This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. W.Shakespeare.
Often as socialist, we are told we should not be patriotic that to be against the EU is to turn our backs on internationalism. To be a socialist leave supporter we are accused of nationalism, racism and xenophobia.
I cannot help my patriotism, I served my country in its armed forces along with the hundreds of thousands of working-class boys, men and women before me. Patriotism is not a bad thing. Many would have us believe Patriotism is taboo of the Left. Lenin promoted the right of all nations to self-determination and the right to unity of all workers within nations. Socialist patriotism a commitment to the revolutionary transformation of society within those nations, Tony Benn once said: “you have to differentiate between nationalism, which hates foreigners, and the right of self-government, which is a democratic argument”.
I am proud to be a European, and don’t buy into the xenophobic scaremongering of those little Englanders who would close our borders. After all, I lived in mainland Europe for a fair few years before and after 1992 when the EU was formed. I believe in a people’s Europe, a social Europe where we can work together with others across our continent and outside it to build a common future beyond the business interests of a tiny elite.
Yet the question we were asked in the referendum is not whether we wish to remain Europeans, that question could never have meaning, we are European. Rather, we were asked whether we wish to remain subject to the institutions of the European Union, including the unelected Commission. As the people of Greece have learned through bitter experience, those institutions will not tolerate any reform or deviation from their blueprint of permanent austerity and corporate rule.
The referendum result to leave was an overwhelming majority, yes I did say overwhelming! When you understand that the most important EU referendums have been won and lost on a difference of 1 per cent. The very referendums that created the European Union changed the political landscape and lives of 500 million people over 28 countries. Was a result of just a difference in opinion of just 300k people, It becomes very clear the UK’s referendum with its 2 per cent more than suffices and satisfies as an EU referendum majority.
It should be realised the Maastricht Treaty, the treaty that formed the EU came about after the result of a referendum. The referendum on the treaty was held in France on 20 September 1992. It was approved by only 51% of the voters.
Opponents included the French Communist Party (PCF) and far-left parties such as the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) or Workers’ Struggle (LO), who opposed what they considered as an advance of neoliberalism.
The result of the referendum, known as the “petit oui”, along with the Danish “No” vote held earlier on 2 June 1992 that rejected the treaty by 50.7% of voters with a turnout of 83.1% was considered to be signals of the end of the “permissive consensus” on European integration which had existed in most of continental Europe until then. No longer should the people be trusted to give the answer the EU wanted.
As the Maastricht Treaty could only come into effect if all members of the European Union ratified it, the Edinburgh Agreement, negotiated in the months following the referendum, provided Denmark with four exceptions which eventually led to Denmark ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in a 1993 referendum. This second referendum witnessed days of rioting.
From this point, forward issues relating to European integration were subject to much greater scrutiny across much of Europe, and overt Euroscepticism gained prominence. Only France, Ireland and Denmark held referendums on Maastricht ratification.
We learn from our political Heroes the Tribunes of the people.
As the late Tony Benn once pointed out:
“The EU has the only constitution in the world committed to capitalism … it destroys the prospect of socialism anywhere in Europe, making capitalism a constitutional requirement of that set-up.”
Such a set-up also requires that enormous powers lie in the lap of unelected and — in practice were not in law — unaccountable bodies, namely, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice.
Remain, campaigners, point to the powers of our own unelected Civil Service, Bank of England, House of Lords, Supreme Court and monarchy.
But the crucial difference is this: in Britain, these institutions are not constitutionally beyond the reach of our elected representatives. They can be reformed and even abolished.
Tony Benn said of the Maastricht Treaty while being debated in parliament:
“We are discussing whether the British people are to be allowed to elect those who make the laws under which they are governed. The argument is nothing to do with whether we should get more maternity leave from Madame Papandreou than from Madame Thatcher. That is not the issue.
I recognise that, when the members of the three Front Benches agree, I am in a minority. My next job, therefore, is to explain to the people of Chesterfield what we have decided. I will say first, “My dear constituents, in future, you will be governed by people whom you do not elect and cannot remove. I am sorry about it. They may give you better creches and shorter working hours but you cannot remove them.”
