Eu Budget Vote: Miliband Shows Inner Steel

Yesterday’s defeat for the government in the Commons vote over the EU budget was the result of a cynical but brilliantly played manoeuvre by Ed Miliband, showing why we are lucky that we have Ed and not Nicola Murray as the leader of the opposition.

Labour’s position has certainly caused some consternation among centre-left Europhiles. For example, George Irvin, a retired professor of economics who worked for many years at ISS in The Hague, writes:

By voting to cut the EU budget, Labour is aligning itself with budget cutters throughout the EU—in the main, centre-right parties. With euro-zone unemployment now above 11% (in some member-states above 25%!) and Europe headed for even deeper recession, any sensible progressive politician should be shouting out for co-ordinated fiscal expansion. What’s needed is the opposite of budget cutting—a far larger EU budget which could be used to reflate the economy and transfer resources towards the neediest regions.

The concern was quietly echoed in today’s Daily Mirror editorial

It is timely to remember this: EU membership gives us access to a market of 500 million people; 40% of our trade and 3.5 million jobs depend on our relationship with Ireland and continental Europe. Tactical votes in parliament will be won and lost as long as parties play political games … but we must not lose sight of the huge value to Britain of a seat at the European table.

It might seem unthinkable that Britain’s membership of the EU could be under threat, but it is worth watching this speech by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the ‘Europa nach der Krise’ conference organised by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute on Governance in Berlin on 30th October 2012. Schroeder argues two main points specificaly about the difficult relationship between the EU and the UK. Firstly he argues that the political and business elite in the UK believe that Europe’s economic future depends upon services particularly financal services, whereas the mainstream consensus among German politicians is that the economy requires a significant manufacturing sector, and particularly a layer of medium size businesses. (The move by French President Hollande more towards a model of Rhineland capitalism is also a significant factor in bolstering the authority of this argument). Secondly, Schroeder argues that there is a core-Europe being forged through growing integration, and that “the unwilling must not be allowed to be a block on the willing”. He would implicitly allow Britain to take our ball home.

It is clear that exercise of a veto on the EU budget by David Cameron, especially in the context of growing economic crises in the Club-Med countries, would be intolerable to almost all European leaders. Labour has therefore created the perfect political storm for Cameron, who goes into negotiations revealed as a Prime Minister not in control of his own party, and with an unraveling coalition government. The increasingly other-worldly Euro-sceptic right are encouraged to demand Cameron to take a belligerent stance that he cannot prevail with.

So was Labour opportunist? I don’t think so. Certainly economic recovery demands stimulus to the economy at both European and British state levels, and it perhaps seems counter-intuitive to argue for a European budget cut. However, the left should not defend a European budget that is already imposing cripling austerity on Greece and Spain, and where the anachronistic Common Agricultural Policy swallows up a full 40% of the budget. Will Straw, suprisingly writing on Conservative Home suggests a progressive case for a budget cut:

The only way to break the impasse is for Britain to attempt a ‘grand bargain’. This would entail putting our £3 billion rebate on the table in exchange for an EU budget that leaves Britain better off than before. New research by IPPR shows that a 25 per cent reduction in the EU budget could do exactly that and leave enough left over to contribute to sensible projects to enhance much-needed growth across the continent.

Open Europe have shown that cutting CAP payments by 30 per cent and restricting structural funds to countries with below 90 per cent of EU GDP, as Tony Blair proposed in 2005, could save £35 billion per year from the EU budget. This saving would mean that Britain could give up its rebate and still end up saving £1.2 billion per year on our EU bill. That would be enough to compensate all the regions in the UK that would lose out from an end to structural funds.

Every country across Europe would get money back with France and Germany gaining most given the large size of their existing contributions. This would be enough for France to compensate their farmers and for Germany once again to take Britain seriously and shape a consensus for a smaller budget. Italy, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Baltic states are all countries that could be expected to support the reforms.

What is more, the single biggest obstacle to economic recovery in the UK is continued existence of the Tory led coalition government. Yesterday Ed Miliband demonstrated how being in opposition is different from being in government. Labour was able to throw a hand-grenade into the Tory camp, but this gesture creates no meaningful precedent over how a future Labour government would handle comparable budget negotiations in the future. By so doing, Labour deeply weakened the authority of the Tory government, and exacerbated tensions with the Lib-Dem passengers. Politics is a contact sport, and Ed Miliband showed that he is prepared to do what it takes to defeat this shower of old Etonians.

219 comments on “Eu Budget Vote: Miliband Shows Inner Steel

  1. stephen marks on said:

    As someone starting from the same ‘pro-European Left’ position as yourself I can only hope you’re right Andy. Meanwhile there is a lot of useful and interesting material, including the Straw article, here;

    http://nucleus.uk.net/

  2. jack ford on said:

    De Gaulle was right. Britain should never have been allowed to join. The UK has been an American Trojan horse blocking all attempts to build a social Europe. It prevented Delors plan from getting anywhere, prevented the creation of European corporations with workers reps on the board on the German model and teamed up with the reactionary East European states to convert the EU to neoliberalism. If Schroeder wants to get rid of Britain I can well understand why.

  3. jack ford on said:

    Agree with Andy about Ed by the way. Plenty of people underestimate Ed Miliband but the way he became Labour leader and his career in government suggests that he may be soft spoken but he’s also pretty tough. He may not be charismatic but it would be a mistake to misunderestimate him.

  4. Pardeep on said:

    How sad and desparate do you have to be to laud an empty vesell like Ed Milipede, if ‘we’ are lucky to have him as a leader then we may as well give up and turn the lights out. How terribly some people cling to the invisible man as their only hope.

  5. How come Miliband can marshal his troops on this but they abstain on this weeks Pension Bill, which is a draconian austerity measure on working people? At least a few rebelled and voted against, such as John McDonnell.

  6. Unfortunately, debates on Europe and the EU are lost on the majority of ordinary people. Any political capital extracted by Ed Miliband and Labour over this will be minimal as a result.

    However, it is good to see the Tory front bench left reeling over the Commons vote.

    Britain’s history of blocking closer European integration in favour of the Atlantic Alliance and US interests is a shameful one. The fact remains that the most progressive legislation currently on the statute books in this country has emanated from Europe.

    A social democratic Europe remains a viable objective. It would be a much needed counterweight to US economic and political weight. But monetary union without fiscal union is unsustainable, as we’re seeing now.

  7. prianikoff on said:

    Perhaps Ed Miliband should change his name to Ed Steelyband, Steely Dan or maybe Ed Stalin?
    Personally, I’m not sure whether it’s inner steel or One Nation blancmange.

    The danger of an opportunist bloc with the Tory right over Europe is that it will encourage the growth of UKIP.
    There are numerous other issues upon which the Toxic Tories can be isolated:-
    Leading figures from their party are deeply implicated in the scandals over Hillsborough, Orgreave and Savillegate.
    There’s growing distrust between the LibDems and Tories over energy policy.

    If Ed Miliband applied himself to the task, he could split them and force a new election.
    But it won’t do Labour any good unless they win it.
    “Austerity Lite” is not a winning policy.
    In Scotland it’s fuelling the growth of the SNP.
    In England it means that the poorest sections of society are often politically apathetic.
    We need something steelier than that to win.

  8. Looking at all this from a machiavaleian power play point of view with out thinking about what was or was not the correct vote in terms of morality. i think this probably means labour will not be able to form a governemnent with the liberals. they looked like they might be trying to appeal to them with the suggestion that they support the mansion tax but now i think labour are going for broke ie a labour majority government with no back up plan.

  9. andy newman on said:

    james?: i think this probably means labour will not be able to form a governemnent with the liberals.

    Oh come on, the Liberals would form a coalition with the corpse of Jimmy Saville if they could keep their minsterial cars. They have absolutely no principles whatsoever.

  10. This is bad economics and bad politics.

    Voting for EU budget cuts is all of a piece with Labour’s not opposing pensions ‘reform’ – it signfies a belief that cuts are the answer to the crisis. In fact, the EU Budget funded the recovery in the Baltic States and prevented a Polish recession through investment. Britain is a direct beneficiary of EU infrastructure funding, and EIB lending.

    Its bad politics because the popular anti-EU sentiment it renforces will not be to Labour’s benefit- it simply can’t outdo the Tory Right on Euroscepticism and remain a credible party.

    For a correct assessment of the vote, see Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson, here “cutting EU Budget would exacerbate austerity”

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/24866

  11. John Palmer on said:

    Andy you have succeeded in putting yourself well to the right with this “know nothing” tirade justifying Labour alliance with the Tory far right. You say it is OK to cut the budget because it imposes austerity on the Greek people. It does nothing of the kind. It offers small alleviation to the austerity imposed, lets remember, by other EU governments. The excessively moderate budget proposed by the Commission would have increased public investment in infrastructure, the environment and sustainable development with the bias strongly in favour of the desperately hard hit Mediterranean economies – notably Greece. THAT is what will be sacrificed with an EU budget freeze – let alone the kind of cut you support. And please do not give me ill informed guff about the CAP. The Commission and many of the European Parliament have repeatedly called for strict limits on the subsidies handed out to the richest landowners and farmers. THAT has always been blocked by successive Tory and Labour governments. Any serious programme in support of a fight back by the European labour movement against the austerity insanity MUST include in its policy armoury a much bigger – not smaller – EU budget.

  12. John Palmer,

    Don’t worry John, it probably isn’t too late for you to get a refund from your charm school.

    You seem to have overlooked the politics of the situation in favour of a focus on the technocratic aspects of the proposed budget.

    Firstly, I did NOT say it was OK to cut the budget, I said that the left should not be overly exercised by the need to defend the proposed budget as it stands. Those two position should not be conflated, and you have been around the blocks enough times to know that.

    Secondly, I point out that the political situation Cameron now finds himself in is one where he is between a rock and a hard place. There is very little tolerance in Europe for the UK unilaterally vetoing the budget, and Cameron goes into the negotiations exposed as a Prime Minister without sufficient authority to even command a majority in his own parliament. As such, a non binding vote in Westminster merely increases the political pressure on the Tories, but is unlikely to make any difference to the actual EU budget outcome.

    What Labour has done is turn the screws on the Tories’ discomfort.

    You seem to rather naively think that there is some connection between what the Labour Party has voted for in parliament this week, and what a future Labour government would do. Since when has politics worked like that?

    While an expanded EU budget is indeed necessary for recovery, a serious obstacle for recovery is the commitment to austerity by the British government. Expecting UK tax payers to contribute to an expanded EU budget while simultaneoulsy the economic policies of the UK government undermine any prospect of recovery, is a politically unsustainable prospect for any British opposition party to support.

  13. frank: it simply can’t outdo the Tory Right on Euroscepticism and remain a credible party.

    Labour doesn’t need to do that. It merely needs to widen the cracks between the different wings of the Tory Party, and let the internal factionalism of the Conservatives take its own course.

  14. John Palmer on said:

    Andy – In which case attack the British government’s neanderthal policy on spending cuts etc – and not back W, Straw’s variation on the same budget cutting theme. May I suggest you read the programme of the Euro-Memorandum network of socialist and Green economists across Europe http://www.euromemo.eu/euromemorandum/euromemorandum_2012/index.html
    which they have advanced in support of the efforts to organise an EU wide resistance to the current austerity madness. By pouring fuel on the flames of anti-EU populism, Labour will only incite people to go the whole hog with the right wing Tories, the UKIP or worse. This is indeed “the anti-capitalism of fools.”

  15. John Palmer: By pouring fuel on the flames of anti-EU populism, Labour will only incite people to go the whole hog with the right wing Tories, the UKIP or worse. This is indeed “the anti-capitalism of fools.”

    John, because your interest in the European issue is so strong, you overlook the point made above by JOhn at #6, that for most people the whole EU debate is a massive yawnathon.

    A strategic weakness for the Tories, is that they are obsessed by an issue that the general public are largely uninterested in.

    What is more, splitting the Tory party over the issue of Europe, notwithstanding the prospect of an increased UKIP vote, under the FPTP system may ensure a Labour victory.

    The task of the moment is to argue for Laboyur to adopt a domestic economic policy of economic growth, that is what voters will latch on to.

  16. It will never cease to amaze me the extent to which many social democrats and left-opportunists continue to put faith into the EU, even a bizarre dreamworld of an apparently ‘viable’ ‘social democratic Europe’.

    This pathetic notion was idiotic-more the result of a decline in proper class politics that accompanied the decline in strength of the labour movement in the 90s than anything else-but after the EU has removed governments and forced austerity that has driven European countries to the brink of social breakdown, how can anyone have any more ilusions in what has always been a bosses club.

    Why should the government be cutting public spending here, yet increasing the amount of money it shells out to the EU? How much of a benefit is it for us? Would be better off if we, like Norway, were out of the crony bosses club? The bureaucrats in Brussels will only be spending it on dining out on posh nosh while discussing how they can make the peoples of Europe suffer further.

    Milband’s decision to support Tory rebels is the one thing he has done that I have whole heartedly agreed with, and perhaps more importantly, it also convinces me he has what it takes to win the next general election.

    Labour needs to return back to the days of being more Eurosceptic than the Tories, as the People’s pledge-a fantastic campaign-has demonstrated the public actually turn out in larger numbers to vote in favour of a referendum on EU membership than for local elections.

    Membership of the EU makes socialism, even social democracy, unconstitutional. This was true before the crisis, since the true nature of the EU has been revealed. We need out.

    This idea that we can legitslate socialism from Brussels is not only completely ludicrous, but also gives further assistance to those who argue that socialism is some kind of foreign idea, imposed from the outside.

    Socialism has a long history in Britain and can be built on the basis of a broad alliance, led by the labour movement. From Wat Tyler and John Ball, to the Diggers and Levellers, from the Chartists to the early trade union pioneers, the Labour party and Communist party, socialism has been rooted in Britain’s mass movements and we need to leave the EU in order to have the freedom to elect a government that can build a socialist society here.

    Today’s Morning Star has reported how the campaign to get Britain out has been boosted by the vote:

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/125620

  17. jock mctrousers on said:

    @#10 “…the EU Budget funded the recovery in the Baltic States and prevented a Polish recession through investment. Britain is a direct beneficiary of EU infrastructure funding, and EIB lending.”

    Pull the other one on all that. ” recovery in the Baltic states” LOL

    @#11

    ” And please do not give me ill informed guff about the CAP. ”

    It’s nice that you’re so well informed. Maybe you could share your wisdom with us ignorami? How about some links, or refs to reading material at least.

    It’s an oft-remarked upon facet of our relationship with the EU that its technocrats feel that ‘the people’ shouldn’t meddle in things they don’t understand. My instinct, and it’s an increasingly common one, is if you don’t understand it, don’t pay for it.

    It doesn’t take an expert to answer the question: should we give more money to an organisation whose books haven’t been signed off for 17 years?

    What’s YOUR answer, John Palmer? How will we know if the EU actually does this good stuff you say it will? If the actuaries and accountants can’t get the info, then how are we ignorami to find out?

  18. jock mctrousers on said:

    #14 OK, John Palmer, you posted a link to some info while I was writing my last post. But the rest still stands.

    And well said George W.#16. This hysteria about agreeing with the Tory right and UKIP about something is just another variant on the manipulative emotional blackmail that cries ‘racism’ whenever it meets dissent.

  19. jock mctrousers: It’s nice that you’re so well informed.

    To be fair, neither modesty nor lack of self belief are accusations that are often levelled at John Palmer. He must have been very comfortable at the Guardian.

  20. John Palmer on said:

    Andy – You know better than this stuff about how encouraging more UKIP votes, thus splitting the Tories, would secure a Labour Government. What kind of a Labour government? To judge by precedents Labour’s policy in the EU has differed little from the Tories in practice(at least until very recently). The debate in the House of Commons was about the EU budget, some of whose provisions are vital for the likes of the people of Greece. And Labour did not merely demand a “freeze” but actual cuts. When Cameron returns from Brussels to report that a cut proved to be impossible (because the other 26 EU states also have a veto)will Labour vote to reject the agreement (backed by all the other Labour and social democrat parties)? Or will they do a U-turn and accept a freeze. Either way UKIP will be dripping with venemous glee. And Jock McTrousers, can we assume what is left of the Communist Party will line up with UKIP on this?

  21. jack ford on said:

    Those of us who opposed Maastricht back in the Nineties were accused of being Little England dinosaurs in bed with the Tories. Sad fact is that Europe is the one issue on which the Tories actually talk sense.

    The economics of the Euro were crazy from the start. You cannot have a monetary union without fiscal union and considerable transfers from rich states to poor ones as happens in the US. You cannot have fiscal union without a democratic elected federal government to administer it as without this the fiscal union does not have the legitimacy to make it acceptable. The national governments of the EU are not going to make the EU democratic. They don’t want Brussels to be democratic because if it was it would take away their power. It suits the political establishment fine well to make dodgy deals with big business and the banksters in Brussels and then turn round to their electorates and say very sorry this is a European commitment there’s nothing we can do.

    In principle I would support a federal United States of Europe provided it was democratic. It’s an attractive vision since continental social democracy could set minimum standards of welfare and workers rights across the Union and prevent business and finance from playing one government off against another. A continental economy like the EU would be too rich and too big a market for any corporation to boycott. Theoretically a federal Europe could transfer power away from markets and back to government. This is John Palmer’s vision and it is not an ignoble one. I used to believe in it.

