Wednesday, 22 June 2016

On the Eve of the EU referrendum

In 2014 when the Scottish referendum happened what could have been a typical politically empty, nationalistic / jingoistic (from both sides) shitty spectacle actually became something more than it was intended to be. The Scottish left and activist spectrum turned it into a real debate, one centered around Austerity and the real fight happening within contemporary society beyond the circus side-show that is political discourse in the UK.
This year we're voting on the UK's continued membership of the EU, and nothing of the sort has happened. The focus of the debate has been skewed from reality of what the EU is and what the member states will be facing in the near future to a lot of petty squabbling and wars of position for hegemony within the Tory party being presented as the breath of the debate. The British left has shown no leadership in terms of getting the word out that, and I know this may surprise a lot of people, there are actually plenty of good reasons for wanting to leave the EU and that you don't have to be a slathering xenophobe to want out. and actually a lot of the arguments for staying are on extremely shaky foundations. The Left-Exit argument has been so marginalised and the Leave position so thoroughly dominated by the right that I am genuinely embarrassed to be voting to leave tomorrow, though that isn't actually going to stop me - it just pisses me off.
I can see that there are plenty of arguments for voting to remain, from the personal fear of what might happen with regards to their pensions, because they do benefit from the EU's internal migration policy, out of spite at the loyalist thugs merrily shouting 'vote leave' as they beat up random people they presume to be catholics (this is literally what happened to people I know) - the fear of a resurgent right capitalising on a Brexit vote is a legitimate one The EU at least recognises Palestine and is its biggest provider of international aid and is at least critical of Israel, though that aid is channeled through the PA and is in no small part responsible for the maintenance of the corrupt PLO leadership over the PA and consequently the continuing divisions within the movement. There's a certain validity to the argument that the EU has provided an amelioration of the excesses of the British political establishment, consensus politics in Europe does tack slightly to the Left of consensus politics in the UK (though even with the Human Rights Act, it didn't stop Section 28, or what what was going on over here during the Troubles). They're right that the Exit camp haven't really put forwards a viable or inspiring vision for an alternative outside the EU, they're right, that would have been the job of the British organised left and they fucked that one up. I honestly wouldn't think less of anyone who voted to stay in tomorrow.
Personally though I can't justify it to myself. I can't not think of Alan Kurdi, and all the other people murdered by the EU's immigration policies. I look at Greece and see the Troika doing to the Greeks what the English did to us during the Great Potato Blight of the 1840s, killing people with the ruthless application of Free market economics to ineptly fix a problem created by free market. Seriously, what they've done in Greece is disgusting, its imperialism pure and simple and I've no wish to be a part of it. That hasn't quite gone down here but at some point should we ever attempt to break in earnest with austerity, it will.
You can say that my position with regards to the UK's position in the EU is abstract or idealistic but I don't see reforming the EU from within as a viable option, Syriza tried that one and got kurb-stomped for their efforts.
So, stay / go, either way its not a great choice and either way the real fights are still to be had. It didn't have to be like this, it could have been a party. Again getting back to my initial point in this post, looking at the way the debate around the Scottish referendum went I can't help but think of how different it might have been. Anyway, in spite of the class-baiting scare mongering in the popular press, its been a foregone conclusion since the start, we're definitely not leaving the EU, the vote will go to the Stay option, though probably by a slimmer margin than expected at the outset of the campaign. None of this bodes particularly well for the future.