Archive for the ‘Conservative Party’ Category
Heroes of Europe Against Hitler’s European Union.
What is it about former London Mayors and Hitler?
A few weeks ago we had Ken Livingstone’s comments about Zionists and Hitler.
No sooner had the din died down after Ken’s kenspeckle kiddy krap, than we have Boris’s bumptious borborygmi.
In a dramatic interview with the Telegraph, he warns that while bureaucrats in Brussels are using “different methods” from the Nazi dictator, they share the aim of unifying Europe under one “authority”.
He claims Winston Churchill would be joining him on the Brexit bus; he warns that the EU shares the same flawed ambition to unite Europe that Hitler pursued, and he challenges the Prime Minister to a proper “democratic debate” about the referendum live on television.
(Boris) sees parallels between the choices that confronted his beloved Churchill, and Britain, during the Second World War and the decision facing voters next month.
“This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting in my view out of control,” he says.
Johnson claims to be a real European.
Apart from his mastery of all the living tongues and cultures, he is a native speaker of Ciceronian Latin, and is said to be the only person alive who has read enough of the Emperor Claudius’ lost volumes on the Etruscans to be fluent in their speech.
He may be interested to read how his rancid rhetoric has gone down in the rest of Europe.
The DW article – one of a whole page of similar instant German reports – is content to outline Johnson’s rant.
The French reaction is more forthright.
Pour appuyer son argumentaire contre l’UE, l’ancien maire conservateur de Londres n’a pas hésité à effectuer un parallèle surprenant.
To back his arguments against the European Union, the former Conservative Mayor of London has not hesitated to draw a surprising parallel.
We will be more forthright still.
Johnson is known for his talk about ‘piccaninnies’ and black people’s ‘watermelon smiles‘.
Not to mention his description of President Obama and the “part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire…”
Johnson has not only joined the Carnival of Reaction amongst those leading the Brexit campaign: he is now leading it.
As Mack Wrack General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, says,
A Brexit vote at the EU referendum will benefit Boris Johnson and his pursuit of power, Mack Wrack warned, as his union threw its support behind the Remain campaign on 12 May. The 37,000-strong Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is the latest in a growing list of trade unions joining the battle to stop the UK breaking away from Brussels.
“It’s not our referendum,” Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU, told around 200 delegates to the union’s annual conference in Blackpool. “The referendum is taking place because of wrangling amongst the Tories. It’s a result of pressure from the right-wing of the Conservative Party and the threat from Ukip.”
He added: “The outcome of a Brexit vote is likely to lead to a change in prime minister, and we could end up replacing one Old Etonian for another.”
“[Johnson] is the man who forced through the worst cuts in the history of the fire service, anywhere in the country, ever… So far the referendum debate has largely been a feud between elites over the best way to exploit workers.”
The comments come after the Trades Union Congress, Unite, Unison, the GMB and other major unions backed a Remain vote at the 23 June ballot. The FBU recently voted to re-affiliate with Labour after Jeremy Corbyn’s shock leadership election victory in September 2015.
SWP Predicts End of Tories if Brexit Comes.
It’s probably hard to make a good speech when you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re communicating.
That’s why Jeremy Corbyn made such a dull and uninspiring presentation launching Labour’s pro-European Union (EU) campaign last week.
The SWP National Secretary has his own unique theory as to why Corbyn calls for a Remain Vote:
It turned out the way to make Corbyn back the EU was to elect him Labour leader. He compromised to keep at least some of the right vaguely on side.
The reappointment of Pat McFadden as shadow minister for Europe was seen as the first victory for Labour’s right under Corbyn’s leadership. The announcement that the party would campaign to stay in the EU followed.
McFadden eventually resigned, but was replaced with another strongly pro-EU figure.
Kimber accuses Corbyn of being pivotal in moblising the ‘Remain’ vote.
If Corbyn backed Leave, it is highly likely that the vote would be to break from the EU. Polls suggest that Corbyn is far more trusted on the issue than Tories on either side.
