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Issue #1687      June 3, 2015

Cameron’s EU charade

Prime Minister David Cameron appreciates the fragility of his party’s parliamentary majority, so he is setting out his manifesto pledges in order to maximise success.

Had he played up to his backwoods backbenchers by leading off with legislation to abandon the European Court of Human Rights, he could have stirred up a hornets’ nest, confronting both opposition parties and civil libertarians in the Tory ranks.

Far easier to prioritise his EU referendum charade, putting the boot into trade unions, extending right-to-buy legislation to housing associations and cutting in-work benefits.

These issues all command overwhelming backing on the Tory benches and the PM can expect some support from opponents. Cameron’s “renegotiation” rigmarole is a sop to his anti-EU backbenchers, but anything he achieves in talks with the other 28 states will be marginal.

His backbenchers want Britain to exclude other EU citizens seeking work or benefits, but this contradicts the very core of EU economic and social policy - namely, the free movement of goods, capital, services and people throughout the bloc.

Eastern European states targeted by Tory bigots have already insisted that they will not accept designation of their nationals as EU second-class citizens.

However, Cameron may have more luck in winning allies to the cause of undermining EU social provisions since member states and the EU as a body are united in imposing anti-worker austerity across the entire bloc.

In any case, the Tory leader will back a Yes vote for Britain to stay in the EU, irrespective of what happens in his negotiations.

After all, he knows exactly what the banks and his City paymasters prefer.

Any Tory backbencher voting to leave the EU can be discounted because all major opposition parties will back staying in, hooked on their mirage of a neo-liberal capitalist superstate as an enlightened democratic force for peace, progress an environmental concerns.

Trade unionists in Britain who conned themselves and others into viewing the EU as a guarantor of workplace rights will have difficulty explaining how the Tories can exploit a small parliamentary majority to make it more difficult for workers to take lawful strike action against tight-fisted and bullying employers.

The demand for a 50 percent mandatory threshold for strike ballots from a government installed by less than quarter of the electorate indicates bias against working people’s rights to improve their lives.

However, the Tories should remember the 2009 wave of unofficial strikes by mechanical contractors who opposed the undermining of their pay and conditions through employers’ manipulation of the EU 1996 Posted Workers Directive.

Official union structures may be hamstrung by legal red tape, but workers’ anger, if deeply held, will find a way to express itself.

Cameron’s obsession with the niceties of strike ballots is a diversion from the real voting scandal – first past the post – where a Tory parliamentary majority can be achieved with 37 percent of the popular vote and a 50 percent share, as in Scotland, can deliver 95 percent of seats to the SNP.

The Electoral Reform Society call for a constitutional convention to discuss devolution, which could look at federalism, proportional representation, voting age and other democratic improvements, merits support.

The Tories are intent on carrying through a vicious anti-working class program with no real democratic mandate to do so.

Whinging about it or appealing to Cameron’s better nature is pointless. Only mobilisation and resistance can hold back and defeat the Tory onslaught.

Morning Star

Next article – Corruption scandals in Guatemala and Honduras

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