I had an argument with a relation. He favours Brexit – leaving the EU. As we became more embroiled in our discussion, he repeatedly confused the European Commission with the European Union. I had to give him an instant lesson into how the EU works, and the roles of the Commission (its civil service) and its parliament.
Luckily, I had been a minister at various EU meetings, representing the UK. I was able to explain how governments decide most of what is done in Europe, not bureaucrats. The latter, like our own Sir Humphreys, are there to implement ministerial decisions, not to tell us what to do.
Those arguing to leave the EU have never accepted our membership of the EU, and have repeatedly misrepresented it. We on Merseyside know only too well how European funding gave us a funding lifeline denied us by the British government. One hopes that the British people will not be misled by attempts to deliberately confuse the issues of the EU referendum.
I was reinforced in this concern by the travails of Bernie Sanders in the New York Democratic primary, True to his honesty, Bernie- himself Jewish – has been viciously attacked for criticising the Israeli government. This is not unusual. When I was an MP, colleagues Harry Cohen and Gerald Kaufmann were subjected to vilification as “self haters” for expressing similar views.
Others, of course, are just smeared as anti-Semitic for having the effrontery of criticising a foreign government, as that criticism is deliberately conflated with anti- Semitism. Like with the issue of membership of the EU, there are those who set out to condition the wider public with calculated confusion.
By such means, the debate is stifled, and lies are transmuted into the truth. The Labour Party’s values are intended to overcome such obfuscation, as we all battle to inform people of the objective realities which they face. Transparency in all things ought to be our clarion call.