I wrote an open letter to the Labour Party in UK, the official opposition party. They have an important role in providing a counter-arguament to the Government. Many Labour Members of Parliament do not support their current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected by a much wider general membership of the Party, not just those in parliament. His advocacy of staying in Europe was thought to have been weak, so he is blamed for the result of the vote against staying in, especially as many Labour party supporters voted to leave Europe. It’s not just on this issue that Jeremy has problems with his party in parliament. Many, more established, members of the party didn’t want him or his more radical policies. Before they lost the last two elections, they’d learned that a less radical approach, similar to the current government’s, had more support in the press and presumably among the general population, so they regard him as an obstacle to their party regaining power in the next election. They forget that their less-radical approach has fallen from favour.
In my open letter, I ask Labour party members to speak out about fighting for a new general election, but before that, to unite over staying in Europe. This is because I am appalled by the vote on leaving Europe and I hope that if there is a new government who asked the people voting if they’re sure they want to leave, then we won’t have to.
I am worried that the far-right parties in other European countries will campaign even harder to leave the European Union with the boost that the British decision has given them. If those countries are falling out of European influence like a row of dominos, I can see tensions and conflicts growing inside and between those countries.
We use the expression “Balkanization” to mean, as WikiDictionary has it, “the fragmentation of a region into several small states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with each other.” I have worries of a spread of divisiveness throughout Europe, with self-seeking politicians riding the tides of manufactured hostilities to other cultures and communities.
I am concerned by the way our UK Labour Party is looking and acting now, giving time to internal disputes in the very time when it has a chance to assert leadership and even succeed. They do have some genuine concerns about how strongly they can fight the next election if they are not confident in their leader. But they have a chance – a realistic chance – yes, even to succeed
I mentioned that when he was elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn had a popular mandate.
Why was he popular ? – I think because he carried a hope for an anti-austerity momentum, a campaign that included many people outside politics who were dissatisfied with the habits and compromises of less-radical politicians, wanting an alternative future.
In our referendum vote, we just had a popular surge against remaining in Europe. Part of that surge of opinion was anti-establishment, part anti-austerity, part gullibility. This gullibility was to threats (of uncontrolable immigration) and promises (more money for health) and unrealistic statements (we can still trade with Europe on the same terms – we can’t lose!) which those wanting to leave the EU made, all unreal. They also did not give a policy or choices that explained the reality behind their slogans (“take back our sovereignty, our borders, our money”)
I believe there is a common core amoung the people of UK which is more anti-establishment and anti-austerity, than it is racist, anti-immigrant, anti-European or in favour of Balkanization of Western Europe.
Those same people who voted to leave – what next as a target for their unmet resentment ? There are already signs that some feel the media and politicians lied to them and dawning realisation that the Exiters cannot deliver any of their unreal promises or counter ther unreal threats; no rebates to spend on NHS, no reversal of migrant flows, no ending of mobility of workers between countries if they still want freedom to trade, no boost for economy, no improvement in quality of life as a result of “Taking our Country Back.” the loss of Scotland from our Union and the loss of hope in a better future. It is the narrow elite of UK establishment who may take some sovereignty back into their own hands, but for voters and citizens, they will gain nothing. They will even lose the protection which European institutions give to workers, environments, minorities, families and the vulnerable.The reason I say that, is because the Exiters argued that commerce and industry was held back by regulations, costing them time and money. These regulations were not “imposed by Brussels Burocrats” as they are characterised, but internationally-shared regulations to protect. We also face assaults on our national publicly-owned infrastructure – health, public land with its oil, forestry and mineral resources, local and regional council functions. These, for reasons of efficiency or economy are in danger of being passed to private enterprises who could make the Russian oligarchs look like benevolent philanthropists. That’s a real loss of sovereignty, compared to the European issue. Any move to retain any European trading link or continued advantage for UK will come with dire penalties and tariffs as the leaders of the rest of Europe need to show our decline and loss of real sovereignty to their compatriots as an example and a warning.
Many of the Exiters have personal motivation for their own elevation into high office and selfish ambitions which enabled them to use, without scruples, those unreal images and promises. Is that why they won?
Jeremy Corbyn lacks that personal greed for power, which is why he didn’t show the same degree of force in his campaigning. He was more scrupulous. He is unsupported by those in old-new-labour who do have that greed to relive their compromises into power with a ideology which collapsed in Iraq, failing Private Finance Initiatives, insider dealing, asset stripping, banking and derivatives scandals. They haven’t got the message that regulation doesn’t stifle enterprise, it just promotes ethical and humane practice and prevents the concentration of power and wealth into the hands of the less scrupulous.
He was also constrained in a joint advocacy with the Conservative government. Their common plea for remaining in Europe inhibited him from speaking loudly of a radical agenda for Europe which doesn’t chime with theirs. So no thoughts came out then about Europe without Austerity.
Jeremy is now an asset – someone who is insufficiently self-seeking but who can unite the anti-austerity and pro-people surges, challenge the media and old-guard who have so effectively kept him and a radical labour message under-regarded. He can do this with a positive link with other European parties who would also like Europe to regain its social dimension, so heavily undermined by the Conservatives and neo-liberal or free market fundamentalists. But he needs to assert a dynamic, a positive drive towards a solid view of a post-austerity european future
If not him or someone like him, should Labour be replaced by a UK Podemos/Diem25/SYRIZA? What can the UK Green Party or Liberal Democrat Party do ?
The goal must be for a strong campaign to hold a general election before a decision is made to leave EU and to ride and unite those popular protests into a popular political force which keeps us in Europe without penalty.
Could either party or an alliance reverse the 2 or so % majority mandate for Exit? The popular sentiment is more anti-establishment and anti-austerity, I believe, than it is racist, anti-immigrant, anti-European or in favour of Balkanization of Western Europe.
I shared my worries with friends and a wise young friend wrote back to me from the Balkans “I totally agree with you but politicians come and go and the only thing that we can do is to freely express our thoughts, points of view and do all we can for a brighter future for our country.
“Your situation is a very complicated one but I consider that the time and the strength of the human race will manage to make a difference in this world.
“Stay strong and fight bravely for what you want!”
“Europe is a continent with an impressive history and a diversified political life and I see no point in leaving it just for the reason of wanting to be a single star on the blue flag.” Iulia Rosu, whose clarity of though and idealism I greatly admire.
I have faith that the young here in UK also. They seem to have been so positive in voting to remain, in wishing to continue contributing to a shared Europe. They will prevail also. It’s their future which is being ruined for generations.
Kipling, a favourite author of the English, wrote about the debt to the young, I think using the voice and persona of one of those whose politics encouraged the first World War:
“I could not dig; I dared not rob :
Therefore I lied, to please the mob.
Now all my lies, are proved untrue
and I must face, the men .. I slew.
What tale shall serve me, here among
mine angry and defrauded young ?”