When Will Labour Start Campaigning in Favour of the Eu?

by Michael Meacher MP

Europe is once again turning into a graveyeard for the Tories.   They must be insane  gratuitously to be stirring up opposition even within their own ranks over prolonged austerity, gay marriage and the EU.   Labour is having a field day watching all this from the sidelines, but simply relying on your opponent’s mistakes is no way to show leadership at a critical turning point for the nation.    And the gathering momentum on the Tory Right and in the Tory media, hysterical though much of it is, is clearly one such juncture.   The polls indicate a small majority in favour of exiting the EU, but that is hardly surprising when the case for staying in, which is overwhelming, is hardly being articulated at all.

The motivation on the Tory Right is that they do not want to be part of anything which they do not themselves control or can dominate.   Yet the fundamental problems for Britain at this time – a rapidly deteriorating trading position, deepening austerity, a dysfunctional banking system, low capital investment and low productivity, profound inequality, and a dogmatic obsession with marketisation irrespective of the evidence – are all self-inflicted at home, not caused by membership of the EU.   Hence leaving the EU won’t alleviate any of Britain’s deepest problems; it will simply expose how far blaming the EU as a convenient whipping-post has concealed our own home-built follies.

The Tory Tea Party want to use a EU treaty revision (sought by Germany to impose stronger fiscal responsibility rules on the eurozone, though Merkel is now reneging on this) to secure the repatriation of social and employment laws, a veto over any future regulation of financial services, and the right to opt-out from policing and criminal justice rules.   On the first, the Tories have always wanted the single economic market, but with none (or the minimalist least) of the safeguards designed to protect labour from exploitation.   Their second goal – hands off the City of London – is risible after the financial catastrophe of 2008-9.   Their third is misguided when so much international crime now demands common and co-operative standards and procedures for the policing and judicial authorities across Europe.   But on all three matters what they never point out is that all EU regulations have always required unanimous agreement (except in cases of QMV, again where that has been unanimously agreed), so that the idea that measures have been ‘imposed’ on Britain against our will is simply untrue.

But when is Labour going to campaign for the much stronger positive case?    That exit from the EU would leave Britain isolated and deprived of serious political influence in a world of continental super-powers.    That , as the Americans are making clear, it would undermine the ‘special relationship’ with the US (insofar as it has ever existed), not strengthen it.   That, contrary to Tory Right fantasies, we would not serendipitously retain access to the single market whilst evading compliance with the spectrum of EU regulations, since the experience of Norway and Switzerland proves the reverse.   That, yes, there are certainly deep flaws in the current structure and operation of the EU, but the best way by far to counter them is not British exit, but rather to make allies to get them changed from within (though it is hugely ironic that the one thing that is currently tearing the EU apart is Merkel’s fixation with austerity to which the UK Tories are fully signed up).

from Left Futures

182 comments on “When Will Labour Start Campaigning in Favour of the Eu?

  1. Uncle Albert on said:

    There’s a bit of difficulty in reconciling Labour’s One Nation rhetoric to membership of the EU – Nigel Farage is going to have a field day with this.

    And, should Ed suggest One Nation priorities are only going to be applied domestically how will he explain Labour’s enthusiasm for integrating the NHS into a globalised for-profit health market?

    Creek and paddle come to mind.

  2. “The post WHEN WILL LABOUR START CAMPAINGING IN FAVOUR OF THE EU? appeared first on SOCIALIST UNITY.”

    It didn’t actually, But we take no offence.

  3. red snapper on said:

    Fuck the EU and Fortress Europe. Its a rapacious neo liberal, capitalist, racist and increasingly imperialist and militaristic institution. The recent example of Libya and now Mali shows European imperialism and military conquest is alive and very much kicking and is fast becoming the norm. What is progressive about any of this? A workers Europe not a bankers and bosses Europe. Cliche I know but its the only way, especially now with EU imposed austerity measures that are literally making millions destitute.

  4. jack ford on said:

    A huge problem for socialism in the age of neoliberal globalisation is that finance and big business can play one national government off against another by threatning to move their money elesewhere if the government tries to raise taxes or increase workers rights.

    The obvious way to counter this is for the left to support regional and continental unions like the EU. If the EU were to impose minimum standards across the Union the continental market would be too big and rich for any corporation to boycott. European union is in principle progressive as it has the potential to shift the balance of power away from organised money and back to government.

    The problem is that the EU institutions have been captured by the neoliberals and also to have legitimacy a European central authority needs to be democratic. The national governments in Europe dont want Brussels to become democratic because if it were it would challenge their power. Much better from their point of view for the Council of Ministers and the Commission to do deals with big business behind closed doors in Brussels.

    If the President and the Commission were directly elected Europeans could chose between a social democrat Brussels or a free market Brussels.

    The left should say we are not necessarily in favour of Brussels having any more powers than it already does but those taking Euro wide decisions should be elected. We need a Democracy Treaty to supersede Maastricht and Lisbon.

  5. Jon Lansman: “The post WHEN WILL LABOUR START CAMPAINGING IN FAVOUR OF THE EU? appeared first on SOCIALIST UNITY.”

    Where did that appear Jon? I put a link above through to Michael Meacher’s blog, and I haven’t seen any claim from SU to have published it first.

  6. Meacher: “That exit from the EU would leave Britain isolated and deprived of serious political influence in a world of continental super-powers. That , as the Americans are making clear, it would undermine the ‘special relationship’ with the US (insofar as it has ever existed), not strengthen it.”

    Sounds like a desirable state of affairs to me.

  7. It was at the bottom when I looked but is clearly gone now. Maybe it was only there for 5 minutes! No worries.

    I think I know what it was. We never add that kind of text to the bottom of our posts, but I think the RSS feed generator might add it. If you came to the article from that source (or from something that takes its cue from the RSS publication, such as auto-posting to other places), I reckon that’s what led to it. Certainly, we’ve never added that text to any of our articles, cos we often re-publish stuff and it’s too much of a pain.

  8. Manzil on said:

    Nick Wright: Sounds like a desirable state of affairs to me.

    Damn straight. The less influence the British ruling class has on the world stage, the better.

    The question of the EU is simple: is it reformable? Not on a European level; not through ‘democratic’ institutional means. The European Parliament is nothing of the sort. Coordination between Europe’s labour and progressive movements is marginal and incomplete. Likely, reform would require fundamental shifts across the major European states to essentially re-found the Union.

    The EU is not a super-state. It is a multilateral, bureaucratic framework that reflects the common agendas of Europe’s elites. Meacher is mistaken to think that even its individually positive elements are somehow definitive, either of its class content, its role in the present crisis or its likely direction of travel.

  9. Yes, it’s time for Labour to make a positive case for the EU. But it simply wont do to ignore the problems of the EU or pretend they don’t exist.

    As functions of the state begin to be carried out more and more at the EU level the “democratic deficit” becomes all the more noticeable and all the more significant.

    Federalism requires democratic reform, and Labour needs to become a champion of that reform if its going to be taken seriously in its arguing in favour.

  10. I agree with Jack Ford actually. You can’t fight globalised capitalism by retreating to smaller nations, by looking to the past. We have to change the EU from within. But we should make that clear, we are in this club in order to revolutionize it, because the whole thing is rotten to the core.

  11. I do understand the whole socialist theoretical rationale for being anti-EU – it’s a “bosses club”, it entrenches capitalism etc etc…

    The thing is, I think society has moved beyond that argument. The reality is we are in the EU. And leaving it will not take us any closer to a resurgence of socialism.

    I pose the question to those who demand we leave the EU: Do you seriously think leaving the EU will make socialism more likely to come about in the UK?

    Until the last fortnight I was entirely convinced the Atlantacists running our media had won the day and we were on our way out, no question other than timing. But the interventions from several in the US administration and in the capitalist world have rather dealt a blow to the consensus among many in the British ruling class that our interests lie outside the EU. I rather suspect that many who cling on to jobs in manufacturing, tourism and services will realise how futile an exit would be. But I think that leaving it is still a major threat. You only need to look at the terrifying number people toying with voting UKIP in the polls – a very large number of which it needs to be pointed out are in the D and E social classifications.

    If we do leave the EU – and this is where I challenge those who favour EU withdrawal – can anyone seriously argue that conditions would then be ripe for a left revival in the UK? The liklihood is that, isolated and cut off and with the hard right-wing emboldened to fever pitch, we would see enhanced powers for the (Wills and Kate-led) monarchy, a huge surge of petty nationalism and a very nasty effect on jobs with thousands likely out of work very quickly. And the UK would likely break up entirely. I suspect that the Greece experience would come to England, complete with street fascists and militarised “police squads” to keep order.

    I’m not saying things will be rosy if we stay in the EU, but surely it is better to retain the links that are there (such as relative freedom of movement etc) and transform them to our advantage? Rather than pretend little England will forge a path to socialism just as soon as we’ve isolated ourselves from our neighbours?

  12. Still Brechtian Slade Fan on said:

    @10 When did Michael Meacher become pro-EU?

    More to the point, when did Michael Meacher stop being a multi millionaire landlord? As someone who voted for him as Deputy Leader in the 80s, then discovered he was evicting friends of mine (who happened to be expecting a child) purely to benefit his family, my definition of “Left” and his diverge I think. If this is The Left then there is really “No Future” (pace Sex Pistols.)
    (memo to self: always write your comment in a word processor first, then review; never post after the second Glenlivet)

  13. Loz,

    ‘I pose the question to those who demand we leave the EU: Do you seriously think leaving the EU will make socialism more likely to come about in the UK?’

    Of course I take your point about UKIP. If they were running the show and took us out of Europe we clearly wouldn’t be in a stronger position for socialism. However, socialism, even social democracy is unconstitutional within the EU. The program of the 1945 Labour government would be simply illegal to implement under conditions of EU membership. I accept that theoretically if the EU ditched its restrictions on social spending as a percentage of GDP, its diktats on liberalisation of transport/utilities/communications/education/health, if it changed CAP to favour smaller family farms rather than intensive agri big business, if it reverses its commitment to enforcing austerity, if it withdrew rulings such as Viking and Laval against trade union organisation/collective bargaining/national minimum wage or anything that interferes with the ‘right’ to free access to the European market in services….etc basically if they ripped up everything they have ruled and changed the very nature of the organisation entirely then you could have a socialist EU. But that’s not going to happen, is it?

    The people in charge wouldn’t let it and it is in no way democratic or accountable.

    We know we are not in a strong position. But that doesn’t mean we should just surrender.

    I accept that a UKIP campaign to get us out wouldn’t put us in a good position to bring about socialism, but if we retain membership socialism is completely unobtainable.

    It is like so many issues, be it the EU or the nature of the Labour Party, there is no point endlessly debating these issues if trade union membership continues to decline, links with campaigns and our communities at large remain weak.

    Before we are in a position to demand or determine anything we need to build up trade union membership, mobilise a whole new generation of activists, build up broad based campaigns and establish proper links between the labour movement and the local communities across Britain.

    No easy task at all, but we will just be pissing around unless we go somewhere down the line of achieving this, or at the very least reverse the declining trend in trade union membership and rebuild more local trades councils and activists to be truly active in their communities.

  14. Morning Star reader on said:

    Loz (15) makes the point: “But the interventions from several in the US administration and in the capitalist world have rather dealt a blow to the consensus among many in the British ruling class that our interests lie outside the EU”.
    I think this is a wrong assessment of the position. Most of the City and big business in Britain is strongly in favour of Britain’s membership of the EU, and has been since at least the 1960s. The CBI is heavily in favour. The more right-wing and neoliberal Institute of Directors is also in favour – but wants “radical reform” to exempt Britain, if not the whole of the EU, from social reforms such as the Working Time Directive. In the same way, they would also like “radical reform” of Britain to get of most of our health & safety and employment protection legislation.
    Most British and US banks and hedge funds use the City as a springboard into Europe, and want to be inside rather than out. But they also want to see the City exempted from any new EU-wide regulation that would put an end to the unlimited freedom of the City to undermine rival financial monopolies in Germany, France etc.
    Many of Britain’s biggest companies are represented on the European Round Table of Industrialists and its corresponding body in the financial sector. They have an open door into the EU Commission, and have helped draft much of the legislation on energy and transport privatisation, pension and welfare state “reform” etc.
    These are the neoliberal, pro-big business, anti-social democratic, pro-EU but also also pro-City positions that most of the Tory leadership support.
    The right-wing anti-EU lobby comprises sections of the Tory Party and the big business press that are not backed by the big business mainstream (unlike, say, the pro-EU Financial Times and the pro-EU Economist).
    The problem with reforming EU treaties and institutions is that they have been designed, fundamentally, to support the monopolies and their markets. In order to fundamentally reform them, there has to be agreement simultaneously in Germany, France, Britain and other EU states. Changing personnel in the Commission, EU Central Bank, European Court of Justice etc. would not be enough, even if that could be achieved on the scale required – because the functions of those bodies and what policies they can pursue are clearly set out in the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Lisbon and other treaties.
    Nor can it be a question of closing the “democratic deficit” by, for example, giving more powers to the European Parliament. What kind of democracy is it that has one MEP per three-quarters of a million population? It’s a facade for what has always been a European big business club that is now trying (despite the contradictions between rival national imperialisms) to evolve into an imperialist, militarist United States of Europe – helped by social democrats and ultra-leftists who don’t recognise (or won’t face up to) the reality.
    The alternative is to fight for working class state power where it still mainly resides – in the British, German, French etc. states.

