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The case for Britain staying in the EU

EU_UK FlagsIt is now clear that a substantial section of the left in the Labour Party has come to the conclusion that the UK should leave the EU, a position enormously enhanced by the TUC statement this week that any deal involving a diminution in employment or social rights that Cameron won prior to the referendum would probably lead to trade unions adopting an exit position (Brexit).

Thankfully Jeremy Corbyn has now said that he cannot see Labour adopting such a position, although it might have avoided some problems if that had been made plain earlier.

The TUC position is senseless. Voting for ‘Brexit’ cannot possibly enhance the likelihood of winning the next election for Labour, and that should be the only criterion. Indeed the reverse might well be the case, as it would be populist xenophobia and nationalism that would win the day, which would suit the Conservatives.

The left has never been happy with the EU, and while until recently there had not , since the late 1980s, been a strong movement for leaving, there was little enthusiasm for the EU either. ‘ Building Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land’ still exerts a powerful effect.

Kate Hudson’s 2012 book The New European Left was largely ignored here, but the fact is that there is a growing movement of left parties in the EU, grouped under the banner of the Party of the European Left, who are in favour of radical left reforms and have to some extent pushed the established social democratic parties in the Party of European Socialists in a more left direction. It was these parties who increased their support in last year’s European elections, as well as the populist parties of the right like UKIP and the French National Front. It is at least encouraging that Corbyn has said that he intends to talk to these parties.

Of course the EU is a mess, primarily because of the Euro, the depressed state of the economies of most of its members and the continued emphasis on a neo liberal approach, but it remains the only route through which a decent sort of society, let alone socialism, is likely to be achieved for all its citizens, in the UK and elsewhere. It is only the EU which is big and strong enough to create such a society and control the worst excesses of a sizeable chunk of big business. For the UK, Brexit would be a disaster.

I am assuming that there would be no attraction in remaining in the EEA, which would entail accepting most regulations, including the free movement of labour, but having no say in determining them. Full exit would not necessarily involve a trade agreement, as UKIP says it would, and would be likely to lead to the withdrawal of foreign manufacturers and banks as they relocated in the EU in order not to be disadvantaged in the bigger market there. The UK would find itself at the mercy and favours of international big business over which it would have little control. The apparent recovery of sovereignty would in practice mean the reverse, and even if a Labour government was elected it would find its room for manoeuvre limited, while Scotland would almost certainly become independent and remain in the EU.

In the run up to the referendum Labour should commit itself as soon as possible to unconditionally remaining in the EU. It should draw up a radical programme of reform after consulting with the parties of the PEL and PES, and go forward with them in seeking the changes that will benefit all of the citizens of the EU. But it must also recognise and respect the views of Eurosceptics within the party and the trade unions, and open up a debate aimed at persuading them that Brexit is a blind alley that leads nowhere.



  1. John P Reid says:

    It may lead to us being worse off for 10 years, but after that and the state we’re in anyway, but after tha financially we’ll be better off

  2. yes, pete is right. Splendid isolation is not an option and we do not have any dreadnought battleships any longer to defend it. The UK is no longer a major power and has to stay in the only show in town. Giving in to the xemophobes and the isolationists is to end up in the same camp as the nutters who write to the newspapers in my neck of the woods about square bananas and the millionaire UKIP backer who was in the Independent this week saying all politician – all of them – were Marxists because they did not give business a free reign

    However we cannot allow the EU to stay as it is, As others have pointed out, it is a free market club and we cannot nationalise anything under its rules. Even football clubs are dancing to a tune they do not control. Either the EU is reformed then its demise is inevitable as ordinary people will keep going over to the populist right.

    How to reform the EU is the only show in town

    Trevor Fisher

    1. Verity says:

      Surely only UKIP is proposing ‘splendid isolation’? Is the point not to take up the challenging task of promoting an alternative programme? We will have to do this anyway, when the EU structures attempt to stifle any anti-austerity programme that a future Labour administration may attempt to implement. the circus shows in town do not work well as an analogy. In my own town is the ‘only show’ is Tory. Should I join with them or attempt to develop and fight for alternatives?

