If you believe in a united Europe, as many of our EU advocates clearly do, you should feel as strongly about unemployed young people in Spain or poverty in Greece as you do about hardship in the UK. Labour and the Lib Dems say they like everything about our current level of EU integration, and like the EU as it is. If they ever remember to make a critical comment, it is not because they wish to change anything or intend to vote against any of its measures. This soon to expire Parliament has seen a complete absence of Labour opposition to any new laws or powers for the EU, just as they gave away so much power in 3 great Treaties when in government.
If the UK today had 50% youth unemployment as the south of Euroland currently suffers, Labour would never let us hear the end of it – and rightly so. If the UK had Greek levels of unemployment, and a Greek cost of living crisis which has depressed average real incomes by almost a quarter since 2007, again we would not hear the end of it, as Labour would rightly think it completely unacceptable. So why is it that these people who believe in pan European solidarity have nothing to say about the scandal of poverty and joblessness in large chunks of Euroland? Why are they not insisting on new policies for the EU?
Closer to home, Labour signed us up to a common energy policy. This energy policy with its dependence on renewables has locked us into much dearer electricity than competitor economies in the Americas and Asia. It is leading to the loss of industry in the UK and elsewhere in the EU. It is making it more difficult for people to afford their fuel bills. Again, why is there no criticism of the EU’s dear energy as Labour rightly condemns what they call fuel poverty, and dislike any impact from dearer energy on the cost and standard of living.
If you are a true supporter of a more united Europe, you should regard the loss of a job in Athens as seriously as you regard the loss of a job in a UK city. If you are an enthusiast for European solidarity and common working, you should be as aggressive in condemning poverty and unemployment on the continent as at home. If EU government through its energy scheme and through its common currency on the continent lies behind joblessness and poverty, why is it not criticised? Why is there no radical campaign for change? What socialist thinks Greek or Spanish economic policy is acceptable? Who would exchange our policy for theirs?
I will not believe UK politicians really understand a united Europe until they do raise the plight of the unemployed and unfortunate in Athens or Madrid as strongly as they would the plight of people in the UK.