    But the sad reality is that a democratic federal Europe is not poitically doable. Even if the European public could be persuaded to vote for it and to abandon national sovereignty which I highly doubt the national governments will never allow it to happen.

    Meanwhile recent ECJ judgements have made it impossible for unions to organise effectively and the Euro has become an instrument of neoliberal tyranny destroying jobs and livelihoods.

    I don’t like agreeing with Nigel Farage but he’s basically correct. Since it is impossible to make the EU work for the people the southern European countries should leave the Euro and restore nation state democracy.

  22. jack ford on said:

    I personally believe that the Eurozone is headed for a terminal crisis.

    The ultimate secret of the financial crisis, the thing that nobody anywhere wants to talk about is this: if a country gets into a credit crisis, defaulting on its debts is the one option that consistently leads to recovery.

    That statement ought to be old hat by now. Russia defaulted on its debts in 1998, and that default marked the end of its post-Soviet economic crisis and the beginning of its current period of relative prosperity. Argentina defaulted on its debts in 2002, and the default put an end to its deep recession and set it on the road to recovery. Even more to the point, Iceland was the one European country that refused the EU demand that the debts of failed banks must be passed on to governments; instead, in 2008, the Icelandic government allowed the country’s three biggest banks to fold, paid off Icelandic depositors by way of the existing deposit insurance scheme, and left foreign investors twisting in the wind. Since that time, Iceland has been the only European country to see a sustained recovery.

    When Greece defaults on its debts and leaves the Euro, in turn, there will be a bit of scrambling, and then the Greek recovery will begin. That’s the reason the EU has been trying so frantically to keep Greece from defaulting, no matter how many Euros have to be shoveled down how many ratholes to prevent it. Once the Greek default happens, and it will — the number of ratholes is multiplying much faster than Euros can be shoveled into them — the other southern European nations that are crushed by excessive debt will line up to do the same. There will be a massive stock market crash, a great many banks will go broke, a lot of rich people and an even larger number of middle class people will lose a great deal of money, politicians will make an assortment of stern and defiant speeches, and then the great European financial crisis will be over and people can get on with their lives.

    That’s what will happen too, when the United States either defaults on its national debt or hyperinflates the debt out of existence. It’s going to do one or the other, since its debts are already unpayable except by way of the printing press, and its gridlocked political system is unable either to rationalize its tax system or cut its expenditures. The question is simply what crisis will finally break the confidence of foreign investors in the dollar as a safe haven currency, and start the panic selling of dollar-denominated assets that will tip the US into its next really spectacular financial crisis. That’s going to be a messy one, since the financial economy is so deeply woven into the fantasy life of the average American; there will be a lot of poverty and suffering, as there always is during serious financial crises, but as John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out about an earlier crisis of the same kind, “while it is a time of great tragedy, nothing is being lost but money.”

  23. jock mctrousers on said:

    Off topic, but maybe we could declare a minute of gloating for DENNIS MCSHANE LOL?

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    Will EdM and the Labour Party gain some tactical advantage through the Government’s parliamentary defeat, by increasing the Tories’ internal difficulties and also damaging their relations with the LibDems over Europe?

    I doubt it. I think the Government’s defeat here, notwithstanding any short-term political embarassment, will tend to strengthen the political right.

    It is troubling when people on the left express support for the Eurosceptic position and line up with the UKIP/Daily Express position of calling for a referendum on EU membership.

    The left should not line up with the hard, xenophobic right.

  25. Morning Star reader on said:

    John (6) writes: “The fact remains that the most progressive legislation currently on the statute books in this country has emanated from Europe”.
    I hope the EU Commission, the European Central Bank or the European Round Table are paying him well for writing such twaddle.
    We don’t have an NHS or a social insurance system in Britain because of the EU. Our basic legislation governing health and safety and equal pay did not originate in the EU. Our trade union rights – such as they are – do not come from the EU. Nor did the EU prevent the anti-union laws being introduced by Thatcher and Major and (mostly) retained by Blair and Brown.
    Of the small amount of progressive legislation that originated in Europe (e.g. equal value), most of it arose from cases before the European Court linked to the Council of Europe – which is nothing to do with the EU.
    So what EU legislation is John talking about? Even the feeble Working Time Directive has more holes than a string vest.
    We need a government in Britain that enacts progressive legislation, not chase after some European pipe dream – especially when all the basic Treaties of the EU are in favour of Capital. In fact, any such government here (or anywhere else in the EU for that matter) would soon come up against EU laws and unelected EU institutions.
    That’s before we get to the string of decisions from the European Court of Justice (which IS the EU court) undermining trade union and employment rights in Member States.
    A Social Europe? A United Socialist States of Europe? Go tell it to the Greeks, the Spanish, the Portuguese …

  26. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jock (23) suggests a minute of gloating over the fall of Denis MacShane. I suggest an hour or two at least.
    He was a typical right-wing social democratic pro-EU fanatic. He cut his political teeth as a leading official with the International Metalworkers’ Federation in Switzerland, where he ran a long and vicious anti-Communist campaign to exclude the CGT from the international trade union movement.
    Good riddance to the lying, fiddling, anti-socialist, anti-Communist little shit.

  27. Morning Star reader on said:

    Karl (24), the BNP and other parts of the “hard xenophobic right” did not support the war on Iraq. Were we “lining up” with the fascists and xenophobes when we opposed the war? Of course not.
    Other fascists and nationalists oppose US military bases in Britain, and British membership of NATO. Should we let that opposition turn us into supporters of US bases and NATO? Stop being so silly.

  28. jack ford on said:

    #27 Exactly. The truth does not cease to be true because a fascist says it for nefarious purposes of their own.

    Some of the sharpest commentary and investigations on Soros, Goldman and the neo-liberal global banking order comes from the extreme right these days, and I’ve dug through many of their articles – there is some really good, well researched stuff from some of them, sometimes with some solid questions about economic alternatives and dealing with the damage.

    Then you start reading what else they stand for…
    From pretty standard racism to real space-cadet lunacy & occasionally advocating some very violent divisive views.

    But if the left can’t come up with a credible economic alternative and continues apologising for the EU banksters in the name of anti nationalism then the danger that people will turn to the far right becomes greater not lesser.

    As far as UKIP are concerned they are not racist or fascist in any way. They are basically Thatcherite Tories who want out of Europe and while their politics are very different from mine much of what they say about the Brussels regime is perfectly correct.

  29. prianikoff on said:

    MSR #25 – “A Social Europe? A United Socialist States of Europe? Go tell it to the Greeks, the Spanish, the Portuguese …”

    So your answer is capitalism in one country?

  30. John Palmer is right on this at least, the EU budget should be much bigger than currently. It should be focused on increasing investment, which did indeed support the Baltic recovery

    http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/a-voice-from-the-baltics-rainer-kattel-and-ringa-raudla-on-the-question-if-the-baltics-are-an-example-or-not/

    and prevented any Polish recession

    http://beyondthetransition.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/slump-in-private-investment-in-poland.html

    It should also be spent differently, by supporting incomes for Europe’s peasantry not its large agricultural businesses.

    But none of that can happen if the total is cut.

  31. Karl Stewart on said:

    MS Reader, I can’t believe you don’t see a fundamental difference betweeen the Stop the War Coalition: “We’re campaigning against the Iraq War” and the UKIP/Daily Express campaign: “We’re against political correctness, health and safety, red tape regulations on business, maternity leave, the minimum wage, trade union rights and foreigners.”

    You can’t say you’re campaigning against the EU’s austerity measures by lining up with the hard-right political forces who oppose the EU because they think the EU is too progressive.

  32. 29 the fact you think that capitalism in several countries coordinated by a neoliberal bosses club is better than capitalism in one country says a lot about your politics

  33. jack ford on said:

    Agree that it’s good news about McShane by the way. He epitomised everything that was wrong with New Labour.

  34. prianikoff on said:

    MSR 29 “the fact you think that capitalism in several countries coordinated by a neoliberal bosses club is better than capitalism in one country says a lot about your politics”

    Except it’s not a fact, because I don’t.
    Whereas you’re rejecting a Socialist Europe and thereby *explicitly* arguing for capitalism in one country!
    Even worse, you’re arguing for this as an international solution to the present capitalist recession, which is pretty weird.

  35. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hey GeorgeW, I’ve just taken a look at the UKIP/Daily Express “Peoples Pledge” campaign that you support.

    Yes there is one trade union leader on the list of supporters, but also a UKIP MEP, there’s also Ruth Lea from the right-wing Institute of Directors, hard-right Tory MP John Redwood and various other right-wing Tories, Thatcherites and xenophobes.

    No-one on the left should have anything to do with this thoroughly reactionary campaign.

    GeorgeW, the problem is capitalism, austerity, cuts, attacks on workers – and this is what we need to fight. The enemy is not “foreigners”.

  36. I wish people would be more consistent with condemning the idea that you can’t take a position on ‘x’ because if you do you’ll be lining up with ‘y’.

    It’s always a bad political argument whether it suits your position or not.

    John W and others are absolutely right about the EU question being a big snore to most people in this country.

    It really should be viewed as a tactical question rather than something to get obsessed about.

    Those who have illusions in a social europe are wrong but so are those who want to make it a point of divide for the left.

    That’s why the KKE were absolutely wrong to use it as an excuse to refuse to go into government with SYRIZA.

    The question at the moment is the level of popular resistance to austerity and the extent to which a government (and of course Greece appears to be th only place where this is on the agenda at the moment- PASOK and DL support for the government is fragmenting) is prepared to refuse to implement austerity policies.

  37. jock mctrousers on said:

    #31 Karl Stewart: ” You can’t say you’re campaigning against the EU’s austerity measures by lining up with the hard-right political forces who oppose the EU because they think the EU is too progressive.”

    This is just a suggestion, mind, but could we not say that we’re for pulling out of the EU, but for ‘different reasons’ (and some the same, right enough)?

    #30 frank – The article I link to below tells much the same story as your first link, but there’s an important difference: call it a philosophical one if you like, but in what sense can you call the Baltic model a success on the basis of a percentage point or 2 increase in GDP (from zero, it seems) at the price of massive ‘loans’ from outside (EU), the emigration of virtually the entire young population, and the takeover of nearly every business activity by foreigners (is that xenophobic?)?

    Michael Hudson and Jeffery Sommers, contributors to the forthcoming book by Routledge Press: The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model.

    Latvia is No Model for Austerity
    http://tinyurl.com/87sg7l7

    #35 prianikoff – what’s this about a Socialist Europe? I’d like to hear more about that?

  38. prianikoff,

    what’s ‘pretty weird’ is those like you who might usually profess to be revolutionary socialists support an undemocratic cabal of bosses set up to drive down wages and conditions in Europe.

    Karl, to call an organiser supported by trade unionists, socialists, the communist party, several Labour MPs and the Morning Star anti-foreigner is highly offensive and indicative of the politics of a jumped up little shite, not worthy of you comrade.

    Just like stop the war or countless other campaigns it is childish to refuse to participate because someone has different views on other issues.

  39. Morning Star reader on said:

    I want to see socialist revolution, not only in Britain but throughout the world.
    Is that clear enough for Prianikoff and our other “super-internationalist”, “super-revolutionary” friends on this site?
    Now explain to me how a capitalist, imperialist, militarist United States of Europe – which is the trajectory that the EU is on – takes us towards that goal.
    In particular, please tell me how the entrenchment of monetarist, anti-working class and pro-monopoly policies in the fundamental treaties of the EU makes it more favourable terrain for the class struggle.
    Pseudo-internationalist posturing is no substitute for a strategy to win state power where it still mainly resides in reality – in the British state. But I can see the attraction for pseudo-revolutionary, pseudo-internationalist posers.

  40. Morning Star reader on said:

    And by the way, Karl (36), can you tell us where George W or anyone else is suggesting that the problem is not capitalism or the ruling class, but “foreigners”? No, thought not. Try arguing like a grown-up.

  41. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim (43) could you tell us a little more of Andrew’s involvement in the class struggle in Cardiff? It’s just that nobody I know there has ever seen or heard of him.

  42. MSR – Check our the SLP website. Class struggle, now that’s a question – please elaborate?

  43. MSR – I should add, I’ve been a candudate in Scotland for the SLP in many areas where “nobody had heard of me”. So what. I stood on policies and attitude – just like many of the early socialist pioneers. What exactly is your point?

  44. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim, I’m with you on the EU – but, as I asked earlier, why is it that NONE of my friends on the left in Cardiff – CP, SP, SWP, Plaid – have ever heard of Comrade Jordan?

  45. Morning Star reader on said:

    Sorry Jim, our letters crossed.
    It’s not that Andrew might not come from Cardiff – I have no idea. But he claims to live there and wants to represent the working class there as an MP.
    So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that – if you want socialists to vote for him – he has some record of political activity in Cardiff, where he lives. So, again, what is his record of fighting for working class people in the city in which he lives? And why can I not find a single comrade in any left-wing party there who has even heard of him?

  46. Are you from that neck of the woods yourself? Are you saying that the SLP is unheard of in Cardiff? In the wider sense we’re (left wing) all unheard of.

    Are we being parochial here?

  47. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim, I’m sure that lefties in Cardiff have heard of the SLP. It’s just that I cannot find anyone there – and I’m talking well-informed comrades in the LP, CP, SP, SWP, Greens, Plaid – who have ever come across an Andrew Jordan. Yet he lives there, according to his nomination papers (summarised on the PCS Wales website). If so, how can he be an active and principled socialist, deserving of working class support (as you first proposed) and yet be so totally unknown?
    That’s why I asked if you know something about him that the left in Cardiff apparently doesn’t know. I have had personal relationships in the city and know plenty of people on the left there.
    Or is this just another SLP paper candidate, who doesn’t even have a record of activity in the constituency they are contesting, despite living in the same city?

  48. Three points. So you are being parochial. You question Andrew’s being an “active and principled socialist”. And, there’s no such thing as a “paper candidate”.

  49. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim, my final point before bedtime. If Andrew Jordan came from outside Cardiff, and didn’t live there, it would be unreasonable to expect him to have a record of local activity. He might still be worth supporting, nevertheless. So I’m not being parochial.
    But he claims to be living in Cardiff.
    So why has nobody on the left there, in the anti-war or anti-cuts movements for example, ever heard of him? Why should the good people and working class of Cardiff vote for someone who – unless you inform us otherwise – has no known record of campaigning on these or any other issues in the city in which he lives? Are there no struggles there worth supporting – or is he just too busy?
    It was your idea to tell us that the electors of Cardiff should vote for him. Why should they vote for someone who might talk a good fight, but has no record of engaging in one?

  50. Morning Star reader: Why should they vote for someone

    Go along to the meeting (or other) and ask him.

    Andrew will be speaking at an SLP Wales Public Meeting to support his campaign at 7.30pm on Monday November 12th. The meeting will be held at – The New Fleurs Club, 2 Portmanmoor Road, Cardiff, CF24 5FX.

  51. prianikoff on said:

    Morning Star Reader (echoed by George W and McTrousers) puts the cart before the horse.

    In his schema, withdrawal from the European Union is a pre-requisite for “progressive legislation” and perhaps “building a socialist society” at a national level.
    Therefore he wants it to be a central focus for the Left’s political demands and campaigns in Britain.
    This however, is a proven recipe for failure.

    It was exemplified by the CP-B initiated No2EU electoral campaign. What this showed was that there was no mass labour movement audience it could appeal to.
    The main anti-Europe consituency in Britain is to be found amongst UKIP’s supporters.
    The Socialist Party made a mistake by entering this campaign and covering up for its social chauvinist illusions.

    MSR, George W and McT also gave uncritical support to the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during the elections there. Like them, the KKE fetishised the issue of the EU, making it an acid test for deciding on political alliances.

    It therefore refused to enter a United Front with Syriza, refused to place any demands on its leadership and refused to countenance the possibility of a Workers Government.

    The Greek population showed it didn’t agree with the KKE’s arguments. Its vote plummeted while Syriza came within a whisker of winning power.
    The ultra left sectarians of the KKE effectively threw a spanner in the works.

    Unilaterally leaving the EU is a self-defeating position.
    Socialists in Europe should fight for their politics irrespective of EU laws.
    If they’re not strong enough to overturn them and get thrown out of the EU, so be it. In the process they will have helped build a Europe-wide movement against Austerity.

    The leaders of the EU can’t keep lopping off their own legs forever. If anti-austerity governments came to power in a number of EU states simultaneously, you can bet that Merkel, Cameron et al. would then become the biggest opponents of the EU!
    The reason is obvious; Capitalism can’t unite Europe.

  52. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff (54) says that, for me, ‘withdrawal from the European Union is a pre-requisite for “progressive legislation”’. I say no such thing, because I don’t believe it. Like him, I would place the emphasis on fighting for what’s needed, and not at this stage making the EU the central issue. Nevertheless, the EU question is an important one for us in Britain, and even more so for workers and people in Greece, Spain etc. (Incidentally, Prianikoff is also wrong to claim that my position has been one of ‘uncritical’ support for the KKE in the recent elections).
    My main points in recent posts have been to argue against illusions in the EU, and the belief that it can be turned into a ‘Social Europe’, or the starting point for a United Socialist States of Europe, and to point out that exposing the class character of the EU has nothing to do with ‘lining up’ with the BNP, UKIP etc.

