Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/905/22984
The socialist case against the EU: TUSC tour continues
"The Tory government could be brought down if Brexit triumphs" declared Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe to a packed London meeting of 120, part of TUSC's 20-city tour 'The Socialist Case Against the EU' (now in fact 25 cities).
The meeting heard from an array of trade union, socialist and campaigning speakers.
Transport union RMT general secretary Mick Cash explained that his union had "from minute one, day one" opposed the EU.
"As the son of two Irish immigrants who came to London in the 1950s", he hit out at the shaping of the debate in the media as being about immigration.
He explained that the days of the 'Social Chapter' in the EU are "long gone. The EU has moved on. It is neo-liberalism, pro-privatisation, austerity, deregulation. We're pro-European but anti-EU. It's a body for the rich and powerful."
Mick also took on the idea that the EU can be changed. To reform the EU, the capitalist leaders of 28 countries all have to agree.
Peter gave now-famous devastating quotes from Tory MPs as "proof of the chronic weakness of this government. It could be brought down if Brexit triumphs.
"Why are the summits of the labour movement, the trade union leaders, and unfortunately Jeremy and John, throwing a lifeline to the hated Cameron and Osborne government?
"The wheels are coming off the Cameron Osborne chariot." Peter listed the deepening economic crisis, increasing unemployment, the housing catastrophe and revolt on wages, the 20 Tory u-turns and the mini-strike wave currently taking place.
"We support Jeremy and John in the struggle against the right in the Labour Party but they have made a mistake." Peter argued that "this was a golden opportunity to shipwreck the Tory government, widen the splits within the Tories to Grand Canyon proportions and precipitate a new general election."
Paul Embery, London secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and national organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU, pointed out: "The EU is rampantly pro-austerity and that approach has caused suffering throughout Europe, a collapse in living standards, the rise of the far-right and the decimation of public services."
Other speakers included Nana Asante, former Labour Mayor of Harrow, chair of Africans for Jeremy Corbyn Values; and Sally Campbell for the Socialist Workers Party.
In a democratic discussion, lots of people made points from the floor, any doubts and questions were debated, and all speakers had the chance to reply.
Peter argued: "Only through solidarity and socialism, and the combined actions of the working class of Europe, could we establish real unity, a confederation of socialist states on a European basis."
On the same night, Dave Nellist, the former Coventry Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor and Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary, spoke at the Coventry event.
See a video of the London meeting here:
"We've heard endless arguments between old Etonians but not the voice of the labour movement," said Jean Thorpe, president of Nottingham and Mansfield Trades Council, opening a public debate on the EU.
'Remain' speakers, including former Labour MP and Jeremy Corbyn supporter, Chris Williamson, claimed the EU had maintained peace in Europe. Jobs and workers' rights, health and safety at work, air and water quality were all better due to agreements with "our EU partners," they said.
Dave Nellist, TUSC chair, asked: "Can the EU be reformed?" All the heads of government are pro-austerity. They make decisions, not the toothless European Parliament. A Leave vote would weaken an obstacle to socialist change.
Several contributions in the discussion expressed fears a Brexit victory would strengthen racism and Ukip. "The main reason Ukip has grown was Tony Blair," replied Dave.
At the end the 80 trade unionists and campaigners present agreed it had been the best debate on the EU we'd heard. A vote showed an 'out' majority by about three to two.
On 3 June, Voluntary Action Leicestershire hosted a discussion on what the EU referendum will mean for the voluntary and community sector in Leicestershire.
The speakers included Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan, Blairite Labour MP Liz Kendall, and Ukip MEP Roger Helmer.
The audience was polled at the beginning and the end to see if they had changed their minds.
Before the debate 14% were for leave, 63% were for stay and 23% were undecided. After the debate 27% were for leave, 62% were for stay and 11% were undecided.
The audience stated afterwards that it was the speaker from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), Steve Score, who trounced the others in the debate.
25 city tour- Remaining dates
7.30pm, Thursday 9 June
Angel Hotel, Castle Street, CF10 1SZ
7.30pm, Tuesday 14 June
The No.10 (DVA), 10 Constitution Road, Dundee, DD1 1LL
7pm, Thursday 16 June
Conference Room, St Augustine's Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
7.15pm, Wednesday 15 June
The Woods Bar (Downstairs, lift available), 29 Waterloo Street, Glasgow, G2 6BZ
7.30pm, Tuesday 14 June
Casa, 29 Hope Street, L1 9BQ
7.30pm, Monday 13 June
Saporito Coffee meeting room, 27 Gauze Street, Paisley, PA1 1ES
7.30pm, Thursday 16 June
Paulsgrove Community Centre, Marsden Road, Portsmouth, PO6 4JB
7.30pm, Tuesday 21 June
Central United Reform Church, Chapel Walk, Norfolk Street, S1 2JB
7pm, Thursday 16 June
WRVS Centre, 29 Charles Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3JP
7pm, Wednesday 15 June
Kings Head, 40 Winwick Street, WA2 7TU
7.30pm, Monday 20 June
New York Club, 22-26 Blossom Street, YO24 1AJ
In The Socialist 8 June 2016:
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news