One of the strange things about the Labour leadership is their willingness to support any measure, however bad, if it is a requirement of the EU. Sometimes they put their party on a 3 line whip to vote for it. Other times they let them go home early or discourage them from voting, so Conservative Ministers and the SNP can defeat Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and secure the Euro measure.
Pro EU people are thankful that Labour behaves “responsibly” in this way. Critics of EU legislation are increasingly angry that the official Opposition in Parliament will not normally oppose anything that has made in Brussels stamped on it. Let’s hope the vote to leave the EU next month changes all this.
The need for Conservative Ministers to rely on Labour votes or abstentions to get through all the EU legislation they are required to pass is having an impact on the conduct of government generally. Yesterday’s Queen’s speech programme was clearly designed to build bridges with Labour, to avoid provocative policies which might jeopardise the implied informal coalition with Labour which is so necessary for the half of our law which now comes from the EU. Neither front bench wish to have a major row with Brussels over for example their insistence on the tampon tax or their Court judgement to make us put up VAT on green products. It is extraordinary that Labour will provide no effective opposition to these tax requirements from the EU.
The left in Parliament is generally quiet on the enforced and self defeating austerity of the Eurozone scheme. They decline to champion the cause of the unemployed in Spain or the poor in Greece, despite claiming to be good enthusiastic and committed Europeans. They confuse Europe with the EU, and seem to think it is their duty to defend all that the EU does, however indefensible. It creates a lop sided and dishonest politics, where the big issues of EU poverty, unemployment, slow growth or no growth are simply not debated. The more that Brussels does, the less a national democracy can function.
We have seen how the democratic will in Greece has to be overwhelmed by Euro area economic policies. The UK still has some democracy left thanks to our opt outs. In an increasing number of areas the UK, like Greece, has to accept whatever Brussels lays down. The refusal of the official opposition to oppose EU measures is the price we pay for this bad way of governing a once independent democratic country.