I MUST confess I’m starting to get scared. I’ve just been reading reports that internal polling conducted by both sides in the referendum campaign are showing 70 per cent support for Brexit in a large number of English constituencies. And the latest full-scale independent opinion poll suggests that Leave is 10 points in front.

I’m filled with dread at the celebrations that could be taking place in less than a fortnight when the Union Flag-waving, Rule Britannia brigade take over the streets of England. I fear it will be like the aftermath of the Falklands War all over again.

But even more terrifying is what happens next. Make no mistake, Brexit has been and will continue to be driven by rampant xenophobia.

A few years ago, millions were outraged by the behaviour of the bankers, whose reckless greed inflicted misery on millions. Then we were disgusted at the obscene parade of Westminster politicians who were discovered to have been indulging in extravagant luxuries, including moat houses and duck ponds, at our expense. Then we were shocked by the criminality at the heart of Fleet Street as revelations emerged of industrial-scale phone hacking.

These past few months, a different group of people has been elevated to the number one spot in the league table of public hatred. Immigrants. Never mind that most of them pay taxes, and help to support our rapidly ageing population, or that they work in our hospitals, drive our buses, serve in bars and restaurants and do a multitude of other jobs that we all rely upon. The message from the Brexiteers is that they’re not welcome here.

As I’ve said before, I’m a critical supporter of remaining within the EU. If Scotland had voted Yes, we could have had a different debate on the pros and cons of becoming a new member state of the European Union.

Amidst the cackling voices of Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and some national newspapers, I’ve heard some isolated socialist arguments for Leave. But they’re not based on today’s reality.

They range from the fantasies of those who seem to believe a Leave will usher in the collapse of the institutions of capitalism and a spontaneous revolutionary upsurge of the masses, to those who haven’t notice that the world has moved on since the 1970s.

The last time there was a referendum on Europe, the politics were drastically different. The Tory Party, under new leader Margaret Thatcher, was fervently pro Common Market. The Labour Party was anti-Common Market (although Harold Wilson and a number of his ministers and MPs were in favour). The trade unions wanted out, as did the SNP.

Thus the left was against and the right was in favour. During the entire debate, immigration was not even on the radar. In fact, the opposite. Left wing opponents of the Common Market, like Tony Benn, raised the spectre of workers emigrating en masse to find better paid jobs on the continent, leaving Britain bereft of its working class. Emigrants, rather than immigrants were the villains, regularly derided as morally degenerate unpatriotic tax-dodging “lotus eaters”. But this campaign isn’t being fought to drag back thousands of perma-tanned pensioners from the Costa Del Sol.

In those days, the trade union movement in Britain was at the height of its power – and indeed had just helped bring down the Ted Heath Government. In answer to the argument that the Common Market would protect workers’ rights, trade union leaders retorted that they were more than capable of doing that themselves.

Back then, they were right - but not now. Today, trade union membership in the private sector is rarer than an orchid on Scotland’s hillsides. When Tories whinge about European Union red tape, they seem to forget about the mountains of red tape introduced by Westminster to strangle the trade union movement.

We might not have needed European workers’ rights directives in the 1970s – but we sure as hell need them now.

The other big argument of the left in the 1970s was that the Common Market would destroy manufacturing industry by flooding the UK with cheap imports. Well, the UK was flooded by cheap imports, and manufacturing jobs were wiped out in their millions – but not from Europe. They came from China, and other parts of the Far East after Britain, along with the USA, spearheaded the drive to dismantle all obstacles to the free movement of capital worldwide.

The nature of the Leave campaign is the polar opposite of the outward-looking, progressive and left wing campaign for Scottish independence. Yes, there are a few progressive voices blowing in the wind – but they are lost in the hurricane of reactionary propaganda.

Had this referendum been an intelligent discussion about the detail of the structures, democracy, accountability and economic benefits of the EU or otherwise, I might have been open to persuasion.

This is not about whether TTIP is more or less likely with a Brexit. It’s not about whether people have a clue about what their MEPs are up to. And it’s most definitely not about leaving the EU to embark on the British Road to Socialism, as many argued in 1975.

Now it’s about building a bonfire of progressive legislation on workers’ rights and environmental protection, while driving foreigners back across the English Channel. It’s about building customs barriers and passport controls across the Channel, between the north and south of Ireland – and in the future from Gretna to Berwick.

On June 23, if there’s a vote for Brexit, the Rule Brittania singing celebrants won’t be planning the downfall of capitalism, I’m afraid.

So, even if you’re a left wing sceptic of the European “big business club”, don’t play with fire. Brexit will not take place on our terms. Gonnae vote Remain.

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