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Is Labour’s EU campaign a one-man band?

reddish Euro flagThe left and the right are politically conflicted on the question of the EU membership. I write as a somewhat reluctant supporter of EU membership. My problem, which I know is shared by many others, is that (1) I have very strong objections to the EU as presently constituted but (2) I nevertheless see many reasons why a European transnational entity, up to and including degrees of federalism, is necessary. Federalism has become something of a boo-word in English (as opposed to British) politics but of course any organisation of nation states that plans to get anything done must be federal to some extent and that even includes organising a free market across national borders. The bluster against federalism is largely phoney.

Remembering Labour’s disastrous participation in the Scottish Better Together campaign, I turned to the website of the Labour In For Britain campaign to see if it was doing any better. What I found was shockingly inadequate.

Is Alan Johnson running a one-man EU campaign?

The Labour In For Britain website is almost entirely devoted to the views of Alan Johnson. The only exception is an 826-word piece by Shadow Minister for Europe Pat Glass and a 225-word piece from the Daily Mirror (which mostly consists of quotes from Alan Johnson). Apart from that and a few very short statements of support from five people (including Jeremy Corbyn) the entire site is take up with articles by and videos of Alan Johnson.

Alan Johnson may be a very worthy man. He may even know a great deal about Europe. But is it really possible that such a large issue with so many ramifications can be dealt with by one person?

The idea of such a one-person website presentation is surely absurd. It suggests that either Alan Johnson is on some kind of ego-trip or he has not been able, for whatever reason, to organise support from the many diverse fields of expertise involved in EU questions. If it is the latter then what are those reasons?

The site contains no documentation, no links to useful material and no presentations from the great variety of people who have views on why we should stay in the EU. It is, to be frank, a political farce.

The arguments of the Out campaign must be answered

The arguments offered by the Labour website are all of the “look at all the good things that we have obtained within the EU framework” variety. At no point is there any effort to consider the obvious counter arguments i.e. would those things have been also available had we not been in the EU? In other words the arguments are based on picking out whatever suits the desired conclusion and ignoring anything which might go in the opposite sense. This sort of argument is based on the idea that the general public are stupid and that therefore only stupid arguments will convince them.

The problem is that, while any large population includes many who are ill-informed and unwilling to listen to anything that does not bolster their prejudices, there are also large numbers of people who are willing to listen to serious arguments so that they can weigh the various viewpoints for themselves. Such people are not well served by Alan Johnson’s one-man show and it is a sign of the lack of concern of the Labour Party leadership that they have allowed a presentation like this to represent the Party’s views.

There is no attempt in the website materials to follow the logic of leaving the EU to explore the often delusional “freedoms” that would result e.g. the nature of the agreements which we would then have to enter into to be a trading partner of the EU. No effort is made to pre-empt obvious counter-arguments to the claims made for staying in the EU. Finally, no attempt, is made to rebut the key arguments for leaving the EU. All in all, this stuff can have no other effect than to tell those already convinced of the need to stay in the EU what they want to hear.

Perhaps it is this lack lustre presentation which motivated pro-EU left-leaning activists to set up their own campaign with Another Europe Is Possible.

And what about those EU reform?

For years Labour’s mantra has been “We must stay in the EU but we must also reform it”. As a slogan this is fine but like any slogan it only gets its substance from the arguments and materials that back it. The problem with Labour’s demand for reform of the EU is that it is not based on specific proposals. We all know that there is a considerable democratic deficit in the workings of the EU. We all know also, just as many members of the public find Westminster politics to be an unimaginably long distance from their everyday lives, many, including Labour Party members in general and the left in particular, cannot see why they need to be engaged in EU issues. How is Labour rising to this challenge? Where are Labour’s proposals for reform? Where are the detailed materials arguing the case and considering the contrary arguments? Sadly, for the moment, none of this exists.

It was encouraging to hear of Labour Party discussions on a common stance with EU socialist and centre-left parties but where are the details? If Labour is serious about the EU, one way or the other, then it needs to move into another gear. The current low level of interest in this massively important issue needs to change if Labour is to be a serious player in the debate.

85 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    I have noted similar experiences. Although being convinced of the ‘out’ position, I have attended meetings with a local MEP expecting there to be some arguments for me to have to address either there or elsewhere. It was one of the most trivial events I can recall, completely devoid of any substance whatsoever. The content of this meeting would not get past the first houses in which doors were knocked. There was nothing of any importance or substance for me to challenge. The attendees were just a few blind loyalists doing as they were told and who did not really know why they there.

    I also attended a CLP debate. Both sides of the arguments were presented by a supporter of “In” side following apologies for not having had time to prepare a case. The binding vote was quickly taken with great satisfaction to the ‘old style’ Labour front desk. I have marshalled a considerable case against and see no worthy opponents from Labour have discounted them from being anything of a local challenge.

    My problem is of a different order how do I conduct a local campaign against colleagues with whom I have shared local election work (at election time) as I am confident that I shall be personally more effective than the whole of the rest of my local party. More tricky still for me, is how do I conduct my activities with members of Momentum who may be concerned about letting down the 84 year projected McDonnell vision of borderless utopia.

    1. David Pavett says:

      How to conduct a campaign on the EU opposing the views of colleagues with whom one shares election work?

      The best way, in my view, is by producing reasoned papers, possibly in support of clear motions in such a way that those of a different view feel they have had every opportunity to argue their corner. My experience is that when this is done with a total absence of name-calling and as objectively as possible the climate of adult discussion that results brings people together even when they don’t agree. People then come to recognise that people who have not reached the same conclusions as them are nevertheless worthy people trying to think the issues through with the information and arguments available to them.

      I have no idea what the ” 84 year projected McDonnell vision of borderless utopia” is about. Clearly something I have missed.

  2. Danny Nicol says:

    It would be good if websites like this one could help provide some of the debate which is lacking but when I (twice) sent a post entitled “Implausibility of a Social Europe” for publication here recently, I never heard back.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      That would probably reflect many other people’s experiences as well, (assuming that it was simply just bigoted right or left wing lunacy,) the contributors to Left Future largely consist of a, “closed shop,” of bored academics, paid local government and union, “activists,” and aspiring journalists; with but a few honorable exception such as David Parvatt and a couple of others, who genuinely seek debate and to inform rather that just to entertain, (Phil Burton-Cartledge for example.)

      I for one would welcome a more diverse and less predictable or trivial contributions; perhaps even some that might occasionally offend or challenge; because as it stands, Left Futures is nothing of the kind, it’s as tired, safe, contrived and as sanitized as the modern labor party bereft of principle, tradition and ideology, consisting as it does now mostly of trivia or endless sterile nitpicking debate about fantasy economic policy.

      The idea that any of this might be of any real interest to anyone outside the shrinking charmed circle of, “professional,” labor is mildly fantastic.

