Tuesday, 15 December 2015

In Anticipation of Cameron’s Single European Act on Speed, by David Lindsay

It is hardly as if Jeremy Corbyn has ever hidden his views on the EU. It is not his fault that no one has ever reported them.

He has suggested a renegotiation that of course he knows would be the exact opposite of that which would ever be brought back by David Cameron. Cameron was elected to conduct that exactly opposite renegotiation, and then to put its conclusion to a referendum. He is going to do both of those things, and that is fine.

Whatever arrangement with the EU has been renegotiated to Cameron’s satisfaction will be horrendous from the point of view of British workers and of the users of British public services. Submitted to a Special Congress of the TUC and to a Special Conference of the Labour Party, it will be rejected overwhelming, even unanimously, thus initiating the entirely correct campaign for a No vote in the referendum.

Big business and almost the entire Conservative Party will line up behind Cameron, since their only objection to the EU is the imaginary “Brussels red tape” that he will have pretended to have cut.

Very occasionally, there is constitutional theory stuff on the outermost fringes of Toryland. But right-wing intellectualism is the most Continental of concepts. It is not about such Bennite concerns to almost anyone on that side. They are just not like that. 

The Government’s latest assault on trade union funding is really designed to attack the only possible source of funding for the No campaign.

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. “No! No! No!” was not part of any planned speech.

In anticipation of Cameron’s Single European Act on speed, Labour needs to get its retaliation in first. Jeremy Corbyn needs to demand immediate legislation.

First, 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.

Secondly, 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. Thirdly, 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.

Fourthly, 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.

Fifthly, 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.

Sixthly, reducing in real terms the British contribution to the EU Budget; that is another longstanding Labour policy. And seventhly, pre-emptively disapplying in the United Kingdom any Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, thus making any such Agreement impossible in practice. Outside the EU, would Cameron just negotiate something even worse with the United States? Not before 2020, when he would need to be replaced with Corbyn.

All before Cameron even set off for his renegotiation.

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. Or have the trade unions disbanded, their job done?

Far from preventing wars, the EU has done nothing to prevent numerous on the part of, at some point, most of its member-states, and not least this member-state. It was a key player in, and it has been a major beneficiary of, the destruction of Yugoslavia.

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, and which 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.

The Leader of the Labour Party has been saying all of this all along, right back to when he voted against the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty.

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