Saturday, 6 August 2016

When is a movement not a party ?

I'm getting a little concerned about the state of mind of some leading figures in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Only yesterday it was announced that Shami Chakrabarti, the distinguished civil rights advocate and long time leader of Liberty,the international human rights organisation( that the Labour Party has been associated with for many years, and indeed some of its leading members like Harriet Harman worked with) has been nominated by Jeremy Corbyn for a peerage.
She was the only Labour nomination in Cameron's retirement honours-and you would have thought the roof had fallen in!
Dear old Tom Watson got himself in a right two and eight.Whilst admitting that she was a superb candidate and would make a distinguished contribution to the Lords he bleated about the timing,the fact that it was Cameron's list and that JC had not told him!
then there was a flurry of criticism, the Chief Rabbi complained that her report on anti-semitism in the Labour Party  was not sufficiently robust, that is to say she didn't find hordes of anti-semites lurking in the shadows.
And of course St.Keith Vaz complained that he didn't know what day JC first told  Shami she was being considered.
This by the way is the same sainted Vaz who agreed to a new Zealand judge copping £500,000 a year for working three quarters of a year and then quitting on the child abuse enquiry.
Motes and beams seem to be the appropriate comment! 
But it seems at the moment elements of the PLP are trying to find,quite unsuccessfully to find any crime,real or imagined ,to nail on Jeremy Corbyn,to persuade Party members to vote for the immensely popular and well liked MP-Owen....?
What i find so difficult to comprehend,and maybe amongst me readership at the Labour Party Regional Office is why, if JC is so hopeless,the big beasts of the PLP were not queuing up to take him on ?Why was the challenge left to two middle ranking members of the PLP,one slightly better known than the other and she dropped out, leaving the Welsh bloke to campaign on a platform a pale shadow of Jeremy's!
What can you say about a Labour candidate who proposes a minimum wage Lower than the one the Tories are proposing !
I  feel a bout of Kinnock coming on, remember his outrage at Militant in Liverpool:
'A Labour Council (voice rising dramatically) a Labour Council scuttling round Liverpool and blah blah blah...'

however the strangest critique going round at the moment is the view that mass meetings are somehow not part of the project anymore.
A handful of people mincing around an ice cream van is somehow OK. but thousands standing in a square listening to a political speech:
'Well it's not cricket !'
Now I guess those right on Blairites (sorry that word may now be illegal) have never seen those old photographs of an earlier beared Labour leader haranguing a huge 'crowd' in Trafalgar Square objecting to a war (WW1 as it happens)
But then J Keir Hardie was always a bit of a dangerous subversive old premature hippie wasn't he.
then on top of hating mass meetings there is a resentment that such activities may just be part of a #movement', whilst so many of the PLP do not want a movement, they want a number of well behaved leaflet distributors who don't raise difficult questions, don't want a conference that might ask those difficult questions.Indeed it would appear that most of those distinguished Members would rather not bother with a party structure at all.Better not to have CLP meetings other than to reselect the sitting member.
Although to be fair when you see Westminster on TV there are few of them sitting there anyway.
All my life I have wanted a mass party, half a million members of a left wing political party.I'm so bloody excited.
But we need much more than a party that responds to parliamentary dog whistles.We need a party of the streets,of the workplaces,of the housing estates.We need a party of tenants and residents,patients groups,youth activists,anti-racist activists,anti-semitic activists,refugee supporters,disabled rights activists- you name the progressive cause then Labour Party activists should be taking the political initiative.
And that in turn will build the community activists,who will become the local councillors and the local MP's.
In building such a movement we expect it to work in parallel with building a trade union  movement.That means agitating, organising and educating (sorry for the old proletarian slogan there-it slipped in)
We need to see the union movement organising where unionism is weak,with the unemployed,the young,migrant workers.As part of that movement we need to see bigger unions, that elect their leadership and end the nonsense of small unions with big numbers of full tim staff.
As an aside the Labour Party also needs tom elect its full time staff too,no more 'appointments' for life.
Such a strategy will not just be for the next General Election,although of course you never know in these strange times.
Remember Socialism is not just for the next election or even Christmas- it's for ever! 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Is Trump really that bad ?