      More and different would be more than welcome.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        (assuming that it was NOT simply just bigoted right or left wing lunacy,)

    2. David Pavett says:

      Some of us try to contribute to a real debates on the left. I too have sometimes been frustrated by lack of response from Left Futures to materials offered. I have found that persistent pestering gets results. I always say that I do not assume that my pieces will be published but if they are not then I would like to know why. With a bit of nudging I have always been given such explanations some of which I was able to agree with and some which I found less convincing.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        To be honest I doubt that my grammar would really support a full article, even submitting comment can sometimes be a bit onerous for me and others, (but is also good practice for me,) particularly when my passion outstrips my meager typing skill.

        The only piece that I’ve ever submitted for publication here was short and completely genuine eulogy, (“eulogy,” is probably a bit pretentious, but you get the idea,) to our much missed local MP, the late Micheal Meacher; expressing only my affection, admiration and our appreciation for all his hard work and for his support for his constituents over many years, than no one could possibly have taken umbrage at.

        Why it wasn’t published still baffles me completely ?

  3. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    I respond as, (perhaps equally reluctantly,) as a somewhat reluctant opponent of our membership of the EU, despite my younger self’s enthusiasm for it.

    To my mind and to many other people’s minds also the EU has become a political monster, (almost a Leviathan ?) and is not so much a true political federation as an increasingly arbitrary, uncountable and out of control bureaucracy, far more sensitive to the will of various sponsors, partners and often predatory commercial interests than it is to the views and interests of individual nations and voters.

    But I completely agree with you that simply leaving will not of itself be enough to curb these encroachments, (in theory the EU should indeed offer us the kind of protection and redress from these interests; that in practice it clearly does not,) and policy innovations in which we as a nation now have little or no say.

    That without the way that EU policy has effectively been subverted to being little more than convenient vehicle for the imposition of, “standard model,” American economic and foreign policy throughout Europe, the outcome of which can be seen in almost all the counties of South America, the Caribbean, the Third World and now most recently in Greece, (and probably the Ukraine, etc.)

    I also find the history of the US suggestive and provocative in this context; in the same way that the Confederate states entered the Union, (which likewise became a monster,) freely, (and for a while it served their political and economic interests,) but when their membership started to become an economic, political and commercial liability, (slavery although a long standing bone of contention was actually not the main reason for the civil war,) and had actually started to harm the South; her regional economic prosperity and security they discovered that they couldn’t actually leave anymore, (as Greece have just discovered to their horror and to that of most of the socialist left across Europe and beyond.)

    I fear that the UK we may already be in a very similar predicament, but that a vote to leave would still be useful exercise in sovereignty and would establish a useful precedent.

    It might even force the EU to begin to act more like the consensual federalist undertaking that you seem to imagine that it still aspires to be, (although personally I think there’s probably more chance of pigs flying.)

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree with your criticisms of the bureaucratic and undemocratic nature of much to do with the EU. My response is, however, different.

      The totality of the effects of being in or out have to be weighed against each other. We also need to decide if some sort of supra-national entity is actually needed in Europe.

      My answer to the last point is that obviously such an entity, involving some pooling of sovereignty, is needed. It is needed for environmental, legal, economic and financial reasons. Preserving fish stocks on the seas, for example is not something that is sensibly done by bi-lateral negotiations.

      If we need such an entity then the question is how well does the EU do in its present form. Passably well on some issues (e.g. air pollution standards, working week directive) very badly on others (the “free movement” of capital and labour undermines the ability of national governments to control their own affairs).

      As for In/Out I think that the consequences of each need to be fully explored. It is not enough to point to the flawed nature of EU institutions (easy enough) to argue the Out case. We have to ask too what sort of agreements with the EU would be necessary as a non-EU member. We might also ask about the threat of Brexit to the pre-dominance of the City of London in international finance and what the implications might be for ordinary working people.

      It similar to arguments about Parliamentary democracy. It is easy to point to the defects and problems. But do we therefore reject Parliament and rely entirely on non-Parliamentary activity or do we seek to change Parliament both from the inside and the outside?

      1. David Ellis says:

        David what are working class people to make of those who vehemently claim to be opposed to neo-liberalism and austerity and Cameron who then vote positively for it and him? I think they will draw the necessary conclusions.

      2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        That’s a real can of worms; to my mind Parliament is becoming increasingly redundant, (the way for example, in which EU directives are increasingly being implemented by statutory instrument as delegated legislation; without any debate, criticism or consent is but one issue.)

        Nonetheless, in the spirit of the Enlightenment I shall continue to listed to anything you have say on the topic.

  4. gerry says:

    Is the pro EU Labour case a “one man band”? Yes, and deliberately so. You are right to point out the sheer vacuity of the website….but I believe that this is because pro EU Labour hierarchy want it this way. They will just hang on to Cameron’s coattails, say as little as possible, and get back to business as usual once Remain wins the day through the fear factor (they hope).

    Apparently 211 of the 232 Labour MPs are pro EU, and it was this fact which convinced Corbyn and McDonnell to do that extraordinary u-turn and become pro EU, having been consistently sceptical for most of their political lives, as were nearly all of Labour’s left, like me, since the 1980s!

    Pro EU Labour never wanted a referendum anyway, David…hence the near total silence and lack of debate you describe. Which is why the coherent, morally consistent socialist Leave campaigns, like David Ellis’, and the Grassroots Out campaigns like Kate Hoey’s Labour leave are necessary and powerful antidotes to the neo liberal Cameron/Labour/Lib Dem/SNP consensus. Have a look what they say…all the energy is coming from our side.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      ‘Labour Leave’ “coherent, morally consistent socialist”???

      Kate Hoey (who’s leading the labour campaign for the deportion of foreigners aka ‘Labour Leave’) was at Streatham CLP the week before last defending working with UKIP on the campaign and explaining that they were much better than the press made out.

      1. John P Reid says:

        They are better than the press made our, no one in the leave campaign is against immigration, we want to control it,if anything they’ll be more commonwealth immigration,if we leave,

        1. Jim Denham says:

          “They are better than the press made our, no one in the leave campaign is against immigration, we want to control it,if anything they’ll be more commonwealth immigration,if we leave”:

          in other words, you’re a bunch of racists.

          1. gerry says:

            Now now Jim – play nicely, or its the naughty step for you!

            Neither I or JohnP Reid are “racists”. Why not try answering the actual arguments we made? If you can, that is…?

          2. David Ellis says:

            Denham and his cohorts believe in the progressiveness of imperialism which is why they are all up in the EU’s grill. They love it like the New Labour bureaucrats love it. Can’t get enough of that gravy.

    2. David Pavett says:

      I am sure you are right that a large part of the Labour Party both right and left wishes that the EU debate would go away (for their different reasons).

      It is the view of the left that concerns me more however and I think that the reticence to discuss EU issues is a result of the almost total lack of serious discussion about the issues. The marker of this inadequacy is the point constantly made by the centre-left and the left that we need to demand EU reforms but without ever telling us what reforms they have in mind.

      We desperately need informed discussion to be set up with the views of both sides clearly explained to members. This would not be all that difficult to organise. I can only surmise from the fact that this is not happening that Labour has no culture of genuine debate and that creating that culture when none exists will require some very determined leadership from people who really understand what informed debate is. For the moment I am not holding my breath on this. Under Blair non-standard thinking (not agreeing with the Party line) died a death. The problem is that debate has not fared a lot better on the left which has tended to think that it is enough to point to some of the gross defects of the EU from a socialist viewpoint to argue the case for leaving it.

