jimtoggleJim O’Neill says the EU referendum vote is a no brainer. It’s about the principles of our party – internationalism and solidarity – and he urges us all to vote Remain.


It is time now for me to add my tuppenceworth to the Bremain/Brexit argument. As an internationalist of the left, it is a no brainer. It is better to be inside the tent… I will not assault your sensitivities with the rest of that quote. However, it amazes me the arguments put by Brexit supporters of the left.

They seem to be fixated on TTIP, despite the fact that the Sanders/Trump campaigns in America have shown a hatred for free trade in the American workforce, and even the most recent statements by Hillary have shown a move towards fair rather than free trade. This move was predicted by Ian Bremmer of Time magazine some weeks ago when he said that TTIP was much more in danger from American concerns than from European opposition. TTIP may not survive this presidential election.

When not fixating on this they turn to that great bogeyman of the left, big money, the banks and secret capitalism which, in their mind, controls the EU. This is despite the fact that the EU has enacted some of the most progressive legislation in the world, such as the Working Time Directive, and the headquarters of all the major Human Rights organisations are in Europe. Somehow, secret capitalism took their eye off the ball for a while.

When challenged with the damage that Johnson, Gove and IDS would do to workers’ rights, welfare and human rights if they got into power after Brexit, they answer that we could vote them out in 2020. Perhaps this is the great plan. They believe that Boris and co would be easier to beat in 2020 that Dave or Gideon and his team. But at what cost to the people of Britain? Four years is a long time to give the keys of power to that lot and I fear for what country Britain would be by then.

There are, however, many positive reasons to support Bremain. Did you know, for instance, that there are more Brits claiming benefits in EU countries than EU citizens claiming benefits here? And what about all those holidaymakers returning to Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and other EU destinations as concerns over the safety of more far flung destinations increase. Get ill on holiday? As an EU citizen you are covered. Can’t get a job in Britain with your particular skills? Lots of jobs on the continent are available and you can’t be discriminated against just because you are British. Need a short term workforce for your farm or fruit picking and can’t get Brits to take the jobs? Recruit in Europe. Need staff to shore up a creaking NHS? Europe again.

There are so many positive reasons to remain, not including the protections afforded by EU labour law, competition law and other directives, and as a convinced co-operator, there is much in EU law to support co-operatives. But for me the ultimate reason is my internationalism, learned from such great founders of our party as James Keir Hardie, George Lansbury and Nye Bevan. They would not turn their backs on Europe but would counsel linking with the working classes of other European countries to fight off the new wave of fascism facing Europe. That is why I am pleased that Jeremy Corbyn is reaffirming the outward looking face of our Labour Party and campaigning across Britain for a Remain vote. To do any less would be to betray the history of our party and endanger the union itself.

I have already cast my vote in this referendum, as I did in the 1970s, to remain in the EU. I call on all my comrades to do the same. Oh, and sing the Internationale while you do it.

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24 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I go?

  1. Jim,

    Having thought long and hard about it. I can’t support remaining in the EU because I can’t support the free movement of labour.

    Mass immigration brings down wages, puts a strain on services and increases house prices and rents. The Labour Party should have opposed this years ago to protect our people from these free market policies.

    Here is a simple fact, we will never achieve our goal of full employment as long as we have mass immigration from poorer European countries.

    What advantage is there to the ordinary people within our society or Europe to allow this mass free movement of labour between competing nation states. We cannot confuse this with planned immigration, however, the European Union’s “free movement of labour” is more of a free for all, where the main winners are businesses and the biggest losers are lower skilled workers. After all, the teacher, social worker or civil servant has less to fear from this type of immigration than the warehouse operative, shop assistant or care home worker.

    Make no mistake, the free movement of labour between European nations is no friend to the ordinary working person.

    The British Labour Movement was built on our ability to protect people. Sadly, we no longer stand up for ordinary working class people.

    This EU referendum was a golden opportunity for the Labour Party to set out a vision for a new Europe. Instead, we have the word “change” banded about in a cheap and hollow fashion. We are basically told to be grateful for “workers rights”; Is that the right to have your wages undercut, or your right to a zero hour contract?