  3. David Ellis says:

    If Corbyn campaigns alongside Cameron to help him win his referendum Labour will be making the same mistake it made in Scotland when it campaigned alongside the Tories against a Yes vote in the independence referendum. The result of that foolish decision was electoral wipeout and it will be again. Labour needs to launch a socialist OUT campaign that eschews the EU’s neo-liberal underpinnings and clearly states that Another Europe is Possible. One based on co-operation which doesn’t have workers chasing each others tails all across the continent in search of ever crappier wages and ever more meagre welfare.

  4. Ellis is wrong both on Scotland and the EU. The new politics developing is that there are no simple yes no positions any more. If it campaigns with Cameron on the EU, it will also be campaigning with Sturgeon who has said that UK leaving the EU would trigger a Scottish independence referendum. The mistake in the Scottish referendum was to fail to make it clear that tribal politics is dead, if we agree with the tories we will campaign with them.

    On Scotland alone to line up with UKIP means that the Scots have another independence referendum.

    On the other hand, you could argue that we must not campaign with SNP even when we agree with them. THat is the cul de sac that tribal politics lead you into. For the foreseeable future every issue will lead into unwelcome alliances. But that is the way it is. Campaign for what you believe in and tell the electorate Labour will line up with its opponents where necessary. Sometimes Tories, sometimes SNP, sometimes the Greens.

    The tories have always understood this. Churchill aligned with Stalin against Hitler, then switched to being a cold war politician after the war. Its reality. Life is not black and white, make alliances as and where you can.

    Trevor Fisher

    1. David Ellis says:

      Alliances should be made in pursuit of principle. Corbyn’s alliance with the Tories would be made simply to prop up the disgusting EU even as it crumbles and lashes out.

  5. Mervyn Hyde says:

    The question we must all ask ourselves what is happening in the world around us and what is driving those changes.

    As David Ellis says the Neo-Liberal agenda; so what does neo-liberalism mean?

    The best definition I can find is here:

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    2.CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

    4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

    We have now in the Labour Party successfully thrown aside the Neo-Liberal perspective, and are in the process of re-launching a socialist one.

    The real objectives of neo-liberalism is the transfer of wealth and power upwards, how do we see that manifest in itself? the obvious can be seen in TTIP, secret negotiations that is being conducted by corporate lawyers and Eurocrats, without any public representation or input.

    We have seen around the world already what previous legislation has challenged governments the most recent in Chile where a company sued the government for loss of profits and this video should alarm anybody that sees and hears the same arguments from TTIP being used in Australia TPP:

    The question I pose to all of you is, can you see the significance of this legislation and the general neo-liberal agenda throughout the world, and the politicians who are delivering it?

    With the drift eastwards of economic power and the changes in technology that facilitate that, it should be obvious to any thinking person our economy is being virtually dismantled and we are being dictated to like never before, democracy has always been limited to the few but in reality this new situation that has taken forty years to come to fruition, literally hands power over to an infinitesimally small amount of people.

    Real wealth is created by the many not the few, that means we need to think not in terms of competing in a world which we have already lost, but to harness the power of our own human endeavour, we created the NHS out of nothing, it is only now being destroyed by market philosophy, that should clearly demonstrate the shortcomings that we face if we don’t change direction.

    The capitalist system is ripping the world apart and Europe is no exception, Greece highlights graphically how European politicians have used neo-liberal language to tarnish and blame ordinary people for the banking crash. They have simultaneously transferred the banking debts on to the people of Europe, whilst the banks have profited by increasing the debt burden on to the Greek people, this sickening reprehensible and callous policy shows the future of our own society.

    Whilst I firmly believe we should align ourselves with our brothers and sisters on the continent, I am not sure how successful that will be, it is not impossible to instil the essential change in Europe as it needs here in Britain, but I think the time span necessary to create that change will take too long… inevitably leaving us with no other resort but to exit the EU.

    1. Verity says:

      Do you not think that the claim that the Labour Party has thrown off neo-liberalism and is in the process of relaunching socialism is a little premature? I note the election of a radical socialist leader and the appointment of a Socialist Chancellor along with perhaps two other individuals. But I also note the open hysteria as well as the reposed resentment and aggression of almost the whole of the Labour establishment along with most Labour MPs, MEPs, who are just awaiting their moment. It is important to describe this situation accurately so as to be alert to the future battles yet to be fought.

