London or Brussels? Ça ne fait rien

Dominic Turner

Image © harry_nl

In the week that David Cameron returned from Brussels, posturing as the protector of Britain, what is most distressing, albeit predictable, is the reaction of the establishment ‘left.’

Make no mistake, the binary calculus in David Cameron’s mind was: who controls Britain’s economic policy? Bankers in Frankfurt or the bankers in London who bankroll his party? He chose the neighbourhood bully.

But there does exist a Pan-European Austerity agenda. An insane, centralising elite in the death throes of Europe’s most right wing regimes, striking whilst the iron is hot, before the voters of their respective countries throw them out of office. The brazen arrogance of the plutocratic elite of Europe is exhibited in countries like Italy and Greece who are no longer just practically run by the banks (like the UK) but literally governed by ex-bankers who are exacting savage cuts on ordinary people, the receipt for their own bail out. 

Perhaps there was once a European Utopia that we on the left could utilize. Perhaps, in seminar rooms and coffee houses, we could pontificate how the EU could be so radically reformed that it could represent the ordinary peoples of Europe rather than its elites. But it is not only the EU’s pathological distaste for democracy, as demonstrated two years ago when Ireland was asked to vote again after responding with the ‘wrong answer,’ that make such beliefs folly. Nor merely the stifling bureaucracy of an overbearing, unelected, unaccountable Commission kept in check by an irrelevant and toothless Parliament. This new treaty would effectively criminalize the pursuit of any economic policy that diverged from the savage cuts imposed by our current administration, with the European Court of Justice sanctioning any member state who spent a penny more than their EU balanced budget provisions allowed for.

In the face of the most unprecedented and co-ordinated attack on the European working class, the social democratic parties of Europe are found intellectually bankrupt. All we hear is a reactionary resolve, that the only way to cure Europe’s problems is to submit more powers to an unaccountable juggernaut and to harmonise national fiscal and economic policy in a dangerous dance of death to the bottom. The reason the Tory Party scorns the EU (apart from barely concealed jingoism) is because their meek and modest EU worker’s rights legislation, like the Social Chapter, actually look generous compared with the Britain’s. If David Cameron wished to stand up for Britain against the EU, wouldn’t he have awarded British based Bombardier with a £6 billion manufacturing contract rather than German based Siemens? Manufacturing consists of 10% of GDP, the exact same as financial services. But the manufacturing industry, unlike the banks, doesn’t provide 50% of the Tory Party’s funding, so the Government’s excuse for sacrificing British jobs was that ‘we were just complying with EU rules.’

From the break up of the post office to, as Owen Jones points out, the privatisation of the railways, the EU serves the interests of Europe’s rich and powerful. The time has come for the left to reclaim the mantle of ‘Euro Scepticism,’ not to protect British bankers, but in the name of the people of Europe. David Cameron may not sign up to the new European Treaty but he is committed, more than any other leader, to the Pan-European austerity agenda. Though they crow that it is with the intent of European deficit reduction, in criminal law we define intention as the ‘virtually certain consequences of your actions.’ From every corner of the continent we can see the predictable consequences of poverty, growing inequality, and mass unemployment, unfold.


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