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From: The Socialist issue 572, 25 March 2009: Make the bosses pay!

Search site for keywords: No2EU - Election - Rail - Socialist Party - EU - Labour - Britain - RMT

Rail union launches euro election challenge

 Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo by Suzanne Beishon

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo by Suzanne Beishon

AS THE G20 leaders assemble in London this week to discuss the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, even the most casual onlooker must be asking, 'aren't these the same people who got us into this mess in the first place?'

Clive Heemskerk

After all, Gordon Brown boasted at his Mansion House speech before business leaders in 2007 that his New Labour government had helped create "a new golden age for the City".

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

The millions of people now facing job losses, home repossessions, short-time working and wage cuts as a result of the system's crisis can expect nothing from capitalist politicians. Workers, with no mass political party representing them, will have no voice at the G20.

That's why the announcement last week that the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT) is backing an electoral alliance to contest the European elections in June is so important. For the first time ever a national trade union, the RMT, the most militant industrial union in Britain, is mounting an electoral challenge to New Labour, under the name No2EU-Yes to Democracy.

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

This is a temporary coalition for the European elections only. Its platform concentrates on opposition to the European Union (EU) constitution (now re-packaged as the Lisbon treaty) - which enshrines free market economics into EU law - the EU's pro-privatisation directives, and the anti-trade union and 'social dumping' rulings of the European Court of Justice. But still, it represents another step towards rebuilding working class political representation, absent from Britain since the 1990s' transformation of the Labour Party into the completely capitalist New Labour.

Predictably, some media coverage tried to paint the RMT's move as 'narrow nationalism'. But RMT general secretary Bob Crow was clear in his response: "We want a workers' Europe, not the bosses' EU", he said. Workers in Britain, he went on, "have more in common with workers across Europe than we do with Freddie Goodwin and other bosses", who have gained from the EU's pro-market policies.

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

Press conference as RMT launches Euro challenge in 2009, photo Suzanne Beishon

Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, a Labour MP in 1983-1992, also spoke at the No2EU press launch, pointing to the threat of the far-right BNP picking up protest votes in June. "But now workers alienated by the mainstream capitalist parties have their own candidates to vote for", he said. He also explained how measures such as the part-privatisation of Royal Mail, the first step to its complete sell-off, are linked to EU directives to introduce deregulated markets into public services.

Also on the press launch platform were the vice president of the Indian Workers Association, Avtar Sadiq, a representative of the Morning Star newspaper, and the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party, Hannah Sell, who gave the backing of the Socialist Party to the coalition.

June's Euro-poll will be the first electoral test in Britain since the economic crisis dramatically escalated in October last year. Now we will have a chance to vote for a workers' alternative.

Find out more about No2EU-Yes to Democracy at www.no2eu.com
Read the Socialist Party statement: 'The European elections and working class representation'






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