Two implacable political foes died this week. Bob Crow, leader of the Transport Union RMT, and Tony Benn, alias Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Lord something or other, former Labour minister for Energy and many other things, and incarnation of the "looney left".
They were implacable foes because the Unions, although they vote for the Labour party, were just as ruthless in fighting the decisions of elected Labour governments as Tory. Their strikes in the time of Callaghan made a Conservative government inevitable. That huge battle between unions and elected government led to the anti-Union legislation carried out by the Tories, for which Labour is profoundly grateful, because its leaders know that it is the only thing that made Britain governable during the Blair era.
They were very different men from very different social backgrounds. But they had one thing in common - both of them were strong, and consistent, opponents of EU membership. Bob Crow campaigned to leave because he knew that the long-term effect of EU policies would be to create a pool of cheap, non-unionized workers undercutting rates and working without fringe benefits. He was not racist - he was just trying to defend the interest of his union members. Some of them may be very well paid, but there are plenty of people in England who are NOT well-paid and who ARE feeling the impact of having their wages undercut.
Tony Benn always spoke out boldly and intelligently against British membership of the European Union, and he did so because he realized that it was just a huge money-sucking swindle.
I will never forget him saying, "Always ask the people who rule you - by what right do you presume to govern us? What is your agenda? How much are you costing us? And how can we get rid of you?" AMEN.
That is what we should all be saying to Barroso and Angela Merkel, and all the EU commissioners.
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