Sadly I can't get to the Euro Safeguards meeting at the Labour Party conference today-the first I've missed in yonks. So let me say what I wold have said there about the EU.It might provide an antidote to this morning's debate which was monstrously rigged in favour of EU membership and not allowed to even consider the possibility that we'll be better off out. and better able to build the kind of strong economy and fair society we want.
The insistence of the refuseniks, and Hilary Benn (whose dad always spoke from our platform) on committing the party to stay in the EU at any cost and whatever happens is not only an EU approach (the elite know better than the people) and a feeble negotiating position ( undercutting Cameron's case) .It's damaging to Britain and downright daft.
We know that Cameron's proposals are a con and won't lead anywhere because we pulled the same confidence trick ourselves in 1975. He won't get any concessions worth speaking about because they won't give them and can't without treaty changes) so we are not only committing ourselves to accepting the EU as it is without seizing the opportunity to say how we think the institution should be changed but committing ourselves also to a two tier Europe with us in the outer tier while the Euro inner tier does what it wants and creates rule which we must live by. That's a blank cheque for impotence.
It's also a statement that the EU is, if not perfect, at least good for Britain and something we in the Labour Party don't want to change. That means accepting the Common Fisheries Policy which has been disastrous for our fishing industry and Britain's fish stocks. It means loving the Common Agricultural Policy which makes fat landowners richer and increases the food bill of the average family by around twenty quid a week because we're forced to buy their dearer food. It means accepting a growing annual drain on the funds of a nation in growing balance of payments problems of eleven billion for the budget and more for the CAP which we can ill afford .It means accepting the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP) which the EU is negotiating for us and which gives multinationals the power to reverse government decisions. It means accepting EU rules on state aid which will preclude help to stop the closure of Redcar Steel works
We'll have a lot of rhetoric about "taking the lead in Europe" which we can't because its dominated by a Franco-German plutocracy and we're on the periphery.We'll have hopes of being at "the heart of Europe" which is impossible unless we accept the Euro and all the damage that would bring.We'll have talk about changing it which we can't either just as Cameron cant. We'll have lots of claims about losing jobs which can hardly be threatened when they're doing so well out of us taking ever bigger shares of our market and extracting a growing trade deficit from us. . We'll have lots of talk about the benefits we get from membership when it is in fact an albatross round our necks tying us to the world's low growth and high unemployment blackspot.
The advocates of commitment are arguing for a Europe which doesn't exist and never will .They offer us only Eurocrap calculated to commit us to backing Cameron's cunning strategy which he sees as working to keep us in an organisation which will stop the efforts of the next Labour government to rebuild British manufacturing,which costs heavily, which damages and which does nothing for us that we can't do better for ourselves. .