Kate Hoey Tells Us Of Pro EU Labour’s U-Turn On Its U-Turn
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins – Greg_L-W.
Why Labour must end EU love-in and save our country by KATE HOEY, Labour MP for Vauxhall
- Labour is now so pro-EU that sceptical members aren’t taken seriously
- World away from a generation ago when the party pledged to withdraw
- MP supports Labour’s U-turn and decision to support an EU referendum
- Candidates for leadership don’t understand why party lost votes to UKIP
Change: Kate Hoey thinks Labour needs to change the way it approaches the issue of Europe
For those of us who have for many years been demanding a referendum on the UK’s relationship with the European Union, last Tuesday’s Commons vote in favour was an historic moment.
Along with some of my Labour colleagues, I warmly welcomed my party’s decision to execute a U-turn and support a referendum.
I just wish Ed Miliband had listened to our warning that this pledge should be in our Election manifesto. If it had, maybe we would have won a few more seats.
The truth is that Labour has become such an emphatically pro-EU party that it is almost impossible to be taken seriously if you dissent from this mantra.
A generation ago, it was all so different – the 1983 Labour manifesto included the pledge to withdraw from the European Community. Tony Blair was one of the MPs elected on that ticket.
Fast forward three decades and it is almost an article of faith for Labour MPs to have to sing the praises of ever-closer union.
It is now time to stop this love-in and recognise that for millions of our members and supporters, the EU is hated, distrusted and seen as an antiquated idea. The world has moved on and Labour must do likewise.
The Election revealed we have lost the trust of voters in our heartlands – many of them to Ukip – by letting the EU dictate immigration levels.
For too long those who made Ukip-supporting remarks were branded as racists. In my own constituency, the Ukip candidate was an educated, articulate lawyer who happened to be black. In a hustings we did in the local mosque, he dealt with the immigration question in a calm, reasoned manner, impressing the audience in the process.
Yet none of the candidates to replace Ed Miliband has shown any real understanding of why people voted Ukip – and, more worryingly, why a few words about reforming the EU are not enough to satisfy those of us who know that without fundamental change we will be voting to leave.
Labour needs to be demanding change from the EU rather than just criticising David Cameron for his negotiations.
I am not anti-Europe per se – I am anti the unelected, absolute dictatorship that we have from the EU. I object in particular to the undemocratic Commission spending our money in whichever way it decides best.
However critical I am of the paucity of demands being asked for by the Prime Minister, at least publicly he has stated the need for radical reform and has refused to say he would vote to stay in whatever the outcome.
But all the Labour leadership candidates talk of not ever envisaging leaving – so giving the game away. They are happy with what we have.
The entrenched Brussels establishment will never let go of power willingly so we have to be prepared to walk away if there is no real change.
My colleagues in what will be the Labour For Britain (UK) campaign have some red lines.
Sad day: Ed Miliband speaks to the media as he resigns as party leader following a crushing election defeatHarman announces Labour U-turn on EU referendum
We want out of the Common Fisheries and Agricultural policies. We also cannot accept the freedom of movement of labour at the expense of often much better qualified people from the Commonwealth. Why should my Afro-Caribbean constituents – most of whom who are third or fourth generation immigrants – find it so difficult to have their relatives visit.
These and many other loyal subjects of the Queen have a genuine affinity with the UK, unlike the thousands coming here from East Europe. The public know the immigration system is unfair, and the EU has made it so.
How can any elected MP allow EU law to reign supreme over UK law on ever wider matters? Our Parliament must have restored to it the right to decide how our country is run.
Many of us warned the euro would create unemployment, undermine democratic government and spark extremism. Sadly, this is exactly what has happened in southern Europe. Labour should be speaking out against such damaging policies.
I want this referendum campaign to be as galvanising as the one in Scotland and reach out to the grass roots. It will not be about politicians. It is about the British people, who have seen the EU change radically since they last had the vote in 1975.
Those pondering the future of Labour should consider why it is that powerful corporate interests such as the CBI – which supported the exchange rate mechanism and the euro, which turned out so badly – are desperate to keep us in a failing and undemocratic EU.
If Labour rethinks its blanket support for the EU, millions of voters may consider us worth supporting again.
I want to see us co-operating with other European countries, but not being run by the EU. Trading relations, Yes. Political locks, No.
Labour has to return to its roots as a party that speaks up for this country – not one that wants to give it away.
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
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