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!

Nellist battles Farage over EU referendum

Nellist battles Farage over EU referendum

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, former Coventry Labour MP and National Chair of TUSC

The Coventry Telegraph recently carried a full page article by Simon Gilbert about the Socialist campaign, led by Dave Nellist, against the EU. Dave has also challenged UKIP leader and former banker Nigel Farage to a debate on the subject. Please read the article below and share!

Former Coventry MP Dave Nellist is taking on Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in the race to lead the official “out” campaign in the run up to the European Union referendum.

Mr Nellist is fronting the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaign to leave the EU – a left-wing alternative to the Vote Leave campaign supported by Tory London mayor Mr Johnson and the Grassroots Out campaign backed by UKIP leader Mr Farage.

All three campaigns have submitted bids to the Electoral Commission who will decide on April 14 which will be chosen as the official campaign.

Ahead of the decision, Mr Nellist has challenged Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to debate the issues around leaving the EU. Mr Nellist claims their campaigns can not be truly representative of the calls to leave due to what he perceives as vested interests with big businesses.

He said: “The Grassroots and Vote Leave campaigns, epitomised by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, are the Tory Party within business.

“Working class people and trade unions have different priorities. If EU constructs prevent a successful British economy for workers, we should be opposed to them.”

He added: “Before the Electoral Commission makes it decision, let’s have a public debate: Who should be the voice of leave?

“Trade unionists and socialists, or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?

“They can choose the venue – we don’t have to hold it in Port Talbot, Scunthorpe or Redcar if they’re too afraid to venture out of London – but let’s have the debate and see who really represents those millions of working class voters who will vote leave on June 23.”

The rewards for the winning campaign include access to a grant of up to £600,000, an overall spending limit of £7m, campaign broadcasts, free mailshots and free access to meeting rooms.

That has led TUSC to threaten the Electoral Commission with legal action if party bosses feel its bid has not been taken seriously.

Mr Nellist said: “We never make hollow threats. We have a large range of legal talent.

“We will have to wait and see how the process goes. We applied to have a verbal hearing with the Electoral Commission to make our submission, but that was turned down.

“They are considering our paper application along with the other two campaigns.”

Asked if he understood there might be some surprise at left-wing campaign to leave the EU, Mr Nellist said there was a long-running history of socialist opposition to EU membership.

He said: “I led the no campaign in Coventry during 1975. The Labour Party was opposed to the EU until the mid 1980s.

“If Tony Benn and Bob Crow were still with us, they would have led a trade union out presence.”

He added: “The view of most union leaderships is to stay, not to leave. But there will be significant sections who are against it at times like when they see it’s not possible for the British government to nationalise the steel industry because EU legislation says that would be state aid.”

Asked if he thought TUSC would have the resources to effectively deliver a national out campaign, Mr Nellist said: “We are the sixth biggest party in Britain.

“We stand in 125 towns and cities. If we were designated as the leave campaign, with the £600,000 funding that would follow, we could design and deliver leaflets to the vast majority of homes in the country. We are capable of doing campaigns of that size.”

He added that the party planned to run a left wing exit campaign even if they were not chosen as the official voice of Brexit.

‘Panama Papers’ scandal shows why UKIP & Tory EU outers can’t be the voice of Leave

DNupdated

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), one of three EU exit organisations vying for recognition from the Electoral Commission to be the official Leave campaign, today called on the Commission not to award official status to any group that has received funding from individuals or companies named in the ‘Panama Papers’.

Last week TUSC submitted what the BBC called a ‘surprise bid’ to be the designated Leave campaign in June’s EU referendum (click here for BBC article) against the Tory and UKIP dominated exit campaigns, Vote Leave and Grassroots Out.

Dave Nellist, a former backbench colleague of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is now the chair of TUSC, said:

“Designation as the official Leave campaign will give political authority to the group chosen, access to the media including TV broadcasts, and, not least, substantial public funding – £13 million for starters for a freepost mailing.

“It would be an outrage if taxpayers’ money went to organisations whose funders do everything to avoid paying tax!

“Ex-Tory donor and now UKIP member Aaron Banks, for example, one of the key funders of Grassroots Out, has been named in today’s Guardian as ‘appear[ing] as the shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company called PRI Holdings Limited’, with shares from PRI also reported as having been transferred to Elizabeth Bilney, the chief executive of Leave.EU. Vote Leave is also not short of wealthy business backers.

“At the very least the Electoral Commission should do a proper audit of the business backers of Grassroots Out and Vote Leave before they make their designation decision, even if that means disrupting the EU referendum timetable.

“Legally the Electoral Commission has to be satisfied that the campaign they choose ‘adequately represents’ those supporting a particular outcome in the referendum. Organisations funded by tainted money certainly wouldn’t meet that test.

“Alternatively, they can designate TUSC as the lead campaign for Leave.

“The Panama papers controversy, showing how the elite have a common interest in bending the rules for themselves, is another example of why either of the reactionary Leave campaigns will be too easily dealt with by the equally big business-dominated ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ Remain campaign, because they all operate within the same economic, political – and tax-avoiding – framework.

“TUSC, on the other hand, has a completely different standpoint and would provide an anti-austerity, anti-racist and socialist alternative to the EU that would offer a far greater challenge to the Remain campaign than Vote Leave or Grassroots Out ever could”.

Last Friday TUSC issued a challenge to Vote Leave and Grassroots Out for a public debate: ‘Who should be the voice of Leave? Trade unionists and socialists – or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?’ Only now it should be, ‘Trade unionists and socialists – or bankers, Tories and tax avoiders’.

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