by Dave Spencer
With only two and a half months to go to the June 4th 2009 European elections, the RMT leadership have come up with a new party “No2EU – Yes to democracy”. Without a hint of irony (remember “Yes to democracy”) we are told that this “party” is for election purposes only. There will be no membership, therefore no voting for the slate of candidates needed for the election and worse still there will be no continuation of the party after the election. Indeed the whole idea has been cobbled together by the RMT, CPB and SP leaderships and will be run by them – no democratic voting by the members.
Furthermore if any “No2EU” candidate wins the election as an MEP they will not take their seat in Brussels. The voice of the British working class will not be heard in Europe. There will be no speaking tours to make links with European workers in struggle, no greetings brought to mass demonstrations and strikes, no attempt to build a new European-wide workers’ movement. No, the “No2EU” MEPs will stay at home in Britain.
And who will pay for this last minute stunt? It costs £5,000 as a deposit for each slate in each constituency. Then you need to pay for at least a million leaflets in each constituency. Presumably the RMT members are paying for it with the CPB and SP jumping on board for the ride.
In an emergency situation you could possibly see the need for such an initiative. And indeed there is an emergency! At the recent G20 meeting the world leaders of capitalism were threshing about without a Plan B other than the continuation of market forces with a little neo-Keynesian tweaking. The future for the international working class is dire with increasing unemployment and poverty certain. The future of the earth’s ecosystem is bleak unless humanity changes the economic system. What is the answer of the British Left leaders? No2EU! It completely misses the point and is at best a diversion.
“The Left” has had five years to work out a strategy for this European election. Other parties like the Greens etc. have decided their slates of candidates over a year ago and have been collecting the finance necessary. Two months before an election is not serious. Furthermore what is going to happen in the General Election next year? The new party is not going to be continued after June 4th so are we going to have another half-hearted attempt two months before the General Election? And what will the slogans be? “No to the British capitalist state?” And the MPs won’t take their seats?
Over the past twelve years we have had the Socialist Labour Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance, Respect, the CNWP all of which have failed to build an open, democratic mass movement of the working class. We have Gordon Brown and global capitalism on the ropes and no organisation ready to challenge them. The “No2EU party is exactly the opposite of what is needed – it is bureaucratic and nationalistic – where we want democracy and internationalism, nothing less.
Some comrades have called the politics of “No2EU” “left-wing nationalism”. Perhaps this is to keep the embarrassment within the Left family. Personally I cannot see how British nationalism in the context of global capitalism can be anything other than right wing and reactionary, pure and simple. All nation states and governments have lost some power within global capitalism and with the IMF dictating their domestic policies. The tentacles of international companies are everywhere. Take the car industry. In the 1950s in Britain it was popular to talk about the Big Six British car firms, down from the 120 car firms in the 1920s. The call for the nationalisation of the Big Six made some sense. Now in 2009 there is talk of the Big Six car firms in the world. In Britain there is no national car firm. Jaguar Land Rover is owned by the Indian billionaire Tata; Toyota and Honda are based in Japan; Nissan (Japan) is linked to Renault (France); Vauxhall is part of the European operation of General Motors (USA) together with Opel, Fiat etc.etc.. The factories making the parts for the cars, the petrol used to fuel them, the steel to make the cars are all part of global capitalism. Decisions are made in boardrooms all over the world usually without any reference to the British nation state. To call for the nationalisation of the car industry is not a straightforward matter anymore. The internationalisation of the industry would make more sense. International solidarity among workers, workers control of their workplaces and plans for how that workplace could make socially useful products would be a start.
When there is an economic recession, the first reaction is to find scapegoats, usually immigrants or foreigners. The No2EU leaflet complains about “social dumping” which refers to foreign workers coming to Britain for jobs. This is a disgraceful, reactionary statement. It is one thing to talk about defeating the BNP and UKIP in the European elections but surely not by stealing their political clothes! Workers of the world unite does not just mean British workers; it means the fight for equal wages, rights and conditions for all workers wherever they live – and not to be divided by the capitalists and played off one against the other.
The politics of the No2EU party are clearly driven by the CPB with its British Road to Socialism, Socialism in One Country and yearning for popular frontism. The Left Groups involved appear to be the Socialist Party, the ISG and Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity. The SWP and Respect seem to be reserving judgement. One can only speculate about the groups’ motives. Usually their main consideration is how many members they can make for their own organisation, and how to outmanoeuvre any rival groups. The clear need for an open democratic internationalist communist workers party opposed to New Labour is still there – preferably before the next General Election! In my opinion the RMT’s “No2EU” initiative and the Left Groups support for it, however lukewarm, are barriers to building that party.