  5. James Martin says:

    I think many of us while understanding how vitally important the debate on the EU is (particularly the one around what type of EU we actually want), have the problem that it is hard to get enthused by *this* campaign. My gut feeling has always been to oppose the EU (while being pro-European), and I’m still minded to vote out now, but saying that without a genuine socialist alternative I realise that there are a lot of negatives to that position. There are of course a lot of negatives to staying in as well, and so I’m sure I’m far from alone in seeing this as a 51%/49% pros/cons split to in/out (or out/in, or to shaking it all about for that matter), but when the balance is like that how do you get enthused to get out and actually campaign when you can agree with so many of the arguments of those on the other side and vice versa? And that surely is the reason why both sides in the campaign have been so poor because those that are utterly convinced of their position are few and far between.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree there are lots of pros and cons for both in and out. But I think when you start to look at issues closely that turns out to be the case far more than we issues are considered only in broad outline or as mere matters of “principle”.

      My view is the political situation that would be created by an exit from the EU would be overwhelmingly to the advantage of the right as well as being a direct threat to the integrity of the UK. Many EU regulations (for trade for example) would remain in force but without us being able to vote on them and the threat to the UK financial sector, not talked about much yet, would be significant. The removal of social regulations would be seen as a green light for new assaults on working conditions. If that is right then it should be all the motivation we need to argue for staying in the EU.

      I think that Labour’s present approach of discussing how to change the EU with other centre and centre-left parties is the right approach.

  6. Jim Denham says:

    Motion passed at meeting of Lambeth UNISON:

    Motion Two – Campaign for a Workers’ Europe

    With the formation of “Conservatives for Britain” , the right-wing campaign to exit the EU has begun. Unfortunately, it is likely to be mirrored on the left. A number of Labour MPs and trade unionists will group themselves behind the banner of “Labour for Britain� , saying life will be better for British workers outside the EU.

    Other socialist groups will say they will organise an internationalist anti-EU campaign, one that defends the rights of migrants.

    They are all setting themselves an impossible task: the automatic right of EU workers to migrate to the UK, and of UK workers to migrate to EU countries, will be ended by UK exit. Those that do arrive after a UK exit are likely to come on worse terms than workers currently do, and they will arrive to a climate poisoned by the xenophobia of the referendum campaign, an atmosphere in which the workers movement and left itself cannot thrive.

    A UK outside the EU will offer worse prospects for fighting for workers’ rights than we have staying in.

    The nationalist right, no friends to workers, will have the political upper hand in a post-exit UK, and UK workers will lose the possibility of organising a common struggle for better rights by workers across Europe.

    The left cannot be anti-EU without being dragged behind the right-wing and anti-migrant backlash. It will raise a tiny voice, inaudible against the right-wing anti-EU campaign which has money, press backing, and establishment support, a campaign that is all about putting up borders and actively restricting migrants coming to the UK. The left-wing voice will be drowned out in the growing nationalist gale.

    The concessions Cameron is seeking from the EU also threaten workers’ rights: in the first place, migrant workers’ rights to in-work benefits. He is also likely to seek further opt-outs from those European regulations that benefit workers. Many other EU governments will be sympathetic to Cameron’s vision of the EU: less regulated, more ruthlessly neo-liberal.

    The Tories that want to get out and the Tories that want to stay in offer no choice for workers. But we should not be indifferent to the question posed in the referendum. The integration of capitalism results naturally from the process of outgrowing national boundaries, and workers do not have any interest in seeking to turn back the clock of history or re-erect national barriers. We oppose UK exit from the EU.

    At the same time, we recognise that the EU, like its constituent member states, is organised primarily in the interests of the bosses and therefore looking to liquidate those elements of “Social Europe” that still remain. We should not join any cross-class alliance with pro-EU Tories or business leaders: we do not positively support bosses’ Europe.

    Instead, voices on the left are discussing a campaign for a workers’ Europe in the coming referendum. We will:
    • defend migrants’ rights and oppose racism;
    • vote against UK withdrawal from the EU;
    • campaign for a workers’ Europe, based on solidarity between working people.

    Lambeth UNISON resolves to be part of forming such a campaign on this basis.

    1. gerry says:

      The EU cannot be reformed, Jim – its explicit foundational principles are neoliberal capitalism. Privatisation, deregulation, austerity, TTIP, reducing Greece to a colony…the EU can never become a “workers Europe”. If we ever won power here with a socialist or even social democratic manifesto, then we would face total opposition and annihilation from the rest of the EU, just like Syriza.

      Of course big business and neoliberals love a ” flexible labour market” of open door EU migration – exactly why we on the Left should oppose it, in that it helps to reduce wages, pits UK workers against EU economic migrants, puts more pressure on services, housing, poor communities. All this was deliberate – exactly why Blair, Cameron, Farron and Sturgeon defend “free movement” to the death.

      Of course the politics on both sides are contradictory: your side is lined up with Cameron, Merkel, Lib Dems, the banks and big business. Mine with UKIP, David Davis, and worse…but I go back to first socialist principles, as always, and the Left analysis of the EC/EU I first heard in the late 1970s still stands. Tony Benn and Michael Foot called it right.

      I respect you have a different position, Jim…but socialists can oppose the EU and work for a socialist, democratic UK from a clear, morally consistent and Left position: and I always will.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        The question is: will Brexit, under a Tory government, be a progressive or a reactionary move from the point of view of the interests of the working class? To ask the question is to answer it.

        The anti-EU left needs to face up to reality and seriously re-think all their assumptions.

        1. gerry says:

          Jim – your analysis is fundamentally wrong on this issue. Will remaining in the EU, under a Tory government, be a progressive or a reactionary move from the point of view of the interests of the working class? To ask that question is to answer it, Jim.

          Have faith and show some courage Jim – let’s work together to build a democratic socialist UK, independent and free, controlling that most basic of things – its own borders. If we manage to detach the UK’s umbilical cord from the neoliberal monster that you agree is the EU, then that would be revolutionary and progressive in itself.

    2. Verity says:

      “A UK outside the EU will offer worse prospects for fighting for workers’ rights than we have staying in.”

      I do not understand how EU membership (the only transnational national body available) enables a more successful fight. How would the Junior Doctors struggle against the imposition of ‘new contracts’ be enhanced by EU membership? Trying to build a united force within a (national based) health service would not have great deal in common with the private sector service in say the Czech Republic. The contradictions (and more importantly the appreciation of these) is national, reflecting the circumstances as we find them in particular contexts.

    3. David Pavett says:

      I agree with you.

      To the argument that the EU cannot be “reformed” to act in the interests of working people I would respond by saying that if that is the case then why should be believe that Parliament can be reformed to serve that purpose. And if the critics don’t think that is possible either then what exactly are they proposing? It needs to be stated.