His support would banish completely the myth that only the right wants to exit. He would particularly appeal to young people who presently see the EU as a left wing project.
In place of any argument about workers’ rights, social Europe, or internationalism, or whatever the SWP used to dredge up as ‘principled’ reasons to stand for Little Britain, Kimber places this centre stage
Corbyn insists a Leave vote would boost the right. But with the political feeling in Britain at the moment it is more likely it would see Cameron’s resignation, turmoil in the Tory party, the loss of their parliamentary majority and an early election. This offers the hope of the end of the Tories before 2020, surely something to be grasped.
In other words, don’t vote just against Europe, but to get rid of the Tories….by replacing Cameron by a more right-wing anti-European Tory.
One can imagine the SWP National Committee…..
The comrades are respectfully silent.
Kimber is gazing into the dialectical crystal ball.
The Leave side has won!
The Organiser sees movement, a hideous Tory party, a gnashing of teeth, resignations, fights, disarray, messages of international support to Socialist Worker.
A new regime, perhaps of the hardest of hard rights.
Outrage, strikes, divisions: the regime falls.
Kimber continues his divination. An election, which will….. – here the prophecy grows dark: only the shifting shapes of masses of workers and protesters can be seen.
There’s a glimmer….
2,000, perhaps 200,000 thousand copies of Socialist Worker sold!
Lowestoft recruits ten new members!
The comrades smile: the Seer of Socialism has Seen!
In French this is known as la politique du pire: the worse the better.
After the exalted visions the SWP cannot resist a sharp, but more mundane, attack on Barack Obama.
Chief SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos finely analyses the speech of the Monarch of the global Empire,
Obama’s intervention stops anyone pretending any longer that they haven’t noticed where global capitalist interests are lining up. The Emperor himself has told them in words of one syllable that Brexit will harm his empire.
Meanwhile the Carnival of Reaction from the Leave camp continues:
NIGEL Farage has given his most rousing speech to date by declaring that a vote for Brexit will become Britain’s Independence Day.
One-Man Carnival of Reaction.
Scenes from British Political Confusionism.
“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”
Counterfire. April 2016.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)
Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”, notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.
The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire, the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?
Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.
If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.
Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..
Galloway Evokes Battle of Britain Spirit in London Mayor Bid.
This nationalistic posturing reminds me of what’s been happening in France.
While there are admirable protests about the projet de loi Travail (El Khomri) and the interesting Nuit Debout movement anti-Europe nationalism.
They call it “souverainisme“, demands for national sovereignty, migration, border controls, security, the constitution and cultural identity.
Most of those associated with this trend are clearly on the right, if not the extreme right.
But some on the French left have also been attracted by these themes.
This article from last year describes how some have passed over to the French nationalist right:
PARIS — When the newspaper Libération last month accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and best-selling author Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.
Onfray, who declined a request for comment for this article, went on to accuse France’s successive governments of “being contemptuous of the people” — what he calls, using the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners. As for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as much as I resent those who made her possible.”
The first is the fate of France’s poor and working class – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the right and the left alike. In that vision, the governing left’s policies favor the globalized elite and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.
The second theme is the visceral hostility towards Europe and the euro, seen as constraining economic and social policy and a fatal blow to the infamous “exception française,” a large and costly welfare state that’s supposed to shield the French from the turmoils of the global economy.
The drama is being played daily in the court of public opinion. Think of it as “the people vs. the euro.”
Onfray is well known for this vein of rhetoric.
They despised the common folk:
Les gens qui vont voter Non à la constitution européenne sont des crétins, des abrutis, des imbéciles, des incultes. Petit pouvoir d’achat, petit cerveau, petite pensée, petits sentiments. Pas de diplômes, pas de livres chez eux, pas de culture, pas d’intelligence. Ils habitent en campagne, en province. Des paysans, des pécores, des péquenots, des ploucs.
