Labour are the winning voice for ‘remain’

 

Above: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Deputy Leader Tom Watson and Gloria De Piero, former Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration at a ‘Labour In for Britain’ EU referendum rally: Image: BBC News

Since the EU referendum result, Labour, like the rest of the country has experienced a period of shock and deep soul searching. Our leader, Jeremy Corbyn spoke on the morning of the 24th June of the party’s need to respect the result of the referendum and move on. In an interview with the BBC he said, “you have to respect the decision people made”, quickly ruling out the possibility of Labour supporting a second referendum [1]

 

Since June, our new Prime Minister has dazzled the public with her wisdom by giving a detailed, perceptive and helpful commentary that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Four months on and we are nowhere. A series of right-wing cabinet appointments, conferences, meetings with foreign leaders and photo-ops have produced no detail, no plan and no confidence for families and industry.

After the quick death of ‘Vote Leave’ following Michael Gove’s failed attempt to stab Boris Johnson, the victorious politicians are nowehere to question whilst we, the public, are demanding answers from a clueless bunch of  ‘elected’ Conservative puppets who have little to no understanding of the magnitude of what they’re doing, striding into negotiations, blindfolded and full of false confidence.

This is not the ‘steady’ leadership we were promised. Labour cannot join in.

Since the vote, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron risked further electoral ridicule and went against the Brexit tide, emerging as the voice of ‘the 48%’. The result? Massive electoral gains at the 2016 Witney by-election , eating into the constituency’s historic majority and jumping from 7% to 30% of the vote.

The truth is, around two-thirds of Labour members voted Remain, just ten Labour MPs supported the leave camp and a pro-European stance fits well with general party policy. By nature, Labour is internationalist. How can we support Brexit – especially as its main opponents just a few months ago?

This is not like us. This is not like the great political family to which I love and belong.

There are those that say anyone still advocating for Britain to remain in the EU is disrespecting the ‘will of the British people’. I understand this concern. But referendums are not binding and never have been. Throughout the campaign, the leaders of ‘vote leave’ were aware of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ – the idea that parliament has ultimate legal authority. Michael Gove in particular, emphasised the importance of parliamentary sovereignty as a reason to pull out of Europe. Yet suddenly, when it all becomes a bit awkward, the principle is disposable, a mere obstacle to an unforgiving Brexit agenda.

To ease the difficulty, Johnson, Gove, Fox and Davis all became temperory advocates of direct democracy and yet this is not how our system works. Had their desire to make Britain a more democratic country been a life-long crusade against corruption, political mismanagement and the general political establishment – why have they never in their combined seventy-four years in parliament, put forward a single motion in favour of direct democracy?

Political selfishness and self-preservation.

“This is not like the great political family to which I love and belong.”

It’s clear Britain’s relationship with the European Union will be the defining issue of the next two General Elections. Negotiations could take up to ten years and unlike the past two elections, the Conservatives can no longer anoint themselves as the ‘party of economic responsibility‘.

Fresh faced: A younger David Cameron during the leaders’ debates in 2010, in which he declared the Conservatives as the ‘party of economic responsibility’.

The decision our party takes now must be kept throughout the negotiations. This could be until 2026. Get the decision right and the electoral gains for our party could be significant. More importantly however, the benefit for our communities could be enormous. But get it wrong and our credibility as an outward-looking, compassionate, internationalist, Social Democratic force could be lost for good.

As article 50 is triggered and Britain enters its negotiating period, the apparent unity of the Conservative Party will unravel, causing deep rifts in Westminster. Like the whole referendum, it will be messy, undignified and foolish. Labour would benefit from distancing itself from this. After all, it did not create this mess. This is not who we are.

What is it they say? Ah yes – ‘reap what you sow’.

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A People Powered Movement to Save Europe #diem25

Governments cannot reform the European Union. But citizens can.

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Democracy In Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) is a pan-European political movement to democratize the machinary of the European Union. (diem25.org)

Over the years, the role of the European Union has become warped and confusing. Today, its central institutions serve as mediators between hostile national governments. It is little more than a toy for prime ministers to throw around, misuse, blame and criticize.

And like most abused toys, the union’s political structure is broken and in need of repair.

Earlier in the year, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, swept around the continent, busily calling for a ‘reformed relationship’ and a ‘new British deal’. At last, a political leader, sitting in the Council of Ministers alongisde Alexis Tsipras, making the case for long-lasting structural reform to the system.

Not so fast.

Rather than seeking full-blown reform, Mr Cameron wanted ‘British concessions’. Ultimately, he didn’t have the nerve to call for a fundamental change to the system. The ‘deal’ he rustled up was meant to convince voters that reform was possible. Instead, it had the opposite effect. He missed his opportunity and it cost us the referendum.

David Cameron at the EU summit

SOURCE: BBC News

Mr Cameron’s deal failed because he went about it the wrong way. Governments alone cannot plan reform, negotiate terms and deliver a successful resolution. Mass movements do this.

