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The EU – a strong Labour ‘remain’ campaign would be decisive

JohnMcD_EUThe recent poll  giving Leave a lead (Opinium, Observer, April 3rd), backed up by recent poll averages showing only a small two point lead for Remain, means that there is now a distinct possibility that Leave could carry the day, and Brexit could happen. This is accentuated by the poll also demonstrating that the younger, more pro-EU electorate is less likely to vote than the older, more anti-EU electorate.

Research (GQRR for the Fabians) shows that Labour voters could make a crucial difference, but only if Jeremy Corbyn (JC) gives a strong lead in encouraging them to vote. It has been suggested that there will be pressure on him to do this, as he has up till now not taken a strong position, although he has backed the rather lacklustre Labour campaign to remain, supported by virtually all MPs and a clear majority of Labour members and supporters (according to the YouGov poll of April 4th 59% of Labour voters support Remain and 23% support Leave).

The problem is, and in this JC is representative of the views of the left, that while the traditional opposition to the EU has diminished significantly as leaving seemed an increasingly unviable option, it has not been replaced by any notable enthusiasm for the EU, or for what a reformed left inclined EU could become. In practice this outlook has been passive and abstentionist. It is, I believe, very mistaken. At best it can only be justified by asserting that from a left point of view there is not likely to be any serious difference between leaving or remaining. However, there has not , since 1975, been a time at which such views were likely to have had any significant consequences, even if we had held a referendum on the EU constitution.

This has now fundamentally changed. If, as appears to be the case, Labour votes, and JC calling for them, are crucial to winning for Remain, then it is vital that this happens. The only valid argument against this is to demonstrate that there is no particular disadvantage for the left in leaving, or advantage in staying in. I do nor believe that any such arguments can be credibly made, and will try and explain why.

While there is still a residual left anti EU tradition the overwhelming impetus for Leave has come from the populist/nationalist right in UKIP , the Tory right and the right wing media. Unlike 1975 there is little left visibility, and a positive vote for Leave would represent a significant victory for forces of the right to the right of the present government (yes, that is possible) who would celebrate with a distasteful orgy of flag waving imperial/wartime nostalgia to be followed by the serious business of attacking the working class by removing all those EU benefits that stood in the way of ’labour flexibility’.

As the CBI predicts there could be  job losses of almost a million and a 5% reduction in GDP by 2020 (Speech by CBI director March 21st based on research by PWC). Foreign owned firms (that includes all vehicle manufacturers) could relocate to the EU to avoid tariffs. But the appeal to the ‘national interest’ would be powerful, and would be likely to adversely affect the strength of and support for the Labour Party and wider labour movement for some time. It is also the case that Brexit could significantly weaken the EU and lead to its possible break up, with  neo fascist parties such as the French National Front becoming more dominant.

Even if no proposals for reform were made, Remain would almost certainly be a better proposition than the scenario just painted, with social and employment rights probably more secure and high levels of unemployment probably avoided. But of course the EU,  which has in the last 20 years moved in a more neoliberal direction, needs significant reform. Labour must highlight the things that Cameron and most of the  Remain camp are not interested in – more democracy for the EU Parliament,  an extension of employment and social rights, positive policies for growth and employment and greater control over big business.

It cannot be denied that there are enormous problems in the EU, even without the current refugee crisis, mainly stemming from the Euro, and these must be overcome so that the peripheral countries are not condemned to depression and unemployment in perpetuity. But there are plenty of parties in the EU that are committed to change, and to the sorts of policies outlined above. This is to some extent true of the established social democratic parties, grouped mainly within the umbrella Party of European Socialists, most of which succumbed to some degree of  neoliberalism in the 90s, like New Labour, but some of which have since moved back to more left wing positions, and the newer parties of the left, grouped mainly within the umbrella Party of the European Left, which include not only new parties like Podemos and Syriza but more established parties such as Die Linke in Germany. With the exception of some of the traditional Communist parties almost all of these parties favour remaining in a reformed EU rather than leaving, and have developed policies accordingly.

We should emphatically join them. It is not so much a question of international solidarity, but because it is the right, indeed the only way to go to secure a better social future for Europe and the UK. There is unlikely to be any basis for left advance in an independent UK. Nationalism and global capital will always be stronger. But the EU is potentially big and strong enough to allow real advances  for the left. It may not happen, but there is no other way forward.

It would therefore be a monumental disaster for the left if that possibility was summarily cut short  by a win for Leave on June 23rd. We must campaign strongly to see that that does not happen. Come on Jeremy, you know it makes sense!

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  1. rod says:

    “Labour must highlight the things that Cameron and most of the Remain camp are not interested in”


    There’s no need for Corbyn to go overboard with blind support for the EU.

    Instead Corbyn should emphasise the dangers associated with Tory-negotiated exit terms. And float the prospect of a non-neoliberal ‘people first’ EU.

    1. John P Reid says:


  2. James Martin says:

    The problem is we all want a ‘better’ Europe, a workers Europe not a bosses Europe, a social Europe not a Europe of cuts and austerity. But are we going to get it by voting to remain in the undemocratic bosses club that screwed Greek workers with such glee so very recently? No, of course not, it is a sick fantasy. Want to protect the NHS from TTIP? Then vote Leave. Want to be a part of Europe and international solidarity? Then vote Leave, because you won’t get it in the EU. Want to have democratic accountability and the opportunity to nationalise our railways, utilities and anything else we want to? Then vote Leave!

    1. rod says:

      We will get TTIP in or out of the EU.

      Even anti-EU Tories support TTIP.

      After the referendum, no matter what the result, the Tories will remain in government and will negotiate a TTIP treaty which is sure to be as pro-corporate, or even more so, than an EU negotiated TTIP.

      1. James Martin says:

        Nonsense, this is a political question. It is certain we will get TTIP and potentially destroy the NHS if we stay in the EU (as per the detailed legal advice provided to Unite), because then that is the politicians excuse, ‘nothing to do with us, we had to accept this, it is part of the EU’ blah blah blah. If we come out of the bosses club then UK politicians have to actively (rather than passively) adopt TTIP. In the current mess that is the Tory Party do you honestly think they would do this? And even if they tried to do it we would have a far better chance at a massive fightback against it in a situation where the public believed that they could do something about it if it was a Westminster issue rather than something none of us can have any influence over in Brussels, so for the sake of the struggle alone voting out makes sense, but in terms of TTIP and the NHS it is a no-brainer.

  3. David Pavett says:

    There is a lot to dislike about the EU as at present constituted. But then there is a lot to dislike about Parliamentary democracy as at present constituted.

    The issue has to be looked at from as many angles as possible. Like everyone else on the left I hate what the Troika did, and is doing to Greece.

    Still, on balance, I think that Out is much worse than In and that, as Peter Rowlands says, we must fight for a better Europe.

    I find the environmental arguments for In particularly persuasive.

    Here is an interesting piece in Open Democracy which, like the above article, sees a real chance for Labour to make its mark by campaigning for In.

  4. yes I rarely agree with Jackie Ashley but her piece in the Guardian last week on where the Labour campaign was made sense.

    What exactly is the Labour campaign? Its not merely a massive issue in its own right, its also a big issue for the young who should not allow their grandparents to decide their future.

    How to get the issue up and running fr Labour is a key priority

    Write to JC perhaps?