The people will will vote to the European Constitution are cretins, morons, imbeciles, uncultivated. They are hard up, small-brained, narrow mined and inward looking. They have no qualifications, no books at home, no culture, no brains. They live in the country, in the provinces. They are peasants, rustics, bumpkins, yokels.
Clearly Onfray hopes to repeat the result of the referendum on the European Constitution.
He however faces a nebulous target.
But British nouveaux réactionnaires have a unique opportunity: the UK Referendum on the European Union.
Brendan O’Neill takes up the Onfray challenge:
Railing against those “a Byzantine system of governance largely beyond the reach of Euro-plebs” the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and writer for Living Marxism muses, for the anti-elitist Spectator magazine, on The strange death of left-wing Euroscepticism
The further removed the left becomes from everyday people, the more it views the public as an obese, probably racist blob to be re-educated rather than as political citizens to be engaged. The left’s turn from hating the EU to at least wanting to stick with it is directly proportionate to its loss of faith in the masses. Democracy is no longer seen as a tool of progressive change. Lefties now trust EU suits more than they do the loud, odd locals of their own towns.
This comment from Briançon’s article sums up the empty nature of this stand,
““Europe here serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of “adding fuel to the fire.” “I call it the defeatist wing of French intellectual life: There’s no chance we’ll be able to make it, so let’s retract and retreat.”
Will others, hostile to ‘capitalist’ EU but more specifically to the free movement of labour, a substantial group inside the so-called Lexit camp, follow their French counterparts and align, like Galloway, with the hard right?
Allied with UKIP for the European Referendum Galloway looks a trail-blazer.
Corbyn: Labour leader backs ‘a social Europe for everybody.
This is really really good news!
26 February, 2016 KOOS COUVÉE. Islington Tribune.
LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed claims he is a Eurosceptic at heart, making the case for a “social Europe”.
Speaking exclusively to the Tribune, the Islington North MP acknowledged his historically lukewarm personal feelings towards the European Union, but said: “Labour Party policy is to try and get the best deal out of Europe for this country and a social Europe for everybody.”
However, Mr Corbyn expressed concern about the EU’s “democratic deficit”, the economic strategy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and its power over austerity-stricken countries like Greece.
The Labour leader spoke before Prime Minister David Cameron announced his renegotiation deal in Brussels on Friday, which included restrictions on in-work benefits for EU migrants and protection for the City of London from regulations that could put British-based banks at a disadvantage.
Dismissing Mr Cameron’s renegotiation as “a lot of smoke and mirrors”, Mr Corbyn said: “The real issue David Cameron is concerned about is a dispute within the Conservative Party.
“It’s essentially a lot of smoke and mirrors which hasn’t actually achieved a great deal. And on the question of temporarily curtailing in-work benefits, I think there’s an equality issue about that. I believe if people are in work they should be getting the same conditions.”
The central point is this:
“Labour would instead be making the case for a “social Europe”, Mr Corbyn said.
“The case I’ve put forward is one for workers’ rights, and for Britain and Europe being more similar, because British workers have far lower levels of rights at work.
“Secondly, I would want to challenge the Fourth Railway package [opening up rail services to private companies] over the privatisation issue. I’m concerned with the way in which the railways are run in Europe and I believe they should be publicly owned.”
He added: “The other point is the right of countries to keep or take into public ownership certain services, and the question of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US], which is not part of the renegotiations.”
“Most trade unions in Britain, but not all, want to remain in the EU from the point of view of trade and the jobs that go with it, and that’s the view of the party which I’m putting forward.”
The story continues,
Three weeks ago, Mr Corbyn met Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza, to discuss EU reform and the European anti-austerity movement.
Asked how close he is to Mr Tsipras politically, the Labour leader said: “We both want to see an economic strategy around anti-austerity, and we’re both very concerned about the activities and power of the European Central Bank, although Britain is not in the Eurozone and isn’t likely to be.”