There is a sort of louche acceptance,particularly in the British press that despite the fact that Trump has captured the Republican Party that it's not really that bad.
Already clever pundits are making asinine comparisons with earlier presidents and are generally saying that he will probably grow into the job, and really he'll just be in the mold of Nixon and Reagan,and after all the world survived them didn't it.

Trump claims that Nixon was his hero, well i guess they share the same venal political outlook, Like Nixon Trump thinks he's above the law,and like Nixon he uses every evil device he can find to gain power.
Nixon is frequently given credit for starting to open dialogue with China,and I guess it can be argued that during his administration something moved-but it was all too little too late and all his life he remained what he started he political life as-another stooge of McCarthy,as well of course the state security machinery,and the powerful military-industrial complex that protected him and prevented him standing trial for crimes against the American people and indeed the people of the world.
When Trump forgets that Nixon was his great hero he always claims that Ronald Reagan was really his great hero.
In that respect he reminds me of Bruce Forsyth on 'Strictly Come Dancing' who told every couple that they were his favourite.
There is a habit amongst liberals the world over of thinking of the faded movie actor as some sort of genial chuckling uncle figure, the sort of dude who would appear in a check shirt,astride a horse saying:
"Aw sucks !"
Nothing could be further from the truth, he was an egomaniac, determined to develop the 'Star Wars'  first strike nuclear 'defence' system that would target anyone and anywhere he didn't like.
No wonder Thatcher thought he was her soul-mate.
You sense that she didn't send the whole paraphernalia of war to the Falklands to save a few hundred people and a load more sheep-it was a sort of love offering to 'Dear Ronnie'

Trump is of course not a new sort of politician as the press are trying to spin, a rough uncut diamond of a guy, an unspun 'good old boy' from the rocky canyons of Old Manhattan.
Trump is a cynical product of clever product placement, he is in a direct line of cheap and nasty populism ,the sort you see all over the world, Le Pen,Farage,Wildeers,and all the rest Their mood music is all the same, that the old politics are dead,centre left or centre right are all the same,and of course their solution is the same.It's not monopoly capitalism or global capitalism or any of the characteristics of the capitalist mode of production.
Oh no, that's all fine, what is the problem is poor people,lots of them and they come in many guises-there are those who seek to avoid bombs and desperation in their home countries,to break away from the causes of poverty, low wages,poor education,inequality and exploitation and all that stuff.

The message is the same,and it's repeated on a daily basis in our media -you stupid people are to blame,all you need is to elect strong,charismatic ,media-savvy leaders and with them you can follow them:
"Right into hell"
Trump is not the answer,he is the problem,just as all the soothsayers argue that the answer is a slow moderate road to hell rather than a fast track to far right oblivion.

just think,there is a solution staring us straight in the face,in America it's going to take longer,we will have to bite our tongues and put up with the Clinton years,but there is an anger starting to roar on the horizon and it's Bernie shaped.
And here in Britain there is also an anger building, and sure as hell it ain't May shaped,or Farage shaped or even Smith shaped.
You know what I mean.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Another week,more conspiracies threats and skullduggery.

It's hard to know what will happen to the Labour party next. This morning someone called Stephen Kinnock claimed he was already in discussions with Lord Ashdown of Failure about the possibility of creating a new centrist part called hilariously 'Continuity Labour'.
Given I read that in the 'Mail on Sunday' ,rapidly becoming the house journal of the terminally frustrated middle ground it of course must be true.
Now where have I heard the name Kinnock before ?wasn't he that brilliantly successful bloke who led the Labour Party to a stunning victory-or maybe he didn't !

I understand we have another leadership election in the Labour Party for those grand men and women in Westminster to get the result that they want.I think I've quoted Brecht's lines before when the German people didn't quite do what the ruling Politburo wanted them to do.
Brecht suggested that maybe it was time to dissolve the people and elect a new one.