  15. Pete Jones on said:

    I used to be for an immediate withdrawal from the EU on principle, as it is a capitalist club, but now I’m not so sure – I think we have to look at the politics of the situation.

    Although the EU had a neo-liberal framework, the UK is part of this because that is what our domestic ruling class wants. Yes, there are nuances. Yes there are stresses. But it’s not something external that is being imposed – it is something external that suits the purposes of the domestic class enemy.

    The anti-EU Tories want a renegotiation of the UKs membership – to maintain the economic elements but repatriating those elements around workers rights and human rights, so they can be abolished.

    I think a re-negotiation of our EU membership at the moment would be done from a position of weakness from the left, at a time where the ruling class is on a ferocious offensive. Frankly, we are currently better off with workers rights in Britain being raised closer to EU-norms as a result of the relative strength of our brothers and sisters on the continent.

    If we had a progressive government in the UK that was being restrained from taking action by the EU, then my view would be different. But that, comrades, is not the situation we are in.

  16. #18 and #19 Geprge W has the emphasis right here.

    Although I have much admiration for the KKE, you would do well to emulate your Greek comrades a little less, and I think a lot of traditional communists in Greece would agree with me.

  17. #20 On most issues the CPB/ Morning Star tend to take the type of approach you outline. For some reason they tend to be so dogmatic on the question of the EU. I’m not sure why.

  18. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think I see the EU question much as I see the Scottish independence debate.

    Do we want a capitalist Britain in a capitalist EU or outside of it?

    Should capitalist Scotland be outside of capitalist Britain or in it?

    I just don’t see a clear and unambiguous “Yes” or “No” from a socialist perspective in either instance.

    They both appear to me to be debates among capitalists as to how best to exploit workers.

    As has been said, our task either way is the long, hard slog of rebuilding working class organisations – in the workplaces and in our communities, so that we can fight effectively for our own agenda.

    If we were a workplace trade union organisation and our employer was considering either a merger with another company or a demerger of one of its functions, would we be on principle “For” or “Against”?

    I’d say our position would be the defence of jobs, pay, terms and conditions regardless of the structure of the company.

    I think I see both the Scottish question and the EU debate in similar terms to that.

  19. Vanya,

    I dunno about dogmatic. The argument could be made that refusing to be associated with anything anti-EU because of its association with UKIP is a kind of dogma.

    Most people here seem to agree that the EU represents big business, is about enforcing privatisation and austerity across Europe and stands in the way of trade unionists fighting for better wages, terms and conditions.

    The difference is tactical, some here say until we are stronger, until we have elected a socialist government that is physically being prevented from introducing legislation, we should stay in the EU and hold our noses.

    Yet I think it is possible to both accept the fact that we are in a weak position and continue to campaign against the big business EU. It is part in parcel, if we are to truly rebuild and mobilise the trade union movement then it must be in a militant, dare I say class orientated manner.

    Social partnership has been part of the problem. Decline and weakness has been used as an excuse for surrender for too long and it lends itself to a defeatist attitude.

    It’s dialectical. We are too weak to establish socialism-this suggests we should timidly accept social partnership and grab what crumbs EU membership might provide in the future, hopefully.

    Yet socialism cannot be established within such a framework (not to mention such an attitude!) we needed combine a rebuilding process with a defiant, militant sense of direction.

    Again, easier said than done!

  20. Loz: Until the last fortnight I was entirely convinced the Atlantacists running our media had won the day and we were on our way out, no question other than timing. But the interventions from several in the US administration and in the capitalist world have rather dealt a blow to the consensus among many in the British ruling class that our interests lie outside the EU.

    A bit of confused thinking above.
    The Atlanticist tendency – the biggest monopolies, the banks, the security and defence establishment, the defence industry, the Labour establishment (especially the Brownites who are besotted with the USA and many are beneficiaries of those tasty trips when young and impressionable) – are the most keen on Britain’s membership of the EU.
    It is a subordinate, although rather over-represented, tendency in the British ruling class whose mostly Murdoch media expression favours euro skepticism although in the final analysis not exit.
    This ambivalence, or competing tendencies, in the British ruling class reflect precisely the contradictions within imperialism.
    For the USA Britain’s (slightly discordant) rule in the EU is a mechanism for mediating the potential for rivalry. An example being the possibility, at one time, of the euro challenging dollar hegemony in parts of the world.
    That, incidentally, is another reason for breaking the special relationship with the USA. Not in order to make Britain’s foreign and trade policies fully congruent with the EC but to break the power of that imperialist club as well.

  21. Vanya: On most issues the CPB/ Morning Star tend to take the type of approach you outline. For some reason they tend to be so dogmatic on the question of the EU. I’m not sure why.

    Vanya, it is not dogmatism, it is a policy that reflects the interests of working people her and throughout the EU. And it is not emulating the KKE, admirable though they are.
    Opposition to Britain’s integration in the capitalist club of Europe was the settled policy for many years of the decisive sectors of the Labour movement, including much of the Labour Party.
    The Altlanticist right (and with bells and whistles sections of trotkyism) wanted in. The rest out of the Common Market.
    Illusions about the EU have weakened since the level playing field that Jacques Delors conned the TUC into backing has turned out to be at the level of Lithuanian wages. But they still persist among sections of the left, as an imaginary refuge, I suspect, from the real difficulty of confronting our own ruling class in the place we actually live in and on the issues that are important for their competitiveness in the cut throat world of capitalist globalisation.

  22. Some good points all round.

    25 If there is confused thinking, I think it is on the part of the ruling classes who have manipulated the general public into wanting us out of the EU and are now trying desperately backtrack before it all actually happens. I do think there is a significant proportion of the British wealthy who want us out of Europe entirely (and not just to the point of only removing the “good bits” like being able to opt out of being worked to death etc)

    The US situation is a real worry though and Obama-mania is giving us blinkers towards what I suspect is an awful truth. One family member of mine with a not inconsiderable interest in aircraft often passes the immense Lakenheath US air force base in Norfolk – originally built, as we know, as a nuclear first strike base against the USSR.

    Given that the cold war is supposed to be all over and the US is “rebalancing” towards Asia, you would think that the US bases in the UK like Lakenheath would become largely obsolete…but no, not a chance.

    My source says =that in the last few years there has been a huge and expensive modernisation there alongside massive fortification and extra security.

    Why are the US spending all that money on a base in the UK?

    I think the prospect of confrontation between US and EU isn’t too far away…

  23. George W: The argument could be made that refusing to be associated with anything anti-EU because of its association with UKIP is a kind of dogma.

    Not only could but should. I would certainly never argue any such thing.

    Nick Wright: Opposition to Britain’s integration in the capitalist club of Europe was the settled policy for many years of the decisive sectors of the Labour movement, including much of the Labour Party.

    Well that’s hardly an argument in itself.

    The historic policy of the First International was for the unification of Germany, the recreation of a Polish state and the defeat of Tsarist Russia. Russia was the main enemy of progress in Europe.

    In the middle of the last century it was necessary to have an international alliance between the USSR and the Western imperialist powers against fascism.

    For most of the 20th Century millions of people world-wide accepted that it was necessary to defend the USSR.

    Poland’s unified, Tsarism’s gone, fascism was defeated and the USSR is sadly no longer with us.

    Things change.

    Nick Wright: the real difficulty of confronting our own ruling class in the place we actually live in

    The place we actually live in is part of the EU.

  24. Nick Wright on said:

    The place we actually live in is the universe. Let us follow comrade Posadas and confront the class enemy on a cosmic scale. Anywhere rather than where it’s state power is actually constituted

  25. #29 The veneer of reasonableness with you tankies is so thin some times, particularly when confronted with an argument you can’t deal with.

    We actually know that the EU exists, which is why you want to leave it, and why the Greek working class are under its diktat. Not sure about you Nick but the existence of civilisations in galaxies far far away is something I await proof about.

    The thing about Posadas, as I remember saying to one of you lot many years ago, was that his ludicrously metaphsical and simplistic understanding of dialectics and historical materialism (there are flying saucers, which could not have been produced by a system as backward as capitalism and therefore there must be socialism in outer space), was completely in keeping with Stalinism (the real thing, not the insult).

  26. Pete Jones on said:

    #24 I agree with the overall focus on class struggle. A tactical position against (or for) immediate withdrawal from the EU should not detract from the necessity of exposing the class nature of that organisation, and of class control in British society.

    If we can raise the level of struggle, then it will not be long before the limitations imposed by the EU come into clear focus, and become matters of public debate. Campaigns such as the living wage (which is not un-problematical itself) in Scotland have already been restricted because (as the Scottish Government claims) EU procurement law prohibits the living wage being enforced on public sector contractors.

    Public procurement, dry and technical though it may seem, is part of the core of neo-liberal policies that capitalists in Britain and Europe are pursuing to get access to the major sphere of economic life still outside of the arena of commodity production – and profit.

  27. Vanya,

    With all due respect, I am yet to see any form of argument at all from you Vanya.

    Nick is quite right. It is about the interests of working people in Britain. I learnt about the nature of the EU as an RMT activist. How EU diktats were used when British Rail was privatised. How brothers and sisters in our offshore and maritime sections have been dealing with the effect of the Viking and Laval rulings, meaning that the ‘freedom of goods and services in the European market’ trumps anything, including collective barganing and national minimum wage legislation. This is the EU constitution.

    The EU is clearly against the interests of working people in Britain, the only other option is the hope that all this stuff about being founded by big business and acting in their interest, enforcing privatisation and austerity, is all, some how, leading to a socialist EU.

    But no one really thinks that do they?

    Lets hope No2EU are standing again next year!

  28. Nick Wright: Opposition to Britain’s integration in the capitalist club of Europe was the settled policy for many years of the decisive sectors of the Labour movement, including much of the Labour Party.

    To which we can only say:

    “She said let me explain, baby how things can change”

    The cost of non-membership for NOrway and Switzerland is huge as they have to adopt as much EU deived law and regulation as the UK does, but without any possibility to change it.

    China’s model of engagement with the WTO is an example of how a socialist state can follow its competitive advantage by using a large state footprint in its domestic economy to leverage its relationship with international institutions.

    The problem in the EU is that only France has a left government, we need to shift the political balance.

  29. Nick Wright: Opposition to Britain’s integration in the capitalist club of Europe was the settled policy for many years of the decisive sectors of the Labour movement, including much of the Labour Party.

    Really, does not GMB’s strong support for UK membership of the EU, for example, suggest that the position is not “decisive” or “settled”

  30. Andy Newman,

    I dunno, the BNP vote went down from the previous election, it was low turnout that got them elected. A few voters I spoke to voted for us instead of the BNP, I bet we took a good few thousand votes off them.

    I hope they do stand cus otherwise its a choice between pro-EU liberals, or the fascists and hard right. Not a great choice.

  31. George W: I hope they do stand cus otherwise its a choice between pro-EU liberals, or the fascists and hard right. Not a great choice.

    Surely we should decide electoral strategy not on the basis of your own personal prefernces as a voter, but on what acheivable outcome would be best for the labour and wider prgressive movements.

    In the European parliament, having Labour MEPs who will actively participate in the committees is actually important for defending the interests of working people in the UK.

  32. Whether it is in the best interests of the labour and broader progressive movement to perpetuate the myth of a social EU and ignore the huge damage done by enshrining the freedom of services and movement of capital/labour above everything-especially collective bargining, wages, manufacturing jobs, nationalised industries/transport/communications and utilities, the welfare state-is another issue.

  33. John Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright:
    The place we actually live in is the universe. Let us follow comrade Posadas and confront the class enemy on a cosmic scale. Anywhere rather than where it’s state power is actually constituted

    The question is if Posadas was right and there is socialist flying saucer civilisation out there would we accept the imposition of their socialism on us by their using or threatening the use of force? Or is the development of socialism on earth the act of the earthites themselves? And supplementary to this should the great apes be included in “earthites”?

  34. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: I think I see the EU question much as I see the Scottish independence debate.

    :) And whilst we’re on the comedy circuit. Alex SalmonD was/is under the impression that an independent Scotland would just carry on being part of the EU with the British opt outs. The EU leadership seem keen to dissuade him of this. So jump to the future. Scotland votes to leave Britain and then negotiates to re-join the EU with Schengen and everything. The Tories hold a referendum on the EU and ENgland leaves. Will we have to have border posts in Northumbria? Will the Welsh go along with it? Will the level of violence increase massively in NOrthern Ireland? Will the part of the left in England that is anti-EU support the Tories and excoriate the Scottish for re-joining the EU?

