Why I will be voting NO2EU.

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on March 24, 2009
Posted Under: European Union

It’s hard to get away from the reality that most people who are virulently opposed to the EU are twats, who probably shed a tear while watching videos of the queens coronation on youtube.

Yet when the elections come round in a couple of months I will be officially joining their ranks when i offer my vote to the NO2EU coalition.  The NO2EU is a new left wing euro-skeptic trade union backed organisation.  On their about page they say the following:

We want to see a Europe of independent, democratic states that value its public services and does not offer them to profiteers; a Europe that guarantees the rights of workers and does not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe the current structures of the EU makes this impossible.

Personally speaking I have never had any great interest in defending British sovereignty in and of itself, and in abstract terms have no problem with the idea of nations pooling sovereignty. Yet the real issue with the EU is that of democracy. The point is that, whether we like it or not, it is within of nation states that democratic power – insofar as it exists – can currently be brought to bear. The real problem with policy decisions being made in Brussels, or by the European Court of Justice, is not that they are made beyound these shores. Rather it is that they are made outside the realm of mainstream public debate.

Today we have witnessed the ridiculous spectacle of the unelected EU commission telling the elected governments of France, Greece, Ireland, Spain and the UK  to rein in there fiscal deficits. Deficit spending, of course, is a crucial tool through governments can ameliorate rising unemployment, and lessen the enormous pain caused by recession. Reining it in, meanwhile, means cutting public services. It should be obvious to absolutely  anybody with an ounce of commitment to democratic principles that decisions on public spending should be taken by elected and accountable politicians.

But could the EU be democratised? The answer I would give is it possibly could in formal terms, and that it absolutely couldnt in real terms. Arguably it is impossible  for a territory in which 20 odd languages are spoken to operate as a democracy in any real sense. Pressure groups, political parties, civil society, the popular press will necessarily find it difficult to operate on a truly transnational level. It is a structure far more conducive to negotiations between elites, between bureaucrats carrying around armies of translators, than to popular action spanning the scope of the territory. Meanwhile any social and industrial gains that can be won within a national framework are necessarily imperilled by a structure enforces absolute mobility of capital, goods and services.

So, as somebody who has no interest in British patriotism, but does have an interest in making popular interest and popular action the centre of politics, I will be voting ‘NO’ to the EU.

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Reader Comments

Recently discovered your blog.

Pleased to hear that the NO2EU is gathering momentum.

The significance of this lies not just in offering an alternative to the EU from a Left rather than a ‘Little England-er’ perspective. With the involvement of the RMT union it is a significant and over-due step towards a genuinely broad movement to the left of Labour.


Written By chris holmes on March 24th, 2009 @ 11:39 am
jon r

i agree and i wanted to add a few things:
- as said above, no2eu is also very important as it is trade union initiated. hopefully it should establish some sort of momentum towards the establishment of a new workers party in britain, giving the working-class an independent political voice.
- this is the first national election since the economic crisis hit britain. it is likely to pick up a number of protest votes. Neither party represents a viable alternative and we may see the rise of the BNP in the absence of a workers slate. that is a big part of crow’s reasons for standing it seems. its not enough to say don’t vote BNP, there has to be some sort of working-class alternative
- the EU is a bosses’ union. there is nothing wrong with economic co-operation but the purposes of the EU are fundamentally toward free trade and away from state intervention. although it draws out the contradiction of democracy under capitalism we should recognise that national democracy will always be subsumed to the interests of capital and the free market. this includes when governments take ‘protectionist’ measures. we have seen very clearly that government intervention is not necessarily pro-worker. we need to argue not just for national autonomy but for those measures to reflect workers interests; nationalisation under democratic workers’ control and not just to bail out the rich, encapsulated in the use of the word ‘pre-privatisaion’ instead of nationalisation in the US!!
- so yeah – good on ya! no2eu! but lets shape this into a workers alternative to labour tories and lib dems!! – we have some way to go but this is a step in the right direction!
june 4th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Written By jon r on March 24th, 2009 @ 4:20 pm
norman andrew

We now live in a global community but need to speak through a grouping that has many shared values with ourselves. As someone from the left politically who values the rights of the individual of all classes and gender, then surely we need to speak out about these values in a loud voice to the rest of the world leadership that doesn’t always agree. Voting is always a compromise, but a united europe in principle is a step in, at least, the right direction even if we disagree on some matters. We are not fighting each other like we have over the last millenium and slowly the best of each nation can become accepted and normal. The democratic system is far from perfect but a step in the right direction,

Written By norman andrew on March 24th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

One day, Reuben, you might write a left-wing article on this site :P

In seriousness, I know where you’re coming from and I’ve questioned and counter-questioned my own position on this many many times.

Written By Salman Shaheen on March 26th, 2009 @ 6:42 am

In 2007-8, economists were saying that there was no point in joining the single currency-surely the biggest possible step towards full integration-whilst the pound was so strong relative to the Euro, because we would be saddled with a good few years’ worth of very low competitiveness as a result. However, that is hardly the case now, is it? This hugely fortifies the arguments of those who want to join and gives them a strong basis from which to make arguments acceptable to the layperson; after all, the ubiquitous ‘man in the street’ is suddenly taking a far greater interest in economics than he was a year or so ago…

Written By Jack on March 26th, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

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