  53. Morning Star reader on said:

    Gavin (56), I suspect you know the answer to your question as well as I do. As nobody is peddling any illusions about the British state here, it has not been an issue in this debate. There appear to be some serious illusions about the EU, however, which is why it is under discussion.
    Important differences between the British state and the EU, on the other hand, are that (1) the British state represents a concentration of state power that the EU has yet to achieve – in fact, the EU still largely rests on the national state power of Europe’s most powerful capitalist classes (Germany, France, Britain, Italy), with all the contradictions that go with it; and (2) the proto-European state being built in the EU already has embedded in its basic treaties and institutions a number of fundamentally anti-democratic and pro-monopoly features that are intended to prevent even the most modest reforms from being enacted.
    Both of these differences, in my view, have significant implications for revolutionary strategy in Britain, as everywhere else in Europe. Of course, if the strategy is the simplistic “one big bang” approach of some on the far left, these differences will not be of any importance.

  54. jock mctrousers on said:

    @#54 & #55

    I too reject this statement as a misrepresentation:

    ” MSR, George W and McT also gave uncritical support to the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during the elections there. Like them, the KKE fetishised the issue of the EU, making it an acid test for deciding on political alliances.”

    I never said that I support them; I argued with prianifoff that they had reasons for their position, and were not, as he maintained, acting out of a robotic reflex determined by their Stalinist programming.

  55. jack ford on said:

    I think its fair to say that the KKE decision not to support Syriza was a big strategic mistake and Greece is suffering for it.

  56. What I will never understand from left-opportunists and their trot followers this crazy idea that it is somehow impossible to elect a government with a socialist program in one country that has national sovereignty, but it is very likely that you can elect-presumably simultaneously, overnight-several socialist governments across different countries in the EU that will somehow change the nature of an organisation that has only ever been a capitalist bosses club dedicated to smashing unions, wages and terms and conditions across Europe.

    I have no illusions in the British capitalist state, but there’s always been an England, a Scotland, a Wales, even before capitalism, the EU has never been anything different and-especially given its recent role in the crisis-to pretend anything else is desperate stuff.

    Its similar to the idea that you can’t have socialism in one country, that you should wait until half the world breaks into revolution, before you can get anywhere. This idea is poisonous and encourages apathy.

    Why struggle to get your nation out of the EU and regain a degree of national sovereignty when, if you just sit around smoking weed on campus, you can wait until the character of the EU is miraculously transformed by several immediate socialist triumphs.

  57. jack ford,

    It would have been opportunist for the KKE to sign up to a government that remained committed to NATO and the EU.

    Thankfully they refused to be disarmed and the Greek people still have a militant party with huge organisations of workers, small farmers and student to continue the fight for socialism.

    As for ‘changing the character of the EU’ with corrupt ex-social democrats and a bunch of opportunists who are fond of meeting up with the US ambassador, leave it to the dickheads. I wish they would assume power just to reveal what an utter disapointment they would be and what an embarassment it would have for their crusty cheerleaders over here.

  58. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hey George, you suggested I take a look at the list of supporters of the “Peoples Pledge” campaign, so I did and its supporters are mostly UKIP types and hard-right Thatcherites.

    I could only see one trade union GS on the list George – just one, the RMT leader.

    Have the leaderships of Unite, UNISON, GMB, PCS, CWU and others signed up to it as well? Are their names there too? I couldn’t see them.

    And yes, there are a few Labour MPs on the list alongside right-wing Tories John Redwood and Mark Reckless, but I couldn’t see the names of John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn or George Galloway there.

    GeorgeW and MSR, there’s no reason in principle why the left shouldn’t argue for EU withdrawal – I don’t agree with that position, but it’s a tactical call and not reactionary in itself to make that call.

    What’s thoroughly reactionary is joining an anti-EU campaign alongside the most hard-right Thatcherites and xenophobes.

    Their agenda is an anti-working class agenda. They oppose the EU because they think the EU gives too many rights to workers. By joining their campaign, and standing shoulder to shoulder with UKIP and the Daily Express, all you’re doing is giving a “cross-party respectability” to that hard right agenda.

    GeorgeW and MSR, the role you’re playing in the “Peoples Pledge Campaign” is that of UKIP’s useful idiots.

    The priority is to wage and win the battle of ideas against monetarist cuts and austerity and to build a progressive consensus for workers’ rights, public services, full employment, investment and growth.

    That ideological battle is the primary one.

  59. “Thankfully they refused to be disarmed and the Greek people still have a militant party with huge organisations of workers, small farmers and student to continue the fight for socialism.”

    This is woeful politics,George, and I generally have alot of time for your viewpoints. It’s abundantly clear that it was a huge mistake not to give SYRIZA support as we now have,aside from the Greek govt completely under the thumb of the EU elite, rampant neo-Nazis running the streets of Athens. You,correctly, lampoon Trotskyist “internationalism” yet lapse into a similar dogmatism where the KKE is concerned!

  60. prianikoff on said:

    MSR#55 I may not have been sufficiently attentive to the nuances of your arguments and how they differed from those of George W and Jock McT.

    I wouldn’t fundamentally disagree with what you’ve written in this post, except for the final paragraph.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in favour of a Socialist Europe as a strategic objective.

    Unfortunately by #60 you relapse into sectarian banality, when you say this:-

    “…Its similar to the idea that you can’t have socialism in one country, that you should wait until half the world breaks into revolution, before you can get anywhere.
    This idea is poisonous and encourages apathy.”

    This is a distortion of the debates within the Marxist movement before WW1, in which Lenin argued against a “United States of Europe” and the idea of “simultaneous world revolution”.

    But the United States of Europe slogan (minus Socialist) implied that Capitalism could unite Europe and end inter-Imperialist rivalry. i.e. the Kautskyite theory of ultra-imperialism, which WWI disproved.

    This is exactly the opposite of what I’ve been arguing above; I repeat, Capitalism can’t Unite Europe.

    What political consequences follow from this axiomatic statement of Lenin’s theory of Imperialism?
    It isn’t a question of arguing for simultaneous socialist revolutions, but internationalism isn’t an option for the workers’ movement, it’s a necessity.

    In concrete terms, if left governments come to power in one or more European countries, it will have a massive impact on the political situation. Syriza showed that this was a possibility and their example could be emulated elsewhere in Europe.

    A Left government would not represent socialism, but it could become a transitional stage towards achieving it.
    Anti Austerity policies would split the EU and the socialist left could be in a position to determine the outcome of such a split.

    Jock McT#58
    I appreciate that you agree with KKE’s critique of the EU. But for me, that’s not the real issue here.
    Rejection of the 4th Congress slogans of a United Front/Workers Govt was a hallmark of 1930’s Stalinism.
    The KKE are neo-Stalinists. There’s an obvious methodological link between these two positions.

    61 “I wish they (Syriza) would assume power just to reveal what an utter disapointment they would be and what an embarassment it would have for their crusty cheerleaders over here.”

    I’m no “cheerleader” for the leaders of Syriza, but I wouldn’t use your terminology.

    In fact, your comment supports my position.
    If it had been followed through in Greece, it would have required the KKE to call for a critical vote for Syriza.
    Possibly to even form a United Front and, if Syriza had won, for the KKE set down preconditions for entering a government with them!

    i.e. using tactics as opposed to denunciations.
    Given that the most Greeks were not in favour of EU withdrawal, this was obviously the best one to use.

  61. Karl Stewart on said:

    I find the logic of GeorgeW baffling to say the least.

    He argues that communists should have nothing whatsoever to do with the broad left Syriza group, a group he describes as “corrupt ex-social democrats” “a bunch of opportunists” and “dickheads.”
    It would have been “opportunist” for the Greek communists to have allied with them, he claims. (Post 61).

    But here in the UK, he describes an anti-EU campaign headed by the right-wing UKIP party and the Daily Express as “fantastic” (Post 16) and argues that the left and the labour movement should join it, and he even goes on to compare this UKIP/Daily Express campaign to the Stop the War Coalition!!! (Post 39).

    So an alliance with a broad left grouping is “opportunist”, but an alliance with a hard-right grouping is “fantastic.”

    It’s an extremely odd position for anyone on the left to take.

    But then this fool also thinks the 1939 Hitler/Stalin pact was a good idea and that the British Communist Party of the time was wrong to oppose it.

  62. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: But then this fool also thinks the 1939 Hitler/Stalin pact was a good idea

    Surely, in the context of this discussion, the German-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939 is a bit off-topic.

    If you feel you have a strong position in relation to the matter at hand then why divert the debate on to another topic? And on to one that has already been aired, at that?

    Of course, if you would rather argue the merits of the pact I’m sure that someone will be willing to oblige.

    Only this time, make sure that you have done your homework so you can provide some new evidence.

  63. Karl Stewart,

    I could point out that there is a world of difference between working on a campaign with people you would otherwise disagree with and entering into a coalition government on the basis of positions you disagree with-continued membership of the EU and NATO and the idea that austerity and imperialism can be rid of the country while continuing membership of these organisations, but then again there’s no point debating with you as it is as fruitful as repeatedly banging your head against a brick wall.

  64. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: But then this fool also thinks the 1939 Hitler/Stalin pact was a good idea and that the British Communist Party of the time was wrong to oppose it.

    As I have just said this is off-topic. However on a point of information:

    the British Communist Party did not ‘oppose’ the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in 1939.

    The controversy was about the attitude to the war.

  65. George W I was under the impression that SYRIZA’s programme included withdrawal from NATO.

    Btw will the CPB refuse to call for a Labour government in Britain on the basis of the fact that the LP is opposed to neither NATO or the EU?

  66. Karl Stewart on said:

    GeorgeW,
    Yes of course there’s a world of difference between an alliance with a broad left grouping and an alliance with a hard right grouping.

    The difference between us is that, from the contributions you’ve made, you appear to support the latter and oppose the former.

    There is no reason why there can’t be an alliance between anti-EU communists and other lefts who are agnostic on the EU question. Such forces can unite on the primary issues of standing up for workers’ rights, opposing cuts, defending public services etc, while agreeing to disagree on the question of EU membership.
    The anti-EU parts of the alliance can fight on these primary issues shoulder to shoulder with their “agnostic” left comrades and, if events prove that it is impossible to make progress within the EU, then that can convince the “EU agnostics” that EU membership does, in practice, hinder that fight.
    Or, conversely, progress may be made on these primary issues and then the anti-EU parts of the alliance may become convinced that EU withdrawal is not, in practice, a barrier to making progress on this working-class agenda.
    Either way, the kay point is that communists, lefts, socialists etc are unitied in this class struggle agenda.

    But an alliance of communists with the hard right, solely on the issue of opposing EU membership means alienating that “EU-agnostic” majority within the working class and progressive movement and, instead, making common cause with hard-right anti-working class forces.

    George, have any other trade union GSs – apart from the RMT leader – signed up as supporters of the UKIP/Daily Express “Peoples Pledge” campaign?
    And have left MPs John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway signed up to support it?

  67. Vanya,

    There is also a difference between arguing for a Labour vote to beat the Tories and entering into a coalition government with Labour-which ain’t gonna happen any time soon! Anyway I suspect if the political situation changed dramatically and Labour did offer a coalition government with the CP, it would be a Labour government that would be more of the 1983 manifesto sort, be pledged to leave both NATO and the EU.

    Different situations call for different tactics, it is the contention of the KKE-and I agree-that Greece’s problems-austerity/tax avoidance-can only be resolved by leaving the EU and establishing currency controls..etc

    To pretend that you can remain a member of the EU and solve these problems is worse than simply misguided, it is dangerous. It sows illusions in the EU and would led to defeat and huge demoralisation.

    I didn’t know about the pledge to leave NATO, didn’t they met up with the US ambassador after the election to reassure the Americans they wouldn’t leave?

  68. Karl Stewart on said:

    “To pretend that you can remain a member of the EU and solve these problems is worse than simply misguided, it is dangerous. It sows illusions in the EU and would led to defeat and huge demoralisation.”

    Hmmmm….and you don’t think that pretending you can be a communist and work in a political alliance with right-wing Thatcherites in opposition to the overwhelming majority of the left and working class movement is either misguided or at all dangerous?? You don’t think your alliance with UKIP and the Daily Express risks demoralisation??

  69. jock mctrousers on said:

    #72 ” Hmmmm….and you don’t think that pretending you can be a communist and work in a political alliance with right-wing Thatcherites… ”

    Like the Stop the War coalition? Go on, try and tell me there were no right-wingers opposed to the war in Iraq.

  70. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: “EU-agnostic” majority within the working class and progressive movement

    You seem to be confusing the “working class” and the “progressive movement”.

    Public opinion polls suggest that, nationally, more people oppose the EU than support it. A YouGov poll in May found that in the event of a referendum just under half of people (49%) in the UK would vote to leave the EU.

    I know there are problems with the Registrar General’s classifications but for what it’s worth here are the figures.

    remain in ABC1 34% C2DE 19%
    Vote to leave ABC1 47% C2DE 57%
    would not vote ABC1 4% C2DE 7%
    don’t know ABC1 15% C2DE 16%

  71. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jock, how on earth is the campaign against the invasion of Iraq comparable to this Tea Party-style “Peoples Pledge” nonsense?

  72. jock mctrousers,

    I agree. Latvia and all the Baltic states show the utterly distrous consequences of austerity policies. Whihc is why I didnt use the word ‘success’. However they have recovered somewhat from the depths of recession and it is frequently argued by the right that this shows the austerity does work, along with ‘internal devalaution’, aka wage cuts.

    My point was simply that this is incorrect and that the real source of the recovery is EU funding (which are not usually loans, btw, but outright grants).

    In my view even that economic rebound is likely to dissipate, as new EU funds on the same scale are not lkely to be forthcoming.

    But those recoveries (and Poland’s escaping recession altogether) show that (supranational) public invesment is the answer to the crisis. There just needs to be more, not less of it including at the level of the EU.

  73. Interesting poll result, (can’t remember the details) outlined by Professor John Curtice on Newsnight Scotland last week that the Scottish population is essentially in line with that of the rest of Britain in their opposition to the EU.

  74. MSR – As Andrew Jordan’s agent I have to say that I find your earlier discussion puerile, irrelevent and simply the usual diversionary tactics of the anti SLP factions who consider themselves to be the only people in Cardiff speaking for the working class.
    Andrew has never claimed that he still lives in Cardiff and when he did live here he was active in the trade union movement – particularly with regard to the teaching unions, being a national official in Wales for a teaching union. I know, for example, that Andrew was on picket lines, and at ACAS concilliation meetings, last year in Cardiff trying to save teaching jobs in Cardiff schools.
    Since you feel too insecure to declare your name I am not able to say whether I know you or not – but I can assure you that I have almost certainly been active on the left in Cardiff since before you were born and I would trust Andrew’s judgement on the real issues concerning the people of Cardiff more than any of the so-called left activists who, in my experience are only concerned with factional in-fighting.

  75. Capitalist solutions to capitalist crisis problems (wars excepted): 1. Cut taxes, and cut publc sector costs, allowing business to thrive. 2. Invest, at public cost, in public works and ever more increase the debt.

    Neither works. What used to be called an inherent contradiction of capitalism. Not to mention their solution for youth unemployment – make the old work longer! Solution? Socialist policies, much maligned by many on this site on the basis of “better the devil you know”.

  76. jock mctrousers on said:

    #77 OK, Frank, I take your point, but I still think you’re mixing up ‘recovery’ with ‘evacuation’ which is what’s happened to Poland and the Baltic states.

    But anyway, the ruling power blocs in the EU are totally behind the policies that wrecked the Baltic, Greece, Spain, Ireland… who next? That they then stick a plaster on the wound doesn’t seem good enough.

    I agree that a benign federal Europe would be a good thing – no brainer: benign = good thing? The question is how we get there from what we have now? And what DO we have now? Could you personally, off the top of your head, ring off 10 facts about the EU? If you even made three, you’d be in a tiny tiny minority – Brussels, butter mountains, human rights court…?

    Some interpret this (as some have above) as the public aren’t really worked up about it, and take this as a mandate to just let those that know what they’re doing get on with it. But the polls linked to above show clearly that at least half the electorate have big doubts.

    If we’re going to get to a ‘benign’ Europe, then we’re going to have to get popular mobilisation, which means it has to be on issues that the electorate can understand. ‘In or out!’ is the only issue the electorate can be mobilised around quickly enough to be a real option; the alternatives just amount to talking on and on, while the elites build THEIR undemocratic Europe by stealth.

  77. #81 In fact they would only have got 2 out of 3 right- the European Court of Human Rights is not an EU institution.

  78. jack ford on said:

    The issue for a referendum should be EU in or out. Decide that one way or the other then assuming UK stays in next question becomes how to make EU democratic. Obvious reform would be to directly elect the Commission and the President of the Council. Then the people of Europe could vote for a social democratic Commission or a free market Commission.

  79. George Hallam on said:

    frank: But those recoveries (and Poland’s escaping recession altogether) show that (supranational) public invesment is the answer to the crisis. There just needs to be more, not less of it including at the level of the EU.

    Lithuania 3,535,547
    Latvia 2,204,708
    Estonia 1,282,963
    Together the population of the Baltic republics is 7,023,218
    That is 1.4 percent of the total population of the EU.

    The fallacy of composition. What may be a solution for a (small) part my not be a solution for the whole.

