Jeremy Corbyn kicked off his belated speech in favour of staying in the EU by claiming that the party he leads backs it “overwhelmingly”.
He didn’t cite any statistics to support this claim, expecting us to take it on faith.
Being a credulous sort, I’m prepared to do just that – even though this assertion somewhat bucks the historical trend.
For example, Hugh Gaitskell, the last sensible Labour leader (1955-1963) argued against Britain joining the EEC (as it then was) by correctly stating that this would mean “the end of a thousand years of history”.
He then died under mysterious circumstances, with both the ex-MI6 man Peter Wright and the Soviet defector Anatoly Golitsyn claiming foul play on the part of the KGB, eager to replace Gaitskell with its putative agent Harold Wilson.
More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, Labour was more Eurosceptic than the Tories, with more anti-EEC MPs and a more coherent European policy. And Labour’s patron saint Tony Benn made strong arguments against European federalism, as strong as anything Nigel Farage has come up with so far, which is saying a lot.
Incidentally it was then that the cub MP Jeremy Corbyn showed the good judgement of voting against joining the Common Market – an impression of solidity he then spoiled by having a fling with Diane Abbott, whose physique was never any more attractive than her personality or indeed her politics.
Those who foolishly expect consistent views from politicians on any subject other than their unquenchable power-lust will notice that old Jeremy had been opposed, if somewhat tepidly, to EU membership up until the moment his arm was twisted into making today’s speech. This he acknowledged, possibly without realising he was acknowledging it (Jeremy, in case you’re wondering, isn’t particularly bright).
After all, he explained, the Labour party and its paymasters, the trade unions, have decided to back EU membership “and that’s the party I lead and that’s the position I am putting forward.”
In other words, Jeremy’s personal principles and beliefs don’t really come into it. What comes into it is his determination to hang on to power at all costs, something that would be in peril if the union bosses got upset.
Fair enough, serious people would never expect anything different from a career politician, whatever the colour of the rosette he pins to his lapel. I mean, you don’t really think that Dave has a carefully thought-through political philosophy he is prepared to uphold at any cost to his political career, do you?
Jeremy made another unwitting admission one has to welcome – or applaud if it wasn’t really unwitting: “There is,” he said, “a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union.”
This is absolutely true, and it would be God’s own truth had he modified ‘a strong socialist case’ with the intensifier ‘only’. For European federalism has always been nothing but the nightmarish socialist dream of a single European, ideally world, government.
This is how this thought was expressed in The Communist Manifesto, the founding document that inspired both international and national socialism:
“The working men have no country… Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national… National differences and antagonisms between peoples are vanishing gradually from day to day, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto. The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster.”
Actually, working men tend to be more patriotic than chattering idlers. But never mind, European federalism flows as naturally out of this passage as Krug champagne out of the bottle at a Labour fund raiser. Since ‘supremacy of the proletariat’ is insane rubbish bearing no resemblance to any conceivable reality, it has always been interpreted as the supremacy of a supranational elite towering above national cultures, traditions and politics.
That is how the concept was understood both by the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. And this is how it was understood by the German and French bureaucrats who in the days of the Nazi occupation and Vichy discovered affinity for one another.
The Third Reich was committed to pan-Europeanism, and in fact the Nazis organised a conference on united Europe chaired by that great European Alfred Rosenberg. When it became clear after El Alamein and Stalingrad that the Third Reich would last rather less time than the promised thousand years, Nazi and Vichy bureaucrats banged their heads together and came up with a plan for post-war cooperation now going by the name of the EU.
I do hope the Leave campaign will make its case clear, explaining to hoi polloi the pernicious provenance of the EU and its profoundly anti-British, anti-historical and indeed anti-European aims.
But if I were a door-to-door Brexit campaigner, I’d reduce the whole argument to a simple message: Jeremy Corbyn wants us to stay in the EU. What better reason do you need for voting to leave?