Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 21, 2016

Has Corbyn’s Party Lost Faith In Democracy?

Jon Holbrook jonholbrookis a barrister. He wrote about “Workers’ rights not being safe unless the UK stays in the EU. This is the message put out by the Labour Party. Effectively, it is arguing that the British people cannot be trusted at the ballot box. Give them the freedom to elect a government, with real power, and they may choose the wrong government that passes the wrong laws. Wisdom, in the eyes of Labour, lies not with the people, but with bureaucrats based in Brussels.

“As former interim Labour Party leader Harriet Harman put harriet it ‘Because we’re in the EU, people have better rights at work. The EU guarantees those rights. It’s the EU that made our governments pass laws to ensure employers give paid holiday, paid maternity leave, rights for part-timers. So long as we’re in the EU, no Tory government can try and take those rights away.’ In other words, Harman celebrates the fact that an undemocratic institution forces democratic governments to pass laws. And when she says ‘no Tory government can try and take those rights away’, she means that a whole area of public policy has been removed from democratic debate, at the behest of the Brussels-based elite.

“Harman’s approach to workers’ rights is now main-stream in the Labour Party, but it wasn’t always this way. In the European referendum of 1975, a significant section of Labour campaigned to leave what was then the European Economic Community (EEC). In a BBC Panorama debate on the eve of the referendum, left-wing MP Tony Benn bennt claimed that those campaigning to stay in the EEC were ‘asking the British people to destroy democracy’. Benn claimed that if ‘you cut the umbilical cord that links the lawmakers with the people you destroy the stability of this country’.

“Benn understood that democracy requires an unmediated relationship between the people and its lawmakers. In a democracy, there can be no required laws and no laws that are beyond reform or repeal – the people must be sovereign. But this approach is anathema to the Labour Party today, which celebrates the fact that Benn’s umbilical cord has been cut by a slew of directives and regulations imposed by the EU.

“The EU’s curtailment of UK democracy was a theme that Benn returned to throughout his long political career. Speaking in parliament against the Maastricht Treaty in 1991, he criticised those who ‘genuinely believe that we shall never get social justice from the British government, but we shall get it from Jacques Delors; they believe that a good king is better than a bad parliament. I have never taken that view.’

“Benn referred to Jacques Delors, president of the European Commission between 1985 and 1995, because he did much to persuade the trade unions to support the EEC. In a speech to the Trades Union Congress in 1988, Delors stressed ‘the social dimension’ of what was to become the EU’s single market. The trade unionists, desperate for some good news, gave Delors a standing ovation and a chorus of ‘Frère Jacques’. The speech marked the point at which the trade unions ceased to see the EEC as ‘a bosses’ club’, which supposedly promoted free markets, and began to see it as a means to secure social justice.

“Although the Labour Party had fought the 1983 General Election on a promise to pull out of the EEC, the Delors speech hastened the demise of Labour’s Euroscepticism. It persuaded many to do what Benn warned them not to do: to believe that a good king was better than a bad parliament. Jacques Delors, unelected by the British people and overseeing the Brussels-based elite, promised a ‘social Europe’ agenda, exemplified by measures such as the Working Time Directive.

“By 1988, the elected UK parliament had produced three Thatcher governments, and, by 1993, it had produced a fourth consecutive Conservative administration. Eighteen years of Conservative government had a profound impact on the Labour Party. The sudden decline of its Euroscepticism was but a symptom of a greater malaise: its disconnection from ordinary people.

“In 1975, Benn saw the danger of cutting the umbilical cord between lawmakers and the people, but, after the Delors speech, Labour had cut ties between itself and the people. After 1988, Labour began to cement its disconnection from ordinary people by forming a new relationship between itself and the EEC. Jacques Delors kick-started it, John Smith developed it, Tony Blair celebrated it, Gordon Brown lived with it and Jeremy Corbyn can’t campaign without it.

“Under John Smith’s leadership (1992-1994) the Labour Party developed its pro-EU stance and ushered in Jacques Delors’ vision of Europe – a single market with social protection. This was a reflection of the kind of Britain that the Labour Party wanted to administer. Smith castigated the then prime minister, John Major, for wanting to turn Britain into the sweatshop of Europe and for trying to compete against Taiwan on wages rather than against Germany on skills. Smith’s message was that Britain needed Europe and its institutions to modernise.