I know that it sounds negative but I have always thought it positive to say that the important thing about democracy is that we can remove without bloodshed the people who govern us. We can get rid of a Callaghan, a Wilson or even a right hon. Lady by internal processes. We can get rid of the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr Major). But that cannot be done in the structure that is proposed. Even if one likes the policies of the people in Europe, one cannot get rid of them.
Secondly, we say to my favourite friends, the Chartists and suffragettes, “All your struggles to get control of the ballot box were a waste of time. We shall be run in future by a few white persons, as in 1832.” The instrument, I might add, is the Royal Prerogative of treaty-making. For the first time since 1649 the Crown makes the laws—advised, I admit, by the Prime Minister.
We must ask what will happen when people realise what we have done. We have had a marvellous debate about Europe, but none of us has discussed our relationship with the people who sent us here. Hon. Members have expressed views on Albania and the Baltic states. I have been dazzled by the knowledge of the continent of which we are all part. No one has spoken about how he or she got here and what we were sent here to do.
If people lose the power to sack their Government, one of several things happens. First, people may just slope off. Apathy could destroy democracy. When the turnout drops below 50 per cent., we are in danger.
The second thing that people can do is to riot. Riot is an old-fashioned method of drawing the attention of the Government to what is wrong. It is difficult for an elected person to admit it, but the riot at Strangeways produced some prison reforms. Riot has historically played a much larger part in British politics than we are ever allowed to know.
Thirdly, nationalism can arise. Instead of blaming the treaty of Rome, people say, “It is those Germans,” or, “It is the French.” Nationalism is built out of frustration that people feel when they cannot get their way through the 335 ballot box. With nationalism comes repression. I hope that it is not pessimistic—in my view it is not—to say that democracy hangs by a thread in every country of the world. Unless we can offer people a peaceful route to the resolution of injustices through the ballot box, they will not listen to a House that has blocked off that route.
We could fill the page with the wise words and warnings from Tony Benn a true people’s Tribune. Many Remainers like to point out in more than disrespectful comments. ‘Tony Benn is dead, move on. Moving on would bring us to the present-day leader of the Labour party. Again, a man that presented himself as a people’s Tribune standing shoulder to shoulder with protesters from the miners’ strike to the poll tax riots we listened to his words, words that inspired millions, a promise to break the rigged system to change this unjust society.”
Jeremy Corbyn expressed the argument in 1993 when he spoke out against the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union and moved towards economic and political union. He made no bones in his condemnation of the forming of the EU and where it would take the UK.
The treaty, Jeremy Corbyn said, “takes away from national parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community”.
Speaking in the House of Commons, January 13, 1993
“The whole basis of the Maastricht treaty is the establishment of a European central bank which is staffed by bankers, independent of national Governments and national economic policies, and whose sole policy is the maintenance of price stability. That will undermine any social objective that any Labour Government in the United Kingdom—or any other Government—would wish to carry out … The imposition of a bankers’ Europe on the people of this continent will endanger the cause of socialism in the United Kingdom and in any other country”.
“Will my hon. Friend [Peter Mandelson] tell us how he proposes to influence a European central bank that is composed of bankers who are appointed for eight years, who are answerable and accountable to nobody and whose policy objective has been set down? How does he propose to influence them when there is no mechanism to allow that to happen?” House of Commons, January 13, 1993
“If the principle by which the European economic policy is to be run is that capital will find the home that is most suitable to it, any social policies relating to housing, unemployment—or employment—and the environment are bound to take second place.” House of Commons, January 14, 1993
He voted against the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, and in one article on his website, said the EU had “always suffered a serious democratic deficit”.
Jeremy Corbyn warned about the threat of “a European empire” and said the EU was creating “a military Frankenstein”, as revealed in this video.
In a tirade against a key EU treaty in 2009, the now Jeremy Corbyn urged people in Ireland to vote against moves towards further European integration and criticised the influence of the Nato military alliance.