  80. Karl Stewart on said:

    UK membership of the EU is essentially the same issue as the question of Scottish independence – it isn’t a matter of principle for us either way, so we don’t have a fixed “Yes” or “No” position as a matter of principle.

    The question for us, as lefts, socialists or communists is what can we do to best advance a left-wing political and economic agenda, not whether we should become cheerleaders for a “Scottish” capitalism, or a “UK” capitalism or an “EU” capitalism.

    If it was the case that Scotland was moving significantly to the left, and was being held back by the restrictions of UK membership, then Scottish withdrawal from the UK could well be the right course, coupled with a call on the peoples of the other UK nations to follow their socialist example.

    If it was the case that the UK was moving significantly to the left, and was being held back by the restrictions of EU membership, then withdrawal from the EU could well be the right course, coupled with a call on the peoples of the other EU nations to follow our socialist example.

    But I just don’t think either of those scenarios exist at this time.

    What we have at the moment are some Scottish capitalists who think that they can increase their profits by leaving the UK and some UK capitalists who think they can increase their profits by leaving the EU and other capitalists who disagree with them.

    But despite their differences over structure, they’re all united in their determination to impose cuts and austerity on us all.

    At the same time, we have workers in several nations of Europe engaged in struggles against these capitalists and their austerity measures and cuts.

    Surely our central task and our top priority must be to strive for the maximum unity among ourselves in that real struggle that’s going on across the various borders.

    The urgent priority is unity among us – among those of us who strive for a positive programme of workers’ rights, full employment, housing, health and education for all, investment and growth.

  81. Karl Stewart,

    “The urgent priority is unity among us – among those of us who strive for a positive programme of workers’ rights, full employment, housing, health and education for all, investment and growth.”

    These things you describe are impossible for a member of the EU to carry out, as anyone serious about wanting these policies knows, the first thing we need to do is to leave the EU in order to secure these basic social democratic reforms.

  82. 81 & 84.

    The principle is that public investment can support recovery. The ability to do this for much larger economies, such as Poland, or the EU as a whole is simply a question of scale. (Net emigration is a factor, but it lowers output, not increases it).

    Economies based on a fiscal and monetary union such as the US, Germany or Britain have very large internal transfers which have the capacity to prevent outright collapse of one or more regions (not always used). The EU does not have that capacity because it is not a fiscal union and relative to GDP has a tiny budget.

    Those voting to cut it are voting to make it smaller and so reduce its capacity to promote growth.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The debate in Britain is one-sided and therefore muddled. It tends to ignore the dual character of the EU and its institutions, and wants to project its own Euroscepticism onto other European parties where it does not exist, such as Syriza and the Front de Gauche.

    It can’t explain why EU membership remains popular even in the crisis countries. It also can’t explain why Britain, outside the Euro Area and with the freedom to devalue (exercised) has actually performed worse than the Euro area economies.

  83. Karl Stewart on said:

    George, you state these aspirations are impossible within the EU as if that were an objective fact, but it’s only an opinion held by a tiny minority.

    That tiny minority basically consists of the SLP and the CP’s pro-UKIP tendency.

    Everybody else simply doesn’t agree that social democracy is impossible inside the EU.

    Virtually every single social democrat is in favour of continued EU membership precisely because they believe it makes social-democratic reform more likely.

    And the irony of your position is that those reactionary forces who overwhelmingly dominate the “UK out of the EU” camp, want to leave the EU precisely because they fear EU membership makes that social-democratic agenda more likely.

    Achieving that left-wing agenda is no more impossible inside the EU than it would be outside the EU.

  84. Feodor on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Achieving that left-wing agenda is no more impossible inside the EU than it would be outside the EU.

    I think Karl is right here.

    Sure, you could argue that more significant social democratic reforms were made before greater European integration, but that doesn’t prove greater integration weakens social democracy. Cause and effect is simply asserted, not proven, with other, more important factors overlooked.

    In my opinion, the presence of the Soviet Union and the threat of social revolution, and then the fall of the Soviet Union and the retreat of the international working class, seems a far more significant cause of social democratic strength/weakness than greater or lesser European integration. And I doubt any of the ‘(left-)Eurosceptics’ would deny that this symbiotic relationship existed – would they?

    As others have said, the ‘European question’, so to speak, should be seen as a tactical issue, not a point of principle – and even if you want to make it a point of principle, it is a grave mistake to let this get in the way of practical unity with other sections of the working class movement.

    Btw, prianikoff (#64), does it not seem that Kautsky was right? There was no ‘united Europe’ in either 1914 or 1939. But since then, one has arisen, and this has at very least directed inter-imperialist rivalry between the European powers down less destructive channels.

  85. prianikoff on said:

    “does it not seem that Kautsky was right?”

    It may seem like he was, but appearance and reality don’t always coincide.

    In 1914, Kautsky predicted that the European ruling class would see the error of their ways and end the war by cartelizing their foreign policies, in much the same way that capitalist cartels had developed in Industry.
    He proposed that European Social Democracy could play on their enlightened self interest by calling for a United States of Europe.

    This isn’t what happened!

    After WW2, some progress was made towards union, but it remains well short of a full political union.
    There is no European Army, no common foreign policy, each state has an individual arms budget, important states like the UK are outside the Euro.

    Since the Credit Crunch the National tensions within the EU have been exacerbated and Miliband’s vote in the Commons is a reflection of this.

    Uniting Europe on a capitalist basis remains a pipedream.

  86. #89 + 90

    Do we just ignore the (very much related) fact that any government that attempted to carry out the sort of policies that socialists would fight for (including the policies advocated by SYRIZA) run contrary not only to the current policies of the EU but to its constitutional commitment to the ‘free market’ and deregulation?

    It gave us the minimum wage but it also gave us the posted workers’ directive..

    And the fact that the EU now controls the financial policies of national governments in the interests of big business with no democratic control whatsoever, (in certain countries directly) is in fact a legitimate question both of democracy (accountability of decision makers AND the right to national sovereignty) and the interests of the working class and poor?

    However, any such government would pose the problem to the EU- is it better for them to go or for us to let them get away with it?

    To the government it poses the
    question- if we’re given the choice between our programme and remaining within the EU, do we stay or do we go?

    My view is that correct policy has to be clear unambiguous opposition to the EU, but also (a) that position should not be allowed to become a point of artificial divide amongst those who want to fight austerity, (b) how it manifests itself is indeed a tactical question, (c) it should not be manifested by a misguided attempt to tail-end and pander to chauvinistic populism.

    I made the point above that the ECHR is not an EU institution but how many people in this country know or understand that and are guided in their dislike of the latter on the basis of ‘political correctness gone mad’ and that the Human Rights Act gives too many rights to criminals and asylum seekers?

  87. George Hallam on said:

    frank: The principle is that public investment can support recovery. The ability to do this for much larger economies, such as Poland, or the EU as a whole is simply a question of scale. (Net emigration is a factor, but it lowers output, not increases it).

    Net emigration can increase output by increaseing domestic demand if the emigrants are generious enough.

    But of course this can only work for a small country. So scale is a crucial issue.

    Latvia received 268 million lats in remittances
    Delfi, July-6

    According to the National Bank of Latvia, 268 million lats (or 526 million USD) were sent to Latvia as remittances in 2006, which is 2,4% of the GDP. In the first three month of 2007 the amount of remittances has reached 72 million lats. Remittances, foreign investments and crediting are among the main factors, which increase domestic demand, which currently is the main incentive of the economic growth. Latvians, who went to work to Ireland use to earn 50-450 (94$-850$) lats a month in Latvia, but now in Ireland they earn from 900 – 3000 EUR a month. Many of them have acknowledged that they regularly send from 100-200 EUR a month to their relatives in Latvia. It is estimated that approximately 86,000 Latvians reside temporary in other EU countries. In nearest decade 200,000 more Latvians can leave for better work elsewhere.

    http://soderkoping.org.ua/page15104.html

    SEB: in 2010 emigrants’ remittances equal one quarter of wages bill in Lithuania
    Danuta Pavilenene, BC, Vilnius, 29.03.2011.

    In 2010, private persons transferred to Lithuania a record sum of 4.1 billion litas (1.188 billion euros), which equaled nearly one quarter of after-tax wages bill in Lithuania. According to SEB bank’s financial analyst Gitanas Nauseda, the remittances from abroad did ease the decline of income and consumption during the financial crisis; however, remittances are a less useful type of revenue to the state’s budget than wages.

    Nauseda noted that in 2010, the Lithuanian wages bill after taxes, due to decreasing employment and lower wages, was almost by 23% smaller than in 2008, prior the financial decline. Meanwhile, in the same period, the remittances from abroad were 17% higher. The Lithuanians did not hurry spend their remittances, part of it were put into deposit accounts or set aside for a rainy day, writes LETA/ELTA.

    http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/analytics/?doc=39092

  88. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: Do we just ignore the (very much related) fact that any government that attempted to carry out the sort of policies that socialists would fight for (including the policies advocated by SYRIZA) run contrary not only to the current policies of the EU but to its constitutional commitment to the ‘free market’ and deregulation?

    On the discussion so far the answer would have to be ‘YES’.

  89. #93 But that does not mean that if there is a party ready and able to take power on the basis of an anti-austerity programme that any ambiguity about the EU or apparently contradictory pro-EU position should be a barrier to supporting them doing so.

    We do not know what would happen if such a government and the EU were faced with the position of having to try and resolve that contradiction.

    The current erosion of support for the current government within both DL and PASOK may put this question on the agenda sooner rather than later.

    As far as Britain and the issue at is concerned I suspect that the most important thing was to weaken Cameron’s position.

  90. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: #93 But that does not mean that if there is a party ready and able to take power on the basis of an anti-austerity programme that any ambiguity about the EU or apparently contradictory pro-EU position should be a barrier to supporting them doing so.

    So you can be relied upon to support Lewisham People Before Profit?

  91. jack ford on said:

    The ECHR is not an EU institution but membership of the ECHR has been made conditional for those wishing to join the EU. I believe it was compulsory for the East Europeans to join the ECHR when they entered the EU. What would happen if an established EU member like Britain wanted to leave the ECHR but stay in the EU I don’t know.

    But yes it’s worth telling people that the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU as such.

  92. Morning Star reader on said:

    In response to Liz Screen (79) – the fact is that the SLP refuses to work with others on the left, including – according to my friends in the SP, CP, Plaid etc. – in Cardiff. According to the Electoral Services office in Cardiff, and the PCS Wales website, the unknown Andrew Jordan claims to be living in the city.
    Thank goodness his agent knows him – I’m just pointing out that almost nobody else on the left in that city seems to. Perhaps Liz Screen can tell us what the SLP and its candidate have been doing in Cardiff to earn the support of the left and working class people there. It was an SLP supporter who raised this question on this site, not me. I only asked for some information to justify that appeal for support.

  93. Karl Stewart,

    Karl you are either completely unable to take other people’s arguments into consideration or incredibly simple, I suspect it is a mixture of the two. It is a fact-this is undeniable, whether you wish it to be true or not.

    There is no state in the EU with a “positive programme of workers’ rights, full employment, housing, health and education for all, investment and growth.”

    There is no such state because such policies are incompatible with EU membership. Try reading a book, a newspaper, the fine publication ‘the democrat’, or engage with those involved with trade unionists against the EU constitution.

    A social democracy of full employment, state monopolies in transport/health/education..etc and decent workers rights is impossible to achieve in the EU as it is unconstitutional. Any such legacies of a time when European nations had better degrees of national sovereignty are continually eroded by the neoliberal project’s insistence on open borders and the ‘free’ market.

    I question the motives of anyone on ‘the left’ who question this fact.

  94. Morning Star reader on said:

    Vanya (91), neither the EU nor the ECHR gave us the national minimum wage in Britain. There is no EU treaty, law or directive that compels member states to have a statutory minimum wage.

  95. Morning Star reader: the fact is that the SLP refuses to work with others on the left

    Well what’s all this? I have no clue what you mean by this assertion unless you mean electoral alliances. Can you elaborate?

  96. Karl Stewart on said:

    George,
    If you really are utterly determined to close your mind to all logic, make moronic alliances with the Thatcherite Tory right and make enemies of the rest of the left then I suppose that’s what you’ll do.

  97. Karl Stewart: Achieving that left-wing agenda is no more impossible inside the EU than it would be outside the EU.

    Put the question the other way. Achieving that left-wing agenda is no more possible inside the EU than it would be outside the EU?

    The case for governmental policies – call them the alternative economic strategy – that are impossible to implement whilst remaining a member of the EU does not rest on the the idea that achieving working class power would thus be a problem-free process if Britain left. The EU is not the only buttress of class domination available to our bourgeoisie but it is the instrument of the decisive sections among them.

    But it is the framework for regulating trade and labour market regulation and is the mechanism whereby treaty obligations substantially preclude (or make illegal) public ownership, control on the export of capital, financial transactions and increasingly tax regimes that our rulers, both British and foreign, prefer.

    It is clearly nonsense to suggest that nothing or little can be done short of leaving the EU but it is equally true that little or nothing much in the way of an irreversible shift in power and wealth from the rich to the working people is achievable without challenging this vital instrument of class power.

    Apart from the mainstream of social democracy – which is now signed up to the full package of ruling class ideas – there are basically two kinds of argument in the labour movement for discounting the question of the EU. One thinks the issue is largely irrelevant. The other that the EU is a more favourable terrain for the class struggle and that the institutions of the EU and capitalist economic integration constitute a less formidable barrier to socialism (or the winning of concessions) than does the bourgeoisie of any individual country.

    Both are concessions to the domination of ruling class ideas and reflect a failure to make a concrete analysis of the actual basis of economic and political power in present day capitalism.

  98. Karl Stewart on said:

    Nick I don’t have a problem with those on the left who argue for EU withdrawal – there may well be circumstances in which it could become the correct tactical call.

    The problem comes when people who claim to be on the left put this call above the class struggle and above the need for left and working class unity as GeorgeW does.

    The problem I have is with those who claim to be on the left, but who fetishise the “nation-state” above all else and who argue that there is a common interest between classes within each nation state and between left and right in defending “the nation.”

    This is the kind of reactionary nonsense that one finds in GeorgeW’s recommended publication “The Democrat” and which clearly sets out to provide something of an ideological justification for the alliance with the hard Thatcherite Tory right that GeorgeW is defending so resolutely.

  99. #102 ‘…It is clearly nonsense to suggest that nothing or little can be done short of leaving the EU.’

    I suspect that would be considered close to heresy in KKE circles, not to mention certain members of Manchester RMT :)

  100. Karl Stewart: fetishise the “nation-state

    I think Karl, the point is not the nation-state per se but democracy versus anti-democracy.

    Gisela Stuart, Labour MP in the Times recently said ‘the truth is Britain – and Europe – is coming to a
    fork in the road and the choice of which direction we take is likely to be
    stark. The position adopted by many politicians, both Left and Right, of
    favouring a soft EU membership simply will not exist..We can either join
    the euro project, or we must start to think about life outside the EU’.

  101. Karl Stewart: The problem comes when people who claim to be on the left put this call above the class struggle and above the need for left and working class unity as GeorgeW does.

    Arguing for EU withdrawal is not putting this call above the class struggle – it is intervening in the class struggle – and not simply by arguing the case for withdrawal but by explaining how Britain’s
    membership of the EU impacts on pay, employment rights and the way in which the EU buttresses the power of the monopolies and finance capital.

    There is another aspect to class struggle which is neglected in this discussion. There are divisions in the bourgeoisie over the EU which reflect the ways in which finance capital exercises an overweening domination. Finding allies on a particular issue, no matter how temporary and vacillating they may be and taking advantage of these divisions is a sign of political maturity and a key feature of any hegemonic project.

    Do you think we should spurn a temporary alliance with a Midlands engineering boss who wants capital controls and a state led investment policy and see the City as her enemy. Or a mailing house manager who finds the Post Office a trustworthy partner rather than a US monopoly. Or a rolling stock manufacturer who wants the banks who control the train operating companies to buy British?

    You should not use ‘Thatcherite’ as a general purpose epithet. Thatcher certainly made an appeal to a certain range of reactionary ideas that have a currency among all sections of the bourgeoisie and its hangers on but she was very much the servant of the biggest sections of monopoly and pushed through the deregulation of the City.

    There is a common interest in defending national sovereignty when class interests – even between classes whose interests diverge on other questions – are threatened.

    Ask yourself the question, would the battle to restore the postal service to public ownership be easier without the ‘competition’ framework of the EU?

  102. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim (100), I’m happy for comrades on this site to measure my statement against their own experience.
    In response to Karl and some others: For revolutionaries, a central question would have to be “Where does state power lie?” For the British, German, French, US etc. capitalist classes, it continues to lie primarily in their own state. They are not subservient to the IMF, WTO, UN or EU, however much these international bodies are agencies of mediation, compromise, co-operation etc. The different ruling classes may abide by decisions they don’t like, but they could use their state power to defy them and leave, if judged necessary.
    Without the backing of US, German, French and British state power, these international bodies are – in themselves – virtually powerless.
    To recognise this as a reality is not to make a ‘fetish of the nation state’, as Karl puts it, in his loaded, simplistic and superficial way. It is, well, to recognise it as a reality. Karl can close his eyes, put his fingers in his ears and recite ‘George W is a fool’ all he wants. But the fact is that the US capitalist class exercises political power primarily through the US state apparatus, including at the UN, IMF, NATO. So, too, do the other capitalist classes, as much as they can. To deny this is foolish in the extreme.