    Trevor Fisher.

  5. verity says:

    An important difficulty for the dominate Labour position to Remain, is that Labour has said nothing of any importance for the EU over the last decade. Inasmuch as Labour did not wish for the debate/referendum in the first place, then the position is perhaps understandable.

    In making the case that Remain has lost the argument, even if they win the vote, Wolfgang Munchau recently argued in the Financial TImes,

    “….if you really want to discuss the merits of the EU and of Britain’s membership of it, should you not be telling the voters what you want the EU to do to benefit them?”

    Since Labour has had, and still has, no policy at all on the EU, it is left with pragmatic and incoherent partial references to a supposed basement of social policy. In some Labour contributions there has been an attempt to reduce this long term constitutional decision to that of just a current struggle against the present UK Conservative government – its employment for a temporary short term effect. In this case, the defeat of a democratically elected (Conservative) government, having failed to create the domestic political climate for doing so – a short cut, administrative machine solution substituting that of revitalised political processes for doing so.

    Of course Leave cannot point to its detailed alternative plan. That is the nature of radical change. The form depends upon the continuing struggles of many other European democrats or socialists once a first direct challenge to hegemony, perceived orthodoxy and authority. The uneasiness across the continent, will I suggest not leave the UK alone if a Leave vote was to be declared.

  6. Jim Denham says:

    I understand John McDonnell has supported ‘Another Europe Is Possible”:
    Momentum must now get out there and support this socialist pro-EU campaign.

    1. John P Reid says:

      What percentage of momentum are pro EU, most of Dagenham are against, I’d say 50/50 of the Hornhurch and Upminster momentum members are split on it.

    2. Karl Stewart says:

      Hmmm…misleading information on the “another Europe is possible” website about the European Convention on Human Rights.

      For the record, the ECHR has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the EU. It was founded in 1949, nearly a decade before the Treaty of Rome that set up what is now the EU.

      Almost every European nation, whether in the EU or not, belongs to ECHR. The only European country that doesn’t belong to ECHR is Belarus.

      Sorry remainiacs, the EU did not invent human rights, just as it did not invent workers’ rights.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        But the right-wing fanatics who run the Brexit campaign always link the European Convention on Human Rights with the EU, and make no secret of the fact that getting out of the EU will result in the UK pulling out of the ECHR: your refusal to see this, Karl, is yet another example of your delusions when it comes to the EU debate.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          But it won’t JimD. It won’t.

          We’re not leaving the ECHR. The ECHR has nothing to do with the EU and it’s either a failure to understand this or deliberately misleading to state that it is.

          And if some right-wingers are calling for the UK to leave the ECHR, then we need to fight this, not meekly accept it.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            A victory for Farage and the Tory hard-right on the EU will provide ideal conditions for them to get rid of the ECHR (which they’ve made no secret of their wish to get rid of): can you not understand that, Karl?

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            So what you’re saying is that some right-wing politicians are pursuing a right-wing political agenda…hmmm…just what we weren’t expecting them to do…

            Yes, and we need to oppose them on this don’t we?

  7. Jim Denham says:

    I would also add: why aren’t we getting a strong, left-wing pro-Europe case promoted by comrade Corbyn?

    1. John P Reid says:

      He wants to leave,Che could of course ,pretend and argue for it,becuase it’ll unite most of the party, but, he’d come up stuck

  8. Karl Stewart says:

    I just can’t understand why anyone on the left would advocates remaining within the EU.

    All of the progressive aims that the ‘left-remain’ advocates are calling for can each be better achieved by leaving the EU and urging people of other EU members states to leave as well.

    The EU is constitutionally committed to neo-liberalism, to privatisation, and to increasing the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful.

    The experience of Greece in particular, but also of Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland shows the futility of attempting to remain and transform this organisation from within.

    Instead, we should leave and urged others to join with us in creating an alternative, progressive system of international trade and commerce.

    Workers’ rights were fought for and won by the actions of workers many, many years before we joined the EU. Workers’ rights continue to be fought for at workplaces across the country, regardless of the EU.

    1. Bill Brandwood says:

      You are right about this.

      I think it is also wishful thinking that most Labour Supporters let alone party members will vote to stay in the E.U.

      I think LEAVE will win by 60%. Many party members will not say they are going to vote leave. Not many party members are attending campaigns to STAY. A lot of young people will vote LEAVE or not vote at all. A lot of young people will be influenced by how their parents and grandparents are going to vote.

      If I were a young person I would definitely vote LEAVE.

      All the social benefits and protection of workers rights would be enhanced by leaving and ,as you say, “by leaving the EU and urging people of other EU members states to leave as well.”

    2. John P Reid says:


      1. Jim Denham says:

        I have already provided chapter and verse as to why this is not tru, and why a victory for the “outers” would strengthen the mostg reactionary forces in British and European politics. Anyone who doesn’t “get” this is, frankly an idiot.

        Btw: I’m up for a face-to-face public debate on this, anywhere, anytime.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          You’re profoundly wrong on this issue JimD. Why don’t you come along next time there’s an ‘Exit-Left’ meeting and put your points over?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            …and listen to and take on board the Exit-Left arguments that the left is putting forward?

            All you’ve done, and all the author of this article has done, and all that any of the ‘Left-Remain’ camp have done, is to argue against the right-wing arguments for withdrawal.

            None of you have engaged with any of the Exit-Left arguments.

            It’s as if you’ve got two or three rehearsed arguments learned by rote and you just keep repeating them – almost seeming to have your fingers in your ears as you do so.

            You should listen to Exit-Left and have that debate.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            I would gladly dedate the “exit Left” clowns, but I note that they don’t seem to like actual debating: their platforms are made up exclusively of themselves. But if anyone wants to organise a genuine public debate I’ll gladly speak.

    3. David Pavett says:

      It may be that “I just can’t understand why anyone on the left would advocates remaining within the EU” was just a figure of speech but I wonder.

      Isn’t the beginning of all serious debate a recognition that those you are debating with have at the very least plausible grounds for the position that they hold. Otherwise they must appear as simpletons and debate with simpletons cannot be expected to produce anything of interest.

      Thus, for example, you may or may not agree with Yanis Varoufakis that we should stay in the EU (and he knows a thing or two about its down side) but he has given his reasons for that. It is reasons like that, and those given by Peter Rowlands above, which need to be answered if the debate is to be meaningful.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I think the ‘remain and fight to make it better’ view made some sense before the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese and Irish were all smashed by EU-imposed austerity.

        What I find frustrating is that the ‘left-remainers’ just refuse to recognise the reality that the experiences of the people of these nations proved, in practice, that the EU cannot be reformed in a progressive direction.

        Leaving the EU, and encouraging the people of other EU nations to leave with us, and then working together to create new, progressive, people-first systems of international trade and commerce gives everyone hope for a better future.

        We really don’t need to waste our time trying to reform the unreformable – let’s start again, with our sisters and brothers of other nations, not just in Europe but in other countries too build something fresh and something better for the people.

        By contrast, the ‘left-remainers’ show a depressing lack of vision, lack of hope and lack of ideas.

        The other frustrating aspect of this, in my opinion, is the complete failure of the ‘left-remainers’ to engage with any of the ‘Exit-Left’ arguments.

