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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 May 2016

Featured letter: EU referendum

Greece crisis - please vote Leave

Greek workers in struggle: greece, photo Ged Travers

Greek workers in struggle: greece, photo Ged Travers   (Click to enlarge)

Bethan Roper

Last summer my mum was on holiday on a Greek island and had the misfortune to be bitten by a poisonous snake.

She was quickly rushed to a Greek hospital by panicked locals and spent several worrying days recovering before being allowed to travel home. (She's fine now.) While in these Greek hospitals - first a rural hospital, then a large hospital in Athens - she experienced first-hand the impact of the cuts the European Union (EU) had forced on Greece.

The doctors she spoke to hadn't been paid in six weeks, but kept going to work out of hope they would be, and sheer duty. Patients relied on friends and family to wash, change and toilet them, as well as bring them water which was not provided.

When my mum asked a doctor about the hospital's condition, she was told all the money available after the cuts were imposed had been spent on as much medicine as the hospital could afford.

Thinking over my mum's experience, and reading of the behaviour of the EU over the past decade, it's confusing to me how so many on the left who oppose Tory austerity support staying in the EU. It's an organisation that has imposed even harsher measures upon our European neighbours - Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Romania, Cyprus and others.

In 2010, at the EU's demand, the Spanish government enacted harsh austerity measures leading to attacks on workers' rights, pension freezes, public sector wage cuts and privatisation. Almost as high as Greece's 25% unemployment rate is Spain's at 20%.

The austerity measures imposed on Greece and other member states have not helped their economies or their people. Almost all the money used to bail out Greece went to private creditors, including French and German banks. The aim of these measures was to benefit not the people of these countries, but the banks working hand in hand with the EU.

If your reaction is that this may be happening to our European neighbours but would never happen to the UK, I say this. Just because it is not happening here, is it acceptable to prop up an organisation - and thus be complicit in its acts - which treats workers in such a way?


Also it is naive to suppose the stability of the UK is unwavering, and we would never be in a position which causes the EU to impose even harsher austerity on us.

It seems many on the left feel that essentially the EU is a left-at-heart organisation. That it may help prevent the rise of far-right groups, as a centre-left or even right-wing bastion against extreme-right ideas.

Not only is this untrue, but it's partly in response to the EU that right-wing groups have been able to gain sway. The fascist Golden Dawn in Greece increases its popularity in reaction to the harsh measures of the EU. Ukip is a party fixated on the EU - without that crutch, would it have the same relevance?

The European Parliament has only marginal power. Your own MEPs' power to impact EU laws is practically non-existent. Reform from the inside is utopian at best.

Why would the powerful and unelected EU Council of Ministers - able to design and propose laws without the cumbersome gaze of national parliamentary scrutiny, or amendment or counterproposal from the European Parliament - ever hand power to more democratically elected officials?

Certainly not because of any half-hearted attempt by a UK government - one country among 28.

Please vote to leave the EU.

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In The Socialist 25 May 2016:

International socialist news and analysis

Brazil: Fall of Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class

Venezuela - on the brink of collapse?

Austria - Hofer defeated, but far-right threat remains

Mass protests against regime take on Kazakhstan cops

Canada: fire devastates Fort McMurray

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories forced back in junior doctors' dispute

'Socialist case against the EU' TUSC tour kicks off

Boris hid killer air report

Them & us

What we saw: 'I, Daniel Blake' and Hunt/'Thick of It' remix

What we think

EU referendum can bring the Tories down

Workplace news and analysis

Link the strikes - come to the NSSN conference

PCS BIS staff strike against office closure

Pennine Foods - Strikers persuade delivery lorries to turn away

Train conductors strike to keep their role

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to win: join the Socialists!

We won't move! Mass resistance can defeat the Tories' housing act

Leicester drives out Britain First

Coventry sees off EDL

Campaigning for a people's plan for Waltham Forest

Chorley A&E battle

Socialist readers' comments and obituaries

Greece crisis - please vote Leave

Socialist inbox

Obituary: Jenny O'Sullivan (1988-2016)


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triangleDeadly fires ravage Greece: austerity contributed to high loss of life and property

triangleObituary: Ged Travers 1957-2018

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