  103. Karl Stewart on said:

    Nick, the battle to keep Royal Mail in public ownership would certainly have been easier if the UK government had not taken the unilateral decision to liberalise the industry some years ahead of the EU.

    However, the Government’s attempt to sell off Royal Mail in 2008/09 was still defeated and the renewed attempt to sell off Royal Mail by this coalition government is still being resisted – it remains at this time in public ownership.

    Railtrack was nationalised in 2002 despite EU membership, as were some of our banks in 2008.

    One doesn’t need to be a positive supporter of the EU (I’m not) to recognise that reforms can be won, attacks can be successfuly resisted, and progressive change is possible.

    I think I see this question much as I would judge a potential merger between a company I work for and another company – or a potential demerger if I were a shop steward at the company.

    I wouldn’t instinctively oppose a merger by “siding” with “my own” company or instinctively support a merger either – it would be a question of what would benefit the workforce.

  104. Karl Stewart on said:

    MSR,
    Just to clarify, I’m not saying every opponent of the EU fetishises the nation state, but that the publication “The Democrat”, which the fool GeorgeW recommended as a “fine publication” does indeed fetishise the nation state.

  105. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff, thanks for the clarification, point taken. But it still seems to me Kautsky might have been half-right – neither full union nor no union, but something in-between.

    Moreover, it seems Europe (or significant parts of it at least) *may* well move towards a closer union, though there’s no doubt on my part that any trans-national Europe united under capitalism would be riddled with contradictions.

    And I guess how we choose to see such a conglomeration depends upon how we choose to define being ‘united’. You, e.g., seem to be approaching a rather abstract all-or-nothing type of standard, presumably arising from your desire to maintain an axiomatic principle: namely, that ‘unity’ is impossible under capitalism. Yet if the US can be ‘united’ under capitalism, then I see no reason why Europe can’t be. In theory anyway: this would doubtless be a much harder feat to achieve in Europe, for obvious reasons – language differences, historical independence, nationalist rivalries etc.

    @Vanya, #91: Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably as ‘Eurosceptic’ as you – if I’d been anything other than a toddler at the time, I would have lined up with the anti-EU Labour left in the early 90s.

    Nevertheless, that particular historical debate has been and gone, and the answer’s been settled. And I think if it were to be resurrected now, there’s no way it wouldn’t both become an obstacle to anti-austerity unity (see Greece), and also end up ‘pander[ing] to chauvinistic populism’, as you put it.

    In a decade, maybe the situation will be different, but right now I don’t think the left’s strong enough to be anything other than a tail-end, and nor do I think we’re yet at a decisive yes-no conjuncture (as was the case in the early 90s). Hence I agree with you: we shouldn’t see it as a point of principle, but as a tactical question instead.

    Also, when you speak of the ‘constitutional commitment to the “free market” and deregulation’, I’m curious as to why this is in principle any more of a constraint than the rules of, say, the IMF and WTO. Yet we rarely hear the argument that reform is impossible because of these institutions – maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but after 100-odd posts in this thread, e.g., no ones brought it up.

    What’s being overlooked is that rules seem very powerful, until they’re broken. If we could negotiate from a position of strength, I don’t think these rules would be much of an issue.

    Indeed with regard to SYRIZA, at the time I argued that not getting into power might have had a silver lining, in that they would have been isolated and weak, and the European elites would have behaved in a very vindictive manner towards Greece. And this, through no fault of SYRIZA, would have done much damage to the credibility of anti-austerity forces the world over: we would be seen as economy wreckers in much of the public mind, when it would have been the neo-liberal elites that actually wrecked Greece.

    The balance of forces are key: in this case, they likely needed either more allies in the EU or to withdraw from it. The grave error of the KKE being not to engage with SYRIZA – i.e. making EU membership a point of principle rather than a strategic issue which takes into account the reality on the ground.

    In short, imo the KKE should have supported a SYRIZA government, and tried to win them over to the anti-EU position from the inside, if or when it became evident that leaving the EU was essential.

  106. Morning Star reader: I’m happy for comrades on this site to measure my statement against their own experience

    With respect, your the one made the statement, please back it up if you can.

  107. Feodor on said:

    Me @ #100:

    ‘Also, when you speak of the ‘constitutional commitment to the “free market” and deregulation’, I’m curious as to why this is in principle any more of a constraint than the rules of, say, the IMF and WTO. Yet we rarely hear the argument that reform is impossible because of these institutions – maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but after 100-odd posts in this thread, e.g., no ones brought it up.’

    Just in case anyone wants to point out the obvious, that Morning Star reader brought them up @#107, he posted that while I was typing and I hadn’t seen his post when I posted.

  108. Vanya,

    lol, right on brother!

    Nick puts the arguments much better.

    Karl is so blinded by his hatred for those on the left who reflect the opinion of the majority of the working class in wanting to leave the EU that he doesn’t realise that he is putting forward the same argument as liberal, Guardian reader types who have never done a decent hard days work in their lives but proclaim to speak on behalf of the working class like Owen Jones argue that we must reclaim the EU and make it serve working peoples interests once more-when was that then?

    It is not about putting the issue above the class struggle, the issue and campaigning around it is developing the class struggle in a direction that takes us away from the wanky liberal direction much of ‘the left’ has taken in the past few decades and brings us back to a situation where we have-on this issue-support once more in the estates.

    You are so fixated on this identity politics shite, not wanting to to mix with those who the Guardian say are most ghastly people in a temporary alliance on one issue. So blinded are you by your appalling liberal politics, it prevents you from participating in what might be the biggest attack on the establishment in years-or as we say in Salford you are an utter, useless twat :)

    Sorry to offend any middle class sensibilities comrade!

  109. Feodor on said:

    George W:
    …or as we say in Salford you are an utter, useless twat

    In other words: I’m prolier-than-thou and will prove it by using foul language. How mature…

    Reading this debate as it has developed, and as people have qualified their positions by introducing various nuances, it seems to me there is actually not that much difference between the two sides. Certainly not enough difference to warrant name-calling and abuse, which Karl is also guilty of.

    But then again, what was it Freud said about the narcissism of small difference?

  110. Karl Stewart,

    I was just messing with the comments but there’s no place for personal comments in political debate. I think we are both gulity of it.

    make friends, make friends never, never break friends?

  111. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hey George working-class hero, let me know if you ever want to meet up – be more than happy to do so.

  112. Karl Stewart: However, the Government’s attempt to sell off Royal Mail in 2008/09 was still defeated and the renewed attempt to sell off Royal Mail by this coalition government is still being resisted – it remains at this time in public ownership

    And one of the reasons the government (whichever one) finds it difficult to sell off the Post office is an entirely principled class alliance between the trade unions, sections of capitalist business opinion, Tory voters in the shires and public interest groups. Much like the forces who find themselves in agreement over the EU

  113. Feodor: In short, imo the KKE should have supported a SYRIZA government, and tried to win them over to the anti-EU position from the inside, if or when it became evident that leaving the EU was essential.

    Maybe the KKE had in mind the experience of the PCF who went into junior partnership with a pro EU, social democratic party and lost touch with much of their base.

  114. Karl Stewart on said:

    Nick, in response to your post at 118, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think the two campaigns are comparable.

    Of course one should always seek to win the broadest possible support for a progressive cause.

    And the defence of publicly owned universal communication services, like the defence of public transport, health, education, housing etc are, in themselves, fundamentally progressive causes.

    But the “defence of the nation state” is not, in itself, a progressive cause.

    For people who believe in the idea of communism – an idea which is defined by the withering away of the nation state – we should, in general terms, tend to agree with a weakening or a dilution of the “nation-state” concept.

    Of course there may be occaisions where we tactically defend this notion, but only to the extent that it serves the clear interests of the struggle for socialism. For us, it must be very much a tactical consideration and secondary to class struggle and the fight for socialism.

    And this is where CAEF and “The Democrat” abruptly part company with any kind of Marxist understanding of politics, by putting defence of the nation state as a primary aim, as something to be struggled for in principle, and as an aim that over-rides questions of class struggle.

    I’d be interested in what you make of the CAEF/”The Democrat” website Nick.
    When I read the “Nation and Class” section, particularly the “Immigration” and “Principles of Democracy” pages – I found some of the homespun pseudo-ideology there quite bizarre and not a little troubling.

    I’m not quite sure how I’d define this political perspective – What is one to make of its description of large-scale immigration as “unnatural” or its call for the political left and right to stand together in defence of nation? – but it’s certainly a long way from any kind of Marxism.

  115. Net emigration can increase output by increaseing domestic demand if the emigrants are generious enough.

    George Hallam,

    Remittances are income, not output.

    The creation of all new value requires labour-power. If labour-power is reduced by emigration, so too will be the capacity to create value. Increased remittances cannot by themselves increase output.

    In the 5 years 2008-2012, the net transfers from the EU to Latvia have amounted to 22.8% of GDP

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2012/cr1231.pdf

    whereas the total loss of GDP has been 15% (on IMF projections for 2012). That includes a recovery of the last 3 years of 10.6% of GDP, when EU transfers have amounted to 16% of GDP.

    Transfers from the EU have been entirely responsible for the Latvian recovery. Without them the economy would have continued contracting.

  116. #119 Well if the policy advocated by Feodor was otherwise right (which in my view it is), then such a consideration in itself would be the very definition of sectarian- putting the interests of your party before those of the wider movement/ class.

    Ironically (and sadly from my point of view as I have some considerable respect for them) the policy currently pursued by the KKE is not doing that good a job of protecting their base, which appears to be declining quite drastically.

    I strongly suspect that most people who would normally have supported the KKE would fully understand a principled policy of helping forming an anti-austerity left coalition, while maintaining scepticism about the EU.

    In Britain I suspect just as strongly that most people who lean to the left, have far less understanding of or interest in the EU as an institution.

    Equally, we’re not in the position where a party that opposes austerity was recently almost strong enough to form a government.

    The key question is to create as big a groundswell against austerity here.

  117. Karl Stewart,

    “For people who believe in the idea of communism – an idea which is defined by the withering away of the nation state – we should, in general terms, tend to agree with a weakening or a dilution of the “nation-state” concept.”

    Communist theory also talks of the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, which means the utilisation of the State apparatus to advance the interests of the working class. While I agree that overemphasis of the “nation-state” as the focus of struggle does bring with it some sinister historical baggage, in the absence of a truly revolutionary working-class at this point in history, it is only the State which will give that class the means to challenge the dominance of big capital.

  118. Nick Wright: Maybe the KKE had in mind the experience of the PCF who went into junior partnership witha pro EU, social democratic party and lost touch with much of their base.

    I must admit to not knowing what you’re talking about Nick, as I’m not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to French history. And unlike some people, as I’m not the most intelligent (or the toughest) guy in the real world, I’m not going to create an internet persona which pretends that I am.

    Nevertheless, to (politely ;) ) speculate: does this not just show that no course of action is without its possible downsides?

    In principle though, I’d always argue in favour of the broadest possible unity, combined with the freedom of each tendency to retain (much of) its political independence and to disagree/debate with other tendencies in a (comradely) way.

    That’s not perfect, and probably entails a delicate balancing act most of the time. But it seems infinitely preferable to either chucking your toys out the pram over the slightest political disagreement, or uncritically marching along to a line you don’t agree with.

    I think a great deal of the problems on the left arise from people taking an all-or-nothing default position, which procrastinates over the most minute of differences. All the while not realising that we have far more in common than the relatively few differences that divide us.

    Vanya: ‘In Britain I suspect just as strongly that most people who lean to the left, have far less understanding of or interest in the EU as an institution.’

    In addition to this, it’s important to remember Britain is a major player in Europe, and can almost always negotiate from a position of strength. Greece, however, is a rather minor player which will always be vulnerable to blow-back from the more powerful nations – namely, the UK, France and Germany. In other words, we can make the EU bend to our will a lot more than the Greeks can.

    Recognising such facts and then acting on the basis of them, is the very essence of adopting a tactical approach to the question of what is and isn’t possible in the EU.

  119. George Hallam on said:

    frank: The creation of all new value requires labour-power. If labour-power is reduced by emigration, so too will be the capacity to create value. Increased remittances cannot by themselves increase output.

    To use your terminology:

    Labour-power is a potential.

    To create value it must be used productively.

    By definition, someone who is unemployed has the capacity to work, i.e. labour-power, it’s just not being used.

    If an unemployed person emigrates then there is a loss of capacity, but this is unused capacity. Output remains unchanged.

    I agree with you that:
    “Increased remittances cannot by themselves increase output.”

    Remittances work indirectly by helping to maintain demand.

    At the risk of stating the obvious:
    Emigration can work for a small country because it’s easy for the rest of the world to absorb a few hundred thousand surplus workers.
    It becomes more difficult for larger countries and impossible for the world as a whole.

  120. Feodor: In principle though, I’d always argue in favour of the broadest possible unity, combined with the freedom of each tendency to retain (much of) its political independence and to disagree/debate with other tendencies in a (comradely) way.

    This is a given. On a very wide range of questions, from resisting closures and defending jobs, through to marching against war or racism the principle of unity in action is or should be entirely unproblematic.

    However, you will find some people wanting to impose conditions on the participation of say, moslems in the anti war movement, or BNP voters in the fight for better council housing, or zionists in the fight against racism, or Tories in the anti cuts movement and the fight against the banks and monopolies. Each of these situations requires a careful evaluation of the balance of forces on both sides of the struggle and great tactical flexibility.

    An example, in my area we have a Save the NHS campaign meeting impending where I suspect that some people – well intentioned, hard working and enthusiastic – want to raise the question of a general strike to sweep the Tories from power.

    If we make the general strike issue a central point of the meeting we will be left with a campaign consisting exclusively of local representatives of political groups whose participation in campaigning is not an issue. Not the point and certainly not a unity worth very much.

    I think it is a problem if we define unity exclusively as unity of ‘the left’.

    Unity in day to day struggles should be on the basis of agreement about the particular issue.
    Unity of political parties over a governmental programme is of a different order.

    My point about the PCF is that even in conditions of relative capitalist stability and with an electoral system that to some extent compels the Parti Socialiste to rely on communist voters the PCF lost support because it was seen to compromise over vital class questions.

    The KKE – working in conditions of extreme capitalist instability – would pay an even higher price if they had abandoned their clearly defined position and participated in a government that failed to challenge the central issue which is the compulsion exercised by the troika (with the EU at is core) to impose further austerity. A party like the KKE which has spent most of its existence in clandestinity has fewer illusions about the prospects of winning class power through parliamentary processes than its critics. Votes come and go but once a party loses its credibility
    as an authentic representative of a particular set of class interests it is very hard to recover.

  121. Feodor on said:

    Nick Wright:
    Unity in day to day struggles should be on the basis of agreement about the particular issue. Unity of political parties over a governmental programme is of a different order.

    I was talking about unity in the second context, or in the context of forming a left party that hopes to achieve governmental power at some point. I probably should of made that clearer, and I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said about unity in the first context – it’s always a pointless activity to base a single-issue campaign around the act of preaching to the already converted.

    I can also see your point about votes coming and going but the loss of credibility being terminal, though you perhaps paint a too black-and-white picture. I’m sure in the eyes of some Greek workers the KKE has lost a great deal of credibility – i.e. they view them as bitter sectarians stuck in the 1930s. In the eyes of others, they will have gained credibility for sticking to their principles.

    It’s a delicate balancing act, with no ‘right’ answer. However imo the KKE would have been better served to critically support a SYRIZA government while still making their argument about the nature of the EU. I don’t think this would have lost them as much credibility as you think, but been as we can’t re-run history, all we can do is agree to disagree on this one, and let others make of our speculations whatever they will.

    I do think my position has more logical consistency vis a vis what we’ve both said about unity in the second sense, however.

  122. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim (111), with equal respect, I am reluctant to divert this thread any further – I probably should not have risen to your bait in the first place!
    It seems a pretty widespread experience of comrades I talk to across the left that the SLP is either non-existent on the ground, or stays aloof from broad-based campaigns. I’m sure there are exceptions. What is galling, therefore, is when the party suddenly pops up at election time in localities where it has done little or no political work, and without any attempt to avoid clashes with other left candidates where possible.
    I know, for example, that the SP in Cardiff decided not to contest the Cardiff South by-election because the CPB have a candidate with a good record of local campaigning in the area. That’s partly why I asked about the SLP candidate there, who (like his party) appears to have no record at all, and doesn’t even live in the city any longer (while claiming to do so in his nomination papers).
    In other towns and cities, the left parties (not Labour, of course) quite often hold informal discussions to try and avoid clashes. The SLP appears not to have anything to do with this process. If my understanding is wrong, perhaps comrades will write in to correct me.

  123. Feodor on said:

    ^Actually Nick, I just re-read what you said and I take that last sentence (post 128) back: my position has logical consistency from the point I start from, but you haven’t really said anything about what conditions are needed to form a unified left government, you’ve just pointed to the possible downsides.

    Out of interest, on what basis do you think a SYRIZA-KKE coalition could be formed? Would SYRIZA have to come round to the KKE’s position on Europe?

  124. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: It’s a delicate balancing act, with no ‘right’ answer. However imo the KKE would have been better served to critically support a SYRIZA government while still making their argument about the nature of the EU.