    Vote Leave

    1. Problem with that it overlooks many things. More than half of immigration is from outside the eu and is under full control of the uk government. Both labour and tory have rightly or wrongly not curbed this immigration under their control. It was only the uk and ireland that chose not to put transitional arrangements to control eu immigration when Poland etc joined the eu. That again was a uk government – labour choice.

      It is simply wrong to blame the eu for choices made by the uk government.

      The skills shortages are also a failure of uk government. Eg easier to recruit overseas dentists than train more locals.

      1. Alan,

        “More than half of immigration is from outside the eu and is under full control of the uk government. Both labour and tory have rightly or wrongly not curbed this immigration under their control”


        “It was only the uk and ireland that chose not to put transitional arrangements to control eu immigration when Poland etc joined the eu. That again was a uk government – labour choice”


        “It is simply wrong to blame the eu for choices made by the uk government”

        If we were looking only at the past this would be true. However, we are where we are and I’m looking at the present and to the future, we no longer have the “transitional arrangements” at our disposal. We no longer have control of our borders.

        The only way at present, that we can regain control of our borders is to leave the EU. It shouldn’t have come to this, but it has.

        “The skills shortages are also a failure of uk government. Eg easier to recruit overseas dentists than train more locals”


  2. The problem as I see it is that the Parliamentary Labour Party mainly in England are out of touch with the majority of their constituents on immigration, so much so that they never discuss the number one issue on television or in the newspapers it’s because they have not taken onboard the constituents concerns on Wage suppression, Doctors appointments, School places, NHS, Housing and have no answers or Labour Party policy on controlling the unlimited free movement of EU citzens entering the UK.

  3. Spot on Jim O’Neill! As for the comments above, immigration is the only way the UK has managed to survive reasonably well. Without it, our health services would be in a far worse state than they are now, for instance. Those who would claim otherwise are, at best, misinformed. Also, left to its own devices, TTIP – warts and all – is PRECISELY the trade deal the present UK government would seek – they’re pushing the EU to take it like that. But the EU is not doing so – thanks to the international co-operation between our Labour MEPs and the other MEPs in the PES etc. in the European Parliament. If you want to keep the economy going, if you want to keep the NHS functioning, if you want peace, if you want international socialism – VOTE REMAIN!

    1. John,

      There’s nothing wrong with planned immigration, we are a country of immigrants. The problem is with unchecked mass immigration from poorer EU countries, because it undermines those at the bottom of the labour market.

      Basically the free movement of labour is a free market policy that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.

      We live in a mixed economy, with a private sector and a public sector.

      What is left of the labour movement largely resides within the public sector. The private sector element within the labour movement has been in decline for over 35 years.

      The UK labour movement is currently over represented by and biased towards the public sector. For the labour movement to flourish we need to build up our presence in the private sector industries. We will be unable to achieve this as long as we support the free movement of labour.

      Historically now as in the past, our mixed economy has given us years of boom and years of bust. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. However, in order for unions to establish, survive and flourish within the private sector, you need to limit the labour supply to put a squeeze on the employers. During a boom, pay and conditions will improve and during a bust, pay and conditions will deteriorate.

      Simply put, in the good times it gets better for the average worker and in the bad times it gets worse.

      However, with the EU’s free movement of labour there are no good times, just a constant influx of cheap labour to undermine terms and conditions ever further. This policy exploits both the indigenous population and the migrant worker.

      The only real winners of this policy are the wealthy people who rent out property and do not need to use our public services.

      The claim that the EU has delivered good protection for workers is untrue, the average worker had far better terms and conditions 40 years ago.

      When you go to an employment agency for a job, chances are they will offer you a role as a “mobile worker” aka, a zero hour contract or casual labour.

      The working time directive is also a joke. The first thing an agency will do is have the worker wave their “right” to any such “right”, if they don’t comply, they won’t be working.

      So, if they’re “lucky” enough to land a job they’ll have to be available for it at all times. For this commitment they will be offered anything between 0 and 80 hours work per week. Furthermore, they can turn up for work and be sent home at a moments notice, this is even worse when on a night shift and it’s 3am with no bus home.

      The Labour Party could not be more disconnected from ordinary working class people if it tried.

      If we don’t stand up for ordinary people, we stand for nothing. The people deserve much better than this.

