The Point
Last updated: 05 March 2020.

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Why I popped a champagne cork when we left the EU

Left pro-independence voices opposing EU membership have been largely blanked in the mainstream media and by many 'official' indy outlets in Scotland. The run up to the exit from the EU last week saw a veritable tsunami of newsprint weeping at the departure, and hosts of tearful politicos painting the EU in the most rose-tinted and hagiographic terms. Previously, SNP left and Marxist George Kerevan wrote an article for The National about mourning the departure from the EU. In the interests of the kind of balance that hasn't been shown by the MSM, here's an article by BRUCE WALLACE, a YES voter and lifelong Marxist celebrating our departure from the EU. In that spirit of 'balance' he link to George Kervan' article is also included below

 

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All throughout January I kept thinking, thank the gods it’ll be as good as over at the end of the month! The UK, will leave the EU, whole and entire, on Friday 31st January at 11pm. That’s when I’ll pop my cork and toast the end of an auld song. 48 years UK membership of the nascent super state now known as the European Union. We’ll be out! Great rejoicing!

More than a week on and there is no sign of the dreadul catastrophe predicted routinely by Remainer politicians north and south of the border

Let me be absolutely clear, I love Europe but I HATE the EU. The EU isn’t Europe and vice-versa, the conflation of the two has been the woeful practice of the remainiacs for the last three years and the bane of sensible debate, and long before the 2016 referendum.

Imaginary Losses

George Kerevan (The National Dec 23) has something in common with me. We both voted against joining the, then named, European Economic Community (EEC) in 1975. And we both voted for Scottish independence in 2014. Yet the sands of time have blunted his critical faculties.  The EEC  has metastasised into the  Moloch that is the modern European Union. George voted to Remain in 2016 but I voted for Brexit! He can’t see many negatives in the development of the EEC since 1975 and writes   “I now mourn what we’re about to lose”. He then treats us to his dark vision of what Brexit will mean.

The ending of European citizenship.  No more freedom of travel within the EU and the right to work in other member countries. This is just arrant nonsense. Whilst formally we will no longer be European citizens it is highly unlikely that there will be any major restrictions on travel to anywhere on the continent. Nor will leaving the EU mean that working or living in Europe will be terminated after January 31st or even be much more difficult.  There will be certain changes no doubt. Like having no go into the “non-EU” queue at airports, but there is a transition period, ending in December 2020, during which the EU has agreed to negotiate a mutually beneficial free trade agreement. The final shape of this agreement will contain and alleviate many of the details outlined in George’s imaginary losses.

I’ve been heartily sick of the remainer catastrophist Brexit trope for the past three years, but deliriously happy now that I won’t be shouting myself hoarse at the telly as slavish Europhile politicians issue portents of doom. Scotland will lose 100,000(??) jobs if there’s a hard Brexit,  intones  blaw bag  Blackford of the SNP. There will be an 8% (??) fall in GDP warns Francis O’Grady of the TUC, as she licks the arse of Dame Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI. The weirdest popular front ever. 

A no deal Brexit will be a catastrophe yada yada yada. Brexit-apocalypse  has been the daily fare of the Europhiliac MSM ad nauseum since June 2016 whilst the chicanery of the anti-Brexit majority in the House of Commons pre-Dec 2019  beggared belief in its anti- democratic shenanigans . In truth political decisions, such as leaving the EU, just don’t have the massive impact on economic development that the “experts” have predicted. Market forces are a far more important factor, and I honestly think that after Brexit we’ll hardly notice much of a difference in our daily lives, and definitely not if you’re an unemployed guy in Blantyre.

The 2019 GE has definitively ended the political farce we’ve had since the 2016 referendum. The remain balloon  has been burst, never. I hope, to be re-inflated. It sounded more like a whoopee cushion going down as Heseltine called surrender. Chukka Umunna and Anna Souberry are gone ( hallelujah ) A whimper after three years  of aerated rhetoric and faux outrage against the decision of the biggest democratic exercise in British political history.

 

EU fantasy land

Kerevan bemoans our departing the EU because, as an old- fashioned social democrat, he accepts that, in Europe, capital has not been defeated:

but it has been forced to make concessions. These democratic concessions are worth defending.

That is why we have an elected European Parliament.