Mr Corbyn also revealed that Yanis Varoufakis, the former Syriza MP and Greek finance minister who resigned during the negotiation on an EU bailout package for the debt-stricken country last year, has met Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and will advise Labour in “some capacity”.
Mr Corbyn said: “Varoufakis is interesting, because he has obviously been through all the negotiations [with ECB, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund].
“I think the way Greece has been treated is terrible and we should reach out to them.
“I realise we’re not in the Eurozone but it’s a question of understanding how we challenge the notion that you can cut your way to prosperity when in reality you have to grow your way to prosperity.
“So all of our emphasis and work and campaigning is about an expanding economy and investing in an expanding economy.”
The leader of the U.K.’s left-wing Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, revealed to his local London paper that Varoufakis had met with shadow chancellor John McDonnell and would advise the party “in some capacity.”
Varoufakis’ view on the referendum:
Comrade Varoufakis has also just answered the anti-EU UK left on the issue of Greece: Is Greece not another compelling reason to vote for Brexit on 23rd June?
Last July the European Union completed a brutal coup d’état against the freshly elected Greek government, imposing upon it another huge, unsustainable ‘bailout’ loan that would, with mathematical precision, prolong Greece’s six-year-long Great Depression.
If there was ever any doubt that the EU’s institutions are deeply contemptuous of democratic process, and unabashed about their readiness to ride roughshod over rationality and over the will of a sovereign European people, the events of July 2015 dispelled it.
In this light, it is natural and right to ask two questions in the run up to the 23rd June UK referendum:
- Was the treatment of Greece last summer not another piece of decisive evidence that the EU is governed in an authoritarian, irrational and anti-democratic manner?
- Should voters across the UK (especially after the way Greece was treated last summer) not vote in favour of LEAVE as an important step in reclaiming their Parliament’s sovereignty and their democracy?
My answer to the first question is a decisive YES and to the second an unequivocal NO!
Those of us who detest the EU’s way of doing things have a moral and political duty to (a) jettison the illusion that Brexit will have positive consequences and (b) stick together (across national borders) to fight shoulder-to-shoulder in order to democratise the EU through an almighty confrontation with its current, inane, authoritarian rulers.
For a different spin on the last part of the story….
Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is advising the Labour party on the economy, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed.
The controversial ex-minister, who was forced to resign after his country plunged into a debt crisis, has met with shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the Labour party leader said.
The news came as Paul Mason, the former Channel 4 journalist and strident anti-austerity campaigner, announced he has joined Labour’s economic lecture tour.
The journalist and film-maker revealed his departure from the state broadcaster as part of a plan to “work for a while outside the impartiality framework” dictated by the channel.
In an interview in the Islington Tribune newspaper Mr Corbyn spoke of being interested in Mr Varoufakis because of his experience in Europe.
He said: “I think the way Greece has been treated is terrible and we should reach out to them.
Reports the Telegraph.
Historical Precedent for Galloway/Farage Pact.
From: John Rogan to the Tendance and to Shiraz.
George Galloway compares relationship with Nigel Farage to Churchill and Stalin.
Reports the Independent.
‘We are not pals. We are allies in one cause. Like Churchill and Stalin…’
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Farage said: “On that night, yes, the Respect Party was on the platform, so was the Conservative Party, so was Ruth Lea, the economist, so was a London taxi driver, so was [Tory MP] Sir William Cash, so was [Labour former minister] Kate Hoey.
“The point about Grassroots Out is, we’re bringing people together from across the spectrum.”
The New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush continues in this vein,
“If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons,” Winston Churchill remarked shortly after the Nazis’ fateful decision to open a second front against Soviet Russia.
It’s tempting to see that as the justification behind George Galloway appearing as the “very special guest” at Grassroots Out’s rally on Friday.
The appearance of the Respect leader and former MP attracted derision from the commentariat and prompted walk-outs from the hall. But signing up Galloway is an astute move on the part of Grassroots Out that could have big implications for the coming referendum.
