Friday, 17 July 2015

This Really is a Coup

As the Greek debacle rumbles on, the hashtag #ThisIsACoup shot to the top of Twitter. The coup in question is the ongoing crisis which will almost certainly result in the removal of the Greek government unless they agree to go back on the referendum promise. It's all a bit strange that a country who joined the European Community as it then was as a way of preserving their new, fragile democracy should now have an elected government overruled by unelected bureaucrats.

Meanwhile in Britain an ever more surreal coup appears to be taking place, and no-one has yet remarked on it. The liberal-left have finally started to see that the EU isn't all that great after all.

There must be something in the organic Muesli at the Guardian where this progressive secessionism has taken it's firmest hold. Endorsements from the Guardian don't come much higher than running a story about a hashtag, reprinting the comments, showing how many young and trendy people are of this opinion. Simon Jenkins wrote a piece describing Greece's continued membership of the Euro as a "catastrophe." And just in case there was any lingering doubt they also gave a column to former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. While George Monbiot is riddled with liberal indecision about it.

And it wasn't just the Guardian. An editorial in The Independent said they should leave the Euro too. Even the BBC is getting in on the act, with Economics funnyman Robert Peston describing the Greece bailout as a "capitulation" by Tsipras.

There have always been those on the left who are against our membership of the EU. They see it, rightly, as a corporatist venture designed to defend the interests of big business. As Owen Jones points out in the 1970s and even 80s the whole European project was very much a Conservative venture. It was Neil Kinnock who taught Labour to love the EU and was rewarded with a job at the European Commission.

The founder of UKIP Doctor Alan Sked was very much a man of the left, but his since it's founding during the time of the Maastricht treaty the party has become synonymous with the radical right, and it is they who have led, and indeed dominated the campaign for EU withdrawal. Those on the left, as both Jones and Monbiot allude to in their article, have almost reflexively supported our continued membership of the EU to disassociate themselves with those they perceive as xenophobes, conservatives and radical free marketeers.

However, if the left starts to examine EU membership in more detail I suspect the left-wing case for withdrawal will grow. Caroline Lucas of the Green party remains in favour of our membership, but quite tellingly she says that this is because leaving would put the things she holds dear - maternity pay and our open door asylum policy "in peril." By peril, of course, she simply means that the public could vote to change these things if they wished, which is basically what happens in a democracy. It can't be long before people on the left wake up to the fact that besides being an absolute affront to democracy, this has a flip side. Many other popular things the left would like to do such as renationalising railways or opposing TTIP depend on us leaving the EU and restoring democratic government.

Currently, the political class appear smugly confident of a comprehensive victory for continued EU membership, and the opinion polls support them. However, if those on the left started supporting secession in significant numbers this could radically alter the electoral arithmetic in a way that Cameron hasn't anticipated, and make withdrawal much more likely.