        People like the author of this article, for example, just close their minds to any possibility that there could be a better, progressive future for all of us outside the EU.

        He simply states that there is no left-wing case for withdrawal and that withdrawal will inevitably benefit the political right.

        Why can’t the ‘left-remainers’ engage with and debate with Exit-Left ideas?

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          The ‘left-remainers’ all show such a poverty of ambition.

        2. Mick Hall says:

          Yet a great many of the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese you mentioned still wish to remain in EU, the Irish less so.

          Even those within Syriza who opposed accepting the deal imposed on the Greek government feel this way.

          I’m yet to make up my mind, there is no hurry still 100 days to go. I feel Corbyn is right to stay out of the debate until the local elections are over. But then he needs to make a forceful intervention.

          Questions he must deal with: is it the right time to come out and if not when might be, or does he believe the EU can be democratized. If so he needs to set out a programme which will tame this unruly beast.

          For him to sit on the fence when one of the most import issues the UK faces is not a viable option.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Fair points Mick, but the people of these nations have been picked off one by one by the EU and have been presented with the alternatives of isolation or submission.

            Someone needs to stand up and say: We’re leaving, we’re going to create something better, something fairer, fair and equitable international trade and commerce that puts people first – not parasite capitalists.

            “Come and join with us – everybody’s welcome.”

          2. John P Reid says:

            well said Karl

  9. Richard Tiffin says:

    There are calls coming from many directions for Corbyn to be prominent in the Remain campaign. Articles in the press, particularly the FT, and from the Fabian’s here and on Labour List are examples of what appears to be a concerted campaign.
    I think this is unprincipled and I would advise Corbyn to ignore them, irrespective of the scaremongering above by dangling the threat of the right.
    First, why would the people calling for Corbyn to help want a politician who they think is a no hoper and unelectable to front their campaign? That’s all we have heard in the media and from many Fabian’s since Corbyn was elected, seems strange that he should therefore front a Labour campaign to Remain.
    Second, the self same organisations will immediately return to trying to topple him straight after the referendum so why should he risk political capital in their interests?
    Third, Corbyn was against much of what the EU was doing prior to his leadership, particularly the actions of the Troika over Greece, so why would he risk personal political capital for the organisation as it is currently constituted? Did Cameron come to Corbyn during the ‘renegotiation’ and ask what he would like to see in the regenotiation?
    Forth, win or lose Corbyn will be tainted in the same way as Labour were tainted in Scotland after winning the indie ref. That was a disastrous outcome and one I would not like repeated over the EU.
    Fifth, Corbyn has no personal responsibility in this having been against the EU prior to leadership. He has an obligation to stick to party policy but Johnson is the campaign front for Labour.
    Sixth, the big bourgeois will not allow leave without a fight, there will be a second referendum, particularly if the vote is as close as it appears. At this stage if they want Corbyn to be involved in the second campaign then they need to invite him in to a renegotiation so he can make some demands and campaign on reforms he has had a part in. So why risk political capital over something he has had no part and doesn’t personally agree?
    In conclusion, I think Corbyn would be making a mistake to become personally involved in e remain campaign.

  10. Mike davis says:

    In response to Karl and support of Peter’s original piece the internationalist position has to be vote remain but with a transformational programme. A major danger of a Brexit is the stoking of nationalist and fascist fires, already burning, across Europe. It is no accident that virtually the whole of the Greek left, including the Left Platform split from Syriza, support working within the EU. Varoufakis is spearheading a campaign for a reformed democratic EU.
    There is nothing fixed about the neo liberal agenda currently infecting the EU. In the same way it is not inevitable in the Westminster parliament. We can change the political direction in Britain and working with socialists and greens in the EU we can change the political weather there too. The mood is changing against austerity politics.
    The idea of some pure, unsullied socialist Europe being born from a rag bag of anti EU activists is a nonsense. we have to take the fight to the heart of the EU in alliance with those in the socialist and left groups in the European Parliament.
    Brexit will be a huge boost to the nationalists, the little englanders and racists who want to put up bigger borders and pull up the drawbridge. It will mark a victory for the right. We should not allow that to happen.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for the points.

      Couple of things in response.

      In Greece, the left was not unanimous for the EU. The Greek Communist Party was for withdrawal, not only after the EU imposed austerity on the Syrizia government, but before the election in which Syrizia were elected as well. In Greece, the Communist Party is a very significant political and industrial force and was proven right over the EU.

      As for trying to achieve progressive reform within the EU, as well as this having been proven impossible by the Greek experience, I just don’t think we’ll be able to achieve left-wing change across the whole of the EU simultaneously – the political/electoral cycles just don’t coincide, as CMac explained in detail in his post yesterday (the one she/he posted at 9.18).

      But there’s nothing to stop us from leaving the EU and then continuing to work in alliance with left-wing and progressive movements that are both inside or outside the EU and working together with people in other nations – in Europe and outside Europe – to build something better.

      The EU is the capitalists’ alliance, their ‘borders’ don’t dictate what we can and cannot do or who we can and cannot talk to and work with.

      Let me give an example, if there was a shipbuilders’ strike in South Korea, we in the UK would not hesitate to give solidarity and support, just as we would a dockworkers’ strike in Brazil or the USA, or a car workers’ struggle in France, or a fight by agricultural workers in Nigeria.

      For us, we shouldn’t care and we don’t care whether these workers belong to nations in the EU or in the BRIC, or in NAFTA, or any other alliance of ruling capitalists. We support and offer solidarity to people fighting for justice everywhere.

      As for the right-wing and the racists – they’ll push their poisonous agenda whatever the outcome of this referendum, and we need to combat this wherever it rears its ugly head. The whole EU project is, in essence, a racist construct in any case. (And as a whole, continental Europe is way more racist than the UK).

      (And by the way, as far as I know, no-one in Exit-Left is calling for any kind of “pure and unsullied Europe” not sure where that notion has come from. I think there’s actually a great deal of opposition to euro-centrism among the Exit-Left people in general to be honest.)

  11. C MacMackin says:

    While I certainly have a lot of sympathy for the reasons put forwards to stay in the EU, it always strikes me that they are defensive. It’s true that the EU stops a regressive government from lowering labour standards too much, but the true problem there is the fact that we have a regressive government in the first place. On the other hand, the EU would also hamper attempts by a progressive government at implementing a national economic plan. These arguments put forwards on the pro-EU front seem to have (the unintended) implication that “we can’t be trusted with democracy because we’d do reactionary things.” Unfortunately, if you make that argument, then someone else can argue that “we can’t be trusted with democracy because we’d to populist/dogmatic/competitiveness killing/socialist things.”

    The other thing I’m not sure about is the argument that leaving the EU would boost reactionary forces. I’m not 100% sure. It certainly might, but I can also imagine, with the EU gone, UKIP fading away. It could be that people would realize that the UK’s problems run deeper than the EU once they can’t blame everything on it anymore. I’m not saying that those will be the outcomes, but I won’t say that they couldn’t be.

    I admit that a lot of my desire to leave the EU is based on anger and instinct and is not rational. It’s a gut desire to pull down the wretched system even if we end up going the way of Samson. I am not saying that is a good or responsible position and I don’t know that it’s one I’d be comfortable actually voting on. My fear, though, is that if we cling to the EU now as a defence when the Left is weak, we’ll be shooting ourselves in the foot for later when the Left is strong and the EU starts getting in the way.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      I like a lot of those points CMak, especially your last sentence.

