Jesse Jackson… Eurosceptic!

The Labour Party's stance on Europe grows stranger by the day

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Co-opted by Labour
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Alexandra Swann
On 1 February 2013 16:42

I had no idea that Jesse Jackson, legendary American civil rights leader, was an MEP. He is, according to an internal Labour Party briefing which grants his famous quote, “an organised minority is a political majority”. And he's a “Eurosceptic” one at that.

The briefing was sent out by Labour Movement for Europe to allow Labour activists to defend the democratically indefensible: Milliband’s outright rejection on a referendum on Europe.

If he had the slightest political sense, Ed Miliband would have jumped through this open goal with a matched promise; yet they remain as committed to Europe as an ex-pat Liberal Democrat farming in France.

The briefing considers, and inevitably defends, the powers and competences of the EU including Police & Justice cooperation, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Fishing policy, the Social Chapter, Erasmus Student Exchange Scheme, Trade, Foreign Policy Cooperation, Defence and the possibility of a referendum.

There are a few gems.

On the subject of the Common Agricultural Policy, one of the most controversial EU policies which accounts for between 30 and 40 percent of the EU’s €150.9bn 2013 budget, LME claims:

“There is just one thing that would be more expensive than a CAP: - 27 separate agricultural policies in a single market! France would give its farmers even greater subsidies… [the CAP] has already declined from over 70% of EU budget towards 30%”

It seems to have this strange idea that when the UK leaves all the other countries will atomise. No, Mr Milliband, there will be two system’s, ours and theirs. Not 27. The comparative percentage may been reduced but over €50bn in 2013, costing each British taxpayer around £180 per year, is not a sum to be dismissed.

As noted by Andrew Gilligan,  the EU’s agriculture committee has just met to discuss the CAP’s future. Far from positive reform, MEPs voted for the return of two discredited practices which could cost EU taxpayers an extra £2.6 billion a year despite no debate, scarce public involvement, and little understanding of the 8,000 amendments by the MEPs.

Yet Labour believes all the positive changes needed are possible through “Europe-wide reform”.

And so the briefing goes on, packed with half-truths and myths.

On Police & Justice:

“[Leaving the EU] would give gangsters an incentive to locate in Britain if we were the one country from which extradition could be avoided… If there are problems (e.g. Polish courts using the European Arrest Warrant for trivial cases), better to reform than to walk out entirely.”

The fundamental injustice of the EAW is central to the way that European justice works. No bona fide evidence must be provided before extradition and cases such as the imprisonment of Andrew Symeou sit at the heart of the EAW. The Polish frivolity of using the EAW to deal with parking fines, shoplifting and exceeding overdraft limits is just another side of its absurdity.

Before the EAW Britain had working extradition agreements EU countries; they worked and would continue to do so were we to leave while still providing the basic protection of the British courts system to British citizens.

On the Common Fisheries Policy:

“Fish have an unfortunate habit of swimming from one country’s waters to another. Any attempt to avoid over-fishing is doomed to failure.”

The CFP was derided this week as a “colossal failure” by Iceland’s president; around 75 percent of Europe’s fish stock is endangered compared to the global figure of 20 percent.

The waters of Norway and Iceland have far greater stock and diversity, and the environmental degradation of the seas caused by the CFP is an outrage; even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has waded in. Defending the CFP will anger many on the left and set the WWF community at a frenzy, and rightly so.

On the Social Chapter:

“In any case [the Working Time Directive] is not a matter of Britain against the rest: rather, it is a political division with voices for and against it within countries. In Britain, most trade unions, much of the medical profession, some women’s organisations and the Labour Party support it.”

To state that much of the medical profession support the WTD is sheer hokum. A letter to The Telegraph from the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians has warned that the restrictions, limiting doctors to a 48 hour week, are preventing sufficient training  and sacrificing patient care.

The impact of other Directives associated with the Social Chapter, including the Temporary and Agency Workers’ Directive, harm businesses and the individuals they were designed to protect.

But if the trade unions agree, so does Labour.

On the Erasmus Student Exchange Scheme:

“Making it possible for students to study at universities in other member states as part of their main studies… is one of the most popular things that the EU does. Leaving everything except the Single Market would make British students and universities ineligible.”

Labour has a strange idea that before the EU students were unable to study abroad. It also wrongly assumes that Erasmus require membership of the EU; it doesn’t, Turkey is a member of Erasmus and not (yet) a member of the European Union, neither is Switzerland.

Finally, regarding an In/Out referendum

“No-one under 55 has ever had a say on belonging to the EU: If the only way to have a say on an issue is to have a national referendum on it, then none of us have had a say on anything much! We have never had national referendums on joining NATO, WTO, the UN… nor on any domestic policy issue, because we have a parliamentary system providing for detailed scrutiny by our elected representatives… We also have specific elections on Europe every 5 years when we elect our MEPs.”

European elections do not address the fundamental issue of membership of the EU. Furthermore, Labour came third in 2009 behind UKIP and the Conservatives who are proposing an In/Out referendum.

When in power, Labour banded referendums around like confetti, from Scotland and Wales to the London Assembly  and the North East; during this government the Lib Dems demanded a costly referendum on our voting system to a crushing result; yet on something that decides who we are to be governed by Labour is dismissive.

So why has Ed Miliband ruled out a referendum on our membership of the EU?

This may well be a mistake made in haste under the pressure of Prime Minister's Questions that he, and the Labour Party, may come to regret.

Alexandra Swann is a freelance journalist and prominent member of UKIP since leaving the Conservative Party last year. She is a self-described anarcho-capitalist and considers taxation to be state sponsored theft

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