Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Socialist Case for Exit

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/890/22262

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 February 2016

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 890

EU referendum: Vote OUT the Tories

The referendum on 23 June is not just about the EU but is also an opportunity to pass verdict on Cameron and his rotten government.
An 'out' vote would strike a mortal blow at the government. It could lead to the calling of a general election and the downfall of the detested Tories from power. So voting 'out' is particularly important.

In this battle between the pro and anti-EU forces, Cameron has placed his fate at stake and that of other cabinet ministers in the 'in' camp, including George Osborne and Theresa May. Even if they score a victory, if it is narrow their authority would be severely damaged. Also, the massive infighting in their party is tearing it apart, whatever the result.

With the announcement of the referendum, the gloves came off. London Tory mayor Boris Johnson took the 'out' side - a significant rebuff and setback for Cameron. The overwhelming majority of the Tory party's grassroots want 'out', plus around 120 Tory MPs - a number barely short of the 129 reported by the Daily Mirror as wanting to remain in the EU.

It is wrong and a serious mistake for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour to be supporting an 'in' vote that could inadvertently lead to an escape for this Tory government on the ropes. They should reverse course and help to bring down Cameron and Co so a general election can be called.

As the four-month campaign develops, Cameron will pull out all the stops he can - including calling in more support from government leaders across the globe, from the US to China.

Capitalist politicians on both sides of the debate are whipping up fear and threats and this will reach a fever pitch. The spectre of greater vulnerability to terrorism has been raised by ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove if EU membership remains and by Cameron in the event of Brexit. But all of them support the bombing of Iraq and Syria which feeds the scourge of terrorism.

Working class people have no shared interests with pro-big business, cuts-inflicting right-wing politicians, whether they are for or against EU membership. While strongly distancing itself from the nationalist, pro-capitalist positions of anti-EU Tories and Ukip, the workers' movement needs its own voice against the EU in this referendum, to oppose the bosses' club that the EU is, and to fight for the interests of ordinary people in Britain and across Europe.

Capitalists' alarm

With alarm growing among many British capitalists at the prospect of their interests being undermined by Brexit, Cameron desperately pursued last minute concessions in Brussels that could aid a pro-EU vote. But the political posturing there and the very limited deals he gained from the other 27 EU government leaders did little to change the lines of battle.

He gained partial agreement on attacking benefit payments for workers from EU countries working in Britain and claimed that the UK will now have 'special status' in future EU treaties, in addition to the existing opt-outs.
But German chancellor Angela Merkel was reported as warning Cameron that exemptions for Britain in future treaties might never in practise happen.
And French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault reasserted: "There will be no revision of treaties, no veto for the UK over the reinforcement of the eurozone and no calling into question the principle of free movement".

However, the referendum won't be primarily focused on Cameron's deal, but on the EU as a whole. Across Europe, the tensions between the ruling classes are about a lot more than the exemptions sought by the UK government. The 19-country eurozone economy is stagnant, despite low energy prices, a negative interest rate and massive Quantitative Easing by the European Central Bank.

This impasse has led to increased nationalism and division over the extent and distribution of the brutal austerity measures the EU has tried to enforce and more recently over the huge refugee crisis, among other issues. Far from being a vehicle for improved workers' rights, as many Labour Party and trade union leaders in Britain are arguing, the EU is more and more an apparatus for imposing vicious austerity that destroys public services and increases unemployment, as people in countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal bear witness.

EU rules that are of any benefit to ordinary people were adopted chiefly to even out the playing field for big business rather than from an intention to improve lives. This includes the EU's free movement of labour rules - which have helped the bosses to inflict a 'race to the bottom' in wages and conditions, rather than stemming from workers' interests and a raising of living standards across the board.

The by-product benefits serve as a smokescreen, to better hide the fact that EU policies are designed for corporate interests, to counter public ownership of industry and services, trade union collective agreements, regulation and other state interventions.
In essence the EU is an association of the capitalist classes of Europe, based on treaties that reduce barriers to their profit-making and aid their competition with other trading blocs globally.
However, Europe's economies have not been - and will not be - able to overcome the limits of developing capitalist production on the basis of private ownership within nation states; and at the same time they are meeting the intractable obstacle of a world economy suffering everywhere from overcapacity.

Corbyn... and the GMB

Jeremy Corbyn and others on the left were wrong to succumb under pressure from Labour's right wing to the argument that the EU is advantageous for workers and so advocated a vote to stay in it. One of the consequences of that mistake is that his referendum campaigning will be improving the chances of a victory for Cameron and the continuation of Tory austerity.

Also, the trade union leaders are mistaken in looking to provisions from a "social Europe" as a way to counter the anti-union and anti-worker attacks of a right-wing government like Cameron's. A future UK government elected on the anti-austerity programme Corbyn stood on in the Labour leadership election would soon be confronted with the anti-working class character of the EU.

The GMB union sent out a press release declaring its support for remaining in the EU. Its grounds included that corporate exploitation "is completely stoppable. Not by voting to leave the EU, but by demanding a return to [a] vision of a social Europe." But who will this demand be directed at and how will it be achieved? There is virtually no democratic accountability in the EU. Decisions are taken by the European Council - composed of the heads of government of the 28 countries - and the European Commission that is largely appointed rather than elected. The elected European Parliament of 751 MEPs is almost powerless.

