iGlinavos: “My name is Kevin and I hate Europe”

The Guardian has just published an article titled Polls suggest Brexit has (low) turnout on its side that analyses the current poll results for the EU Referendum. The article notes that poll results appear to indicate that younger Britons are more likely to vote “no” for a Brexit.

But what about a young Briton who would vote “yes”. What would be his motivations for doing so?

To answer that question, here is an excellent article written by another blogger, iGlinavos and that was published on his “Brexit” blog. I am hoping that he will not mind that I repeat it here, but it does deserve to be read more widely:

My name is Kevin and I hate Europe

This could be Kevin

Recent polling by YouGov (see here for the original poll results or HERE for the latest polls) suggests that 50% of the British public are inclined towards voting to stay in the EU in the coming EU referendum, while 40% are leaning towards leaving. 10% have no preference at all. The referendum will be fought over winning over this middle 10% along with soft support on the fringes of the other positions (19% for stay and 17% for leave respectively). This polling suggests a very fluid situation, so despite a built in bias towards stay, all bets are off.

This post explores the position of a fictional left leaning voter, currently in the ‘soft’ leave group. We shall call this chap Kevin.

Hello, I am Kevin:

Kevin works as a teaching assistant at a University. He is on modest pay, but aspires to an academic career which will see a steady improvement in his salary, coupled with the security of a permanent job. He is a self-proclaimed lefty and supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest.

Kevin hates Europe. For a lot of the more ‘radical’ British left, Europe is a neoliberal nightmare. The ever-closer Union by stealth is building a market based leviathan that sucks away sovereignty and effectively outlaws any policy incompatible with economic orthodoxy. Kevin always held this view, but two recent events have solidified his position as an enemy of the EU.

The first is the crisis in the Eurozone and the treatment of Greece. The depression in Greece, Kevin argues frequently, gave birth to a left alternative. Syriza came to power in 2015 and fought valiantly against the forces of Euro-neoliberalism under the command of Prof. Varoufakis. The Syriza rebellion however was crushed by Merkelism and the unrelenting neoliberal fiends of the Eurogroup. Varoufakis was ousted and Tsipras capitulated after being blackmailed into submission. The EU was always seen as undemocratic, but the latest events make it worse than that. The EU, at least in its Eurozone part, will go out of its way to undermine and subvert democracy, to crush dissent. Schaeuble will roll over anyone who objects to German ordo-liberalism.

The second event is the TTIP negotiation. For decades Europe, while pursuing a liberalising agenda, had resisted American influence on full scale marketisation. Some protection remained for certain market sectors and a European welfare state survived to a degree. While this was not optimal in Kevin’s view, it was still better than the do-or-die American culture. Then the European Commission embarked on secret negotiations on a grand trade deal. A trade deal that would bring the worse of Anglo-saxon capitalism to Europe, a deal that would even lift corporations out of the jurisdiction of national courts, creating ‘special’ investment tribunals tasked with protecting the expectations of the market against the rights of citizens.

All this was too much for Kevin. He will vote for Britain to leave the European Union. His last act of solidarity to the Greeks will be to drop his ballot in the box and stick it to Schaeuble.

Hang on a second….

What would the day after the referendum be like for our friend Kevin? All polling suggests that Corbyn is set to lose in the 2020 general election, and lose badly. If Labour lost in 2010 (being accused of the financial crisis), lost in 2015 (where it tried to advocate for the poorest in society), will it win in 2020 on a classical left agenda?

Lets assume that it will not (at least the bookies do).

Kevin has proudly rejected the ‘neoliberal’ EU, so that he is tormented at home by a Thatcherite right? The Tories, if ‘leave’ wins the referendum are likely to lurch further to the right. Kevin will be left with a country turning right, lose social protections guaranteed by EU norms, lose access to the European Court of Justice, probably lose the Human Rights Act to a reduced Bill of Rights created by a revanchist right. Kevin will have shut himself off, not only from the market lovers of Brussels, but also from social movements and progressive parties that are trying to argue for a more socially inclusive Europe in the European Parliament.

Kevin will be alone, at the mercy of a domestic predatory elite that cares nothing for him.

The message for Kevin and all the Kevins of the Corbynite left out there is this: Yes the EU is flawed and neoliberal and in need of serious change. Leaving the EU will leave you at the mercy of Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and their ‘business’ friends.

Perhaps Kevin should think about where the biggest threat to any left alternative comes from. It does not come from Europe.

Then there was this comment to the above article:

Sharing many of “Kevin”‘s worries myself, I have to say you are missing the point. It is not about “fighting neoliberalism”. In fact being a liberal myself I do not see recent EU affairs as “neoliberal” but rather as “neofeudal”.

The point however is about democracy.

You see, the trend these past 2 decades (the so-called globalization era) is to replace national laws, made by elected bodies and revocable by subsequent parliaments if desired, with international treaties, which are by nature non-revocable by democratic means.

This trend represents a monumental retreat of democracy, regardless of the nature (neoliberal or not) of these laws.

Thus, TTIP, as well as recent EU treaties (such as the notoriously stupid, economically speaking, 6-pack) are much more dangerous than anything any Cameron could do.

Point in case, the euro: half of Europe deeply regrets to have joined, but still have to live with this mistake despite monumental social cost, because it was designed to be irrevocable.

I think “Kevin” owes much more to Lady Thatcher for her “neoliberal” stubborness to not surrender British sovereignty, than he would like to admit.

Followed by my reply to Kevin:

Good reply Vasilis….I agree with you.

The answer to Kevin’s dilemma given in the post is a little misleading. He is hardly going to be “less” British if the UK is out of the EU than he could be “more” British if the UK remains part of the EU.

And it is hardly Kevin’s fault that the UK political party make-up has some glaring deficiencies. This problem exists already in most EU countries. All national politics have got quietly sucked along on a pro-EU band-wagon due to the apathy of the voters, who have been lulled into a false sense of prosperity while the going was good. Now that the wheels have come off the band-wagon, everyone is scrabbling around like turkeys trying to get their ducks in a row. The serious political party re-alignment in EU countries is just beginning.

Kevin is no fool. He can see that, at the moment and into the foreseeable future, his democratic rights are better looked after in the UK rather than in the EU!

Just like the Greek crisis previously, we are each staring down the barrels of each others guns, waiting to see who will pull the trigger first. And this is a dangerous game!

Brexit (or the threat of it) is another opportunity to turn things around……for everyone. It’s going to need wisdom, courage, a new vision for the future and, above all else, superb leadership.

Step forward, the new Joan of Arc, Europe needs you now!


About Peter Smith

A "foot-soldier" in the wider Post Capitalism Movement. First task - keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
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One Response to iGlinavos: “My name is Kevin and I hate Europe”

  1. Pingback: Running for the Exits | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

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