Sunday, 12 July 2015

Labour at the End of the EU, by David Lindsay

Did no one foresee the catastrophe that the euro has become? Of course they did.

On precisely those grounds, 59 Labour MPs voted against Maastricht at Second Reading, joined by a mere 22 Tories, while 66 Labour MPs voted against Maastricht at Third Reading, still joined by only 41 Tories.

On both occasions, both tellers for the Noes were Labour, Jeremy Corbyn was among the Noes, and five Labour MPs were among the Ayes. Of those five, none is still in the House of Commons, and two are dead.

But the Labour MPs who opposed Maastricht were ignored in favour of the far smaller cast of comedy characters on the Tory benches.

Today, we have to endure the domination of the debate by people who not only supported Maastricht, but were in some cases Cabinet Ministers at the time.

Plus another generation of late night television clowns to make the case against the EU appear ridiculous and lacking in the intellectual ballast that in fact it possesses by the bucket load.

Whatever arrangement with the EU has been renegotiated to the satisfaction of David Cameron will be horrendous from the point of view of British workers and the users of British public services.

But then, the economic, social, cultural and political power of the British working class, whether broadly or narrowly defined, cannot exactly be said to have increased since 1973.

Any more than Britain has fought no further wars since joining a body as successful as NATO or nuclear weapons when it comes to keeping the peace.

We had full employment before we joined the EU. We have never had it since. No job in the real economy is dependent on our membership. Or were trade with, and travel to, the Continent unheard of, because impossible, before our accession to the EU?

Not for nothing did Margaret Thatcher support that accession, oppose withdrawal in the 1975 referendum, and go on, as Prime Minister, to sign an act of integration so large that it could never be equalled, a position from which she never wavered until the tragically public playing out of the early stages of her dementia. Her “No! No! No!” outburst was not part of any planned speech.

Those who bang on about her rebate need to ask themselves where any of that money ever went. In any case, it was no compensation for the loss of powers.

In anticipation of Cameron’s Single European Act on speed, Labour needs to get its retaliation in first. All of the candidates for Leader and Deputy Leader need to demand immediate legislation.

First, pre-emptively disapplying in the United Kingdom any Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, thus effectively strangling the whole wretched scheme in its cradle.

Secondly, restoring the supremacy of United Kingdom over European Union law, using that provision to repatriate industrial and regional policy as Labour has advocated for some time, using it to repatriate agricultural policy (farm subsidies go back to the War, 30 years before we joined the EU, and they are a good idea in themselves, whereas the Common Agricultural Policy most certainly is not), and using it to restore the United Kingdom’s historic fishing rights of 200 miles or to the median line.

Thirdly, requiring that all EU legislation, in order to have any effect in this country, be enacted by both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or the other of them.

Fourthly, requiring that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard.

Fifthly, disapplying in the United Kingdom any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament. That would also deal with whatever the problem was supposed to be with the Human Rights Act.

Sixthly, disapplying in the United Kingdom anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs who had been certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons.

Thus, we should no longer be subject to the legislative will of Stalinists and Trotskyists, of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis, of members of Eastern Europe’s kleptomaniac nomenklatura, of people who believed the Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, and of Dutch ultra-Calvinists who would not have women candidates.

And seventhly, giving effect to the express will of the House of Commons, for which every Labour MP voted, that the British contribution to the EU Budget be reduced in real terms.

All before Cameron even set off for his renegotiation, never mind held a referendum on that renegotiation’s outcome.

After all, which privatisation did the EU prevent? Which dock, factory, shipyard, steelworks or mine did it save?

If we needed the EU for the employment law that, since we do not have it, the EU is obviously powerless to deliver, then there would be no point or purpose to the British Labour Movement.

Far from preventing wars, the EU has done nothing to prevent numerous on the part of, at some point, most of its member-states.

Not least this member-state, which has been at war for almost the whole of the present century. Whether or not the EU caused those wars, it most certainly did nothing to prevent them.

The EU was a key player in, and it has been a major beneficiary of, the destruction of Yugoslavia, a process that events in Macedonia more than suggest is ongoing even after all these years.

It is now a key player in, and it seeks to be a major beneficiary of, the war in Ukraine, which is the worst on the European Continent since 1945.

That war is a direct consequence of the EU’s expansionist desire to prise a vital buffer state out of neutrality and into the NATO from which the EU is practically indistinguishable.

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