IT IS hard to know what planet Nigel Farage is on when he claims the European Union has “sent a message” that refugees are welcome. How, exactly, is this message being sent? Asks the Morning Star editorial 2 September 2015.
By the cramped and crowded detention centres springing up in Greece, Italy and other EU member states?
By the razor-wire fence being constructed on the borders of Hungary to keep out foreigners?
By the massive subsidies given to countries such as Bulgaria in order to boost their “border security”?
Farage says he intends to make immigration a major plank of his xenophobic party’s campaign to leave the European Union.
In casually mixing migration statistics, which show record numbers of mostly EU citizens coming to live and work in Britain, and the refugee crisis which has exploded in the Middle East and is beginning to lap against Europe’s shores, he is doing precisely what this newspaper predicted — confusing two separate issues to foster hatred, division and fear.
In this context, Yvette Cooper’s call for distinguishing asylum-seekers fleeing “a new totalitarianism in the Middle East,” by which she presumably means the genocidal Isis terror group, and economic migrants is a step forward.
Unfortunately, in common with the other Labour leadership candidates with the — as ever — honourable exception of Jeremy Corbyn, she has not acknowledged the key role that Britain’s foreign policy choices have played in setting fire to the Middle East.
That is why the stream of waspish insults from the Blairite undead about how Corbyn’s advocacy of “jaw-jaw” rather than “war-war” — which actually echoes Tory hero Winston Churchill’s stated preference — makes him unfit to lead the Labour Party is so wrong-headed.
More interventions and more bombings will not end the crises which have forced millions to flee for their lives — only a tiny proportion of whom, we should remember, have sought safety in Europe.
At the same time progressives and trade unionists must not be prompted into a knee-jerk defence of an EU which has done much to precipitate this crisis simply because Farage’s anti-foreigner rants get our goats.
Angela Merkel may have shown more compassion for asylum-seekers than David Cameron has done, but almost in the same breath she issued a stern reminder to the people of Greece that the wholesale privatisation of their country remains non-negotiable, however they vote in their next election.
The EU is busily negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will subordinate our elected governments to the diktats of transnational corporations.
Cameron’s “renegotiation” won’t change that one iota. Indeed, our Prime Minister has expressed his frustration that the TTIP deal is not being forced through quickly enough.
The rulings of the European Court of Justice — most famously in the Viking and Laval cases — have made it clear that trade union rights are trumped when they come into conflict with corporate interest.
There is nothing working people can salvage from this rotten and anti-democratic alliance. We are best off out of it.
But the campaign to leave cannot be left to the likes of Ukip. Farage’s decision that his party will run its own separate campaign to leave is all to the good — we on the left want nothing to do with it or him.
It was no accident either that he mentioned “two existing” campaigns to leave, the Westminster-based Business for Britain and the corporate funded Know campaign, but did not acknowledge the existence of Trade Unionists Against the EU, which makes the socialist and democratic case for exit.
It is ultimately the labour movement which must come to recognise that our freedom to build a better society — one, indeed, that would welcome the desperate with open arms — requires breaking the chains of EU membership.