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Democrat January-February 2012 Editorial (Number 127)

Austerity forever unless halted

Belgian general strike poster in Brussels during EU summit

The year 2011 was not a vintage period for either the European Union or the eurozone where the whole show has been knee deep in an inevitable crisis of its own making. Fortunately Britain is not part of the single currency otherwise we would be in a far worse mess than we currently face.

To dig the EU and the eurozone out of the mire, France and Germany, the European Central Bank and IMF are taking full advantage of the crisis for their own purposes and interests. A hastily crude attempt is underway to transfer powers away from Member States and centralise powers to develop the ever “closer union” envisaged 60 years ago. The austerity packages being forced down the throats of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain are a cover to transfer publicly owned industries and services to the private sector. This is a simple action of moving the bulk of these assets to the banks and transnational corporations in France, Germany and Britain. The side effects of this package are massive loss of jobs, blighting the lives of young people, an increase in exploitation of the work force through longer working hours and years, curbs and cuts on pay, pensions and conditions.

The identical process is underway in Britain under cover of austerity policies, the lie that “we are all in this together”, cutting down on the welfare state and all public services. In addition manufacturing and other industries continue to decline in Britain.

In the 1960’s there was a great deal of discussion about the ‘white heat of technology’ presented as a vision where there would be reduced working hours and higher standards of living. Soon after this Britain was being deindustrialised and shackled to the ‘Common Market’ to which trade was largely switched.

This was a period when the main thrust of labour and trade union movement policy was to withdraw Britain from the then European Economic Community (EEC). Without mandates this policy was changed at the TUC when Commission President Jacques Delors presented the Social Charter in exchange for support for the European Union, Single European Market and single currency. Labour Party policy was also switched overnight to support membership of the EEC.

This coincided with the Tory/Thatcher government’s assault on trade unions and the miners which followed the demise of the steel and shipbuilding industries. With manufacturing these trade unions were the backbone of the labour movement. Instead of confronting this government the movement sought ways around using Brussels instead and leaning on the Social Charter as the “only card game in town”.

Since then there has been a consolidation of the European Union by means of several treaties and an EU Constitution which was rammed through despite clear rejections by two electorates and others having no say at all. That is a position where not only is the argument and the vote won but deliberately ignored.  We have now reached a position where further treaties and political devices are being used where even governments are excluded from the discussion let alone parliaments or electorates.

The reports and pictures in this issue clearly indicate the growing rejection of this latest round of imposing the latest steps towards the “ever closer union”, the myth of “Social Europe”, “austerity forever” and all the implications.

It is high time to reject this disastrous path and to realise fully there is an alternative for Britain outside the EU prison. Jobs and wealth can and must be created with large scale investment in a manufacturing industry. Capital must be directed into this industry which requires national controls on the movement of capital to achieve that purpose. The financial sector should be bent to that purpose instead of seeking further profits world-wide and paying people grotesque amounts to do so. This requires a government of people elected for that purpose instead of the current bunch of millionaires who have hardly anything in common with those who work for their living.

It is high time to say No! To austerity;

No! to the European Union diktats and policies;

Yes! to democracy and independence to decide our own future.