Did Your Labour MEP Vote to Back a Coup in Venezuela?

The European Union is an undemocratic elite club that cares not a jot for democracy or for the human rights of the global working-class. This much was made abundantly clear on January 31, 2019, when members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly backed a motion that urged the EU to accept the Venezuelan right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as “the only legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy.”

As the Socialist Party explained at the time:

“US president Trump, Brazilian president Bolsonaro and Argentinian president Macri, along with a host of other right-wing reactionary governments, immediately recognised Guaidó as president. This was clearly part of a pre-planned, coordinated intervention, led by Trump and US imperialism.

“They are clearly attempting to carry through a coup and remove incumbent Nicolás Maduro from power. This brazen intervention by Trump was followed by Theresa May in Britain, as well as other European governments, arrogantly demanding that Maduro call fresh elections within eight days.

“Even the so-called ‘socialist’-led governments of Spain and Portugal have joined the reactionary pack and are hunting for a ‘regime change’.”

The coup-backing vote in the European Parliament was approved by 439 MEP’s, opposed by 104, with 88 abstentions. Although we should be clear that abstaining on such a dangerous motion can only really be interpreted as lending passive support for such a totally undemocratic motion.

coup vote

Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was opposed to the coup, as was his party’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, who clearly stated that it was wrong to recognise Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela. But when it came to the vote in the European Parliament, the majority of Labour’s Blairite MEP’s either voted to support the motion or gave it passive support by abstaining.

The Labour Party has 19 MEP’s and only six correctly voted to oppose the anti-democratic motion. These MEP’s were Lucy Anderson (London), Alex Mayer (East of England), Jude Kirton-Darling (North East), Theresa Griffin (North West), Wajid Khan (North West), and David Martin (Scotland).

Four Labour MEP’s voted for the coup motion, these were Claude Moraes (London), Mary Honeyball (London), John Howarth (South East), and Simon Siôn (West Midlands). A further five Labour MEP’s abstained, these being Seb Dance (London), Neena Gill (West Midlands), Paul Brannen (North East), Julie Ward (North West), and Richard Corbett (Yorkshire and the Humber). Notably both the leader and the deputy leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (Corbett and Dance) are included among those who could not summon the democratic fortitude to oppose the motion.*

Finally, it worth highlighting the voting record of the Eurogroup within which our many Blairite MEP’s reside – the so-called Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats. This is because, of the Group’s members who were present at the Venezuelan vote, only 16 opposed the motion (which included the six from England and Scotland), with 105 supporting the anti-democratic motion, and 35 giving it passive support by abstaining!

Socialists should be forthright in opposing the attempted coup and the motion passed by the European Parliament, but must remain critical of Nicolás Maduro, the incumbent leader of Venezuela. Hence as the Socialist Party has pointed out

“The capitalist commentators who attack Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Jones and socialists for their uncritical defence of the Venezuelan government fail to mention the Socialist Party or our international organisation the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). We always supported the reforms and blows struck against capitalism by the Venezuelan working class and Hugo Chávez. Yet we also consistently warned that if capitalism was not defeated, and replaced with a nationalised and democratically planned economy, then the reforms would be attacked and rolled back…”


*Four Labour MEP’s were not present at the vote, these were Rory Palmer (East Midlands), Clare Moody (South West), Linda McAvan (Yorkshire and the Humber), and Derek Vaughan (Wales). All four MEP’s are active on twitter and a search of their twitter accounts reveals that not a single one of these Labour MEP’s bothered to pass comment on the coup-backing vote taken in their absence, while all of them bar Linda McAvan had been present in the European Parliament to vote on issues on the day of the coup vote.

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