      It’s recently occurred to me that there could be a future Corbyn Prime Minister and a President Sanders – that’s one ‘special relationship’ that would be an enormous boost for left-wing and progressive change!

    2. John Penney says:

      Good points. I strongly suspect that like me and you, many on the Left and radical left are utterly unconvinced that our defence of workers rights in the UK depends on the now utterly neoliberal EU bureaucracy and its puppet EU Parliament – or that our existing rights were gifted to us by the EU ! The reality is that UK workers still self identify and mobilise on the basis of the UK nation state (or its national sub units), so the class struggle will be based on the UK nation state , not some amorphous ‘European amalgam of progressive forces’ fantasy.

      A radical Left UK government would get the same treatment from the EU as Greece under Syriza got – utter hostility and active sabotage. A decisive Left shift is simply not possible under the EU structure. Better to get out now and continue the class struggle on the realistic appreciation that, whatever alliances we have with European left movements, the political struggle ahead will still be fought on the territory of individual nation states.

      That is why so many on the Labour Left, and in Momentum, (and probably Jeremy and John too), will never lift a finger to help any varient of Stay In campaign – no matter how ‘Leftish’ its claimed aims are.

      1. C MacMackin says:

        I broadly agree with your points, although the UK wouldn’t be quite as vulnerable as Greece. The debt situation is nowhere near as bad and we’re not in the Eurozone. Nonetheless, it would be difficult or impossible implement a proper economic plan, let alone control capital flight, within the liberalization directives. There may be loopholes which could be exploited, and if the referendum decides to stay they should be exploited as much as possible, but it would be far better not to have to resort to that sort of thing.

        I have a lot of sympathy for the idea of trans-European leftist forces because I think it is a beautiful one. I think a democratic federal Europe is a nice goal. Unfortunately, that’s just not where we are. For that matter, if people really believe it, then surely they should be trying to form a single European movement and Left party. Not a federation of national parties, but a European party with national chapters, sharing branding and (as appropriate) manifestos. In fact, even if Britain does leave, I would support this action.

        I really would like there to be a European socialist republic one day. I just don’t see how it can emerge out of the EU–certainly not on the time scales needed if Corbyn were to become prime minister and implement a radical program.

  12. Jim Denham says:

    Re: the Dutch referendum. I note the “left exit” clowns have little to say about this “triumph” for their cause: I wonder why?

    “More worrying, though, is the UKIP line supporting Putin and claiming that a trade agreement with Ukraine is somehow an example of EU aggression. It takes breathtaking chutzpah to claim that non-exclusive trade constitutes aggression, while Russia is ‘only defending itself’ when it annexes part of the territory of its neighbour, supports violent separatists in another part and tries to prevent a sovereign country from choosing to trade with its neighbours.

    “UKIP’s pro-Putin line has been aped by other far-right parties in Europe. In return, Putin has given support to several of them. It is a truly worrying trend” – Labour MEP Richard Corbett in September 2014 .

    The right wing fanatics and racists who are the driving force behind the anti-EU movement in Europe and Britain, have scored a victory on behalf of their hero and (in some cases) financial sponsor Vladimir Putin.

    Dutch voters have voted against an EU trade agreement with Ukraine, and in doing so have handed Putin a propaganda victory and stabbed the Ukrainians in the back: it is the same draft agreement that sparked pro-EU protests in Kiev, sending the authoritarian Viktor Yunukovych into exile in Russia in February 2014.

    Farage helped garner support for the referendum in the first place, and has a long record of “admiring” Putin and supporting his stance on Ukraine.

    The racist anti-immigration right winger Geert Wilders has worked with Farage throughout, emphasising the alleged threat of immigration from Ukraine and an expansion eastwards of the EU: whether these racist reactionaries are actually in the pay of Putin (as are, for sure, the French Front National and the Hungarian anti-Semitic Jabbik party) is not the real issue: paid or unpaid, these right wing fanatics and racists are doing Putin’s bidding. And, in the Netherlands, as in Britain, some idiot-leftists have gone along with it, as Comrade Coatesy explains here). The people of Ukraine, who courageously rose up against corrupt rule in 2014, are the victims of ultra-right Putin-fans like Farage and Wilders.

    Serious leftists in the UK need to learn our lessons from this debacle.

    1. Richard Tiffin says:

      I want to start by stating that I have no desire to give succour to the nationalists (closet racists) or open racists and fascists. In that sense I acknowledge the remain leave referendum is not without risk.

      However, go look at what the racists are saying. One need only look at the comments section on Labour List to get a flavour. The EU is a part of their agenda, because of the rise (and current faltering) of UKIP and the referendum, but it is not the main argument they are making. Their main stance is an ‘anti Muslim’ position, not anti European.

      This use of Muslim is code for Pakistanis, as they are clearly far and away the largest population of Muslim ‘immigrants’, though most are second generation and thus British. This is further evidenced because they bang on about the events of Rotherham; the ‘cultural threat’ Muslim immigration represents; the ‘separatist’ nature and ‘ghettos’ created by their particular form of immigration; the alleged abuse or oppression of Muslim women; the crisis caused in housing, education and the NHS by Muslim immigration and so on, ad infinitum.

      In or out of the EU this would not change, though clearly, their confidence would rise in what they would see as their victory should leave prevail. But the pan European nationalist forces are not going to be scapegoating one another any time soon are they?This is why their focus is outside of the EU, Muslims.

      The biggest threat in regard to the rising islamaphobia is the confidence the right are gaining from the language and tactics used by those from other political strands in the fight against Isis. The terrorism in France and Belgium was followed by a stream of opinion and news headlines that was nothing short of islamaphobic in many instances. This allows the racists to make real headway in the generation of a scapegoat for the ills of capitalism, not the little England nationalism the EU debate is bringing.

      If the left really wish to cut across racism we need to worry not just about about the nationalism the referendum is generating and to argue to give Muslims the same protection as Jews and Sikhs by protecting them as a race in law. Then the right would have their comments treated as they ought to be, an incitement to racial hatred, because right now they are getting away with it.

      It strikes me that many of those professing to be concerned about the rising racism and focussing on the Referendum as the cause rather than the rising islamaphobia are less concerned about racism than they are about persuading the left to fight harder in the remain camp.

    2. Karl Stewart says:

      JimD. what a pathetic post. Even by your standards.

      You’re refusing to listen to, take on board, or engage with any Exit-Left arguments whatsoever, you have no counter-arguments as all of your rehearsed lines of attack are against Exit-Right positions, so you decide to try to change the subject completely so it’s a bit closer to your comfort zone.

      No-one, absolutely no-one gives a flying one about the Dutch vote – it’s utterly irrelevant.

      Do you have anything to say in response to Exit-Left arguments for withdrawal from the EU?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        What *are* the exit-left arguments, Karl? I haven’t heard any that are distinct from the racists and natioinalists (and I read the Morning Star most days): a London teacher has written the following about the “left” anti-Europe arguments:

        I have been on the far left for over thirty years, and I’ve seen and heard some pretty strange things.

        I have watched women members of a revolutionary socialist group join the back of a segregated Muslim march against Israel. I’ve argued with left-wing British trade unionists who backed the jailing of independent trade unionists in the old USSR. I’ve seen socialists carry “We are Hizbollah” placards, and listened to leftists who refused to condemn 9/11.

