EU – In or Out?



If the EU was good enough to join, it’s good enough to fix

The democratic deficit

Scotland and its democracy I know about, studied it, lived and breathed it all my life, but I can’t claim to be anything close to an expert in the minutiae of, say, Scottish law. The complexities of the law as it affects Scotland’s ambitions and endeavours is for proven specialists to expound. To tackle every subject as if an expert is a trap for the hubristic. Consequently, I open debate on withdrawal from the European Union with trepidation.

My first reaction to leaving Europe, ‘Brexit’, is, anything reviled by the Tory party, supported by odious Ukip, must  be beneficial for the rest of us, in some way they dislike.

A declaration: I am a European

I have no doubt Scots feel as I do, a European, at home in Italy as much as in Spain.

Were we never to travel to Europe, nor outside Scotland, we cannot help but see ourselves surrounded by European cultural influences, in architecture, money systems, design, art, music, and our language.  I look at red pantile roofs in Scotland and know we traded with Spain for hundreds of years. I love the art of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Goya. I know our own Scottish painters lived a spell in Paris and Spain. I like Italian cars. I eat at Italian restaurants. I work with Polish craftsmen. I listen to German classical music. Our English cousins are, like us, all the richer for European influence on their culture. I look at St Paul’s Cathedral knowing Sir Christopher Wren designed it as a miniature Vatican.

I can only speak for myself, but I find the Tory party, its concocted neo-con ideology, its class system, it’s suspicion of anything ‘foreign’, repulsive, anti-life.

Nevertheless, listening to repetition of ‘unaccountable EU bureaucrats’ has  you wonder if there’s some truth in what the ‘Brexit’ brigade argue.

Let’s put the first lie to rest

Contrary to the dross tossed at us by Brexit enthusiasts in the hope we’re deaf as well as dumb, we do elect representatives to the EU. Those are the MEPs whose name we don’t know, and who always poll low attendance figures at European Parliament election times. That’s how much we care about European democracy, thus giving Europhobes a free hand.

What we don’t elect are the many bureaucrats that serve them, rather in the same way we don’t elect the House of Lords which rules over Scotland and the UK, or the civil service which shows itself ready to plot against Scotland’s legitimate self-determination.

But as one alert reader points out: “It should be noted that the unelected piece of the EU is the Commissioners. However, unlike the members of the House of Lords they go through a process which includes review by MEPs. How many people know what that is?”

Tories say they dislike Brussels bureaucrats composing new regulations and laws on the basis of group political debate and direction. They also don’t like the House of Lords when that body of drastically out-of-touch bletherers defy a vote of the House of Commons.

Above all, they despise the electorate – us – imposing our will, full stop.

As for the EC stamping all over ‘our’ democratic rights, on many of the really big issues, such as the admission of Turkey, Britain can exercise a veto. This is a massive protection. And even where there is qualified majority voting, EU records show that Britain has been outvoted in only 2% of cases since 1999.

Was the 1707 Treaty not for shared democracy?

The Treaty of 1707 between Scotland and England removed democratic rights wholesale.

What it brought was a great wealth for a small number during the years of the British Empire, when we acted as England’s ambassadors and middle management. It also furnished Scottish timber for England’s war ships felled from our great forests. In many respects England is still at war with Europe, psychologically incapable of being at peace with anybody who won’t cheer an English cricket team.

Today we have Tories embroiled in the self-same battle they inflicted on each other when it was first proposed to join the European Community. On its inception a cohesive Europe allowed for the revitalisation of war-broken nations and the resurgence of national cultures. (Scotland did not benefit directly, being considered a ‘province’ of England.)

The Union was sold to us by Edward Heath as an attainable ideal – peaceful co-existence, renewal, cosmopolitanism, no borders, sharing scientific enquiry, medical advances, common institutions, and equal prosperity. That’s what I see as its obvious benefits. Europe has been spectacularly successful as a peaceful continent – internally.

What are Europe’s weaknesses?

Europe’s two weakness are financial. The Euro, though a single currency is a sound practical ideal at first successful, it was established too early in the Union’s framework. And second, nations within the Union have embraced harsh neo-liberal economics imported from, and imposed by, the USA.

Both weakness can be reversed, indeed are getting addressed in the shape of the formation of a new political party with that goal in mind, (which I discuss later) but neither problem, in my view, demands withdrawal from Europe, or the extreme solution, the inherently racist argument, disintegration of the European Community.

