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Issue #1662      October 29, 2014

Neo-liberal EU reality

BRITAIN: Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is disingenuous in promising “clear, credible and concrete changes” to immigration laws while remaining committed to Britain’s membership of the European Union. His promise is no more credible or achievable than David Cameron’s pledge to reduce the annual figure for immigration to 100,000.

Britain’s Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Both men are totally wedded to EU membership – whatever Cameron may say about a Tory in-out referendum – and free movement of labour within the bloc is an EU cornerstone.

Newly elected European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is as clear on this issue as his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso was. “As far as the freedom of movement is concerned ... I do think this is a basic principle of the EU since the very beginning and I am not prepared to change this because if we are destroying the freedom of movement other freedoms will fall in a later cause,” said Juncker after his appointment last week.

The four EU “freedoms” to which he refers are the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

They form the basis of the Single European Act, the first major revision of the founding Treaty of Rome that was piloted through Parliament by Margaret Thatcher. The Morning Star campaigned against – and still opposes – both the Treaty of Rome and the Single European Act because they enshrine the untrammelled power of market forces to direct economic priorities.

Socialists and trade unionists have always rejected the idea of workers as just pawns in capitalists’ schemes to drive up the rate of profit.

That’s why the Labour Party and TUC once shared a common position with the Communist Party that this country should withdraw from the capitalist club that is the EU.

This would entail trading freely with EU member states, as well as with the rest of the world, while retaining the right to set economic priorities at variance with the dominant ethos of the EU.

Labour and the Trade Union Congress ditched this principled position in the 1980s after French Eurocentralist diplomat Jacques Delors addressed TUC congress during the dark days of Thatcher.

Union leaders lapped up his tales of a European social-democratic paradise that could supplant neo-liberalism in Britain. The reality is the opposite scenario. The EU political elite, whether nominally conservative, liberal or social-democratic, has adopted Thatcherism overwhelmingly.

The unelected and unaccountable EU commission and the European Central Bank are currently imposing an austerity agenda on a bloc that has swollen to 28 states, including some of the continent’s poorest.

Calls, even from a country as powerful as France, for the EU central authorities to boost investment, economic activity and jobs, are dismissed, with the approval of regional powerhouse Germany, because the rules are the rules.

Mass unemployment and impoverishment are driving people from the poorest EU states to Britain in search of work in a relatively unregulated economy.

Britain’s bosses are happy to employ cheap casual labour in farming, hotels and hospitality sectors because it’s good for profits.

Rates of pay are too low to keep a family. They pile pressure on workers to accept the current low-wage regime that afflicts Britain.

Miliband is playing the Tory-Ukip game of pledging unmanageable curbs on immigration, but he should be starting at the other end of the problem.

That means boosting pay, pensions and benefits substantially, raising taxation on the rich, including companies, increasing the scale of public ownership, restoring workplace rights and rejecting the EU corporate superstate.

Morning Star

Next article – Brown autopsy spun to favour police

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