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Socialist Case for Exit

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From: The Socialist issue 908, 29 June 2016: Defend anti-austerity struggle

Search site for keywords: EU - The Socialist - Socialist - Workers - Letters - Austerity - European - Greece - Liverpool - Immigration - Tony Mulhearn - RMT - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - Trade union - Yorkshire - Portugal - Anti-austerity - CWU - European Union - Inequality - National Shop Stewards Network - Peterborough

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Workers celebrate

Dave Prentis and Frances O'Grady at TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

Dave Prentis and Frances O'Grady at TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Following the historic vote for Britain to leave the European Union, Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, was putting across a message of pessimism on the Radio 4 Today programme. She had lined up behind the Tory leadership and big business in calling for a vote to remain.

In contrast, fellow workers at my delivery office were in a celebratory mood, seeing the result as a victory and an opportunity for the working class.

As I walked into work there were handshakes, high fives, cheers and discussion about the decision. Contrary to how, in the most part, the media and some on the left have declared this as a victory for the right wing, the most popular point of discussion was the view that Cameron would soon be gone and a general election would be on the horizon. Cameron resigned just hours later.

There was recognition that the working class had widely rejected the EU and Tory austerity agenda and the establishment as a whole. My colleagues now have the Tories firmly in their sights, appreciating that the racists and xenophobes will also need to be defeated in the coming weeks and months.

Workplace meetings are being planned to organise for the next steps, showing the rise of political engagement. I hope this victory can act as a catalyst for socialism, led by organised workers, in the coming period. The National Shop Stewards Network conference on 2 July [see back page] will give workers the opportunity to discuss this further.

Carl Harper, Communication Workers Union (CWU) member, Peterborough

I work for a finance company. So when I went into work that morning, as expected, we had emails from management saying it's all OK, though there was a tone of disappointment. I saw many of the Remain campaigners calling the Leavers 'racists and Ukip supporters.'

So when I went to lunch I was kind of worried when I came to a cheery bunch of the 'white working class' colleagues. From many conversations with them they are not socialists, don't describe themselves as 'left wing' and many don't usually vote.

I watched when Cameron's resignation was showing on the TV screen and there was a fist pump and some excitement. Then it came to Trump's statement and the idea Boris may be the next leader. They described it as a comic horror show. They did not like either of them one bit. Then Farage - they had some nasty things to say about him.

So I asked, "what did you vote?" and the main response was Leave. I asked why, then, they hated the Leave campaigners? "They are all as bad as each other." So why did you vote leave? "Cos we've had enough, we want to stick one up at them and actually change something for once."

So what about immigration? "I don't think that will actually change, we'll have whatever the bosses want. Just glad we've got Cameron out."

Dinner that evening with some different colleagues also went a very similar way. "I just want to slap Osborne in the face. We need him, as well as Cameron, out now."

'Isabelle', Yorkshire

Don't despair

Can I cheer up my old mate Paddy Shennan, who appeared to be in a slough of despond over the referendum result when writing in the Liverpool Echo on 25 June? This government's ruthless policy of austerity has been approved by the institutions of the EU, which have presided over history's greatest growth in inequality.

To vote to leave this bastion of power and privilege is not to become a 'little Englander', but is to recognise the neoliberal ethos of the EU. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - including transport union RMT, the Socialist Party and others - called for a plague on both 'official' houses. Our campaign for the socialist alternative was largely drowned out by the confusion and falsehoods peddled by both camps.

Struggles against EU austerity are being waged in France, Spain and Portugal. And European Commission president Juncker took satisfaction in sending Greece's leader back with a flea in his ear to carry out the most savage cuts in Greece's history.

We belong to a European labour movement, with enormous potential power to transform the continent into a bastion of socialism. I recognise that immigration was used by Farage to poison the debate, but he can be exposed for the charlatan he is by a confident anti-austerity campaign for socialist change.

So, Paddy, be of good heart, and take the predictions of Armageddon being belched out by the agencies of the media with a huge grain of salt.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

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