Tory referendum

I read Eddie Ford’s “Both sides are reactionary” article in Weekly Worker…….with general agreement. Unfortunately it said nothing about what to do and what attitude to take to remaining in the EU. I don’t think Weekly Worker should fudge the issue or hide behind the word “active” boycott, not least when no activity is proposed. I condemn the “plague on both houses” type of anarcho-leftism which Weekly Worker is flirting with.

We have to be absolutely clear that the working class should be in favour of remaining in the EU for revolutionary not reformist reasons. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are in favour of the latter. True to form, reformists, so lacking in confidence in the working class, follow the Tory led reactionary popular front straight into the polling booth.

The idea that workers should remain in the EU because of the Working Time Directive is at best naive. Workers know that a future social Europe is not to be trusted and no more permanent than an NHS junior doctor’s contract. Many feel uncomfortable at being hood winked into backing the Tories who will opt out of EU benefits as soon as they can.

Every politically active worker knows all good things depend on class struggle not the beneficence of the European Commission, or for that matter the British Crown. After all the main slogan of the Commission and their corporate friends is ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. So why would anybody vote for such a future? The Tories are so confident that they have not even bothered to promise the usual jam tomorrow for “hard working families” who back Cameron.

The Tories are not getting my vote without paying for it. As far as I can see they have offered us nothing but more austerity. So who is daft enough to vote for a continuation of that? Of course I like a free health service, but voting Tory for free is not part of the deal.

Revolutionaries want to remain for revolutionary reasons. The EU is a half way house which cannot be sustained unless there is a European democratic revolution. The present crisis will blow the house down unless there is a popular revolution which creates a republican United States of Europe. The Greek people know it is democratic revolution or bust. Scotland is nearly ready for another go. It is time we learned the lesson.
The Tory referendum is therefore an irrelevant and reactionary distraction from the real democratic problems besetting the EU. Worse it has a nasty racist sting in the tail. So the job is fighting to remain in the EU without backing the Tories in their referendum.

Instead of clinging desperately to the coat tails of the Tories, as Labour Right and Corbyn are doing, a revolutionary approach means using the Tory referendum to prepare the working class movement for independent political action.

First if there is an anti-working class result we should no more accept it than the City and their Tory friends will. There must be demonstrations and even better political strikes against exit or Cameron’s ‘reformed’ EU. This would mean acting independently of the Labour Party and the TUC who will accept exit as they have accepted the anti-union laws.

Second we must recognise the unevenness of the democratic revolution across the UK and promote direct action against exit in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Finally in making clear what the working class must do after the referendum we can ‘return’ to the ballot itself. We must call for the working class to act independently from the British ruling class by opposing both options on the ballot paper; not least because both, as Eddie Ford says, are reactionary.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity and Rise

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