That said, it’s EU millions that are being used to help refugees fleeing from war torn, drought ridden Syria. We could not intervene in this human tragedy without group unity.

How did Britain evolve separate from Europe?

Britain, the group of nations we know today, evolved through the centuries as political solutions to hold down and contain acquisitive rivalries between tribes and classes, the monarchy constantly at odds with the masses, barons constantly at war with each other, and trading allegiance with the Crown, money merchants, shipping merchants, and in the late 19th century, trade unions.

As an island our political ideals remained reasonably free of interference from European states, but after World War II we had to accept a large loan from the USA, the Marshal Plan. Greece got nothing because it was seen as too left-wing. It effectively tied us to USA foreign policies, explained away by our Westminster master as ‘ the special relationship’.

What is the genesis of the EU?

The European Union had a different genesis from Britain’s. It was a gathering of industrialists, steel, coal, nuclear power, car manufacturers, and the like who got together to protect their industries and redistribute their profits through their own approved bureaucracy. In other words, like the 1707 Treaty, the construction of the EU began as a convenient trading organisation. Again, like the infamous betrayal of Scotland’s sovereignty by the power elite of the day, the European groups that sat around the negotiation table disdained any notion of genuine people power.

Politicians were easily swayed to support this coalition of European manufacturers, to see it as profitable for them, even when it was not good for the prosperity of their respective populations. One planned result of this cosy grouping was to see Fiat, Italy’s national car company, struggle to survive, while German car companies thrived.

Another result of a self-serving group of industrialists was, when a nation’s economy  weakened severe austerity was the answer – punish the electorate. Banks have debts? Transfer those debts onto the shoulders of the taxpayers. It’s stunningly ironic that the one nation wanting out of the EU is the very one pursuing European monetary solutions brutally, to the enth degree, EU style – a bankrupt dogma, empirically and practically.

The Tory party hates the Euro

Those EU member states such as Britain that refused to use the Euro as currency, thinking they were safe from inflation and capitalism’s hard knocks, were shocked to find themselves hit by Europe’s slide into negative growth. Not using the Euro is no protection against recession in a nearby state with whom you trade.

We did our best to hook up with the big boys for safety, the USA and China. Europe, embracing neo-liberal economics, followed suit. Now we discover we are at the mercy of greater anti-democratic forces than we ever envisaged in the form of USA extreme capitalism for the wealthy few, and China’s lurch into deficit.

Sniffy rulers

Suddenly, the Tory government has gotten all sniffy at the thought it might have to give up some sovereignty as part of the EU, a situation fine when the USA calls the shots and lends us a few dozen nuclear warheads, telling us who we must consider our enemies of the day. Sharing a small degree of sovereignty with Scotland is also anathema to the Tory party, and its deputy party, Labour.

Why would they sell Brexit as freedom released of its chains when their entire ideology is one of keeping nations supine, and populations docile?

Where do I stand?

I vote to stay in Europe. I regard European unity as a great advance.

Muddying the water

If you dismiss the lies, the rhetoric, and the alarmist statements there really is only one decision. We should stay in. We should join with other nations to get rid of autocratic processes that are unacceptable, and supplant them with real democracy. The real enemy of the EU are the banks in the grip of neoliberal economics: the European Bank, and IMF.

I regard it a little like independence regained –  keeping the Union of the Crowns. It might repulse republicans but it achieves the main goal, and provides England with a neighbour state that feels on equal terms, one in the those of creating real democracy at work. Thereafter, you argue and vote to make Scotland a better society.

If your roof develops a leak, or the electrical system becomes out of date and lethal, you renew them when you can. You don’t torch the house. It’s your home and your wealth.

When we joined the EU we knew we were giving up a small amount of sovereignty in return for all the benefits of membership, exactly the same relationship an independent Scotland was prepared to accept in having the Bank of England (actually the UK’s bank) as Scotland’s bank of last resort.

Surely we can reconcile criticisms of Brussels with our natural identification with European people and their culture?

Leaving the EU is less complicated than staying, or is it?

Those who say leaving the EU is a long complicated process are right. And we can watch Westminster reverse all the liberal gains we fought for. However, there is a solution to concerns of loss of hegemony, the one power elites resist as soon as the idea is broached because their authoritarian mentality won’t countenance it.

In line with Scotland’s neo-Enlightenment, let’s call it a surge of democracy, orchestrated by Europeans seeking to regain control over their lives from unaccountable technocrats, and complicit politicians, the ones who said Scotland would find it near impossible to be a member of the EU when independent.

