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From: The Socialist issue 581, 27 May 2009: Protest at MPs' sleaze

Search site for keywords: No2EU - Sleaze - Democracy - Labour - EU - Privatisation - Protest - MPs

No2EU

No2EU-Yes to Democracy: Who's standing and why you should vote for them

No2EU candidates and supporters launch their manifesto, photo D Carr

No2EU candidates and supporters launch their manifesto, photo D Carr

For the first time since the Labour Party became a capitalist party, there will be a trade union-backed electoral alternative on a national scale for this year's European election.
No2EU - Yes to Democracy, offers a left political alternative to the parties of big business, to the rabid far-right BNP and to the opportunism and corruption of UKIP.
The No2EU alliance, involving the RMT, the Socialist Party and other organisations, was formed to oppose attacks on workers' pay, conditions and public services, many of which are driven by EU legislation.
This development provides working-class people with a positive opportunity to register their protest at New Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrats' 'thrift' and 'austerity' plans which mean a diet of privatisation and cuts; and to the corruption and greed that characterise many big business politicians.
This feature gives a taste of why some of the 69 candidates - trade unionists, young people and other activists - are standing and why you should vote No2EU on 4 June.

Video: Bob Crow and Dave Nellist explain why they are standing


Rob Williams

Sacked Linamar convenor
Wales
Rob Williams explains why he is standing for No2EU - Yes to Democracy

Rob Williams explains why he is standing for No2EU - Yes to Democracy

Watch Rob Williams explain why he is standing as a candidate for No2EU on his youtube video


Craig Johnston

RMT executive member for the north west of England
North West

Like most people I have had enough of the pro-privatisation, anti-working class, anti-trades union, soundbite-driven shower of expense-claiming scum that currently occupy most of the Houses of Parliament and the sham euro parliament in Brussels.

It is estimated that the Euro MP (MEP) gravy train can be worth around a million pounds in salary and expenses in a five year term of office.

What do we get from these rotten politicians?

More discredited privatisation, more attacks on workers' rights and more attacks on the poor.

At the same time we see billions poured into the failed greed-ridden banking sector and sacks of taxpayers' money being diverted into the pockets of failed bankers.

Rail privatisation has been a disaster in Britain and now the European political elite want to export it to the rest of Europe.

And it doesn't stop there. Now they are passing rules that will potentially end a tax-funded NHS.

Enough is enough! On 4 June people should take the opportunity to reject the divisive bigots and racists in the BNP who offer people division and despair, and should vote against privatisation and to stand up for workers' rights and public services. They should reject the politicians' gravy train and vote No2EU - Yes to Democracy.


Owen Morris

An organiser of the recent Olympic and parliament protests for jobs
South East
Construction workers day of action at the Olympics site, photo Paul Mattsson

Construction workers day of action at the Olympics site, photo Paul Mattsson

I am 38-year old engineering construction worker and, like so many in this country at present, unemployed through the failings of this government.

We, in the industry, have a national trade union agreement but, because of the posted workers directive and the Lisbon Treaty, the employers are trying to smash this by pitting worker against worker and creating a race to the bottom with our wages.

We believe the way forward is total solidarity of workers across all borders and that companies should be made socially responsible to the countries in which they are working and put people before profit.

The posted workers directive and the Lisbon Treaty allow Britain to become a social dumping ground for employers by the freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and labour within the EU.

The posted workers directive and the Lisbon Treaty are a major threat to, not only the construction industry, but all trade union agreement across the country.


Onay Kasab (Kaz)

Greenwich Unison branch secretary (pc)
London
Onay Kasab, photo Paul Mattsson

Onay Kasab, photo Paul Mattsson

I am standing because I see for myself, as a union representative, on a daily basis the need for a political voice for working people.

Parents such as those fighting the closure of Charlotte Turner school need a voice when they are ignored by the council.

Care workers in Greenwich, who face a pay cut of 5,000 a year, need a voice.

