ABOLISH THE LORDS
The Government's proposed reform of the House of Lords, long overdue, likewise does little to meet popular demands for its abolition. The proposed abolition of the right of hereditary peers to sit in the Lords has already been tempered by calls to allow a number of hereditary "working peers" to remain in the House for their life-times. The reformed Lords will then be left as a purely appointed body of peers, bishops and other religious leaders, serving no democratic purpose whatsoever. A second chamber serves no purpose in bourgeois democracy except as a source of patronage for the ruling class and a constitutional block on an elected parliament.
The New Communist Party calls for the abolition of all peerages, hereditary
or "life", together with the House of Lords, the Crown and all titles of
nobility. Our intervention must be to expose the anti-popular nature of
these reforms which are presented as democratic advances and campaign for
a democratic federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.
All forms of balloting in bourgeois states are designed so that the smallest number of people, the ruling class and their political tools, can manipulate the largest amount of votes. The basic two-party system which evolved following the emancipation of working men served their purpose well for over a century.
Now the ruling class favours proportional representation. It is the chosen method of the European ruling class for disarming and splitting working class parties into small factions while encouraging opportunism and patronage at every level to create the bogus consensus which masks their class dictatorship.
Proportional representation purports to be more representative of the votes cast in elections, but in bourgeois states the purpose is the same as under the existing first-past-the-post system; to ensure the perpetuation of a bourgeois parliament run by bourgeois parties to maintain bourgeois dictatorship. Its elevation now is designed to further weaken the Labour Party and create the conditions for continuous right-wing led coalitions of smaller parties. We are seeing this already in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
The question of electoral reform must take into account tactical considerations. Communists have always believed in using bourgeois democracy to advance the working class and expose the hidden nature of the bourgeois dictatorship and the bourgeois state that lies behind it.
Working people have nothing to gain from proportional representation.
Its introduction will lead to greater Liberal Democrat representation
at the expense of the Labour Party while reinforcing the idea amongst
the masses of a "democratic" parliament. It encourages the false hope amongst
the revisionists and Trotskyites of the creation of a parliamentary "left"
alternative to Labour. It will certainly increase the likelihood of the
entry into Parliament of racist and fascist parties effectively excluded
by the current system.
NO TO EMU, NO TO THE EUROPEAN UNION
The New Communist Party has from its very beginning in 1977 opposed the Treaty of Rome and the drive to build a capitalist European super-state. The European Union is nothing more than a capitalist market designed solely to serve the needs of Europe's capitalists, industrialists and land-owners. It has no democratic structures nor is there any intention to introduce any in the future.
The appointed EU commission makes recommendations to the Council of Ministers, themselves nominees of the member states, which will adopt them. They will then report to an elected European Parliament which has no powers to change EU policy, raise taxes, initiate legislation, form an European government or control the armed forces and the European Central Bank. The parliament serves only to promote the illusion of democracy and participation within the European Union.
The Social Chapter and the Social Partnership are elevated by the Labour government and the rest of European social-democracy as examples of the benefits that European integration brings for working people. These minor reforms, largely related to work councils, union recognition and access to company information, are overshadowed by the immense price paid by working people through continued membership of the EU.
The dominant trend within the British ruling class is committed to building the European super-state. Though their chosen political instrument remains the Conservative Party, Labour's landslide victory in 1997 changed the balance within what was left of the Conservative Party in Parliament.
The Conservative "Euro-sceptic" wing gained ascendancy under Hague's leadership. At the same time it lost the confidence of a large section of the ruling class, who are pushing for Britain's entry into the European Monetary Union. This accounts for the unprecedented bourgeois media "honeymoon" with the Blair government, the only government which can deliver EMU membership in the shortest possible time. But British EMU entry will only lead to further attacks on working class living standards.
The EU member states, having established an effective trading bloc are now seeking to develop, through the Euro, a global convertible currency to compete with the dollar. This involves centralising control of all the Euro member economies, through interest rates and government spending levels, in one European central bank.
The Labour government has proposed to put the issue to a referendum after the next election, which they expect to win comfortably. There can be no doubt that such a referendum will be used simply to win popular endorsement of a decision already taken by the ruling class. If a referendum is called, the party must mobilise for a massive "No" vote while exposing the whole fraudulent process of referendums at the same time.
The European bourgeoisie, including the leading circles with the British ruling class, want to build a European Union to serve capitalism and imperialism, a super-state which is neither genuinely federal or democratic in form or content.
The EU Institutions, the European Parliament and Commission, have become a byword for undemocratic practices, corruption, nepotism, and waste and fraud on a massive scale.
European social-democracy, and this includes the revisionist communists of Western Europe, have long accepted European integration. They claim it will actually benefit working people though they cannot show a single benefit which could not have been won through working class struggle. They argue that the EU can be reformed to make it better reflect the wishes of working people.
In Britain anti-EU campaigns have sometimes tried to make common cause with the most reactionary elements of British society, whose opposition to the European Union is based on chauvinistic and racist ideas. These people can never serve working class interests and the class does not need them in the campaign against the EU.
Our aim must be to win the argument amongst the working class itself. We must make it clear that the European Union cannot be reformed. The only way it can be changed is by tearing up the Treaty of Rome which established the Common Market in the first place.
We must focus opposition to indirect taxation (VAT) a major prop of the EU's finances, and demand the restoration of the public sector and state welfare. We must demand the return to public control of Britain's national resources, essential services and public utilities. We must oppose the racist "Fortress Europe" immigration controls and the drive to build a European army.
A key campaigning priority in line with this arises from the fact that Britain, the second greatest imperialist power in the world, is the weak link in the European Union.
The working class realises that membership of the EU has a direct and damaging effect on prices and jobs. There is indifference and often outright hostility to the undemocratic institutions of the European Union. This was shown by the conscious decision of the vast majority of the electorate to boycott the 1999 European Parliament elections. Little more than a fifth of the electorate bothered to vote despite the blandishments of the media, the appeal of proportional representation to minority parties and the cajoling of the bourgeois parties. In many working class areas the turnout was even lower.
The immediate effect has been to force the Government to tread warily in its drive for membership of the EMU and rethink its policy on proportional representation.
To carry this positive action forward we must develop the anti-EU campaign in line with the fight for higher wages, against unemployment and the cuts. We must call for the boycott of all future EU elections. This is the key way in which he British working class can move onto the offensive.