  6. David Pavett says:

    The EU is the Achilles heel of the Tories. Unfortunately it is also the Achilles heel for both the Labour Party, the trade unions and the left in general. Peter has made a helpful contribution to the effort to get an informed debate going instead of just rehearsing old arguments.

    There seem to be two main arguments for exit.

    1. The traditional Bennite argument: the EU is a capitalist club which exists to promote capitalist interests. Therefore, this argument runs, we should have nothing to do with it.

    The problem with this argument is that it fails to recognise the way in which institutions required for the maintenance of capitalism can also become a focal point for a battle of class interests. If this argument really had any value then we should immediately stop contesting Parliamentary elections and cooperating with the police, along with a whole lot of other institutions. That’s why it really isn’t an argument at all but more like a grunt of dissatisfaction.

    There are plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied with the EU, no need to list them here. But the people using this argument seem to have failed to notice that the EU actually does more than promote capitalist interests. It is more than a market and that is exactly why Tory Europhobes want us to leave. It’s not a good position to be lining up with them.

    2. The second argument is that if Cameron negotiates opt-outs from social and employment protection then we should vote “no”. This is the position of the TUC and to put it bluntly, it strikes me as idiotic.

    This amounts to saying “While there is much about the EU that we value, if the Tories manage to opt-out from the those things then we will vote to leave”. This makes no sense at all. We should be saying that if the Tories negotiate opt-outs on worker’s rights etc then Labour must argue for an opt-in on returning to power.

    Everyone knows that the EU is in bad need of reform. What we need from team Corbyn is a detailed draft of what reforms are needed and Labour and the TUs should work with their continental counterparts to campaign for those reforms.

    Finally, of course Cobryn should not share a platform with Cameron for an “in” campaign. Labour and the TUs along with the Greens and others should run an independent campaign for staying in on the basis of reversing Cameron’s opt outs.

    1. Verity says:

      Of course the EU is a mix of constraints and (some) benefits. That has been the master stroke of its designers. Unfortunately so many have failed to distill the centrality of its design from some beneficial by – products to gather commitments from social democrats. There are some social democrats who prefer machine politics to deliver what they cannot win in political activity in their own nation. This explains the very variable implementation of employment protection. The decision to remain or leave ought not to be made upon the marginal benefits or gains at any moment in time but on the essentials of that EU design. This is my understanding of the Bennite argument.
      The political structures and processes of the EU had been constructed upon a design to match a mission. That mission includes the avoidance of radical political change, which may suit the needs of any one member state. Originally of course, the Communists taking office in Italy, and radical Socialist – Communist advances in France. By creating an average ‘expectation’ of a spread of nations you impose a centralisation policy mechanism thereby removing the possibilities for democratic control other than those of that unaccountable Commission. By integrating that Commission into the mission, no government has the capacity for democratic responses to the needs of its own parliaments. This centralised control enables the bargaining with big business for the best deals. In theory these deals could be beneficial but in fact serve the interests of those large unaccountable corporations.
      The challenge to Corbyn to present a list of what reforms are needed is in my view central, as it should have been for the Labour establishment for over a decade. The response has not been deafening because it has been used to say ‘yes for reform’ but if I fail then the default position is we should remain anyway.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Originally of course, the Communists taking office in Italy, and radical Socialist – Communist advances in France. By creating an average ‘expectation’ of a spread of nations you impose a centralisation policy mechanism thereby removing the possibilities for democratic control other than those of that unaccountable Commission.

        I have no idea what this about. When, for example, did the Communists “take office” in Italy? This all sounds like made up history to me but I am happy to be corrected with some historical detail.

        Apart from that the general tenor of your argument seems to be that if an institution has clear democratic shortcomings and if it has served the interests of big capital then we should have nothing to do with it. This argument equally applies to the UK parliament which shows that political judgement that leads to engagement with the world as it currently is, in order to change it, requires something less simplistic.

        1. gerry says:

          But it is actually very simple David – to me the EU is an organisation that can never be “reformed” in a socialist or social democratic way. This neoliberal entity is the polar opposite to socialism, and we should be putting all our energies into taking back as much control of our own country (and lives) as we can – certainly our parliaments, but also our economies, industries, societies…once we have tried or begun to do this, then can we encourage others in other European countries to do the same. Exiting the EU must only be the start of building true democracy and freedom in our country.