“Tony Blair’s pro-Europeanism helped to bring Labour electoral success, but its appeal to ordinary people was limited. Signing up to the European Social Chapter gave British workers the type of benefits that Delors had tempted them with, but Blair’s pro-Europeanism was unable to bring dynamism to the UK economy. Moreover, it harmed Labour’s relationship with ordinary people, particularly as the single market brought with it an influx of migrant workers from eastern Europe.

“The true beneficiaries of the social chapter, and of all the regulation that came from the EU under the Blair and Brown governments, were not the working class, but the middle managers and bureaucrats whose jobs depended on regulating things, not producing them. Hence, the deceit at the heart of Harman’s argument – if EU-inspired laws were sufficiently popular, their survival wouldn’t depend on the EU directives that put them beyond the ballot box. Labour’s pro-Europeanism may have helped it electorally, but only by enabling it to foster links with a European elite that came at the expense of a proper relationship with the public.

All Labour leaders since John Smith have been committed to the EU. Even Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned with Tony Benn against the EU over four decades, is now campaigning for Remain in the upcoming referendum. Those who claim that Corbyn has been forced by his Labour colleagues to accept the EU against his better judgment fail to appreciate the extent to which, having abandoned the people after 1988, Labour has become a party that reflects the interests of a European elite. All the left-wing causes that Corbyn celebrates – environmentalism; promoting human rights; and securing free movement – are causes that resonate most with a Guardian-reading, latte-drinking, metropolitan elite. These are the sort of people whose careers and futures are often linked to the EU and the regulation that it spawns. Labour’s shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, can criticise the Remain campaign for being ‘too much Hampstead, not enough Hull’, but that’s the nature of the European project.

“Tony Benn was right to note the destructive impact of cutting the umbilical cord between lawmakers and the people, but he failed to foresee how that destruction would impact on Labour as well the country. The chasm between Labour and its supporters is huge, with some polls suggesting that 40 per cent of Labour supporters will vote Brexit, compared to only four per cent of Labour MPs.

“The outcome of the EU referendum may be uncertain, but the future of the Labour Party is not.hoey Its pro-Europeanism gave it a boost after 1997, but, having tied its fortunes to a European elite rather than the people, it now stands exposed as the party of the metropolitan elite. stringer Labour can bang on all it likes about needing the EU to safeguard workers’ rights. But every time it celebrates EU legislation over UK legislation, it’s recognising one thing: it no longer has the capacity to win the people’s support for legislation through the ballot box. Labour gave up on the ballot box decades ago, and the people are now using the ballot box to trash the Euro-elite that Labour stands for”. labovertheline


  1. So…. Tomorrow is the day. The day I’ve waited for since I last voted (out, obviously) in 1975. Then, I was a rabid socialist, a 22 year old idealist – but even then, I knew the guys in the suits just wouldn’t be able to help themselves. Knew they’d want to tinker away, trying for their ultimate goal of political union…

    Always remember arch Tory, Neil Marten & old style lefty, Tony Benn on the TV in a political double act, old disagreements put aside – trying to convince the public that it wasn’t just about a trade agreement – the hidden agenda was much bigger than that. Such a pity not enough people believed them – and chose to vote to remain….

    Fast forward to today. 62 years old – now don’t class myself as anything politically, other to say the cynicism gene is flourishing within. I am married, 4 sons, home-owner, etc…. And tomorrow, I will again be voting to leave the EU. interesting that all 4 of my kids plus my wife will also be voting to leave. They have all come to the conclusion that the EU is a busted flush; a corrupt, power-mad oligarchy.

    Which it is.

    Laughably, Cameron told us pre-negotiations that if he wasn’t satisfied with what was on offer, he himself, the Great Hardball Negotiator, Dave Cameron would lead the Brexit campaign. Like that was ever going to happen. Astonishingly, the man in beige, Jezza Corbyn has nailed his colours to the remain camp. This in spite of the fact that for decades, right up to him being elected as Labour leader, he has always, always been implacably against the EU. Yet now? Everything is fine, as long as we stay in the EU. His old friend, Tony Benn must be spinning in his grave…. Any wonder I’m so cynical?