Why? Grassroots Out is currently in a fight to the death with Vote Leave, another pro-Brexit grouping, for the status of “lead campaign”. The designation brings with it a spending limit of £7m during the referendum’s “regulated period” – all other registered campaigns will be able to spend just £70,000. Effectively, whichever campaign doesn’t get the designation will have to shut down.
Although Stronger In has no official line on which of the two campaigns it would rather face, it is an open secret that they regard Vote Leave as the deadlier opponent.
Matthew Elliot, formerly of the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the successful campaign against the Alternative Vote, has been the victim of a whispering campaign from his own side but is feared and respected in equal measure by his opponents. Many either have pleasant memories of campaigning against the Alternative Vote alongside him or bad ones of the two-to-one defeat that was handed to the Yes side. Dominic Cummings, formerly of Michael Gove’s office and the successful architect of the defeat of the North-East Assembly, is held in similar esteem.
“If it’s [Grassroots Out], then it will be a very narrow campaign with a ceiling of 40 per cent of the vote,” one senior staffer predicts, “If it’s Elliott it will be a vicious campaign of smear and fear – and I’d put our chances at 50/50.”
Many people on the left have another historical comparison for Galloway and Hoey’s alliance with Farage.
Oddly the Morning Star has yet to comment on this alliance.
On the left, let’s look at how some greeted Galloway’s past triumphs,
March 2012. Socialist Worker.
While there were specific factors in Bradford that propelled Galloway to victory, his win is a boost for the left in Britain and underlines the potential for building grassroots opposition to Tory austerity.
The Socialist, April 2012.
George Galloway’s stunning Bradford victory shows the potential for anti-cuts election challenges.
Counterfire: Galloway victory: a landslide against war and austerity March 30, 2012 James Meadway.
The scale of Galloway’s win, turning a safe Labour seat into a 10,000 vote majority, is without precedent in modern British politics. All those who oppose austerity and war should be walking a little taller this morning.
We are waiting for some comment from these quarters on Galloway’s recent turn, not least from Meadway somebody, we believe, who has something to do with John McDonnell.
This is all we have from the leadership of the SWP:
We now learn that this all comes as a complete surprise to Galloway’s supporters, as Kimber says for the SWP,
It was nauseating to see George Galloway appearing at the Grassroots Out rally last night and campaigning against the EU alongside the racist Ukip’s Nigel Farage.
Many people have been nauseated by Galloway for years…..
Galloway has yet to pronounce on whether he will share a platform with Zac Goldsmith on the same issue.
Boris Johnson has already spurned the idea,
During the admission Johnson stressed that he would not share a platform with Nigel Farage or George Galloway and would not take part in any TV debates opposing any fellow Conservatives.
Update: this is how the real left is reacting.
Following David Cameron’s renegotiation, the UK has set the date for its referendum on EU membership as the 23rd of June. How should British voters who are dissatisfied with the EU view the referendum?
We should reject wholeheartedly the fudge that David Cameron came back from Brussels with. He is asking the public to support staying within a reformed Europe, but he has deformed Europe in the process of creating this fudge.
Yet at the same time we should also reject the Eurosceptic view that Britain should leave the EU, but stay within the single market. I have a lot of respect for Tory Eurosceptics with a Burkean view of the sovereignty of national parliaments. The problem is that they also support staying in the single market. This is an incoherent proposition: it’s impossible to stay in the single market and keep your sovereignty.
Neither withdrawing into the safe cocoon of the nation state, nor giving in to the disintegrating and anti-democratic EU, represent good options for Britain. So instead of seeing the referendum as a vote between these two options, and these two options alone, the UK needs a third option: to vote to stay in the European Union so that it can fight tooth and nail against the EU’s anti-democratic institutions.
The Tendance is internationalist and does not agree with the ‘sovereigntist’ argument about Parliaments, but the point now is to argue against Brexit.
We can discuss radical democracy – a project to transform Europe into a potential cosmopolitan democracy compared with the merits of sovereigntism later. ….