          1. David Pavett says:

            You make assertions about what the EU cannot become but give no reasons.

            Do you want every country to be solely responsible for its own fisheries policy, for emissions levels and other environmental questions? Do you think the current migrant crisis (and it almost certainly will not be the last) is best resolved on a nation-by-nation basis?

            In fact do you believe that supra-national institutions (e.g. the UN, International Court, etc) should have no constraining effect on what national governments do?

        2. Verity says:

          Apologies I meant, ‘the perceived immanent threat of the communists taking office in Italy’. There is a well recorded history of this period – but not especially worth returning to now. The subsidies inherent in the Common agriculture policy had its original in shoring up the political right in France which was agriculturally based.

          It is not essentially my concern that there is a lack of democracy as such. If it was purely a lack of democracy then there could be some hopes for reforms or change. The problem for me arises when the ‘constitutional’ structures of its design exclude democratic accountabilities. Along with this goes an ingrained culture and expectations for functioning. If constitutionally democratic change is excluded then it not purely a matter of electing some new people but a rejection of its constitution as a whole. Rejection of its constitution amounts to such a fundamental design fault that for me it amounts to rejection of the organisation. It is so fundamental that it would require the creation of some totally new entity with the democratic accountabilities central to both design, principles and culture.

          1. David Pavett says:

            If constitutionally democratic change is excluded

            Why should it be?

            Do you not know that evolution allows for the emergence of new species i.e. species with qualitatively new characteristics? Why should this be ruled out for human institutions?

    2. gerry says:

      David – we don’t need the EU to have international cooperation or mutually beneficial trade agreements and relationships. Indeed, the EU – and upcoming TTIP – is the biggest threat to good international relations, social justice and workers rights possible!

      1. David Pavett says:

        It would more likely be even more difficult to resist a TTIP type arrangement as a single state.

        Besides, not really an answer to my more general questions about the need for supra-national institutions and a consequential pooling of sovereignty to some extent.

        1. gerry says:

          There are some potentially positive supra-national bodies (the UN, for example – but even there just look at the countries on its human rights commission eg Saudi Arabia the biggest abuser of human rights on the planet bar none!), but most of these bodies (EU, ECB, IMF, World Bank) are arms of the neoliberal hegemony which – like fascism – can not be “reformed” , but must be confronted and destroyed.

          And when you talk of “pooling” sovereignty, this too is an EU sham: for poor clueless Syriza and Greece, this summer showed exactly how little national sovereignty they really had when faced with the ECB and the EU/Germany: zero.

          1. John P Reid says:

            Fascism should be destroyed, like Hezbollah, hamas, real IRA

          2. David Pavett says:

            I don’t deny the problems of existing supra-national organisations for a moment. Given the international dominance of capitalism it could not be otherwise.

            What bothers me is the one-sided nature of most left-wing criticism of such institutions.

            When we understand things is less abstract terms we tend to be less one-sided. Thus people do not say “The UK Parliament has consistently come down on the side of big capital in all decisive matters therefore we should have nothing to do with it”. Almost no one says that (apart from a few anarchist fundamentalists). So why should we use a different logic for supra-national organisations?

            The questions is whether these institutions can also be regarded as a focus for class battles which can be won thereby shifting the nature of the organisation. That is what most of us hope from our Parliament. So why is the logic different for the EU?

            I think that the answer to the above question is that generally the understanding of the EU, how it works, and how it can be changed is at best very sketchy on the left (as on the right) and detailed discussion is blotted out by rather thin abstractions/slogans.

            I do not believe in EU membership under any circumstances. But present circumstances are such that the neo-liberal consensus can be challenged and the forces of opposition to it are growing. Not a good time to throw in the towel and align ourselves with Tory free-market fundamentalists. In my opinion the old Bennite approach is too close to close, for anyone who looks into the issues, to little Englandism.

          3. gerry says:

            John – yes theres a lot of fascism around in 2015, most of it the Islamic variety, or the equally horrific Real IRA, Golden Dawn, Jobbik……but easily, in terms of the misery, exploitation, imperialism and oppression they cause, the IMF, World Bank, ECB, EU are probably worse than all of those fascist movements.

