In opposition Labour’s European policy can not restrict itself to seek to exploit the inherent antagonisms on Europe between the coalition partners and also between the Tory mainstream and their more lunatic fringes. Labour needs to be pro-active and clear on which direction of travel it envisages for Europe and how EU level governance will contribute to Labour achieving its goals for the British people, EU citizens and everyone inhabiting this planet. Former Secretary General of the European Parliament and LME member Julian Priestley made a relevant contribution to this debate in his article ‘Europe is another blank page for Labour’ in Tribune Magazine in January this year. He argues that as much as Labour under Blair and Brown has been pursuing market liberalisation and less Social Europe, Ed Miliband must now change tack.
‘Now the question is more how much you can regulate nationally and how much in Europe or globally, not whether you should leave everything to the market.’
He goes on to discuss the Euro, the sovereign debt crisis, the EU budget, Europe’s potential to use the size of its markets as lever to affect global environmental standards and combat climate change.
Priestley also looks at organisational aspects and argues that:
“Labour must decide if it wishes to be fully integrated into the European socialist movement. That means being fully committed to the parliamentary group, so that Labour MEPs are no longer pressured into breaking progressive ranks on social, employment and budgetary issues. In the wider European party, it means Labour placing itself in the forefront of democratic change and the campaign for a more distinctive, progressive agenda. Alternatively, it can continue to try to appease the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Daily Mail and sundry Eurosceptics. Ed Miliband and his party must decide – and soon.”