A principled stand against the EU

THE NEW Communist Party has always opposed Britain being a member of the European Union — right back to the days when it was known as the Common Market. The Treaty of Rome that founded the Common Market was drawn up by capitalists to protect capitalism and to facilitate employers in the original six members — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherland, Belgium and Luxemburg — in collaborating to exploit the working classes to the maximum. It was all about making businesses as profitable as possible.

There were subsidies for businesses and for farmers, with safety-nets to protect them from natural bad weather and so on. These subsides were paid for from the member states contributing to the central Common Market funds — derived mainly from the taxes of workers.

The Schengen and Lisbon treaties, which turned the Common Market into the European Union, took this further, doing away with internal borders to allow the free movement of labour from one country to another. The main purpose of this was to undermine collective bargaining at a national level, allowing bosses to import workers from one country to another in order to break local wage agreements and undermine hard-won national labour protection laws.

The much-vaunted “social contract” was a two-page fig leaf. It only looked good to some naïve trade unionists in Britain because, thanks to the Thatcher government, our labour protection laws were amongst the weakest on the continent.

It did seek to give workers in Britain some protection against being expected to work horrendously long hours through the working time directive. But British employers soon found ways around this, getting workers to sign away their rights through “voluntary” waivers that “defended their right” to work themselves to an early grave for the benefit of the boss.

Thousands of workers were so much in debt that they gladly signed — with the bank manager’s and the landlord’s demands adding to those of the boss.

We are still opposed to Britain remaining in the European Union but we believe in a principled fight that will build international class solidarity and not undermine it.

We will not be working alongside the likes of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) nor any of its fellow travellers, whose opposition to the EU is based on xenophobia and quasi racism that will turn the campaign into a rant against immigration and immigrants.

We are not going to turn into latter-day jingoists and flag wavers. We will not defend the Bank of England, the pound, our crazy Parliament that still gives power to the monarchy, the church and unelected peers. We will not celebrate the long and bloody history of the British Empire. We refuse to wave the butcher’s apron.

We will work to build solidarity links with organised European workers and workers throughout the world, including the former British Empire, to prevent our governments from cutting wages by trying to play the needs of workers in different places against each other.

We will work for humane acceptance and integration policies towards immigrants and refugees fleeing countries that have been devastated economically and/or militarily by Britain, the United States and the countries of the EU. And we will work for peace and an end to the imperialist interventions that are causing so much misery to so many around the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

And we will work for labour laws that protect the wages, terms and conditions of all workers in Britain, wherever they come from, so that no boss can exploit immigrants as cheap labour.

We will also work for the abolition of all the Tory anti-union laws so that our workers are free to defend their wages and conditions by strike action if and when necessary. This will have the effect of restoring wage levels and getting rid of the yawning wealth gap between the few filthy rich and the rest of us.

And we will continue to work for socialism, for the abolition of the capitalist system and its divisive culture of greed, arrogance and indifference, and its replacement with a worker-controlled state that promotes collective awareness and a culture of compassion and creativity — a system where individuals each bring their different strengths to the collective and the collective supports each individual to achieve their personal fulfilment.