            David – this is, at root, about political judgement. I wish you, Peter and Trevor the best of luck in creating your reformed socialist EU..I think we have a much better chance to create a socialist UK, or a Bennite little England as you so charmingly put it – though both our visions seem miles away in 2015!

  7. David Ellis says:

    We have all just witnessed the kicking in of Greece by the EU in order to impose austerity. Associate with that and any anti-austerity message will be completely lost.

    As for sharing a platform with Cameron he won’t have to. He will be doing something far worse. Handing him a mid-term victory whilst re-starting the pasokification of Labour.

    1. Mervyn Hyde says:

      David Ellis:

      I am confused by your statement saying “linking the treatment of Greece with the anti austerity message will be completely lost.”

      I see it as a window on the barbarism of neo-liberalism, and shows these politicians in their worst light.

      They firstly loaded the banking crash on to Europe’s people as a whole, then as anything like this happens the weakest links break, meaning Greece was unable to produce the surpluses similar to Germany and therefore had to borrow money in order to pay it’s share of the debt. This led to borrowing on top of borrowing just to meet the debt repayment deadlines.

      To add insult to injury the ECB in the meantime decided to change the rules in favour of the banks once more and they received QE (quantitative easing). So on top of making the Greek people pay a debt that was created by the banks in the first place, they are also getting free money from the state, something they refuse to do for the Greek people.

      In case you think they are just being fair to the other countries because they too have suffered, they could also do the same them, there is in fact no limit that the ECB can act on, except that the politicians are neo-liberals and refuse to do it as a matter of policy.

      That is the political decision they choose to make and one which we can demonstrate to our advantage.

      1. David Ellis says:

        Yes I am afraid you missed the point of my comment.

  8. Verity says:

    Surely the purpose of the EU referendum cannot only be whether or not it enhances the prospects of a Labour victory in one election. Surely the decision is important in its own right since much is at stake over a long period of time. This reduces an important international obligation to just one argument amongst thousands used in an election. In any case assuming, a 54% to remain, as opposed to 46% against, means that three major parties are only gathering a third share of 54% of the electorate – I would suggest an inevitably reduced Labour vote.

    Mocking the green and pleasant Jerusalem is easy but have you thought that it might just be code for having a chance to influence something over which I can visualise, and see the control over, rather than imposed upon me. We can visualise effects and influence of our own parliament and we can see its manoeuvres – who says that of the EU?

    The argument for the EU as the means for controlling big business is not well understood as no business interests suffer at the hands of the EU administration. But big agricultural companies for just one, have thrived at our expense. Surely the resources of big business have the capacity, and do infiltrate all committees and lobby groups of the EU to their great gains.

    The ‘top table’ and ‘having a say’ argument sound valuable until you examine what exactly ‘having a say’ means. All standards are determined by international bodies over and above the EU otherwise none of us would be able to successfully trade with Canada or Brazil. It is a myth that we have a say from within the EU. But in any case being at the ‘top table’ means joining committees of 28 with compromise bargains influenced by intervening / dominating vested interests with a table that big. Even assuming committees are entitled to make decisions at all. British influence will becoming vanishingly small as the eurozone cliques act as a group, along with the most compliant. The prospects of cumbersome and conflicting grouping of the Left having some say is about as likely to succeed as a private members Bill in Westminster.

    I do accept however that a vacuum is no alternative to the EU and upon rejection alternatives will be needed. They will not emerge whilst we remain a member. Other nations will come on board if the UK did opt out as a trading deficits are so beneficial to them.

    1. gerry says:

      Good points you make. The politics of Jeremy’s new position (as of this Thursday) – that Labour will campaign to stay in the EU – are pretty hideous, and his first really huge mistake. It is almost as if by trying to appease the pro EU, pro neoliberal, pro privatisation pro deregulation Labour MPs he is trying to ensure a Labour defeat before we have even started!

      His original politics – being anti EU, anti a free market Europe, and by implication anti so called free movement of labour aka open door immigration – was one of the few areas which he/we could have won back all those working class UKIP voters we need to win over….but now his position is indistinguishable from the Lib Dems. Really bad politics Jeremy. And a massive vote loser too.

