Careful what you wish for

BE CAREFUL what you wish for because it might just happen just about sums up the mood of the post-election political scene in Britain today. Labour expected the Liberal- Democrat vote to collapse. It did, but the only beneficiary was the Conservatives because the Tory vote held. The Scottish nationalists expected to sweep the board in Scotland which they did. But hopes of playing off Labour against the Tories in the new parliament have been dashed, at least for the moment, by the Tory victory.

The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party hoped to get their leader into parliament to head a Ukip bloc in the House of Commons. But Nigel Farage was defeated in Thanet and they lost one of their two parliamentary seats in May. The Tories campaigned to win the election outright but only hoped they would be able to continue to govern in concert with the Liberal-Democrats. They ended up with a 12-seat overall majority — a slim margin that makes the Cameron leadership hostage to the Eurosceptic backbenchers clamouring for a new referendum on the European Union.

So David Cameron has confirmed his previous pledge when he led the Coalition Government to renegotiate “a better deal for Britain in Europe” followed by an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.Though Ukip failed to make the political breakthrough its flamboyant leader had been expecting Farage can take some comfort from the fact that after years of demanding a referendum it is now going to happen.

The ruling class has long been divided on the European issue. Some want Britain to scrap the pound, join the Eurozone and become full partners with Franco-German imperialism in controlling the European Union. The Eurosceptics and those whose interests directly serve those of American imperialism want out altogether while Cameron’s supporters want to restore the trans-Atlantic bridge, which they call the “special relationship” with the United States, to play off Europe against America for the benefit of British imperialism.

The problem Cameron’s got is that there is no “special relationship” with the Americans these days while Franco-German imperialism is surging ahead with plans for even greater integration to create a new European super-state.

The problem we face is that for years Labour and the majority of the leaders of our unions have elevated the EU as an instrument for social progress and economic advance. They say that the EU is becoming more representative through the authority of the European Parliament and establishment of regional autonomy.

The social-democrats claim that the anti-working class “directives” and “rulings” can be reversed. The revisionist and left social-democratic circles who still pose as communists in some parts of Europe argue that the EU can be reformed to serve the interests of working people.

But the EU with its toothless parliament and Ruritanian regional governments hasn’t been reformed. Nor can it ever be under the Treaty of Rome.

The development of the Common Market, and the EU that followed, was the choice of European imperialism and western European monopoly capital. It is an institution designed solely for the benefit of the oppressors and exploiters. What few benefits the EU has brought, such as increased trade and open borders, could all have been achieved through separate agreements and treaties.

The EU promotes neo-liberal measures favouring the monopolies and the concentration and accumulation of capital. It cannot represent a genuine counterweight to the United States in favour of the people. The attack on labour and trade union rights throughout the EU is escalating in the name of “modernisation”, “competitiveness” and “flexicurity” — and in order to ensure the profits of capital.

The European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. The European Union cannot be reformed. It must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, and all addenda repealed.