Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 27 November 2012

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
27 November 2012

Last week, Cameron and a squadron of advisors flew to an EU summit in Brussels, in an RAF jet. Officially, this task force was meant to read the riot act to the summit over the EU's "profligacy" - which is so vocally decried by Eurosceptics of all stripe. "Britain will lead Europe or leave" - was Cameron's order of the day according to much of the media. Eurosceptic Tories were obviously delighted, but also Labour MPs, apparently, since they supported a Tory motion in favour of an EU budget cut in the Commons, last month!

Predictably, however, this media-driven storm just petered out. No decision was made in Brussels - which was what everyone had expected. The British squad was sent packing and Cameron came back with his tail between his legs, without any of the concessions he had boasted he would win. The whole show was exposed for what it really was - yet another exercise in demagogic posturing.

A tiny storm in the politicians' tea-cup

For a start, it may be worth recalling that the EU budget is not the mammoth amount claimed by Eurosceptics. It spends just one sixth of what Cameron was planning to spend in Britain per head, this year - for a population which is eight times larger! Hardly exorbitant, is it?

Cameron had made a big show of his plan to resist any attempt to reduce the "British rebate" - the reduction negotiated long ago by Thatcher in the contribution that Britain should normally pay into the EU's coffers, in proportion to its wealth. In fact, however, it appears that Cameron didn't even raise the issue. Presumably because, for all the loud noises he made around it, this rebate is only meant to be cut by a comparatively tiny amount.

Cameron had also vowed to rein in on two other areas of the EU budget - its administrative and infrastructure expenditure plans.

This administrative budget is, in fact, pretty small, considering everything - at 6% of the total EU budget. And guess what? In order to reduce this, Cameron came up with proposals to increase the retirement age for white collar workers employed by EU institutions and to cut their wages and pensions - where have we heard that before?

As to the EU's infrastructure budget which Cameron argued should be cut by £16bn, the only thing that can be said is that he shot himself in the foot. Indeed, this budget happens to be designed to provide funds for large European infrastructure projects, including, among other things, for the proposed high speed rail link from London to Birmingham and electrification of the Great Western rail line. Did Cameron and his Eurosceptics pals ever mention that their bellicose anti-EU stance would result in less EU funding for Britain - and, therefore, in the need for more government funding - for projects which are long overdue here? Of course not!

Nationalism, a weapon against all of us

Cameron's posturing over the EU budget makes no sense whatsoever.

But nor does the on-going hot air produced by some politicians and a section of the media calling for a referendum over Britain's membership of the EU. In fact, at its annual conference, the bosses' organisation, the CBI - i.e. Cameron's City sponsors - made a point of reminding him that "the cold business logic of partnership for self-interest must prevail" in this field. The truth is, that to make its profits, British capital needs the EU far more than it needs Cameron! And the ConDems will do as they're told.

Just as nonsensical is Cameron's - and Labour's - toying with the idea of a referendum over the "repatriation of powers from Brussels" - that is, apart from it being a transparent attempt to poach existing and potential UKIP voters.

But what powers are they talking about? The power for the City to protect its position as Europe's biggest, and most reckless financial casino? Or the power for British bosses to opt out completely of the few EU measures which have improved conditions for some workers here - like the working time directive or the temporary workers directive? What have working class people to gain from British bosses having such "powers"? Zilch!

Nonsensical as they may be, all these scare stories about the EU have a logic of their own - as a convenient diversion from the responsibilities of British companies and their politicians in driving down the standard of living of the working class here. Whatever the politicians may say, they won't make us forget who is slashing our jobs and wages and who is cutting our services. The culprits aren't in Brussels. They are in Downing Street, Whitehall and the City. And they are the ones we will have to fight!