Some people learn nothing and forget nothing. Many of us voted for Brexit  because  THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IS A TOTAL SHAM!! It isn’t a democratic concession at all because IT ISN’T DEMOCRATIC! Yes, elections to it are run along democratic lines, but the parliament itself has absolutely no power to represent the demos which elects it.  And that’s because it has no power to initiate legislation. The executive (the commission) is not elected by it, but appointed by the 28 (oops sorry, 27) member states. The commission has the sole power to propose laws for debate. Not a single leading political figure in the EU (President of the Commission, for example, who is appointed by the European Council ) is elected or subject to re-election. The nearest thing there is to democratic accountability is when the parliament “approves” the commissions’ candidates. Hence why ex-German Defence Secretary, Ursula von der Leyan is now President of the Commission after the latest stitch-up by Franco-German imperialism.

One must discern fantasy from reality and presenting the EU institutions as democratic is pure deception, Mr Kerevan!  It gets worse, much worse, when he presents, in a highly abstract manner, the allegedly progressive nature of the EU in terms of worker’s and other rights:

That is why the EU has been forced to implement significant environmental legislation. That is why there  is a Charter of Fundamental Rights – now expunged from British law under the Brexit withdrawal agreement passed last Friday, excising key European protections regarding fair working conditions, unjustified dismissal, minimum paid holidays, statutory working hours and equal pay.

That, not the machinations of the European Commission, represents a real defeat for Scottish and British working people.

Faux concern for the rights of the working class. Like every left remainer  Kerevan points to the formal rights of workers within the EU while, simultaneously, ignoring the absolute disaster in practice that the policies of the EU has meant for millions of workers throughout Europe. Especially in the less developed south. As Ex MP and supporter of Labour Leave Kate Howie had to point out “these EU workers’ rights only apply to those in work”. Sadly, from the Euro crisis of 2008 onwards, mass unemployment has become endemic in much of southern Europe. Youth unemployment in the Eurozone is an international scandal. In October 2019 this stood at a rate of  33 per cent in Greece, 32.2 per cent in Spain, 27.1 per cent in Italy and even  19.7 per cent in Sweden.

This delusional presentation of the progressive nature of rights legislation in the EU ignores the fact that similar legislation pre-existed it in the UK, and that it already surpasses its European equivalent markedly in many areas. There is no EU right to mandatory sick pay or to a minimum wage for instance. These rights were won in the UK by the struggles of the working class, and the idea that Boris Johnson and the Tories plan an all out offensive on working class rights through Brexit are plain wrong in my view. I certainly don’t trust the Tories, but were they try to attack these hard won rights then they would face mass resistance from the working class.

Moreover, the prevailing economic orthodoxy in the EU is neo-liberal and deflationary.

Following the Euro crisis this has forced Greece, in particular, to the brink of absolute ruin with mass unemployment and horrendous  poverty. Of the financial rescue packages to the Greek state from the EU Central Bank not a cent  has gone to the Greek people. Everything has gone to maintain interest payments to the Eurobond holders while the Greek people have been crucified with higher taxes, massive public sector cuts/privatisations, raising of retirement ages, and so on. All of this imposed against the will of the Greek people in a referendum. Par for the course for the democratic EU which has ignored every democratic referendum which rejected its proposed treaties (Ireland, Denmark and France) or, where governments challenged EU fiscal orthodoxy, imposed technocratic governments without any democratic vote (Portugal and Italy).

The EU has prime facia strong workers’  rights but these are meant to keep  trade unions passive whilst the entire thrust of free movement of people (which effectively is another form of free movement of capital where labour power is harnessed to production and services) is designed to supress wage growth and boost the rate of profit.

This is enacted in practice by the European Court of Justice which has made several rulings against trade unions who have been trying to fight the importation of entire factory workforces to undercut local wages and conditions. Meanwhile freedom of movement has led to the virtual depopulation of certain east European countries. Especially of their most skilled and educated people.

In Europe itself the only people who love the EU are the rich and the political mmiddle classes. Country by country those opposed to the EU are growing in strength by the day and  not in the most democratic manner (Poland and Hungary).

Corbyn’s capitulation

Although Labour’s crushing defeat last month was a disappointment  I saw it coming a mile off. In 2017 Corbyn had come within an inch of defeating the Tories by getting 40 per cent of the national vote. Then, the party’s position on Brexit was clear. It was to respect and implement the decision of the 2016 referendum. Over the next two years the Labour Brexit position resembled a slow-motion train wreck. Initially we were treated to constructive ambiguity which meant that Labour’s position was impossible to understand. By December 2019 this had changed to supporting a second referendum. Even Stephen Kinnock MP, who was never a Corbynista, had the guts to say that Labour needed to “hang tough” and stand by its 2017 manifesto pledge of respecting the 2016 referendum result.