  35. Morning Star reader on said:

    Andy (36) I think you’re being a bit snippy here. When Nick Wright refers to an anti-EU stance as being the settled position of the labour movement “for many years”, he doesn’t mean “for evermore”. He means “for many years”, which was the case until a defeatist TUC (when many unions thought that there might never again be a majority Labour government) swallowed Delors’ pink blancmange about a “Social Europe”. What we then got was the Single European Market, convergence criteria, etc, followed by a European Central Bank and coordinated EU-wide policies of austerity and privatisation.
    I would be interested to know what EU legislation Norway and Switzerland have been compelled by the EU to adopt, and how membership of the EU would have enabled them to help formulate something better. Do you honestly think that, as EU member states, Norway and Switzerland’s interests would prevail in any significant respect over those of the German, British and French capitalist classes?
    Pete Jones and other comrades are right to emphasise the central importance of class struggle in helping to expose and combat the real character of the EU, rather than engaging simply in what otherwise can come across as abstract (and even reactionary) “anti-EU” sloganising.
    Yet there is also an important role, I think, for making the case now about the reality that EU treaties, laws and institutions would act as a barrier to left and progressive policies In Britain (as elsewhere) in the future. That’s better than peddling illusions that – once we get more left governments like France (steady, Andy, don’t get carried away by Comrade Hollande) in the EU – the whole lot can be reformed. Labour movements should challenge these barriers wherever and whenever they are strong enough to do so, not place any hope in future long drawn-out, complex EU-wide constitutional wranglings that may never happen.
    Moreover, EU treaties, laws and institutions act as a barrier now e.g. recent cases in the European Court of Justice limiting trade union rights and the scope of national collective bargaining agreements and employment law.

  36. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: I think I see the EU question much as I see the Scottish independence debate.

    I think you can make too much of that comparison.

    Britain is an established, democratic nation-state. Technically there is no legal obstacle (as opposed to structural, ideological, or practical problems) to the formation of a progressive government. The EU is not a super-state, whatever its detractors claim. It is a reflection of the prevailing view of its member states’ dominant elites. The democratic baggage of the EU Parliament is so much flotsam. It balances atop a fundamentally inaccessible and unrepresentative bureaucratic structure.

    To the extent that it does develop into a vast multinational state, I can see no prospect of this being to the advantage of the mass of people in any of its member-states. Resisting it is not necessarily going to be to our advantage, but resistance requires very little: actively seeking to facilitate that process, and to create a pro-European outlook in public opinion, would essentially draw us away from what really matters.

    Reform would have to be so extensive it would essentially be a re-foundation; further it would require drastic changes in the political balance within the major European states (and not just the election of a half-dozen Hollandes – did Jospin, Blair, Schroeder, Prodi etc. create ‘social Europe’?!).

    The socialist argument that we shouldn’t retreat to a ‘national’ outlook given the international form of capitalist production is (or should be) happily accepted. But that is not the issue. It is not ‘very well, alone’ versus the united states of Europe. The central importance of the existing national state structure to Europe’s working classes will continue, irrespective of whether we remain members of the EU, because the EU does not exist separate from the conditions within its constituent parts.

    There is no European government or bureaucracy. No European public sphere. No European labour movement. There is an agglomeration of such national phenomena at a European level.

  37. It is worth remembering that the British Parliament has enacted very little worker friendly legislation off its own back – regardless of who is in charge.

    The first ever legislated rights to paid holiday, paternity pay not to mention the right to be able not to be forced to work more than 48 hours a week.

    All came about because of the EU.

    So it is arguable that the UK started off in such a poor state that being in the EU has turned out to be a practical benefit to working people – and that is exactly why the Ruling class want us out of it – or at the very least exempt.

  38. Morning Star reader on said:

    Loz (44) is so wrong, it’s difficult to know where to begin. For example, without being a great fan of the Westminster Parliament, the first (and most subsequent) legislation on contracts of employment, sickness and redundancy pay, equal pay, health and safety at work, the national minimum wage etc. etc. had nothing to do with any pressure from the EU. The pressure came from the labour movement and its willingness to fight for reforms and improvements.
    Thus, the additional trade union and minimum pay rights enacted during the 1997-2001 Labour government came from our labour movement, not the EU.
    Even today, it is British legislation which enforces minimum pay, trade union recognition, the rights of health and safety reps at work etc. – however weak that legislation may be. There is still no EU legislation on minimum pay, trade union recognition procedures, health and safety reps. or even union learning reps.
    I’ve also pointed out to Loz earlier that the City, the CBI, the Institute of Directors – in fact almost all sections of British and US big business in Britain – are IN FAVOUR of continuing British membership of the EU.
    Of course, they also want to negotiate more favourable terms for their own interests inside the EU, but they are OPPOSED to Britain leaving it.
    The BBC, Financial Times and other voices of the British establishment are also solidly in favour of EU membership, like the Tory, LibDem and Labour Party leaderships.
    Is Loz seriously challenging these facts? If not why, why continue to perpetuate the nonsense that the British ruling class (Murdoch? UKIP? Norman Tebbit?) wants Britain out? Wanting exemptions from some regulations, social legislation etc. is not the same thing at all and it seems either sloppy or sly to conflate it with a desire to leave the EU altogether.

  39. prianikoff on said:

    MSR#45 “Even today, it is British legislation which enforces minimum pay, trade union recognition, the rights of health and safety reps at work etc.”

    You’re starting to sound like the pub-landlord: “What we need is BRrriTISH legislation”.
    What about TULRA, which employers can use to take injunctions against strike action?
    It’s BRiiTISH.

    Manzil is starting to sound like the barman in your pub.

    My sympathies for the “withdraw from the EU position” nosedived when I went to a No2EU meeting a few years ago and listened to arguments of speakers from the CP-B and Socialist Party.

    Good luck if Cameron holds a referendum in 2017!

  40. #45

    I completely agree, and never tire of reminding the ultras on here, that the New Labour government did many things that were actually incredibly progressive by Westminster standards in terms of union recognition and workers rights.

    The thing is, that was a Labour government propped up mainly by Scottish MPs who I fear in future may not be there.

    You talk about “British” legislation, but I rather fear that when we leave the EU then the concept of “Britain” will rather flounder too – I suggest a withdrawl from the EU will hasten the break up of the UK.

    Where will we be then?

    We will be the Kingdom of England, with a vast perpetual Tory majority and an emboldened far right wing who will have finally pulled up the shutters.

    I’m sorry, but this notion that just as soon as Britain leaves the EU we are going to then see a reinvigorated campaign for Britain-wide socialism is where you are so wrong I don’t know where to begin. The flagwaving isolationist mania that will accompany our withdrawal from the EU – complete with the return to good old black passports, commemorative banknotes with King William and Queen Kate on it, the tearing up of paid leave for workers, a return to transient and insecure work for all leading to thousands of workplace deaths…

    The only possible thing I can think is that you actually believe things need to get lots worse for working people before they can get better again…

  41. John Grimshaw on said:

    #43 Manzil I think some of your points are good ones. You are right that the EU is not a “super-state”. It is not even a big state or a big federal state. Yet. The evidence of course for this is in the British ruling class themselves who are constantly arguing against the creation of a Euro-zone super state. A large element of the EU is an undemocratic accretion of powers designed to facilitate the rich as you say. And/or to justify the position of the more powerful states such as Germany etc. However I’m not convinced that thats all it is. Its all very well to dismiss the stated idea that the EU was about avoiding conflict in Europe. I think there is an element of truth in that and it was not just about ensuring no-conflict for the ruling classes of France and Germany. This stated aim has/had an appeal for the wc and is not completely cynical. There are reforms that have originated in the EU which have brought benefit for the poor and the working classes. It is not the case of EU (big bad monster) and Britain/individual nation states (really good). Or else how do explain the pathological hatred of all the British ruling class/Tories for these EU reforms? The Euro-zone crisis I think means the EU is at a turning point. The British ruling class absolutely will not enter into a real euro-state but the euro-zone probably has little real choice but to move down that road.

    With respect Manzil you seem to say two contradictory things. You can see no prospect of the “super state” if it happens being democratised to the advantage of the wc but later you say there would have to be massive reforms to the extent there would be a refoundation. Surely you are conceding that reforms are possible? Or are you arguing for a wc revolution that can take place in the EU? Precisely what the “communists” who post on this site are saying is not possible.

  42. John Grimshaw on said:

    #45 You are right that large numbers of the British ruling class wants to remain in the EU. Particularly big business but not all. To some extent it depends where they make their cash. However just as I think you argued earlier that because you and your supporters are against EU membership, doesn’t mean you agree with Ukip et al (although I think you have issues with maintaining this position. Especially given your constant support for the British state on this issue.), therefore just because British big business supports the EU doesn’t mean it must be “evil”.

  43. @ prianikoff: if you can’t actually be bothered to have a discussion, and just want to casually misrepresent people’s views, maybe you should, well, fuck off?

    John Grimshaw: With respect Manzil you seem to say two contradictory things. You can see no prospect of the “super state” if it happens being democratised to the advantage of the wc but later you say there would have to be massive reforms to the extent there would be a refoundation. Surely you are conceding that reforms are possible? Or are you arguing for a wc revolution that can take place in the EU? Precisely what the “communists” who post on this site are saying is not possible.

    I don’t see the cnotradiction.

    I’m saying that a European system which governs in the interest of the mass of the people would have to result from fundamental changes in the political and economic structures of the major European states. It wouldn’t come from within either the permanent bureaucratic staff of the principle EU institutions, or from the impotent ‘parliament’. It would have to involve the national governments of Europe acting in concert to essentially establish an alternative system. That is not ‘reform’.

    Of course, that is not the only possibility (mainly because what I described is NOT a possibility!). The other option is for the EU to continue on its present path, and gradually continue to attract the baggage and authority of a supra-national state form. Which will NOT be in the interest of the working class any more than, say, the British state is – and moreover will, simply due to questions of scale and the incomplete integration of European civil society, stand much more independently from society, with a greater degree of autonomy, and a heightened ability to impose the agenda of its elites.

    The question is political power – which class exercises it. It would be impossible for the mass of people to lay claim to the ‘EU’, or to rebuild it from scratch, without first having done so ‘at home’. The BEST that the EU can offer for us is stagnation or a tactical retreat by our own governments. It cannot be a path to progress.

  44. Ok. Cameron has spoken. Where do the left stand now? Personally despite my hostility to the EU for good solid socialist and internationalist reasons I may have to vote to stay in because if Britain leaves the EU it won’t be on our terms but on backward, xenophobic, nationalistic and quite frankly racist Little Englander Tory and UKIP terms and its quite scary. Despite the Tankies fantasies I really don’t see us being able to set the agenda here nor even put our arguments so they can be heard outside the narrow confines of the left. Building “socialism in one country” is simply not on the menu. The media after all never give left anti EU arguments a platform and the “no” argument is firmly seen as a right wing Tory and UKIP one. For example radio phone in debates quickly degenerate into xenophobic bigot fests where immigration issues dominate above all else.

  45. Huerta Lazenby on said:

    red snapper: Personally despite my hostility to the EU for good solid socialist and internationalist reasons I may have to vote to stay in because if Britain leaves the EU it won’t be on our terms

    Astounding

    So should British workers be expected to pay for a corrupt and bloated public sector in say Greece while seeing cuts in services here?

  46. red snapper,

    ‘Despite the Tankies fantasies I really don’t see us being able to set the agenda here nor even put our arguments so they can be heard outside the narrow confines of the left.’

    With respect that is just defeatist. You may as well say, I can see see us winning this recognition vote here, so il vote no as well.

    I can understand where people are coming from , even if I disagree, when they say we should stay in the EU for economic reasons, or that they think that it is possible to reform the EU.

    Please correct me if im wrong, but you appear to be acknowledging that the EU represents big business interests, is corrupt and irreformble, but you want to stay in because you don’t think we could win the argument against the likes of UKIP? Seems like a pretty depressing prospect of surrender.

    Our rights-weak as they are-to a minimum wage, belong to a trade union, to have health and safety laws to protect us, to have free healthcare and benefits, did not come about because of the EU, they were enacted in parliament by Labour. Indeed, when the Tories reverse gains we make under Labour, the EU does not prevent them from doing so. Okay there are things like the working week, but lets be honest many employers just make you sign that right away in your contract. The only way to properly have restrictions on the working week would be to use the power of the labour movement to get labour to bring it into parliament.

    Similarly, an example of EU influence on our laws would be those privatising our services, such as the EU diktat used to justify the privatisation of the railway, or how EU restrictions on a decent level of social spending or intervention in the economy are regularly quoted as a reason why we cannot do such things.

    Many on the left are so pessimistic about our strength that they seem to imagine that some unelected bureaucrat in Brussels would impose social democracy on us, and that this is more likely than us building up our forces and electing a labour government with a mandate to do so.

