Thursday, June 23, 2016

No more arguments, just pause for thought... #EURef

So it’s almost over, this whole referendum malarkey; and what a rollercoaster it’s been.

Before it really started I was full of hope for a different type of political debate. With only two options, colleagues and comrades on different sides, surely we would enter a generous, principle driven conversation about the future of the UK, Europe, and World.

How wrong I was. How intellectually baseless and cruel this unnecessary vanity project has been. Of course there have been the ‘macro-level’ fallings-out over campaign posters and allies. Of course UKIP was xenophobic and just-a-bit-dog-whistle-over-dinner-awkwardly-polite-racist. Of course we've been bombarded with a patronising panoply of elitist, confusing lectures from experts seemingly disconnected from legitimate popular opinions on the effects of the EU. I should have predicted that.

What I could not predict was the micro level. I was actually called a neo-Nazi. By somebody who knows me. Watching Twitter feeds filled with vile and abusive language calling a good portion of the electorate, the Labour electorate, illiterate trolls. There have been the Facebook posts referring to those who support Brexit as stupid, racist, lazy, delusional; as if these individuals had never met somebody who was voting Leave, let alone are friends with them. Labour Party activists slagging off their colleagues and their leadership and in the next breath proclaiming that they ‘love, love, love’ a prominent Tory politician. There has been no desire to persuade or listen, just to dismiss, be tribal in unison with those we spend our lives opposing.

A woman is dead - not because of this referendum or either camp, but nevertheless a long shadow in the burning midday sun of this fraught division.

I’ve not found it hard to get to the end of this campaign and not share a platform with a Tory – or not praise their ideas and ideology. I’ve not found it hard to not slag off Labour Remain campaigners with abusive language. Lots of people have though – almost like we were never friends or comrades – and to presume the worst about the intentions of people they know well.

But enough of it. Enough. Enough. Enough. It’s going to be hard to not look at some people, friends among them, without a damaging impression of their attitude toward our Labour Movement – our Labour Family. But I must try, and so help me I will , move forward in forgiveness, solidarity, humility and strength with those who want to be my comrades, and I hope others will too.

But we still have to vote. I’m not going to rehearse the reasons as to why I’m voting as I am, but I beg of anyone to consider the following incredibly deeply:

Does remaining in this EU, not one further reformed, not the one we’ve had, but this newly negotiated EU:
            - Help British working people win their fair share of the capital they produce?

-  Ensure our elected governments are supported when choosing their own economic and social      direction?

-          Help us best hold those with power to account?

-          Show solidarity with European working people?

-          Leave us most able to support working people in countries ravaged by centuries of imperialism?

-          Treat people more like human beings than units of capital?

-          Give us more strength than weakness in tackling inequality?

Does remaining in, and strengthening, the EU best help a working person, wherever they may be?

I can respect genuine people, guided by the principles of solidarity and internationalism, who come to conclude either to Leave or Remain. I won’t respect those who do it out of party loyalty, or xenophobia, or populism, or for their career, or for the free market, or for big business, or out of hate, or our of fear.

There won't be piles for 'Lexit' versus 'Brexit' or 'A workers' EU' or 'A bosses' project'.

The choice we face today is important, but in so many ways irrelevant. We will have to fight to put socialist, internationalist, tolerant views at the heart of the UK, in or out. No bureaucrat will do it for us; no Little England Tory can stand in our way.

However you vote today, do it to support a better, fairer, tolerant and socialist tomorrow; and, whatever the result, join the Movement to fight to make that aspiration a reality.