        These are sincere people, genuinely believing they are doing the right thing. Often they have given many years of their lives fighting for what they hope will be a better world. And yet they have lost the plot. Their immediate actions and views have become seriously detached from the fight for human liberation.

        The current left belief that Brexit is a blow against EU racism and will lead to a left shift in British politics is right up there in the Premier League of unreason.

        At the National Union of Teachers union conference over the Easter holiday we debated the EU referendum, eventually rejecting Leave the EU by a big majority.

        The Communist Party’s Unity bulletin had declared that the EU vote was (despite the words on the ballot paper) about the NHS.

        The SWP believe that a vote to leave will be a blow against racism, despite the fact that a tabloid-driven, UKIP-benefiting, wave of racist hysteria will grip the country if Britain votes to leave. The new leader of the Tory Party will preside over a capitalist UK with even more unpleasant immigration restrictions.

        Unfortunately the NUT Executive’s amendment which was passed did not advocate staying in the EU and advocated no position on this “divisive issue”. Some speeches urged rejection of the Brexit position because this was a political matter and the union should defend workers, not meddle with politics.

        Workers Liberty’s problem with a union adopting a Brexit position is not that it is political, but that it is stupid.

        Brexit is an immediate, pressing threat for many workers in the UK. If Britain votes to get out of the EU the first thing which will happen is that the regulations governing the right of EU workers to work here will be seriously worsened.

        In my school the cleaners are mainly Portuguese. Some teaching assistants are Spanish. The man in the photocopy room is Polish. The men in the Premises Dept are Eastern European. There are teachers from Ireland, Spain, Eastern Europe and other EU countries. Quite a few students and their families are from Europe. If the NUT had adopted a Brexit policy what would I say to them? The union has concluded that, in order to strike blow against the racism of the EU, we will help an even worse right wing Tory government into office who will then insist you Sod Off Home? What sense could any normal, rational person make of that?

        If you are a racist that message might seem reasonable. If you are a white SWPer with a British passport, Brexit might not appear so much of a problem. For everyone else on the left or in the unions it is a serious threat to the working lives of our friends and co-workers.

        Nevertheless the SWP and Socialist Party are dimly aware that Leave = more racism. No doubt someone has told them so.

        So they have solved their presentational problem by adding an extra delusional twist to their policy. Although Brexit may seem to hand the government on a plate to the Tory right led by Johnson and Gove, in fact it will give us a left Labour government, led by Corbyn. Hey presto! Like magic, like a rabbit from a hat!

        In fact, although Brexit would presumably mean Cameron would lose the leadership of his Party, it is unlikely that the government would fall (it would require a no confidence vote). Even if Brexit did lead to an election, given a Leave vote would give a massive boost to the right in British politics the left would hardly be in a position to take advantage. The right would make gains in an election that came after a vote to Leave.

        So why do people like the SWP and SP add an extra layer of delusion – vote to Leave and get a Corbyn government! – to shore up their Left Leave position? Because to do otherwise would mean examining their basic framework which says any damage to capitalism and the Tories is good for us. Having a close look at that framework would be difficult and dangerous (because it would lead to an unravelling of a lot of other positions they hold).

        They find it easier to plod on, no matter what damage is done to rational left politics.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          This is yet more of the ‘without the EU to protect us, the economy will collapse and the sky will fall on our heads’ scaremongering nonsense.

          And the trouble with this kind of fear-mongering rubbish is that it could actually strengthen rather than weaken the very reactionary forces you and I are both resolutely opposed to.

          What we need to do is set out a positive alternative of the progressive and left-wing future society that we can build outside of this neo-liberal capitalists’ alliance.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            “the trouble with this kind of fear-mongering rubbish is that it could actually strengthen rather than weaken the very reactionary forces you and I are both resolutely opposed to”: how does speaking the truth *ever* help reactionary forces, Karl?

  13. John P Reid says:

    And what if we twigged afterwards that most of our potential or core vote, voted to leave, what if say Kent Essex, Luton Manchester even the east end of London,voted leave, Jon land
    Sean knows Tower hamlets, he must have an idea how ,many 3rd generation Asians are going to vote leave, not just Galloway supporters,

  14. Mick Hall says:

    If the debate here amongst comrades can descend to the above level, think what it must be like in the Tory Party. [The reference is to personalised abusive posts now deleted – Ed]

    The media no longer talks about the LP being split because the disarray in the Tory party is far far worse.

    We need to keep control of our keypads comrades.

  15. Peter Rowlands says:

    As the author can I make four points.

    No-one has answered my two main points, that few socialist or social democratic parties in the EU want to leave, and that an independent UK would be much more vulnerable to global capital, that leaving would be a victory for and empower the populist right, here and in the EU, and that there would be a significant rise in unemployment and fall in production as a result.

    I am accused by Karl Stewart of not engaging with the ‘left – exit’ arguments, but i cannot see that that is so. Perhaps he would care to say what they are.

    If a majority of left parties in the EU wanted to leave, it would perhaps be a different matter, but they don’t. For the UK to leave unilaterally would be divisive and weaken the EU left, at a time when it is growing in strength.

    John Penney’s point, that identification and therefore class struggle, is still largely on a nation state basis, is right, but that is no reason for the left not to promote a European dimension.

    We want a reformed EU, for which there is a basis in the programme already drawn up by the Party of the European Left. Have any of my critics ever read it? It doesn’t sound like it. Please do so comrades, it might enlighten you.

    1. James Martin says:

      Peter, the job of socialists is to achieve socialism, not make the capitalists richer, which appears your deciding point for the in/out debate. I don’t care what is better for capitalism, I care what is better for the labour movement, both in the UK and internationally. The fact that the majority of the reformist left is currently wedded to the undemocratic EU is their problem – it needn’t be ours. The fact that SYRIZA betrayed Greek workers and screwed themselves on German/EU orders was their inevitable fate for blind and stupid subservience to the EU, it needn’t be ours.

      If significant numbers on the left continue to support the horror show of EU technocratic dictatorship with zero democracy then they will only have themselves to blame if the revulsion felt by populations across Europe benefits the populist right rather than left.

      This is our chance to blow the EU prison doors off and have the chance to build a genuine peoples Europe once we elect a socialist government, something that we can never do if we remain trapped inside the EU.

    2. C MacMackin says:

      To be honest, I’m not sure that the fact few socialist or social democratic parties want to leave is all that relevant. No other social democratic party in Europe is taking a Corbyn-style turn to the left, but I would hardly let that sway us. As for socialist parties, it’s not so clear cut. In Denmark the consensus of the Left is anti-EU and there are considerable divisions on this in France, Finland, and Greece. I’d be willing to bet this is true of other countries too, but I don’t know them well enough to be able to say for sure.