History is a series of collective actions, aimed at empowering the majority. The Great Reform Act of 1832 is a good example of this. Without intense lobbying, protests and a network of organised groups (in the form of the Birmingham Political Union etc…), the issue of parliamentary reform wouldn’t have been a priority.

Public assembly made it so.

Mr Cameron’s negotiating style was too clean, slick and robotic. Withought organised cross-party support, what was likely to have been a well intentioned deal, ended up looking like a political fix. The Prime Minister’s motives became questionable and the ‘remain’ vote unfairly toxic.

We cannot make the same mistake again. From now on, the pro-European campaign needs grassroots leadership. Upon the failure of the political system, why can’t citizens take control, enthuse voters, educate one another, share ideas, strengthen communities and stimulate the political imagination?

What’s the problem?

Until the union democratizes, national governments will (quite legitimately in some cases) continue to strip the EU of its powers until it is nothing more than a bare financial trading block. This is dangerous as a ‘bare trading block’ changes the whole nature of the union. Rather than serving citizens, by improving working conditions and protecting human rights, the EU would become subervient to the markets.

Primarily, the EU should serve as a union of people rather than governments. A united Europe is a social project, aiming to pool the ideas and skills of citizens of differing cultures, languages, families and backgrounds for the benefit of all.

To me, the most equiped and accessable movement to reform Europe is DiEM25.

As DiEM25’s founder and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis explains, the movement’s purpose is:

“One very simple, but radical idea: to democratize Europe.” – Yanis Varoufakis

Politics itself cannot create a functioning European community. Although politicians can help regulate and support a united Europe, we – the 508 million Europeans – share the responsibility of spreading ideas, exploring cultures and learning languages.

The future of the union cannot be decided by a group of thirty bureaucrats sitting around a conference table. History tells a different story. Change occurs when people group together and act.

This group is DiEM25.

I discovered DiEM25 two months after its Berlin launch in February. With over 23 000 members in 56 countries, DiEM25 can offer a third route. Please download and read the manifestos, outlining how we can achieve the largest democratic revolution in human history.

The race to 2025 has begun. Will you join in?

 

Yanis Varoufakis (left) at the Berlin launch of DiEM in February (SOURCE:diem25.org)

TO DOWNLOAD THE SHORT AND LONG ENGLISH VERSIONS OF DiEM25’s MANIFESTO, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

Short Manifesto (ENGLISH) (4 Pages)

Long Manifesto (ENGLISH) (9 Pages)

FIND DiEM25 ONLINE:

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Why YOU should vote to keep in Europe

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Although some of the out campaigners have made some valid points about the European Union’s faults, there is certainly an underlying xenophobic and heavily anti-immigrant anger sweeping British society. Supporters of ‘leave’ or ‘Brexiteers’ as they have so irritatingly become named, use phrases such as ‘taking back sovereignty’ and ‘Britain is unique’ and ‘we gave [Europe] Magna Carta’ to sell their argument.

Here’s why the OUT argument just doesn’t work.

Once David Cameron had declared the 23rd June as our referendum day, we became swamped with meaningless statistics. ‘5 out of 6 Britons think…’, ‘we save blah blah blah millions every year’ and so on.

How unbearably dull.

The case for Britain to leave the EU rests on three pillars. The first is sovereignty. Who makes the laws and why should Britain follow them? The second issue is control over immigration. How low should immigration into the UK be and how best can Britain control that number? Finally, there is that all important question of history. If we leave the EU, will 2016 be remembered as the year Britain was set free from the constraints of Brussels or is it the time that our country rejected its duty to unite the continent after centuries of war?

On 23rd June, the choice is yours.

Anti-Europeans make some rather crass statements that Brussel’s based ‘Eurocrats’ are ‘taking our money’ and reinvesting it in the UK, all under the name of what they call the ‘European Project’. What narrow thinking. The world of ‘them’ and ‘us’ does not exist anymore. How arrogant to think that the rest of Europe should be subservient to Britain’s needs, willing to obey and grovel for our sacred blessing. How can somebody have such a gross misunderstanding of the world around us and the real challenges Britain faces today?

Sadly, this referendum is not about the economy or society or improving the quality of life for millions of Europeans. Instead, it’s become an extension of Conservative infighting that has been going on behind closed doors for years. Our television screens have presented a depressing succession of white, middle-aged, wealthy, privately educated London-based men spouting insults at one another, fighting for power in Downing Street.

But on 23rd June, your ballot paper is not asking you to vote for either David Cameron or Boris Johnson or Conservative or Labour. Nor is this an effective Conservative leadership election. In voting leave, don’t think you’re voting AGAINST Cameron. If you do that then you lose. It’s simple.

