Illustration taken from a Social Studies programme by Greater St Albert Catholic Schools
Jeremy Corbyn is an internationalist, and yet he despises the EU.
The two positions are not mutually exclusive. But his two positions regarding the EU ought to be.
You’d think his head would be spinning at the prospect of supporting the ‘In’ campaign as we head for the EU referendum on June 23.
He really, really doesn’t like the EU. He voted against membership of the European Economic Community in 1975. He opposed the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. In 2011, when the subject of a referendum was raised, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the concept – he would campaign for ‘Out’.
Only now, as the leader of a party whose MPs are, almost to a man and a woman, ‘In’ supporters, he has to swallow his principles. Worse, he’s having to campaign on the same side as David Cameron.
He’s managing to keep his head from spinning by politically spinning the argument in his mind. By turning the EU into an ‘internationalist’ argument, he can save face. So he’s concentrating on the supposed benefits to workers’ wages and rights and human rights.
All the things he hates, he has to ignore: the lack of democracy; the overweening bureaucracy that ties member countries in legal knots; the lack of accountability; the stealthy progress towards a United States of Europe.
But of all the things he has to ignore, the worst are the poverty and unemployment wrought across southern Europe by the common currency . The very internationalism he has espoused all his political life is supposed to eradicate poverty and injustice among the working class of all countries.
Now he finds himself having to campaign for a system that has the opposite effect. Here’s something he said in 2011: “The Eurocrats are presiding over an economic realignment at the expense of all the progress made by the working class over the past 50 years.”
Hard to disagree, and you could almost feel sorry for him. But it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who, in true Stalinist style, expunges even his own thoughts from the record in order that they don’t come back to bite him.
The problem is that the internet has an unforgiving ‘filing system’. You might take stuff out of one drawer, but it mysteriously reappears in another.
You’d have to be a died-in-the-wool Luddite not to understand that.