Video: Onay Kasab explains why he is standing for No2EU

Video: Onay Kasab explains why he is standing for No2EU

And when the same council decides to abolish the 'children at risk' social work team based at Queen Elizabeth hospital despite the protests of social workers and the concerns of the wider community, you know that this union-based initiative cannot come at a better time because we all need a voice.

The campaign is about saving services such as these from cuts and privatisation. None of the parties are listening.

Instead they are using European Union directives as an excuse to savage our services.


Keith Gibson

Member of the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike committee
Yorkshire and Humberside
Bob Crow and Keith Gibson address the construction workers day of action at the Olympics site, photo Paul Mattsson

Bob Crow and Keith Gibson address the construction workers day of action at the Olympics site, photo Paul Mattsson

The EU's posted workers directive allows company bosses to play off one nationality of worker against another.

For instance, at Lindsey the company IREM attempted to reduce the wages and conditions of Italian workers and then broadened their assault by refusing to employ UK workers.

This was swiftly defeated by the Lindsey strike that ignited a mass movement countrywide to defend the NAECI agreement that defines construction workers' pay, terms and conditions.

This historic unofficial strike wave won more for workers in five days than the union leadership ever achieved over a five year period.

However, the political role of New Labour was to attack Lindsey strikers and provide 'legal' support for Total bosses via the drawn out use of ACAS.

Despite this political manoeuvre Lindsey workers secured NAECI benefits for all the Italian workers on Lindsey.

Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike with Keith Gibson (speaking) and Jerry Hicks, photo Paul Mattsson

Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike with Keith Gibson (speaking) and Jerry Hicks, photo Paul Mattsson

However, companies still attempt to divide construction workers on grounds of their nationality by refusing to employ UK construction workers and by underpaying immigrant workers.

Construction workers need to secure the eradication of the posted workers directive that gives the bosses the legal right to attack workers' pay and conditions throughout the EU.

In other words, our industrial struggle has highlighted the need for political representation.

This is the reason why three construction workers, myself, Owen Morris (South East) and John McEwan (East Midlands), have agreed to stand as European election candidates.


Kevin Hayes

ex-Fords Southampton
South East

I have now left Ford after 30 years.

But before I go completely I aim to highlight the concerns of those still working at Ford Southampton transit plant.

The day I left, 549 others left with me. The plant is now on a single shift paying flat wages with no overtime for everyone.

Our transit is still the top seller here and in Europe. Since the mid 1960s it has never been shown to be anything other than a very profitable vehicle.

The Save the Transit Committee campaign started last July with an online e-petition.

We pushed for an early day motion in Parliament. We also went on strike to gain some media coverage. Outing the salaries of our top bosses made front page news.

Yet the 'chop' still hangs over the plant.

No new investment has been signed by Ford, although promises have been made to national union leaders.

Incidentally I was expelled from the Labour Party this week because they say I did not inform them of standing against New Labour. But I did. I even stopped my direct debit and emailed them. Too busy at the trough I assume!


Eleanor Donne

Unison steward (pc)
Eastern

All of the main parties have made it clear that the billions of pounds poured into 'rescue packages' for the banks will have to be clawed back - from us! As a Unison steward in a local authority I am very angry (though not surprised) that our jobs, services and pensions will be under attack while rich shareholders have been bailed out with our taxes.

I work in a housing department and have seen the reality behind the statistics on the huge increase in people losing their homes. The government has presided over wholesale privatisation of council housing and failed to build affordable social housing. It seems that the only housing issue they care about is how to make the most money out of their own second home allowances!

As secretary of the Campaign Against Domestic Violence I am also very concerned that major cuts in public services, which all the main parties are threatening in order to 'balance the books', will affect vital services for women and children escaping domestic violence. We cannot allow the most vulnerable people in society to pay for the bosses' crisis.


Rachael Lynch

Teacher, Bristol
South West

Mainstream politicians, some of whom even have the audacity to claim for their moats to be cleaned, are out of touch with the lives we lead.