    From what I can see the EU does influence governments, it even demands that governments commit to certain policies. But these demands are not social democratic, they are the liberalisation of our public services, they are austerity program’s to cut jobs, benefits and services, they are rulings to undermine decent pay and conditions by social dumping.

  47. anticapitalista on said:

    #52 Your comment is astounding and ignorant of the real issues.

    Maybe you should read this article.

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/20/what-really-went-wrong-in-greece/

    The problem in Greece is not so much its ‘corrupt and bloated public sector’ (these damn Southern Europeans are so lazy eh, unlike us Northern Europeans), but as the article linked to above its corrupt and bloated politicians and capitalists. Tax evasion by the rich is huge, including legal evasion via tax breaks, and guess who is paying for it, us workers in Greece.

  48. Unfortunately, Miliband has taken a right stance on Europe. The decision to vote with the conservative eurosceptic right ( welcomed on this site)was an act of crass opportunism. The EU budget is the most progressive part of the EU – it allows for some form of public investment and a shift of resources to the poorest regions of the EU. Secondly, Miliband has made statements about how opening up the labour market to Eastern European workers was a mistake. This again goes against one of the major gains of the EU that allows workers to move freely between countries. It is important that the left champions the gains of the EU, whilst seeking to oppose those parts that further neo-liberalism. Unfortunately it seems Miliband is doing the exact opposite.

  49. Uncle Albert on said:

    During PMQs Miliband said he opposes a referendum – looks like he doesn’t have anything positive to say about staying in. He wants to form his ‘stay in’ argument around the economic ‘uncertainty’ holding a referendum in 2017 might cause.

  50. @George.
    Britain privatised the railways earlier and much more extensively than any other EU country. The French, Germans, Spanish and others have and continue to expand their state owned railways with brilliant extremely fast comfortable trains and relatively low fares. Compare this to the expensive private cattle trucks that we have to endure here. Is this just because of the EU? I’m old enough to remember the Inter City 125 coming into service in the mid 1970’s, they were the best and fastest trains in Europe then and are still very much in service on premium long distance routes but compared to European trains now they are nothing but outdated museum pieces. British Rail and its manky outdated rolling stock wasn’t stagnated and subsequently privatised because of EU directives you know.
    @Gavin. Agree with you there. How this debate has largely been about “too much immigration” is what really worries me.

  51. anticapitalista on said:

    #55 The free movement of Labour, of course only applies to those from states in the EU. Ever heard of Fortress Europe and Frontex?

  52. red snapper,

    ‘Britain privatised the railways earlier and much more extensively than any other EU country.’

    In line with EU diktats, used at the time to justify it.

    ‘The French, Germans, Spanish and others have and continue to expand their state owned railways’

    Pandoras box has been opened, competition is being rolled out. Spanish and Danish frieght is now foreign owned, Ireland has recently privatised its railway. Yes some countries, in defiance of EU diktats have given their preferred company a monopoly in their country, but they also have massively expanded their respective companies operations in other countries. Yet those deemed to be blocking competition have been threatened with court cases. Not to mention they have followed the EU’s stress on access to a Europe-wide, liberalised transport market by owning substantial amounts of our railway.

    It would be a mistaken assessment of state monopoly capitalism in the EU to suppose that because the French and the German state owned railway companies have a domestic monopoly they are progressive, they are not and they are rolling out their operations across Europe. Indeed it is the German and French state monoploy capitalists which set up the EU and use it for their own ends. The reason we do not have a similar set up is because our economy is so concentrated on Thatcherite style financial services. The CBI, the Times, the Economist, David Cameron…etc want us to stay in the EU, they only want our financial services to be exempt from regulation.

  53. I believe in no borders with the rest of the world as well and that nation states are a bourgeois concept which divides workers but the limited freedom of movement we have at the moment in the EU/EEA is better than the UKIP’s Fortress Britain or do some of you here support immigration controls?

  54. R P Dutt on said:

    As far as I can see, no one’s mentioned the NHS in this. EU procurement legislation is one of the chief levers being used to allow privatisation of the NHS. Progressive? Doesn’t look that way to me

  55. anticapitalista on said:

    #61 For a non-EU citizen there is no difference between Fortress UK or Fortress EU and I am also in favour of no borders and oppose all immigration controls.

  56. @62. Totally agree with you, but a Tory/UKIP Britain with closed borders and machine gun posts on top of the White Cliffs of Dover to keep these “bleedin foreigners” out isn’t a place I want to live in either.

  57. anticapitalista on said:

    #63 Come to Greece :) We already have that all supported by the EU and FRONTEX complete with officially sanctioned EU concentration camps (er I mean detention centres)

  58. anticapitalista,

    Very good, but closing borders within the EU and stopping workers from the poorer states in the East to come to the UK for example is not a way to achieve your aims. It’s like supporting the dismantling of the welfare state because you’d prefer socialism.

  59. R P Dutt on said:

    I don’t understand why the enforced movement of labour from one country to another is seen as desirable by anyone other than capitalists. I would hate to have to leave family and friends to traipse across Europe in search of work.

  60. @anti capitalista. Ill take you up on that. Please drop me a line and lets sort it? :-)

    @66.Nobody should be forced to have to emigrate to seek work but closing borders is not really about that, its about forcibly keeping people out.

  61. R P Dutt on said:

    The free movement of labour is one of the key principles of the EU. I can’t see how it is in working-class interests. It’s designed to weaken class organisation.
    A better idea would be to organise and fight where you are, rather than going on the bum around the world

    red snapper: @66.Nobody should be forced to have to emigrate to seek work but closing borders is not really about that, its about forcibly keeping people out.

  62. #59 So it wasn’t a case of the EU imposing rail privatisation but of the then government pursuing the policy enthusiastically with the EU argument as part of their arsenal of justification for doing it?

    There was little that government wanted to do more than privatise the railways.

    As for the French and other state owned companies not being progressive, I wouldn’t have said BR was either.

  63. @70.Sure but it seems that you are advocating advocating immigration controls which is a racist policy and socialists as a rule don’t support.

  64. Vanya,

    “So it wasn’t a case of the EU imposing rail privatisation but of the then government pursuing the policy enthusiastically with the EU argument as part of their arsenal of justification for doing it?”

    Sort of, but it was more than simply ‘part of their arsenal’, it was in line with EU law. The EU continues to push privatisation and threaten nations that do not carry it out fully with legal action.

    “There was little that government wanted to do more than privatise the railways.”

    Of course.

    “As for the French and other state owned companies not being progressive, I wouldn’t have said BR was either.”

    Yes. But this was a direct reply to the argument that the existence of these companies means we should remain part of the EU-the implication is that we would have one state owned British company in charge if we were more integrated with the EU, or that we are more likely to have this if we continue membership, which is wrong and the opposite. The fact that these companies are monopolising not just their domestic market but ours and other EU countries is being ignored. If we were not members of the EU, we would not have much-if not most-of our transport system owned by foreign European companies.

    I understand the argument that if we leave the EU we wouldn’t necessarily have social democratic reforms implemented, especially if forces such as UKIP/the Tory right are strong. But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that if we stay in the EU, this makes social democratic reform more possible, it doesn’t. The EU is constitutionally neoliberal and threatens legal action or imposes governance on members that do not privatise or impose austerity.

    Leaving the EU would restore a degree of national sovereignty that would make, for instance, re-nationalisation of transport/utilities/communications or proper intervention in the economy possible. I agree that this doesn’t necessarily make such policies more likely, but then that our fight to fight. We knew that anyway.

    If you think socialism is impossible in Britain and can only work if all the countries of Europe simultaneously elect socialist governments, fair enough. Support the EU. I disagree, but understand.

    If you think that we would loose too much trade/too many jobs if we left the EU, fair enough. Or if you think it possible to reform the EU somehow to change its nature from representing big business to representing working people, fair enough. Again I disagree but understand where you are coming from.

    But if you want a British Road to socialism, a social democratic government to re-establish and extent a more social democratic economy and society, then leaving the EU is a basic democratic demand to make. We still have to strengthen the labour movement and elect a labour government on a manifesto to implement such policies. But such policies are illegal if you are an EU member, thus the opposition.

    Before the poison of social partnership wriggled its way into the demoralised leadership of the trade union movement in Britain in the 1980s wanting to leave Europe for these reasons was an uncontroversial view held by most trade unionists.

  65. R P Dutt on said:

    I take it you don’t want to answer the question. More interesting might be why Meacher, who took a principled socialist position in 1975, is now pro-capitalist. Is he going for a commissioner’s job, like Kinnock?

  66. Use of the term ‘bum around the world’ implies a negative and dismissive attitude to immigrants and I suspect that Red Snapper is correct that RP Dutt is a troll.

    However, while not wanting to send the debate too far away from the central question of the EU, I do not accept the idea that opposition to all immigration controls in the here and now is an essential part of socialist belief. It may be central to the programme of most far left groups and I was a friend and admirer of one of its main architects, the late Steve Cohen.

    While I think we can all agree that racist immigration policies are incompatible with a socialist programme, and I think anyone advocating a policy of controlling immigration should ensure that such policy was not racist in effect, a blanket policy of no control makes no sense at all, if you are drawing up a serious programme for government as opposed to an idealist wish list or you envisage an impending revolutionary dawn.

    And you are also calling for the immediate abolition of countries as well. Imagine, it isn’t hard to do.

  67. R P Dutt on said:

    The American labour movement, when there was one. had no problem with the term bum to describe workers forced into an itinerant mode of existence. But if you’re just want to name-call, I suppose that wouldn’t matter to you. What arguments do the pro-EU people here have to bring against the procurement in the NHS point I made above?

  68. All immigration controls are by their very nature racist as the only reason for their existence is to control “foreigners” so “non racist immigration controls” are a total contradiction in terms. Socialists should have absolutely no truck with any kind of immigration control at any time whatsoever. We must say this robustly and without compromise. Anything less is pandering to racists and letting them dictate the agenda. End of.

  69. The idea that closing borders within the EU is progressive only seems true when looked at from the position of the richer EU countries. British Jobs for British Workers, No2EU, a British Road to Socialism are all part of defending the perceived privilleges of an aristocracy of labour within the UK. Noone on the left in countries like Poland would ever argue for restricting the rights of workers to move country. This does not of course excluded socialists and trade unions campaigning against the exploitation of immigrant labour and undercutting of wages and conditions. Quite the opposite.

  70. @82. “You confuse nationality and ethnicity” and “Islam isn’t a race” Heard it all before, mainly from the EDL and BNP. Its every racists argument. Just fuck off you bigot.

  71. Morning Star reader on said:

    Gavin (81) I don’t agree with the “British Jobs for British Workers” slogan either, but it should not be mixed up with a programme for the working class taking state power (“Britain’s Road to Socialism”) – power which lies mainly at the level of the British state, and is exercised by the British ruling class. Where do you think state power lies? Have you abolished the British state and the British ruling class? If so, well done. Marx mocked this kind of national nihilism when it was put forward by the Young France movement more than 100 years ago.

  72. R P Dutt on said:

    red snapper That sort of infantile abuse is out of order and I presume the norms of labour movement debate apply here. I start from the scientific analysis of society and the scientific analysis of nation, race, religion and class. Read Stalin on nation, and then you might be able to debate in an adult fashion.

  73. Huerta Lazenby on said:

    anticapitalista: The problem in Greece is not so much its ‘corrupt and bloated public sector’ (these damn Southern Europeans are so lazy eh, unlike us Northern Europeans), but as the article linked to above its corrupt and bloated politicians and capitalists. Tax evasion by the rich is huge, including legal evasion via tax breaks, and guess who is paying for it, us workers in Greece.

    #
    The use of public sector jobs for political allies/people you wish to buy off has never happened in Greece- of course. I note the prevalence of the Golden Dawn in the Athens police

    Yes i’d agree about endemic tax evasion

    You are of course right to point out the overblown public sector in Western Europe but in Greece the problem is even greater. What after all is the percentage of public sector workers in Germany as compared to Greece?

  74. Karl Stewart on said:

    Gavin, the British Road to Socialism is as MSR explains, a programme for socialism in this state in which we are.

    Immigration controls are reactionary and should of course be opposed – people should be able to go where they want to go, why not?

    But the BRS talks about the “British” road to socialism simply because it’s the programme of communists resident in Britain. It’s got nothing to do with nationalism – it’s all about achieving socialism.

    Why not give it a read Gavin?

  75. prianikoff on said:

    re.The Pub Landlord’s Barman@50

    “The reformist looks upon the international situation as the sum of the national situations; the Marxist observes the national policy as a function of the international.”

  76. #79 Well if you are correct that the use of the term in the way you used it does not have a perjorative meaning in the US labour movement and if you were not aware that in Britain (where this blog is based) that it does have, then I apologise. (I emphasise IF x 2).

    #82 In English law, the Race Relations Act includes discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and there’s a very good reason for that. What do you think the distinction is, and why is one worse than the other?

