The EU referendum


Nigel Farage got what he wanted

As someone who was strongly pro EU and had written several articles for Left Futures, as well, as participating in local activity on the issue, I feel a bit gutted, and like most people got it wrong. While things looked a bit desperate three weeks ago it appeared that the murder of Jo Cox had begun a move back to remain, but if that was so it was not sufficient to win.

I shall briefly look at what happened, why, and what  it means. Continue reading

We need a new agenda for a better and more constructive Europe

Planet of the Apes Euro spoofFor over 45 years, and based on my early involvement with the issue in the Foreign Office, I have contested the issue of Britain’s membership of what was the Common Market and then grew into the EU, and I have always been on the losing side.  It could be argued that my own political career, and my bid to lead the Labour Party, were adversely affected by what was often seen as an odd aberration.   I argued over this whole period that the EU is not Europe and that the actual and very particular arrangement we were offered was not only inimical to Britain’s interests but was not the way to build a better and more lasting European cooperation and identity. Continue reading

Staring into the abyss

jo coxSometimes the rush of the commenentariat to express opinions about contemporary events can seem cynical and ill considered. But I was impressed by two articles which must have been written as almost instant reactions to the tragic murder of Jo Cox, one by Alex Massie in the Spectator and one by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. I felt that both writers spoke for me in expressing what I was thinking myself.

The mainstream Brexit referendum campaign has been fought on the ground of immigration and hostility to foreigners. Demagogues from the right and centre right have unleashed the crudest and basest of emotions in a cynical and irresponsible pitch to get their vote out. Continue reading

Why I shall vote to remain in the EU

EU_UK FlagsBack in 1975 I did not just oppose membership of the EU, I actively campaigned against it. In the 1990s I strongly opposed Britain’s membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). My opposition to the Labour leadership’s support for ERM helped ensure that I did not get chosen as Parliamentary candidate at the time. I won a modest 6 votes at a General Committee Meeting that in 1991 selected the next MP for Dulwich and West Norwood! (While I was to be vindicated by Britain’s eviction from the ERM in September 1992 that was no comfort as Labour, having backed the ERM, was unable to capitalize on the huge political damage caused to the Conservatives by the Black Wednesday fiasco.) Continue reading

Corbyn’s speech: We need a democratic, anti-austerity, reformed European Union

reddish Euro flagThis is the text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Senate House in London this morning

The people of this country face a historic choice on 23 June whether to remain part of the European Union, or to leave. I welcome the fact that that decision is now in the hands of the British people. Indeed, I voted to support a referendum in the last Parliament.

The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole. Continue reading