    This only works if one assumes that the nature of the EU is peripheral to the current crisis in Greece.
    Thus one can tackle the crisis and argue about the attitude to the EU at leisure.

    Now try making the opposite assumption: the nature of the EU is central to the current crisis in Greece.

    On this assumption any anti-austerity programme that fails to address the EU is doomed to failure, not just in the long-term but in the short-term as well.

  125. Feodor: Out of interest, on what basis do you think a SYRIZA-KKE coalition could be formed? Would SYRIZA have to come round to the KKE’s position on Europe?

    Syriza is an unstable coalition itself. It lacks ideological and organisation unity and its electoral success is grounded on an illusion – that the austerity measures imposed by the troika can be repudiated without abandoning the euro. It could only form a government with forces that either share this illusion or are cynically prepared to accept the benefits of office for the interim.

    Or if it was prepared to face the political (and personal) consequences of a governmental programme that would bring them into conflict with the greek bourgeoisie and its international connections, its entrenched state power, its military and police apparatus, the banks domestic and international, NATO, the institutional underpinning of the capitalist world system, (EU, IMF, World Bank etc), the opposition of the US, a regional threat from Turkey, domestic reaction of the Golden Dawn type, dirty tricks and provocations from the secret police/anarchist underworld and the media.

    If it embarked on this course of action the question of state power would arise in a stark way and it would be compelled either to compromise or to mobilise the people. If it did that I am pretty sure the KKE would back such a government.

  126. George Hallam on said:

    Nick Wright: Syriza is an unstable coalition itself. It lacks ideological and organisation unity and its electoral success is grounded on an illusion – that the austerity measures imposed by the troika can be repudiated without abandoning the euro.

    This is just about the size of it.

    Syriza: not the sort of people with whom one would want to go tiger shooting.

  127. #132 but how would you know in advance whether SYRIZA would cave in? And how do you know in advance that the EU would not?

    If there is a contradiction between the EU and an anti-austerity programme then why not put SYRIZA to the test? Why can’t the KKE, in the event that the maths makes it impossible for SYRIZA to form a government alone but possible with the KKE, say that they remain committed to their own policy of withdrawal from the EU but they would enter an anti-austerity government on the understanding that their support was conditional on the anti-austerity programme being defended no matter what the EU said or did?

    Nobody has answered that question as far as I can see.

    That way, if SYRIZA cave, the government falls and the KKE have remained true to their principles. What have they got to lose? They’re losing huge amounts of support anyway.

  128. andy newman on said:

    Nick Wright: Syriza is an unstable coalition itself. It lacks ideological and organisation unity and its electoral success is grounded on an illusion

    I think this is a critical distinction.

  129. Feodor on said:

    George Hallam: This only works if one assumes that the nature of the EU is peripheral to the current crisis in Greece.

    I don’t think this is the case, but perhaps I’m missing something. Could you expand on this a bit?

    Because it seems to me neither SYRIZA nor the KKE consider the ‘European question’ a peripheral issue, they just have different perspectives on how to tackle it.

    And for the record, I think given the present balance of forces, the KKE are probably right: Greece needs to leave the Euro. But I think they’d be better off trying to make this argument from the inside than the outside.

    Nick, I broadly agree with the analysis you’re putting forward: a SYRIZA government, to properly represent working people, would need to face off against the Greek and international bourgeoisie.

    I just think this would be far more likely to happen if it had the KKE as a coalition partner pushing them down this path. Without the KKE on the inside combating SYRIZA’s illusions, then I think it far more likely that SYRIZA ‘could only form a government with forces that either share this illusion or are cynically prepared to accept the benefits of office for the interim’ – which would be of little benefit to Greek workers.

  130. Feodor: I’m sure in the eyes of some Greek workers the KKE has lost a great deal of credibility – i.e. they view them as bitter sectarians stuck in the 1930s. In the eyes of others, they will have gained credibility for sticking to their principles.

    t is not a question of simply sticking to principles but rather of making a sober assessment of the likely out turn of events. If, for the sake of argument, the KKE had concluded that a Syriza -led government could have successfully reversed the austerity programme, retained EU membership and the euro, maintained wages and employment, benefits and pensions and even then refused participation in government then its stance would be sectarian.
    (Although the meaning of sectarianism as putting one’s party interests over those of the working class thus loses much of its explanatory power – what would be the party advantage?)

    However, as it freely attested, the KKE doesn’t think such an outcome is possible.
    Or to put it another way, the KKE doesn’t think the problems of Greece can be tackled within the framework of capitalist relations of production as presently butressed by the country’s integration into the capitalist workld economy and conditioned by the troika strait jacket.

  131. Feodor: Without the KKE on the inside combating SYRIZA’s illusions, then I think it far more likely that SYRIZA ‘could only form a government with forces that either share this illusion or are cynically prepared to accept the benefits of office for the interim’ – which would be of little benefit to Greek workers.

    It is quite hard to combat the illusions of one’s coalition partners when bound by Cabinet collective responsibility – especially if one’s very participation in government itself generates illusions.

  132. #139 If it is made clear in advance that participation in the government is conditional on the government not caving in to austerity demands from the EU what are the illusions?

    You don’t have collective responsibility to a government you have resigned from.

  133. andy newman on said:

    Vanya: You don’t have collective responsibility to a government you have resigned from.

    But the experience of Rifondazione in Italy is that once you enter into such a coalition then you suffer either from staying in a coalition or from withdrawing from it

  134. #141 If the KKE went into a coalition with SYRIZA on the basis of anti-austerity and it was made clear to the latter that this was a condition for the former remaining in the government, that would put immense pressure on SYRIZA to stand firm because otherwise they would be in the embarassing position of being either booted out of office or having to form a coalition with the very people they have been attacking.

    All the KKE have lost are ministerial positions that they warned they only wanted on strict pre-conditions anyway.

    They say, ‘well we warned them of the consequences if they broke their commitments’ and everyone knows that the only serious force committed to fighting austerity is the KKE , who can be trusted to keep their word (along with the inevitable left splits from SYRIZA that would follow).

    On the other hand, if SYRIZA really are the force that so many people on the left hope they are, then we have a government in a key European country standing up to austerity at the head of a mass popular movement.

  135. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: George Hallam: This only works if one assumes that the nature of the EU is peripheral to the current crisis in Greece.

    I don’t think this is the case, but perhaps I’m missing something. Could you expand on this a bit?

    The argument that Greece’s membership of the EU is fundamental to the current crisis is as follows:

    1. The EU is founded on the principle of a single market with the free movement of labour and capital.

    2. Free markets are engines of inequality. They don’t level differences: they create winners and losers. Over time the differences between winners and losers are reinforced and entrenched.

    3. Greece has been a loser in this single market. The Greek economy has been damaged by its membership of the EU. The ‘single market’ principle has made it impossible for the Government to protect Greek industry.

    4. The establishment of a single currency, and consequently a single interest rate, has exacerbated Greece’s problems.

    As I have said previously:

    “For some time the full extent of the damage being done to the Greece economy was hidden by massive loans by foreign banks (including some German banks).

    “The ‘rescue’ package is all about rescuing these banks from their foolishness and preventing a fresh round of financial mayhem. If, by any chance, it should work then the Greece would still be at the wrong end of a process of European economic differentiation.”

    Given this analysis I can’t see how any measures based on Greece’s continued use of the Euro and membership of the EU can work.

    Given the pressing nature of the problems facing the mass of the Greek people I can see no point in supporting a government committed to Greece’s continued use of the Euro and membership of the EU.

  136. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya, I think the root of the difference between you and those you’re arguing against is that for you, the primary issue is the fight against austerity and the struggle for a positive alternative.

    Whereas for your opponents, the primary issue is the need to leave the EU.

    You are framing arguments for building the maximum unity and effectiveness of the progressive forces, in order to try to actually make a real positive difference to working people’s lives, which is your ultimate aim.

    And your opponents’ arguments are framed on the basis of building the maximum possible unity and effectiveness of the anti-EU forces in order to leave the EU, which is their ultimate aim.

  137. Feodor on said:

    George, thank you for taking the time to clarify things, but I’m still a bit oblivious as to what you’re on about.

    In response to me saying (post 128) that the KKE would be best served by going into coalition with SYRIZA yet still making the argument about the nature of the EU, you said (post 131) this could only happen if the ‘European question’ was a peripheral issue, and that any anti-austerity programme which failed to see this would be ‘doomed to failure, not just in the long-term but in the short-term as well’.

    You make a good argument (post 143) as to why the single market and currency is the root of the problem, one I agree with.

    But, call me dense if you wish, I still don’t see how it wouldn’t be possible for a SYRIZA government to come round to such a position when faced with the realities of the situation. I just don’t think their ‘illusions’ mean they are ‘doomed to failure’ in the short-term as well, especially if the KKE was on the inside pointing them out, and making a shibboleth out of the ‘European question’ only prevents such a question from being worked out in practice.

    As Vanya has pointed out much more eloquently than myself, opposition to austerity should be the shibboleth, while the position on Europe should be worked out in practice. Who knows, maybe under pressure the European elites would allow Greece to remain in the EU yet restore the drachma.

    Nick, you’re splitting hairs and dodging the point: what I was saying, in response to your arguments about losing credibility, was that the KKE would lose some credibility no matter what course they took; all you’ve done in your response is re-state the KKE’s reasoning, you’ve not actually defended your point from my rebuttal.

  138. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Vanya, I think the root of the difference between you and those you’re arguing against is that for you, the primary issue is the fight against austerity and the struggle for a positive alternative.
    Whereas for your opponents, the primary issue is the need to leave the EU.

    This only works if you ignore the links between the structure of the EU and the Greek crisis.

    Given EU rules there is precious little scope of opposing austerity. While Greece remains in the EU the state of the economy means that the Greek government is dependent on external, i.e. EU, injections of cash.

    Of course, European leader are insisting that and support for Greece is conditional on swinging austerity measures.

    A Greek exit from the EU/the Euro would create difficulties for the whole project. This means that the threat to leaving the EU/the Euro is the only credible bargaining chip any Greek government has.

    By refusing to countenance leaving the EU/the Euro Syriza has no way of escaping the austerity measures that are being imposed.

  139. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: But, call me dense if you wish, I still don’t see how it wouldn’t be possible for a SYRIZA government to come round to such a position when faced with the realities of the situation. I just don’t think their ‘illusions’ mean they are ‘doomed to failure’ in the short-term as well, especially if the KKE was on the inside pointing them out, and making a shibboleth out of the ‘European question’ only prevents such a question from being worked out in practice.

    I don’t like using analogies as they can be used to prove anything so please regard the following as an illustration rather than a proper argument.

    Suppose you wanted to go into an area where you believed there was a man-eating tiger. Working on the principle that there is safety in numbers you try to organise a group.

    Would you be prepared to include people who, for whatever reason, disagreed with the shooting tigers or who doubted the idea that there were such things as man-eating tigers?

    I can see that, should the tiger strike, faced with the realities of the situation it might well be that some people might come round to the idea of shooting a tiger.

    However, can you see that it would be a bit of a risk.

    Perhaps you are familiar with Judges 12:4-6?

    A shibboleth is “a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning”.

    In the circumstance I think that calling ones attitude to the ‘Tiger question’ a “shibboleth” would be wrong.

  140. Karl Stewart: And your opponents’ arguments are framed on the basis of building the maximum possible unity and effectiveness of the anti-EU forces in order to leave the EU, which is their ultimate a

    The point is not to ‘leave the EU’ but to disaggregate it, weaken the power of the banks and monopolies, weaken the role of the UK as the trojan horse of US imperialism in our continent. These are strategic aims predicated on the belief that in achieving them the balance of class forces will alter in favour of the working class in all the countries of Europe.

    for more on this go to
    http://issuu.com/communist_party/docs/52nd_cp_congress_motions/1

  141. George Hallam,

    George,I may be wrong but I don’t recall SYRIZA “refusing to countenance” leaving the EU. Their 40-point program drafted for the election was insistent on the need for major reforms within the EU(see point #2):

    . Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return.

    2. Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances states and programs of public investment.

    3. Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.

    4. Change the election laws to a proportional system.

    5. Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.

    6. Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.

    7. Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.

    8. Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.

    9. Combat the banks’ secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.

    10. Cut drastically military expenditures.

    11. Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.

    12. Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.

    13. Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.

    14. Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.

    15. Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.

    16. Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.

    17. Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.

    18. Nationalisation of banks.

    19. Nationalisation of ex-public (service & utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).

    20. Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.

    21. Equal salaries for men and women.

    22. Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.

    23. Extension of the protection of labour and salaries of part-time workers.

    24. Recovery of collective (labour) contracts.

    25. Increase inspections of labour and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.

    26. Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of church and state and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.

    27. Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.

    28. Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.

    29. Demilitarisation of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.

    30. Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centres.

    31. Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.

    32. Depenalisation of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centres.

    33. Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.

    34. Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)

    35. Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.

    36. Nationalisation of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.

    37. Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.

    38. Abolition of military cooperation with Israel. Support for creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

    39. Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.

    40. Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.

  142. Omar,

    This is what Tsipras wrote in the Financial Times on June 13:

    “ I will keep Greece in the eurozone and restore growth
    By Alexis Tsipras
    Lest there be any doubt, my movement – Syriza – is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone.
    President Barack Obama was right when he said last Friday: “Let’s do everything we can to grow now, even as we lock in a long-term plan to stabilise our debt and our deficits, and start bringing them down in a steady, sensible way.” That applies to my country, too. The need for giving Greece a chance for real growth and a new future is now more widely accepted than ever.
    I strongly believe we will get a clear democratic mandate from the people of the Hellenic Republic on Sunday. With that mandate we will take immediate action to end Greece’s corrupt and inefficient political and regulatory systems that have ravaged our economy over the past decades. The people of Greece also expect us to take immediate responsibility for averting the country’s evolving humanitarian crisis.
    Syriza is the only political movement in Greece today that can deliver economic, social and political stability for our country. The stabilisation of Greece in the short term will benefit the eurozone at a critical juncture in the evolution of the single currency. If we do not change our path, austerity threatens to force us out of the euro with even greater certainty.
    Only Syriza can guarantee Greek stability because we do not carry the political baggage of the establishment parties that have brought Greece to the brink of ruin. It is for this reason that voters support our commitment to pulling our country back from the edge of destruction. We will set Greece on a new path to growth through transparent government. A renewed Greece will contribute to the new foundations of a closer, more unified Europe. Developments in Spain at the weekend confirm that the crisis is pan-European, and the way it has been handled so far has been completely ineffectual.
    The people of Greece want to replace the failed old memorandum of understanding (as signed in March with the EU and International Monetary Fund) with a “national plan for reconstruction and growth”. This is necessary both to avert Greece’s humanitarian crisis and to save the common currency.
    The systemic fiscal problems of Greece are, in large part, a problem of low public revenues. Myriad tax concessions and exemptions granted to special interests by previous administrations, along with a low effective tax rate on personal income as well as capital, explain much of the problem. So too does the highly ineffective method of tax collection.
    According to Eurostat, Greece lags behind the eurozone average of government revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product by 4 per cent. The two-party political system has spent decades conveniently ignoring the dire need for effective tax reform. It has focused its tax collection efforts on the one exhaustible source of income tax: middle and low-income households.
    Under our plan for reconstruction and growth, we are committed to following a programme of pragmatic and socially just fiscal stabilisation. The structure of this programme consists of: stabilising public expenditure at approximately 44 per cent of GDP and reorientating this expenditure to ensure it is well spent; increasing revenues from direct taxation to the average European levels (by more than 4 per cent of GDP) over a four-year period; and reforming the tax regime so as to identify the wealth and income of all citizens, and to distribute equitably the burden of taxation.
    Lack of financial transparency prevails, even as Greek banks are being recapitalised with loans from the troika (the EU, IMF and European Central Bank). We will ensure that viable banks are recapitalised transparently and in a way that is fully compatible with the public interest. That is the only way to ensure that the entire financial system is returned to full stability.
    Arthur Miller once wrote that “an era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted”. The basic illusion of good Greek government under the old regime of a two-party system has been exhausted. It is now totally incapable of ensuring our country’s return to growth and full participation in the eurozone. This Sunday we will bring Greece into a new era of growth and prosperity.
    The new era begins on Monday.”

  143. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: George,I may be wrong but I don’t recall SYRIZA “refusing to countenance” leaving the EU. Their 40-point program drafted for the election was insistent on the need for major reforms within the EU(see point #2):

    Omar, I may be wrong but, having read the list, I think that it’s is not serious programme, it’s a wish list.

    In my view these people are dangerously disconnected from reality.

    As Arthur Wellesley is supposed to have said, “I don’t know what effect they will have on the enemy, but by God, they terrify me.”

  144. George Hallam,

    Well,wishlist or not,George, it nearly won them an election on two occasions. It’s actually a set of principles I would have no trouble supporting, even if they were to deliver only a quarter of it. I’d be interested in the Lewisham People Before Profit’s programme ,just for comparison.

  145. John Haylett,

    Given that the article was for FT, I would suggest a bit of PR on Tsipras’ part. You will note point 27 in the SYRIZA program:

    “27. Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.”

  146. Morning Star reader,

    Just back from a “broad based” meeting in Glasgow. Some observations. It’s not that big a diversion from some of the discussion we have here. And you still haven’t answered my question but your correct to say that “the left parties (not Labour, of course) quite often hold informal discussions to try and avoid clashes. The SLP appears not to have anything to do with this process”.