  7. swatantra says:

    I fear so, a one man band, and AJ is simpl not up to it. The mistake made was that the EU Stay In Campaign should actually have been a united campaign, with ALL Parties Campaigning on a single platform Trouble is Labour got frit when they shared the platform with Dave on the Scottish Ref, but that was an entirely different matter. And nowadays Labour has very little to lose by sharing platforms with Centreists iand Progressives n all Parties. As we’ve hit rock bottom.
    It may be too late to save the Stay In Campaign as the Public have still not been convinced and believe the skeptiks and Farage.
    We are sleepwalking into Brexit And its probably too late to do anything about it now.
    I hope the Civil Service have got their contingency plans ready, or we could demand another Referendum in a Years time, and this time the Public get it right.

    1. David Pavett says:

      A socialist argument for remaining in the EU is incompatible with the Tory argument for doing so. A joint campaign could only confuse this basic truth.

  8. David Ellis says:

    If Labour delivers victory for Cameron in his referendum we will be able to say goodnight to Corbyn’s little renaissance and watch helplessly as the pasokification of the Labour Party recommences and comes to completion. Corbyn’s claim to be anti neo-liberal, anti-austerity and even anti-Corbyn will lie in tatters. As in Scotland when Labour delivered victory to Cameron in the indepedence referendum Labour’s death in England and Wales will be assured. And why is Corbyn doing this? Party unity with a bunch of pro-austerity saboteurs. The opportunist left are showing once again their complete lack of backbone or even desire to ever be in power.

    1. David Pavett says:

      You need to fill in some details for this to constitute an argument rather than a series of assertions.

  9. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

    “For years Labour’s mantra has been “We must stay in the EU but we must also reform it”.

    My problem with Europe is that it first and foremost a capitalist club, everything has been geared to serve the interests of corporations down to the last vestige of democracy being taken away from us under TTIP.

    Reform is the Neo-Liberal term for transfer of public services into the private sector, that of course has been happening and accelerated since Thatcher. Those on the Neo Liberal right of the Labour Party understand only too well what the real agenda for reform is and they have been rigorously pursuing it pretending that it will make Britain’s economy more efficient.

    As we have seen with Greece the agenda must not be side-tracked by the mere needs of people, where were all those right wing Labour MPs when Greece was being forced by their friends in the EU to endure more suffering to pay for the Bankers crash? Just like they would today, saying we all have to pay our way.

    The arguments about Europe centre around control and power, can we change that from being inside Europe, I don’t believe we can as we have had nil impact on the Neo-Liberal agenda so far. There are also too many extreme right wing governments that have joined together to serve their own agenda, and Britain does not have the essential political clout to make the changes necessary to make Europe the kind of society we would want.

    TTIP is a window on the direction of political travel that we will follow and the question is never asked where do all these trade agreements stem from and who’s purpose do they serve? American Corporations.

    Can we influence the whole of Europe within Europe, I believe we can’t, better to withdraw or negotiate withdrawal lest we get total reversal of the Neo-Liberal agenda, Corporations should be the servants of democracy not it’s masters.

    I don’t believe we will ever achieve it, and so reluctantly would withdraw and rebuild our economy here, setting an example for the rest to follow, and then in the future set up a Europe that works for people not corporations.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Well put, although sadly it’s not quite that simple.

      But vote out; definitely, (for what it’s worth ?)

    2. David Pavett says:

      “we have had nil impact on the Neo-Liberal agenda so far”

      Is that really true. Would you consider such things as the Working Time Directive or the various environmental controls (on such things as air and water quality) to be part of the neo-liberal agenda?

      I don’t see the point of the Steve Keen interview in this context. It has nothing specifically to do with the EU. If we way that we should withdraw from the EU because its dominant political forces favour austerity then would would have to say the same about participating in the Parliamentary process in the UK.

      1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

        Something we have not touched on yet is why the labour party as a whole was Euro sceptic. Back in 1975 the unions provided research that showed how peripheral countries suffer from not being at the centre of activity, business generally migrates to where government makes it’s decisions, i.e. London or Brussels, as we have seen business has gradually declined in Britain, whilst some has obviously gone to the far east the last company I worked for favoured Germany with it’s high Labour costs than Britain. Our workforce has dramatically shrunk since the 1980s and membership of the EU has not reversed that.

        The marginal social advances from environmental and working time directive are really quite meaningless as workers can be intimidated by employers to give up their rights, by just signing a piece of paper. I threw my piece of paper in the bin but know that weaker individuals signed their lives away without a second glance.

        If we look back in time at the first referendum, we can see just how far back we have fallen, I really don’t call that progress. Greece really is an example of the forces we are up against, the reason I introduced Steve Keens video into the debate is because no matter how long it takes, we can dramatically change British society, and as he said the Neo-Liberal economic views widely held in all major parties are both childish and naïve, that is the point we need to get over to the public, once they understand fully how we can take real control of our economy, then nothing can stop us, we will see such rapid change in society you would have to go to China to compare it.

        capitalism is holding back development in this country as with any other, it is using the way that money enters the economy to control the economy which only benefits the financial sector, in fact it doesn’t take much imagination to see that the financial sector doesn’t need workers to function, it just needs debtors, Blair and Brown deliberately used the private housing market to stimulate the economy, (causing the same kind of housing bubble Thatcher created) when in fact council housing built by direct labour forces such as in the sixties, would be cheaper and give an immediate return within twelve months of building starts.

        This of course was deliberate to protect the interests of the financial sector and for no other useful purpose.

        We can effect change, but we need to educate people as to why things are as they are, we won’t achieve that within Europe because the objectives are much greater. Greece should have defaulted, Steve Keen has made the case, that Europe’s punitive actions are not essential and the effects are disastrous for the Greek people, noting also, that Merkel and her right wing cabal have changed the regulations for the ECB to give QE to the private banks but when it came to the Greek people, they are suddenly broke.

        I don’t believe for one minute they will be any kinder to us.

        1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          Re: “I threw my piece of paper in the bin but know that weaker individuals signed their lives away without a second glance.”

          Likewise and similarly I also threw a similar piece of paper, (agreeing to £3000 pa pay cut,) in the bin; so to speak and then sued and won a tribunal for unfair dismissal, since then I’ve now been out of work for 7 years, (complicated admittedly by my wife being disabled,) with little or no chance of getting back into any decent job at 60.

          David Parvatt although admirable, erudite and sincere is sometimes handicapped, (emotionally and intellectually,) by what I would describe as a typically middle class lack of experience of another world; the one that socialism has deep roots in from necessity and out of brutal experience.

          1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

            A world in which the Trade Unions have become a tired and expensive joke, (it’s hard to imagine what the men and women who are on the stupid salaries that senior union officers now command have to say to rest of us about anything,) and where the things like the Working Time Directive, (signing an opt out is now all but compulsory,) aren’t even worth paper they’re written on and it’s getting worse.

  10. John Penney says:

    The vacuous , completely non-analytical or even slightly critical mouthings of Alan Johnson on his apparently entirely self-promoting ego trip “Labour In For Britain” site , is as one with every Blairite MP I have seen so far troupe through the studios of the mass media to add their pennyworth on that campaign. They have been saved from embarrassment for their shallow neoliberal musings by the blessing of never being hard pressed by the interviewers to justify their Pollyanna-ish enthusiasms for the current EU set-up. The harsh national sovereignty-destroying reality of the looming undemocratic entirely Big Business benefitting TTIP deal for instance , never gets an airing.

