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Britain and Europe… January 22, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics, European Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
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I was listening to the Guardian podcast on the issue of Europe and the Tories from last week and was surprised to hear some of those commenting suggesting that on a straight stay or go referendum public opinion would tend to swing to the former. But then, checking out the always interesting ukpollingreport, run by Anthony Wells of YouGov (which has information about individual polls and a poll aggregator) and what do I read about new data on voting intentions in a referendum on EU membership. For the last number of months the figures were solidly enough in the OUT camp, as Wells notes:

At the start of the month YouGov was showing people would vote to leave the EU in a referendum by 46% to 31% who would vote to stay in – figures that were pretty typical of YouGov’s polling on EU referendums for the last year.

But, lo and behold, as the prospect of an actual referendum has become more concrete those figures have shifted, and bloody radically too…

Last week those figures had shifted to 42% get out to 36% stay in. This week they have moved even further and now 40% of people say they would vote to stay in compared to 34% who say they would vote to leave.

Wells explains this as being the result of the following:

What appears to have happened is that normally people use an EU referendum question to express general disatisfaction with the EU, with the European Court of Human Rights (I know its different from the EU – most people don’t!), Eastern European immigration, bureaucracy, bans on straight bananas & bent cumcumbers and all the general media perception of the EU. In the last fortnight some will obviously have thought a little more about it as a referendum becomes a more likely possibility, as people like Richard Branson, the US Embassy, Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and David Cameron have all spoken of the importance of Britain being in Europe… and it has changed views.

And he makes an interesting point which is that it’s not that euroscepticism has decreased – as such, but rather that support ‘for leaving’ has reduced. That’s a very very important distinction to make because while the latter is the harder edged position, the former is much less so and much more contingent.

Haven’t we seem something of this in our own polity over the years, although here the more regular use of referendums has offered examples of decisions being made and the state returning to them again in order to overturn them. But the underlying dynamic is not unfamiliar, of a broader disquiet which is trumped, usually – but not exclusively, by the orthodoxy. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/6886

BTW, ukpollingreport is a good site for an overview of the situation, for example, they currently project the LP on 41, Tories on 31 and LDs on 10 – by polling averages, and they found nothing in yesterday’s Guardian/ICM poll ‘to get excited about’, despite that showing Con 33, LAB 38, LD 15 and UKIP 6. And there’s a projection for an LP majority of 112. All moonshine of course in the sense that there almost certainly won’t be an election for a couple of years, but… not at all moonshine in the sense that that the dynamics are well embedded currently and this allows us an insight into them.

Comments»

1. FergusD - January 22, 2013

Staying in the EU may be the orthodoxy, and in a referendum in the UK I think it would prevail – just, but opposition to the EU in the electorate isn’t a rejection of the orthodoxy we would like. That rejection of the EU is, I suggest, largely reactionary. It still hankers after Empire, holds racist views, is socially conservative etc. There is other stuff too of course, the lack of democracy and the rightward shift of the EU elite I hope the left will be very careful about this if it comes to a vote..

My position will be an old International Socialist Group one from the 70s, “In or out the fight goes on”, but if in, there has to be much more effort to campaign as an EU wide (far) left.

A small builder I know quite well came to see me the other day. He is a firm Labour supporter. He told me he had just been to a timber yard where about 6 workers (British) had been made redundant and some East Europeans kept on. You can imagine the feelings being expressed in the timber yard. The builder said they were of the anti-immigration kind (which he doesn’t support) and in his opinion such views were becoming more vociferous and widespread. People can be cagey about what they really think when they talk about such things these days, especially with likes of me, the timber yard workers felt that he would naturally share their views. Fodder for UKIP he thinks. The response to the crisis may come in that form and express itself in a referendum, if there is one. The vote would go against leaving I think, but that would leave a lot of working class voters feeling even more excluded. This could be a difficult area for the left.