Bar a few King and Country adherents in the 1922 Committee, and screaming unionists thugs that burn Saltire flags, (aided by the media elite who block a Scottish-international news programme) Tories and Labour were quite content to work with EU institutions they knew were opaque, or corporation biased, until Europe met a mass of fleeing refugees from wars it began and encouraged.

To various degrees depending on which venal politician you talk to, the English government want taller fences, more border controls, forms of ethnic cleansing, unconstrained xenophobia, and all in the name of ‘protecting the British people.’

How can individuals resist more loss of democracy?

Stand up and be counted.

Join the SNP or another political party that actually likes Europeans. Agitate for genuine democracy. Demand change within the EU. It has a parliament we can use, after all.

To be blunt –

Nicola Sturgeon may be right in predicting an increased demand for a second Referendum if we are forced out of the European community. Can you imagine Scotland’s chances  for self-determination with the UK out of Europe, the Tories in power another twenty years, and Donald Trump in the Whitehouse?

Alarmed? Try terrified.

Post script

There is a meeting of like-minds in Berlin. It is to establish a new movement for genuine freedom: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. The organisers, eminent economist, Yanis Varoufakis a leading exponent among them, are “united by different cultures, languages, accents, political party affiliations, ideologies, skin colours, gender identities, faiths and conceptions of the good society.”

The principles of the movement are summarised as follows:

One simple, radical idea is our motivating force: to democratise the EU in the knowledge that it will otherwise disintegrate at a terrible cost to all. Our immediate priority is full transparency in decision-making (live-streaming of European councils, Ecofin and Eurogroup meetings; full disclosure of trade negotiations; ECB minutes, et cetera) and the urgent redeployment of existing EU institutions in the pursuit of policies that genuinely address the crises of debt, banking, inadequate investment, rising poverty and migration.

Our medium-term goal is to convene a constitutional assembly where Europeans will deliberate on how to bring forward, by 2025, a fully fledged European democracy, featuring a sovereign parliament that respects national self-determination and shares power with national parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils.”

You can hear the right-wing led by the reflex hatred of the Telegraph newspaper, followed by MI5 employed television pundits, “What a pile of … Utopian idealism!”

What are their ambitions but a Utopian dream to corner wealth, in perpetuity?


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20 Responses to EU – In or Out?

  1. Wee Jonny says:

    Bravo G.B. Bravo.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Well, I wrestled with this one, not because I think the European Community a bad thing, in general terms, I don’t, (though what they did to Greece is outrageous) but because I keep hearing the same argument for Scotland staying part of the UK.

    However, we can’t alter Westminster for the better – we will never have the majority to do that, or a system in which greater democracy for one nation is placed before the power of another. The House of Commons and the House of Lords are loaded against any kind of breakaway democracy.

  3. gn2 says:

    What happened to Greece was down to Greece lying in the finaces section of its EU application form.

    Just like someone on minimum wage lying about earnings to secure a half million pound mortgage, it was never going to end well.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s a big accusation. What can be verified is that Germany never paid Greece the war reparation it was due. That left Greece struggling. And the European Commission and its attendant banks imposed draconian conditions on its current loan, a loan that recycles the money with huge interest payments … back to the same banks, not into the pockets of needy, poor Greeks.

  5. bjsalba says:

    It should be noted that the unelected piece of the EU is the Commissioners. However, unlike the members of the HoL they go through a process which includes review by MEPs. How many people know what that is?

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    Excellent reminder, BJ! I’ll incorporate that. Thanks.

  7. TheItalianJob says:

    Well written article as always. Like you GB I’ll vote to stay in. I voted to go into Europe in the original European ref and still believe we are better in for so many reasons e.g. freedom of travel, to work etc.

    Quite right ref HOL and how democratic is that with more unelected Lords than the US senate X 8. We need to look at reform closer to home rather than in the EU.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    Thanks, IJ. I can’t see how the UK benefits from withdrawal from Europe. The EU is a corporate entity. All corporate bodies can be reformed, but to block off an entire continent, for what reason? For not being English and loving warm beer?

  9. Iain says:

    On a technical note, the European Commission has no power to enact legislation; that is the sole preserve of the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, under the principle of co-decision making adopted in the Lisbon treaty in 2009. The Commission’s role is to put forward proposals for legislation to the Parliament and Council.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s a timely reminder, Iain. Thank you.
    Ukip are keen to lose all that in one mix and have us believe it’s all faceless bureaucrats imposing alien legislation.

  11. Justin Fayre says:

    Brilliant post GB.