      Vote Leave

  4. Andy Mac Millan; you really should join UKIP..You are so misinformed about immigration and your prejudices show through. You are an embarassment to the Labour Party, if you are a member.

    1. Stephen does that also include the 10 Labour MPs below who are voting to leave the EU and have stated that EU immigration is out of control are they also an embarrassment?

      Ronnie Campbell – Blyth Valley
      Frank Field – Birkenhead
      Roger Godsiff – Birmingham Hall Green
      Kate Hoey – Vauxhall
      Kelvin Hopkins – Luton North
      Gisela Stuart – Birmingham Edgbaston
      Graham Stringer – Blackley and Broughton
      John Mann – Bassetlaw
      Dennis Skinner – Bolsover
      John Cryer – Leyton and Wanstead

  5. Couldn’t agree more Jim O’Neil ! Vote Remain and Corbyn for PM

  6. Dennis Skinner did not state that his reasons for a Leave vote , are due to mass ‘unchecked ‘immigration .He never would as he is not a racist. Skinner stood up in Commons last week denigrating the demonisation of immigrants . His reasons, though I disagree with them, are a socialist argument against the big business EU.
    As for the rest, if that is their reasons for backing Brexit, then yes they do not belong in the Labour Party. EU migrants pay their own way in contributions, so let’s nip your misinformed smokescreen for racism in the bud. We need skilled workers in Scotland, not enough STEM graduates are cominhg through. Our NHS and Social Services (in some areas) relies on EU and outside EU workers. You hide behind this concern for low paid workers’.wages but really, you are happy to leave the EU and leave such workers to the Tories. You speak almost identical to Farage and that should not be welcome in the Labour Party. It is certainly not supported by the leaders of 12 trade unions, Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale.

    1. Stephen it seems that you are in denial that there is concerns from Labour constituents regarding immigration ie uncontrolled access to the UK from EU citizens which is now at odds with your deputy leader Tom Watson, also Yvette Cooper, Ed Ball, Alan Johnson. The problem with the Parliamentary Labour Party is that it has lost touch with the ordinary constituents who are raising this issue on the doorsteps and it is unhelpful that you should label anyone who discuses this issue to be racist sorry to say that it is a form of political snobbery and correctness that will further erode any support that is left for the Labour Party so you should take a tip from me and wake up and smell the coffee.

      1. I take it Ted/Andy (I don’t know who is whoms sock puppet) that you haven’t been campaigning with the labour party on the referendum. I also take issue with your snobbery regarding care workers or social workers, you have an issue with people who work in the public sector it seems, its like reading a daily mail rant. You are a small businessman Mr McMillan who sells stripper outfits, pure Farage territory, you’ll be ranting about the unemployed next. BTW do you only buy/sell British sourced stripper wear Mr McMillian?There are concerns about immigration, J Corbyn raised them yesterday at PMQs and they are caused by capitalists exploiting loopholes regarding advertising jobs abroad and not to uK workers. The same gripes we hear about immigrants are from the same people who voted SNP. Do we pander to them? No you can take their concerns on board but argue your case thats all you can do, the immigrant distraction has been successfully manufactured to distract from the real reasons people living standards are falling. McRobbie is right though most of the discourse on ‘immigrants’ is racist, I know I hear it where I work ( I am a public sector worker, – one of the people not given support when redundancies are made not due to immigrants but tory/snp ideology. They may talk about immigfration on the doorstep once its closed its about religion and skin colour and well you know it, its racism and xenophobia and you dont like being called out correctly. We should engage with people on immigration, we should not pander to them. EU immigrants pay their way without a single immigrant our communities would still be under pressure due to tory/snp cuts. You just seem to have an instinctive dislike of modernity and equality.

        1. Davy,

          You’re a public sector worker and I dare say that you enjoy the type of protection that all UK workers should have. No wonder you’re happy with the status quo.

          Perhaps if it was easier to find decent employment in this country I wouldn’t be selling “stripper outfits” for a living. Have you ever seen the film “The Full Monty”?

          You seem to have a problem with this?

          Are you some kind of sexually oppressed prude?

          Are you a disgruntled customer?

          Or a politically correct snob?

          Perhaps you’re all of these things?

          One thing is for sure, your mind certainly dwells in the gutter.

