Jeremy Corbyn: a convincing case for ‘Remain – and Reform’ in Europe
In February Jeremy Corbyn quoted Einstein: “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies.”
Highlights of his latest address in the EU referendum campaign follow:
EU membership has guaranteed working people vital employment rights, including four weeks’ paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, limits to working hours, protections for agency workers and health and safety in the workplace. Being in the EU has raised Britain’s environmental standards, from beaches to air quality, and protected consumers from rip-off charges.
In the coming century, we face huge challenges, as a people, as a continent and as a global community, serious and pressing issues which self-evidently require international co-operation:
- how to deal with climate change,
- how to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes,
- how to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism,
- how to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation,
- how to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world and
- how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.
We need to make the case for reform in Europe – democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people
Mr Corbyn is critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services. Europe needs to change, but that change can only come from working with allies in the EU. Changes include:
- economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity, putting jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy,
- labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe and
- new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.
The crisis in the steel industry
A global problem and a challenge to many European governments, the European Union – 28 countries and 520 million people – could have made us stronger, by defending our steel industries together. The European Commission did propose new tariffs on Chinese steel, but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping. Germany, Italy, France and Spain have done much better at protecting their steel industries, because they acted within EU state aid rules to support their industries; whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.The jobs created under the Conservative Government are too often low skill, low pay and insecure jobs. If we harnessed Europe’s potential we could defend high skill jobs in the steel industry and in others.
The Conservatives are committed to protecting the tax avoidance industry
The Prime Minister in 2013 personally intervened with the European Commission President to undermine an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts, and even now, in the wake of the Panama Papers, he still won’t act. On six different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted down attempts to take action against tax dodging. On Tuesday, the EU announced a step forward on country-by-country reporting. We believe we can go further. But even this modest measure was opposed by Conservative MEPs last December.
Labour has allies across Europe prepared to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to clamp down on those determined to suck wealth out of our economies and the pockets of our people.
Some argue that we need to leave the EU because the single market’s rules are driving deregulation and privatisation. They certainly need reform. But it was not the EU that privatised our railways. It was the Conservative Government of John Major and many of our rail routes are now run by other European nations’ publicly owned rail companies. They haven’t made the mistake of asset stripping their own countries.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also a huge cause for concern, but we defeated a similar proposal before in Europe, together when it was called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, back in 1998. Labour MEPs are rightly opposing the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism opposing any attempt to enforce privatisation on our public services, to reduce consumer rights, workplace protections or environmental standards.
Working together in the European Union is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share
Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. And Britain cannot tackle it alone. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless. Labour brought in the Climate Change Act, John Prescott played a key role in getting the Kyoto Protocols agreed. Labour has led the debate within Europe.
Regulations agreed in Europe have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025, unless we act.
Jobs and migration
We live in an increasingly globalised world. Many of us will study, work or even retire abroad at some point in our lives. Free movement has created opportunities for British people. There are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in the EU as a whole. Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home.
Failure to train enough skilled workers means we have become reliant on migration to keep our economy functioning. This is especially true of our NHS which depends on migrant nurses and doctors to fill vacancies. Enough skilled workers should be trained to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth.
There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union and for reform and progressive change in Europe. We need a Labour government, to stand up – at the European level – for industries and communities in Britain, to back public ownership and public services, to protect and extend workers’ rights and to work with our allies to make both Britain and Europe work better for working people.
The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative Party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole.
Left to themselves, it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator or rogue corporation. They believe this tiny global elite is what matters, not the rest of us, who they dismiss as “low achievers”.
I appeal to everyone, especially young people – who will live longest with the consequences – to make sure you are registered to vote to keep Britain in Europe this June, to build a better world engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The EU, despite its failings, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that.
Read the full text here
Posted on June 15, 2016, in Economy, Education, Environment, Inequality, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party and tagged air pollution, austerity, Britain in Europe, Britain’s beaches, Climate Change Act, EU referendum, global corporations, globalisation, Investor-State Dispute Mechanism, Kyoto Protocols, migrant labour, NHS, offshore trusts, Panama papers, privatisation, public ownership, public services, refugee movements, steel industry, TTIP, Vote Leave. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.