People’s Vote or General Election? An open letter to all who want to see an end to Tory rule

We publish here an open letter from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party, as a response to the calls for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the EU, where we argue that the focus across the trade union movement should instead be on a general election to sweep the Tories out of power.

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Tories are in trouble. There is open civil war in the ranks of the government. Recent months have seen high profile resignations from the Cabinet, including Boris Johnson. It is clear to everyone that Theresa May is weak – and that the entire government is in crisis.

This should be of interest to everyone who has experienced the terrible effects of austerity promoted by the Conservatives – whether that be the bedroom tax, the tens of thousands in our city who have had to use food banks, workers in the private and public sector who have not had a proper pay increase, the many on zero-hour con-tracts to name just a few of the pitiless policies that have been introduced.

Key issues facing our movement

The question as a movement we have to ask ourselves is this: how do we get the Tories out of office as soon as possible, and a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government in with socialist policies?

At the time when the Tories are teetering on the edge, unfortunately much of the talk from the recent meeting of the TUC, from some union leaders, and from generally right wing Labour MPs has not been about getting the Tories out.

The main focus for them has been to support a “People’s Vote” regarding Brexit. We want to explain why we think this is a mistaken and indeed dangerous approach to adopt.

Firstly, we want to be clear: a People’s Vote, despite pretences of being democratic, is an attempt to have a second referendum and to overturn the original vote. Its supporters want to see us re-main signed up to the European Union, with all that involves, including the Single Market – the key mechanism for corporations to maximise profits across the continent.

Who are the main forces pushing for a People’s Vote?

Although some celebrities are promoting a People’s Vote, the key movers promoting the campaign are right-wingers such as Tony Blair, Chuka Umunna, various other Blairites, the Liberal Democrats and others. The majority of the British and European Establishment are also supporting this campaign.

George Soros, one of the richest people in the world, has also donated funds (£70,000) to groups such as Another Europe is Possible, who act as the left-wing appendage of this coordinated ruling elite drive. Of all the aforementioned people and organisations – since when have they been champions of ordinary people to have a real say? It was Tony Blair who gutted the Labour Party of virtually all democratic channels – the Liberal Democrats propped the Tories up in government between 2010-2015. How much did Blair want to listen to the people when 2 million marched through London in 2003 against his crazy war in Iraq? None of this motley crew are interested in the democratic rights of working-class people. They act in the interests of the class they represent – ruling elites here in the UK and abroad.

Trade unions and the People’s Vote

The leaders of the unions, particularly the likes of the TUC general secretary and Dave Prentis of UNISON, are completely wrong to support the call for a People’s Vote. When the Tories are on the edge of the cliff, it is the job of the unions not to rescue them (wittingly or unwittingly) with this diversion of the People’s Vote, but to campaign for a change of government and specifically to get Jeremy Corbyn in on a radical socialist programme. It would be a disaster for the unions if they were seen in the eyes of millions of people to attempt to undermine and frustrate the original referendum result.

The danger of the far right

If the unions prevaricate on this and sections of the Labour Party continue to campaign for a second referendum it will aid not just the Establishment, but also the far right in this country. We can’t allow a situation where the unions and the Left abandon the ground to Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, who will not hesitate to take their divisive and racist politics to working class people who voted Leave. A boost to Theresa May is not ruled out if our movement is seen to be trying to keep us in the EU.

If you support the PV, who will you be uniting with?

It is best to be concrete about this. The People’s Vote campaign is an Establishment operation. Advertised speakers at the Coventry meeting of PV are Anna Soubry MP of the Conservatives and Beverley Neilson, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Midlands mayor. These two parties were in government together for 5 years, helping to decimate the lives of working-class people in our city. We would urge any trade unionist, any person who is against austerity and wants change, to consider whether uniting with these parties is the way forward.

The capitalist crisis requires socialist policies

Jeremy Corbyn has been at his best when he has pushed back against the policies that enrich the 1%. The call for a general election can unite working class communities, whether people voted Leave or Remain, in an effort to bring a government to power on socialist policies. By contrast, the call for a PV is divisive and is a recipe for disaster. The labour and trade union movement does best when we fight the establishment, not tie ourselves to large sections of it.

We think the movement should fight for a general election to get rid of the shambolic Tories, and for a socialist Brexit in the interests of ordinary people. The crisis and inequality ridden system that is only working for the top 1% and not the 99% needs system change. In or out of the EU they’ll continue their attacks on our services and living standards. But if things are to be changed it will have to be done outside of and independently of the EU, but together with the working and young people of Europe.

