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EC referendum: socialists should stay in and fight!

EU_map2An excellent article in New Left Review a while back pointed out that the then Common Market was originally set up to counter the then perceived threat of the USSR, to promote capitalism in Europe, and to give Europe a greater say on the World Stage against the hegemony of the US.

In fact it is argued De Gaulle of France was originally against the UK joining because he believed it would act as a Trojan Horse for the US (which eventually happened) and the dollar was soon to dominate which I would add may explain the enthusiasm of some for the Euro.

So the EC is a capitalist club but with workers rights that is now driven by Neo-Liberalism – the marketisation and privatisation of everything which most fundamentally is about cheap labour.

We have the free movement of capital and the free movement of labour with the latter driving down pay but should working people leave?  The UK is also a capitalist club as is the US so should workers leave them too?

The first charge is that the EC is undemocratic and it is certainly true that it has always been top down but the real EC power is with the democratically elected Council of Ministers and nothing can be agreed without this groups approval.   MEPs are pretty toothless and whilst we should give them more powers perhaps we need to scrap the anonymous regional party lists and get back to electing an MEP by city or area so they are closer to people which is how they used to be elected.

The second charge is about immigration but people tend to forget what is good for the goose is good for the gander and 1.2m Brits work in other EC countries (our migrants) and millions of UK pensioners retire to Spain, France, Portugal etc as well as young people having the exciting right of being able to work, live or study in any EC country so perhaps we should fight for these rights too and a points system if Out would throw up barriers against this.  But how do we address the exploitation of migrant workers who come here and are also being used by unscrupulous employers to undercut wages?  I would argue that we need to trade unionise these migrant workers and in fact should introduce a closed shop for them which they must all join; this would help them to battle for better wages, better living conditions and would help to build community solidarity.

As a left wing democratic socialist I just feel the EC offers a better potential framework to fight alongside left wing forces in other EC countries to try to kick Neo-Liberalism out and to build a grassroots, bottom up, participatory, more democratic, left wing EC.
Both the In and Out Campaigns have been pretty rubbish – Fear from  the mainly Right led In Campaign (which seemed to work in the Scottish Referendum) and the Fear of Immigration from the Right led Out but I want to stay for POSITIVE reasons.

The EC is second in the World (only to the US) in R&D which benefits in particular Universities  and Science and by pooling our resources we can have a greater impact on climate change, jobs, solidarity (we could support and help countries like Greece  and join the fight to have their debts written off), peace, workers rights, civil rights, equality, crime, security, and internationalism and more.
I just read that the EC is to set up a fund to carry our research on medicines for illnesses which the capitalist Big Pharma won’t  touch because it isn’t profitable enough which shows how we can work collectively and as an EC we could more effectively chase the 1 trillion euros held by the rich from the EC in tax havens as well as having an EC Financial Transaction Tax of say 1% which also could bring in a trillion.

So I want socialists to stay in and fight to kick Neo-Liberalism out and to transform the EC in a left direction.  I’m voting stay for positive reasons – Jobs, Peace, Solidarity, Rights, Security, Equality, Internationalism and  Freedom!

Barry Ewart is a University worker & member North West Leeds CLP


  1. David Pavett says:

    I agree with Barry Ewart’s general argument so I will be voting for Remain. However, I don’t think that a closed shop for immigrant workers is going to get off the ground. I don’t even think that it makes much sense. How could you have a closed shop defined by immigrant status?

    Secondly, I don’t think the issue of immigration can be settled with the idea that lots of Brits migrate to other countries. There is still the issue of net migration to deal with and this is something that is still waiting for an informed debate on the left.

    1. Tim Wilkinson says:

      [David, if you don’t mind divulging an email address to me and the other two core participants in the embryonic ‘LRP’, could you send an email to “strategy {at-sign}”? I’ll then send a mail to all four of us to put us all in email contact in case that should be useful or necessary at any point.]