So despite the wishes of hundreds of thousands of people ten months ago, it's time to reshuffle them and try to get a different electorate.
Interestingly when asked what their new policies will be to contrast with Jeremy Corbyn the two 'Unity' candidates are remarkably vague.Smith the Welsh bloke talks about £300 billion investment in infrastructure and oh yes,probably Wales, and that seems to be it.
Eagle on the other hand promises that she will reveal her policy strategies in speeches,sometime soon.
However both have one USP-they are not Jeremy. 
But the over riding core of the analysis from everyone on the right is that what this is all about is bullying and intimidation and the tactics of those hundreds of thousands of Trotskyites who joined the Labour Party to get Jeremy elected.
I bet the late Tony Cliff didn't know the SWP was so big and influential-Cliff passed on without knowing his real strength.

For the next two months it will be all about 'intimidation'.Strangely enough I had a taste of what this intimidation is all about.A couple of months ago I reapplied to join the Party.I was quite rightly expelled in 2007 -it was called auto-exclusion for supporting an independent candidate in the local elections.The fact that the candidate was Tony Clarke,former Labour MP and his selection had been unanimously endorsed by the ward party cut no ice with the Regional masters.
Fine,that was history, but I appealed and had an interview.The refusal to allow me back in was a decision of the local executive committee,not the local party, and the letter opposing my membership came from the chair of the party who I don't think I had ever met but she knew I was 'divisive'
What was interesting was that my 'trial' was conducted by the Regional Chairman, a supporter of Labour First called Andy Furlong And the appeal panel were three other members of the regional executive.

I use the word trial very deliberately, because the event had a lot in common with McCarthy's House of Un-American Activities hearings.

At one point I was shown a photograph of me with comrades from Left Unity, and Furlong had circled the tree women in the photograph and demanded their names.
Intimidating or what !
Then he went on to claim that when I was Council Leader I had 'bullied group members and officers'-of course he offered no evidence, no names,nothing! I have since spoken to one of the two Councillor still on NBC and he denied any bullying, thr other colleague was a group whip.As to the officers,well the Borough Solicitor confirmed there had never been any complaints against me,and Mr Furlong had not contacted them.
So my conclusion of this rambling anecdote =that there was no evidence of bullying and Mr Furlong lied.
(I now there are some in Nottingham who are avid readers of this blog, so Mr Furlong,feel free to refute my comments)
So in essence we already know the strategy that is going to be employed over the next months.Now let me make it clear that I do not endorse intimidation of bullying of any sort, I know what it feels like, over the years we've had a brick through our window and burning paper through the letter box, death threats and nasty phone calls, even photographs of Marie and I getting into an official car.
But that's what happens in public life.Of the recent incidents two stand out as curious.Kevin McKeever got a beautifully typed death threat, unpleasant certainly, but as a result of that he claimed the Police advised him to keep a low profile.That was perhaps convenient as he was facing difficult questions from 'The Canary' website about his activities as an employee of Portland Communications.
Then of course the notorious 'Wallasey Brick' handily coming just as Eagle was starting her campaign.Leaving aside the office window in Sherlock House where six organisations operate out of,and that 'office' window was in fact on a communal stairwell  what surprises me that if the perpetrators were local left wing activists wouldn't they have known that her office was round the back with a Labour sticker in the window !
Of course we know they were left wing activists, Sally Keeble the local authoritative  voice on all things trotskyite,commented that CCTV cameras caught the perpetrators Momentum t shirts.  
Bloody obvious really, so when you see a bloke passing your window in a striped shirt and a bag with swag written on it-you know whats happening.

What is so sad about all this is that for the first time in my life the Labour Party is growing thousands of new members, young people who will knock doors,canvass,enthuse others,become candidates,work in their communities.They will create a Party that can take power and will make real changes.
The Labour Party is on the cusp of getting it's mojo back.Yet all some want is to keep power in a small number of paws and rely on a smaller bunch of rich donors to fund them

many of Jeremy Corbyns' critics say he not a charismatic performer with sharp sound bites and clever PR men. You know, just like that other bloke......Clement Attlee! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

The politics of fidget !

