I mention all this because, for Labour, the same values that led us to support the Council of Europe and the Court of Human Rights with all their faults and cumbersome bureaucracy also lie behind our support for the UK staying in the EU. For Scottish Labour, the EU referendum is not about narrow issues of constitutions and institutions but about Labour values of tolerance, solidarity, social justice, jobs, cooperation. peace and security. Of course there are real problems with structures and bureaucracy in all the European institutions and there is a desperate need to address public apathy and disengagement with European politics (look at the pathetic voting turnout for European elections right across the EU). However, the challenge for progressive voices is to articulate the real advantages of a Social Europe for ordinary working people. We should challenge Eurosceptics and right wing opponents of the EU to name one advantage for a working person in the UK which would accrue from a British exit. The truth is that within the EU we have the best opportunity for co-operation to address the big issues of refugees; the environment; jobs; peace and security.
I recently attended the Edinburgh launch of the Labour Movement for Europe Scotland chaired by the ebullient and enthusiastic George Foulkes. We heard excellent positive speeches from Claire Baker MSP, Catherine Stihler MEP and a tour de force contribution from Gordon Brown. All highlighted our Labour values as the main reason why we should support staying in the EU. As I listened to them my eye kept being caught by the banner behind the platform – it read ‘Promoting European values in Labour and Labour values in Europe.’