by Caroline Colebrook
PRIME MINISTER David Cameron last Tuesday declared he would use his power to veto any new European Union treaty that did not safeguard the British interests. He meant the interests of British capitalism and in particular the disproportionate global financial powers of the City of London, which date back to the heyday of the trade in slaves, sugar, cotton and tobacco between the 16th and 18th centuries.
He does not mean the interests of 99 per cent of British workers, middle classes or even small businesses.
It is among the City bankers that Cameron has lived, worked, been to school and socialised. He has little political or economic experience or awareness beyond that narrow circle.
He is their representative in Parliament and he is voicing their anxieties that the agreement negotiated last week between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy to rescue the crisis-ridden Eurozone will be to the disadvantage of the City of London.
France and Germany are the two major economic powers within the EU that are not currently struggling with unmanageable debt but they too are vulnerable if they have to keep bailing out the rest of the Eurozone. So they currently hold the reins of power within the Eurozone.
Merkel seems to have dominated the outcome of the talks and persuaded Sarkozy that “closer fiscal union” and monetary discipline is necessary. In other words the Eurozone countries must surrender much more of their control over their own financial affairs — which dominate all other aspects of government — if the Eurozone is to be saved.
In other words the EU must take some big strides along the path to becoming a European superstate, dominated by Germany’s economic power. Among the measures they are proposing is a new transaction tax that will take some money off the bankers who caused the 2008 global economic crisis that is behind all the current problems.
Cameron has always opposed this “Tobin” or “Robin Hood” tax on bankers, saying it could not work unless it was imposed internationally but when the Eurozone heads start working towards an international agreement on taxing the bankers, Cameron still opposes it.
He is not interested in justice but in protecting his banker friends.
There is also a possibility that a new EU treaty based on the proposals from the Merkel-Sarkozy negotiations will move the financial hub of the EU to Germany, which would really upset the City of London fat cats.
A new treaty based on “closer fiscal union” would also put the 10 countries that are part of the EU but not part of the Eurozone in a very awkward position — having little influence on EU policy but very much subject to its effects. Every one of the 27 EU nations would have the power to veto such a treaty.
Cameron said he would be there “to defend and promote British interests”, but stressed that the most important thing for Britain right now was to resolve the Eurozone crisis.
“If they choose to use the European treaty to do that then obviously there will be British safeguards and British interests that I will want to insist on, and I won’t sign a treaty that doesn’t have those safeguards in it.”
If Cameron does veto a new treaty the Eurozone is likely to collapse and western capitalism will be in serious danger of total collapse. Nobody thinks he would really do it. Downing Street has said that none of the proposed changes being discussed would trigger a referendum in Britain as they would not constitute a significant transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels.
The working classes of the western powers are becoming increasingly active in their anger at the savage austerity measures being imposed.
And while the capitalists are deeply divided among one another: the City of London versus “closer fiscal union”, the dollar versus the euro and so on, the workers in all these countries have everything to gain by linking to co-ordinate their action and to support each other.
No one can predict how long the euro — or the dollar — will survive. But we can predict that they will disappear in the end as capitalism becomes so ridden with ballooning inner contradictions and opposing interests it cannot go on anymore.
At the same time the workers, who create the wealth that the capitalists gamble with, will become more unified and more organised and will eventually kick out the capitalists and start running a much more just, better planned and more humane social and economic system, called socialism.