    The utter lack of any , even trivial, ideological difference between the Blairite majority in the PLP and the Tory Government’s ,(and the EU)neoliberal agenda, is yet again clearly demonstrated by the utter bankruptcy of the Labour Party input so far to the Stay In campaign. The idea periodically promoted by the likes of Phil, that some of the Blairites , like, Liam Byrne, are now challenging some of their core neoliberal beliefs, is clearly refuted by their uniformly craven uncritical enthusiasm for the EU as is ,and their equally craven coat tailing of Cameron’s entirely bogus neoliberal, anti-migrant “negotiationg priorities” .

    And of course the menace of TTIP is unlikely to get much of an airing by the various mutually hostile “Out” campaigns either – obsessed as it is with petty nationalism and anti immigrant xenophobia.

    Given the short time remaining if the referendum happens in June – it seems unlikely a credible, distinct “Stay in – but work to reform the EU around key , principled,progressive pro-working class objectives” campaign will emerge – certainly not from the likes of the politically bankrupt Alan Johnson et al camp. Unfortunately I doubt that a radical socialist “Stay in and Fight” campaign can be built either. This would not necessarily be the case if Jeremy Corbyn and his team were prepared to head up such a campaign. But I don’t think Jeremy and his closest colleagues actually have any belief in the possibility of reforming the now root and branch neoliberal EU, so that won’t happen. Jeremy is quite obviously just going along with nominal support for the “Stay In” position because of the tactical realities of currently being trapped with an overwhelmingly pro the neoliberal EU PLP majority.

    In my “poor man’s Nostradamus” view the “Leave” campaign, regardless its shambolic infighting, powered by the most reactionary racist and petty nationalist tropes, has a deeply embedded (by 30 years of petty nationalist/xenophobic mass media propaganda), grip on the mass reactionary ideological zeitgeist tide – such that a “leave” vote victory is quite likely in June.

    It is a lot more than a mere pity that neither the “stay in and fight” Left or the “Let’s Leave – It’s a hopeless neoliberal undemocratic capitalist club – and we’d be chucked out anyway with a reforming left Corbyn government” , equally valid Left arguments have so far gained any significant traction, or even an airing, in the national debate.

    1. swatantra says:

      DC would be wise to delay the Ref until 2017, giving him more time to put the case. 2017 might also see more of a ‘feel good’ factor’ or Britons

      1. swatantra says:

        AJ must be one of the most over rated politicians ever, just because he has a working class/union background.

        1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          For once we agree.

    2. Peter Rowlands says:

      A good article by David, and despite some exaggeration about the iniquity of the Blairites an essentially correct analysis from John. The problem is that while the anti EU position of most of the left in the 70s and early 80s declined until it became a minority position, only a minority of us on the left changed to adopt a positive pro EU position, with the majority adopting a ‘not out but not enthusiastic about staying in either’, and this position is exemplified by Jeremy and John, meaning that those who look to them, a majority of the party, are hardly likely to acquire any new found enthusiasm for the EU in the next few months. This is a shame, as there is a decent left pro EU campaign to be had, based on democratic reform of the EU Parliament and Commission, an extension of workers and social rights, controls and curbs on the operation of big business and international solidarity with other socialist and social democratic parties in the EU. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen because the left are not interested, and that makes Brexit more likely, a result that can only increase the strength of the reactionary xenophobic right and reduce that of the left. Wake up, it’s getting late!

      1. David Ellis says:

        There is no such decent campaign. Socialist cannot under any circumstances vote positively for the neo-liberal prinicples enshrined in EU treaties, they cannot vote positively for its fundamentalist austerity or for its anti-democratic corporate dictatorship over the national democracies and they certainly cannot vote positively for Cameron’s anti working class `reforms’ at least not without being branded worthless hypocrites. By helping Cameron to win this referendum they are guaranteeing the Tories victory in 2020 and if he loses despite their support they are doing the same. The EU is a bourgeois alliance which is breaking up in any case whatever the result of Cameron’s referendum and it is beholden on socialists to vote against that alliance and provide the working class with a socialist vision for their nations and the continent. Corbyn is falling into a trap but one has to say that it looks like a trap he wants to fall into.

    3. David Pavett says:

      I agree that we are so far lacking in a sense of direction from the new Labour leadership. If that is going to change then it needs to be done very quickly. Alan Johnson’s “campaign” is a joke.

  11. David Ellis says:

    This is why I have established the only pro-Europe, explicitly socialist, labour movement Leave campaign. Vote Out for a Socialist Europe.

    https://www.facebook.com/voteoutreferendum/?ref=hl

  12. SimonB says:

    Surely the EU won’t go away if we decide to leave? They’ll still be our main trading partners, yet we would not longer have a part in setting the rules. Isn’t that the best arguument for staying in?

    Of course there is a huge amount of reform needed. again, if we’re not in we’ll have no say. If we’re out then you can bet the current excesses of neoliberalism will seem quite minor as the Social Chapter and other progressive policies are quickly scrapped.

    1. David Ellis says:

      You talk of `we’ and `our trading partners’. This is not how socialists look at things. We are trying to change the world not make slavery more comfortable or prop up the bourgeois order.

    2. Verity says:

      “…. yet we would not longer have a part in setting the rules…’

      Who is the ‘we’ and what ‘rules’ have been up for any discussion? we have a hard core group of ultra reactionary governments amongst some East European nations – are ‘we’ a part of the partnerships for change?

  13. Jim Denham says:

    As Cameron embarks on his campaign to sell his “reformed” relationship with the EU, the xenophobes have begun their anti-EU campign in earnest. The Sun and Mail are already giving us a taste of what to expect: denunciations of migrants, demands for stricter border controls and thinly-disguised racism.

    It’s time for the left to get real: the anti-EU movement is of necessity nationalist, xenophobic and border-line racist. No matter how much idiots like the Morning Star, the SWP and the Socialist Party try to dress up their anti-EU rhetoric with the word “socialism” and dire warnings about the evils of international capitalism and the “bosses’ Europe” they cannot escape the reactionary logic of their anti-EU stance.

    Yet for decades now most of the British left — and the left in a few other European countries, such as Denmark — has agitated “against the EU”. The agitation has suggested, though rarely said openly, we should welcome and promote every pulling-apart of the EU, up to and including the full re-erection of barriers between nation-states.

    Yet the possibility of a serious unravelling of the patchwork, bureaucratic semi-unification of Europe, slowly developed over the last sixty years, is more real today than ever before. The decisive push for unravelling comes from from the nationalist and populist right.

    And that calls the bluff of a whole swathe of the British left.

    For decades, most of the British left has been “anti-EU” as a matter of faith. In Britain’s 1975 referendum on withdrawing from the EU, almost the whole left, outside AWL’s forerunner Workers’ Fight, campaigned for withdrawal. Since then the left has hesitated explicitly to demand withdrawal. It has limited itself to “no to bosses’ Europe” agitation, implying but not spelling out a demand for the EU to be broken up.