I stand on the principle of elected representatives taking a worker's wage in the tradition of previous Socialist Party representatives such as Dave Nellist, Pat Wall and Terry Fields.

The No2EU - Yes to Democracy campaign is the first time since the formation of the Labour Party that a trade union has taken part in an electoral alliance on an all-Britain scale.

It encourages me, as a young trade unionist, to think I am seeing the beginnings of the reconnection of young people with the trade unions and left-wing politics.

No2EU is another step towards re-forging the bond between the working people and politics that represents them.


Frank Jepson

Ex-Basildon Visteon convenor
Eastern
Lindsey Oil Refinery shop steward and Frank Jepson, ex-Visteon convenor, speaking at Youth Fight for Jobs conference 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

Lindsey Oil Refinery shop steward and Frank Jepson, ex-Visteon convenor, speaking at Youth Fight for Jobs conference 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

I could not believe how easy it was for the Visteon corporation to dump 600 UK workers onto the street with nothing but the minimum government statutory redundancy package. It was only our stand, our refusal to accept this situation, that got us our improved payout.

But what kind of Britain are we living in when capitalist corporations can legally do this to their workers?

At Basildon, the top quality workforce was making a top quality product. The only reason the British plants were shut and not the German or French plants was because we were the 'cheapest' option for Visteon because we have the weakest employment rights in Western Europe.

Frank Jepson (Unite convenor, Visteon Basildon), speaking at a London Socialist Party meeting April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

Frank Jepson (Unite convenor, Visteon Basildon), speaking at a London Socialist Party meeting April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

The anti-trade union laws are still in place despite the Labour government. Not only is it easy to sack a British worker, it is near on impossible to defend him or her. If this practice does not cease there will be no more manufacturing jobs left in this country.

I am standing for the No2EU party because I have no choice.

There is no other alternative to the three main parties who all preach from the same pro-business, pro-capitalist prayer book.

We have to change now before tomorrow is lost forever.


Jackie Grunsell

Huddersfield Save Our NHS councillor,
Yorkshire and Humberside
Jackie Grunsell, GP and councuillor, speaks at a Save Huddersfield NHS demonstration, photo Huddersfield SP

Jackie Grunsell, GP and councuillor, speaks at a Save Huddersfield NHS demonstration, photo Huddersfield SP

All three main parties are complicit in the privatisation which has destabilised the health service. They all claim to be 'in favour' of the NHS but their actions prove otherwise and their policies are completely at odds with the principles on which the NHS was founded - a universal, comprehensive, high quality, equal service, free at the point of use.

European directives have the potential to reinforce further the privatisation of health care and to create more of a 'market' in Europe, exacerbating inequalities in health.

I stand for a reversal of all privatisation as well as no further privatisation. We've campaigned locally against cuts in health care, brought about through the free market agenda.

These attacks are ongoing. We're currently fighting new government plans to privatise community services such as district nursing, health visiting, GPs' services and other therapies.


Roger Bannister

Unison NEC (pc)
North West
Campaign for a new workers

Campaign for a new workers' party conference 2007, Roger Bannister, photo Paul Mattsson

I want to give ordinary working people the opportunity to vote for candidates whose policies are aimed at solving their problems; opposition to the EU's anti-working class measures designed to drive down wages and conditions of service by imposing a 'race to the bottom', as workers are carted from one end of the continent to the other in forced competition for jobs; opposition to privatisation of essential public services, and support for a decent life, free health care, education and proper pensions for all.

And I am concerned at the growth of the racist far-right, and in particular the British National Party, that has targeted my own North West region in these elections. Their divisive politics of hatred and despair offer no lasting solutions to working people who, having been abandoned by New Labour, may toy with the idea of a BNP protest vote.

