Jim Sillars

The EU and lies are entwined like Siamese twins. That was so with Heath in 1973, and again with Harold Wilson’s 1975 referendum. Nothing has changed. History and its whoppers is repeating itself in 2016.

My generation was tricked in 1975. Harold Wilson, Prime Minister addressed our “anxiety…that Parliament could lose its supremacy, and we would have to obey laws passed by unelected ‘faceless bureaucrats’ sitting in their headquarters in Brussels.” Fear not he wrote: “No important new policy can be decided in Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament…….The Minister representing Britain ….. can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax … if it be against British interests.”

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Treaty after treaty has demolished those veto powers, and taken supremacy away from Parliament, because sovereignty is not shared, it is transferred to those unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, grown ever more powerful. In the Council of Ministers, on 72 votes out of 72, the UK has been defeated . The cast-iron British veto power Wilson boasted of has gone, replaced by qualified majority voting.

Those sovereign powers transferred for good are not to a democratic organisation, capable of reforming the treaties. The agreement Cameron got was deceitfully designed, by the EU and him, to hide that fact. A corporate lie, backed up by a personal one when at recent PMQs, the Prime Minister claimed he had “secured two vital treaty changes.” He did not.

A fair test of the EU claim to democracy is this: name the Scottish MEPs; name the 28 unelected Commissioners who initiate and implement policy; are the people able to dismiss them; can you name all the members of the Council of Ministers? If you cannot answer correctly, then the EU fails the test.

The Commission is an unelected elite, and will remain without reform. The reason is that the EU lacks the essential homogeneity to form a genuine demos. The member states do not share the same historical, political and cultural development. There is not the intimate knowledge of each other necessary to bind them together in one genuine unit. What do the people in Italy or Poland, for example, know about the people and problems in Shetland, Liverpool, or Glasgow? What do we know of the people of Slovakia and Finland ? That lack of homogeneity is why pan-EU political parties do not exist, and so cannot seek a pan-EU mandate in the European Parliament, from which a government based on a popular vote can be drawn. That fact will always leave the unelected Commission in power.

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Now to other lies, and plain absurdity. TUC and SNP MSPs claim Brexit will see a roll back of workers’ rights on holiday pay, maternity and paternity entitlements. They seem ignorant of the facts. Paid holidays has been a legal right in UK law since 1938. Maternity pay and paternity leave are enshrined in British law, at a level much higher than the EU minimum. Equal pay for women did not emerge from the EU, but from the fight started by the Ford women in the 1970s. Again done by British law. No government, Right-wing or Coalition , has sought to undermine these rights. With only a majority of 12, even a new mad Tory Government would not do so. It would be political suicide.

The EU and workers’ rights is an oxymoron. Here’s a fact Remain dodge. The only place workers’ rights have been torn to shreds, and the fabric of society rent asunder has been in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. The Greeks have been reduced to destitution. Public sector workers in Ireland were forced to take a cut of 25% in pay. In Portugal teachers have been sacked and low state pensions cut, and cut again. Youth unemployment ranges from 40-50% in the southern EU countries. All this done by the EU itself.

When the Greeks believed they could escape via a referendum Jean Claude Juncker, President of the Commission branded it an “irrelevant circus.” When it produced 61% against further austerity, the EU treated the result with contempt, crushed its Left wing government and made it the instrument of deeper cuts in workers’ rights and benefits. No SNP Remain speaker ever mentions Greece, Ireland or Portugal, the latter going through the same imposed austerity trauma. Perhaps it would be too sharp a picture of the reality of who really can and does destroy workers’ rights.

Now for absurdity. George Osborne, the man who has failed to forecast the budget deficit every year. Yet, he now claims to see ahead with precision, to 2030 when we shall be £4,300 (exactly) worse off with Brexit. The Bank of England, IMF and OECD back his claim. In 2008 when the world was about to enter the worst recession since the 1930s, Chancellor Alastair Darling’s budget speech forecast growth rising to 3% in the years ahead. He boasted that the financial sector was sound. Who did he claim backed him? Bank of England, IMF and OECD. Their record shows they could not forecast the winner of a one-horse race, never mind the economy’s future.

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Finally there is the matter of UK-EU trade after Brexit. Germany’s Finance Minister says UK Leave will eject us from the Single Market. That does not mean out of the EU market. Let me explain. Single Market entry carries obligations, such as the free movement of labour. Many voting Leave don’t want that; and it need not happen when the trade facts are examined.

George Osborne, sarcastically, suggests we might get a Norway deal that demands compliance with free movement of labour. Norway is rich, but small, and does not represent a large market for EU traders. The UK is different from Norway. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and our market is big and lucrative. EU exports to the UK are £290 billion a year. UK exports to EU are £228 billion. An advantage to the EU of £62 bn. There are millions of jobs on both sides in that trade equation – both sides.

The UK has the negotiating advantage from those figures. A rational assessment based on them, suggests that a free trade deal, with no Single Market conditions, is in the self-interest of both the EU and UK. £290bn of business a year would be a foolish nose to cut off to spite a British vote for Brexit. They wouldn’t dare do that. Their workers would not allow it. Commonsense will prevail. You can vote to Leave without fear.