Electioneering over Europe: politicians in a stinking swamp

29 October 2014

So Cameron threw another tantrum over the announcement that Britain would have to pay "an extra" £1.7bn into the EU kitty. "We are not going to pay" he told parliament. Of course this was immediately seized upon by the Eurosceptics, in order to denounce the "predatory nature" of the EU, which is squeezing its poor little victim, "Great" Britain...

However, neither ordinary Tories, nor Eurosceptics would want to mention the fact that this amount is due only because of the Treasury's under-reporting of the GDP over the past 12 years! It is, in fact simple tax avoidance! And given it has been happening for over a decade it means Labour has also been up to its eye-Balls in trying to cheat the EU.

That said, this £200m per year is nothing at all, compared to what the British well-to-do get out of EU funds, thanks to Britain's membership of Europe! For instance, in 2012 alone, British landowners, including the dear old Queen and the Grand old Duke of Westminster, got £3.5bn in agricultural subsidies!

And what about the huge profits that British companies make, especially in finance, thanks to their unhindered access to the European market? So, to claim that this back-pay has to be paid by the rest of us is ridiculous. If anyone is liable to pay it - it is the big beneficiaries of EU funds...

Yes, when the Eurosceptics and UKIP say the Common Agricultural Policy must be scrapped they are presumably quite happy to target their own "gracious majesty" too? But there are many other beneficiaries of EU funding - for instance from the regional growth funds which will provide as much as £8bn to British local councils over the next 6 years. A separate growth fund of £2.5bn provides subsidies for small and medium enterprises, commercial developments, technical training, etc. But Cameron omits to mention all these billions, without which part of British local infrastructure risk collapse and many urban renewal projects for deprived areas would have to be cancelled!

Scraping the barrel

But then what else can we expect from the Camerons, Milibands and Farages of this world? They all defend the very same social interests and in fact are now all competing with each other to prove it. And of course, in so doing, they conveniently divert attention away from those whom they champion - the ones responsible for the worsening crisis - and scapegoat the working class poor, and Europe - all in the same breath.

Cameron is naturally vying for rightwing votes against Ukip - all the more so, since the latest opinion poll placed Labour and the Tories both at 30% with Ukip on 19%. So he has now scraped the very bottom of the barrel.

After the Italian navy said this week that it can no longer afford to carry out full search and rescue operations on the Mediterranean (which have saved 150,000 asylum seekers from drowning this year) - Cameron immediately announced Britain's de facto withdrawal from this operation. On what grounds? That these efforts just "encourage" even more "migrants" to take to dilapidated boats and make the crossing to Italy... and apparently ultimately to Calais, where they risk their lives to get into Britain.

Workers have no country

Cameron's statement was condemned by the Refugee Council as " morally reprehensible". It is. But he seems to have thrown all decency to the wind (if he had any) trying to garner right-wing votes!

But talking of scraping the bottom of the barrel, that Labour's David Blunkett should pipe up in defence of Michael Fallon who spoke about immigrants swamping British towns was probably predictable. Because Blunkett said the same thing himself 12 years ago. We can thank him for reminding us just how far Labour had already sunk into the swamp by then. Today Labour joins the anti-immigration chorus at every opportunity.

The slagging off of Europe, Europeans, migrant workers, indeed, "foreigners" is crass and rotten, but it is likely to get even worse (if it could) as the election draws closer. This has nothing to do with defending anyone, and certainly not the working class. Because there is no such thing as a "British" working class.

Workers all belong to one class and it stretches across continents and borders. It is subject to the exact same exploitation by a global capitalist class which will use every opportunity to screw it down - unless this working class decides to use its collective strength to say no. And it can only do so effectively if it sees through all the divisions and ignores the borders and superficial characteristics which may make us seem different from each other. We, unlike the other classes in society, have an interest in welcoming all immigrants, and opposing all laws and controls that seek to prevent them from joining our ranks. We are only strong, together.