Remain – Abstain


In the Scottish referendum the CPGB has a “No-Abstain” position. They argued for No but called on people to abstain. Comrades like Sandy McBurney, Sarah McDonald and Moshe Machover were frustrated by this because the CPGB did not back their anti Scottish nationalism rhetoric with deeds.

‘Remain-Abstain’ (or boycott) means arguing that while it is currently in the interests of the working class to remain in the EU, workers should take an independent position and not vote for Cameron’s Dirty Little Deal or Brexit. Both options are reactionary, both damage the European working class and both are part of the nationalist inspired disintegration of the EU.

The idea that voting for Cameron’s Deal will save the EU from disintegration is false. After seriously damaging Greece, threatening to kick Scotland out of the EU and the treatment of Syrian asylum seekers we can see the EU is corrupted and busted. Voting yes is not going to save it. The only thing that can save Europe from disintegration is the working class acting independently with its own programme.

Moshé says it is a straight choice between Leave or Remain. That would be true if you took the whole issue out of the context of the class struggle and simply vote on an abstraction. But there are many possible outcomes, including a low turnout and a draw. In terms of real outcomes the best is a low turnout with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales voting to remain and England voting to leave. That is the only possible outcome taking the UK towards a democratic revolution.

The worst case scenario is a high turnout and a big majority for Remain. That will be great news for Cameron and bad news for housing, the NHS and Jeremy Corbyn. So the working class should let Cameron stew in his own juice. The lesson from Scotland is that Labour saved Cameron, committed political suicide and then got stuffed by Cameron. Now the Labour Right has Corbyn’s head on the same chopping block.

With two taxis are heading for a car crash why must we get in the back seat of either cab? I prefer to walk or go by train. I certainly would not get in the one driven by Cameron given his record. Does this mean that we have to get in the taxi with Farage, Johnson, Galloway, Morning Star and the SWP? Surely a parcel of rogues in a nation if ever I saw one? And the Queen is in that cab too! “Restore the social monarchy” may be a programme for UKIP and the “spirit of 45ers” but definitely not for any republican.

In Scotland there was a massive referendum turnout because people could sense, feel and hear the drum beat of democracy. This time they will smell the rotting corpse of reaction, the disintegration of the EU and the oppression of the Greek working class. If people don’t know who to believe, the bad smell will keep them away from the polling booth.

So we have to fight tooth and nail for a low turnout. I think we can win fifty percent of the voters. No votes for reaction and no votes for more reaction because both damage the unity of the international working class. There is only one class that can halt the breakup of the EU and that is the independent industrial and political action by Europe’s only democratic class. Remain yes, but on our terms not theirs.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity and Rise

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