Alongside the usual anti-immigrant message, leaders of the leave campaign have highlighted some of the ridiculous aspects of life as a member of the EU. These aspects include salaries of advisors, the number of commissioners which are appointed and the amount of money spent on limousines, taxis and benefits for MEPs themselves. Here, the leave campaign does have a point. The European Union has a long way to go before it becomes truly democratic. Do we really need so many advisors and commissioners? How about trimming down the number of lobby groups that can invade parliamentary buildings? Why not alter the way in which the EU budget is agreed? This would be a good start.

Since revealing his position as a leave supporter, Boris Johnson has paraded up and down the country in a red bus, preaching his sudden love of democracy. Alongside Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Boris has called for the transfer of power back from Brussels to Britain.

But who would we be transferring this power to?

In many ways, the European Union is more democratic than Britain. Yes, that’s right. Brussels is often more representative of Britain than Westminster. Why? Well when Boris Johnson talks about taking back power, a lot of this power currently rests in the hands of the European Parliament and its directly elected representatives called MEPs. One would expect that Boris would seize this power and push in into the hands of Westminster and the House of Lords, a larger body of politicians that comprises of entirely unelected peers who are even less representative of the general public.

But having power isn’t everything. What really matters is how influential Britain’s power is and how the UK can use its power to benefit everyone else in the world. Leaving Europe would only diminish our scope of influence. In that sense, voting OUT is counterproductive.

But then of course, Boris would say that Britain is bossed about by all the other twenty-seven members of the EU. Does Boris know that Britain has the third highest number of MEPs in the European Parliament? Is he aware that because Britain chose to reject the single currency, much of European financial law does not apply to Britain and other European nation states that lie within the common market but outside the Eurozone?

I’m sure Boris would grow red faced and delve into deep thought, urging himself to come up with a valiant reason to reject Europe. ‘Ahh ha’, he would cry. If you’re under fifty-five years old, you’ve never had a vote on Europe. This is seems, is one of the reasons why we had a referendum in the first place.

But when did we ever have a referendum on joining NATO or the World Trade Organisation or the UN? And for Bojo to suggest that this vote is a ‘choice of a generation’ for our children and grandchildren is just utterly bizarre. The Conservative Party deliberately blocked sixteen and seventeen year olds from having a vote on their future. Johnson did not vote against the government on this issue. But that was back when he didn’t care about genuine public opinion. Of course now he is willing to puff his chest out and tell you how much he likes the electorate. He wants to tell you he’s a REAL man of the people.

Remember peace in Ireland

One often forgotten aspect of having to leave the European Union is the rebuilding of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

At present, both countries remain members of the EU. As well as being a key financial aid to the two states, the European Union has served as a good negotiator in forming peace between the two countries since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. In fact, the cornerstone of the agreement is the European Convention on Human Rights, which came into effect the same year at Good Friday was signed.

If we leave the European Union, the Schengen Area would no longer extend into both countries, forcing both governments to enforce border controls for the first time since the end of the civil war. In other words, all that was gained in 1998 is lost as the two state could become physically divided once again.

‘Divorce is the only way to end a messy relationship’…

If in June Britain votes to leave, a negotiation process would kick into action. The process would aim to outline terms of separation. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has previously described these potential negotiations as a ‘divorce’ between two tired old allies.

What a lovely analogy.

But unlike a normal divorce, nobody (including the lawyers) knows what’s going on and the outcome isn’t guaranteed. Separation could take years and Britain as an instigator of separation is highly unlikely to get a sweet deal from its former spouse.

Voting to leave Europe is not a vote to leave economic uncertainty behind along with threats of terrorism and the ever worsening humanitarian crisis. If Britain became independent, the refugee crisis, financial recession and expansionist threats from Russia will not evaporate before the early morning of 24th. They will become a larger threat than ever.

So if you care about Britain’s economic security over the next few years, vote to remain. If you want a safer continent where intelligence can be shared more freely between member states for our physical security, then vote to remain. If you understand the true value of peace in Europe and respect how far our relationship with the continent has come over the last century, then you must vote to remain.

Whatever happens, the result will be everlasting.

Vote wisely. Vote for a Britain stronger in Europe.

Nigel Huddleston MP – you do not speak for me

   A response to Mid-Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston as he declares his constituents don’t want a Europe that is currently “too big, too bossy and too interfering”.

Today, Europe faces a string of terrorist threats, a refugee crisis, a financial recession and military threats towards its Eastern border. Obviously, co-operation is key.
   The union which Mr Huddleston calls “too big, too bossy and too interfering” is responsible for keeping our environment clean, lowering the cost of healthcare, allowing us to move around nation states freely and safely as well as fighting crime and protecting national borders.
   Mr Huddleston, you do not speak for me. I have no doubt that we both want what’s best for Britain and Europe, but how can we expect to live in a more democratic and diverse EU if Britain retreats to minimal membership or even a Brexit? I believe in increased social and economic integration because I am a European.
   We cannot live in our national boxes anymore waving the flag of nationalism. The outside world is changing and Britain has to respond to that change.
   Staying in Europe and campaigning for reform is better for all. It is something we should be proud of.