DAVID CAMERON the people must “have their say” on Europe and he’s pledged to call an in/out referendum on the European Union if the Conservatives win the next election in two years’ time. That, of course, is a very big if and it’s clear that Cameron’s motive is simply to rein in his Eurosceptic back-benchers and head off the surge of support for the maverick Tories in UKIP in 2015.
If anything the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Davos Conference of the world’s top exploiters last week has only inflamed the back-stabbers inside and outside his party who see it as a meaningless gesture which will never be fulfilled while Cameron is still in office. UKIP has been mocking him mercilessly while the Eurosceptics are openly talking about running a “stalking horse” challenge to the Tory leader this year.
One way or another, workers will have no say in what happens in the corridors of power.
But we do have a say in the unions and there the fight to challenge the Europhile leaders of the TUC and the big unions has to start.
Frances O’Grady, the new head of the TUC, claims that a British withdrawal would undermine all workers’ rights across the 27-member European Union. She talks about a “social Europe” and thinks the paid holidays, health and safety, equal treatment for part-time workers and women, protection when a business is sold off, and a voice at work are some sort of gift from the gods of European Parliament and the European Commission.
On the contrary, the development of the Common Market, and the EU that followed, was the choice of Franco-German imperialism and western European monopoly capital. It promotes neo-liberal measures favouring the monopolies and the concentration and accumulation of capital. It cannot represent a genuine counterweight to the United States in favour of the people. With the Lisbon Treaty, new steps are being taken towards the configuration of the EU as an imperialist, economic, political and military bloc, contrary to the interests of the workers and the people.
And those determined to further undermine workers’ rights are, in fact, the ruling circles that control the EU. The austerity packages and the attack on workers’ rights are escalating in order to ensure the profits of capital struggling in the grip of the worst slump since 1929.
For years Labour and the majority of the leaders of our unions have elevated the EU as an instrument for social progress and economic advance. They say that the EU is becoming more representative through the authority of the European Parliament and establishment of regional autonomy.
The social-democrats claim that the anti-working class “directives” and “rulings” can be reversed. The revisionist and left social-democratic parties that still pose as communists in some parts of Europe argue that the EU can be reformed to serve the interests of working people.
But the EU with its toothless parliament, ruritanian regional governments and farcical referendums that only count when the vote agrees with what has already been decided by the powers that be, hasn’t been reformed. Nor can it ever be under the Treaty of Rome.
Now people see the European Union for what it is — an institution designed solely for the benefit of the oppressors and exploiters — and millions upon millions are seeing through the lies of the bourgeoisie. What few benefits the EU has brought, such as increased trade and open borders, could all have been achieved through separate agreements and treaties.
The European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits.
The European Union cannot be reformed. It must be dissolved.