      1. David Pavett says:

        Will do.

  2. Tim Wilkinson says:

    I don’t understand why people seems tyo acting as though TTIP has just gone away. It hasn’t and there is a definite tactical aspect to talk about its being a dead duck.

    The still-current timetable suggests that we will end up bound by TTIP (as negotiated on behalf of the UK by the Cons for whom a corporate controlled international court system & de facto branch of international law is a splendid prospect), with no prospect of escaping it except by leaving the EU.

    The effect of that will be to entrench not only a more virulent form of market-fundamentalist neoliberalism and an inescapable mandate for ever greater privatisation and corporate looting but a system dominated as a matter of right by transnational corporations and especially US-centred ones.

    This is little short of a nightmare scenario, and I can’t vote remain when it is just around the corner with no reason to suppose, and no mechanism available to ensure, it will be averted.

    Why has the left seemingly gone quiet about it? Is there some secret plan that means it is nothing to worry about? If so I wish I could be let in on the secret.

  3. Bazza says:

    Fair points David and sorry for not coming back earlier but with the tragic murder of the very decent human being and Labour MP Jo Cox I think many of us were feeling a bit raw and sickened inside.
    But life and politics must go on.
    Concerning unionising migrant workers I would just argue under a Labour Government perhaps as we welcome migrants (working people from other countries) we also get trade unions to hand out membership forms and sell the benefits of trade unionism so they can organise cross-community for better pay, better working conditions, better living conditions and this could help to break down any potential barriers and build community solidarity.
    Yes and if we can crack immigration In would win easily and there does seem to be a feeling from some that there is too much change too quick.
    A concencus seems to be building around the fact that there are 2.9m human beings living and working here from other EC countries whilst about 2m British citizens live and work in other EC countries so their has been a net gain of 0.9m migrant workers.
    But these human beings contribute a net gain of £3b to the UK economy and their labour it could be argued has lifted the UK just above being on life support unlike the EC Euro Zone.
    And of course we get all these mainly young and fit human beings from other countries and we didn’t pay a penny for their education or on keeping them healthy to date.
    Net migration last year was 300,000 but if you unpick this 167,000 of these were international students who pay a lot of money to come here and as the New Statesman argued in its last issue “Tertiary education is one of Britain’s successes.”
    I did wonder about having a triple lock on migration (a) say a cap on total net migration per EC country say of 10% of the adult population (excluding international students) so of what 38m in the UK this could be a cap of 3.8m (b) migration adjustment funds to help councils etc. to adjust to increasing populations (c) trade unionise migrant workers.
    As socialists we favour some intervention but what is sacrosanct for free marketeers is the free movement of capital and hence the free movement of labour to serve this but to destroy my own thought (a) would this mean that if a big business wanted to open a big plant in the UK and create 10,000 jobs would we say sorry we have a quota and you can only create 5,000 jobs!
    So in a market of 500m plus as socialists what is wrong with Polish working people working in the UK, German working people working in France, UK working people working (or retiring) in Spain etc. etc.
    But perhaps the left is in a good position to offer another powerful argument.
    The Right Outers have been arguing to “We want control of our country back” but what of Britain do people really own and control? – the banks? land? (apart from the National Trust) mail? rail? public utilities? etc. etc. and perhaps apart from a house and a bit of a garden then the answer is not much.
    So I would conclude that we should stay in to fight alongside our brothers and sister parties in other EC countries to kick Neo-Liberalism out, trade unionise migrant workers, have migration adjustment funds for towns and cities plus campaign for more democratic public ownership by EC country so people actually collectively own much of their countries.
    We need to work for peaceful change to push and reform the EC (and World) in a left direction.

  4. Bazza says:

    Perhaps we should use the term COMMUNITY of 500m working people in the EC. Solidarity!