Rather than entering into struggle to attempt a futile task of 'democratising' the EU, the attitude of working class people across Europe lies increasingly in the direction of rejecting and escaping from that distant, bureaucratic and unaccountable institution.

As Andrew Rawnsley wrote in last Sunday's Observer, attitudes are now far removed from what they were when government politicians won the 1975 referendum on Europe: "Much of the old deference towards 'authority figures' has evaporated. This is an age of rage characterised by a widespread and deep seated alienation from ... the establishment". He added: "The referendum could be a stick with which to give a satisfying thwack to the backsides of the political elite".

The Financial Times reported that some pro-Europe politicians are debating whether to raise the spectre of a domino effect of Brexit - ie, rapid disintegration of the entire EU - in case it spurs people on to vote for that!

Exposing posturing

The old saying 'lies, damned lies, and statistics', will likely be very apt during the next four months. One early disgrace is the way in which some anti-EU Tories are feigning concern for people hit by austerity. For instance, Gove, who as education secretary was detested by teachers for pushing ahead privatisation and attacks on their pay and conditions, said this week when making his anti-EU case: "Whoever is in government in London cannot support a steel plant through troubled times, cannot build the houses we need where they're needed", and: "The euro has created economic misery for Europe's poorest people".

The only way this kind of monstrous duplicity can be fully exposed and countered is through building an independent, working class based campaign against the capitalist EU and fighting for media coverage of it.

While calling for an 'out' vote, the Socialist Party recognises that for the working class and middle class, Britain being inside or outside the EU is no solution either way. Neither are these choices a solution for any population across Europe.
Only international workers' solidarity with each other's struggles and fighting for a democratic socialist confederation of the continent can create the ground for societies that would transform the lives of the overwhelming majority of people.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 23 February 2016:


What we think

EU referendum: Vote OUT the Tories


Socialist Party news and analysis

Junior doctors: back new strikes

Trident: thousands to march - scrap all nukes!

Butterfields tenants demand action against evictions at Labour estate agent awards

Children take over County Hall in protest at cuts

'Benefit tourism' twaddle

Cameron, Cameron, meal snatcher

Them & Us


People's budgets

Tower Hamlets to take anti-cuts fight into the council chamber

Leeds sets up people's budget campaign

Leeds Labour 'anti-austerity' meeting: jam tomorrow


Socialist Party feature

Unison at a crossroads


International socialist news and analysis

Hong Kong: new year riot

International news in brief


Workplace news and analysis

Victory for striking EDF energy workers

Pensions strike by water workers in Warrington

Fresh round of strikes against fresh round of cuts

Stress, abuse and long hours for London bus drivers

Workers unite to fight pay attack in Leicester

Workplace news in brief


Socialist history

Khrushchev: the Stalinist who denounced Stalin


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

One-woman tragedy's fiery call for revolution

Letters


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Huddersfield: save our A&E!

Momentum must "take the fight to the right"!

Gateshead: reprieve for respite centre

Save Derbyshire children's centres

Wakefield: no fracking, no cuts

Cumbria cuts - the grim reaper

Campaign to save Pent Valley continues

Socialist Party Wales and North West conferences


 

Home   |   The Socialist 23 February 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

EU:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleBrexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

triangleCorbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangleTories on the brink - kick them out!

triangleWhat we saw: May on Facebook

Tories:

triangleCabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence

triangleSustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

triangleThousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes

triangleUni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

Europe:

triangleSweden: School strike against deportations

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: The new left parties in Europe

triangle2018: more upheavals loom

Government:

triangleMovement challenges Iranian regime

triangleBigot Toby Young quits - now scrap the new uni regulator driving privatisation

Britain:

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Britain in 2018

Austerity:

triangleOutrage against 'monster block' plan

Eurozone:

triangleEU-Canada trade deal battle points to Corbyn's Brexit opportunity

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

15/1/18

Carillion

Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

10/1/18

Tories

Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence

10/1/18

NHS

Sustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

10/1/18

Education

Bigot Toby Young quits - now scrap the new uni regulator driving privatisation

10/1/18

Them & Us

Them & Us

10/1/18

Teachers

Teacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding

3/1/18

Fire service

Fire service victory

3/1/18

Fares

Rail: fares up, bosses' pay up - delays and cancellations up

3/1/18

Higher Education

Mobilise against rip-off executive pay

3/1/18

Virgin

NHS in winter crisis as Branson creams off 1bn

3/1/18

Homes

Thousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes

3/1/18

Fat cats

Widening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

1/1/18

Capitalism

2018: more upheavals loom

13/12/17

NHS

Save our NHS

13/12/17

Labour

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

triangle10 Jan Strike wins biggest pay rise in ten years

triangle10 Jan Movement of workers and youth challenges Iranian regime

triangle10 Jan Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's...

More ...

triangle16 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'Bad Art' - socialist struggle in the arts

triangle16 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: Building socialism in Cardiff in 2018

triangle17 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Planning for 2018

triangle17 Jan Salford Socialist Party: Housing crisis - the socialist solution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2