    For, by giving his thumbs up to Brussels, Corbyn has, at a stroke dealt yet another kicking to Labour’s core vote. Betrayal of these people by new Labour started in 1997 – and has never really stopped since. The massive, massive influx of cheap labour from Eastern Europe in 2004 helped only the rich multinationals and millionaire bosses. It was made worse as every other country in the EU apart from Eire, Sweden & us issued working restraints on the newby countries. The govt shushed any objections from concerned experts by flourishing the Race Card and soothed the public’s worry by telling us that only 13,000 Eastern Europeans per year would come. Let’s just add on another two zeroes to that figure….. I still have a letter written to me by the Home Office in 2003 in response to my concerns re Poland & co’s accession. From start to finish it’s an essay in condescension. The great power of govt talking down to a little nomark pleb…. Don’t worry your dim little head…..

    The people who paid the price for Blair’s experiment in social engineering were the people who could least afford it. A race to the bottom started as British workers got undercut in virtually every industrial sector, a culture of dependency boomed as did low skilled indigenous unemployment. People like Sports Direct owner, Mike Ashley rubbed their hands at the possibilities… He opened a huge warehouse shed in Shirebrook in the Midlands which was projected to employ thousands. None of the locals, a place of huge unemployment were offered jobs. Every single new employee was shipped in from Poland, a condition of employment was that you had to speak Polish…. What did Gordon Brown tell us? “British jobs for British workers”…

    And as the Eurozone tanked, the disenfranchised, the unemployed of Southern Europe cast their eyes to Britain, or more specifically to England. The result is a population boom which is simply unsustainable. And do those in power address this? Naw, of course they don’t. The ONLY politician of any note to air concerns and to express a preference for a balanced population is the great Frank Field. England is already the most densely populated country in Europe (excluding Malta) – and the third most in the world. England’s pastoral soul faces being bulldozed to oblivion as the pressure on housing & services continues at a breakneck pace. Meanwhile, in Scotland & Wales, Sturgeon and Wood waffle on about opening our arms, welcoming immigration within the EU, whatever the numbers. Well, that’s just fine for them, populations of 5 & 2.5 million people in their respective countries ensures their green & pleasant stays that way, as over 90% of EU immigration ends up in England. The politicians blithely blather on about how we need to build more houses – so many hundreds of thousands a year to try and clear the backlog. Let’s be honest, we will never, ever keep pace with demand – it’s just not possible. So prices rocket, developers rub their hands, planning officers say “Sod developing Brownfield sites, too expensive, too much trouble, let’s have a chunk of green belt”…. Yet, it’s the English landscape which is paying the price. It’s English villages, as old as time and recorded in the Domesday Book which are changing beyond recognition in little over a decade, as massive housing estates are carbuncled onto them via a sacrificial stroke of the pen, more of our green belt is trashed.

    I do not want to live in the world’s biggest housing estate!

    The lying fraud Cameron and the befuddled turncoat Corbyn constantly go on about the economy. If we vote Brexit, we will be just fine. We live in a country which is the most creative and dynamic in the world. It’s us who have, over the past 500 years invented more stuff than any other. This is Creative Central – and the rest of the world knows it. But tomorrow’s vote is not about the economy, or immigration – it’s much more important than that. We are talking Sovereignty. Thousands of people have died for it. Magna Carta, Simon deMontfort, The Levellers, Tolpuddle Martyrs, Suffragettes – all signposts to freedom over nearly a thousand years of struggle. And yet, some people are willing to just give it away because of cheaper roaming charges or perceived cheap air fares to Barcelona….

    I’ve also heard people saying they will not vote Brexit because they don’t like Farage, Gove & Boris. As Robin Day once told Defence Secretary John Nott; “Politicians are here today and gone tomorrow”…. Not so our national democracy – that is forever!

    Brexit will give us control. Just like the USA has – (can you imagine the Yanks joining a kind of Americas version of the EU?). Brexit will mean we can decide what is good for us, rather than a gang of unelected failures in Brussels. Brexit will mean we elect a parliament which is responsible for all our laws – rather than as now, an ever diminishing percentage. And if they Bugger up, we can kick them out! It’s called democracy. Time we in Britain got it back. FREEDOM! VOTE LEAVE!

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