BY JAMIE FOSTER
With the hashtag #sacktomwatson flying around the web and Corbynites up in arms at his apparent treachery towards Jeremy Corbyn, under-pressure Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (for now), put out a speech over Twitter that shows the desperate nature of his Brexit position:
Watson is arguing that we don’t need to Brexit but we can remain in the EU. Not only is he ignoring the will of the people as expressed during the referendum he is also setting himself up against the staunch Labour seats that voted to leave. In his speech Watson uses the same trite truisms that the Remain side have always relied on to mislead people. He says that the EU is responsible for peace in our time and the prosperity that we have enjoyed since the Second World War. Peace is the direct result of NATO and the nuclear deterrent and prosperity is the result of peace and capitalism. To give credit to the EU for peace and prosperity is to confuse causation and correlation. It is a schoolboy error.
Watson invokes Shakespeare and points out that Shakespeare’s plays are set in Europe. He therefore makes the assumption that Shakespeare’s Europeanness was important to him. This is completely irrelevant to the argument about the EU. The EU is not Europe, it is a bureaucracy that wasn’t in the contemplation at the time of Shakespeare. Correlating a love of Europe with a love of the EU is a cheap deception. It is possible to feel European while still wishing the UK to make its own decisions and be responsible for its own destiny.
Watson equates the EU with socialism, saying they both seek to achieve their ends by working collectively. This is precisely why we need to leave the EU. The last thing we need is its enforced socialism. The EU is a redistribution of wealth project taking money from the net contributors like Britain and giving it to net beneficiaries like Poland. After 40 years of this project nothing has changed. Like all socialist projects it is likely to keep throwing money at the same problem for ever if it is allowed to. The way weaker economies can grow is through trade. It is not necessary to be part of the EU to trade.
There is something invidiously arrogant about Watson’s entire stance in regard to the EU. He does not have the humility to accept that his side lost the argument of the referendum. He suggests that the Right has been talking down Europe for decades and the Left has kept silent about it. This is to ignore those on the Left who want to leave the EU, recognising it as a plaything of the multinationals. Tony Benn was on the Left and he didn’t keep silent about the EU. He opposed it with every fibre of his being. What Watson doesn’t appreciate is that this is not a question of Left and Right, it is a question of right and wrong. The EU is a huge waste of money. It is wrong that 10,000 people are employed by the EU on a salary that is more than the Prime Minister’s. It is simply wrong and needs stopping.
Watson turns a blind eye to the large Labour leave areas that have been left behind by the EU project. He wilfully ignores the fact that the referendum gave these people a voice which they had not had for decades. They were finally consulted on something and they made their opinion clear. As a politician Watson has a duty to serve the people and respect their will. In this speech he completely ignores this duty. He behaves as if the referendum never happened and the pre referendum campaigning is still ongoing. Democracy works when losers accept their losses and move on. They cannot work if the losers continue to fight their corner and fail to respect the will of the majority.
It is time that people like Tom Watson recognised that a decision was made in a democratic manner. That decision needs putting into action. It is a waste of time to try to look behind the decision and to try to circumvent it. In a democratic country we need to respect the working of democracy. The people voted to leave and the people’s will must be respected. We can still feel European without being part of a vast and expensive Euro-bureaucracy. We can make our own laws and look after our own money. We can be a fully independent nation without the need to be part of a gang. Time Watson found some humility and became part of the solution not part of the problem.