The conversion of the Labour Party from Euroscepticism to a euroenthusiasm far greater than any feeling for socialism is almost miraculous. In the early eighties we were committed to coming out. Now we love it so much that we're prepared to dump the leader and smash up the party for it. That's a greater and faster conversion than St Augustine managed with the Anglo Saxons.How did it happen?
It all began with Kinnock. A staunch CND supporters and an opponent of the Common Market he chucked over both and became a Euro enthusiast when his wife became a Euro MP and his kids researchers in Brussels He made dropping unilateralism and EEC withdrawal his objective.
Affection grew to love under John Smith, a Euro-enthusiast, and Blair who saw it as the promised land, the main promise being becoming President of the EU. Blair and Brown pushed us into the exchange rate mechanism the forerunner of the Euro but when that collapsed Brown rethought his enthusiasm for fixed exchange rates but Blair saw it as a case for stronger medicine aka the Euro which he enthusiastically urged.
Labour MPs are natural sycophants They rushed to follow the lead from the top. Ourlist of over a hundred MPs supporting the Labour Euro Safeguards group (Chaired by Peter Shore then me)shrank to a handful as MPs wrote in to say that things had changed. Opposition to the EU was no longer relevant. At the same time the party's Euro MPs were weeded out, the sceptical majority mostly dropped to be replaced by enthusiastic Europeans who acted as missionaries for the cause.
The trade unions had been cleverly suborned. De Lors sold them the the programme for social Europe to achieve the improvement of workers' and trade union rights then being attacked by Margaret Thatcher. Despairing about Labour's prospects they began to look on Europe as the worker's friend and more useful to them than a Labour government.
This conversion was helped when the EU provided a flood of jobs for suitable union leaders beginning with Jack Peel and going on to John Monks, secretary to the TUC and others. This same recruitment policy was also applied to the Labour Party which came to think of Brussels as an comfortable retirement home for the likes of Mandelson, Kinnock and others, all rewarded for services rendered and support to come.
EU public relations have been very clever. Coach-loads of party members were given subsidised visits to marvel at the wonders of Brussels. Councils were encouraged to send deputations who were then told that the EU was willing to help them but the British government was dragging its feet. Depressed areas were plastered with signs thanking the EU for financing projects even though the money was always our own money back with their costs taken out.
Brussels was everybody's friend. Labour is an idealistic party and inevitably naive It did not see that the EU was designed to further the terrors of Germany in unfair trading and France in agricultural protection.It didn't even see the savagery of the austerity imposed on the weaker economies like Greece Spain Italy and Portugal by a Euro regime which could never work but which the EU couldn't change.Labour fought against austerity by defending the regime imposing it.
Only naïveté can explain how Labour supporters were sold the line that the world's low growth high unemployment black spot was a great trading market,that high contributions to belong to the club were worth paying,that the Common Fisheries policy was conserving fish stocks and that the high food prices produced by Common Agricultural Policy were a benefit Industry, fell from a quarter of British GDP to a tenth but idealists don't bother about such tawdry matters.
In the referendum we passed the point at which euro enthusiasm becomes Euro daft Despite the doubts of its leader and the hostility of two fifths of its people the party committed itself to campaign for the EU, refused to allow dissent as Harold Wilson had,and threw away its chance of defeating an austerity minded government to shore it up and allow it to go on with even more austerity. Greater love hath no party than that it throw away its prospects for love of something so unworthy. Give em a euro grant. They're worth it.