Do you remember back in the days of primary school when your teacher,usually a tall lady with grey hair,glasses and a smile,used to fix her icy glare on you and very loudly tell you:
"Stop fidgeting !"
Whatever you were doing, usually moving about ,you looked up guiltily and stopped whatever it was you were doing.
I've never really been clear what fidgeting was all about, and it came in a variety of guises and sometimes you didn't even know you were fidgeting, but you stopped whatever you were doing,or thought you were doing until it was safe.
Perhaps it was just doing wee things to keep yourself occupied during a dull story,or waiting, for your milk,or a bit of plasticine or trying to take your mind off needing to pee- whatever!
'Doing we things to keep yourself occupied', that seems to be at the core of the modern political system these days, governments have little to do of any significance so they fiddle about with small things to give the illusion of being busy.
It was not always so.
The Attlee government of 1945 did not fidget around trying to find something to do, they had big plans,big ideas and a lot to do.They built a welfare state,a national health service,rebuilt a destroyed infrastructure,took failing industries into public ownership,built thousands of houses,schools,hospitals and did it all in six years!
Everything after that seems to have been downhill.The boldness of that government has been replaced with a lot of tinkering round the edges, a little tweak here a little fidget there.It has for most of my life seemed as if governments just didn't want to frighten the horses.
Now for the sake of brevity, and to save your eyes from drooping and you starting to fidget uncontrollably,I will miss the Tory years,they all appeared to do a great deal of nothing-well apart from the Thatcher years, when they did a great deal of wrecking and turning clocks into sun dials,so a quick canter through the Labour years.
The Wilson years were as about as interesting as watching paint dry, the only thing they may have taken into public ownership may have been bits of the car industry and bits of the ship building industry,but that was generally under pressure from the unions, and was frequently short lived.
They did introduce comprehensive education, but that was in a half hearted way, a sort of fidget round the edges again, and the system started under resourced and of course the private sector was allowed to flourish.
It's true Jennie Lee created the Open University, and they did build a few new universities, but it was all a bit patchy.
To his great credit Wilson did keep this country out of the Vietnam War, but as the nuclear submarines lurking in Holy Loch remind us-there was a price to pay.

But most people will rememver with a degree of nausea the glories of Blair.Lets get the significant fidgets out of the way first, a national minimum wage(tichy but something) Sure Start (tiny but something) and a few other things around the edges, worthy no doubt but not the sort of thing you put in your memoirs.
Then there are the other features of the era, Foundation schools, Foundation hospitals,probably Foundation prisons too. PFI initiatives that saddled local authorities and health authorities withy debts far into the future.
And the endless need to measure and report and tick boxes and report again and when all else failed re-organise.
The politics of fidget is the politics of re-organisation.When your civil servants have nothing much to do,appoint a Tsar and get on with another restructuring.
A party that once had a great vision for a new sort of world  was reduced to cheering to the rafters the arrival of civil partnerships, a desirable advance in human relations, but hardly on the same scale as nationalising the railways.
And of course there was always the Iraq war.

I suppose we have reached the apex of fidgeting with the Cameron years, andv the one big idea,:
"Lets have a referendum on our membership of the EU"
To be honest it was never the biggest issue in the world, but Cameron needed to keep his right wing happy and the further right fidgeting away on the margins.
The big deal was his 'negotiations',which were about as significant as a cold sore on a giraffes' lip.
He even managed to lose that, but it will allow an entire ministry of civil servants to fidget around for five or six years at about 20 billion a year unravelling tons of legislation and agreements that may or may not have been any use.
While all this fidgeting is going on, austerity,growing inequality,growing poverty,a housing crisis,a crisis in training and a failure to create real jobs is going on.

This is the moment that the Labour Party should be recreating the big ideas that made 1945 such a success.
What is it doing ?
The numpties are fidgeting about trying to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn,the only leader for decades who sees the big picure and knows what has to done.
Oh for that grey haired old teacher with the icy glare to yell quietly at the fidgeting PLP! 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

There are elites,and then there are other elites....

