“Should I stay or should I go,” in the words of The Clash and the question many are asking in the run up to the EU Referendum.
Here are some reasons why you might want to stay.
Anthony Hilton from The Standard once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”
When the US put trade tariffs of 500% on cheap steel dumped by the Chinese on the world market, the EU wanted to follow suit. Guess who opposed this? You got it, the UK.
When the EU wanted to introduce the Tobin Tax, a tax on financial transactions, to raise funds to tackle the debt crisis, guess who opposed? You got it.
If you didn’t get a polling card in May, you may need to register to vote by Tuesday 7 June to have your say.
When Clare Moody spoke in Falmouth on Saturday 21 May, she presented concrete examples of the work of the EU. She looked at three themes, the pragmatic and practical, the UK’s position on the world stage and peace - some key principles.
Before becoming an MEP, Clare spent her working life as a trade unionist. As a trade unionist she recognises the importance of the EU for employment laws and the Health & Safety legislation to protect us at work. In addition, the EU has a working time directive to ensure break between shifts, for safety reasons, rights for women at work such as maternity leave and consumer protection. All of this is EU legislation.
The EU is the last bastion for environmental protection.
In the globalised world with recent accounts of tax avoidance, the EU has a greater power than the UK alone, to effectively clamp down on tax avoidance. The EU can provide the transparency. When corporations insist they are not making money, that is hidden. However, their operating profits publicised by country would make them transparent because the corporations use our infrastructure. The EU can provide effective legislation for this.
We have some of the leading meteorological scientists in Devon. Currently they are measuring year-by-year increasing levels of precipitation. At the Climate Change Summit in Paris in 2015, the EU was a driving member for an effective agreement. Rather than the ‘full stop’ agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, the EU managed to ensure this summit came out with an agreement with milestones.
The UK is significant in the EU and is one of the three biggest countries. However, the UK sometimes prevents the EU from being progressive. The EU does not prevent us from trading beyond the borders. Belgium by value sells more to India and Germany more to China. The EU does not prevent the UK doing likewise.
Leaving the EU would diminish the UK’s influence on the world stage. It would trigger Scotland to leave the UK and Northern Ireland would have problems.
As members of the Labour Party, we believe in peace and solidarity. We work together to improve our lives. The EU grew out of the destruction of two world wars with the determination that it would never happen again. Written history on the European continent is a history of wars. We now have the longest period peace that Europe has seen.
We need to be mindful. In the former Yugoslavia, communities from all religious backgrounds lived harmoniously together. The war in the 1990’s split this asunder.
In Labour we resolve to collectively talk and build relations rather than go to war.
It’s so important that women get involved in politics and become elected as MEPs. We must do away with the mantra, ‘old white men rule’. We need a balance, to talk to women. The EU brought employment rights for women, access to the pension fund for part-time workers, protection of maternity leave and ensuring research funds includes the other 50% of the population. Women have to take responsibility and fight for their rights. We don’t need the likes of UKIP, MP Ian Hamilton, get away with calling fellow MPs concubines.
One of the EU goals is equality between women and men, equality in the care of children, establishing better schooling and pre-school. In the EU, other countries have much better ones than ours.
We still need to do more. We need better support for carers, more support for the voluntary sector and help with employment legislation to tackle injustices.
Because Cornwall is one of the poorest regions in the EU, it has received Objective I funding, this wouldn’t have happened outside the EU. We worry about the EU bringing in the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) but the leave campaign – Gove, Johnson and IDS are no great champions of the NHS.
We could stay outside Europe as Norway does, but it still has to pay to access the EU trading area and gets no say in the trading legislation.
We need more accountability for UK MEPs. Often UK MEPs thwart progressive legislation in the EU. The Government could set up a select committee to grill MEPs on what they vote for in the EU, voting against tariffs on Chinese steel for example.
If you're interested, Clare Moody is on tour in the South west and North Devon recorded her talk.