Staying in Europe

Natalie and I spent two hours of this beautiful sunny afternoon we’ve just had at an event organised by the Labour Party and Greens to discuss why we should stay in Europe. And despite missing out on the sunshine, I’m very glad we did.

I was sure that we needed to stay in the EU before I went, but worried about issues I didn’t fully understand like the whole issue of TTIP and the problem of curbing top-down EU governance as instigated by a largely unelected body. Fortunately the three speakers were very clear on these and other issues. Nobody offered unqualified support for the EU as it is, but almost everyone attending agreed that, for a whole raft of reasons, we would be in a lot worse situation – as indeed would Europe as a whole – if the UK leaves. The Tory Government would push TTIP though anyway – it has raised fewer issues about its proposed implementation than any other major European state.

Two trades unionists made it abundantly clear that without EU legislation British workers would have lost almost all such rights as they still currently enjoy, and that’s before taking into account health and safety regulations, environmental protection, etc. , etc. What is also increasingly clear y=to me is the extent to which National Governments use the EU as a scapegoat for their own failings. They have a great deal of discretion in how they interpret EU legislation but, as in the case of peat cutting in Ireland, often fail to use it and then, when there is a public outcry, blame the EU.

My view in the end is that we need more and more effective and informed democracy at the local, regional, national and international levels – and that we have an infinitely better chance of getting this from inside the EU than outside in Boris Johnson and Michael Gove’s version of “Little Britain”.