      I think saying that the UK leaving would weaken the EU left is overstating the importance of the UK left. The only significant left-wing force in the UK is the Corbyn/Momentum crowd, but they’re aligned with the Party of European Socialists which is not interested in the kind of reforms you desire. To be honest, I’d also question whether the EU left is growing in strength given the implosion of the Front de Guache, Die Linke’s disappointing election results, the increasingly hard-right turn in Scandinavia, and Syriza’s capitulation. The only countries I know of where things look promising are Spain, Portugal, and Slovenia, none of which are exactly major power-players. Perhaps this is just my inherent pessimism talking, though. In any case, the UK left could still remain affiliated with the EU left if the UK leaves. You see such affiliations in Switzerland and Norway, after all. In fact, I dare say those countries may have stronger links with the European left than does the UK. As I mention above, I support efforts to build an international movement whatever the results of the referendum.

      I have read the program of PEL before and it lays out a lovely vision. If I could choose between pressing a button to make that occur or to make the UK leave the EU I would definitely choose the former. However, I think it is extremely unlikely that such reforms will be achieved. Doing so would require that the Left forms government in 5-10 major countries (at least), but this would take a period of at least 4 years to accomplish, given that national election cycles don’t align. In the meantime, the actual Left governments would have to enter a holding pattern and try to improve things a little without rocking the boat so much as to cause capital flight or run up against EU directives. I think this would be a very tough balancing act and that these parties would probably lose support before enough Left governments were formed. Given the balance of forces in Germany and France, I can say with certainty that this won’t be achieved by the the time Corbyn could be elected in 2020. If Corbyn is forced to back down on his program after that election then I suspect the Left in this country will be put back at least 10 years, as we’ve seen happen in Greece, so the stakes are high.

      As I’ve mentioned before, I remain unconvinced by the whole argument that leaving the EU would strengthen reactionary forces. We can certainly tell a just-so story where that is the case, but we can–with equal plausibility to my mind–tell another just-so story where the opposite occurs.

      As for the UK being much more vulnerable to financial capital outside of the EU, this would only be true if the EU were to actually use its weight to fight against financial capital. At present it won’t. Let’s assume for the moment that it can be reformed. The fact is, it’s not going to be by 2020, which is what we’d need if we are to have a successful Corbyn-led government.

      The one point which I can’t really argue against is the potential economic harm and unemployment. I haven’t looked at the studies, but I’m inclined to believe that leaving would indeed cause economic problems. That’s part of the reason why, despite my above arguments, I’m not exactly enthusiastic about the leave position. The question we have to ask is whether such instability now is worth it in order to allow Corbyn to carry out an effective left program in 2020. I’m acutely aware that as a PhD student from a privileged background who will probably end up returning to my home country of Canada in 5 years or so, I can end up being blase about the hardships which could result. However, this is a trade-off which few people on either side of the debate have acknowledged and I think the referendum needs to be discussed in these terms.

  16. Karl Stewart says:

    The case for reforming the EU in a left direction has been disproven by the Greek experience Peter.

    Greece voted in a government committed to a range of anti-austerity measures and the EU simply said: “No”.

    A Corbyn-led left-wing Labour Government would receive the same treatment.

    The EU can’t be reformed Peter. Any member-state which elects a left-wing, anti-austerity government will face the situation that the Greeks face, at which the choices will be to submit or leave.

    What evidence is there that the UK, outside of the EU would be “more vulnerable to global capital” Peter?

    Surely outside the EU, we can refuse to sign up to TTIP and protect our public services better from global capital.

    Similarly, outside the EU we can ban steel imports, thereby protecting our steel industry.

    I don’t know the various positions of the different EU member-state left-wing parties, but perhaps if one nation (i.e. us) leaves, then we could start to create a better alternative system of international trade and invite others to join with us?

    Why would a ‘Leave’ vote empower the populist right? Surely if we do vote to leave, then UKIP, by definition, immediately ceases to have a reason for existence.

    Before the UK joined the EU, did workers in the UK have no rights?

    Did we have no trade union movement?

    We actually had, arguably, perhaps the most powerful trade union movement in the world. It was certainly the most powerful that it had ever been previously.

    If we leave the EU, what’s to stop us still belonging to extra-national workers’ federations and political movements? Those are not dependent on our EU membership.

  17. David Pavett says:

    I am a euro-sceptic supporter of Remain. It seems to me that Peter Rowlands points stand up and that he is right to say that they haven’t been challenged. Now Karl has offered a response (April 9, 2016 at 6:15 pm) but I don’t think that it will bare a lot of examination.

    Consider TTIP. Karl says “Surely outside the EU, we can refuse to sign up to TTIP and protect our public services better from global capital”. It’s a nice thought but, it seems to me that it has little to do with the reality of TTIP or the British Government’s enthusiastic support for it.

    Sam Fowles, an anti-TTIP campaigner, explains that the terms of the deal would bind the UK for 20 years under international law even if it left the EU. Not only that but a Tory Government, as a keen TTIP supporter, would almost certainly be even less picky than the EU in terms of the trade framework deals it would bind us to.

    TTIP would be bad but as Green MEP, and anti-TTIP campaigner, Molly Scott Cato explains Brexit would be worse. She describes some of the efforts to question and oppose TTIP within the EU and like Sam Fowles also points out that leaving the EU would not solve the problem.

    Labour MEP Jude Kirton-Darling also explains why there is no easy exit option regarding TTIP.

    Some left anti-EU outers have pointed to Joseph Stiglitz’s statement that if he were in the EU he would want to leave it if TTIP is agreed. But Stiglitz doesn’t get beyond how awful TTIP is (we are all agreed on that). What he doesn’t do is to explore the likely difference that leaving the EU would make in the case of any particular country. In other words his advice is could not be described as politically considered.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Hi David, if we were out of the EU, and if the UK government wanted to sign up to TTIP, then we would have a fight on our hands, yes.

      But it would be an open fight against our own, visible, and subject-to-election government.

      I think these are better odds than a fight against the EU.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Ask yourself what’s a better environment within which to fight against TTIP?

        A public campaign to persuade our government not to sign up to it, protests, demonstrations, a detailed line-by-line scrutiny in Parliament, televised select committee sessions, freedom of information requests?

        Or something that gets lost in the vast EU bureaucracy, anonymous EU sub-committees that no-one knows about or is told about?

        I think we’d have a far, far better chance of stopping TTIP outside the EU.

        Does anyone really think we’ll stop it if we stay in?

        1. John Penney says:

          For me, Karl,s reply here is the nub or crux of it. Staying in the utterly bureaucratic EU, the fight against neoliberalism, Austerity, TTIP, etc, is a struggle carried out in a European bureaucratic swamp . Workers simply do not, unfortunately self identify with the EU as the arena of their struggle. That is still the arena of each nation state.. The fine words and programmes of the cross state Left party formations or trades unions are, sadly, just peripheral, sounds off , with no actual mobilising class struggle basis.

          The class struggle is obviously Europe and worldwide , but the effective struggle against TTIP, etc, is and will beonanation state platform. A UK outside the EU Can refuse to join TTIP, or cancel your participation in it. Inside the EU we are bogged down in a carefully structured, undemocratic, bureaucratic maze.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            The main opposition to TTIP is in Germany, not the UK.

            And does anyone, seriously and after a moment’s thought, seriously believe that a post-Brexit Tory government would *not* endorse a TTIP-type deal? Get real, comrades!

        2. David Pavett says:

          Karl, you put your question about the best environment to fight TTIP as if all one had to do was look at the UK’s great array of democratic channels to see that the answer is obvious.

