The European Union will always be a capitalist big business club – it’s written into its DNA, says MICK COSTELLO
SOME major points must be kept in mind to avoid the debate on In or Out of the EU becoming shrouded in myths and secondary clutter.
First, the EU was created from the original cartel of iron and steel companies, through the broadened scope of the common market to promote the biggest business interests in the states of the capitalist part of western — that is, non-socialist — Europe.
Its rules enforce this, and the promise of a “social Europe” made decades ago has proved to be phoney.
Second, whatever the outcome of the coming referendum, we have a Tory government in Britain.
That will be the case until it is thrown out when people have had enough of it — at the scheduled next general election or, hopefully, forced out sooner by mass popular action against its policies. Its anti-working-class programme will not be removed by EU structures and rules.
Third, most of big business, their Tory mouthpieces and the British state machinery favour remaining in the EU capitalist club.
The referendum was not triggered by anything to do with giving more independence to the British state and Parliament.
It was called as a Tory attempt to outmanoeuvre Ukip on the question of free movement of labour from within or from outside of the EU member states.
This is a red herring devised by David Cameron’s Tory faction to negotiate a “deal” that would allow discrimination against immigrant workers — to deny them some of the social benefits won by years of class struggles in Britain and in their countries of origin.
This is really just an adjustment to the EU’s laws that already provide for companies to import into Britain the worst conditions for their workers they had been able to secure abroad.
The TTIP deal that is currently under negotiation in secret within the EU’s unelected structures is another measure that would limit the powers of workers in all member states through extending the priority of company profitability above all other considerations — further to limit the powers of elected governments to curtail the free pursuit of profit by protecting firms against state protection of jobs and conditions.
There should be no illusion about Boris Johnson’s call for a No vote in the referendum.
His statement in the Daily Telegraph last month spells out that he is not against membership of the EU but hopes that a No vote would strengthen British capitalism’s voice within it.
His Ukip-type smokescreen of rhetoric that claims the mantle of Churchillian windbagging is strictly demagogy.
The reality of the EU’s policies have been identified in their applications of “austerity” to keep big business afloat in countries such as Portugal, Spain and Greece (all with the connivance of their respective governments).
The same slash-and-burn policies are being supported Britain and elsewhere, as in Italy, where job protection laws have been rescinded without a murmur from the EU.
The same applies to privatisation, destroying social entitlements and civil rights as Brussels’s drive to authoritarianism gathers pace.
Those who believe the EU is good for us should remember that it stands foursquare behind the austerity policies beloved of Tories, Ukip, right-wing Labour and the Liberals.
Those who fear that progressive elements in EU rulings would be undermined by Britain’s withdrawal should note that such rulings are circumvented anyhow — witness the 48-hour working week ruling. Nothing can be permitted that would interfere with the overarching priority of profit-making.
The fight against austerity in all its forms has to be mobilised here, free from EU shackles, and that can open the way to the protection of jobs in engineering, aerospace and re-profiling the arms-cum-war industries among others. Alternatives to cuts, sackings, the wrecking of social services, deskilling and casualisation are the answer to the Tories and EU — not blaming workers from other countries and denying them entitlements that the working class has won. All this calls for a No vote to the EU.
Mick Costello is a former Morning Star industrial correspondent.