    #80 Well you can say that as much as you like. Do you think the Cubans should let anyone into their country no questions asked, end of?

  77. Karl Stewart on said:

    Thanks for the link George – I like the “e-zine” format.

    What do you reckon Gavin?

  78. Uncle Albert on said:

    Labour now seem to be back-tracking from the ‘no referendum’ position. Still, Cameron has taken some of the wind from UKIP’s sail and this will work against Labour come the election. At the same time, Ed’s prevarication on the referendum may have opened new opportunities for UKIP within Labour’s support.

    Not a good day for Ed. A good day for Cameron. And an even better day for Farage.

  79. Manzil on said:

    Once again, prianikoff, this site’s equivalent of herpes (makes you sore and never goes away) bowls me over with his bizarre asides. Does the reformist or the Marxist actually have a point to make?

    Vanya: While I think we can all agree that racist immigration policies are incompatible with a socialist programme, and I think anyone advocating a policy of controlling immigration should ensure that such policy was not racist in effect

    But surely immigration controls can be nothing but discriminatory – whether against an ethnic or national group. Red snapper may have the manners of a particularly aggrieved mountain goat, but he has a point: is there such a thing as an non-discriminatory migration policy?

    Since EU enlargement some 20,000 Polish workers (for instance) have come to live in Southampton. Disproportionately they live in poor, private rented housing and work in corner shops, construction sites, care homes, fruit-picking etc. But they are not the reason why slum landlords, gang masters, for-profit social care, and non-union low-wage service jobs and the like exist. Their removal wouldn’t change that. They have fitted into the margins of society, rather than created them. If not them, it would be someone else.

    The problems associated with migration are a class issue rather than a national or communal one. For instance near me the schools are horridly over-subscribed because the UK-born kids of people who moved here from eastern Europe are now coming into primary school age. But the shortage of provision was actually exacerbated by the scaling-down of local school provision that was made a decade ago; and it is within the context of brutal austerity that overcrowding complaints are being made.

    Surely the question is, why can’t these children all have a proper education at the expense of the rich, and not why can’t my children have an education at the expense of someone else’s?

    A society based on rational production and the fair sharing of wealth and opportunity might have a moral or at least practical claim to need to know who’s coming in and out of the country. But we are not that society. I don’t want Fortress Britain any more than Fortress Europe.

  80. #87, 88

    Ok, putting the BRS next to BJ4BW and NO2EU was unfair.

    I have read the BRS and the road seems to be getting longer. The question we are discussing is not how to achieve socialism (no I haven’t overthrown the British ruling class as you ask, but neither have you) but what the attitude of the left should be to the EU. I believe we should treat it as a polity and seek to strengthen its progressive elements and oppose its reactionary ones. We have free movement of workers in the EU at the moment, which would not be possible if it were to break up. We should support this, as we should support a strengthening of a strong budget and a redistribution of wealth within it. This is not a European road to socialism. But if we are to pose such questions on the basis of reaching socialism or not we sound absurd – ‘neither the EU nor British nationalism but the British Road to Socialism.’

  81. Manzil on said:

    Gavin,

    Do you not think that it is inherently more difficult to strengthen the progressive elements of an institution like the EU, where the ability of the masses to exert pressure on the elite is so much weaker – given the disunity of our labour and social movements, and where the bureaucracy has achieved such a considerably greater degree of independence from society at large?

    In many ways (although for different reasons) I think the EU is akin to the US federal government. There may be good bits or bad bits, but the left focusing on trying to win through these channels just ends up in it being co-opted or diverted. Not to mention, it’s simply impractical to suggest that the left has the ability to actually engage with EU-level politics anyway; not like we can with respect to our national governments. The best way to change the EU is to change the policy or the character of your own government, and exert pressure from below via the national stage, not to enter the lion’s den.

  82. #94 So do you believe that a socialist government should have a policy that there should be absolutely no control over who comes into the country? None whatsoever?

    You see, that’s what I want people who argue no immigration controls full stop end of period to answer.

    I fully agree that we shouldn’t blame immigrants for unemployment etc, and that we should fight for more resources for everyone. And I did take the position at one time that it was a simple case of saying no to all immigration controls. However, I simply don’t believe it’s a position that makes sense.

    To be honest, I have limited patience with people like Red Snapper. He would probably take one look at the block where I live and say I should be getting the Council (sorry, housing association) to demand all my neighbours flying St George’s flags be ordered to take them down.

  83. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya, so why do you think human beings should, as a matter of principle, be prevented from going where they want to go?

  84. R P Dutt on said:

    Vanya,

    Well, from a scientific point of view, race is a nonsense. Geneticists demonstrated this long ago, and the sequencing of the human genome was the final nail in the racists’ coffin. Nationality, on the other hand, is something that can be understood and explained from an historical materialist perspective; read Stalin, as I suggested to red snapper, or, indeed, if he’s more to your taste, Connolly.

    Bum: I’m puzzled about the pejorative associations you read into this, unless you’re confusing it with backside. My fundamental point, though, is that we should not, as a class, allow ourselves to be treated as commodities to be shifted here and there according to capitalism’s whims, and I can’t see why you find that controversial.

  85. #99 The reason for the perjorative association is that in this country that’s what it has.

  86. R P Dutt on said:

    Vanya,

    You may be a better authority than modern English usage than me but if I were to say, for example, that my son is bumming his way round the world, as he is, I think no insult is intended, or a mild and amicable one, at the most.
    That’s the sense in which I used it above: finance capital, which rules the roost these days and is, as Dmitrov said, the most reactionary form of capital, and that from which fascism comes, wants to turn us into itinerant workers, as we were before the industrial revolution

  87. #98 I don’t as a matter of principle. It’s the other way round. I don’t see why as a matter of principle a state should be obliged to allow anyone to enter its borders without question.

  88. Manzil on said:

    Vanya:
    #94 So do you believe that a socialist government should have a policy that there should be absolutely no control over who comes into the country? None whatsoever?

    But I thought I was arguing the opposite… My last para specifically said, obviously it depends on the broader economic context. I don’t believe in untrammelled individual rights, but over something as fundamental as where you’re allowed to travel to and live, there’d better be a bloody good reason for telling people no. And in the context of a socialist system, that reason, arguably, is that without such a coordination of labour it would be impossible to organise the global economy in such a way that migration wouldn’t be a case of people fleeing adversity but simply of personal preference.

    But that context is not this context. Letting people move or not letting them isn’t going to be to the benefit of the migrant workers or of the host country. The whole discussion is stamped with the class interest of the few. And the thing is, millions (I think?) have come to Britain over the last decade, and the world didn’t end. It continued to be shit in all the same ways it was before enlargement, just as it did before the masses came from the Commonwealth after the war. I just think it’s a distraction.

    In our last place, barring a couple of students, I think my flatmate and I were the only Brits in the building, the remainder were Bangladeshis, Sikhs and Poles. I don’t think their moving to the city was any different than someone moving from Sunderland to my street. And if there were problems re: jobs or services or whatever, how were they different than if there’d been an influx of people from Essex? The only guy I had a problem with was the landlord who owned the building. I just don’t see it as a national issue.

    (So long as I can fly my Soviet flag, I don’t mind. ;))

  89. Karl Stewart on said:

    With respect Vanya, if you’re making a general point in favour of “immigration controls” then you are saying, as a matter of general principle, that you agree with restrictions on the ability of human beings to move freely.

    My view is that the “default” position should be that there be no restriction. That’s not the saem as saying there can be no restrictions ever, in any circumstances.

    There are plenty of circumstances in which restrictions should apply. An imprisoned convicted criminal, for example, would not be allowed to move freely.
    And in a state of war, it would not be unreasonable for restrictions of movement to apply.
    But normally, people should be able to move freely.

    What you seem to be arguing is that restriction of movement should apply as a norm, as a general matter of course.

  90. #104 Control is not necessarally the same thing as restriction.

    And let’s face it, the argument is whether there should be a position of no immigration conrols in principle. That’s what I was taking issue with, and you don’t seem to disagree with me.

  91. Karl Stewart on said:

    Well maybe we’re working on different definitions of what we mean by “in principle.”

    I’m using the term in the sense of “the norm” or “ceteris paribus”.

    That is to say, there is no reason why people should not be permitted to move freely, unless there is a specific and particular reason for a restriction.

    I’ve put the two examples of a convicted criminal and a state of war as examples in which restriction could be justified.

    I think you’re using the term “in principle” in the sense of “this has to be the position under any possible circumstances.”

    And of course to say that there should never be any circumstcances whatsoever in which one would not seek to restrict absolute free movement is an untenable position.

  92. Karl Stewart: I think you’re using the term “in principle” in the sense of “this has to be the position under any possible circumstances.”

    Yes, because that was what I was initially responding to from Red Snapper.

    My attitude is if we don’t mean opposition to all immigration controls we shouldn’t say it.

    Our position, as on everything else should be one that can be argued with reference to the real world, and sustain critical analysis by people we want to influence not a utopian wish-list.

  93. Absolutely there should be no immigrations controls based on nationality which is after all what they are all about. As Cuba has been mentioned Los Gusanos (maggots) de Miami and other counter revolutionaries could be barred on grounds of national security not because of their citizenship. Same with Nazis, football fans and other violent racists. Could apply to bankers too. Its really not that difficult.
    This fetish with reactionary Euro skepticism seems to be a peculiarly English problem, doubt that people in Scotland and Wales are as obsessed with it, and in the 6 counties its more an issue for the perpetually bigoted, backward and regressive Ulster Unionists who dislike anything that doesn’t have the Union Jack flying over it. The increasing support for UKIP, especially from working class former Labour voters is simply not much more than crude racism and xenophobia. If these former Labour voters knew that their socio-economic policies are extreme Thatcherite neo-liberal, anti welfare state, privatise everything with no regulation whatsoever apart from immigration of course which they would like to totally ban I very much doubt they get as much support. This is why its vital that any left anti EU campaign has robust and uncompromising anti racism, defence of mirant workers and opposition to immigration controls as a point of principle at the heart of its campaign otherwise it will just be a repeat of the hideous, nationalistic NO2EU campaign which was far too ambiguous on these issues.

  94. Karl Stewart on said:

    What I’m saying is that if a Brazilian, or a Chinese person decides they want to come and live in the UK, then there should, in principle, be no impediment to them.

  95. red snapper: Absolutely there should be no immigrations controls based on nationality which is after all what they are all about. As Cuba has been mentioned Los Gusanos (maggots) de Miami and other counter revolutionaries could be barred on grounds of national security not because of their citizenship. Same with Nazis, football fans and other violent racists. Could apply to bankers too. Its really not that difficult.

    Two points-

    1) So it does in fact depend on your definition of immigration controls. I’ve not said anything about the reasons for why a state might want to deny or regulate entry.

    2) Your reference to ‘football fans’ as ‘violent racists’ again speaks volumes about your attitudes.

    In fact, the whole tenor of your post is more of the same reverse chauvinism reeking of hatred for everything to do with this country, particularly its working class.

    I suspect that your problem isn’t with pandering to reactionary attitudes amongst English working class people, it’s with those people themselves. Smelly football supporting oiks.

  96. @Vanya. Where did I single out England fans and the English working class? How can England possibly restrict entry of its own football supporters? Please, I certainly don’t support internal immigration controls. :-)

  97. Manzil on said:

    Vanya: Smelly football supporting oiks.

    To be fair, your average trip to St Mary’s stadium quickly makes you realise us Saints fans at least aren’t the best smelling people, collectively. :P

    Too much is being made out of this. Vanya obviously has no inherent objection to people moving about; it’s just a question of context and effect. Karl seems to have no objection to exceptions being made and practical effects taken into account. So what’s the problem? It’s all just emphasis.

    Apart from red, who opposes ‘any kind of immigration control at any time whatsoever’ because they are ‘by their very nature racist’. Which is like opposing the police doing anything ever because it’s a pillar of the establishment. Or arguing that any sort of authority is inherently authoritarian.

  98. Manzil: your average trip to St Mary’s stadium quickly makes you realise us Saints fans at least aren’t the best smelling people, collectively.

    Nor can you read or write , but at least you know how to drive a tractor (allegedly).

  99. Manzil on said:

    Vanya: Nor can you read or write , but at least you know how to drive a tractor (allegedly).

    Come an’ lie down in front of my tractor, why don’t you.

  100. Immigration controls are generally understood as restricting entry due to nationality. This is the definition that I’m using. Maybe a different choice of words would be more appropriate to define restrictions on any other grounds? Not that I can think of any at the top of my head though. I do oppose the police doing what they usually which is to violently oppress people. Its the main part of the job description. Fighting crime is an inconvenience which they aren’t really very good at or really care much about. Most forms of authority in capitalist society are reactionary and authoritarian and yes I oppose them in principle.

  101. Post 97 Vanya says “He would probably take one look at the block where I live and say I should be getting the Council (sorry, housing association) to demand all my neighbours flying St George’s flags be ordered to take them down.”