He condemned the “militarisation of Europe” and described the impact of Nato as “malevolent”.
“Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, Europe will become subservient to the wishes of Nato and the aims of Nato…What it does is create this military machine, this military Frankenstein, which will be so damaging to all of us.”
Jeremy Corbyn warned of ‘European empire’ and said EU treaty would create ‘a military Frankenstein’
Corbyn said a vote in Ireland against the Lisbon Treaty would be “such a boost to people like us” who “do not want to live in a European empire of the 21st century.”
“I obviously hope and believe that the Irish people will vote no,” he said.
Mr Corbyn also suggested the EU would make Irish voters “keep on voting until they get the result they want.”
Mr Corbyn told a Durham gala rally in 2010:
“They, the world’s bankers, International Monetary Fund, European Union, they are utterly united in what they want. Utterly united in deflation, suppressing the economy, and creating unemployment. Utterly united in that.
“We need to be equally united, not just across every union in this country and every community in this country and every social demand in this country, but all across Europe and internationally to show that the voice of those campaigning for peace, justice and socialism.
“We will not be silenced by these people. We will win through. We will defeat them and we will win that decency that we want in this world.”
Jeremy Corbyn pointed out this year that EU austerity opens the door to the far right.
Jeremy Corbyn urged Europe’s Socialists Friday to challenge the political establishment and team up with like-minded leftists to check the rise of “fake” right-wing populists. LINK
EU support for austerity and failed neoliberal policies have caused serious hardship for working people across Europe,” Corbyn said in a speech to the annual congress of the Party of European Socialists in Lisbon.
It had “damaged the credibility of European social democratic parties and played a significant role in the vote for Brexit.
There are countless examples the LeFT leave voters can draw upon and often do and why not! All the wise predictions and cautionary warnings have materialised. The EU is no place for socialism, not even a form of socialism whose intention is diluted that its only intention is to rebalance the dominant monopoly capitalism, Is it any wonder that the LeFT leave contingent holds its position on leaving the EU.
The fact is nothing has changed, all that was said of this neoliberal construct that makes up the EU has come to pass and the words of socialist from the past like Attele, Nye Bevan, Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, Peter Shore and Dennis Skinner still echo in the thoughts and minds of the Labour Heartlands voters who predominantly and historically have always been Labour voters. These same Labour Voters are now questioning the very party they created to represent the working class, the poor, and the vulnerable in society.
Here are just a few LeFT wing arguments that still stand today.
Two things remain, either we have been lied to for a generation or there is a parting of ideas principles and the very meaning of what socialism represents.
A principled stance.
On behalf of the Labour Party Keir Starmer made his emotionally charged speech that not only accepted the result of the referendum but negated the argument against the right-wing lies he even dismissed the common fallback of the remain camp who constantly point out that the referendum was not binding. He stated:
“We lost the referendum. Yes, the result was close. Yes, there were lies and half-truths—none worse than the false promise of an extra £350m a week for the NHS. Yes, technically the referendum is not legally binding. But the result was not technical; it was deeply political, and politically the notion that the referendum was merely a consultation exercise to inform Parliament holds no water.
“When I was imploring people up and down the country to vote in the referendum and to vote to remain, I told them that their vote really mattered and that a decision was going to be made. I was not inviting them to express a view.”
2017 the Labour party campaigned on a Brexit manifesto.
People voted for the Labour Party based on the promise, a promise to take us out of the EU. Yes, they voted on manifesto pledges other than Brexit of course they did, pledges to nationalise rail, mail and utilities, even the promise of a national investment bank to rebuild the failing U.K. infrastructure, a promise to redress the balance to a manufacturing base, promises of welfare reform, education and all the policies we expect from a Left-leaning Labour party.
Jeremy Corbyn did an outstanding job in that election, much to the disappointment of some Labour MPs. The fact is the election of 2017 was a Brexit manifesto and a Brexit election.
