Nellist battles Farage over EU referendum

Nellist battles Farage over EU referendum

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, former Coventry Labour MP and National Chair of TUSC

The Coventry Telegraph recently carried a full page article by Simon Gilbert about the Socialist campaign, led by Dave Nellist, against the EU. Dave has also challenged UKIP leader and former banker Nigel Farage to a debate on the subject. Please read the article below and share!

Former Coventry MP Dave Nellist is taking on Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in the race to lead the official “out” campaign in the run up to the European Union referendum.

Mr Nellist is fronting the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaign to leave the EU – a left-wing alternative to the Vote Leave campaign supported by Tory London mayor Mr Johnson and the Grassroots Out campaign backed by UKIP leader Mr Farage.

All three campaigns have submitted bids to the Electoral Commission who will decide on April 14 which will be chosen as the official campaign.

Ahead of the decision, Mr Nellist has challenged Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to debate the issues around leaving the EU. Mr Nellist claims their campaigns can not be truly representative of the calls to leave due to what he perceives as vested interests with big businesses.

He said: “The Grassroots and Vote Leave campaigns, epitomised by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, are the Tory Party within business.

“Working class people and trade unions have different priorities. If EU constructs prevent a successful British economy for workers, we should be opposed to them.”

He added: “Before the Electoral Commission makes it decision, let’s have a public debate: Who should be the voice of leave?

“Trade unionists and socialists, or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?

“They can choose the venue – we don’t have to hold it in Port Talbot, Scunthorpe or Redcar if they’re too afraid to venture out of London – but let’s have the debate and see who really represents those millions of working class voters who will vote leave on June 23.”

The rewards for the winning campaign include access to a grant of up to £600,000, an overall spending limit of £7m, campaign broadcasts, free mailshots and free access to meeting rooms.

That has led TUSC to threaten the Electoral Commission with legal action if party bosses feel its bid has not been taken seriously.

Mr Nellist said: “We never make hollow threats. We have a large range of legal talent.

“We will have to wait and see how the process goes. We applied to have a verbal hearing with the Electoral Commission to make our submission, but that was turned down.

“They are considering our paper application along with the other two campaigns.”

Asked if he understood there might be some surprise at left-wing campaign to leave the EU, Mr Nellist said there was a long-running history of socialist opposition to EU membership.

He said: “I led the no campaign in Coventry during 1975. The Labour Party was opposed to the EU until the mid 1980s.

“If Tony Benn and Bob Crow were still with us, they would have led a trade union out presence.”

He added: “The view of most union leaderships is to stay, not to leave. But there will be significant sections who are against it at times like when they see it’s not possible for the British government to nationalise the steel industry because EU legislation says that would be state aid.”

Asked if he thought TUSC would have the resources to effectively deliver a national out campaign, Mr Nellist said: “We are the sixth biggest party in Britain.

“We stand in 125 towns and cities. If we were designated as the leave campaign, with the £600,000 funding that would follow, we could design and deliver leaflets to the vast majority of homes in the country. We are capable of doing campaigns of that size.”

He added that the party planned to run a left wing exit campaign even if they were not chosen as the official voice of Brexit.

‘Panama Papers’ scandal shows why UKIP & Tory EU outers can’t be the voice of Leave

DNupdated

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), one of three EU exit organisations vying for recognition from the Electoral Commission to be the official Leave campaign, today called on the Commission not to award official status to any group that has received funding from individuals or companies named in the ‘Panama Papers’.

Last week TUSC submitted what the BBC called a ‘surprise bid’ to be the designated Leave campaign in June’s EU referendum (click here for BBC article) against the Tory and UKIP dominated exit campaigns, Vote Leave and Grassroots Out.

Dave Nellist, a former backbench colleague of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is now the chair of TUSC, said:

“Designation as the official Leave campaign will give political authority to the group chosen, access to the media including TV broadcasts, and, not least, substantial public funding – £13 million for starters for a freepost mailing.

“It would be an outrage if taxpayers’ money went to organisations whose funders do everything to avoid paying tax!

“Ex-Tory donor and now UKIP member Aaron Banks, for example, one of the key funders of Grassroots Out, has been named in today’s Guardian as ‘appear[ing] as the shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company called PRI Holdings Limited’, with shares from PRI also reported as having been transferred to Elizabeth Bilney, the chief executive of Leave.EU. Vote Leave is also not short of wealthy business backers.

“At the very least the Electoral Commission should do a proper audit of the business backers of Grassroots Out and Vote Leave before they make their designation decision, even if that means disrupting the EU referendum timetable.

“Legally the Electoral Commission has to be satisfied that the campaign they choose ‘adequately represents’ those supporting a particular outcome in the referendum. Organisations funded by tainted money certainly wouldn’t meet that test.

“Alternatively, they can designate TUSC as the lead campaign for Leave.

“The Panama papers controversy, showing how the elite have a common interest in bending the rules for themselves, is another example of why either of the reactionary Leave campaigns will be too easily dealt with by the equally big business-dominated ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ Remain campaign, because they all operate within the same economic, political – and tax-avoiding – framework.

“TUSC, on the other hand, has a completely different standpoint and would provide an anti-austerity, anti-racist and socialist alternative to the EU that would offer a far greater challenge to the Remain campaign than Vote Leave or Grassroots Out ever could”.

Last Friday TUSC issued a challenge to Vote Leave and Grassroots Out for a public debate: ‘Who should be the voice of Leave? Trade unionists and socialists – or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?’ Only now it should be, ‘Trade unionists and socialists – or bankers, Tories and tax avoiders’.