          I don’t see it that way at all. Remember that that array of means has not even made it possible for any significant resistance to the dramatic changes to our education system, ripping it out of the local democratic framework and taking giant steps in the direction of privatisation (and therefore more open to TTIP-style intervention). So, personally I am not convinced that the assumed good functioning of UK democratic institutions is a better way to resist TTIP than working with others who share our concerns across Europe.

          Thus, the EU Parliament whilst accepting the need for TTIP by a large majority (just like the UK Parliament) has rejected the inclusion of an SSID agreement being attached (unlike the UK Parliament).

          Take stock. Opposition within the EU Parliament has been clearer and more effective than that within the UK Parliament. The Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour Parties all support TTIP.

          Would it be difficult at the level of the EU to defeat TTIP, or at least to prevent it from have the intrusive consequences feared for public policy? Yes it would and, to be realistic, currently some sort of deal looks more probable than not.

          Would the “environment” for opposition be better for the UK with Brexit. No, it definitely would not. With a government hell bent on supporting an aggressive form of TTIP + SSID and with a Labour Party split and confused with much of its right-wing being very close to the Tories on this (The Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on EU-US Trade & Investment, which is pushing strongly for TTIP, is John Healey, a member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet).

          And then, of course, there is the whole issue of international solidarity and action. The majority of centre-left and left parties in Europe want to both stay in the EU. Opposition to TTIP varies in degree but all are opposed to SSID. Should we say to them “We think our national democracy is superior to your efforts at joint action so we want to leave the group to go it alone”? I don’t think we should say that. I think that we should be were the action is and as close to other centre and left parties as possible.

          So no, I don’t think that Brexit will enhance our chances of escaping TTIP (or something just like it) one bit.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            As well as all the facts, all the evidence, all the arguments and all the political and economic reasons, which all stack up on the side of Exit-Left, I guess the fundamental, underlying, emotional problem I have with the EU is its essential profound racism.

            It’s a bloc of white Europeans who really do think they’re superior to other, non-European peoples.

          2. David Pavett says:

            Now Karl (April 10, 2016 at 11:04 am), instead of answering my points you have introduced a completely different argument. Would it not be better to deal with one point at a time? Now your overriding objection seems to be based on what you take to be the opinions of the majority of people in the EU. With this we seem, to me, to have left the arena of political debate.

            I am, as I said, a sceptical supporter of Remain but with exchanges like those in this thread I find my ‘on balance’ support for Remain gaining strength. The Leave arguments seem, time and again, to dissolve into mere opinion.

    2. verity says:

      The danger with the line of thinking which uses the EU as a ‘protection’ against our own government is that it seems to promote the notion of an undemocratic bureaucracy saving us from conducting own struggles with the UK elected government. If you are prepared to concede the value of a political fight (even given a possibility of losing) against that of an administrative machine, then it diminishes confidence in democracy itself for some (unlikely) temporary ‘success’. Surely we should be promoting the prospects arising from our political processes not seeking some short – cut that arises from the absence of a democratic process.

      1. David Pavett says:

        I don’t think that I said anything which suggested that I was looking for the protection of EU bureaucracy from national democracy.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          David, in response to your 11.26 post, I think it is actually a verifiable fact that the EU is a bloc of white European nations.
          And I think it’s also a verifiable fact that this bloc of white European nations institutionally discriminates against non-European nations.

          It’s a matter of opinion whether one objects to this or not yes.

          1. David Pavett says:

            Karl, your argument (April 10, 2016 at 12:05 pm) is strange. Are you saying that we should leave the EU because it is predominantly racist? And if so do you think that the UK outside of the EU would be less racist than it is in the EU? That seems wildly improbable to me.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            Of all the objections to the EU I’ve ever heard, the argument that it’s “white” must be the most bizarre. OF COURSE Europe is predominantly “white” in exactly the same way that Africa is predominantly “black”: what do you expect either continent to do about it: rewind the film of history and change each individual’s DNA?

            More seriously, the EU has pioneered anti-discrimination legislation that the Tories, left to their own devices, would never have implemented – and which, outise the EU they would certainly seek to water down and/or repeal.

            I also find the argument that the EU is somehow racist (which is what I take it you really mean, Karl) extraordinary, coming from someone who is on the same side as Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders when it comes to membership of the EU …

  18. C MacMackin says:

    One minor point about the EU which doesn’t receive much attention on these sort of forums is the issue of scientific research. As a PhD student whose work relates to climate change, I can see the many benefits of European cooperation on that. Free movement is also very helpful for scientific research, especially when people are doing their postdocs. Believe me, as a Canadian, I would have loved it if I didn’t have to apply for a visa to study here. One area where the UK does get more money out of the EU than it puts in is in research because the UK has many exceptional research institutions. It’s worth noting that almost all scientists tend to support the EU for these sorts of reasons. I still lean towards the exit argument, but this is one (admittedly rather obscure) benefit of the EU which a lot of people are unaware of.

    1. verity says:

      You are right about the inward flow of resources in scientific research, although this has had enormous discussion in the more specialist journals. The inward flow is indeed the result of level of activities established in the UK. However as a result of that I think that that would continue well after a withdrawal from the EU since it goes where the best returns can be obtained. Your argument though does lead to a need for cross country cooperation right across the world and not to privilege some European countries and individuals over the rest of the world. I would prefer inflow on merit rather than ‘protection’ of those acting according to a European mission which bring distortions as a consequence of privilege.

      Many of those close to decision making can also vouch for a certain amount of waste/loss as a result of distorted allocations and undercutting of others from the wider international community.

  19. Jon Lansman says:

    Notice of exclusion: This is to notify readers that David Ellis is excluded from further comments on this site for persistent abuse and contraventions of the comments policy. I have written to him explaining this but emails bounce back, perhaps because he is using a false email address.

    Jon Lansman, Editor

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Good for you, Jon.

    2. David Pavett says:

      Removing the abusive stuff has improved the discussions both in quantity and quality.

  20. Mick Hall says:

    Whether we are In or Out of the EU, it will still be possible to organise a public campaign to persuade our government not to sign up to TTIP, protests, demonstrations, a detailed line-by-line scrutiny in Parliament, televised select committee sessions, freedom of information requests and close links with all those around the world who are campaigning against.

    What we need is a guarantee of a referendum over TTIP before the British government signs up to it.
    The Corbyn led LP should attempt to get such a guarantee from the Government before they throw their full support behind the stay campaign.

    To be honest unless they get such a guarantee I’m edging towards exit, but it’s early days as I said above.

    As to Ukip post withdrawal, the majority will fold themselves into Tory party, dumping their working class support on the way.

  21. Peter Rowlands says:

    A few more points, except on TTIP where David Pavett has dealt very thoroughly and correctl;y with the issue.
    Firstly, the strength of global capital. Does anyone deny that the scope and scale of TNCs has grown significantly, while the UK is less nation based in these terms than any other large power. ( See James Meek’s excellent Private Island).An independent left UK would have the odds stacked against it, a left EU would be far more likely to succeed.
    The nation state is still the main focus for most people, and an EU federation, which I would personally welcome, is some way off. However, by virtue of being in the Euro the citizens of most EU countries are aware that their problems cannot be solved at a purely national level, except by leaving, which is what the populist right want, and which Brexit makes more likely, perhaps to the extent of a break up of the whole EU.This is what Yanis Varoufakis’s new movment, Democracy in Europe, is about, to prevent a return to the 1930s. Brexit and EU break up can only benefit the right.