One of the big concerns of Brexit (and that's the last time it gets a capital) was that it was against non-elected elites.Now leaving aside the Commissioners were appointed by their governments) we are now faced with the extraordinary spectacle of a bunch of Tory MP's an elite if you will,selecting two candidates to be offered to their membership and then appointed Prime Minister.
A hideous spectacle of a power elite at work.
Not to be outdone, 200 odd Labour MP's (an elite if you will) will attempt over the next few hours to remove a Leader elected by hundreds of thousands of members and he/she will be offered to the members who voted for Jeremy Corbyn less than a year ago!

Is it possible that the Labour Party, or rather a section of the Labour party has not learnt the lesson of Scotland.Remind me how many MP the party has in Scotland now ?
There is of course a reason for that abysmal failure, the first is that the SNP,despite losing the referendum was seen by most Scots to have more progressive policies than the Labour Party.Secondly the Scottish labour Party had become moribund and had taken its electorate for granted for too long and frequently parachuting candidates in regardless of local feeling.In the backwoods where I come from that's called elitism.
Of course that feeling of alienation was enhanced during the independence referendum when all over Scotland people saw Cameron and Brown and Murphy and Alexander all sharing platforms.
Even if they didn't vote for independence, the sight of them all being big mates had an effect.
"What's the difference ?" was the view of many.
Fast forward to the brexit debacle.When Scots voters in the old Labour heartlands saw austerity,poor housing,poor health care,and all the rest,and saw at least an alternative on offer-what else could they do ?

Now the North East of England is not much different from industrial Scotland,as well as austerity,poverty,unemployment and all the other features of deindustrialisation they had for decades the experience of a Labour Party taking their votes for granted.Think of the seats where Labour grandees with homes in London and second constituency pied-a-terres in places,oh at random, Hartlepool,Doncaster,South Shields and that old mining town whose name I've forgotten-probably as has its once illustrious member-a bloke called Blair.
it all adds up to a picture of neglect and ,a strong word,betrayal.The parachutists were of course supported by a party machine that was weak and timid.
So when the dreadful UKIP came knocking, it was hardly surprising that many workers felt
"What has the Labour Party done for us!"
I believe the message Jeremy Corbyn has be giving has been principled and correct.The EU is not the biggest issue in the world,it needs reforming, and we need to defend workers' rights across Europe.And importantly it was a distinctly Labour message,no shared platforms with the Tories Labour was supposed to be fighting every day in Westminster.
In order to appease his right and the further right Cameron tried to divert attention with a referendum stunt.For weeks the far right have taken the initiative with Farage lying on TV every night and the focus of the brexit lot moved from 'getting back our sovereignty to blame it all on foreigners.
I'm sick of hearing brexiters bleating about how the really,really like foreigners and blah blah..
I understand how some on the left believed that it should have been an all encompassing fight against neo-liberalism and the free market.I really do get that, but sadly Socialist Revolution was not the third option on the ballot paper,and we had to operate within the parameters we were given.
"Concrete analysis of concrete situations"
I know pragmatism sucks, but sometime we have to opt for the lesser of two evils.

What is interesting is that the people of Scotland,Ulster and London all saw through the bluster and lies,and given that the people of the North East are not that different from the people in those other areas-what went wrong ?
One thing is sure, it wasn't the realistic politics of Jeremy Corbyn,they were not fawning around the joint platforms of Tories and Lib-dems, it was those on the right of the Party, the elitists who cannot bear the idea that the Labour Party has become a mass party once again with a popular left wing leadership.
If the wreckers get their way, and Dan Jarvis or Andy Burnham or Hilary Benn take the leadership, several things will happen.
The Tories will call a snap election, and all those thousands of activists will not just knuckle down and work for Blair Mark 2 or Mark 6 ,they will feel cheated,as indeed will all those who have been beyrayed for decades.The Blairites are right that Labour will lose hundreds of seats,but it won't be the leadership that has offered hope and a better way forward who will have destryed the party, it will be those who want to go back to the future.
remember when Cameron said of Blair:
"You were the future once !"

