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Are You a Racist? Take the EU Test

Xenophobes and racists were always going to vote to Leave the EU; so should you let this affect how you vote on Thursday? If, like many people, you are worried that a vote to Leave will provide a devastating victory to right-wing racists and murderers then a more thorough examination of the track record of each of the main parties may be necessary.

All of the mainstream political parties are tarnished with toxic record of supporting cuts, austerity, and the needs of big business. And each of these parties are now attempting to use fear to guide our vote in the upcoming EU referendum. The official campaigns of UKIP, the Tories, the Lib Dems, and the Labour Party are all guilty of this.

Although in 2015 workers voted overwhelmingly to elect a democratically-minded individual as the leader of the Labour Party, this has tragically not altered the fundamentally right-wing nature of the rest of the parliamentary labour party. Labour remains beholden to the interests of big business.

In fact, it is the entrenched Blairites who are driving support for the Labour Remain campaign.

In lieu of a principled Labour Leave position, the more vibrant and militant socialist-led trade unions, like the Bakers Union, RMT, ASLEF, and the largest public sector union in Northern Ireland, NIPSA, have had to carry the torch of Euroscepticism.

At the other end of the political spectrum, the hard right of the Tories, and their fellow travellers in UKIP, seek to blame foreigners/immigrants for economic problems caused by the increasing concentration of wealth and property.

The hard right also use the EU as a scapegoat to generate anti-migrant feeling, so any referendum was always going to have been seized upon eagerly by hard-right exiteers.

But does that then mean that the 99% must always vote in opposition to such forces of reaction? Of course not.

Just because Labour, the official opposition party to the uber-racist Tories, happen to be backing the Remain camp, doesn’t mean working class voters must feel obligated to vote Remain.

The deluge of misinformation on immigration is particularly virulent and problematic because, in recent decades, the Labour Party has done little to counter the racist lies spouting forth from the mainstream media, the Tories and UKIP. After all it was not so long ago that Labour created their own “controls on immigration” mug, and electoral broadcast that reinforced popular fears about immigration without pointing toward any socialist solutions to the urgent problems facing the 99%.

Labour supporters may now be wringing their hands over the racist nature of the official Leave campaign, but the Parliamentary Labour Party has been instrumental in steering the debate in this direction. Moreover, Labour’s continued support for cuts and austerity has created a political vacuum on the left, which, unfortunately, we are now seeing filled out.

A successful British Exit from the EU was always going to embolden far-rightwing forces within society, so it is a wonder why so many on the left have been taken by surprise. The fear of fascists marching unopposed across the country is insulting to the working class who have and continue to play a leading role in fighting racism.

What is needed is to build a clear socialist alternative to the austerity of the EU and of the mainstream political parties.

There are many good non-racist reasons for voting to Leave the EU, which is, without a doubt, an anti-democratic Employers’ Union that enforces the hopeless politics of austerity across Europe. It is after all the politics of austerity — that are so central to the EU project — that provides the fuel for racists and the far-right to grow in the first place.

So vote Leave on the 23rd and fight for a socialist, democratic future for Britain, for Europe, and for the entire world.

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Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).

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