The ugly face of Euro-scepticism

Our politicians are such a deadly-boring bunch that many people do not bother to vote
Our politicians are such a deadly-boring bunch that many people do not bother to vote

Britain is retreating into isolationism and chauvinism whose main target is the European Union.

Britain is retreating into isolationism and chauvinism whose main target is the European Union. We are in danger of leaving the European Union by default.

The European Union was the brainchild of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. The idea was simple: to share the iron and steel resources of Germany with the other four founding states and, thus, eliminate the possibility of another world war.

The Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community was formally set up in 1967.

Britain still harboured illusions about the British Empire. As Dean Acheson, US Secretary of State, observed: “Britain has lost an Empire and has yet to find a role”.

Suez confirmed that analysis. This was the basis of De Gaulle vetoing British membership in 1963 and again in 1967.

Only in 1973 did Ted Heath succeed. There were just a handful of Tory opponents of entry; opposition was mainly confined to the Labour Party.

The EU accounts for 48% of total UK goods and services exports (2010) to Europe and 39.7% of trade in services (compared with 20% to the USA).

An exit from the European Union could have a devastating effect in terms of non-EU investment in the UK and unemployment.

Growing Euro-scepticism across Europe heralds the growth of neo-fascist parties and anti-immigration parties.

The Conservatives have a primarily economic view of the EEC. To them, it is not a social body. They would be content with just the single market, since they do not see why even minimum protection for workers should be included.

Equal pay is a fundamental part of the European Treaty. The Social Charter, which John Major vetoed, guarantees all workers a minimum of four weeks’ holiday. Most of the anti-discrimination legislation – sex, sexual orientation, disability, age and so on - derive from the European directives.

What the European Court of Justice has done is to ensure a further level of protection for citizens, against an Oxbridge-educated British judiciary who usually practise in the commercial and business sectors. If we did leave the EC, then there would be no constraints on a judiciary that historically has been anti union and hostile to the rights of workers.

The pillar of the European Union that has caused the blimps to howl and squeal has primarily been the free movement of labour, the idea that you can go - as of right - to work in another European state and be entitled to the same rights of residence and social provision. Yet this applies equally to British citizens going to Europe.

With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, a deliberate decision was taken to include the countries of eastern Europe in order for employers to access cheap labour for the West. Can anyone imagine an NHS without migrant labour? The answer to low pay is for workers to organise against low pay.

It is a myth that immigration increases unemployment or lowers wages. This government has managed to lower wages without any problems from the EU. It is touching that the Tories and UKIP, who are both hostile to trade unions, are so concerned about workers’ wages.

It is myth that east-European migrants come here only because of our “generous” benefits.

According to Professor Christian Dustmann, of UCL, migrant workers pay 37% more in tax than they receive in social benefits - because they are younger, fitter and more likely to be single.

But what kind of society is it that refuses healthcare to migrants? British citizens travelling to Europe know that if anything goes wrong they will be entitled to be treated on the same terms as existing citizens. If migrants are asked to pay today, the principle of equal access to the NHS, regardless of need, will be broken. Soon, it will be British people who find that paying for treatment will become the norm for everyone.

Even the Euro-sceptic Spectator in February 2013 cited academic studies that immigrants from the eight Accession States are 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits, tax credits, or to live in social housing. UKIP is a party whose ideal Britain is where women stay at home and clean behind the fridge.

The problem is that council and social house-building has dried up. The crisis of housing has nothing to do with immigrants.

Councils are not allowed to use money from council house sales to fund new housebuilding. Our hospitals and schools are in hock to the vulture funds via PFI. Tax avoidance is the policy of the chancellor. Where the EU has gone wrong is that we have a banker’s Europe not a Europe of its people. This was clearest in the enforced austerity in Greece and Spain. The EU also became an economic wing of NATO and bears a large responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine.

Today’s debate about refugees is not new. On August 20 1938, the Daily Mail, spluttered: “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage…”

I am not aware that Britain has suffered from the immigration of Jewish refugees. Lord Rothermere , who owned the Daily Mail, wrote on September 4 1933 attacking the “clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call 'Nazi atrocities,' which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence.”

Some things never change.