Part of the 99 per cent? Why you should vote to leave the EU

Part of the 99 per cent? Why you should vote to leave the EU

For a Socialist Europe

Vote to exit the EU

We publish the following Q and As about why you should vote to leave the EU on Thursday 23rd June. The original article was written by Socialist Party deputy general secretary Hannah Sell and appeared in The Socialist newspaper. Please share on social media, and join our campaign by filling in the form at the bottom of this article. If you would like leaflets to distribute to your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues etc get in touch!

1) Isn’t it only right-wing Tories and Ukip who want to leave the EU?

No. In the media the referendum campaign has been completely dominated by right-wing, pro-big business politicians. The voice of working class people has not been heard. In fact, however, a number of trade unions – including the militant transport workers’ union the RMT – are campaigning for exit. So is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) of which the Socialist Party is a part.

Our campaign has nothing in common with the right-wing nationalist politicians who speak for exit in the media. In fact TUSC is running a campaign to demand that none of the official ‘leave’ campaigns receive state funding to peddle their right-wing nationalist reasons for exit.

In the last European referendum campaign, back in 1975, socialists like Tony Benn were prominent campaigners for voting for exit. They understood that the EU (then called the Common Market) was exactly that – an agreement between the different capitalist classes of Europe in order to create the largest possible market and maximise their profits. Since then a succession of EU treaties have further enshrined privatisation and attacks on workers’ rights into the fabric of the EU.

It is only necessary to look at the way the institutions of the EU have treated the people of Greece – forcing endless austerity on them which has lowered incomes by an average of one third and led to mass unemployment – to see that the EU acts in the interests of the 1% not the 99%.

2) You say that the EU enshrines privatisation and attacks on workers’ rights but isn’t it better to stay in and try to reform it?

Some politicians who agree with many of the criticisms of the EU listed above (Green MP Caroline Lucas, for example) say that it is better to stay in the EU and try to reform it. The question they can’t answer, however, is how the EU could be reformed.

Voters across Europe get to vote for MEPs who sit in the European Parliament; but that is an almost completely powerless body. Of course, when socialists are elected to the European Parliament they have been able to use it as a platform to campaign in defence of workers’ rights. But it is not the European Parliament but the European Council that takes the vast majority of EU decisions.

The European Council is made up of the heads of government of the 28 nation states of the EU – the EU really is a capitalists’ club. The governments of Europe have no interest in handing some of their power to the European Parliament.

It can’t be totally excluded that a powerful European-wide mass movement could force them to do so – but a movement that powerful could also achieve far more than the reforming the EU, it could put a socialist federation of Europe on the agenda.

3) But isn’t it more internationalist to be in the EU together with other nations?

The EU is not internationalist. On the contrary, it is ‘Fortress Europe’, doing everything it can – including allowing refugees to drown in the Mediterranean – in order to prevent those fleeing for their lives from Syria and elsewhere being able to enter the EU.

Nor does not it foster European solidarity within the EU; rather it increases tensions between different nations. It is a capitalist project attempting to impose unity between nations from above, in the interests of the capitalist classes of Europe, particularly those from the most powerful nations.

Over the last eight years the institutions of the EU – the hated ‘troika’ – have imposed terrible austerity and privatisation on the economically weaker countries of the EU – above all Greece, but also Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Romania and others. The governments of these and other EU countries have used EU rules as the excuse for the misery they have imposed on their populations. The inevitable result is an increase of national feelings as people rebel against endless EU austerity.

Real internationalism is workers’ solidarity across Europe. Working class people have huge common interests. We are facing the same fight against low pay, casualisation, cuts and privatisation in every country of Europe. Successful movements in one country would have huge support, and be emulated, across the continent. That is why the institutions of the EU were desperate to force the left-led Syriza government in Greece to its knees in order to demonstrate to workers in other EU countries that there was no alternative to endless austerity.

Under huge pressure from world capitalism the Syriza government capitulated – and is now implementing further savage austerity – to which the Greek working class have responded with general strike action.

But it didn’t have to be that way. If the Syriza government had stood firm and implemented socialist policies it would have been kicked out of the Eurozone, and even the EU. But, by showing a real alternative to austerity, it would have inspired millions of workers across Europe to fight for socialist policies in their own countries.

Socialists are internationalists; we want the maximum possible unity across Europe. But this is only possible on the basis of democratic socialism, eradicating poisonous divisions through real working class internationalism, leading to a voluntary socialist federation across the continent.

4) Doesn’t the EU Social Chapter give workers more rights?

For decades now the majority of trade union leaders in Britain have argued that the European Social Chapter provides important protection for workers in Britain.