    Confirms why you are my joint favourite blog writer (along with Craig Murray).

    As well as being 100% correct, you both interact with the commenters (or should that be commentators), which is particularly refreshing.

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez – President of Venezuela. I feel this is particularly significant as the template for what the media barons et al are trying to achieve in this country was tried out successfully some time ago.

    Fox, in a brilliant piece of false reporting and mass manipulation, wrongly reported that Chavez had ‘lost’ an election, with the result that his opponents took to the streets to rejoice.

    When the truth became apparent it resulted in anger against all things American and there were reports of attacks against US personnel and organisations which then allowed the media and those with vested interests to denounce the Venezuelan Government and people.

    JOB DONE…MOVE ON TO THE NEXT TARGET. OK let’s give it a try in Scotland.

    I can’t be the only one that feels we’re living in some sort of Global version of ‘ Trading Places ‘
    A group of psychopaths having a bet on whether or not they can turn a decent society into greed fixated, cruel and egocentric citizens.

    I’m terrified they might actually succeed. It’s like living in a Derren Brown production.

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    Good to hear from you again, Justin.

    The workings of the EU as presented to us as a maze of bureaucratic institutions that it’s not surprising the rest of us are confused. I can see why so many English friends of Scotland were similarly confused over self-determination if they never took much notice of Scotland’s democratic deficiencies in the first place. We are paying now for not getting involved in European politics.

    You really have to delve deeply into things to find out what’s wrong and why. I had a Labour councillor answer me the other day saying he felt ‘free every morning he got up’ – proving Chomsky’s dictum, there are people who don’t know there are things they don’t know.

    I thought it was people like me who had to deal with the power elite and the British establishment who are witness to the excessive controls on us, that was, until all of Glasgow voted Yes. They knew it too.

    The EU needs democratised. We can’t do that to Westminster – we don’t have the majority vote to accomplish it, but we can create a better society in Scotland, and hope our English brethren rise up to demand the same.

    You’re right about Chevez up against the aggressive power of the wealth owners in his own nation, press, television stations, backed by the USA, 78% of the population living in poverty. I read the other day that the Honduras police are ‘funded’ by the USA. How can you trust your law officers to be accountable if they’re paid and controlled by a different nation state?

    And how different is that situation from Scotland?

  13. Twathater says:

    Hi GB

    Thanks for your response over on WOS.

    I have read your assertions above and agree with most of them. The EU is a great idea, the same as pure communism, both are great ideologies unfortunately they are both let down by the same thing, humans.

    In the case of the EU I agree it needs revamped and democratized but we have been members for 40 years and the powers that be have not shown and do not show any inclination to divert from their self serving corporatist agenda.

    The M E is a lunatic asylum caused in great part by the UK and USA, but also exacerbated by tribalism, gangs, religious zealotry, bigotry and a general distrust and disgust of western civilization.

    Blair the warmonger and liar will forever be remembered for his WMD and 45 minutes. Merkel in my opinion will forever be remembered for her open invitation to all and sundry to come to Europe, without ANY discussion with other EU leaders and without ANY thought or consideration of the citizens of Europe, or the consequences of her actions.

    This to me is not the rational action of a leader. Immigration is a major concern of ordinary people, they worry about jobs, their standard of living, their access to social housing, the impact on their infrastructure, their NHS, access to doctors surgeries and many other things being trivialised. If you dare raise concerns you are automatically labelled a racist, bigot,isolationist or worse.

    People are not convinced that integration is working, they are concerned that their culture and beliefs are being diluted and ignored, and politicians are only apologists.

    The ONS are reputed to have said that there is a possibility that a further 3 million migrants will attempt to make their way to Europe this summer, what preparations are the EU czars taking to deal with this, bearing in mind the total debacle of the existing situation.

    As I alluded to in my posting on WOS, how do we the Scots hope to drive change within the EU with 27 other self serving entities possibly opposing us when we cannot drive change within the UK with only 1 other opponent.

  14. JLT says:

    Absolutely agree with everything you have said there Grouse Beater.

    This whole Referendum is nothing more than a win-win situation for the Tories.

    Sure Cameron is desperate to beat Boris, but in a Tory world, you can have ‘Tory-lite’ David Cameron and George Osborne (I never though I would be advocating those 2 numpties) …or ‘Tory-heavy’ Boris, Gove and IDS.