  22. Jim Denham says:

    Karl: fixed up the public debate between myself and the “Exit-left” people yet? I’m very much on for it.

    And, by the way, I’ll shortly be doing a meeting on this in Stoke, but we can’t find any “exit-Left” speaker willing to debate me. Any suggestions welcome.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      A debate between people on the left is a good idea.

      The recent public meeting I went to in London was organised and hosted by Counterfire, and there were Exit-Left platform speakers from the CP, SWP, RMT, and also from the Indian Workers Association.

      So I’d suggest why don’t you contact one of those organisations for a speaker?

      Also, let me know if you’re speaking at any meetings in London as I’d like to come along and listen.

      (From my viewpoint, it’d be good to hear the various points and perhaps contribute an opinion or two from the floor.)

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Also, the Socialist Party (former militants) are also Exit-Left, have anyone at the meeting I went to. So maybe you could try them as well.

        Good luck – and why not post a report of your Stoke meeting afterwards on here?

      2. Jim Denham says:

        My point is that “exit-left” seem remarkably un-keen on actual debates (as opposed to events like their London meeting, where the entire platform was made up of people who agreed with each other).

        When the Unite United -Left held a proper debate on this, with a conmsiderable Stalinist anti-EU presence and Doug Nicholls of ‘Trade Unionists Against the EU’ speaking, me and a Labour MEP made complete mincemeat of them.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          I very much doubt you’ve ever “made mincemeat” out of anyone JimmyD.

          But anyway, if you already know some Exit-Left guys, why not invite them to your Stoke event?

          1. Jim Denham says:

            The point is, Karl, we can’t find *any* “Exit-left” people willing to have a debate. If you can help (or even offer yourself as a speaker) that would be great.

            On the question of Unite: of course, I don’t claim that my own modest contribution was decisive, but it’s interesting to note that the once solidly anti-EU stance of the union (then under Stalinist domination on this issue) has now collapsed, once the members have been made aware of the implications re jobs: the Stalinists were stunned by this change of line, and have made efforts to reverse it, but us rational Marxists have crushed them at every turn. RIP Tom Cashman.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            You need to stop chucking the word ‘stalinist’ around so much. It just makes you sound right-wing and ignorant, which reflects badly on you and the case you’re trying to make.

          3. Jim Denham says:

            But Karl, although I’m all too familiar with the arguments of the “exit left” people (from reading the Morning Star and from my one encounter with the not-very-impressive Doug Nicholls) I can’t find any of them willing to have a public debate: can you help?

          4. Jim Denham says:

            On the subject of “Stalinism”: it is relevant because (a) most of the deluded “left” exiters are ignorant Morning Star people, and (b) the only semi-rational explanation for left opposition to the EU dates back to the time when the Common Market was considered by Stalinists to be in competition with the USSR.

            Any serious Marxist will realise that we must give some degree of critical support to the EU.

          5. Jim Denham says:

            I can’t find anyone from the “exit left” movement willing to have a public debate: how about you, Karl?

        2. Jim Denham says:

          I might add thatm my local Momentum group (South Birmingham) is also trying (so far without success) to find someone willing to put a “left exit” case to our next meeting (Sunday 8th May): I’ll personally pay your expenses if you’re willing to do it, Karl.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Thanks for the invitation, but no thanks.

            It would be inappropriate for me to be a platform speaker at such an event as I’m not an official representative or spokesperson. (And also I not a very good speaker either!)

            But more than happy to try to help. As I suggested earlier, why don’t you contact the various organisations I referred to, such as Counterfire, CP, SWP, SP, or perhaps the TUSC?

            Or, if you’d like to email me the details via this site, I’ll pass the speaker request on for you?

            (And I really would suggest dropping the ‘stalinist’ epithet. It does come over as a bit insulting.)

  23. David Pavett says:

    Here’s a problem: on what basis can we decide that a given institution is reactionary to the core and that all participation should be rejected? On what basis should we say that an institutional is reformable or not?

    Should the answer not depend on the balance of forces at the given moment and how they are most likely to develop in the future?

    If so then I have to say that most of the arguments for Leave give no consideration to these issues at an international level and therefore tend to amount to moralising about how bad/corrupt/neo-liberal the EU is in its present form.

    Add to that a certain Bennite socialist version of little Englandism (and make no mistake Brexit will be the end of Scottish-English union) with dreams of Blake and utopian ‘green and pleasant lands’ full of happy craftsmen (and yes, they were mostly men) plying their wholesome productive trades (à la William Morris).

    When I stand back from the details and look at this picture I see mainly romantic wishful thinking and an unwillingness to look at the international situation in which we are engaged whether we like it or not. I have no love for the EU as at present constituted but it seems to me that there is an objective logic calling for transnational organisation for many purposes. I want us to fight for a transnational organisation that works for for working people directly and not through some proxy like being “business friendly” or some such.

    Disengagement from all this seems to me to be a mirage mirage. If the EU were not there we would have to construct something to replace it. We therefore need to look at what we would want from such a transnational body rather than negatively collapsing our political horizons into the confines of the nation state. This will not lead to solutions that anyone on the left finds attractive.

  24. Peter Rowlands says:

    A final comment in what I think has overall been a positive debate, but I remain convinced that Brexit would only benefit the forces of the populist right, here and in the EU, and that the fight for a reformed EU alongside our fellow socialists there is the only way forward. Ten weeks to go, the debate continues.

  25. Karl Stewart says:

    Thanks for the article Peter and yes I think it’s been an excellent debate as well.

  26. Danny Nicol says:

    Jon – can we now have an anti EU post in the interests of political balance?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Good idea Doug let’s have it!

    2. John P Reid says:

      Well said

  27. Karl Stewart says:

    Looking at the various left-wing sites, such as this one, Labour List, Left Foot Forward for example, one wonders if there’s a rule that only pro-EU articles are allowed?

    1. john Reid says:

      not sure if this’ll actually encourage any socialists to vote remain, by their dislike of this blog but ,heh

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Not a big fan of Labour Uncut, but that article does make some reasonable points.

    2. Peter Rowlands says:

      I’m fairly certain this is not the case. Why don’t you or John Penney submit something?

  28. John Penney says:

    I. will have a go at a Left Leave article ASAP (I have been out of internet access for a week). This has been a good debate.

    I was impressed with Jeremy Corbyn’s EU speech ( it convinced my wife to vote Stay In. !). His best argument from my point of view was essentially a tactical one ; that to leave now could leave a crazed bunch of Tory neoliberals to the Right of Cameron and Osborne in charge of the Tory Government. Nevertheless , I’m afraid that I still see the EU in its current form as an unreformable neolibera enabling and enforcement tool of European and global capitalism . I’m afraid that all the idealistic stuff about cross border solidarity and working with sister Left parties is still, regrettably, just pie in the sky hope , with no evidence of any ability to mobilise mass class action on a multinational basis. What cross border effective class forces came to the aid of Greece ? None. The arena for the growing struggle against Austerity is the nation state I’m afraid _ and pious declarations about all European solidarity is at present just a Left fantasy.

  29. Karl Stewart says:

    nice one John – look forward to reading it

  30. john Reid says:

    funny Tony Blair asked to be part of the remain campaign, they don’t want him

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