In reality the Social Chapter, while it potentially gave some extra legal protection on certain issues, was never much more than a fig leaf to disguise the reality of the European Union as an employers’ union.

What protects workers in Britain – and in other countries – is not the European Social Chapter but our collective strength. If, over the last decades, the trade union leaders had led a determined struggle against austerity and privatisation, we could have won far more than the few crumbs provided by the Social Chapter.

Let’s remember Major’s Tory government was allowed to simply ‘opt out’ of the Social Chapter when it was first introduced. When Labour was elected in 1997 they opted into the Social Chapter. However, Britain’s anti-trade union laws, both the already draconian existing laws and the even more brutal ones currently going through parliament, are not deemed to have contravened the Social Chapter.

And after many years of neo-liberal EU treaties and endless austerity, even the fig leaf of the Social Chapter is now in tatters. EU member states that have been ‘bailed out’ by the troika have suffered the biggest fall in collective bargaining rights in the world. According to the International Labour Organisation (the ILO) collective bargaining rights have fallen by an average of 21% across the ten EU countries hardest hit by the economic crisis, and have fallen by a massive 63% in Romania and 45% in Greece.

5) What would exit mean for workers in Britain who are citizens of other EU countries?

The Socialist Party is campaigning for the right of all those working in Britain to be able to continue to do so with full legal rights. We understand, however, that many workers from other EU countries are worried that a vote to leave might put their rights in danger.

In fact, in the short term their rights would not change. For two years, or until UK has negotiated a leaving deal with the EU, the existing situation would remain.

It is not likely a deal would be negotiated quickly. Losing the referendum would be a disaster for Cameron and would almost certainly mean he would be forced to resign. The Tories could split. It is even possible that they could be forced from power.

There would therefore be plenty of time for the workers’ movement to organise against any threat to EU citizens in Britain. It is possible that – if the government was to fall – a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party could come to power.

It is important therefore that Jeremy Corbyn makes clear that his government would defend the rights of all EU citizens. And of course EU workers who are members of trade unions will have far greater protection in the workplace than they get from EU law.

Even if the Tories remain in power, it is not at all certain that a post-exit government would want to threaten the rights to work in Britain of EU citizens. There are two million British nationals settled in other EU countries who could then be threatened with expulsion from their country of residence.

In addition British capitalism has used super-exploited EU workers as a means to try and lower wages of all workers in Britain. The capitalist class would like this to continue.

However, inside or outside of the EU, the Tory government is attempting to increase the exploitation of EU workers by cutting their rights to claim state benefits. In doing this they are attempting to divide and rule – falsely laying the blame for austerity at the door of migrants.

The workers’ movement needs to counter this by explaining that it is only big business that gains when we are divided. When workers from Eastern Europe are paid less than the rate for the job it is the bosses that gain. The only solution to this is a united struggle for all workers to get the rate for the job – with a £10 hour minimum wage.

This fight also has to defend the right of EU workers to claim benefits when they need to. In fact workers from Eastern Europe are less likely to claim benefits than those who were born here (6.6% compared to 16%) but if those workers don’t have the right to claim when they need to it will make it easier for big business to force them to work for lower wages, strengthening the ‘race to the bottom’ for us all.

6) So if socialists should support leaving the EU why is Jeremy Corbyn voting to remain in?

In the last referendum on Europe, in 1975, Jeremy Corbyn voted for exit. During his leadership campaign last summer he refused to promise to call for a Remain vote, instead suggesting a conference of the workers’ movement to discuss a position.

Once he was elected leader of the Labour Party, however, he came under enormous pressure from the right wing of the Labour Party – and from the capitalist class – to call for a vote for Remain. Shadow Foreign Minister Hilary Benn, before he tried to blackmail Corbyn over Syria, threatened to resign unless Corbyn buckled on the issue of the EU. Unfortunately, he did buckle.

If Jeremy Corbyn was heading up a left exit campaign, it would have transformed the debate. The possibility of Leave winning and the Tories being evicted from power would have been far greater.

Instead, unfortunately, Labour is largely trailing behind the Tories. Alan Johnson MP, who is heading the ‘Labour in for Britain’ campaign, even said that he wanted to prevent Cameron having to resign!

7) Are you saying that – unless we leave the EU – it will never be possible to implement socialist policies in Britain?

No, of course not. The Socialist Party opposes the EU because of its laws and institutions but they could not stop a determined workers’ government supported by a mass movement from carrying out socialist policies. However, they are another hurdle to overcome, with real consequences for the day-to-day struggles to defend working class interests.

