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"Thatcherism on a continental scale" - trade unionists debate the EU
An 'EU - Should We Stay or Should We Go?' debate was organised by Nottingham and Mansfield trade union council. Over 70 people attended the 26 February meeting.
Socialist Party member and former Labour MP Dave Nellist introduced the socialist Leave case, a Brexit in the interests of the working class. He said that the referendum result was a revolt against decades of suffering by working-class people and the effects of the 2007-2008 economic crash.
He explained that transport union RMT, Northern Ireland public sector union Nipsa and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) had presented a socialist, pro-worker, internationalist Leave position during the 2016 referendum. Unfortunately this was drowned out by pro-austerity, capitalist and racist Remain and Leave campaigns.
The European Union is Thatcherism on a continental scale.
It is run by 28 heads of government. 18 or 19 are Tories or worse. And the 28 commissioners are appointed by them.
The single market has pursued the fragmentation of public services and privatisation. The EU defines healthcare as an 'economic activity', so it can be privatised.
EU rules present barriers to nationalisation. Although a determined socialist government and workers' movement could overcome these obstacles, they could become an unnecessary distraction.
Factories are relocated around Europe pursuing lower wage bills for workers. And it would pose serious hurdles to Jeremy Corbyn's 2017 anti-austerity manifesto.
This is why the capitalist class do not want to leave the EU. May's deal leaves the UK signed up to these anti-worker agreements and is in many ways a Brexit-in-name-only.
Dave Nellist said the priority for socialists was to fight for a general election. The Tory party is splintering. We need Corbyn and the unions to organise demonstrations and strikes to bring down the government.
But these proposals to fight for a general election were missing when Ed Maltby, from Another Europe is Possible, introduced the argument to Remain in the EU. He argued that we don't get a showdown with the EU by leaving.
Socialist Party members made the point that whether working-class people voted Leave or Remain, they are suffering exactly the same under austerity and the Tories' 'hostile environment'. They can be united by a movement with socialist policies - taking the rich resources in society and using them in the interests of working people.
Clare Wilkins, Nottingham Socialist Party
In The Socialist 20 March 2019:
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