Corbyn, under the guise of respecting internal party democracy, capitulated to the pro-EU majority within the party (particularly the vast majority of the parliamentary party and some trade union leaderships) accepting a nonsensical policy. Campaign for a new deal with the EU and then put that deal to the people in a second referendum - music to the ears to the likes of  Keir Starmer and Emily Thornbury.

Most Labour voters who had supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum could see right through this policy of the Labour Party as another effort to thwart Brexit. It was the biggest factor in the breeching of Labour’s red wall by the Johnson Tories. Two thirds of Labour constituencies had voted Leave, for heaven’s sake. 

The outcome was inevitable and Corbyn needs to shoulder the main responsibility for allowing Labour to unite with the pro EU Tories in parliament to try to block Brexit. A disaster waiting to happen. I think this could finish Labour as a serious political force in the UK. It looks likely that the Europhile QC Keir Starmer will win the Labour leadership contest. He will usher in a Blairite  counter revolution against the democratic party reforms under Corbyn. The party’s radical policy platform will be ditched but Starmer will also be an electoral disaster as Labours traditional working class base in the north won’t be won back by the suave woke barrister from Holborn and St Pancras. The 2019 election for Labour was summed up by their holding Canterbury but losing Bolsover. The end of an era.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Unlike the ranks of the rabid petit bourgeoisie I don’t think Boris Johnson’s government is the precursor to fascism. Kerevan’s swipe at the left who voted for Brexit that they had somehow given succour Farage and Johnson’s xenophobia is beyond words. Unlike George, those of us who are left who voted to leave the EU did so on a socialist basis. Had Corbyn, for example, led a campaign for a Labour exit from the EU it could have acted as a major attractive pole to those workers who had voted leave. Only that could have countered the BoJo’s  “Get Brexit Done” slogan in December. Alas that didn’t happen but, to be frank, I don’t think that either Farage or Johnson are racists. Naturally today the meaning of the term “racist” has become so debased to be almost meaningless. Working class voters are heartily sick of the politically correct woke petit bourgeoisie lecturing them about their racism and xenophobia.

Meanwhile I’m cheerful that the UK is leaving the succubus of the EU but where does that leave Scotland? Up in the air to be honest.

The SNP’s current strategy of seeking indyref 2 on the basis of making it a joint choice on independence and remaining a member of the EU is - how do I put it - doubly bankrupt. Prior to the referendum in 2016 Sturgeon and the rest of the pro EU brigade (don’t forget that every major political party in Scotland supported remain) never mentioned, that if a majority in Scotland voted to remain but that the rest of the country voted leave, that this would be undemocratic! Since 2016 all we’ve heard from the SNP is that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against our will. To be frank this is absolute drivel. The 2016 referendum was run on an all UK basis of which Scotland is, whether we like it or not, still a constituent part.

So the SNP argument is politically and constitutionally false in the first instance but, on tying indyref 2 to retaining membership of the EU it manages to alienate many YES voters who voted for Brexit. One million Scots voted for Brexit and a large chunk of them also voted for independence. The SNP’s conflation of independence and EU membership is another disaster. I have news for blawbag Blackford. The EU isn’t interested in Scotland. Even Michele Barnier has made it clear that Scotland isn’t an independent country and that the EU would only continue to negotiate with the UK government.

I’m cheerful because we are leaving the EU and that means Scotland is leaving too. To the Scottish remainers like Kerevan I say. Get over it. I’ll still fight for Scottish independence as I have throughout my political life, but that will only be successful if we accept the political reality that Scotland, as part of the UK, will no longer be part of the EU.

If we manage to secure independence at some point by all means put forward an argument for Scotland to re-join the EU (or not!) based on a democratic referendum of the Scottish people alone!

Meanwhile, let's oppose the Tories and oppose capitalism, and continue to put forward a vision for socialismand a vision for Scottish independence. And be wary of remain politicians and journos who will try to blame every little thing that goes wrong from here till eternity on the fact that we are no longer members of the EU!

 

George Kerevan's original article at 

 https://www.thenational.scot/news/18118139.voted-no-european-entry-now-mourn-lose/ 

 

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left

Greenpeace

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books