Here are a few reasons why you should vote to leave the EU:

  • TTIP is just the latest secret trade deal negotiated by the EU. Like those that have gone before it institutionalises privatisation, including of health services. EU treaties also drive forward privatisation – including of postal services and transport services.
  • EU laws forbid nationalisation (or even state subsidies to companies!). Jeremy Corbyn’s call for renationalisation of the railways which is supported by over 70% of the population, for example, is illegal under EU law.
  • EU treaties have systematically undermined workers’ rights. It promotes zero-hour contracts, low pay and ‘flexible’ working as part of its structural adjustment programme. The posted workers’ directive, for example, does not recognise collective agreements between workers and employers and ‘in a race to the bottom’ allows businesses to employ workers’ on worse pay and conditions than the minimum for the industry concerned in that particular country.
  • EU laws demand permanent austerity from all EU governments. They include strict rules limiting public spending and government borrowing

Agree, and want to help the Socialist campaign for Exit? Fill in the form below!

Dave Nellist on the Sunday Politics – watch here!

Dave Nellist on the Sunday Politics – watch here!

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, Socialist Party member and national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) appeared on the BBC Sunday Politics show. Dave makes the socialist case against the EU and also puts the record straight on the view being put forward by some of the big trade unions that it was the EU that gave us our workplace rights.

 Agree with Dave? Then fill in the form at the bottom of this page!

Former MP Dave Nellist to make the Socialist case against the EU

Former MP Dave Nellist to make the Socialist case against the EU

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Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, the former Coventry Labour MP and Socialist Party Councillor will be making the Socialist and left wing case against the European Union in a public meeting taking place in the city.

The meeting, organised by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), is part of a nationwide tour of events taking place in over 20 towns and cities across the UK. Other speakers at the meeting include Hannah Sell, the Deputy General Secretary of the Socialist Party, and Doug Nicholls from Trade Unionists Against the EU.

Dave, the National Chair of TUSC, said:

“The EU debate has been reduced in the establishment media to a clash between different wings of the Tory party. It’s Cameron vs Boris, they say – two old Etonians, with another ex-public schoolboy Nigel Farage in the ring too.
But what about if you’re outside the 1% elite? Struggling to get by on low wages, a zero-hour contract maybe, or facing soaring rents and under-funded public services? What are our interests in the debate?
TUSC is arguing for a leave vote in the June EU referendum. We stand in the tradition of people like the late Tony Benn, the left wing Labour MP, and former RMT leader Bob Crow, who was well known for his support for international workers’ solidarity while opposing the EU as a body that was pushing anti-worker and pro-austerity policies. Opposition to the EU was also the position of Jeremy Corbyn, until very recently. As TUSC we are pleased to campaign alongside ASLEF, RMT and BFAWU trade unions in campaigning for an ‘exit left’ vote.
TUSC’s core policies include the renationalisation of the railways, Royal Mail and other privatised public services, industries and utilities; defending the right to asylum and opposing racist immigration controls; and democratic public ownership of the banks and major companies. None of these policies are compatible with the EU treaties. So why should we give a vote of confidence to EU laws and institutions which, as Greece shows, would be used to try and block socialist policies?
TUSC stands for real internationalism. Many of our problems – from economic stagnation, endless wars, the appalling treatment of refugees, to planet-threatening global warming – can only be solved at an international level. If society remains organised as it is today, based on a capitalist economic system that puts private profit first and divided into competing nations, the prospects for humanity will be bleak indeed.
But that’s why we need a socialist Europe, not the ‘Employers’ Union’ that is the EU, with its austerity agenda.
Voting to exit the EU on June 23rd is a step towards defeating a weak and divided Tory government and building a movement that can unite with workers across Europe to fight for a different world.”

The meeting will take place on Thursday 2nd June, 7.30pm, Coventry Methodist Central Hall, Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA.

Dave Nellist debates TUC leader Frances O’Grady on the EU

Dave Nellist debates TUC leader Frances O’Grady on the EU

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Dave on the Daily Politics

On the Daily Politics today Dave Nellist, former Coventry Labour MP and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) National Chair, debated the TUC General Secretary France O’Grady on the EU.

The TUC is campaigning for us to stay in the bosses EU, while Dave is leading the Socialist campaign for a leave vote. While Frances O’Grady praised the EU as a defender of workers rights, Dave pointed out that workers won those rights through trade union struggle.

Watch the clip below and please share – and if you want to find out more, come to The Socialist Case Against the EU meeting in Coventry on Thursday June 2nd, 7.30pm at the Methodist Central Hall.

Agree with Dave? Fill in the form below! 