Commonwealth Day: Galloway’s Internationalist Parade.
One of the tricks used by ‘left’ opponents of the EU in the 1975 referendum was to argue that they were the true internationalists.
They backed the Commonwealth.
This has some history.
I would not cite Progress but this is accurate.
One of the most famous ‘Eurosceptic’ speeches in the last century was delivered by Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell at Labour’s annual conference in October 1962, where he declared that joining the then ‘European Community’ would ‘mean the end of Britain as an independent nation-state … It means the end of a thousand years of history … and it does mean the end of the Commonwealth’.
It is a speech often cited by Labour advocates of Brexit as evidence of a long-standing tradition of Labour Euroscepticism. But the detail of the speech, of Gaitskell’s position on the EEC, and of Labour’s debate on EEC membership in the 1970s do not bear the stress often put on them by 2016 Brexit advocates.
Despite the clear impression given by the rhetoric of his speech, Gaitskell was not, in fact, declaring his opposition to the principle of UK membership of the EEC.
Gaitskell set out his position more dispassionately in a Labour party political broadcast on 8 May 1962:
You still hear some people speaking as though we could decide whether the common market existed or not. Now this, of course, is quite untrue … what we have to ask ourselves, looking ahead, is whether … we would be better outside it, or … inside it… To go in on good terms would, I believe, be the best solution … Not to go in would be a pity, but it would not be a catastrophe. To go in on bad terms which really meant the end of the Commonwealth would be a step which I think we would regret all our lives and for which history would not forgive us.
Most pro-marketeers concluded, fairly, that he was not opposed to entry in principle. Indeed, Gaitskell wrote to his friend and protégé Roy Jenkins that same day asking him to ‘get rid of any idea that I am deliberately building up a position in which, whatever the terms, we should be opposed to them.’
The tone and content of Gaitskell’s ‘Thousand Years of History’ speech owed a great deal to Peter Shore, later to be one of Britain’s most prominent advocates of withdrawal from the EEC, who as the then head of research at Labour party headquarters bore considerable responsibility for drafting the speech.
Progress writer Greg Rosen argues that, in the detail, Gaitskell himself was not opposed to the EEC (as the EU was known) but wanted entry on his terms, the famous 5 terms.
Without entering into the details of that historical account we can say that Shore continued to argue against the EEC using this argument that the “Commonwealth” had to be defended.
He was an internationalist….
This approach has not gone away:
Whenever the word “Brexit” is mentioned, the word “Commonwealth” is usually not far behind.
Eurosceptics campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union are keen to dismiss the idea that the move would leave the country economically isolated and bereft of trade alliances.
They point out that the UK’s links with the 53-nation Commonwealth, composed mainly of territories that belonged to the former British Empire, predate its membership of the EU.
And the Commonwealth itself is eager to stress the trade advantages that its members enjoy by virtue of belonging to the association.
A few days we saw this:
People who expected fireworks when they heard the fiery rhetorician of Britain’s hard Left would grill the doyen of the populist Right must have been left disappointed when the pair agreed with each other on just about everything they talked about.
During the interview on his show ‘Sputnik’, broadcast on Russia’s RT network, Galloway, who supports a Brexit, called the Ukip leader “the man who, more than any other, has brought us to the point where we’re going to get a vote on whether to stay or go”.
“There may or may not be fireworks in the next 25 minutes,” the former Labour MP predicted. There were not.
Galloway listened and agreed with Farage’s claims that we should focus more on the Commonwealth than the EU, that the belief the EU is more popular in Scotland is a “myth put out by the Edinburgh media” and that “our political class no longer think we’re capable as a people of running our own affairs”.
Farage predicted David Cameron’s planned referendum would take place on June 23. He said leaving the EU would let Britain better control its economic policies, about which “you and I could argue cats and dogs”, he told Galloway.
But they distinctly failed to argue cats and dogs during the 26-minute interview.
I imagine Galloway has fond memories of the Commonwealth Day at school….