CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown’s decision last Monday to defer joining
the European single currency while launching a publicity campaign to win the
public over to the idea is a reflection of the deepening rifts within the
ruling classes in Britain.
Most industrialists are dismayed at the delay, which will hit Britain’s trade with Europe at a time when unemployment has risen sharply for the first time in years and manufacturing industry is struggling.
But Blair and Brown’s close friends across the Atlantic will not be disappointed at all at the delay.
President Bush has his sights set firmly on United States total global hegemony and as the European Union is set for rapid expansion – absorbing most of eastern Europe and possibly eventually Russia – it must inevitably become a serious trading rival to the US.
It could also become a military rival and one that would not be bullied as easily as Third World countries.
Bush is torn between his desire to see his poodle Blair acting on his behalf in the heart of the EU, and his knowledge that Blair’s influence would be small after recent divisions with European leaders over Iraq and that he is seen and recognised as Bush’s servant.
Much the same would apply to Brown if he were to replace Blair as Prime Minister.
Blair and Brown are postponing the entry into the euro because it is obvious to all that they would never win a referendum in favour right now.
MPs were not surprised last Monday when Brown told them that his famous five tests for joining the single currency were nearly met but not quite and that the decision would be delayed.
The europhiles are concerned that although a paving Bill, to allow a referendum to be held, will be tabled this autumn, there is no date for a referendum and no definite timetable for joining. They fear this delay scenario could be repeated, possibly indefinitely.
The industrialists and other European governments will not be happy with this continuing uncertainty, which will damage the power of the euro compared to the dollar.
Most finance experts now think it is unlikely that a referendum will be held before the next general election.
Citigroup economist Michael Saunders said: “Having delivered a verdict that the UK should not join EMU now, backed up by weighty research, it is hard to see how the Treasury could seriously deliver the opposite verdict as soon as 2004.”
One of the key reasons given by Brown for delaying joining he single currency is that it would destabilise the housing market.
House prices in Britain have rocketed in recent years – impoverishing workers who struggle to find homes and employers who have to pay extra wages to cover housing costs.
But landowners like the royal family and their friends and relations have profited enormously from this. They and other extremely reactionary and nationalistic sections of the ruling class would be quite happy to see joining the euro delayed indefinitely.
George Eustice, who directs the No Campaign, said that Brown had made the right decision. “The time is not right to join,” he declared.
In practical terms, the earliest date that euro coins and notes could be produced and in circulation is 2007.
Brown did make one concession to the europhiles and agree that Britain would change the way it measures inflation to be consistent with that of Europe and adopt a new, lower inflation target. That means pressure to cap wages.
And he might review the “five tests” again after next year’s budget.
But in essence, Britain is scarcely nearer joining the euro than it was when Labour first came to power in 1997. Much has happened since then that has drawn Blair and Brown closer to the dollar than the euro.
All this, of course, assumes that Brown and Blair will still be in place by the next budget – and this is looking less and less likely.
It’s not only the “awkward squad” of trade unionists, Labour Party members and peace protesters who want to get rid of Blair but also the pro-European section of the ruling class.
Blair has recently complained that “rogue elements” within MI6 are “out to get him”. He should remember that MI6 was created primarily to defend the interests of British business abroad. It is inevitable that elements within MI6 would reflect the views of the pro-euro part of the ruling class.
The single currency, along with all the other steps towards a European super-state, do not benefit workers in the long run – in Britain, western Europe, eastern Europe or anywhere.
The EU is a finance capitalist creation to provide maximum possibility for profit-making – at the expense of the working class. It is not concerned about working class rights and democracy.
But the same can be said, even more so, for the aggressive and avaricious empire of the dollar. The danger is that he working class here, in Europe, in America and in the rest of the world, will be caught up in rivalry between the euro and the dollar that could lead to a third world war.
This is all the more reason to maximise international working class solidarity and project the call for peace and socialism.