The Socialist 12 May 2009 |
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No to the EU gravy train
Yes to workers' MEPs on a worker's wage
MPs' expenses are in the news! MEPs in the European parliament are on the gravy train too. How much has each Euro MP made in the last five years? We should be told! It is a gravy train! And we (the No2EU-Yes to Democracy campaign and candidates) are not jumping aboard.
Dave Hill, No2EU -Yes to Democracy candidate for the European elections, southeast region.
MEPs can expect to 'make' a million pounds in a five year period by claiming various allowances on top of their salaries and even claiming for assistants for whom no record exists. And the pay of British MEPs will rise by 30% after June's election, to over £80,000 a year.
This, at a time when millions of hardworking families are living on poverty wages. Millions of manual and white collar working class families are finding the going tougher and tougher, while newspapers are reporting that the gap between rich and poor is the widest since the 1960s.
In the real world hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs, and all the main capitalist parties - Labour, Tory, LibDem, Greens - say there is no alternative to cuts in pensions, pay and public services. EU elites and MEPs continue to enrich themselves at the taxpayers' expense.
A major plank of our No2EU - Yes to Democracy policy is 'No to the EU gravy train'. Our candidates will absolutely not get rich from getting elected as MEPs! We are united in opposition to the EU gravy train - it's one of our main policies.
Within the No2EU campaign there is debate between those like me who argue that our candidates, if elected, should be workers' MEPs on a worker's wage, using that forum as a platform to advance workers' interests, and others who say we should accept election but take no expenses and pay-packet whatsoever, acting instead as spokespeople in Britain for the campaign and workers' interests.
As Hannah Sell, in her article 'Challenging big business and the far-right' in the current edition of Socialism Today says, a decision about which of these anti-gravy train policies to adopt will likely be taken by a convention of supporters following the election. But all of us want to derail the gravy train! Not climb on board!
I would take the gravy train argument further. I would reduce pay and expenses for all MPs and all MEPs and, instead of cutting public services, would tax the rich, with the 50% tax rate coming in at £60,000, a 75% tax rate coming in at £100,000, and a 95% tax rate at £200,000. When millions of workers and pensioners are on less than £10,000 a year poverty wages or pensions, it's time for the rich, who have milked the system and grown rich and fat out of the Thatcher and Blair/Brown giveaways, to pay their fair whack.
Then we could raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour and pensions to £164 a week. As well as renationalising the railways, keeping the post office public, and putting green investment into job creation and building a decent public service infrastructure in this country.
Dave Hill is the lead No2EU candidate in the southeast region. He is a former Brighton Labour Party councillor and East Sussex county council Labour group leader. He left the Labour Party in 2005 after 44 years as a member.