Roger bannister addresses the Liverpool CNWP meeting with Tommy Sheridan and Ricky Tomlinson (Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets), photo Harry Smith

Roger bannister addresses the Liverpool CNWP meeting with Tommy Sheridan and Ricky Tomlinson (Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets), photo Harry Smith

The stench of corruption of the MPs' expenses scandal will increase anger and despair in many workers. No2EU - Yes to Democracy gives people the chance to vote for a credible, radical alternative, with clear policies to benefit working people, as opposed to the violent racism of the neo-Nazis.


Brian Denny

RMT communications team
Eastern
Brian Denny addresses London Socialist Party meeting April 2009 with convenors from Visteon Basildon and Enfield, and Rob Williams, convenor, Linamar, photo Paul Mattsson

Brian Denny addresses London Socialist Party meeting April 2009 with convenors from Visteon Basildon and Enfield, and Rob Williams, convenor, Linamar, photo Paul Mattsson

The European Parliament recently approved the extension of EU "internal market" rules to cover healthcare services, paving the way for private companies to take over the UK's National Health Service.

This represents the biggest single threat to the founding principles of the NHS as a service "free at the point of need regardless of the ability to pay" since it was set up in 1948.

The approval of the directive has been bulldozed through despite assurances from the Party of European Socialists, which includes the British Labour Party, that they would "defend public services". However, they abstained on the vote, without any explanation, allowing it to become EU law.

Healthcare was originally removed from the provisions of the infamous Services Directive in 2004 after huge trade union protests and a revolt by MEPs against EU 'internal market' being applied to hospitals and other facilities.

Yet the EU's European Court of Justice ruled that the cross-border market in healthcare came under EU law and that trade union rights to collective bargaining were trumped by business rights to make money.


Dave Hill

former Labour group leader east Sussex county council and former Brighton councillor
South East
Dave Hill, centre, and No2EU candidates and supporters launch their manifesto, photo D Carr

Dave Hill, centre, and No2EU candidates and supporters launch their manifesto, photo D Carr

My experiences of teaching in Brixton, Crawley and Tower Hamlets confirmed my hatred of inequality.

So I became a Labour parliamentary candidate, Labour group leader, and trade union branch secretary and agitator. The anger led to analysis.

I left Labour after 44 years, losing hope and faith in them, feeling betrayed.

Expulsions, Iraq, privatisation, academy schools, the rich getting richer, the poor poorer, continuing Thatcher's anti-trade union laws - this is the litany of Labour's betrayals.

I hope instead, that a new party to the left of Labour, a new workers' party, can arise, based on trade unions, the organised working class, and bringing together socialist and Marxist groups, working inside and outside parliaments.

Yes for reforms, but yes, too for a socialist transformation of the economy and society.


Roger Davey

Unison NHS branch chair (pc)
South West

No2EU is not just a campaign against the EU; it is also about opposition to privatisation, anti-union laws, and the greed of the main political parties. It also gives a warning that increasingly workers will no longer accept the same old reactionary policies of the three main capitalist parties, and will begin to embrace the ideas of socialism.

With the emergence of No2EU, it will be more difficult for some trade union leaders to repeat their mantra: 'there is no alternative but to vote Labour'. Many rank and file union members will be able to contrast the policies of No2EU - no to privatisation, support for trade union rights - with New Labour and its slavish support for the bosses. It could potentially be the start of a process that sees the chains binding the unions to the Labour Party being broken.


Stephen Glennon

Secretary, Stevenage and District TUC
Eastern

Millions of workers have been previously disenfranchised in Euro elections, because the only way to vote against the bosses' Europe was to vote for the ultra right such as the BNP and UKIP, which was no choice at all.

Now No2EU is a working-class based opposition, one which can appeal to the millions of trade unionists and their families.

As a candidate it gives me the opportunity to answer the pro-capitalist parties' propaganda that private profit is the only way to run Europe and the UK. Socialist answers will give hope to those voters who do not want to pay for the crisis capitalism has landed us in.

The task is now to let those millions know that such an alternative exists.






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