Comment posted by Ernie Jacques (15 June 2016):
LABOUR – KING CANUTE PARTY
So the Labour establishment wants to build a fair, democratic and inclusive European Union. Well, good luck with that one! But in truth they have about as much chance of democratizing the European Union and reforming its overarching corruption and neoliberal agenda as King Canute did with his tidal plans.
COMMON MARKET REFERENDUM 1975
I joined the ILP during the 1975 referendum on the common market because the ILP and most of the left were on the NO side, primarily because they opposed a capitalist club with its free market agenda enshrined in the Treaty or Rome. The EU was a rich man’s club in 1975 and things have gone from bad to worse, insofar as it run by the plutocrats on behalf of big corporations, finance, derivative traders and the super-rich.
Back then we were lied to by Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath and Labour’s Harold Wilson and the Westminster establishment who, as ever, promised jam tomorrow. But of course, tomorrow never came but the lies, deceit and spin just got bigger and more brazen but less and less convincing.
David Connolly makes the point that “a distinctive Labour Party voice has struggled to be heard”. Well that’s an understatement because despite the usual political spin about the EU being a guarantee of employment rights and Labour values the Labour Party position is virtually indistinguishable from David Cameron and George Osborne.
Weasel words now coming from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell (by far the best of a bad bunch) are wholly unconvincing when, as the polls turn against Remain, and in a last ditch echo of project fear, they warn that a leave-vote threatens more public sector jobs and hard won employment rights. Really!
LABOUR LEGACY; EU SOW’S EAR
So it’s worth reminding ourselves that under the Blair / Brown administrations, inequality and food banks grew exponentially while the rich and powerful, non-doms, tax avoiders and crooks were rewarded handsomely and many, like the head of RBS, got gongs. Neoliberal apologists glibly promoting trickle-down economics and merrily outsourcing living wage jobs to the private and voluntary sectors for zero-hour, minimum wage, precarious contracts.
So watching Labour grandees such as Gordon Brown say Labour voters have the ‘most to gain’ from a vote to Remain laced with sound bites such as ‘Not leaving Europe but leading Europe’ and ‘Remain is stronger for jobs, for rights at work and maintaining a British voice on the world stage’ is cringe worthy especially in the context of the Brown legacy.
Well we can all shout banalities like that and as the old saying goes ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and while accepting that the EU has many things to recommend it, it is fundamentally a club for the super-rich, tax dodgers and corporate crooks and as the Greek people have discovered to their cost, one hell of a pig’s ear.
Overblown rants from Gordon brown and Alan Johnson MP (a former trade union leader) about fairness and Labour values are a bit rich then, coming from those who trumpeted – ‘No More Boom or Bust’ – and who failed to regulate a broken financial system and when things went belly-up, due to unbelievable greed and corruptions by bankers, politicians, derivative traders and large corporations.
Labour bailed out the banks at public expense while the people it claimed to represent paid a heavy price when the Brown government (followed by the Tories) privatized everything they could, wasted billions on – off-balance sheet – projects like PFI and gave the David Cameron and George Osborne the excuse to blame the poor and trash our welfare state.
FREE MOVEMENT – TRADITIONAL LABOUR VOTERS; DENIAL
But in truth Labour must know that when it comes to the EU and other key political and economic issues, it no longer represents the views of ordinary working people. A chasm exists between the Labour establishment and its traditional voter base on key inclusion issues such as housing and employment rights and also on immigration and the EU’s free movement of labour. And it has little or nothing to do with nationalism and xenophobia.
From my perspective we’ve been in a bad marriage for over 40 years and things, for the working class and those at the bottom of the pile and things have gone from bad to worse – to bloody awful. Labour grandees like Gordon Brown, Neil Kinnock and MP’s like Alan Johnson MP are delusional if they imagine they speak for the bulk of traditional Labour voters and supporters who’ve been stuffed good and proper by successive Tory and Labour administrations governing in the interests of the city and big business.
I recently accompanied my son to Edinburgh to shop cleaning materials for his valeting business at a massive retail warehouse and every one of the shop floor staff (hundreds) was from Poland and recruited exclusively via private job agencies. In making his point I should emphasize that I respect and admire all migrant workers seeking better life for themselves and for their families. But I object hugely to their gross exploitation by greedy employers and the exclusion of indigenous citizens who are discriminated against and denied employment opportunities. This sort of outrage is happening under the noises of people like Gordon Brown who seems oblivious to the realities of life in his former Labour heartland and now managed by the SNP.
Rants about labour values and EU worker rights are – like water off a duck’s back – meaningless spin.
WINNERS, LOSERS; NIMBYS
Many of those who welcome free-movement are those who benefit from cheap nannies, cooks, cleaners and lower prices when they shop, dine out go on holiday, etc. People who live in gated and exclusive apartments and communities where their contact with the working class is limited to servants and/or tradespeople and/or barking orders and bullying those they manage at work. But of course, they can dodge the queues and pressure on our schools, GP’s, hospital A&E and social and community services by going private and moving to the leafy shires and suburbs.
But woe betides anyone wanting to build social housing which might intrude on the green belt and spoil views of the English countryside or change the character of idyllic communities and rural villages and that includes many of those who talk compassion, as long as it’s not in their back yard.
Perhaps most reprehensible of all, is the way Labour in Westminster and in town halls throughout the country have failed to build much needed social houses and as such are also complicit (with the Tory’s) in regenerating and gentrifying city centers while social cleansing their poor and most vulnerable citizens and dumping them in rat infested and hideously expensive bed and breakfast accommodation and on sink estates. Often hundreds of miles from friends, families, support networks and from the communities they love and grew up in.
The very people Labour claims to represent but who are denied the fundamental human right of a decent, safe and warm and affordable home.
So despite project fear and threats of the-end-of-the-world as we know it, many of those who live precarious lives and who cannot get a doctor, their children into a decent school, afford a mortgage and who see their rents rocketing and eating into their meager wages and who cannot afford to heat their homes and feed their families and who are unhappy at jobs they could and would do going to eastern Europeans via the vast army of private job agencies, aka Sports Direct, et. al. feel they have nothing to lose and are voting Leave.
But I don’t expect that many Labour lefties, Momentum supporters and ILPers will agree with that.
But this one is voting LEAVE.