 

Dave Nellist responds to Paul Mason on the EU

Dave Nellist responds to Paul Mason on the EU

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Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

The below letter from Dave Nellist, former Coventry Labour MP and National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), was carried in the Guardian in response to an article from left-wing journalist Paul Mason on the EU. Mason argued that there is a case for a left-wing anti-EU campaign – “Lexit” – but not now. Dave and TUSC argue that the time for an “exit left” campaign is now!

“Paul Mason outlines several of the powerful, socialist arguments for a Leave vote in the EU referendum (the left-wing case for Brexit, Guardian 16 May).

To Paul’s list could be added the EU drive for market liberalisation, or outright privatisation, of services such as rail, post, energy and water, as well as the threat to a publicly owned NHS that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty (TTIP) poses.

But having explained how undemocratic and big business orientated the EU is – in effect, Thatcherism on a continental scale – Paul backs down and asks us to accept all that, because exit threatens a change of Tory leader. As if the marginal difference between David Cameron and Boris Johnson, in the context of all Paul has identified, is in any way fundamental.

David Cameron’s government was elected with only 24% support. It’s a government that is, in reality, weak and divided – maintained in office not by its own strength, but the weakness of the opposition, particularly at the top of the trade unions.

A Leave vote would topple David Cameron and further exacerbate the divisions inside the Tory party, not heal them. It could provide a perfect opportunity for Labour to demand not a mere change in Tory leader, but an immediate general election to choose a new government!

I campaigned in the past against the EU alongside labour movement giants like Tony Benn and Bob Crow, and I’m proud that TUSC is carrying on that struggle today, whilst faint hearts fall by the wayside.

Dave Nellist National Chair, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition”

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Dave with Bob Crow at the launch of the No2EU campaign

If you want to find out more about the Socialist case for leaving the EU, come to “The Socialist Case Against the EU” meeting organised by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition on Thursday 2nd June, 7.30pm at the Methodist Central Hall.

 

EU: In or out? Dave Nellist responds to Jeremy Corbyn

EU: In or out? Dave Nellist responds to Jeremy Corbyn

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

Dave Nellist, national Chair of TUSC

Dave Nellist, the national Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and a member of the Socialist Party, was recently invited on to Sky News to respond to the announcement from Jeremy Corbyn that he would be campaigning for a ‘Remain’ vote in the forthcoming EU referendum.

We are pleased to be able to post the interview with Dave, as a contribution to the debate that needs to take place about the best way forward for the left, the trade union movement and working class people.

Nellist and left wing trade unionists oppose the EU and say no public money should go to UKIP and Tory campaigns

Nellist and left wing union leaders oppose the EU and say no public money should go to UKIP and Tory campaigns

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

The following letter from Dave Nellist and leading left wing trade unionists appeared in The Guardian newspaper today. The original can be read here

‘Now the referendum has been called , the Electoral Commission has the power to designate who shall be the “official” Remain and Leave campaigns, giving these organisations both political authority and millions of pounds of public resources. We call on the commission not to give taxpayers’ money to the Tory and Ukip-dominated Vote Leave, Leave.EU or Grassroots Out campaigns, or any amalgam of them, in the forthcoming EU referendum. The commission does not have to choose an official campaign at all, if there is not one organisation that adequately represents those supporting a particular outcome to the referendum.

We believe there are millions of trade unionists, young people, anti-austerity campaigners and working-class voters, whose opposition to the big business-dominated EU would not be represented by these organisations.

We condemn the mainstream media for promoting Ukip, Tory and other pro-austerity and racist establishment politicians and organisations as the only exit voices. We call on the Electoral Commission to recognise that a significant proportion of those who will vote against the EU do so because they support basic socialist policies of workers’ rights, public ownership, and opposition to austerity and racism.’
Dave Nellist Ex-Labour MP and chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Janice Godrich President, PCS civil servants union
Sean Hoyle President, RMT transport workers union
John McInally National vice-president, PCS
Peter Pinkney RMT President 2013-2015
Paul McDonnell RMT national executive committee
John Reid RMT NEC
Dave Auger Unison public sector workers union NEC
April Ashley Unison NEC
Roger Bannister Unison NEC
Hugo Pierre Unison NEC
Karen Reissman Unison NEC
Polly Smith Unison NEC
Pete Glover National Union of Teachers NEC
Jane Nellist NUT NEC
Stefan Simms NUT NEC
Chas Berry Napo national vice-chair
Alan Gibson National Union of Journalists NEC
Elenor Haven PCS NEC
Marianne Owens PCS NEC
Paul Williams PCS NEC
Carlo Morelli University and College Union NEC
Richard McEwan UCU NEC
Sean Wallis UCU NEC
Saira Weiner UCU NEC
Mike Forster Unison local government service group executive (SGE)
Huw Williams Unison local government SGE
Gary Freeman Unison health SGE