The root of the problems facing working class people is the capitalist system of exploitation of the majority by the tiny minority. The EU does, however, act to facilitate that exploitation through the Single Market, its policy of undermining national collective trade union rights, and its favouring of corporations over working class people. It is Thatcherism on a continental scale. We only have to look at the example of Greece, where the Greek people suffered a form of collective punishment from the EU – enforcing privatisations, poverty and anti-trade union laws.

We need genuine international solidarity and co-operation

We are not ‘Little Englanders’ but we do not think we should outsource the valued and necessary internationalism of the working class to international capitalist institutions like the EU.

For example, the Socialist Party is part of a revolutionary international organisation which is present in nearly every single country on the continent, and in nearly 50 countries around the world. We need international solidarity, but it needs to be on our terms, through workers’ organisations such as the trade unions and other campaigns. A Corbyn government introducing radical socialist policies of public ownership, for example, will come under intense pressure from the capitalists.

In doing so our movement should appeal not to Macron and Merkel, but the millions of workers around Europe who will see our fight as their fight. That is the international co-operation that will be vital, not an international capitalist club designed to aid exploitation. These are key questions that our movement faces:
• No to a People’s Vote – Yes to a General Election
• Tories Out now! Labour to power on a socialist programme
• Break with capitalism, fight for a Socialist Europe and a Socialist world

In solidarity,
Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

If you agree with what we are saying, and want to distribute this in your union, workplace or community, please use the form below:

 

 

 

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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!

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

 

Date set for EU referendum – the Socialist view

Date set for EU referendum – the Socialist view

notobosses

For a Socialist Europe

David Cameron has announced that the EU referendum will take place on Thursday 23rd June. The months up until this date will see campaigns across the country advocating a leave or remain position.

What is the position of the Socialist Party?

The Socialist Party will be campaigning for a vote to leave the capitalist EU.

In a recent issue of our newspaper, The Socialist, we wrote

‘The Socialist Party opposes the EU because, as Greece showed (the EU enforced massive austerity on Greece which unfortunately has not been resisted by Syriza – Coventry SP), its laws and institutions, while they ultimately could not stop a determined workers’ government supported by a mass movement from carrying out socialist policies, are another hurdle to overcome. We oppose the EU, Cameron’s deal included, in order to defend working class interests and take forward the fight for socialism, in Britain and Europe.’

We will provide further comment over the coming weeks and months on the EU referendum, on our position and how we can build the fight against capitalism and support the struggle for a Socialist Europe.

For now, here are some links to articles which provide a useful resource of information

Cameron’s EU renegotiation charade

Don’t give taxpayers’ money to UKIP and Tory EU campaigners

Socialists and the EU referendum

No to a capitalist EU, yes to a Socialist Europe

Capitalists strangling Greece – article by a German Marxist

 

 

Independence referendum in Scotland – resources from Coventry Socialist Party

Independence referendum in Scotland – resources from Coventry Socialist Party

Vote Yes and fight for socialism

Vote Yes and fight for socialism

This Thursday will see people in Scotland go to the polls and voting Yes or No to independence. The Yes campaign has gained rapidly in the polls in recent weeks which has sent the UK establishment and their political representatives in the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems in to hysterics.

But what does it all mean? Will independence be a step forward? What is the role of the SNP and Alex Salmond? What is the best way to combat ‘project fear / project terror’ from the ‘Better Together’ No campaign? What will happen to workers in the rest of the UK? What is the role of Socialists in Scotland in this referendum? These are just a few of the many questions being asked by people.

Coventry Socialist Party have compiled this selection of links to help people through the fog of misinformation in the mainstream media, and to outline a socialist way forward. As Socialists we are internationalists, and our sister party in Scotland as part of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has been at the forefront of fighting for clear, bold socialist policies.

Here are some links to help understand the current situation –

In March, Socialist Party Scotland produced a short Q and A article on independence – to read it click here

With the Better Together campaign getting ever more desperate, we believe the best way to defeat ‘project fear’ is with bold socialist policies – to see what we are putting forward click here

Whatever the result, there will be the need to continue the battles against cuts and austerity, that is why we say vote Yes but continue to strike back. Read this article by a Socialist Party member in Glasgow here

10 days that can shake British capitalism to its foundations, major article which takes up the idea of ‘Team Scotland’. Click here

The Socialist Party is part of an international socialist organisation, the CWI, which is present in around 50 countries across the planet. Visit the website of the CWI here

If you agree with our analysis, why not join? If you want to join our find out more visit here