A recent meeting of the PCS civil servants’ union national executive committee (NEC) gave a big boost to the campaign under way to stop millions of pounds of public funding being given to Tory and Ukip Brexit campaigners.
Under the rules of June’s European Union (EU) referendum the Electoral Commission, an unelected quango, has the power to choose who shall be the official Remain and Leave campaigns, giving them political authority but also substantial public resources.
The PCS NEC decided that the union will write to the Electoral Commission calling on them not to designate any group dominated by Ukip, Tory and other pro-austerity and racist establishment politicians and organisations as the official exit campaign.
Dave Nellist, chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), welcomed the decision by one of Britain’s biggest unions and commented: “The media narrative that only reactionaries oppose the EU and its austerity agenda must be broken.
“I was elected as a Labour MP in 1983 on a manifesto that committed the party to withdrawal from the then European Economic Community (EEC). There are millions of trade unionists, young people, anti-austerity campaigners and working class voters generally who, like TUSC, still oppose the EU from a completely different standpoint to that of Ukip and the Tory outers.
“The danger is that the Electoral Commission will follow the establishment media’s lead and appoint one of the reactionary Vote Leave, Leave.EU, or Grassroots Out campaigns, or an amalgam of them, as the official exit organisation. That would give them, for a start, £13 million in free postage, paid for from public funds.
“Choosing a reactionary-led exit group will not only leave working class voters who oppose the EU unrepresented but would actually be a favourable decision for the remain campaign, allowing them to play on the fear that a leave vote would boost Ukip and the Tories who have allied with them.
“It would be better, in fact, if the Electoral Commission decided on no official campaign on either side”.
TUSC has a petition to the Electoral Commission calling on them not to give taxpayers’ money and other public resources to the reactionary-led exit groups. Founding signatories include two trade union national presidents and 16 union national executive committee members
- Sign the petition online at http://www.tusc.org.uk/17170/04-02-2016/dont-give-taxpayers-money-to-ukip-and-tory-eu-campaigners
- A TUSC leaflet is available to order, explaining TUSC’s ‘Exit Left’ opposition and our campaign to make sure the voice of opposition is not dominated by Ukip and the Eurosceptic Tories (see PDF at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/367.pdf ). To order supplies go to http://www.tusc.org.uk/resources on the TUSC website
- A downloadable version of the petition is available at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/360.pdf Send completed copies to TUSC, 17 Colebert House, Colebert Avenue, London E1 4JP