    Interestingly this very issue came up on the estate where I lived some years back. A couple of tenants did openly display that flag as well as the Union Jack, it was long before they became trendy kitsch. At the same time whenever a football match was on TV loud cave men like grunts would emanate from the flats concerned. This was mixed up with racist abuse which was presumably directed at black players on the screen. I was secretary of the TA at the time and a few tenants raised the matter with me that as they felt intimidated and threatened by this and it was raised it at the next TA meeting and most of us voted to inform the council that it was causing offence and distress, we did contact the council as well as local councillors and the flags were taken down and noise stopped pretty soon after. So it can be done if theres will to do something about it. Should a similar situation arise here I would have no hesitation in taking the same course of action.

  102. red snapper:
    Post 97 Vanya says “He would probably take one look at the block where I live and say I should be getting the Council (sorry, housing association) to demand all my neighbours flying St George’s flags be ordered to take them down.”

    Interestingly this very issue came up on the estate where I lived some years back. A couple of tenants did openly display that flag as well as the Union Jack, it was long before they became trendy kitsch. At the same time whenever a football match was on TV loud cave men like grunts would emanate from the flats concerned. This was mixed up with racist abuse which was presumably directed at black players on the screen. I was secretary of the TA at the time and a few tenants raised the matter with me that as they felt intimidated and threatened by this and it was raised it at the next TA meeting and most of us voted to inform the council that it was causing offence and distress, we did contact the council as well as local councillors and the flags were taken down and noise stopped pretty soon after. So it can be done if theres will to do something about it. Should a similar situation arise here I would have no hesitation in taking the same course of action.

    #117 Did the racist abuse stop? Or were you more concerned about the flags?

  103. The flat went quiet. So all in all a result. No doubt they continued in a nearby pub which was frequented by racists. I know this when I got a violent reaction canvassing that pub during an election and almost got my head kicked in. Those tenants moved out not long after, probably to Essex, these people’s spiritual home and a Turkish gay couple moved in. Honestly am not making this up. :-) My point is that the reasons for displaying those flags at the time was usually far from benign. This is still the case in some parts, especially in outer London and beyond. :-(

  104. Jellytot on said:

    @109This is why its vital that any left anti EU campaign has …..opposition to immigration controls as a point of principle at the heart of its campaign

    And don’t be at all surprised when nobody in the populace supports it.

    Remember too that when the SWP were very enthusiastic about RESPECT, in 2005, their activists argued against the Party having opposition to all immigration controls as a central plank of their platform as they realised the toxic effect such a policy would have on their electoral chances.

    Gary McFarlane of the SWP said back then that it was utopian to make a call for the abolition of immigration controls before we reach socialism. The SWP traditionally argued against all immigration controls using arguments very similar to Red Snapper here and I think that they have reverted to that position nowadays. When they were involved in a serious electoral front they effectively dropped it. That’s telling.

  105. Uncle Albert on said:

    red snapper: whenever a football match was on TV loud cave men like grunts would emanate from the flats concerned.

    That’s the filthy-mannered working class for you.

  106. “abolition of immigration controls before we reach socialism” or “no immigration controls until we have socialism” I see both being supported here. Please make your mind up guys!

  107. red snapper: I know this when I got a violent reaction canvassing that pub during an election and almost got my head kicked in

    It sounds like a very amateur approach to canvassing, no voter ID, etc.

    Also, I can’t imagine anything more likely to provoke a hostile reaction from drinkers, whichever party you were canvassing for

  108. I was canvassing for Labour at the time. Islington North. 1987 election. It was part of the way I did things, not only knocking on peoples doors but also going to where constituents socialised. Call it amateur if you like but usually got very positive results. I would also go to pubs on polling day to make sure our voters had cast their votes and if they hadn’t done so suggest they do it before closing time. Again this delivered results. Jeremy Corbyn was and still is a very popular MP.

  109. #124 Being used to Andy’s acid style, this is when I suspect he would accuse RS of claiming personal credit for Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary success. Don’t do it Andy, it’s not big and it’s not clever.

  110. I would never say that because it obviously untrue. I was only answering Andy’s issue about my canvassing methods. The issue of racist tenants and flags was never mentioned to anyone in that pub, so I doubt it was personal as even attempting to give out LP leaflets was quite enough to get them going.

  111. red snapper: The issue of racist tenants and flags was never mentioned to anyone in that pub,

    Well obviously you know the ins and outs but I would be surprised if the issue didn’t do the rounds, particularly if the tenants you challenged used to drink there. And leaving aside my differences with you (possibly of emphasis) my respect to you for having taken the issue up of racist anti-social behaviour.

    I do hope nobody went into the pub bogs and put up ‘Nazi-Free Zone’ stickers though :)

  112. As far as I remember but can’t be entirely sure as it was such along time ago I discovered that pub was racist before the issue with the tenants and flags came up. Was just making an assumption that the culprits carried on with their ASB there as never saw them drink in any other local before or after so I wouldn’t know for sure as after being violently “outed” as a “red” I understandably was reluctant to go back, so can’t comment on the bogs either.

  113. George W: I understand the argument that if we leave the EU we wouldn’t necessarily have social democratic reforms implemented, especially if forces such as UKIP/the Tory right are strong. But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that if we stay in the EU, this makes social democratic reform more possible, it doesn’t. The EU is constitutionally neoliberal and threatens legal action or imposes governance on members that do not privatise or impose austerity.
    Leaving the EU would restore a degree of national sovereignty that would make, for instance, re-nationalisation of transport/utilities/communications or proper intervention in the economy possible. I agree that this doesn’t necessarily make such policies more likely, but then that our fight to fight. We knew that anyway.

    If you think socialism is impossible in Britain and can only work if all the countries of Europe simultaneously elect socialist governments, fair enough. Support the EU. I disagree, but understand.
    If you think that we would loose too much trade/too many jobs if we left the EU, fair enough. Or if you think it possible to reform the EU somehow to change its nature from representing big business to representing working people, fair enough. Again I disagree but understand where you are coming from.

    Sorry George I missed your response to my comment.

    I am opposed to the EU, and I don’t believe that a reformed version of is it is a path to socialism. I also agree that EU rules are biased (to say the least) against socialist/social democratic economic policies.

    The problem with the way your position is put accross (albeit that you are more nuanced than others) is that it seems to imply that leaving the EU is a necessary pre-requisite for socialist policies.

    I would argue that there are far more serious obstacles than the fact that we are in the EU.

    I would also argue that it is conceivable that a government wishing to implement such policies could come to power and take a view for one reason or another that it was tactically better to fight from within rather than concentrating on pulling out.

    And in the meantime a separate progressive anti-EU campaign would have minimal impact and split the left.

    In the context of a referendum I don’t think that would be disastrous. In the context of the last European elections I think it was, and I say that as someone who voted for No2EU instead of the Greens in Greater Manchester, rather than listening to my fellow Respect members including my partner.

    Having said that I no more take personal responsibility for Griffin being elected as Red Snapper takes the credit for Jeremy Corbyn :)

  114. prianikoff on said:

    Manzil@94
    You’re becoming more and more abusive every time your nationalist-reformist ideas are challenged.
    It’s a sign that your political positions lack coherence.
    I’ve no intention of going away.
    This site is called “Socialist Unity”.

  115. John Grimshaw on said:

    #114/115 Due respect to Southampton supporters but its Ipswich Town who are the tractor boys surely.

  116. John Grimshaw on said:

    red snapper: and the flags were taken down

    Out of curiosity were there several nights of violent rioting after the flags were taken down? :)

  117. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot:
    @109This is why its vital that any left anti EU campaign has …..opposition to immigration controls as a point of principle at the heart of its campaign

    And don’t be at all surprised when nobody in the populace supports it.

    Remember too that when the SWP were very enthusiastic about RESPECT, in 2005, their activists argued against the Party having opposition to all immigration controls as a central plank of their platform as they realised the toxic effect such a policy would have on their electoral chances.

    Gary McFarlane of the SWP said back then that it was utopian to make a call for the abolition of immigration controls before we reach socialism. The SWP traditionally argued against all immigration controls using arguments very similar to Red Snapper here and I think that they have reverted to that position nowadays. When they were involved in a serious electoral front they effectively dropped it. That’s telling.

    I agree with you Jellytot in this respect (ho, ho) the SWP dropped their traditional position on immigration controls whilst members of Respect. This does not however mean that there original position was wrong or naive, rather it reflects their opportunism. In any case if memory serves their often used formulation was opposition to all “racist” immigration controls which of course caused endless debate on the left. Were they saying there was such a thing as non racist immigration controls? Or were they saying immigration controls were racist?

    Irrespective, I find it difficult to understand how a socialist and defender of the working class should argue that working class people be only allowed to move between nations when allowed by the ruling class. Especially when the rich are free to do so should they wish. That you say nobody in the populace supports such a policy or that it is toxic I suspect only reflects your own opportunism. Or an unwillingness to take a principled position. Such as fighting for a standard living wage for all workers in this country irrespective of which country they come from.

  118. prianikoff,

    The problem is, you’re not actually ‘challenging’ anything, are you? You’re just making tesy comments about pub landlords and quoting Trotsky. Your big objection seems to revolve around the fact I opined that the EU isn’t a state, that its content is fundamentally derived from the balance of forces within its member states, and that Morning star reader happened to use the word ‘British’.

    My ‘nationalist-reformist’ ideas! You are a great laugh, I’ll give you that.

  119. #135 That should be ‘testy’.

    red snapper,

    Akin to Vanya’s question to me earlier:

    Do you support any limitations to freedom of movement under any circumstances?

  120. @Manzil. Good afternoon. cde. Your question has been answered in posts 119 and 116 above.
    BTW. Liked your comment about mountain goats. Caused much laughter here. Nobody has ever compared me to one before. :-)

    From Wiki about Mountain Goats:

    Aggressive behavior

    Nannies can be very competitive and protective of their space and food sources. They will fight with one another for dominance in conflicts that can ultimately include all the nannies in the herd. In these battles, nannies will circle each other with their heads lowered, showing off their horns. As with fights between billies during breeding season, these conflicts can occasionally lead to injury or even death, but they are largely harmless. To avoid fighting, an animal may show a posture of non-aggression by stretching low to the ground.
    In lower regions below the tree line, nannies also use their fighting abilities to protect themselves and their offspring from predators. Predators including wolves, wolverines, lynx and bears will attack goats of most ages given the opportunity. However, the cougar is perhaps the primary predator, being both powerful enough to overwhelm the largest adult goats and uniquely nimble enough to navigate the rocky ecosystem of the goat. Even though their size protects them from most potential predators in higher altitudes, nannies still must defend their young from golden eagles, which can be a major predatory threat to kids. Nannies have even been observed trying to dominate the more passive but often heavier bighorn sheep that share some of their territory.
    Mountain goats can occasionally be aggressive towards humans, with at least one reported fatality resulting from an attack by a mountain goat.

    @John Grimshaw. No rioting at all.

  121. #134

    ‘often used formulation was opposition to all “racist” immigration controls which of course caused endless debate on the left. Were they saying there was such a thing as non racist immigration controls? Or were they saying immigration controls were racist?’

    Interesting questions. But for all practical purposes I would have thought they were no more than that until such time as a socialist government had to deal with the question. As has been demonstrated by the discussion above, a bit of clarity about what having no immigration controls means in practice would be helpful.

    In the meantime, the key is to expose those policies which cause particular injustice and to defend immigrants against abuses (such as highlighting the treatment of asylum seekers).

    ‘…argue that working class people be only allowed to move between nations when allowed by the ruling class.’

    Most things are only allowed when allowed by the ruling class. That’s what ruling classes do- they rule. Do you assume that if the working class took power anywhere they would allow unrestricted and unregulated movement into their country (whichever it was)?

    ‘…fighting for a standard living wage for all workers in this country irrespective of which country they come from.’

    It’s as possible to have a strict position on immigration as a policy of no controls at all and do this. So you are introducing a straw person here.

    It does of course raise another question for those who want open borders- once someone comes to this country, do they immediately share all entitlements with everyone who is already here? If not, how is entitlement to be established?

    Do we have a separate concept of citizenship?

  122. “It does of course raise another question for those who want open borders- once someone comes to this country, do they immediately share all entitlements with everyone who is already here? If not, how is entitlement to be established?”

    Yes and why not?

    “Do we have a separate concept of citizenship?”

    If people want to identify with a particular country or region it should be their free choice but citizenship identifying someone with a particular nation state as we know it shouldn’t be compulsory.

  123. red snapper,

    No offence intended. I quite like goats. :D

    Sorry, I missed your comment at #116. Okay, so if ‘Most forms of authority in capitalist society are reactionary and authoritarian’ (I agree, incidentally), what are your views on authority in the context of socialist society? Can the individual right to free movement be abstracted from its context, does it trump community controls even where they can be said to be progressive?