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

An open letter to Norman Adams and a PS to David Huffadine-Smith

Dear Norman. We have been acquaintances for many decades.I remember you as a fierce AEU member forever agitating and organising.I salute the work you have done in Northampton in Defending Council House tenants and as part of SOS.
Yet just lately you appear to have lost your mojo-has the gargle finally got to you,or are you an impostor masquerading as the Norman Adams we know and love ?

On the aborted visit of Nigel Farage you wrote on Facebook:
"UKIP are bigoted,nasty and slightly eccentric but not fascist" and then went on to say:
"Hope nor Hate and its supporters should stick to its valuable work fighting the real thing."
Now I realise that you,along with a small section of the British Left think that Brexit is a solution,I get that although I think a grouping made up of the CP,SWP,and george Galloway, along with Kate Hoey,Frank Field and Gisela Stuart makes for an unusual set of left travelling companions.I know that RMT are on board,but I suspect that is more a romantic gesture to the memory of Bob Crow  than anything else.,and of course even Bob could be wrong sometimes.
As I have written elsewhere I am no fan of the EU, and indeed in 1975 I suspect like you voted not to join the EEC.We understood quite clearly then what was happening, it was a European Employers Confederation that would not help organised labour.
It still has the characteristics of a bosses conspiracy,but of course times have changed.The union movement is far weaker,the Labour Party has been systematically weakened from within, and the media has dismantled step by step,day by day, the confidence of working people to defend their rights.
Every fight is harder and every step we take is slower and more painful than before.
However as capital has become more transnational,what remains of the labour movement has to operate in the same way.
We have to be pragmatic and at the same time look for optimism and hope where we can find it.I believe for instance that at last the Labour Party may be moving back towards an internationalist agenda that seeks to build on what solidarity that now exists.
That's why the in/out battle is largely irrelevant and the battles ahead will not really matter in or out.However what will matter is who else is on the road with us.
You are in my view profoundly wrong about UKIP. It is not a one issue outfit with a charismatic leader and a populist appeal,well it is populist and it has a leader,but it is far more than a single issue campaign.
It is as you rightly point out,bigoted and nasty, but slightly eccentric it is not.
it is unashamedly of the far right,it works in the European Parliament with some of the most dangerous parties in Europe.It is admired bt Le Pen and Donald Trump, and is seen by people like them as part of an axis of right wing xenophobia and racism.
It is no coincidence that as it has risen with it populist anti-immigration,little englander,patriotic flag-waving nostalgia for the Empire,so the BNP and EDL and others have declined.
But of course their views haven't declined or vanished,they have been subsumed into the ranks of UKIP.
UKIP are not dotty eccentrics who yearn for a quieter,peaceful,all white England ,with church bells and tea on the lawn.
They are fiercely anti-trade union,passionately pro-free enterprise,austerity,the breaking down of the welfare state-in fact they are Tories with knobs on!
Of course they will sell the single issue,because anti-Europe is easier to sell than unadulterated full blooded fascism,But think of the history of fascist movements throughout the last century.
Some even came with the added ingredient of pretending to have a socialist message,Mussolini came from the Socialist Party, Mosley and his wife were Labour MP's.

