We need to talk about freedom. What it means, and how we can protect it. If we look across Europe we can see that in comparison to every other continent in the world Europe is a beacon of hope and we enjoy freedoms that most of the rest of the world can only envy.
Which is why the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key said that if there was an equivalent of the EU that New Zealand could join he would vote to join it.
In 1975 when we voted for membership of the European Economic Community the borders of freedom were clearly defined and on our doorstep. Tariff barriers and visas divided us from Europe, Franco still ruled in Spain, and an iron curtain ran through the centre of the continent beyond which freedom of thought and democracy were just a dream. Yet now in 2016, we can get from Cardiff to Krakow without needing a visa, or filling in a million forms.
Thanks to the European Union UK citizens can get a job in Sweden or Denmark with little problem (if only I spoke Swedish or Danish!) Our children can go to University in Paris, Berlin or Madrid and the EU will help them to do it through sponsored places as part of the Erasmus programme.
This all comes from the most important freedom of all. The freedom from war in Europe. Some members of the Out Campaign style themselves as historians, but they seem to have some sort of amnesia about our history.
Prior to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community every few decades Europe went to war, the Second World War, the First World War, the Crimean War, the Napoleonic Wars.
Yet it has now been almost 71 years since Britain has had to send soldiers to die on the fields of Western Europe. The ECSC, the EEC and now the EU has bound Europe together so as to make war unthinkable. By turning away from that we will be turning Wales away from a future of peace, prosperity and democracy across to Europe.
Peace will be less likely, prosperity harder to come by except for the super-rich, and if the EU shakes countries might start to turn away from democracy. As part of the EU we’ve built something great, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that it couldn’t crumble away, and that our leaving would make it worse, not better. We should not take peace for granted.
As a member of the Labour Party I have always been in favour of people and communities working together, this includes the idea that countries should work together whether it is at the United Nations, through the World Trade Organisations or NATO.
Being part of the EU is perhaps the most important cooperative partnership we have. Let’s not turn away from stability, peace and freedom.