    The agitation has allowed the left to eat its cake and have it. The left can chime in with populist-nationalist “anti-Europe” feeling, which is stronger in Britain than in any other EU country. It can also cover itself by suggesting that it is not really anti-European, but only dislikes the “bosses’” character of the EU.

    As if a confederation of capitalist states could be anything other than capitalist! As if the cross-Europe policy of a collection of neo-liberal governments could be anything other than neo-liberal!

    As if the material force behind neo-liberal cuts has been the relatively flimsy Brussels bureaucracy, rather than the mighty bureaucratic-military-industrial complexes of member states. As if the answer is to oppose confederation and cross-Europeanism as such, rather than the capitalist, neo-liberal, bureaucratic character of both member states and the EU.

    As if the EU is somehow more sharply capitalist, anti-worker, and neo-liberal than the member states. In Britain more than any other country we have seen successive national governments, both Tory and New Labour, repeatedly objecting to EU policy as too soft, too “social”, too likely to entrench too many workers’ rights.

    As if the answer is to pit nations against Europe, rather than workers against bosses and bankers. The anti-EU left loves to gloatingly remind us of the EU leaders’ appalling treatment of Greece and Tsipras’s capitulation – despite the fact that while in Greece and Southern Europe the EU is indeed a force for neoliberal austerity, in the UK no-one can point to a single attack on the working class that has originated with the EU against the will of a British government: indeed the EU has forced reluctant UK governments to enact limited but real pro-worker legislation (despite the Morning Star‘s dishonest claims to the contrary, the EU has been responsible for real pro-working class reforms such as the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, the Agency Workers Regulations and the Working Time Regulations – none of which are at any immediate risk as a result of Cameron’s “renegotiation”).

    When Socialist Worker, in a Q&A piece, posed itself the question, “wouldn’t things be better for workers if Britain pulled out of the EU?”, it answered itself with a mumbling “yes, but” rather than a ringing “yes”.

    “Socialist Worker is against Britain being part of a bosses’ Europe”. Oh? And against Britain being part of a capitalist world, too?

    Britain would be better off in outer space? Or walled off from the world North-Korea-style? “But withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t guarantee workers’ rights — the Tories remain committed to attacking us”. Indeed. And just as much so as the EU leaders, no?

    A few years ago the Socialist Party threw itself into a electoral coalition called No2EU. Every week in its “Where We Stand” it declaims: “No to the bosses’ neo-liberal European Union!”, though that theme rarely appears in its big headlines.

    Even the demand for withdrawal is a soft-soap, “tactical” gambit. In principle Britain could quit the EU without disrupting much. It could be like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland: pledged to obey all the EU’s “Single Market” rules (i.e. all the neo-liberal stuff) though opting out of a say in deciding the rules; exempt from contributing to the EU budget but also opting out from receiving EU structural and regional funds.

    That is not what the no-to-EU-ers want. They want Britain completely out. They want all the other member-states out too. A speech by RMT president Alex Gordon featured on the No2EU website spells it out: “Imperialist, supranational bodies such as the EU seek to roll back democratic advances achieved in previous centuries… Progressive forces must respond to this threat by defending and restoring national democracy. Ultimately, national independence is required for democracy to flourish…”

    But does the left really want the EU broken up? What would happen?

    The freedom for workers to move across Europe would be lost. “Foreign” workers in each country from other ex-EU states would face disapproval at best.

    There would be a big reduction in the productive capacities of the separate states, cut off from broader economic arenas.

    Governments and employers in each state would be weaker in capitalist world-market competition, and thus would be pushed towards crude cost-cutting, in the same way that small capitalist businesses, more fragile in competition, use cruder cost-cutting than the bigger employers.

    There would be more slumps and depression, in the same way that the raising of economic barriers between states in the 1930s lengthened and deepened the slump then.

    Nationalist and far-right forces, already the leaders of anti-EU political discourse everywhere, would be “vindicated” and boosted. Democracy would shrink, not expand. The economically-weaker states in Europe, cut off from the EU aid which has helped them narrow the gap a bit, would suffer worst, and probably some would fall to military dictatorships.

    Before long the economic tensions between the different nations competing elbow-to-elbow in Europe’s narrow cockpit would lead to war, as they did repeatedly for centuries, and especially in 1914 and 1939.

    The left should fight, not to go backwards from the current bureaucratic, neo-liberal European Union, but forward, towards workers’ unity across Europe, a democratic United States of Europe, and a socialist United States of Europe.

    It’s time for the anti-EU left to get real, face facts and pull back from its disastrous de facto alliance with some of the most reactionary forces in British politics.

    1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

      Jim: you have made clear that you see greater benefits in than out, which I don’t actually recognise as the gains are far outweighed by the disadvantages, but not withstanding that, how on earth do you think you will impact on the EU when everybody and his uncle saw how Greece was treated.

      1. Verity says:

        Surely a contribution which states that people are idiots is clearly going nowhere for anyone – so the discussion is over from them – does that help your arguments/campaign?

        1. Jim Denham says:

          But they *are* idiots!

      2. Jim Denham says:

        As and when we have a left wing government being obstructed by the EU, we can deal with that.

        But our present situation is a right wing government objecting to being obstructed by the EU.

        Can you not see the difference?

        1. Verity says:

          But the ‘right wing’ government is not being obstructed by much of any importance. What exactly has Cameron not been able to do? Why does he support it?

          We are not dealing with an immediate governmental issue we are taking a longer term decision that will constrain the future ‘Left Government’. There is not another referendum on the way, so how exactly will we deal with that when it comes along? Only with increased difficulties.

      3. Jim Denham says:

        I have dealt with that, Mervyn:

        The anti-EU left loves to gloatingly remind us of the EU leaders’ appalling treatment of Greece and Tsipras’s capitulation – despite the fact that while in Greece and Southern Europe the EU is indeed a force for neoliberal austerity, in the UK no-one can point to a single attack on the working class that has originated with the EU against the will of a British government: indeed the EU has forced reluctant UK governments to enact limited but real pro-worker legislation (despite the Morning Star‘s dishonest claims to the contrary, the EU has been responsible for real pro-working class reforms such as the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, the Agency Workers Regulations and the Working Time Regulations – none of which are at any immediate risk as a result of Cameron’s “renegotiation”).

        1. David Ellis says:

          “despite the fact that while in Greece and Southern Europe the EU is indeed a force for neoliberal austerity, in the UK no-one can point to a single attack on the working class that has originated with the EU against the will of a British government”

          So much for proletarian internationalism. So much for solidarity.

    2. Verity says:

      “As if the EU is somehow more sharply capitalist, anti-worker, and neo-liberal than the member states”.

      I agree, of course not. But there is one factor missing. Directly elected national parliaments do exist and provide at least the potential for removal/responsiveness to change. A remote multi- tiered set of institutions does not provide for this potential change but is a bulwark against electoral responsiveness. The EU institutions are little understood; have obscure power bases with an almost total absence of campaign pressure. There is remote prospects for building a ‘people’s’ opposition. Parliaments are directly accountable to an electorate and do provide the prospects for change. Of course we need to build the mass united movements of people for the desired changes.