    Couple of further observations: the SLP have stood across Wales in every Assembly election since 1999, every Westminster election since 1997 and every EU election since 1999 (2004) excepted. Who else has “popped up” as consistently as that? Your problem MSR is akin to many others who consider themselves “left” – you think and move in cliques.

  147. Feodor on said:

    George Hallam: I don’t like using analogies as they can be used to prove anything so please regard the following as an illustration rather than a proper argument.

    It’s a good analogy, and I can see how it might be something of a risk to include in your expedition persons who doubted there were man-eating tigers or had qualms about shooting them.

    But for what it’s worth, the first thing that came into my head was that someone aware of the risks could benefit from having some complacent persons around them. Because if we suggest the best response would be flight not fight, then while the complacent were caught in the headlights, it would provide those with the correct analysis of the tiger’s threat with a chance to run away.

    To survive in this situation, you wouldn’t need to be the fastest runner, just avoid being the slowest. And I’m sure (possibly with a touch of sophistry) one could relate this to the KKE’s situation: namely, they could join a coalition government, then take flight when SYRIZA got caught in the headlights. The KKE survives, while SYRIZA gets gobbled up by the man-eating tiger! ;)

    Though as you said, this is far from a proper argument, and conversely, it would be easy to respond by saying that as soon as the tiger appeared, the non-believers and the pacifists would quickly reach for a rifle!

    Also, you made me do some Bible study you bugger! Can’t really make heads or tails of Judges 12 though. It has something to do with excessive pride being at the root of pointless quarrels, right? The moral being that instead of looking for differences, it is better to work together?

    If my attempt at exegesis is correct, then I don’t see how the passage supports your argument: all it tells me about a shibboleth is that some bloke couldn’t pronounce it!?

    Indeed there is another definition of shibboleth. From the Oxford English dictionary (1996 pocket ed.): ‘long-standing formula, doctrine, or phrase, etc., held to be true by a party or sect’. Nothing about it being ‘empty of real meaning’ – though perhaps it was ill-advised to use the term here, given the generally pejorative connotations it typically carries.

    Now, back to the election coverage…

  148. Expect a lot of people are getting up right now, flicking on the radio, TV or internet and thinking, ‘Fuck, that’s a relief!’.

    That’s me anyway.

  149. Omar: Given that the article was for FT, I would suggest a bit of PR on Tsipras’ part.

    Omar

    This wasn’t an isolated “bit of PR” by Tsipras. It was a consistent part of the Syriza campaign. How many instances do you want of him insisting that Greece had to remain with the EU and, specifically, the eurozone before you believe that he probably means it?

  150. #158 Yes, they state their determination to remain in the EU. But they also state their opposition to austerity measures.

    The EU are currently requiring Greece to implement austerity measures.

    So if SYRIZA take power, there will be a contradiction which will have to be resolved in one of three ways:

    1) The anti-austerity measures are dropped.

    2) Greece has to leave the EU/Eurozone.

    3) The EU allows Greece to implement anti-austerity measures.

    If the presumption is in favour of (1) in the event that (3) doesn’t happen, then I would be interested to know what the evidence is.

  151. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: Well,wishlist or not,George, it nearly won them an election on two occasions. It’s actually a set of principles..

    Yes, I’m very much afraid that it is “a set of principles”.

    In my experience people only do something “on principle” when then they have run out of rational arguments for that course of action.

  152. George Hallam,

    Conversely,some can engage in endless “rational arguments” when they don’t have the integrity to adopt principles to which they are held accountable. The form of an argument doesn’t guarantee it produces anything of substance.

  153. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: The form of an argument doesn’t guarantee it produces anything of substance.

    True. If a premise of a valid rational argument is false then the conclusion may well be wrong.
    That’s why it’s important to investigate the way the world is.

    However, reasoning based on abstract moral principles without regard to empirical premises is just a waste of time.

  154. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: some can engage in endless “rational arguments” when they don’t have the integrity to adopt principles to which they are held accountable.

    And some can engage in endless “rational arguments” as an alternative to actually doing something.

  155. George Hallam,

    George Hallam: True. If a premise of a valid rational argument is false then the conclusion may well be wrong.That’s why it’s important to investigate the way the world is.However, reasoning based on abstract moral principles without regard to empirical premises is just a waste of time.

    I would assume SYRIZA’s program would have been sufficiently interrogated by their opponents and defended by the party during the election campaigns. If they could even deliver a quarter of it, it’s worth supporting. Clearly, many Greeks thought so,including former KKE supporters.

    George Hallam: And some can engage in endless “rational arguments” as an alternative to actually doing something.

    Which is precisely what the KKE did. The end result was a win for the forces of austerity.

  156. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: I would assume SYRIZA’s program would have been sufficiently interrogated by their opponents and defended by the party during the election campaigns. If they could even deliver a quarter of it, it’s worth supporting.

    “Supporting” in what sense?

    I agree with almost everything in the list.

    I just have doubts as to how practical it is a programme.

  157. George H your approach to discussion is frequently pedantic and irritating but can be forgiven because you usually provide information that one can learn from and/or make people think about what they are saying and challenge lazy assumptions.

    All of that is sadly lacking from you in this discussion.

  158. George Hallam,

    There is virtually an entire industry built up around expressing “doubts” about the implementation of socialist or even social-democratic policies in today’s political climate but that shouldn’t mean that parties that put forward such platforms are any more detached from reality as their neo-liberal opponents.

  159. #167 Yes, it would be interesting to know what you would consider to be practical as a government programme for the left in Greece George H.

  160. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: #167 Yes, it would be interesting to know what you would consider to be practical as a government programme for the left in Greece George H.

    Far be it from me to law down the law about exactly what the Greeks should be doing.

    However, back in February Lewisham People Before Profit had a discussion about the developing crisis in the UK. Here is the policy statement we adopted on contingency plans in the event that situation deteriorated suddenly.

    “Immediate emergency measures to minimise the impact of the financial crisis on the economy

    “Banks – the domestic operations of banks, especially the current accounts of British residents and firms (through which most people receive their wages and pay their bills) must continue to operate. To do this such domestic operations need to be administrative separate from all other banking activities. Bank workers should be encouraged to take the initiative is affecting such a separation and ensuring everyday transactions continue as normal. The Government needs to guarantee such measures.

    “The foreign operations of banks and finance houses, however should not receive any such support and banks, if they fail to meet their obligations, should be allowed to go into receivership.

    “Capital controls – comprehensive capital controls will be needed in order to a) prevent difficulties with the balance of payments, and b) stabilise the exchange rate without overreliance on the changes in the interest rate.

    “Essential services – to guarantee the population access to essential services all public utilities (water, gas, electricity, telephones and public transport) must be taken back into public ownership. In the event of disruption in international commodity markets, administrative measures would be required to ensure supplies of oil, petrol and basic food items.

    “Government finances – the Government’s finances are not an immediate problem: the current deficit, about which so much has been made, is mainly due to contraction of the economy. This deficit will disappear as we rebuild the economy. However, in the medium term it would be desirable if measures were taken to reduce the Government’s dependency on the money markets (aka bankers). This can be done by raising tax revenue through:

    “1. Tackling the existing ‘Tax gap’ between actual and potential revenue. (PCS policy)

    “a. unpaid and late-paid tax – £26bn (estimate)

    “b. tax avoidance – £25bn a year (estimate) loopholes in UK tax law and the tax law of other states – especially tax havens.

    “c. tax evasion – £70bn a year (estimate).

    “2. Restructuring the tax system by:

    “a. Shifting the burden of tax from indirect taxes (e.g. VAT) to direct taxes (e.g. income tax) which are harder to avoid or evade.

    “b. abolishing the multitude of complex allowances and concessions

    “3. Making the tax system more ‘progressive’ (higher rates of tax on those with higher income)
    Tackling the ‘Tax gap’ would requires more staff in key areas but shifting the burden to direct taxes and simplifying the regulation would make tax evasion and avoidance more difficult at the same time as reducing administration costs.

  161. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: There is virtually an entire industry ..expressing “doubts” about the implementation of ..policies ..but that shouldn’t mean that parties that put forward such platforms are any more detached from reality as their neo-liberal opponents.

    This setting the bar to low. The aim should be to develop a programme that is not detached from reality.

  162. George Hallam,

    Dare I say, George, that your policy statement, especially with regard to banks,capital controls,etc, isn’t miles away from SYRIZA’s, and that’s without the immediate threat of the drastic levels of austerity currently being imposed upon the majority of Greece’s population.

  163. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: George H your approach to discussion is frequently pedantic and irritating..

    The “irritating” is redundant unless you give another example, because pedantry is always irritating.

  164. Omar: There is virtually an entire industry built up around expressing “doubts” about the implementation of socialist or even social-democratic policies

    Hmmmm. The issue is surely that key promises on that list are incompatible with continued Greek membership of the Eurozone; whereas SYRIZA pledged themselves to keep Greece in the Eurozone, and they were insistent about this. (The chance of Germany & the EU backing down on imposing savage austerity on Greece was absolutely nil.)

    So the Greek Communist Party was surely correct in stating that SYRIZA was trying to put over a crucial, blatant & opportunist falsehood on the key issue in the election.

    Perhaps they could have squared that off somehow while at the same time being in alliance with SYRIZA, or perhaps not. I don’t know enough about Greek politics to state a well-grounded view about whether the Greek Communist Party had better options than the one they took.

  165. George Hallam: The “irritating” is redundant unless you give another example, because pedantry is always irritating.

    Surely that’s in the eye of the beholder. And to me, George, your pedantry is sometimes a delight to behold.

  166. George Hallam on said:

    Omar: Omar

    I dare say that you are right.

    However, there are some significant differences between Britain and Greece. For example, we are not in the Euro and we have our ‘own’ central bank.

    Further, as regards ‘public opinion’ the majority in the UK want to get out of the EU.

  167. Noah,

    I would say that within SYRIZA’s program was an implicit “take it or leave it” to the Troika. As I suggested, Tspiras was perhaps playing politics by trying to allay the fears of the austerity-nuts. As I understand it, the party was forged largely from the radical street- protest movements against previous EU/IMF-imposed austerity measures ( though it of course has older roots as part of the KKE youth wing). Some interesting bits:
    {In a BBC interview, Mr Tsipras said if the “disease of austerity destroys Greece, it will spread to the rest of Europe”.}

    “Syriza refused to join any government which would continue with the austerity measures demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for a bailout of 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn). ”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18094714

    It’s clear that SYRIZA were prepared to be kicked out of the Euro if they had formed a government that stuck to it’s guns over the bailout terms, though it clearly would be a massive headache to do so.

  168. Noah,

    Noah, the second sentence in that article reads:
    “He said he did not want Greece to leave the euro but he could not support the bailout conditions from the eurozone”

    I’m not suggesting that SYRIZA was actively campaigning to leave the Euro but if their demands were not met, surely they were prepared to be kicked out.

  169. George Hallam: IHowever, there are some significant differences between Britain and Greece. For example, we are not in the Euro and we have our ‘own’ central bank.

    Of course, but I should think that much of SYRIZA’s program was about reasserting sovereignty over Greece’s financial sector and public spending budget, so, once again, it seems clear that they were willing to countenance life outside the Euro, as much of their program would lead to a conflict with the Troika.

  170. #117 The oldest component of the organisation was originally the. KKE (Interior), the. ‘eurocommunist’ side of the split in the KKE in 1968.

  171. Omar: SYRIZA […] was forged largely from the radical street- protest movements against previous EU/IMF-imposed austerity measures

    Yet, despite being based on the street / radical protest movements, it was making such an emphatic point of pledging to keep the country inside the establishment capitalist & imperialist institutions which were enforcing that austerity.

    What did / do they suppose would be the eventual result of deluding the base of their own party on the key issue they would face once in office?

  172. Omar: surely they [SYRIZA] were prepared to be kicked out.

    Yet in the BBC interview they repeatedly deny there is any such possibility, and emphasise that the Greek people are against leaving the Euro.

    So whom is one meant to believe, the evaluation of people on this website who think KKE should have allied with SYRIZA, or SYRIZA themselves?

  173. brokenwindow on said:

    Some interesting points earlier on;how do you who support a Leftish labourparty, mobilise support for it, when the whole of Europe has swung to the right? There just isn’t a stable platform on which to base a coherent message. Also the Left are not being approached by workers,their mythical sheep that need a vanguard to lead them to the promised land. The whole society is becoming atomised and reactionary.
    The whole political sysytem in the UK is morally bankrupt,bloodied indelibly by the square mile’s influence and the defence industry which transcends the narrow four year cycles of political parties who spend two years calculating how they can hang on to power resulting in an abandoning of all political principles. The whole thing is a ridiculous and meaningless spectacle.

    Returning to Miliband,seriously,will he upturn the logic of the right at the heart of his party’s neoliberal outlook in foreign policy,PFI,Banking,defence spending,education,housing? Of course not. Sterling could yet flip. But even if it did the means to make political gains on the Left will not happen as there is nothing whatsoever in place. Add to that the growing irrelevance of British politics globally except for the global elite to launder their money here and live in several gated communities adequately protected and encouraged by ALL main political parties. And no China is not the romantic internationalists who dream of 80,000 workers at a single plant switching on to socialism. The totalitarian mechanism in china runs deep. It will deepen further as all the evidence indicates and adopt the American way;soft sounding,hard hitting.

  174. Noah,

    Unfortunately the computer I’m on doesn’t render video. However, rather than attempt to “delude” their base ( they are correct in suggesting that most Greeks wish to remain in the euro,though as support for SYRIZA indicates, not at any price), which aside from leading to a renewed round of mass unrest, would surely tear apart the party from within, as it is an alliance of various left sects, I would think they would attempt to implement their manifesto. Had the KKE chosen to hitch a ride, they could have further ensured SYRIZA didn’t prioritise remaining in the Euro over fulfilment of their program and had a hand in shaping a post-Euro Greece. Are you suggesting prolonging the suffering of the workers by letting the neo-liberals in is a better outcome?

  175. Omar: the KKE […] could have further ensured SYRIZA didn’t prioritise remaining in the Euro over fulfilment of their program

    How, except by threatening to bring down the government & thereby let in the unashamed pro-austerity parties?

    In which case, its hard to see how the Left would gain from that.

  176. Omar: they are correct in suggesting that most Greeks wish to remain in the euro,though as support for SYRIZA indicates, not at any price

    I can’t make sense of your point, given that SYRIZA flatly denied that refusal of austerity could lead to exit from the Euro.

  177. Never ceases to amaze me the extent to which the left in Britain continue to pretend that the Greek left opportunists are not pro EU.

    SYRIZA again and again categorically deny that any action of a future SYRIZA government would lead to an exit of the eurozone, let alone the EU.

    The major issue in Greece, and Europe, is austerity. The fact that SYRIZA refused to accept any solution that included exit from the eurozone or EU demonstrates both their opportunism and the correctness of policy of the KKE in disarming the Greek organised working class by entering into government with them.

    Desperate, desperate stuff from the British cheerleaders of the SYRIZA opportunists. History will absolve those who were prepared to stand up to the neoliberal EU.

  178. George W: SYRIZA again and again categorically deny that any action of a future SYRIZA government would lead to an exit of the eurozone, let alone the EU.

    Indeed. I’m still wondering how the Greek Communists could ally with SYRIZA, given that they could not possibly agree with that crucial plank of the SYRIZA programme?

  179. Noah: How, except by threatening to bring down the government & thereby let in the unashamed pro-austerity parties?

    In which case, its hard to see how the Left would gain from that.

    Sorry, had to make my way home. I could foresee the KKE getting a massive boost in popularity if SYRIZA blinked first in a showdown with the troika. And I would certainly eat my words and cheer KKE for taking a stand which could trigger another uprising that could propel them to power and establish a workers state. Shifting the country leftward by compromising on Euro withdrawal in order to gain power and (critically) support measures to, in the meantime, alleviate austerity and reign in capital is a possible springboard for such a scenario. But the KKE won’t get that kind of support until they are willing to take an active role in shaping the country at the political level.
    As for the radio interview, as I said, SYRIZA are hedging their bets that change is possible within the Eurozone, but nowhere have they indicated they are willing to abandon their program to put a halt to Troika austerity measures. And their base is not protesting Euro membership, but austerity measures imposed by some of the rich countries.

  180. History will absolve those who were prepared to stand up to the neoliberal EU.

    Which is precisely what SYRIZA’s program is!

  181. Omar: , SYRIZA […] their base is not protesting Euro membership, but austerity measures imposed by some of the rich countries.

    But don’t they have some responsibility to be truthful to their supporters & the wider Greek population, rather than pretending that their promises can be acceded within the Eurozone?

  182. Noah,

    I don’t think that their supporters are stupid,Noah, they recognise that SYRIZA’s position rests on some pretty large assumptions. But if you read their program,it doesn’t strike me as a that of a party who haven’t taken a Euro exit into consideration. I think their supporters understand that, but would prefer to remain in a more socialist-oriented EU for which they (and many outside Greece) hope SYRIZA can be a catalyst. It may well be that if another round of austerity is shoved down Greece’s throat under the current coalition, that SYRIZA may have to rethink it’s position and may well break apart into new pro and anti-Euro camps.

