Many of us will have received a letter from Gordon Brown last week laying out Labour’s case at the local and European elections this week. Brown recalls the Tories’ record during the last recession and restates his government’s efforts in the current slump. But he says very little about the European Union, which is after-all what this week’s poll is largely about.
In just two sentences the Prime Minister reduces the EU question to that of trade with “Europe”, which he says means “more jobs at home” while claiming that the Tories “prefer isolation in Europe – even at the costs of jobs in Britain”. That’s one way of looking at it.
In fact neither statement is true. Overseas trade with “Europe” or anyone else in the world means more jobs at home but Brown ignores the strictures of the European Union that have led to the collapse of British manufacturing and the virtual end of the mining industry over the years. Nor is it true to say that the Tories “prefer isolation” in Europe. The Cameron leadership are certainly opposed to the euro currency but they are not, in principle, against the EU or the Treaty of Rome.
None of this has been raised in a campaign overshadowed by the scandal over MPs expenses which is plainly being exploited by the Eurosceptic wing of the ruling class to undermine all the major parliamentary parties to ensure that none of them will be in a position to take Britain into the single European currency after the next general election.
In this EU election the only parties campaigning outright against the EU are UKIP and the fascist BNP while the new left social-democratic No2EU slate argues against the Lisbon Treaty but makes no outright call to tear up the Treaty of Rome. But where are big guns of the pro-EU camp?
Those in the Labour Party clearly have more immediate problems on their plate. But the Liberal Democrats, the torch-bearers of European integration, are simply concentrating on domestic issues. Kenneth Clarke, only recently brought back into the Tory Shadow Cabinet as a sop to the Europhiles, is saying nothing.
The section of the ruling class that wants to align British imperialism with Franco-German imperialism within the European bloc are keeping their heads down because they know that this week’s poll will be another rejection of the European Union. Millions will simply not bother to vote at all. Many of the minority that do will cast their votes for openly anti-EU platforms.
But behind the scenes moves are being taken to discredit the vote even before it’s counted. Mass abstention and the UKIP vote will simply be dismissed as a backlash against the parliamentary expenses scandal while demands for “constitutional reform” – essentially a call for proportional representation – will become even shriller.
All bourgeois elections are the manipulation of the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people. And proportional representation has been the method favoured by all the post-war bourgeois governments in Europe because it enables the bourgeois parties to more equitably share the spoils of office amongst themselves. It will be the chosen method of the pro-European camp to create a coalition government to take Britain into the euro and the European super-state.
We have always been opposed to the European Union and the Treaty of Rome. But the interests of the working class can never be protected by elements of bourgeoisie. Whether for or against the EU they are all defending their own class interests, not those of the workers.
The ruling class as a whole wants to reduce political argument to the divisions within their own ranks as they did in the Victorian era and as they continue to do in the United States of America. Communists must campaign to build a working-class agenda to fight to defend the interests of working people and raise the demand for the socialist alternative.