    Vanya #138 Entitlements should in principle be derived from need, surely? Otherwise we start down the road to Beveridge’s contributory principle. If people are in a society, they are going to be contributing to its wealth and culture. I don’t think I have a concept of citizenship at all. I claim the right to a minimum standard of living not because I have a passport or because I’ve paid into NI, but because it is the only fair (and only rational, efficient!) thing to do. The focus should be on shifting the burden of funding the system to the capitalist class and not redistributing wealth from within the working class. Corporation tax now only accounts for 7.5% of tax receipts and will soon fall to 5.8%. THAT is the issue.

  124. @Manzil. It depends what that authority is. People shouldn’t be stopped from moving around if they want to. What do you mean by community controls? Am a bit confused here. But then am only an ignorant foreigner.

  125. Manzil on said:

    @ Red

    I just mean the right of any collective agent to control the movement of individuals – most probably the national state, but I didn’t want to limit it to that, because obviously this is hypothetical. I just wanted to see whether you think people have a right to free movement irrespective of the precise nature of society – as in, is it capitalism that makes authority reactionary, or do you find the idea of managing people’s movement intrinsically offensive? – and whether there were exceptions.

  126. I really don’t see how this in any way could be desirable or progressive apart from extreme circumstances such as threats from counter revolutionary elements. You could also mention criminal elements who would naturally be in some sort of secure location. I hesitate to use the word prison as I don’t believe in them as they currently are.

  127. If you are talking about some sort of state or collective authority in a socialist society there are of course circumstances where this would be desirable and necessary. An example would be compulsory national military or community service which I have no problem with for obvious reasons. Same with compulsory education even though this should be a lot different than what we have now. Schools should be run on progressive collective lines rather than top down authoritarianism.

  128. To me this discussion isn’t about racism so much as the role of the state. If you take away all regulation whatsoever as to who lives within the borders of the state, you lose any meaningful ability to plan the distribution of resources, and if a newcomer has automatic right to be treated immediately the same as anyone already settled here in all respects this only compounds the problem.

    In essence this is only compatible with the swift elimination of the state itself.

    This appears to be a recipe either for a libertarian freemarket or it’s anarchism (neither of which I subscribe to).

    But if as Red Snapper does, you accept that it will be necessary to control movement on the basis of national security, then you will merely have to replace the current immigration system with a an intrusive repressive security apparatus. No chance of that being staffed with many racists who will abuse their power to implement unofficial racist immigration policies through the back door is there?

    And of course, when you get people suggesting that by not going along with this silliness you are pandering to racism it tends to remove from the word any useful meaning.

  129. Red Snapper- you clearly hold a few things to be self-evident. I think you make a few assumptions that require more of an explanation than merely your strongly held opinion.

    if your goal is to pursuade large numbers of people that socialim a good idea. It may of course be that you view too much of the population of this country to be iredemable reactionaries for this ever to be possible. I must admit I probably would if I thought the way you do.

    You’ve already written Essex off as is :-)

  130. Jellytot on said:

    @134Irrespective, I find it difficult to understand how a socialist and defender of the working class should argue that working class people be only allowed to move between nations when allowed by the ruling class. Especially when the rich are free to do so should they wish. That you say nobody in the populace supports such a policy or that it is toxic I suspect only reflects your own opportunism.

    Open borders and complete and unfettered free movement of individuals around the world is a beautiful and lofty ideal.

    I am just guessing that any serious political party looking to maximise its vote at an election would be severely hampered by having it in their manifesto much less proactively arguing for it. Indeed, for such a proposal to obtain widespread traction it would be an indication of an almost revolutionary mass consciousness and I think we can all concede that we are light years away from that.

    However, I’m not at all opposed to socialist and progressives beleiving and supporting this amoung themselves – just keep it away from electoral platforms.

  131. prianikoff on said:

    Manzil@135
    “Your big objection seems to revolve around the fact I opined that the EU isn’t a state, that its content is fundamentally derived from the balance of forces within its member states, and that Morning star reader happened to use the word ‘British’.”

    You said a lot more than that at #43.
    You said :-
    “There is no European government or bureaucracy. No European public sphere. No European labour movement.
    There is an agglomeration of such national phenomena at a European level.”

    That’s entirely wrong.
    There is no European *State*, nor do I think the capitalist class is capable of creating one.
    The Franco-German moves towards political union are aimed at securing the widest market for their own monopolies and shifting the burden of the economic crisis onto the weaker states.
    Britain wants to maintain the pre-eminence of the City of London, stay out of the Euro and avoid taking on any obligation for bailing out Southern Europe.

    However, your conclusion that the British “democratic nation state” allows for the formation of a “progressive” government, besides being waffly about its class nature, doesn’t correspond to the current political possibilities for the left in Europe.

    The next major breakthrough by the left won’t even happen in Britain, it’s far more likely in Greece, Spain or Portugal.
    If it happens in any one state, it will have a knock-on effect elsewhere in Europe.
    The left in Europe can’t simply restrict itself to the aim of “leaving the EU”, or even re-negotiating its individual relationship to the EU.
    It has to aim higher and pose the the question of the refoundation of European Union on a different basis.
    This has to be built into its programmatic aims now.

  132. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot: @134<IOpen borders and complete and unfettered free movement of individuals around the world is a beautiful and lofty ideal. I am just guessing that any serious political party looking to maximise its vote at an election would be severely hampered by having it in their manifesto much less proactively arguing for it. Indeed, for such a proposal to obtain widespread traction it would be an indication of an almost revolutionary mass consciousness and I think we can all concede that we are light years away from that.However, I’m not at all opposed to socialist and progressives beleiving and supporting this amoung themselves – just keep it away from electoral platforms.

    But surely Jellytot, if something’s fundamentally right, then we should find sensible ways of arguing for it, rather than adopting a policy that’s fundamentally wrong on the grounds that that represents the current mainstream narrative.

    Of course the idiotic approach of our friend Red Snappr will actively alienate people.
    His tale about asking the local council to order a neightbour not to watch a football match in their own home and then of annoying people in their local pub with his ranting is a first-class example of a futile and self-defeating approach to politics.

    (His account actually contains too many lazy stereotypes and inane caricatures for me to take it particularly seriously to be honest – it doesn’t actually ring true for me I’m afraid.)

    Anyway, back to the point, I think it’s perfectly feasible to put forward the notion that unrestricted movement of human beings should be the “default” position.

    The presumption should be that it’s OK for people to move to where they want to move to. I don’t think that, put forward in those terms, that it’s an impossible argument to win.

    Throughout history, human beings have moved in search of better prospects – for jobs, for land, back further into history, hunter-gatherer societies moved in search of better hunting.

    If we’re honest, it makes no direct difference to any of us where someone who moves into our neighbourhood has moved from – whether from Yorkshire or from Hungary.

  133. Manzil on said:

    prianikoff: That’s entirely wrong.
    There is no European *State*, nor do I think the capitalist class is capable of creating one.
    The Franco-German moves towards political union are aimed at securing the widest market for their own monopolies and shifting the burden of the economic crisis onto the weaker states.
    Britain wants to maintain the pre-eminence of the City of London, stay out of the Euro and avoid taking on any obligation for bailing out Southern Europe.

    However, your conclusion that the British “democratic nation state” allows for the formation of a “progressive” government, besides being waffly about its class nature, doesn’t correspond to the current political possibilities for the left in Europe.

    The next major breakthrough by the left won’t even happen in Britain, it’s far more likely in Greece, Spain or Portugal.
    If it happens in any one state, it will have a knock-on effect elsewhere in Europe.
    The left in Europe can’t simply restrict itself to the aim of “leaving the EU”, or even re-negotiating its individual relationship to the EU.
    It has to aim higher and pose the the question of the refoundation of European Union on a different basis.
    This has to be built into its programmatic aims now.

    How is it wrong? There is no single public sphere, civil administration or labour movement on a European-wide basis. We may want that, we may agitate for the union of the labour and progressive movements of Europe, but it does not exist. There is no European civil society, no European capitalism, no European ruling class. No centralised militant trade-union centre or European workers’ party.

    At most, the dominant institutions of the left on a European level (PSE, ETUC etc.) represent the most conservative layers of the labour bureaucracy.

    I agree on the need to propose a re-founding of the European project and not to withdraw into envisioning a national road to socialism. In fact, I said that in the comment at #43 you are criticising!

    What I did say, and which is also equally true, is that the governments of the EU member-states are far more accessible to popular pressure from below than the institutions of the EU. A bourgeois-democratic state has a degree of relative autonomy from capital that the EU, as a specific instrument of those states and not resting atop a single social base, does not. And it is possible to overturn the austerity programme only on a national level. There will be no continent-wide revolt; there will only (hopefully!) be a succession of national uprisings acting in concert and solidarity with one another.

    The only question at hand is whether full integration into what even you acknowledge to be a pro-capitalist enforcement of ‘political union’ advances or retards the ability of the organised working class of each nation from imposing its hegemony. And while the dominant narratives of both ‘pro’ and anti’ camps in Britain represent elite and reactionary positions, it is the pro-EU strand which offers the greatest danger, because it proposes the permanent subordination of the British workers’ movement to the class-collaborationist, institutionalised left and its agenda of social partnership.

  134. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: If we’re honest, it makes no direct difference to any of us where someone who moves into our neighbourhood has moved from – whether from Yorkshire or from Hungary.

    Apart from the fact Hungarians probably make better rakott palacsinta…

  135. Manzil on said:

    Oh no you did-ant.

    Vanya: It does of course raise another question for those who want open borders- once someone comes to this country, do they immediately share all entitlements with everyone who is already here?

    On this issue actually, from this POV couldn’t we say that someone leaving school shouldn’t be entitled to housing benefit? They’ve likely not ‘contributed’ to funding the social safety net either!

    The point is that any person living in this country (“whether from Yorkshire or from Hungary”, as Karl says), is going to have to sell their labour to survive (Daily Mail stories notwithstanding), will likely want to, and will experience the same conditions as anyone who happened to be born here.

    We are no more or less discriminated against because of the national origin of other workers. Basing a system of social solidarity on a supposedly shared culture rather than a common class interest is inviting our division into mutually antagonistic groups based on background or identity.

  136. #155 Well unless they have been schooled somewhere like Switzerland (or like Chris Eubank, in the Bronx) they probably will already be settled here, so that’s hardly a good comparison I would suggest.

  137. Manzil on said:

    So it’s not about whether someone has contributed, but whether they’re settled here? Does need not come into it at all? Wouldn’t this just exacerbate the need for migrant workers to undercut existing pay and conditions through unofficial work to survive?

  138. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think a further point I’d like to make is that while of course it’s nonsense to argue that an “English identity” doesn’t exist, this is just one of many cultural characteristics.

    Being “English” isn’t meaningless to me, but it isn’t the sole, or even the main, defining peculiarity, it isn’t even the main non-class-based human characteristic.

    Being a resident of London is very different culturally from being a suburban or rural person. That’s a huge cultural difference and one which cuts across “Englishness”.

    And then there’s the regional cultural differences – the widely varying dialects and other patterns of speech, and regional and local histories.

    It is true that for many people in London, a “northerner” is a “foreigner”, and I’m sure the reverse applies too.

    So “Englishness” is one cultural identity, but only one cultural identity that cuts across several other layers.

  139. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: It is true that for many people in London, a “northerner” is a “foreigner”, and I’m sure the reverse applies too.

    What are you talking about? London is the north!

  140. Karl Stewart on said:

    For south Londoners, “moving north” or “he/she lives north” means north London.

  141. Manzil on said:

    Haha.

    If you can’t see the English Channel, you’re in what I like to call ‘the wilds’.

    I’m sure it’s lovely, though. :P

    I think what the discussion about the complexity of (national, regional etc.) identity shows, is that culture isn’t, and in my view shouldn’t be, linked inextricably to the public realm. Unless you think people derive legitimate authority innately from experiencing similar conditions and norms, rather than through consent, there’s no reason a cultural identity has to be expressed through political channels.

  142. BrokenWindow on said:

    red snapper: this would be desirable and necessary. An example would be compulsory national military or community service

    He’s been well-programmed!

  143. prianikoff,

    “If it happens in any one state, it will have a knock-on effect elsewhere in Europe.
    The left in Europe can’t simply restrict itself to the aim of “leaving the EU”, or even re-negotiating its individual relationship to the EU.
    It has to aim higher and pose the the question of the refoundation of European Union on a different basis.”

    I too think that wherever socialism prevails it has a knock on effect and encourages movements elsewhere. However, this is not an instantaneous result. The socialist state requires time to consolidate its position, alter its economy, repell imperialist attacks-such things take time.

    You have got to start somewhere. So you have to have socialism in your own country. You must rid that country of obstacles to socialism, the EU rules enforcing austerity, privatisation and the free, unhindered movement of goods, capital and services is an example of an obstacle. It’s not good enough to reject being part of the campaign to withdraw from the EU because you think it better to have socialism break out instantaneously in several countries. It is unlikely enough that socialism will be built in one capitalist country, to impose extra conditions on this unlikely event renders it almost impossible.

