The EU Debate: Asking the Right Questions

Many of us are virtually 50:50 on the referendum and the reason is that we are all asking the wrong questions!

The real sovereignty issue is ‘corporate power vs the welfare of people’, not EU membership. Plus, the head of state in the UK is unelected (and highly influential), one of our parliamentary houses is unelected (and highly influential), the Queen’s list is patronage, corrupt (and highly influential). When it comes to sovereignty and accountability the EU is the least of our worries. If ‘sovereignty’ is the issue in this debate why is all this side of things totally ignored?

Is migration the issue? Migrants solve our problems, they do not cause them. This is why migration outside the EU is as ‘uncontrolled’ as it is inside the EU. We have skill shortages, we have international contacts, we also have human rights obligations. Migrants work hard, increase tax revenue, boost demand in the economy, and demographic changes mean that we need young migrant workers to help support our aging population. Fears about housing, schools and hospital care arise because of underfunding of our public infrastructure by the current government. Austerity programmes that take from the least well off and give to the most well off in society fail to repay the debt.

So sovereignty is not the issue and migration is not the issue! Repaying the national debt is a pretext and the level of payments into the EU coffers, however you measure it, is a drop in the bucket in proportion to our total national finances. The issue is inequality, workers rights and human rights. IN or OUT is no answer to these big questions. Thats why so many people feel confused and undecided.

Right now the EU is holding back this Tory government’s relentless aim to put into place ever more sweeping and unfair economic reforms. It seems wise to leave this restraining mechanism in place while we fight for real change, by voting to stay in the EU, but if the nation votes Brexit then the work of the transition still has to be done.

If what the nation is calling for is real change then the left has to be ready with a manifesto in direct opposition to the neoliberal agenda that lead to the financial crash and the worldwide recession, policies that have been utterly discredited  right across the globe in even the most financially and economically conservative quarters, such as the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF is calling for the UK to ease off on austerity measures and to instead adopt a programme of fiscal expansion. The country should be crying out for a coherent set of alternative policy initiatives based on fair, just and humane values and a sound economic strategy to expand demand and boost investment. This means putting money into the hands of working people,  who will go out and spend it, and not into the hands of CEOs.who are more likely to stash it in offshore tax havens, robbing the country of both demand and tax revenues.

Convincing the electorate of this alternative strategy is the hard work that needs to be done. The EU referendum is an elaborate and expensive smokescreen, one primarily exercising campaigners on the right and the far right. After the referendum is over, whatever the result, the hard work of making real change happen begins.

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