Monday, 17 June 2019

We'd be worse off without them, but would they be better off without us?

When you look at the facts and evidence, it's pretty damned clear that quitting the EU without at least maintaining very close cooperation on the economy, security, citizens' rights and the environment would be a disastrous move for the UK.

When even Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg are claiming that Britain won't see any Brexit benefit for at least 50 years, it's hardly an uncontroversial point to say that Brexit is going to be disastrous until almost everyone of working age is a pensioner or dead.

However one point that is rarely raised is whether the EU would actually be better off without us.

You see the over-whelming British attitude towards the EU is apathy, while most of those who do express a view do so with so little regard for the actual structure and makeup of EU democracy, it's pretty much indistinguishable from contempt.

The turnout at the EU elections was just 37%, meaning two thirds of eligible voters didn't even bother to express a view, and of the minority who did bother voting, a massive swathe of them treated the election like a ridiculous proxy referendum on EU membership, with 31% backing the Faragist Brexit Party, and 20% backing the absurd single-issue "Bollocks to Brexit" Lib-Dems.

How many Lib-Dem voters know, or even care, that the Lib-Dems belong to the despicable ALDE group in the European Parliament, and by returning 15 of them, they've massively increased the power of one of the most toxic groups in the European Parliament.

If one thing is absolutely guaranteed in the European Parliament, it's that is some sickening pro-corporate piece of legislation, or an egregious attack on European citizens' rights and freedoms (the TTIP corporate power grab, banning people from using the term "veggie burger" at the behest of the meat industry, attacking Internet freedoms with Link Taxes and Upload Filters ...) comes along, ALDE will be cheering for it and voting it through.

So in order to say "bollocks to Brexit" like a bunch of political toddlers, literally millions of Brits voted for the European Parliamentary group that makes the EU so bloody bad in the first place, and literally millions more had an equally embarrassing political toddler tantrum in the opposite direction by voting for a bunch of lazy expenses-scamming far-right shit-stirrers to protest against the EU.

Aside from our woefully immature attitude to electing members to the European Parliament, there's also the fact that Britain is so often completely out of step with the general European Consensus.

I'll give just a few examples:

When the EU tried to clamp down on excessive bankers' bonuses, George Osborne was the only finance minister in Europe to oppose the proposals, using public money to fight a doomed-to-lose rearguard action in defence of bankers' rights to extract vast bonuses even as they drive their institutions into insolvency!

When the EU tried to protect the European steel industry by putting tariffs on artificially cheap Chinese steel flooding into European markets, once again the Tories were the only major ruling party to object to and obstruct these moves.

When the EU tried to discipline the far-right Orbán government in Hungary for their interference in the independence of the judiciary, the Tories were the only ruling party in Europe to align themselves with all the extreme-right and neo-Nazi parties in the European parliament to vote in favour of Orbán's anti-Semitic regime.

And it's not just limited to British obstruction against the European political consensus, there's a hard-right British mindset that just doesn't exist on the continent.

Even in countries like Germany, where the centre-right CDU have ruled the roost since 2005, publicly owned not-for-profit public services are commonplace and they've actually reintroduced free university education across the board.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn is derided as some kind of dangerously radical extremist for espousing these policies that are absolutely commonplace on the continent. Policies like publicly owned rail, water, national grid, and mail system, free university education, and decentralisation of economic control and infrastructure investment funds.

What's absolutely commonplace and uncontroversial over there is derided as lunatic extremism over here, and then when it comes to UK government policy Europeans are genuinely shocked when you tell them what the UK government have been doing over the last nine years.

They're shocked when you tell them that they've privatised 3/4 of the schools in England into the hands of unaccountable private pseudo-charities who fill their own pockets at the public expense through bloated executive salaries and dodgy no-bid supply contracts to their friends and family.

They're shocked when you tell them that English kids are facing £9,000 per year university fees on rip-off inflation+3% repayment terms that mean 83% of graduates will never pay off their debts despite entire working lifetimes of paying 9% of their disposable incomes in "education tax".

