According to the Guardian, the official Labour “in” campaign for the 23 June EU referendum has a budget of £75,000.
To us in the Solidarity office that seems a lot, but in Westminster politics it is twopence. Each individual London MP gets £26,000 a year for office rent and bills, £147,000 for staff wages, plus travel and other expenses, on top of their £74,000 salary. So the Labour “in” campaign has no website of its own, no widely-circulated leaflets and little else besides a tepid Twitter account. It did tweet the letter to the Guardian on 18 April by John McDonnell and other leftish MPs stating: “We are going to vote for Europe, to change Europe... Sovereignty has long escaped national borders and is never coming back. As tough as it is, we have to create a trans-national democratic political and economic union. It is the only hope the left has. If the EU didn’t exist we would build it now — different and better, yes — but we would still build it”.
Mostly, however, the Labour “in” has offered a thin echo of the big-business “Britain Stronger in Europe” line: don’t vote “out” because it will disrupt capitalism. This is a copy of the “small target” strategy of Australian Labor’s Kim Beazley after the Liberal John Howard ousted Labor in 1996: keep quiet, make few waves, give the Tories a free run to discredit themselves.
But Howard retained office until 2007; and did much damage in the meantime. If Brexit wins because only the uninspiring “play safe” argument for “in” is deployed, then the damage will be much greater. The left should mobilise! Stay in the EU, fight to change the EU! Bring down the borders!