Being anti-austerity and pro-EU has never made much sense and the recent treatment of Greece is making that all the more clear.
For years, eurosceptics have been regarded as a right-wing, small-state, and isolationist group of people; those whom George Monbiot described as seeing ‘the EU as interfering with their god-given right to exploit other people and destroy their surroundings.’ However, the treatment of Greece has finally brought about debate in the left camp about whether this is an organisation Britain really wants to head for ever-closer union with.
It seemed odd that many on the left were campaigning against austerity in the UK, while even preventing the British people from having a referendum on leaving what is essentially a pro-austerity organisation. If we had gone down the ‘more borrowing’ route, or if a government had been elected which promised an end to austerity, it is likely that the EU would have put pressure on Britain to rein in its public spending.
Greece voted against austerity, yet the country is now facing more cuts than it just rejected. Whatever you think of Syriza, they are a democratically elected government who have been overruled by the more powerful Eurozone nations in a way which suggests the EU really is beginning to erode the sovereignty of its smaller nations. Furthermore, it doesn’t take an economic genius to realise that the demands placed on a country which has lost a full quarter of its GDP and sits with staggering unemployment and social deprivation are ridiculous.
The tide is turning, and Owen Jones’ article in the Guardian is surely the starting gun on more left-wing eurosceptics coming out of the closet. He writes that ‘For those of us on the left who have always been critical of the EU, it has felt like a lonely crusade.’
Saying that you’ve wanted Britain to leave the EU for years has long been one of the most controversial political statements you could make. Eyebrows raised, invitations cancelled, comments such ‘that’s very Ukippy’ or ‘do they hate immigrants?’ However, there is now a cross-party group of people left, right, and centre who recognise the EU for all it is becoming: an increasingly ruthless economic organisation fully prepared to usurp national sovereignty and democracy.
What will this mean at Oxford? Will some people on the radical left have to disagree with each other and abandon groupthink? Will euroscepticism shatter the simplistic political boxes people are shoved into? There’s always hoping…