      Surely the magic of the EU’s retention of power was the EU’s complex multitiered design, not subject to direct population pressures; having the capacity to play off differing groups against each other, i.e balance of interest groups to enable us ‘to work in partnership’. It is difficult enough to build a united opposition by uniting groups in Newcastle and Exeter to force parliamentary changes, how much more difficult is it to be built by the commonalities of experiences between a suburb of Lisbon and Halifax?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        Workers’ organisations across Europe.

    3. gerry says:

      The “freedom of workers to move across Europe would be lost”.. and I say hear hear to that! The real beneficiaries of your ” freedom of movement ” are big business, Tory farmers, gangster employers…the main losers are the workers undercut by these forces, and the countries from which these economic migrants come. Why else would Cameron, the CBI, the IoD, the robber banks, every neoliberal and big business support “freedom of movement”?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        In which case, Gerry, you line up with the racists and nationalists: our answer must surely be workers’ organisation, across borders.

        1. gerry says:

          Jim – as I wrote earlier, both sides have some awful elements, and you line up with every neo liberal, Cameron, Farron, Blair, the World Bank, the IMF, so let’s not go there. I think, however, that lots of lefties will actively campaign to leave, and I really hope we win the referendum: exciting times!

    4. David Pavett says:

      I agree with some of your points but I think that we need a critique of ideas like the “free movement of labour” rather than just assuming that it is a nice, and liberal, idea. Where are the detailed left wing critiques of the EU institutions which would help us assess what can be meaningfully done about them?

  14. Karl Stewart says:

    Excellent article David. A subject we on the left need to discuss seriously, and good to read some thoughtful contributions as well.

    My own view is to support ‘Leave’ but also to want to keep my distance from the right-wing ‘Leave’ campaign.

    And in this respect, I think the recent arguments between different ‘Leave’ campaigns has actually not been a bad thing at all – quite the contrary in fact.

    I know George Galloway isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but on yesterday’s ‘Politics’ show, he made this point very well I thought – that the anti-EU left needs to make the left-wing case for leaving and not make any adaptations to the anti-EU right.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I tried to indicate the vacuousness of Alan Johnson’s Labour in For Britain as a way of saying “This is not serious, we need to hear the arguments for and against in a way that helps us think for ourselves”. For the rest of us I think the time of just saying we favour in or out should be past. We need to give our reasons.

      I favour staying in because I think left arguments for leaving:

      (1) are based on simplistic criticisms (e.g. its a capitalist club) which do not take account of the genuine gains which the EU has brought (social chapter, common environmental standards);

      (2) do not look at the ways we would still be bound by EU rules even as a non-member;

      (3) do not discuss the possible enormous impact on the UK financial sector due to the transfer of banking business to the EU;

      (4) dismiss the possibility of reform by working with EU centre and centre-left parties without giving good reasons;

      (5) Fail to recognise the need for a supra-national institution in Europe for a wide range of purposes.

      1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

        David: How does money enter the economy. Why is it that 97% of all money in circulation was issued as debt? 3% of course is issued directly to the private Banks as hard currency by the Bank of England.

  15. Jim Denham says:

    “My own view is to support ‘Leave’ but also to want to keep my distance from the right-wing ‘Leave’ campaign”: and how, exactly, do you propose doing that, Karl?

  16. Karl Stewart says:

    When I said earlier that the falling out between different ‘leave’ campaigners shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, I meant that we left-wing ‘outers’ (can we say Lexit? Is that now a thing?) need to argue against EU membership while also arguing against the right-wing ‘outers’.

    We don’t want a single unified ‘out’ campaign.

    The same question could equally justifiably be put to you Jim – how do you propose to differentiate yourself from the right-wing ‘remainers’?

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Very simply, Karl:
      Motion passed at meeting of Lambeth UNISON:

      Motion Two – Campaign for a Workers’ Europe

      With the formation of “Conservatives for Britain” , the right-wing campaign to exit the EU has begun. Unfortunately, it is likely to be mirrored on the left. A number of Labour MPs and trade unionists will group themselves behind the banner of “Labour for Britain� , saying life will be better for British workers outside the EU.

      Other socialist groups will say they will organise an internationalist anti-EU campaign, one that defends the rights of migrants.

      They are all setting themselves an impossible task: the automatic right of EU workers to migrate to the UK, and of UK workers to migrate to EU countries, will be ended by UK exit. Those that do arrive after a UK exit are likely to come on worse terms than workers currently do, and they will arrive to a climate poisoned by the xenophobia of the referendum campaign, an atmosphere in which the workers movement and left itself cannot thrive.

      A UK outside the EU will offer worse prospects for fighting for workers’ rights than we have staying in.

      The nationalist right, no friends to workers, will have the political upper hand in a post-exit UK, and UK workers will lose the possibility of organising a common struggle for better rights by workers across Europe.

      The left cannot be anti-EU without being dragged behind the right-wing and anti-migrant backlash. It will raise a tiny voice, inaudible against the right-wing anti-EU campaign which has money, press backing, and establishment support, a campaign that is all about putting up borders and actively restricting migrants coming to the UK. The left-wing voice will be drowned out in the growing nationalist gale.

      The concessions Cameron is seeking from the EU also threaten workers’ rights: in the first place, migrant workers’ rights to in-work benefits. He is also likely to seek further opt-outs from those European regulations that benefit workers. Many other EU governments will be sympathetic to Cameron’s vision of the EU: less regulated, more ruthlessly neo-liberal.

      The Tories that want to get out and the Tories that want to stay in offer no choice for workers. But we should not be indifferent to the question posed in the referendum. The integration of capitalism results naturally from the process of outgrowing national boundaries, and workers do not have any interest in seeking to turn back the clock of history or re-erect national barriers. We oppose UK exit from the EU.

      At the same time, we recognise that the EU, like its constituent member states, is organised primarily in the interests of the bosses and therefore looking to liquidate those elements of “Social Europe” that still remain. We should not join any cross-class alliance with pro-EU Tories or business leaders: we do not positively support bosses’ Europe.

      Instead, voices on the left are discussing a campaign for a workers’ Europe in the coming referendum. We will:
      • defend migrants’ rights and oppose racism;
      • vote against UK withdrawal from the EU;
      • campaign for a workers’ Europe, based on solidarity between working people.

  17. Karl Stewart says:

    (‘Lexit’ – short for ‘Exit Left’)

    1. Jim Denham says:

      (‘Lexit’ – short for ‘Exit Left’): there is no such thing on offer, Karl: in the words of the ‘Morning Star, it’s a “chimera”.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        The Greek people tried that strategy – they were smashed.

        Your AWL model motion is bog-standard AWL shite, as usual, feigning left while accepting in practice the establishment and the ruling class.

        Real, working-class internationalism requires a decisive break with the neo-liberal EU and the forging of genuine socialist links with the peoples of the whole world.

        1. gerry says:

          Well said Karl – socialism is the solution, and the EU is one of the main problems.

