Judith Kirton-Darling, Labour's European Candidate for the North East, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference 2013 in Brighton, said:
This government has launched a wholesale offensive on working people: with rocketing youth unemployment, privatisation of key public services, and growth industries like food banks.
And no one can be in any doubt about the next target.
Cameron is clear that his agenda is to ‘repatriate’ EU workers’ rights – rights extended to British workers by Labour: 4 weeks paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, equal treatment, anti-discrimination and equality rights, worker information, consultation and participation, and occupational health and safety protection.
Let's just think about it for a moment. Our Tory Prime Minister is making it his priority to demand powers to treat British workers worse than their European counterparts. How unpleasant and unpatriotic is that?
A year before the European elections, we should be making the case for their defence ring louder. It is these rights that are most popular with the public.
EU membership, the European single market and its trade deals are powerful tools for our economy and offer unique opportunities. Regional and social funds have supported inward investment and job creation. Millions of UK jobs are dependent on EU trade, over 140,000 in my home region of the North East alone.
We have the highest unemployment in the country and we can't afford to lose a single job. Our future lies looking outwards not inwards.
However, if the EU is reduced to fiscal austerity, open markets and privatisation, then ordinary people will ever increasingly question its legitimacy.
Unfettered markets served up horsemeat in our lasagne. That shouldn't be our idea of European integration.
In tough times people want and need governments to stand up for them and with them. When they fail to do so, the risk is that some voters will turn to dangerous forces. As always the Far Right – including EDL-endorsed UKIP – are there agitating.
We can use the opportunities of the single market to create and maintain jobs, but the market must be properly regulated and supervised.
Working people must be allowed to help set the rules. We need more Labour MEPs to deliver this.
To get them, we need a strong and confident Labour story about Britain’s place in the EU – demonstrating that Labour is on the side of jobs, investment and rising living standards for the UK in Europe, not the Tory/UKIP vision of deregulation, exploitation and isolation.