“People’s Vote” or Socialist Brexit?

“People’s Vote” or Socialist Brexit?

eu austerity

No to EU capitalist austerity

The below letter was sent by a local trade unionist and socialist to the Coventry Telegraph in response to the “People’s Vote Coventry” campaign.

In your article about “People’s Vote Coventry” its’ chair claimed their campaign “appeals to everyone”. I can confirm that it certainly doesn’t appeal to me, and a lot of other people who still oppose the EU.

I voted to Leave the EU and I would vote the same way today. I support the likes of Tony Benn, Bob Crow and Coventry’s own Dave Nellist, who consistently opposed the EU because it’s a bosses club designed to support the interests of big business across Europe.

The EU lets refugees drown in the Mediterranean Sea, the EU enforced brutal austerity measures on Greece, and the EU opposes public ownership of important industries. It’s Thatcherism on a continental scale.

In Ireland when the people voted against the Lisbon Treaty, they were made to have a second referendum so they gave “the right answer”. We already had our “People’s Vote”, and we voted to Leave the bosses EU. I believe it’s time to leave the EU, and build a socialist society here and across the world that puts ordinary people before profit.

To find out more about the Socialist view on Brexit, read this

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Passport furore can’t hide Tory rifts

Passport furore can’t hide Tory rifts

notobosses

For a Socialist Europe

The announcement from Theresa May and the Tories regarding the changes to our passports may have been designed to hide the deep rifts that have developed within the Tory party; however neither this move, nor the recent deal on Brexit made before Christmas can succeed in healing the Tory divisions. We are reproducing the editorial from the current issue of The Socialist newspaper which we believe provides a socialist way forward for Brexit


Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

No divorce bill to subsidise capitalist elites of Europe

For a socialist, internationalist Brexit

For a while it looked like Theresa May might be about to crash out of office, as her fractured, divided party, propped up in government by the DUP, seemed unable even to reach agreement on a deal on the ‘first stage’ of Brexit negotiations. This time, however, the crisis did not prove fatal. A deal, involving numerous concessions by May, and a lot of deliberately ambiguous wording, has been cobbled together and acceded to by the DUP, keeping the show on the road for now. This so-called victory for May’s negotiating skills has solved none of the problems that May and her government face; it has only ‘kicked the can down the road’.

The most important conclusion for the millions of working and middle class people in Britain is that this government remains extremely weak and can be defeated. For as long as it remains in power, however, the norm will continue to be wage restraint, a catastrophic housing crisis, and endless cuts in public services.

Raised hopes

For the majority of Britain’s capitalist class, despite their horror at being represented by a party as dysfunctional as the Tories, the deal has raised their hopes. They now dare to dream that the ‘soft’ Brexit which would suit their interests might be achieved, despite the hard Brexiteers on the Tory right. After all, the government has acceded to the EU’s demands for an exit bill of at least £36 billion, shamefacedly abandoning their previous posturing that the EU could ‘go whistle’.

They have also agreed that, in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there would be ‘full alignment’ between Northern Ireland and EU law. In reality this would only be possible in one of two ways – either a divergence between the laws of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which would be unacceptable to the majority of Protestants in Northern Ireland, or remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union: that is, within the EU in all but name.

However, the welcoming of the deal by the Tory right does not mean they accept ‘full alignment’ by whatever means, but only that they had no choice but to agree it in order to prevent a complete collapse of the Brexit negotiations and hope, Mr Micawber-style, that something will turn up further down the road. It is likely that what will turn up will be the Tories repeatedly being forced to bang their heads against the reality that British capitalism is third rate, and that they have no choice but to make concessions to both the institutions of the EU and any of the other major powers with which they hope to negotiate favourable deals.

The nationalist ‘hard Brexiteer’ wing of the Tory party, which is fuelled by an utterly utopian dream of a return to Britain’s past as a pre-eminent world power, offers absolutely no way forward for working class people in Britain. Brexit on their terms would undoubtedly mean job losses, economic crisis and further steps towards Britain becoming little more than a global tax haven. Nor, however, do the pro-EU capitalist politicians, who represent the interests of the major corporations, have any common interests with the majority of people in Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn should be leading the campaign against paying a penny for a divorce bill that will subsidise the capitalist elites of Europe, declaring instead that the money should be spent on the NHS, raising public sector pay and abolishing tuition fees.

Instead, the pro-capitalist Blairite wing of the Labour Party is campaigning for Labour to adopt – hook, line and sinker – the position of the capitalist class on Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn and those on the left of the party need to clearly reject this.

It is ludicrous to claim, as the Blairite Labour MP Chuka Umunna has, that the EU single market is, “uniquely, a framework of rules that protects people from the worst excesses of globalisation and unfettered capitalism.” It certainly doesn’t protect those fleeing war in the Middle East and largely kept outside of the borders of ‘Fortress Europe’. They face the unimaginable horror of slave markets in Libya and risk drowning in the Mediterranean. But nor does it protect those already inside the EU’s borders from the ‘worst excesses’ of capitalism. On the contrary, the institutions of the EU have inflicted terrible hardship on the workers of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere. In Greece wages have fallen by an average of a third. In every country, including Britain, EU directives are used as a means to implement privatisation and drive down wages.

Rip up neoliberal rules

If Jeremy Corbyn were to launch a campaign for a socialist Brexit it would transform the situation. A socialist Brexit would mean ripping up the EU bosses’ club neoliberal rules – not in order to create the more isolated and even more exploitative neoliberal vision of the Tory right, but to begin to build a society for the many not the few. It would mean taking socialist measures so that the enormous wealth in society could be harnessed to provide everyone with the prerequisites for a decent life: a high-quality, secure home, a good job, free education, a top class NHS, a living pension and more. Such a programme could unite working class people in Britain, regardless of how they voted in the referendum.

It would also act as a beacon for workers and young people across Europe to take the same road, opening the path to mass opposition to the EU bosses’ club – and towards a democratic socialist confederation of Europe. Jeremy Corbyn should urgently use his international anti-austerity authority to help establish a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis. Only this approach can cut across the confusion created by the lies of all wings of the Tory party.

 

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!

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