      1. David Ellis says:

        As long as Corbyn doesn’t keep forward momentum and keep the media and ruling elites worried about what he is going to do next then they will have all the time in the world to make everybody else worried instead about what he is doing now (anthem, rugby no show, ties) and what he has done in the past (Hamas, Abbott). Unfortunately the very things he could have prompted a huge political discussion about he has already conceded the biggest being the announcement of his intention to support a YES or REMAIN vote in Cameron’s EU Referendum. This will ensure that the pasokification of Labour will now continue after the brief spike of Cobymania has subsided.

        1. gerry says:

          Sadly you are right on this – a more terrible mistake Jeremy could not have made: the EU would never allow a party opposed to neoliberalism to govern…they crushed the silly Syriza government, and now the wretched Tsipras accepts way more austerity and colonialism than even Pasok or New Democracy did: has he no shame? (That’s a rhetorical question!). It is all very depressing, given that exiting the EU (and NATO ) could have been one of JC’s most popular policies….oh well…

  9. Peter Rowlands says:

    Let me try and answer some of the points made, although not those of David Pavett or Trevor Fisher with which I largely agree.
    The other comments are broadly similar, seeing the EU as an unreformable neo liberal capitalist conspiracy which can only retard the socialist cause while we remain members.
    I refute this. The EU, like most institutions, is reformable. Indeed it wasn’t neo liberal when it began, in 1957, it was if anything neo Keynesian. Its outlook reflects the prevailing ethos, not something innate. Yes of course we should seek major reforms, and I hope to set out what those should I think be shortly. But meanwhile no-one has answered other points that I made: That there are a range of decent socialist parties in the EU that are seeking reform – should we not stand with them? That Brexit would be an economic disaster, cause massive unemployment and make us far more at the mercy of international big business. That Brexit would be seen as a triumph for xenophobic nationalism, not socialism. Your views on these issues would be welcome.

    1. David Ellis says:

      The EU is what it is and that is an alliance of European imperialist capitalist states on the basis of neo-liberal and now austerity economics. In actual fact it is an alliance with very little time left. YOu cannot change it all you can do is establish a whole new alliance concluded by socialist governments in each of the member states. Whatever happens the current EU and its institution will have to be dismantled. To enter it as it is is to sign up to its foundational principles and its ludicrous institutions. That cannot be done by anybody calling themselves a socialist. Worse is campaigning for it and worse still campaigning for it at the same time as Cameron and backing his `reforms’. This will be the same as when Labour fell in with the Tories by campaigning with them for NO on Scottish independence. Result: total wipeout. Corbyn has already destroyed any hope he had of winning in 2020 and he was the only one of the four who had any chance by doing a Syriza on the EU and therefore on anti-austerity which was all he had and in only six short days too. Biggest damp squib ever. The pasokification of Labour far from being stopped is now set to continue apace.

      1. gerry says:

        Very well put – a clear and irrefutable case against a “reformable” EU.

        Peter – the sooner socialist parties in Europe realise that this entity is a major part of the neoliberal problem, then the better for us all. But that is their call if they dont – long term, a socialist commonwealth of sovereign democratic nations is a great goal, one I hope you would share. We need the EU to be dismantled and destroyed for that commonwealth to be born. We have to take back our individual countries from the deadend of neoliberalism, embodied by the EU.

      2. Verity says:

        With an enormous amount of energy (such that it stifles almost everything else we do) I suspect that you could potentially succeed in introducing some accountabilities and democratic reforms to the EU. But as with all liberal democracies it may be possible to bring in new committees, processes, policies, practices and agreements – but a change to the ‘constitutions’ that have brought the systems into being, usually demands a 2/3 majority – a very demanding call, requiring agreement of your opponents. The EU takes this demand for a constitutional change to the pinnacle by demanding unanimity and so effectively ensuring that accountability and truly democratic changes become vanishingly small amongst the wide variety of conflicting group/national interests. This deficient learned culture has also become so ingrained that even if that almost impossible threshold was to be reached we would be left with personnel whose whole careers and raison etra were constructed upon the rewards of ‘machine politics’ office holding.

        Surely there are other important political struggles in which to engage without tying ourselves up into additional tiers of high obstacles. I see the argument for superhuman energetic EU reform activities being rather like saying let’s settle for the House of Lords and the Monarchy and try to reform them from within.

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