  5. Robert Green says:

    Had we a Labour government facing right wing inspired popular unrest that had called this referendum and which if lost would result in the fall of that Labour government to a right wing government or a fascist government then it would almost certainly be right for socialists to vote Remain whilst holding one’s nose simply to prevent the fall of the Labour government so that the forces can be mustered to over throw both it and the reactionary EU from the left. This is not that situation. A Brexit vote would almost certainly see the fall of this government and leave a hugely divided Tory Party to fight a snap general election that Labour, with a radical vision for a post-Brexit Britain and a New European Settlement, could certainly win. As it is a Remain vote will now surely see the shriveling up of the Labour Party as workers blame it for the next four years of eviscerating Tory austerity and its transformation into an electorally irrelevant husk as happened in Scotland only to be replaced as the popular `opposition’ to the neo-liberal establishment by a coalition of the far right. We can only conclude that so-called lefties are voting Remain because they actually want to Remain in the reactionary imperialist alliance that is the EU and are quite content with how it has spread the neo-liberal poison across an entire continent.

  6. Bazza says:

    Yes the US and the UK are capitalist clubs too so should workers leave them too?
    I believe we should stay and fight alongside our brothers and sisters in Greece, Spain etc. to kick Neo-Liberalism out and scrap TIPP and to end austerity plus have more democratic public ownership by EC country (and also to link up with socialists in less developed countries) so we have an internationalist vision.
    Could you perhaps share with us yours?

  7. Robert Green says:

    Goodbye to Labour

    At some point on Friday morning or afternoon after Cameron’s fat, smug face has been all over the telly box for most of the day celebrating a famous victory and announcing the relaunch of his government and a new programme of eviscerating austerity for the working class at work and in their communities that will take place over the next four years at least there will be a moment of realisation and revelation that a major betrayal has taken place and the opportunity to get rid of this vile government was criminally eschewed by a degenerate `left’ steeped in neo-liberal elitism and a Labour Party under Corbyn that preferred to sacrifice itself for the EU and Cameron and unity with the corrupt and criminal New Labourites rather than lead a struggle of any kind.

  8. Bazza says:

    And your socialist internationalist ideas are?

  9. Bazza says:

    I believe we need to work with our brothers and sisters in other EC countries to fight to scrap TIPP, kick Neo-Liberalism out, bring in state-led public investment to grow our way out of austerity and to end austerity, to write off Greece’s debt (and give them back the bloody Elgin Marbles) and other EC countries and to fight for more democratic public ownership by EC country so people actually collectively own much of their countries.
    And to support our brothers and sisters in less develped counties to eliminate poverty and to win global peace.
    So we stay to fight for all of this.
    Yours in international solidarity!

  10. Bazza says:

    So now we know one framework for possibly buiding a more left wing democratic socialism has gone but the battle will go on within a new/old framework.
    Oh and I see the Bank of England has had to offer £250b of support as £120b was wiped off the stock exchange and this intervention has caused it to rally!
    But que sera sera and some of us did warn we needed a positive In campaign and at times it seemed Project Fear Economy v Project Fear Immigration.
    Perhaps my late idea of a migration triple lock could have had some traction if taken on but what is done is done and as Jeremy has said we now need to step up the fight for workers rights.
    Some think they now have control their country back but what do people own perhaps from a house and a bit of garden? Land? Banks? Mail? Rail? Water? Public Utilities? Etc. Etc.
    And they are even taking about privatising National Ordnance!
    But with a Corbyn Labour Government and more democratic public ownership perhaps we could.
    So as socialists we need to be positive; the battle for progressive ideas goes on. Solidarity!

  11. Bazza says:

    So brothers and sisters it seems the knives are out for Jeremy from some of the PLP.
    But to all those Labour MPs who were getting negative feedback from working class communities re migration where were your ideas?
    Jeremy was honest as I was with my potential silver bullet re migration above.
    So to the PLP – those of you who is without sin cast the first stone.
    Otherwise dear PLP this Labour member has no confidence in the PLP.

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