        2. Jim Denham says:

          get real, Karl, and acknoeledge the rather basic difference between a situation in which:
          a/ a leftist government is being obstructed from carrying out progressive policies by the EU …

          …and

          b/ A UK Tory government wants to loosen the grip of the UE in order to attack the working class …

          geddit, Karl?

  18. Bazza says:

    The EC was set up to counter the then perceived threat of the USSR, to promote capitalism in Europe, and to be fair to the original top-down designers to give Europe a greater voice in the World to counter US hegemony.
    De Gaule of France in fact originally opposed Britian joining because he felt it would be a Trogan Horse for the US (which it eventually was) as the dollar soon dominated, and hence the desire from some in the EC for the Euro.
    So put aside the fact that it has a market of 500m (bigger than the US) and EC investment is second in the World in R&D (to the US) it is a capitalist club (driven by Neo-Liberalism).
    But so is Britain, so is the US – should workers leave them too?
    Perhaps we make the EC left wing democratic socialist, then the US, then China, then Russia et al.
    We need international ambition for the oppressed of the World!

  19. Jim Denham says:

    It’s extraordinary, isn’t it, that so-called “Marxists” can ignore Marx’s most basic teachings (see The Communist Manifesto and his speech on Free Trade) and support the re-erection of national borders.

    The sheer ignorance of the anti-EU, regarding fundamental socialist tenants “left” defies belief. People like Carl really should buy a few books by Marx and sit down and read and educate themselves in the basics before intervening in any debates again.

    1. gerry says:

      Now Jim – are you for real? On this issue Karl is 100% right from any genuine socialist perspective, as am I, Verity, David E, Mervyn H, Jeremy P, John P Reid, James Martin….you and Lambeth Unison are being really naive in lining up with Cameron et al. We as socialists have a brilliant opportunity to decisively reject the neoliberal anti working class pro capitalist entity that is the EU, and we must take this chance to try to destroy its power, at least over the UK….join us, Jim: its not too late to see sense, and to get real.

      1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

        Jim: If I thought we could change the Neo-Liberal power base in Europe I would be the first to want to stay in, look at all the right wing governments that all have the same agenda, TTIP has just been voted down by German Judges, as unnecessary and giving corporations powers that conflict with democracy. So why are they continuing with the negotiations? Look at Hunt he knows that what he is doing is destroying the NHS and lives are being lost due to Tory policies, is he changing direction and reversing what they are doing, NO, this is all part of the global agenda, we need to focus on matters closer to home and allow the great Neo-Liberal experience collapse in Europe, then rebuild it in favour of people not corporations. (people have accepted the corporation agenda so far because they were frightened of losing jobs, now that work itself doesn’t pay anymore that fear has little pulling power, with careful planning and education as to how the economy actually works, we can create a society here that works for people, which in turn will influence Europe, just like our NHS did.)

        1. Jim Denham says:

          “this is all part of the global agenda, we need to focus on matters closer to home and allow the great Neo-Liberal experience collapse in Europe, then rebuild it in favour of people not corporations” well, we want the overthrow of capitalism, don’t we? That won’t be done within the confines of Little England. So are you seriously advocating leaving the EU and giving the Tories a free hand until at least 2020?

        2. John P Reid says:

          Spot on.

      2. John Penney says:

        Reading the , often rather heated, acrimonious, debate on here between genuine socialists like Gerry and Jim, and others, who happen to be on different sides of the current “Stay In” v “Leave” EU argument, strongly reminds me just how often we on the Left elevate what are disagreements on tactics into a perception that we are divided by fundamental issues of political principal. Then we fall out with each other big time, as if each side has become a “betrayer of socialism”.

        As a socialist who definitely (before the vicious EU/Troika smashing of Greece’s Syriza and the revelations of the agenda of TTIP, changed my mind about the possibility of reform) supported the “Stay in and fight for pro working class reform” position – I have now lurched to the “Let’s leave – we would be chucked out anyway if Corbyn formed a Left government” position. I haven’t discarded any of my radical Left socialist beliefs in shifting position – it’s a tactical assessment shift only.

        I recognise that the “Leave camp” is totally dominated by the most vicious racist , petty nationalist ideology – so a “Leave victory will not boost the Left narrative at all. But the “Stay” camp is also totally dominated by Big Business neoliberal and racist ideology too (Cameron’s entire “negotiation demands platform” is entirely reactionary). So a “Stay in” victory will not boost the Left’s anti austerity, narrative either.

        I think both genuine radical Left positions on “Leave” or “Stay” are valid , and it is a tactical assessment issue as to which is correct today. Surely the important task for the Left is to be using the current EU Referendum Campaign, “Stay” or “Go” – to push a wideranging Left analysis and narrative which exposes the true nature of the current EU as a vehicle for neoliberalism, the danger of TTIP, the socialist alternative model of economic growth, etc. When the vote has been taken, and whether we are still in the EU, or out, the struggle against capitalism will continue, and genuine socalists like Jim and Gerry who presently are on different “sides” of what is a debate about TACTICS, not fundamental socialist principles, will need to work together in that long future struggle.

        1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

          I think passion is the force on the left that can cause division, but is essential to any belief system.

          I also believe that there are those on the left with committed agendas, those agendas offer a much narrower perspective on the real direction they seek to travel, which is undemocratic and as with the far right have more to do with allowing society to collapse in order to take control.

          I have over the years experienced certain forms of arguments that reject genuine pragmatism over directed policies that reduce control down to a small body, that pushes their agenda at the expense of a real consensus.

          In contrast I prefer to present informed opinion based on evidence as a basis for argument. Even that conflicts with careerists who seek to conflate the reality to suit their own personal ends.

          But in the end, I believe truth wins through and natural justice is real. Only 25% of the voting public supported the Tories, which has been conflated as a massive victory over Labour, in reality it means that the majority of people see through Tory duplicity but do not yet understand what is actually happening around them, that is where we need to focus on.

          In short we need to inform people what the meaning of Neo-Liberalism is and it’s origins.

          Noting also that the factions of the left I refer to, never ever relate to Neo-Liberalism, could it be that their ideology relates to an earlier assessment of the world we live in and can’t be deviated from.

        2. David Ellis says:

          Sorry but there are more than tactics involved here. There are principles. Socialists cannot vote positively or even abstain on the neo-liberal principles enshrined in the corporate EU’s foundational treaties or for its fundamentalist austerity or for Cameron’s reforms. Those are red lines that if crossed will leave us exposed as hypocrites. Tactically it simply does not make sense to destroy our reputation or hand Cameron or his successor the 2020 general election and resume the pasokification of Labour that Corbyn briefly stopped.

  20. David Ellis says:

    I think today we will hear the de facto leader of the Labour Party Hilary Benn making an impassioned speech in favour of voting with Cameron in the EU Referendum in the name of internationalism and fighting fascism. It will probably sound much like his speech in support of Cameron bombing Syria.

    1. Danny Nicol says:

      Plus apparently we have to remain in the EU for fear of Mr Putin. I am sure Hilary’s stance is unrelated to his devotion to the private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange – NOT!

      1. …whereas the anti-EU cause is devoted to socialism … NOT!

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