There is no doubt that anyone who has taken the time to look at relevant EU articles, rules and directives would ultimately conclude the Labour party manifesto pledges relating to nationalisation, state aid and procurement would never be allowed within the restrictions that the EU place on a member country, even this part socialist manifesto, one that barely challenges the capitalist monopoly of our nation, nevermind the establishment.
Jeremy Corbyn made it clear for us to see the Labour manifesto of 2017 to become a reality we would need to have ‘A customs union’ not ‘The customs union’ a type of deal that was repeatedly explained along with the facts we would need ‘opt-outs’ from EU rules that inhibit any socialist agenda.
This was the line, the respectable line, Labour stood on the principled outcome of respecting the result of the referendum. The manifesto promises along with a strategy to achieve the much-desired social changes needed in the UK with this stance and winning manifesto Jeremy Corbyn would rightly be our next prime minister it was all within Labour’s reach.
For over two years Jeremy Corbyn held the line. He resoundingly said No second referendum’.
Attack of the centralist
Conference 2018 came and after relentless campaigning and millions of pounds of backing the remain camp breached the Labour Party’s stance to ‘respect the result of the referendum’. A composite motion was pushed through after six hours of compromise and debate within a locked room.
On the surface, the composite motion seemed quite reasonable. The member of parliament who made that impassioned speech on respecting the referendum Keir Starmer literally threw the entire promise of respecting the result back in the face of the nearly 5 million Labour party supporters and the three-quarters of Labour Party constituencies that overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU.
A trickle broke through in the form of that composite motion it breached the walls and the road to remain was set, That road is a road to Perdition for the Labour Party. There is no remain, only constant argument and counter-argument that will tie up our political system for a generation. If Labour takes that road it will lead to a betrayal of promises made and the collapse of the Party system as we know it.
For some remainers compromise can be made, for the fanatics who have now taken remaining in the EU to a cult level they will not budge, no matter how much the LeFT leave campaign makes compromise, it will never be enough. The fact is some want nothing less than to see Article 50 revoked. This was reflected in the petition to revoke Article 50 with more than 6 million signatures any pretence of being democratic was thrown out of the window.
These same remainers now are demonstrating that Johnson has used his powers as a Prime Minister to Prorogue parliament calling it an assault on democracy. I beg the question what about my democracy the one you as a remainer have been chipping away at for three years the one that you trample on every day telling me along with the other 17.4million leave voters we voted the wrong way, that our vote was ill-informed based on lies, that our vote does not matter?
If my vote to leave was based on lies then it based on the lies of Labour Party stalwarts legends of the UK socialist movement. These are the people that inspired me these are the people whose views helped form my opinion on the EU.
The Parties stance is now one of blocking No-Deal the claim is that it is in the public interest we are to stop no-deal at all cost. Some have taken to this fight against no-deal like a moral crusade claiming that the economic consequences of a clean break with the EU are simply not to be tolerated. It would be an Armageddon to the UK.
An unholy alliance of Labour, Lib Dems, Tory, SNP and Plaid Cymru meet to formulate a stop no-deal Brexit plan. It is a shame these same people did not fight as hard and in unity against both Tory and EU imposed austerity.
Whatever your stance on a No-deal Brexit what is clear is the fact that some in the Labour Party see this as a clear indication that the party is now a remain Party. It will need to make a persuasive argument to the people of the Labour heartlands that voted to leave this EU. It will need to pursue them that all that was said before was wrong and all that we held true was a lie.
Remainers and this remain Parliament have been subverting the people’s democracy the democracy of the majority for 3 years who on the Left is standing up for our democracy.
The Labour Party taking the road to remain will see the end of the Labour Party as a Party of the working class it will see in a system of coalition parliaments that provide this country time after time with weak governments seeding more and more power to the EU until the very heart of our democracy Westminster becomes a just a footnote in history bowing out to the new world order and the ever-expanding EU.
Before Labour turns its back on the millions of Labour voters who voted to leave the EU it should take a moment. Once it does and that trust is broken it will find it impossible to gain that trust back and even harder to turn it into votes.