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2. CL - January 22, 2013

‘the UK left the heart of Europe 20 years ago when John Major negotiated the opt-out from the euro…

In macroeconomic terms, EU membership is virtually irrelevant for a member state that is simultaneously large and not in the eurozone. The EU budget is tiny, and free trade and free capital movement would continue under any conceivable scenario.’-Wolfgang Munchau

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/659572a6-5b57-11e2-9d4c-00144feab49a.html#axzz2IhsKj3v4

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FergusD - January 22, 2013

CL,
Maybe so, I don’t know, but politically it could be very significant.

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CL - January 23, 2013

I’m not so sure that Munchau is correct.
In any case the Eurozone part of the Eu is moving towards further integration, while the EU’s main financial centre, the City, remains apart. And the two parts of Ireland being pulled in different directions.

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3. Roger Cole - January 23, 2013

GB is responsible for 24% of the defence expenditure of the EU states. If it did leave it would be a fatal blow to the EU elite that seek to transform the EU into a centralised, neo-liberal and militarised Superstate or Empire. Of course there are those “progressives” like Fintan O’Toole of the IT that wants to encourage the creation of such an Empire and support the French “socialists” ensure the “re-conquest” of Mali. We were part of a centralised liberal militarised superstate before. It was called the British Union. Once in our history is enough, especially since GB is still in control of part of Ireland.

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WorldbyStorm - January 23, 2013

Very interesting statistic there Roger. Thanks for that.

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CL - January 23, 2013

“Who do I call when I want to speak to Europe?”- Henry Kissinger.

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que - January 23, 2013

The reconquest of Mali? Seeing as how there are as many African soldiers on the ground there who is doing the conquest?

Other than that your not far out.

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dmfod - January 23, 2013

Oh come on France intervened militarily in its former African colonies 46 times between 1960 and 2005 and in the last couple of years it’s intervened in Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and probably a few other ex-colonies – in addition to Libya where the geopolitics were somewhat different. Any other forces that support these adventures are just proxies for Francafrique and whatever dictator the French are backing this week,including our own lads in Chad.

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CMK - January 23, 2013

This is worth a read, the review at least the book itself is only available in French: http://newleftreview.org/II/77/augusta-conchiglia-ghosts-of-kamerun

Covers France’s role in Cameroon, very bloody, very unpleasant and, for some strange reason, completely ignored.

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dilettante - January 24, 2013

Not forgetting that in Chad Irish forces were the ones supporting French imperial interests.

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4. doctorfive - January 23, 2013

Shaun Connolly knocking great rise out of Gerard Howarth on radio one there

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5. soubresauts - January 24, 2013

I’m finding it hard to identify the Eurosceptics on the Left… Who/where are they?

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6. Roger Cole - January 24, 2013

It was the French Minster for Defence who said the reason they sent troops to Mali was to reconquer it. dmfod is correct that this is just another example of French imperialism. However it more that just that. The French stated they were reconquering Mali to defend Europe. In fact to do so they needed military support from GB and Italy. This is therefore not just a French war, it is a war of the emerging European Empire, described by Cameron as a generational war. Cameron in fact has no desire to leave the EU,especialy its military dimension, he just wants to to become more committed to neo-liberal valuse than it already is. In that objective he has the full support of the leadership of the FG/L government. Gilmore’s tatement that he will send Irish troops to take part in the Mali war is just another of such government decisions such as their decision to ensure a new aviation policy which calls for “additional military flights” through Shannon Airport, the decision to support NATO’s war on Libya, and the the NATO/Saudi war on Syria. The FG/L government offers nothing more than perpetual war abroad and perpetual austerity at home.
Finally, if thre are people who are finding it difficult to find people on the left critical of the emerging European Empire the clearly have not looed very hard. The main group on the left is the European GUE/NGL Group and their latest document on the militarisation of the EU can be downloaded from the PANA web site, http://www.pana.ie.
Finally

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7. doctorfive - January 24, 2013

If nothing, we can make a fortune offloading yes for stability posters.

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