They're shocked when you tell them that the Tory government has privatised prisons, and the probation service, and the forensic science service, and front line police operations, and absolutely gutted Legal Aid to turn the courts back into the playgrounds of the rich.

What is our normal is radical hard-right extremism to most of them.

And what's their normal is almost universally derided in the media as dangerously extreme Marxist nonsense when Corbyn proposes it over here.

On Brexit we're just an embarrassment hanging around in the doorway, threatening to leave the party in the most destructive way possible, with senior government ministers, right up to our soon-to-be-departed Prime Minister spreading bizarre anti-European conspiracy theories, and her senior ministers referring to our EU neighbours as "Nazi concentration camp guards".

Then after three years of threatening to shoot ourselves in the head if we don't get exactly what we want, we repeatedly rejected the departure deal that we ourselves negotiated, and then pathetically begged and grovelled for yet more time to sort ourselves out, because nobody here can even agree on how to actually do Brexit.

They've shown remarkable patience in the face of this unprecedented chaos and uncertainty, with all 27 remaining EU states coming together to agree their negotiating position, while we, on our own, remain pathetically divided over ours!

When it comes to foreign policy, once again we're completely out of step with the rest of the EU.

When Jeremy Corbyn appealed for calm, and asked to see conclusive proof that Iran were responsible for the tanker explosions in the Gulf of Oman, he was roundly derided in Britain as some kind of lunatic anti-British traitor for daring to question the suspiciously evidence-light assertions of US warmongers like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

But then you look at the European reaction to the same incident, and you see that far from being some kind of wildly deranged commie, Corbyn's just expressing the general European consensus.

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said the grainy video provided by the US is far from sufficient to prove that Iran was behind the attacks. 

France's foreign ministry called on all sides in the region to "act with restraint and towards de-escalation"

And the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for "maximum restraint".

Nobody in Europe is spitting abuse and shrieking "traitor" at these figures for saying the same kind of stuff Corbyn did, nor demanding that the European public unquestioningly accept the American's evidence-light assertions, and war-mongering rhetoric.

Whichever way you look at it, Britain is glaringly out of step with the general European consensus.

Of course a lot of Brits who believe in more liberal social values, and peaceful internationalist ideals, and the mixed economy social democratic way of doing things, would prefer not to leave the EU at all, but maybe it's just time for people like us to accept that (outside of Scotland) we're actually in the minority, surrounded by a majority comprised of tub-thumping hard-right little-Englanders and those who are outright apathetic towards European principles and ideals, which means that the Europeans might well be better off without us continually mucking things up for them.

The other option of course is for Britain to change course, to ditch the obstructionist British attitudes in the European Parliament, to adopt the European consensus on public ownership and affordable/free university education, to unwind all the egregious Tory privatisation scams that most Europeans are genuinely shocked by when they hear about them, and to seek de-escalation in volatile conflict zones rather than spitting undiluted hate at those who preach caution instead of jingoistic war-mongering bollocks.

But if we're going to take this other option, we've got a heck of a lot of work on our plates to reform the way we do things in Britain haven't we?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.



Mr. Magoo said...

Brexit won't happen. Parliament hates the deal; the EU27 have refused to re-negotiate the deal; and parliament (rightfully) won't let us leave with no deal.

To quote the film "Darkest Hour": "You cannot negotiate with a lion when your head is in its mouth". The EU27 know we cannot leave on WTO terms because it would destroy both the British economy and the Good Friday Agreement; therefore, we have to remain in the EU or have a Brexit so soft it will almost be the same as remaining.

Me said...

"When even Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg are claiming that Britain won't see any Brexit benefit for at least 50 years, it's hardly an uncontroversial point to say that Brexit is going to be disastrous until almost everyone of working age is a pensioner or dead."
JRM didn't say this, please look at the video again. Note "over 50 years", not "at the end of 50 years".