Labour: just let the Tories swivel

May 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm (AWL, David Cameron, democracy, Europe, Jim D, labour party, RMT, strange situations, Tory scum, UKIP)

We’ve argued many times here at Shiraz, that the mainstream hard-left’s traditional hostility to the EU (and its predecessors) has been ignorant, short-sighted and counter-productive. It is based upon a fundamental misconception: that British workers’ difficulties stem from Brussels rather than from capitalism itself, and that getting out of the EU would somehow, magically, remove – or, even, lessen- capitalist exploitation.

The present issue of Solidarity (paper of the AWL, the one far-left group with a consistent record of talking sense on this question), lambasts the attempts of idiots like Bob Crow, to delude our movement into imagining that there is a “left-wing” case for agitating against EU membership:

“Britain already has harsher anti-union laws and weaker social provision in most areas than the main EU states. It has resisted the Social Charter, the Working Time Directive, and the Agency Workers’ Directive. Given free rein, British governments would reverse their limited implementation of those EU provisions, and scrap other limited measures of worker protection such as TUPE.

“In the meantime, the workers’ movement would have been weakened by the nationalist demagogy accompanying EU exit – the nonsensical claims that British workers’ difficulties are due not to our capitalist bosses but to this or that official in Brussels – the replacement of worker-versus-boss agitation by Britain-versus-Brussels.

“Crow claims to set out a ‘left-wing, pro-worker case’. But when Crow, with the Socialist Party, ran a ‘No2EU’ slate in the 2009 euro-election, that slate denounced ‘the so-called freedom of movement of labour’ in the EU – in fact, the real, and welcome, freedom for workers in the EU to work and live where they wish.

“Another phrase it used to denounce EU migrant workers was ‘the social dumping of exploited foreign workers in Britain’. It was only a phraseological variant of the right-wing Ukip’s rants against Bulgarian and Rumanian workers”… (read the full article here).

But now the argument within the labour movement and Labour Party isn’t only about principles (crucial as they are): it’s also about tactics and pragmatism. With the Tories tearing themselves apart over Europe, Cameron aides denouncing the grassroots as “swivel-eyed loons” and Geoffrey Howe saying the Europe debate has reduced the party to “a new, almost farcical, low”, Miliband and Labour would have to be mad to come to the aid of the Tories by endorsing the call for a referendum on Europe.

Chris Riddell 19 May 2013

Miliband would be well advised to say little on the subject, and watch the Tories self-destruct.

The EU, despite the unrelenting propaganda of the right wing press, is by no means as unpopular as the Tory-Ukip hard-right likes to make out. And even amongst those voters who express hostility to it, the EU ranks about 10th in their list of priorities.

So leave the swivel-eyed Tory-Ukip fanatics to it, Ed, and concentrate on jobs, housing and economic growth.

As for the fake-“democratic” argument (as touted by the Tory right, Ukip and -on the “left”- the likes of Crow and Seumas Milne) for a referendum: what’s wrong with offering all those who want to get out of Europe a real democratic choice: to vote for Ukip or the Tories at the next general election?


  1. Mike Killingworth said,

    If Miliband stays shtum, then the right-wing press, blogalots and other loons will make that the issue. So he probably needed to say what he has said, and now he should move on. There was a case for voting “no” in 1975 (although in the end I abstained) but the world has changed, thanks to Clinton’s “globalisation” enabling capitalism to get away with paying garment workers 12p an hour and then cremating them alive into the bargain. Marx would have recognised to-day’s world more quickly than he would have 1975’s.

    So where does Miliband move on to? The key is in your antepenultimate paragraph. (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a blog comment…) Hostility to the EU is a code for something else. Powellism. And he should say so, loud and clear. It would also meet Mandelson’s call for him to move on from New Labour – wouldn’t it?

  2. DW said,

    Socialist Standard has been arguing for much longer that workers are exploited, regardless of being in the European Union or out of it.

  3. Rabbit Johns said,

    The EU is founded on neo-liberal principles which makes such things as the NHS illegal.

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