UKIP have latched on to fears about the economy,healthcare,housing and employment and have found a convenient scapegoat-Europe,Europeans, Johnny Foreigner.
Hope not Hate are absolutely right to point out on a daily basis the danger of allowing your 'slightly eccentric' any space to develop.
Finally a short paragraph on David Huffadine-Smith and his increasingly shrill outbursts.David ,your quite a nice man,and after several conversations it would seem that politically you fit nicely into Norman's 'slightly eccentric' category.Not that I'm saying you are UKIP,you've made that clear that your not.However a few days ago you published a checklist about all the reasons you gave for Brexit, and it all added up to a pile of jingoist rhetoric with a pinch of piety thrown in.
You endlessly plead for democratic debate-yes you can have democratic debate with anyone who is willing to debate.But did you really think Farage was coming here to 'debate'?
No he was here to rant at his faithful,trot out his usual tropes and get some media coverage.If you've bothered to read this far you will see that I consider UKIP, a self acknowledged far right party,to be the base of an embryonic fascist movement of the sort we are seeing in many places.
You know my background,I've written about it endlessly, and you know I believe that fascism could have been stopped in 1936 if the world had rallied behind the democratically elected government of Spain.
And what was the slogan in the defence of Madrid ?
Non Paseran- they shall not pass!-later adopted in the East End of London when Mosley tried to intimidate the Jewish community.
They shall not pass has a long and honourable part of the Socialist response to the emergence of the fascist hydra.had the world listened then, maybe 20 million lives could have been saved.
I'm happy to debate anywhere,anytime with people who want a genuine debate,why I'll argue with Tories,Liberals,anarcho-syndicalists,why even Evangelicals like you David....well maybe I have to draw the line somewhere!  

Saturday, 21 May 2016

I've tried to refrain....

When this whole sorry and dreary business of the EU referendum started  I promised myself I would say nothing about it,indeed I have tried not even to think about it.
But it is everywhere, and as a blog or erratic record(as opposed to one of erotic record) I probably should record my view,for what it's worth.
My first thought,and almost my only thought on the issue is that it's an enormous sideshow and irrelevance to real life and to the lives of real people.
It is happening because Cameron had to appease the most reactionary elements of his party,and those clever strategists (commonly known as PR hacks) thought the offer of a referendum would keep the nasties at bay and even put a spoke in the hardline nasties that inhabit the depths of tory pond life-you know, the ones called UKIP.

There has always been a strain of national chauvinism at the heart of British conservative thinking (please ignore the word thinking) that has been predicated on a dislike of foreigners,especially if they have dark skins and don't speak english.On top of that undisguised racism there is the overlay of Empire and the assumption that the English ruling class were creatures with the divine right to rule.
just think of all those jingoist songs and stories,of gallant adventurers who captured great swathes of the world and brought 'civilisation' to millions.By 'civilisation' of course tey meant pestilance and disease,cruelty and slavery,exploitation and expropriation,a monarchy and of course the usual old bollocks-a religion.
There is an interesting comparison you can make between Nigel Farage and Oswald Mosley, both old etonians, from the landed gentry,active Tory Party members (it's true Oswald spent some time in the Labour Party too) combined a populist message about helping working people with blatant racism-and of course they both went off and formed a new party.
Enough of the comparisons ?
Back to Europe.In 1975 I voted against joining what was then the EEC on the perfectly sound grounds that it was the European Employers Club.
Of course in truth not a lot has changed, it still represents the multi-national corporations and has done little to advance workers rights since day one. 
However the simple truth is that as capital has grown more powerful and become more trans-national  then the only way for working people to challenge it's power is to combine.
To ignore national boundaries and artificial state lines and to work not in national interests but in class interests.
Ron Todd the great General Secretary of the TGWU understood perfectly the power of international capital.He knew that when representing workers at Fords of Dagenham the management decisions were not taken there,but in Detroit.

If ever there was a case for internationalism that goes beyond the slogans and the rhetoric then the time is now.When the Greek government were coming under the cosh from the EU and the World Bank and the IMF what could have helped the people there defeat the imposition of austerity the like of which we have never known?
Concerted action by the people of Europe.Practical solidarity of the kind the world has never seen before.
we are a long way off achieving such solidarity,but we have to start somewhere,and the worst thing for the working people of this country is for it's government to drag it into a laager of xenophobia and isolationism.
I do not believe that the EU is a solution, or even part of the route to a solution, but as sure as hell the other way is the road to perdition.
I shall vote Remain with a heavy heart because there are too many other important things we need to be doing collectively before this government destroys even the last vestige of social democratic values,but we need to win this needless vote.
And if you are ofv the left and think that there is a socialist case for exiting-just look at whowill be in that lobby with you!