The Battle of Europe feels like it’s been rumbling on since 1975. I certainly remember the Tories tearing themselves apart over Maastricht 24 years ago. Despite all of this posturing and facing-off, the British electorate hasn’t had a say on our membership of the EU since Watergate.
The real Battle of Europe began just last week with the official start of the Britain’s EU referendum. From now until the vote, on 23 June, you will be drowning in views, opinions, scare stories and puff pieces about the value of Britain’s continued membership in the European Union.
My instinct has always told me Britain should stay in the EU but I’ve found it hard to cheer for a European union like the one described by David Cameron. One where business and money can flow freely but people are restricted. One where Britain is the stumbling block to every progressive leap forward. One where setting up a holiday or retirement home has social value but working and paying taxes for decades while probably bringing up future generations of taxpayers has none.
Then Jeremy Corbyn gave his reasons for wanting us to stay in the EU and for me, it all made sense.
The EU has brought lots of social protections and rights which benefit everyone and the size and stability of the union means it will be hard for any individual government to remove them. As Corbyn points out, there will be a “bonfire of workers’ rights” if we Brexit.
My vision for a future world utopia is one where politics isn’t something you do once every five years, for 15 minutes in a booth, but every day as you make decisions about your life and your area.
Societies don’t exist to protect trade or to provide human fodder for companies whose only mission is cash creation. They exist to protect and provide for the people who make them up.
Democracy is supposed to be a system that allows the people to wield the power to run their lives.
The problem with all of our democracies at the moment is that the wealthy have managed to wrestle power away from the people. Representative democracies put too much power into the hands of those doing the representing and they become easy targets for those who want to stifle change. Also, when your choice of PM is just between different types of posh white people who live in a bubble that doesn’t include you, it’s hard to give much of a damn.
Power should stay with the people and decisions should be made by the people they impact. My ultimate vision is of a world where direct digital democracy means we all make choices about our lives on a regular basis and politicians were replaced by more civil servants who simply carry out our wishes.
A borderless world where every human voice has equal democratic power, where human and workers’ rights are universal and where a minimum wage is a minimum anywhere on the planet. It would need everyone to have access to technology and free global wifi, but neither of these are very hard to achieve.
Even an imperfect EU is a step in the right direction for the joined up world that needs to exist for my utopia to be possible. So, like Jeremy, I’d rather we stay in and fight for the EU I want than skulk off into the corner of Europe to play on our own.
Gentrification or migration
One challenge to my global devolved democracy might be that local enclaves could develop and close their doors to newcomers. Communities are vital and need to be supported but it’s also important that communities are open and accessible. If a community is attractive and accessible, how does it remain a community though?
If communities can be legally defended against gentrification then it’s hard to argue that they can’t be defended against other forms of economic migration. Campaign group Take Back the City doesn’t find itself wrapped up in such ethical red tape.
Amina Gichinga, who is standing for a seat on the London Assembly, told Red Pepper magazine about her organisation and its drive to fight gentrification.
Standing in the City and East constituency, Amina wants to do politics differently.
Take Back our City holds meetings with community groups, refugee groups and trade unions to draw on ideas generated from experiences of living and working in London that are all too often invisible to the political process.
“Mainstream politics caters for a class of people that I don’t know,” Amina told the left wing magazine, “and when I see the lack of integrity that they have, I don’t think I want to know them.”
From beat poetry on buses to outreach sessions in refugee centres, Amina and Take Back the City are another small example of people taking politics into their own hands. As mainstream politics is shown up for the fiasco it really is, more people will be engaged by single issue politics or smaller, more flexible campaigns.
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White Men Dancing is a weekly column. Kiri Kankhwende and Maurice Mcleod keep an eye on Westminster. Politics is too important to leave to politicians.
Maurice Mcleod is a social commentator with Jamaican/Swazi heritage. He is director of his own communications company, Marmoset Media, and writes regularly for The Guardian and The Spectator among other titles. He has commissioned for the Guardian, Media Diversified, Engage Magazine, Open Mind, Single Step and Voluntary Voice. Before setting up Marmoset, he had a 15-year career as a national newspaper journalist working for The Express, The Independent, The Voice, The Evening Standard and The Sunday Times among others. He is also a trustee for campaign group Race on the Agenda. Maurice often appears on Sky News as a talking head and writes about social issues, behaviour, racism, politics, diversity and housing. On Twitter he is @mowords
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Other articles in this series:
White Men Dancing: The EU Referendum Hokey Cokey
White Men Dancing: We’re all cleaners
White Men Dancing: Disability and Other ‘Lifestyle’ Choices
White Men Dancing: Robbing disabled Peter to pay privileged Paul
White Men Dancing: Forget Labour’s List