Julie was asked to speak at a meeting of Momentum Warrington on the 9th of June. As she couldn't be there in person, she recorded this message, on how important it is to get out the vote, for the UK to remain in the EU.
We are now entering the last stretch of the referendum campaign, and all of the current polls show that this is going to be a tight race. This vote will be determined by the willingness of young people to turn out and vote for a better future for everyone.
So we need grassroots activists to go out on the streets, on the doorstep, and be active online, driven by a conviction of just how important this is.
We should not fool ourselves - there is no Left-wing case for leaving the EU. The Left’s values are and always have been those of internationalism, cooperation, and solidarity across borders. The EU embodies exactly these values, and has done more than any other institution to guarantee workers’ rights, gender equality environmental standards, human rights, and peace in Europe!
Young people have a responsibility in this, primarily to themselves. This referendum will affect their lives more than anyone else. The EU allows you to travel, study, and work across Europe, to meet others across Europe, and across borders. The EU invests massively in our universities and educational institutions. The disastrous economic cost of leaving the EU would be paid by you, throughout your whole lifetime.
Women and girls in particular, must be aware of how much the EU has done, and is still doing, to advance gender equality. Whether it is on equal pay, or the representation of women on company boards, maternity leave, or the fight against gender-based violence, the EU has advanced women’s rights, and that progress would be at risk if we leave. Also, in the fight for gender equality, the rights of LGBTI people in Europe and across the world have been championed by the EU.
We have seen a massive influx of people joining the Labour party this past year, with hundreds of thousands signing up and getting engaged with a programme of real social change. Now, you all, all of us together, need to use that momentum to turn out to vote to remain in the EU.
There are various myths circulating about how if we were to leave, we would never hear of TTIP again, or that it would somehow be easier to re-nationalise railways. These claims are simply unfounded, and distract us from the bigger issues at hand. Outside of the EU, we would not be able to influence the forces of globalisation that affect our world, we would be exposed to having trade deals like TTIP shoved down our throat without the EU’s economic power to back and protect us. We would not be able to lead the way on combatting climate change, or international tax avoidance, as the EU does. We risk finding ourselves in the hands of a cruel and callus Conservative government who wants to strip our public assets and sell them off, and a band of populist xenophobes who want to turn us into a forlorn and irrelevant island.
As left wing activists, we must stand up to these reactionary forces, and fight for a more social Britain, leading a more social Europe. If we win this referendum, that will be within reach.
If we want a Europe that opposes austerity, invests in high quality jobs, and leads the way towards a truly sustainable economy, we must fight together with our progressive comrades across Europe to make that vision a reality. Just this week, for example, the European Parliament voted on an ambitious plan to combat tax avoidance by international corporations, leading a move towards global tax justice in a way no other international actor can. If we work together across Europe, we can achieve much more. If we leave Europe to nationalists and xenophobes, we will achieve nothing.
We must also remember the very direct contribution that EU makes to our local economy. The EU has always been very good for the regions, and Warrington itself has received millions. Here in the North West EU trade and investment are absolutely crucial to our economy.
Regional development funds continue to pour in to the North West through the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund to help bring poorer more deprived areas up to an equitable standard.
Many of our large core businesses, as well as the growing small and medium-sized enterprises sector, rely on research and collaboration with EU member states, often through university partnerships. Although we do not often hear about this, we should not underestimate the positive direct impact that EU funds have on our communities, through sports, heritage and life-long learning, and even free-fruit for school-children.
All of us who want to see a prosperous and social Britain lead a more social Europe must now pull together, and go out to give 200% in these last few weeks of the campaign.
Being in the EU is about collective confidence and collective responsibility for the ultimate wellbeing of all citizens, especially young people. It is not just about what we can get out of it but also about what we can contribute in terms of ideas and knowledge and social innovation, to help poorer countries, and indeed to help refugees fleeing war .
This is part of our fight for a more social Britain leading a more social Europe, for a more humane and compassionate world for all of us.