and better understand this phenomenon. 2019 is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we will sponsor events and forums marking this moment and placing it in the context of today’s debates, and will seek to invite speakers from the European left to engage in these celebrations and discussions.