          You’re losing the argument over EU membership. You can shout people down and shout out racism all you like, fact is, you’re the only one talking about peoples race, skin colour and religion.

          To be honest Davy, if Nigel Farage met you he would probably want to shake your hand. People like you with your narrow, nasty, closed little minds are the best possible recruiting sergeants that UKIP could ever have.

          People wonder why the Labour Party appeals to an ever decreasing section of society.

          Wonder no more……Davy….it’s in terminal decline because of people like you!

          Vote Leave

  7. One last thing Andy please. What is your definition of an “indigenous worker” ? First generation, second generation, white, black, or what? Pray tell.
    Vote Leave to another very ugly Britain or Vote Remain and campaign for a Labour government that will work towards regulations on wages across the EU, against exploitation of migrant workers and a fairer Europe for us all.

    1. Stephen you seem to have racism on the brain.

      I’m for the ALL the ordinary working people of this country and I couldn’t give a toss regarding the race, creed, religion, gender or sexuality of anyone.

      An “indigenous worker” is a UK citizen and a member of the British working class, remember them? The people we’re supposed to be fighting for.

  8. Aye just like Nigel eh?
    ‘Course you are Stephen /Ted.
    Yes there is a significant concern amongst the general public; (fed by the right wing media and Tory rhetoric who love a scapegoat, )about immigration. No surprise that the right of the Labour Party has also jumped on this bandwagon, to attack Mr Corbyn and keep their lobbyist pals happy.
    Watson – well he should shut his mouth at such a crucial time in the EU Ref Campaign and not have the Tories’ dictating the pace. Cooper and Balls- the latter isn’t even an MP anymore and Cooper, well, she should listen to the membership who significantly, were not impressed enough with her past efforts to vote for her as leader. Johnston, he is leader of Labour Remain but seems to have shot the craw due to stupid gaffs like that.I seem to recall him wanting to undermine Ed Milliband with talk of Leadership Challenges every five minutes,like he does with Corbyn. Yesterday’s men. Those three( Cooper, Balls and Johnston and their ilk) had a mighty hand in losing the Labour vote up here with their neo liberal policies. This was further cemented by appalling gaffs such as the Immigration mug. Do you have one Andy/Ted? As I said, regulation of wages for migrant workforces throughout the EU and tough measures against exploitative employers are just two significant measures proposed. In Scotland, we most definitely need migrants and that is the message that we need to get across. As for being politically correct; if you listen to a UKIPPER, that is one of their favourite phrases, along with, ” I’m not racist/homophobic/sexist(delete as appropriate) but ……”
    You show yourself up for what you are.
    No pasaran. #voteremain

    1. Stephen,

      We can either debate about issues like immigration in an open and civilised manner, or we can continue to bury our heads in the sand.

      One thing is for sure, if we don’t address it others will and their solutions could get very nasty.

      The question we should be asking ourselves is why are we losing so much of our support to UKIP? Why are working class people in the UK turning their backs on us?

      I remember campaigning in the 1980’s and getting bricks thrown at us by the NF; I don’t want to go back to those days. I also know that a lot of people, who are happy to shout out “racism” as soon as you mention immigration, are the very same folk who will look the other way and disappear as soon as the going gets tough.

      You are bang on about one thing though, that immigration controls mug was both crass and stupid, brought out by a weak leadership that was happy to appease all and sundry in their quest for power.

    2. Stephen it’s a disgrace that Labour Party are now turning into the same robot party as the SNP who also do not discuss the peoples concerns regards immigration ie the unrestricted free movement of EU citizens into the UK both Labour and the SNP will lose support mainly to the Tories and UKIP post referendum wait and see.

  9. If the immigration debate isnt a racist discourse why is Farages breaking point poster a long queue of people of colour? Not a pink face in the lot, pure racism, as Billy Bragg pointed out not every leave voter is racist but every racist will vote leave

    1. Funny thing is………..

      Davy Henderson and Stephen McRobbie both have the exact same writing “style” as each other.

      Stranger still………….It’s also the exact same “style” as someone that I know.

      You’ve been rumbled Postman Pat.

      Your bad spelling and grammar has given you away.

      1. You have a wonderful ability to dodge questions, the poster asked your views on NF’s ‘Breaking Point’ billboard, did I miss your answer?

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