    I hate to labour the point, but the EU was, does and forever will represent the interests of big business. it cannot be reformed into a socialist entity. It is just as ridiculous to argue that we must stay in NATO and make it work for the oppressed in the world.

    To rule out the possibility of socialism in one country, is to also rule out socialism for many countries. Of course we all want socialism in the entire world, but we need to retain a degree of realism. It is our duty to the international movement to agitate for socialism in our own country, part of the organisation of this must mean campaigning for your country to withdraw from imperialist organisations such as NATO and the EU.

    Bit of a long quote but worth a read. Lenin on the slogan for a United States of Europe. Which he thought to be either impossible or reactionary. If you ignore the outdated bit about colonies it brings a lot to the debate today:

    “Of course, temporary agreements are possible between capitalists and between states. In this sense a United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists … but to what end? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe, of jointly protecting colonial booty against Japan and America, who have been badly done out of their share by the present partition of colonies, and the increase of whose might during the last fifty years has been immeasurably more rapid than that of backward and monarchist Europe, now turning senile. Compared with the United States of America, Europe as a whole denotes economic stagnation. On the present economic basis, i.e., under capitalism, a United States of Europe would signify an organisation of reaction to retard America’s more rapid development. The times when the cause of democracy and socialism was associated only with Europe alone have gone for ever.

    A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others.

    Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world—the capitalist world—attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states. The political form of a society wherein the proletariat is victorious in overthrowing the bourgeoisie will be a democratic republic, which will more and more concentrate the forces of the proletariat of a given nation or nations, in the struggle against states that have not yet gone over to socialism. The abolition of classes is impossible without a dictatorship of the oppressed class, of the proletariat. A free union of nations in socialism is impossible without a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle of the socialist republics against the backward states.

    It is for these reasons and after repeated discussions at the conference of R,S.D.L.P. groups abroad, and following that conference, that the Central Organ’s editors have come to the conclusion that the slogan for a United States of Europe is an erroneous one.”

  144. The incident I described is pretty much how I remember it and its true, even though I did use some artistic licence in my descriptions. It wasn’t simply about stopping people from watching football on TV but an issue of tenants feeling threatened and intimidated and we in the TA did the right thing.
    Call me idiotic if you like, really don’t give a toss, I’m just saying what a lot of people think. I don’t do tact. :-)

  145. Manzil,

    To be honest I don’t have well worked out answers to these questions.

    What I want to see is serious discussion to help arrive at such answers, rather than simplistic points of ‘principle’ that don’t stand up to critical scrutiny.

    From a practical point of view if you are planning the distribution of resources, that is surely easier done on the basis of people who have some level of establishment or settlement.

    Karl Stewart: It is true that for many people in London, a

  146. Manzil on said:

    #165 Fair play, I don’t presume to have sorted it either. It’s just good to discuss.

    And you’re right, sloganising by itself in defence of XYZ isn’t going to change squat, however well-received it is within the agitational milieu of the left, unless it enjoys mass support.

  147. red snapper: It wasn’t simply about stopping people from watching football on TV but an issue of tenants feeling threatened and intimidated and we in the TA did the right thing.

    In fact I think Karl may have been unfair. If it was the fact that people felt intimidated on the basis of audible racist insults, I reiterate my positive comments.

    The problem with you not giving a toss is that your stereotyping potentially reduces your credibility, and by extension, that of others of us who want to combat reacism and other reactionary attitudes.

    There’s a big distinction between not giving a toss what people think of you and not giving a toss whether people listen to what you’re saying.

  148. John Grimshaw on said:

    #158 Karl you forgot to include class as one of the ways in which perceived “culture” varies. The way that “Englishness” is seen by some foreigners at least for example is a sterotype of dress and behaviour that would be largely alien to British/English working class people. Except of course for entertainment purposes on the TV.

  149. prianikoff on said:

    Manzil “..it is the pro-EU strand which offers the greatest danger”
    Come 2017, the largest political bloc arguing for withdrawal from the EU will be the Eurosceptic Tories + UKIP.
    How do you propose to differentiate your ‘No2EU’ campaign from theirs?

    George W

    “EU was, does and forever will represent the interests of big business it cannot be reformed into a socialist entity.
    It is just as ridiculous to argue that we must stay in NATO and make it work for the oppressed in the world. ”

    I’ve not argued that it can be reformed, nor have I said that the formation of a socialist government in any one state must wait for the “United States of Europe”.
    I don’t even support that slogan, which actually implied “ultra-imperialism” i.e. the voluntary amalgamation of capitalist nation states.
    I’ve already said several times, that I don’ t believe that full Union will happen under capitalism.
    So quoting a passage by Lenin at me that I’ve read over-again many times, isn’t particularly useful.

    The analogy between the EU and NATO doesn’ t really hold either.
    NATO is a military pact linking Capitalist Europe to the USA.
    The EU is (partly) a customs and trade treaty.
    We want that part, because we need to sell our goods in Europe.
    Under different political conditions, currency union would be a good idea too.
    It’s progressive in the same way that the Zollverein was more progressive than the petty German Principalities.
    Who in their right mind would have opposed it?
    Did this mean they were supporting the Prussian Militarists?

    The conclusion is that we need European union, but on a socialist basis.
    Having a socialist government in a single European state should be a prelude to fighting for that.
    That’s real Internationalism.

  150. Uncle Albert: Having a socialist government in a single European state should be a prelude to fighting for that

    And precisely how are we to achieve this goal. A long march through the institutions of capitalist integration, a decisive majority in the Council of Ministers, an enabling act through the European parliament? Or may be the ever so rrrevolutionary alternative of a simultaneous assualt on the coercive apparatus of the European bourgeoisie, taking out each military base, secret police headquarters and US facility.
    Off we go.

  151. Uncle Albert on said:

    Nick Wright: Uncle Albert: Having a socialist government in a single European state should be a prelude to fighting for that

    @ Nick Wright

    What’s going on dude? Is this an outbreak of black ops? Where did I write that? It weren’t me.

  152. prianikoff: How do you propose to differentiate your ‘No2EU’ campaign from theirs?

    With words?

    If you mean, how is the mass media going to differentiate between a left-wing critique of the dominant EU agenda, and a xenophobic Little England nationalism, they probably won’t (if they even mention it at all). But I don’t think we should base our strategy on what sort of a hearing we’ll get on Sky News.

  153. prianikoff on said:

    me:- “Having a socialist government in a single European state should be a prelude to fighting for [a European Union on a Socialist basis]

    nick wright:- “And precisely how are we to achieve this goal….a decisive majority in the Council of Ministers?”

    Leaving aside your parody, I can think of a lot of ways of doing it without leaving unilaterally. Far better to stay in and fight, even if it meant being expelled.

    e.g. resisting austerity by setting “illegal budgets”, breaching pro-market EU regulations, nationalisation.

    A socialist government could use its representatives in the European Parliament as a platform to popularise its position. This might only be thin veneer over a bureaucratic sub-stratum. But for that matter, so is the House of Commons.

    Retaliatiory Eu counter-measures against small states like Greece would be hard to resist. But, their example will spread to other countries, providing the opportunity to build a mass resistance across Europe.

    The inter-penetration of capital in Europe can be turned against it, in the left’s interests.
    In Britain, for example, there are huge investments in the energy sector by France (EDF) and Germany (EoN)
    – these could be subjected to steep taxation, or threatened with nationalisation if the EU tried to exert its authority against the wishes of a left-wing government.

    The point is that we don’t want to chuck out the progressive baby:
    – elimination of customs and tariff boundaries, currency union, technological collaboration, a European Parliament –
    along with the reactionary bathwater.

    Let the European capitalists sabotage the Union, the working class needs to support it, but on a higher, socialist level, by staying inside and engaging in hand-to-hand fighting.

  154. There was far too much Little Englander nationalism and not enough internationalism in the NO2EU campaign material for my liking and it was also practically identical to the SLP manifesto, who bizarrely got more votes in most areas despite no campaigning whatsoever.

    I see am being mocked for my support for national service, basically a workers militia, if we actually ever manage to achieve socialism. How else would a socialist society not only defend itself against nasty hostile elements but also have military resources to intervene in other places when asked to help out, like Cuba did in Southern Africa and the USSR in Afganistan? May I add that in both those cases the conscripts and reservists who participated in these progressive interventions wernt forced but volunteered to do so. Of course those who for whatever reason don’t want to do military service should have the option to do some kind of community service, Does any socialist really have a problem with this? I understand that this debate is for another day but it is worth having.

  155. I understand what you are trying to say by the term ‘Little Englander’, but can you not find a better one? The term originates in the description of heroic people such as G K Chesterton who took an anti-imperialist stance over Britain’s involvement in the Boer War.

    Why prianikoff do you oppose withdrawal from the capitalist EU on the basis that you support an imaginary socialist EU? Surely the first step on the long and irrelevant road to building an imaginary socialist EU entails first escaping the capitalist EU? You might not admit to it, but the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that you think it is in some way reformable.

    History has many examples of nation states nationalising industry/transport/utilities/communications, created public healthcare and education, brought in pensions and benefits. Of course these examples do not show in states an inherent tendency towards social democracy, these gains had to be fought for long and hard by their respective labour movement, but they are concrete examples of things that have actually happened in the real world, out there, where?, through the window. Breath in that wonderful reality!

    Now history has shown us that the EU was built by big business to represent the interests of big business. It has never pushed for the gains outlined above, indeed it does quite the opposite and coordinates the privatisation of any block to ‘free access to the European market’ and ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’. In this vein it has imposed technocratic governments to enforce austerity on EU nations, it has ruled against collective bargining and national minimum wage laws.

    So frankly the argument that we must not attempt to win the battle to use the British state to enact social reforms-something that at least has been actually done before-is quite a weak one. The only argument used to back it up is ‘well the Tories will always win over here, the labour movement is not very strong’. Okay we have a hell of a task ahead of us, but it must be done. It is beyond defeatist to expect some banker in Brussels to bring about socialism in Britain.

    So what have the Romans (EU) ever done for us?

    There are examples the social partnership trend in the labour movement bring up, one of which is the Working time directive. According to the campaign against Eurofederalism:

    “The Directive first surfaced in 1993 with the headlines declaring a cap on the working week of 48 hours. This in Britain, many decades after first a 44 hour week then a 40 hour week was won and even lower working weeks gained since in particular industries. Britain under the Major Government declared an opt-out from the cap on 48 hours.”

    “The objective of the Directive is to extort maximum exploitation by sweeping away national laws and conditions which have been negotiated, struggled for and won by trade unions and others.”

    Like many people who have been ‘encouraged’ in previous jobs to sign the opt out before they give you work, I can tell you that this is not particularly effective. Okay I am sure that it is against the law for employers to refuse you work if you refuse to sign. But then against agencies are not legally obligised to give you work anyway, so that one don’t work.

    I would love to live an a Europe of socialist nations and would welcome some form of customs and trading agreement between us. But I understand that in order to get there we must do our duty to the international movement and build up the forces for socialism here in Britain.

  156. red snapper,

    Personally I think there’s a case for national service now.

    Then instead of just young Harry choosing to go off to slaughter people as a ripping jape, the childern of the politicians who start these wars (and the armchair warriors who vote for them and their children) may have to risk life and limb.

    Also it would install a bit of discipline into some of the local yobs.

  157. @George. I was well aware that the meaning of the term has “Little Englander” has in the popular imagination changed to generally mean the Daily Torygraph reading Lt. Col. Bigot-Smith from Tunbridge Wells types and The Sun and Daily Mail reading “lower ranks” who think “Wogs start at Dover” and not the principled anti imperialists of the past. What better term do you suggest to describe these people? Oh, and will your imaginary Europe of socialist nation states also include open borders not only with other European nations but with the rest of the world?

    I am starting to wonder if I’m the only first generation immigrant from outside Europe who regularly posts here and who may see things just a little differently to most of you as there seems to be more than a bit of not only Euro but Anglo centrism and lack of internationalism as well as some pandering to the Union Jack waving BJ4BW placard holding burly white men section of the British working class rather its much more and increasingly diverse whole.

  158. @Vanya. Not entirely opposed to what you say in principle for the reasons you mention but it will have to be unionised with the right to strike and to object to deployments, democratically run with officers and NCO’s elected for fixed terms and subject to recall. Very much doubt any bourgeois state will permit this though. Good luck with advocating National Service in any election material. Conscription wasnt too popular last time round. Will surely get us noticed, the tabloid headlines should be amusing. :-)

  159. Vanya: Also it would install a bit of discipline into some of the local yobs.

    In my experience, it was always the most sociopathic personalities who liked the idea of marching around in uniform and having a pop at the ‘muzzers’ so much they joined the army when we left school. The last thing we need is for ‘local yobs’ to be trained how to shoot and taught the importance of discipline.

    As for national service, nothing’s stopping you all from signing up!

    I’ll be away hiding in the attic eating cold baked beans. Let me know when we’ve won.