“Should I stay or should I go”, I blogged back in February. Since then, so much has changed and so much has stayed the same.
What has changed? At this moment, the world feels like a bitterer, less tolerant and more hateful place. The spectre of Trump in the States and the far right growing here is horrifying. Mind-numbingly chilling, on the back of Paris, the further murderous hate attacks on Brussels, Orlando and then within the last week, Jo Cox MP have left a stench of blood, fear and hate. It is too crass to directly link act of terror to to political positioning within a democracy, but the growing violent intolerance of “the other” is aligned to misrepresentations that spread fear and anger. Nasty far right lies around immigration have dominated the case for Leave, and the Remain camp have responded on these terms.
What has sadly stayed the same is that Left intervention in the EU referendum is marginal. Left views are drowned out by the media phantasmagoria channelling the debate exclusively to the right of the Tory Party and the further right – UKIP axis. Deep shame must be shouldered by the political and media classes of these isles.
Strongly held, passionate and progressive opinions on both sides of the debate amongst trade unionists, socialists, left and progressive groups are posted missing from all coverage, yet they exist. What we think is deemed irrelevant in the madness of this moment in which the citizens of the UK are being asked to cast their vote on whether our future is in or out of the EU based on which particular swarm of immigrants you might most fear invading these isles.
In this climate, it is hard to be objective, but let me try. There is general agreement amongst those of us on the Left that the EU is/has become a capitalist bosses club; that austerity politics and economics of both the current UK government and EU bureaucrats do not represent the wishes of the vast majority of working people and that xenophobia and fear should have no place in this debate.
Public services, trade deals, tax justice, union and workers’ rights, living standards, immigration/migration, human rights, equality or democracy itself are all under threat by capitalist superpowers whether we are in or out of Europe. Whether those failures are propped up by successive UK governments, the EU supra-government or even weak devolved governance – it is clear that what we cling to as current liberal democracy has failed to adequately protect the workers or clearly mitigate against the interest of capital.
Should I cool it or should I blow?
At this 11th hour, many folk I speak to, like me, find themselves in a quandary. It goes against the grain to reduce my voting intention to one of tactic against the worst of two evils. It boils down to this – my worst nightmare is not an embedded non-accountable capitalist troika pulling the strings behind the façade of the EU. That is just more of the same. But rather the spectre of an emboldened far-right alliance of Tory and UKIP zealots casting off our islands as a neo-liberal capitalistlanding strip for US trade and geo-political interests, closing our doors to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and reducing our rights to sub-European levels.
Sadly, what is not about to happen in either scenario is the creation of the objective conditions for a socialist transformation. If we are in Europe, we are a long way from the Varoufakis model of democracy in Europe, even with his last chance saloon of giving Europe until; 2025 to democratise or fail. If we are out of Europe, the isolationists on the far right have already spread too far into the psyche of the working class. In or Out, we have a job on our hands to win our people for social justice, peace and progress at home and beyond these shores.