David Blanchflower argues, in the latest New Statesman, that something very serious happened at the end of August and early September that ‘put the frighteners on UK policymakers’. If he is right, this incident remains a secret. He suspects that a European bank had to be rescued. And he goes on to say that the break-up of the euro zone would be a major risk to the UK economy, possibly as bad as 2008, which saw a 7% or so drop in output. In same edition Pete Wilby points out even more starkly the dangers of such an event.
What is clear is that one way or another EU governments are lining up to make the working class pay for the crisis, under the bland and tendentious euphemism ‘reform’ or the more Dickensian ‘austerity’. Where the right neo-liberals are in control of government – and that seems most of Europe – this fits in with market policies that benefit their rich friends. Even if they are not in control or not bending sufficiently, bond and market pressures are being used to shoe in technocrats that are not elected, such as the new government in Italy where the whole cabinet is now composed of such people.
If this is not enough, ‘The commission’s plans include monitoring of national economies going beyond that meted out to Greece, Portugal and Ireland. In effect, unelected officials would have power to veto national budgets of euro zone members’. If you don’t like my language then take a look a look at this from Left Futures.
It’s very serious: side-lining democracy in order to have the power to attack the working class. Now some people might be tempted to call that fascism, but that would entail arbitrary arrests and the development of a police state, though given what happened to some after the riots, there are indications in this direction. Others, and I include myself, would see a form of a coup d’état, like the coalition in the UK. Whatever the niceties of the language, the rich are gunning for us to solve their problems.
One response has been to turn against the EU altogether. But just look at the Tories who argue this. They are no friends of the trade unions and the working class and only wish to attack UK workers harder than other countries do, with a view to achieving competitive advantage. Another response could be to make links and unite with those under attack across the EU under the call that we will not pay for their crisis. We could argue for a social and workers’ renegotiation of the EU treaties, preserving the right to keep and extend the public sector, an EU living wage and a commitment to full employment. We should argue for the EU parliament to have the ultimate powers to control the commission and appoint ministers. Yet, how do we do this? Answers please, on a postcard to …. or better, on a March and Rally on November 30th.
Len Arthur is a Labour Party Member, Political Education Officer for his Constituency Party, and a former Trade Union Activist and Lecturer.