I was very pleased this week to read positive cases for staying in the union written by Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander and think we in the Labour Party should be doing more of this.
I do not claim to have a nationality as confusing as Belgian born, Kosovar-Albanian, Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj, who has recently been the subject of much debate concerning whether or not he should play football for England. However, my mum is from Cumbernauld, my dad from Newcastle, I was raised in Cornwall and have since lived in the Midlands, the North East, Yorkshire and now live in Central Scotland.
This week has seen the Cornish people granted the same protections as a minority afforded to the Scottish by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. What I find interesting is that in Adnan Januzaj’s situation, Belgium, Kosovo and England all have different languages, cultures and currencies. England, Cornwall and Scotland do not.
I also note that 2014 is the year of the centenary of the Great War, where we can look back and see a Europe once divided as independent nations, aggressively trying to establish themselves as individual powers at the cost of millions of lives, now working together politically within the EU and many sharing a single currency within the Eurozone. I find it perplexing that people in the UK would actually want to reverse this trend within our own country.
I think something that has been shared in every place that I have lived is a general feeling that our economy and politics is too London-centric. However, I do not think the Tory/Lib Dem government is dismantling the NHS and welfare state in England because it is full of MP’s who are not interested in what happens outside of London. I feel it is because that government is full of MP’s who are not interested in what happens to ordinary people. I think the real issue is class.
I live in Hamilton and share a flat with five Scottish lads. When I moved in, one of the first things we did was to become more connected by adding each other on social media. Eastenders, Pointless and Hollyoaks are always on the TV and this afternoon we went down to the bookies and then watched Adnan Januzaj’s Manchester United face Norwich City. In fact last week I visited my dad and together we watched Welshman, Gareth Bale – who with we both share an affinity – score the winning goal for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey. My point is that as working class people we value inclusivity and doing things collectively. Contrast that with the wealthy who value the exclusivity of expensive restaurants, holidays and travel.
The answer to this problem is not Scottish nationalism because all we will do is replace the wealthy elite in Westminster, with a wealthy elite in Edinburgh. The answer lies in Socialism!
We should reject the divide and conquer ethos that characterized 1914 and the Great War and embrace an ethos of union and triumph. We should not pull away from our fellow countrymen and our shared cultural institutions but nurture and enhance our links and bonds.
It was great that Adnan Januzaj was free to make his decision last week. I think we in the Labour Party should campaign positively about voting to be part of the union in September and even sooner, we should get out there and talk to working people about the importance of the EU and encourage them to vote for Labour MEP’s in May.