  183. Karl Stewart on said:

    I wouldn’t criticise the KKE, as has been said, this is a party with a heroic history of illegal, underground organisation during a military dictatorship and still remains the strongest and most coherent force on the Greek left. And crucially, they’re the ones actually there, on the ground.

    But say a similar set of circumstances arose here?
    Say a broad left party – perhaps something like a Respect/Green alliance with some various leftist groups in there too, was winning large-scale electoral support in the UK on a progressive anti-austerity platform.

    Would our own “left-Eurosceptics” point blank refuse to ally with them unless they put EU withdrawal at the top of their agenda?

  184. Karl Stewart on said:

    I would challenge the assertion made by some on here who have claimed that EU withdrawal is a majority view among the UK public or among the UK working class.

    Let’s look at the evidence.

    The only actual formal vote on the issue, way back in 1975, resulted in a two-to-one Yes vote, despite pre-campaign opinion polls having shown decisive majorities for the “No” position.

    Today, neither of the two mainstream political parties, who represent some 80 per cent of the electorate, support withdrawal as party policy.

    Among the six smaller British parties who have any electoral presence at all – LibDem, Green, UKIP, SNP, Plaid, Respect – only UKIP supports withdrawal as party policy.

    Among the three parties of the non-Labour left of any significance – SWP, SP, CP – only the CP supports withdrawal.

    Within the seven-million strong trade union movement, withdrawal is only supported by one union – RMT.

    So how can withdrawal possibly be described as a “majority view”? Either among the general population or among the working class?

    Withdrawal has never been the majority view of the general population of the UK – a referendum today would probably return a similar result to that in 1975.

    But much, much more importantly, the nature and membership of the “No” constituency has changed dramatically.

    By any measure, it’s a far less popular position on the left and within the working-class movement now than it was way back in 1975.

    Way back then, withdrawal was Labour Party conference and manifesto policy, withdrawal was the position of its NEC and personally supported by half the Cabinet.

    Withdrawal was also the majority position of the then 12-million strong trade union movement.

    Back then, the CP, which also supported EU withdrawal, had over 20,000 members, virtually ran the then extremely powerful shop stewards movement and overwhelmingly dominated the rest of the non-Labour left.

    Since then, support for withdrawal has massively declined on the left and within the working-class movement.

    Where withdrawal was the overwhelming view of the left and organised working-class movement, today it’s a marginal position within this group.

    But by contrast, where withdrawal was something of a marginal position on the right – in 1975 – Thatcher, for example, was very much in the “Yes” camp – it’s now becoming almost the mainstream centre-right position.

    There are very, very few actively pro-EU politicians on the UK centre-right today.

    Withdrawal from the EU won’t again become a left-wing position unless and until our own working-class movement sees it acting as a restriction on our rights.

    Should that happen, then it may well be, in the future, that EU withdrawal needs to be raised as a key issue within the UK working-class movement.

    But that’s not where we are at this time.

  185. prianikoff on said:

    The biggest illusion is that leaving the EU will end austerity.
    In the current capitalist recession, it could easily make it worse.

    The Greek working class understood this better than the neo-stalinist KKE did.
    In the past, the KKE has entered bourgeois coalition governments.
    But it refused to countenance the possibility of forming a Workers Government around a programme it could have helped shape.
    Syriza wasn’t prepared to be drawn into the ND-led Coalition after the last election.
    Instead of welcoming this and seeking to form a United Front against Austerity, the KKE simply denounced them.

    The “principled stand” of the KKE amounts to serious confusion about political priorities.
    Like some know-it-all who’s been asked the road directions to Birmingham, they keep repeating “Take Junction 6 off the M6″.
    Unfortunately they were asked the question in Neasden.
    So their advise isn’t much use.

  186. Karl Stewart: But say a similar set of circumstances arose here?
    Say a broad left party – perhaps something like a Respect/Green alliance with some various leftist groups in there too, was winning large-scale electoral support in the UK on a progressive anti-austerity platform.

    To have any similarity, I think you would also have to include in those circumstances a hugely worse level of austerity than is currently taking place in Britain, and that that this appalling austerity was being imposed by the EU & its institutions.

  187. Morning Star reader on said:

    Jim (155), I think you’ll find that the CPB and the SP have stood in many elections in Wales over the same period. In fact, taking local elections into account, the CPB have stood in many more than the SLP.
    The difference is that the CPB and SP have campaigning records on the ground, in local communities and the trade union movement. The SLP appears to have nothing, except at election time, and even then it doesn’t appear to stand in local elections because there is no SLP organisation on the ground.
    Paper candidates, paper tigers!

  188. prianikoff: The biggest illusion is that leaving the EU will end austerity.
    In the current capitalist recession, it could easily make it worse.

    So you think Greece should stay in the Eurozone? or are you saying it could / should exit the Eurozone but stay in the EU?

  189. prianikoff: The biggest illusion is that leaving the EU will end austerity.
    In the current capitalist recession, it could easily make it worse.

    No, the biggest illusion is thinking that the systemic crisis can be resolved within the framework of capitalist relations of production and whilst integrated into the capitalist world economy and the EU. Something the KKE does not and which the Greek people as a whole and some of the working class as yet do not fully comprehend.
    If they were able to ‘spontaneously’ reach such a conclusion then one could argue that Marx and Lenin (and even Trotsky) were wrong and Bakunin right.
    Of course, Syriza’s to win the KKE as an electoral partner would have to repudiate their existing arrangements in those parts of Greece where they are in alliance with other parties in order to defeat the KKE.

  190. prianikoff on said:

    #200 I think the Greek left needs to unite, reject the third memorandum and bring down the Coalition government.
    It shouldn’t take any position of the Euro or Eurozone at this point. Given that similar problems are arising in Spain, Portugal and Italy, it’s better to sit tight for now.
    No one should leave unless they’re expelled.

  191. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: I would challenge the assertion made by some on here who have claimed that EU withdrawal is a majority view among the UK public or among the UK working class.
    Let’s look at the evidence.

    By all means.
    But this is not for the faint hearted.

    MORI polls since the 70’s
    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemId=2435&view=wide

    YouGov Survey Results
    Sample Size: 1948 GB Adults
    Fieldwork: 8th – 9th September 2010
    http://cdn.yougov.com/today_uk_import/YG-Archives-Pol-YouGov-EURef-100910.pdf

    Withdraw Britain from the European Union
    ABC1 C2DE
    Leave 42 54
    Remain 42 22
    no vote 3 8
    Dt_kn 13 16

    YouGov / Prospect Survey Results
    Sample Size: 1730 GB adults
    Fieldwork: 22nd – 23rd July 2012
    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/x1q4z0wfrp/YG-Archives-Pol-Prospect-RespectPolicy-230812.pdf

    Withdraw Britain from the European Union
    ABC1 C2DE
    Support 37 42
    Oppose 36 24
    Neither 13 13
    D’t_kw 13 20

    The following might explain why Karl and other think the the ‘working class’ oppose withdrawal from the EU.

    Withdraw from EU by self-description (Left/centre/right)

    VLeft SLeft Centre SRght VRght
    Support 20 25 42 46 65
    Oppose 61 53 36 23 13
    Neither 12 10 14 19 13
    D’t_kw 6 12 8 11 9

    Source: as above.
    Please exuse the crampt spacing.

  192. George Hallam on said:

    prianikoff: The biggest illusion is that leaving the EU will end austerity.

    Yes, of course this is an illusion. But not a very concincing one.

    prianikoff: In the current capitalist recession, it could easily make it worse.

    Yes, of course you are right. In the short term it would make things worse.

    prianikoff: The Greek working class understood this better than the neo-stalinist KKE did.

    This would suggest that the ‘neo-stalinist KKE’ couldn’t see that an exist from the Euro/EU would create significant problems.

    Evidence?

  193. prianikoff:
    No one should leave unless they’re expelled.

    To me, this position seems to be the one that is likely to generate the broadest possible support, and it’s also one that even the most Eurosceptic elements should be willing to try/support.

    If nothing else, then at least it demonstrates beyond any doubt that leaving the EU is the only way to avoid austerity. Withdrawing without even attempting to (re-)negotiate will always produce open and unresolvable questions regarding ‘what-might-have-been’. And if instant withdrawal led to great socio-economic difficulties, then all you’ve achieved is to supply your opponents with a great deal of easily deployed political ammunition.

    When raising kids, it’s preferable to leave them make their own mistakes and learn from experience, rather than being a draconian parent who tells them from the beginning there is only one way. And this principle, imo, to some extent holds true in politics as well.

  194. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: When raising kids, it’s preferable to leave them make their own mistakes and learn from experience, rather than being a draconian parent who tells them from the beginning there is only one way. And this principle, imo, to some extent holds true in politics as well.

    See Daniel L. Everett, ‘Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes’

    Pirahã parents allow children to wander near fires and play with sharp knives. When children do hurt themselves they are not comforted; instead they are told off for being so stupid.

    Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. Benjamin Franklin

  195. Feodor on said:

    George, you obviously have a formidable intellect: I have no doubt you could run circles around me. But I think it’s quite telling that in this debate you have quite consistently chosen to concentrate on off-hand remarks, rather than the main points.

    ‘One doesn’t need to be as intelligent as another to see when the other is using their intelligence to distract from the main issues; indeed, clearly seeing the wood from the trees is sometimes much easier for the lesser intellect’ – Feodor, 2012 ;)

  196. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Withdrawal has never been the majority view of the general population of the UK –

    YouGov / Sunday Times Survey Results
    Sample Size: 1724 GB Adults
    Fieldwork: 15th – 16th December 2011

    If there was a referendum on whether or not
    Britain should remain a member of the European
    Union, how would you vote?

    all respondants
    Leave EU 41
    Remain EU 41
    Neither 5
    Don’t_kw 14

    By the Registrar-General’s Social Classes

    ________ABC1 C2DE
    Leave EU 35 48
    Remain EU 48 31
    Neither 4 6
    Don’t_kw 14 14

  197. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: George, you obviously have a formidable intellect:

    Unfortunatly this is not the case.

    I still have a fairly good memory. It’s not the same thing.

    By the way, I was supporting your comment, sort of.

  198. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: I think it’s quite telling that in this debate you have quite consistently chosen to concentrate on off-hand remarks, rather than the main points.

    If you’ve got time go back and read my comments. It may be that they seem to address peripheral issues. However, on closer examination I think that you will find that a lot of these “off-hand remarks” I have responded to were made in support of major points.

    The reason that they attracted my attention is not that they are peripheral but because I happen to have evidence that they are mistaken.

    The problem is not what folks don’t know, it’s what they know for sure when it ain’t so.

    (At the risk of being peripheral: I used to think that Will Rogers said this, however it turns out that there is no hard evidence that he did. This means I have had to abandon this cherished belief.)

  199. Morning Star reader,

    I have not at any time here mentioned any other left party or organisation far less criticised them. You exhibit a negative and insular attitude and maybe even have a wee chip on your shoulder. Your inappropriate use of the term “paper tiger” is also illuminating given your the one doing all the barking. And if the “record of campaigning” you refer to is as substantial as you imply then presumably that’ll be reflected in the vote. We’ll see.

  200. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: I would challenge the assertion made by some on here who have claimed that EU withdrawal is a majority view among the UK public or among the UK working class.
    Let’s look at the evidence.

    Some evidence on underlying attitudes to the EU

    YouGov/The European Council on Foreign Relations: survey results
    Sample Size: 1743 GB Adults
    Fieldwork: 20th – 21st August 2012

    Statement A – ‘For all its faults, the European Union is a pioneering example of the way different countries can work together for mutual benefit. Over the past half century, the EU has helped Europe to become more peaceful, democratic and prosperous than at any time in the continent’s history.’

    Statement B – ‘The EU has failed. It is expensive, inefficient and overbearing. It stops the governments of member states from doing the things they need to do improve the lives of their citizens. The EU has had nothing to do with Europe being more peaceful, democratic and prosperous than it used to be.’

    ______________________ABC1 ____C2DE

    I agree with A not B – 7 _______ 6
    I agree with A more B 20 ______ 16
    TOTAL CLOSER TO A — 27 ______ 22
    agree equally A and B- 9 _______ 7
    I agree with B not A- 30 ______ 33
    I agree with B more A 21 ______ 22
    TOTAL CLOSER TO B — 51 ______ 55
    I don’t agree either 5 _______ 4
    I am a ‘Don’t know’— 9 ______ 11

  201. Karl, you have already overlooked evidence of opinion polling that demonstrates that the majority of the working class supports withdrawal from the EU and you have had this evidence put forward to you again. Please read it.

    It is weird how you take as ‘evidence’ of working class support for the EU the views of leaders of trade unions and the TUC some of whom are so wedded to New Labour and social partnership trust it makes you question what kind of ‘socialism’ is it that you support?

    Some Trade union and TUC leaders supported Tony Blair.

    Considering that the Greek left opportunists in parliament this week said that “the political line of Ms Merkel is what is isolating us from the European Union”, does the pro-EU left argument boil down to wishing Tony Blair was in charge?

    I mean he said that instead of opposing big business and the ‘free’ market, of which the EU represents the interests of, you could work within the system to secure whatever scraps they feel It necessary to throw you.

    Similarly, the pro-EU left argue, well okay socialism-even social democracy is technically unconstitutional, but if we try our bestest, we might be able to change its politics in a ‘left direction.

    Tony Blair was wrong because for all his bollocks about fairness, he was only really interested in promoting his own interests and those of his big business mates.

    Whether everyone who backed New Labour realised this is a matter of debate, I bet at least some genuinely believed in the whole New Labour project.

    Similarly, its silly to say that everyone on the left who is pro-EU is a secret agent for capitalism who just wants to be able to promote the interests of big business and be handsomely rewarded for their efforts.

    But they are just as deluded as those who thought New Labour was a justifiable project to ‘re-energise’ the Labour party.

  202. George Hallam on said:

    YouGov/The European Council on Foreign Relations: survey results
    Sample Size: 1743 GB Adults
    Fieldwork: 20th – 21st August 2012
    Statement A – ‘For all its faults, the European Union is a pioneering example of the way different countries can work together for mutual benefit. Over the past half century, the EU has helped Europe to become more peaceful, democratic and prosperous than at any time in the continent’s history.’

    Statement B – ‘The EU has failed. It is expensive, inefficient and overbearing. It stops the governments of member states from doing the things they need to do improve the lives of their citizens. The EU has had nothing to do with Europe being more peaceful, democratic and prosperous than it used to be.’

    ___________________ABC1 C2DE
    TOTAL CLOSER TO A – 27 — 22
    TOTAL CLOSER TO B – 51 — 55

    for a detailed breakdown see:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/mkw51efck0/ECFR%20120821.pdf

  203. Karl Stewart on said:

    GeorgeH and GeorgeW,
    Come on guys, you’re quoting single-issue opinion polls.

    There are single-issue opinion polls indicating majorities for both tax cuts and increases in public spending, for the death penalty but not in specific cases where guilt is not certain, for job cuts in the public sector but not the private sector, against racism but in favour of immigration controls – these opinion surveys contradict one another all the time.
    Don’t be ridiculous, that’s not evidence.

    If a shop steward asked her or his members if they were in favour of a 10 per cent pay rise, then I’m sure they’d vote “Yes.”
    But if those same members were asked: “Do you accept this 2 per cent pay offer with a no CRs guarantee and conversion of all temps to perm, or do you reject all this and want to strike for a 10 per cent pay rise,” then I expect the answer may well be different.

    The point is, in real life, these single-issue questions are never, in reality actually posed in this abstract, isolated manner are they?

    In the real world, when people were actually faced with the EU decision in a real vote, they overwhelmingly voted not to leave.

    And in the real world today, not many people actually vote for parties that have a policy of leaving do they?

    The opinion poll surveys you guys set so much store by are a pretty soft “yeah I suppose so…” viewpoint.

    Has there ever been a mass demonstration in the UK against EU membership?

    Has there ever been a strike against EU membership?

    There hasn’t has there? Because on the whole, most of us – the normal people – really aren’t that bothered about it as an issue in itself.

    Yes it upsets a few eccentrics and cranks if they can’t buy their potatoes in pounds and ounces, but for the rest of us, the issue is that there must be enough potatoes to go round.

    GeorgeW, if I could reply to this: “It is weird how you take as ‘evidence’ of working class support for the EU the views of leaders of trade unions and the TUC”

    Firstly, yes I take the views of trade union GSs as reflective of the views of their members – that’s why they’re GSs. I’m saying, for example, that the RMT GS reflects his own members’ views when he puts his name to your “People’s Pledge” – are you saying he doesn’t?

    If you’re saying that the rest of the trade union GSs who haven’t signed this “pledge” are not representing their members’ views in this regard, then can you tell me which GS, or GSs, are defying their union’s policy by not signing the “pledge” in defiance of their own union policy?

    You can’t can you?

  204. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Don’t be ridiculous, that’s not evidence.

    I’m terribly sorry, but recent opinion polls are evidence of current popular feeling.

    If the results of these polls were really meaningless then one would not expect see any pattern either between groups or over time.

    The interesting thing is that these polls show a statistically significant difference between ABC1 and C2DE.

    They also show an increase in hostility towards the EU over the last few years.

  205. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: Because on the whole, most of us – the normal people – really aren’t that bothered about it as an issue in itself.

    Well, it seems that you are quite bothered about it. Otherwise you wouldn’t spend so much time arguing about it.