    The prospect of fellow Scottish independence compatriots voting for ‘Leave’ without seeing the bigger picture infuriates me. As I have stated on Wings in a couple of posts, these compatriots of ours are literally turkeys voting for Christmas. Not only do they take us out of Europe, but they damage the case for Scottish Independence by increasing the chances of Scotland and England voting the same way.

    This means there is fair chance that a 2nd Referendum is kicked into the long grass for at least a decade since the Tories (and Unionists) will point out that both nations followed the same political path and are no longer politically different in ideology (and they will!); the re-writing of workers rights in the UK; more lower wages and an increase in zero-hour contracts; and worst of all …the strong possibility of endorsing Boris, Gove and IDS as the Tory Government of Britain. They will be determined to remove tooth and claw of all powers from Holyrood while dismantling Barnett and forcing us to privatise everything.

    How like-minded Scottish Nationalists can vote ‘Leave’ …even knowing that all of this is a good possibility …is staggering to one’s sensibilities. I hope they have a moment of crisis of faith when it comes to the vote.

    Like yourself …I’m for remaining in the EU.

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    Welcome, JLT.

    There’s always existed a racist element in the Tory party, reflected in corners of English working class life: England my England, and all similar colonial guff.

    To my mind the way to isolate it is not to ignore it but to reward it’s opposite quality. We ought to be generous to other cultures and try to learn from them. They’ve just discovered vast cities in the Cambodian jungle hitherto unknown, civilisation existing before the great Persian one that gave us so much of our culture. Unionists tell Scots we are an amalgam of Irish, Nordic, and other races. Well, that’s true for us all.

    To encourage racism is to say England is an exceptional country, in the same way the USA believes itself to be, and thus above international law. Is that really what England wants?

    What we have at the moment is England demanding demotion from the Premier League, having warned Scotland that to be independent again means never eating at the top table.

  16. Macart says:

    That’s a keeper Grouse. 🙂

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s what I said about my daughters when they were born! 🙂

  18. Papko says:

    I think its worth mentioning that Cameron proposed the referendum prior to the GE in 2016, this was intended to stymie the UKIP popular swell, eroding the Tory vote. The fact they only got on MP, belies the fact that 4 million voted for them in 2016 and 11 million voted Tory.

    Cameron does not want to have a referendum but he must keep his word, and with a week to go we are in the midst of the shambles.

    Ultimately I will vote remain , but no doubt for different reasons that you do GB, though its hardly surprising there are different reasons, some 40 million British people are voting next week, about continuing a relationship with 500 million Europeans. (I think the numbers are important to signify the scale of this decision).

    One double edged compliment I will give you, is that you are a very good writer, but your positive vision of Europe and staying in does not get the heart trembling, nice wine, classical music and architectural influences, they will all be there regardless of Brexit.

    With respect I would suggest it is hard to make a positive case for the status quo , because I certainly cant do it .

  19. Grouse Beater says:

    I believe I argue sound political reasons for staying in the EU, and mention music, architecture and wine only to illustrate we ARE European, making it impossible to throw off those cultural fusions as a trade for playing cricket on the green.

    Soon as we go solo the Germans will demand reinstatement all the benefits they need to keep investing in our car industry, so what will be the difference? Well, the Germans might well be very reluctant to share their technical developments with us.

    I don’t bother to mention fashion, Italian, French, in clothes, nor mention design, nor cuisine, but it’s clear we won’t get easy access to all those influences once we’re forced into isolation by Westminster.

    The backlash has begun – you can find swathes of housing blocks in Spanish towns and cities marked ‘No Foreign Ownership!’.

  20. Papko says:

    You make sound points politically, I was trying to say that there are countless good points of varying degrees.

    I spent 17 years working in Europe, Spain, Holland, Germany, when I was 18 I hitch-hiked to Marrakech (not quite took the train for last 2 hundred miles If I remember right) whole trip took me 6 months as I stopped off along the way to get casual work.

    Had read Laurie Lee’s wonderful books and inspired to follow in his footsteps. I did love Spain , especially the long hike from Madrid to Malaga.

    Always thought the Spanish were very kind and generous, you could be hitch hiking along and they would just come up to you and give you a chunk of bread and a tortilla. Such spontaneous gestures made a tremendous impression on me, especially when I was starving.

    When the banks collapsed Spain got it hard, and whenever in a supermarket and see “Made in Spain”, I think of those folk and a I buy it, and hope it helps them out.

    Even though the German food is good I tend not to buy it because they are rich enough already.

    I am just illustrating how everyone forms their own relationship with Europe, and I will vote remain, because a problem is best dealt head on.

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