May Day is our international day, we are internationalists. We extend a hand of friendship and support to workers throughout the world. Historically trade unionists and progressive people have been at the forefront of arguing for the self-determination and peaceful coexistence of nations.
We cannot rightfully applaud others for their sacrifice in winning self-determination, while giving it away ourselves.
Internationalism should mean preventing Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland from being crushed under under the EU hammer. It should mean solidarity against the current rampage of anti-trade union legislation backed by the EU with equivalents of the Trade Union Bill in many countries.
It should mean challenging the illusion that workers throughout the EU we can rely on unelected bankers, commissioners and judges to ‘protect’ the shreds of our rights when our own collective bargaining and access to justice systems are on their knees.
Our trade union history in Britain is linked to the extension of the democratic franchise in the workplace and in Parliament. Were it not for the trade union pioneers and later the suffragettes, Britain would be dominated by a handful of hapless land owners buying Parliamentary seats by virtue of property rights. Universal suffrage enabled our predecessors, particularly after World War II, to build a more social, democratic and publicly owned economy and society.
The fierce reaction to this democratic momentum which had tipped the balance of equality and welfare in favour of workers, was the creation by the corporations of a single market, currency and political structure in Europe. They called it the EU. When the Labour Movement was stronger we called it the bosses’ club and opposed its formation.
Now that some in the Movement feel weaker, they look to the European Court of Justice and the toothless right wing dominated EU parliament to be our knight in shining armour. And this at a time when the EU single currency and Schengen border agreements and economy are all collapsing with 23 million of our brothers and sisters in EU countries on the dole.
No one in Britain has voted on the key building blocks of the neoliberal Treaties that underpin this super-state since 1975 when a referendum was held on a joining a Common Market. No one in Britain has elected anyone, not one, who really controls the power in the EU. All of the key power brokers there, the Central Bank Directors and the Commissioners, are unelected. And all of them have entrenched neoliberal austerity into the key instruments of government of the EU.
The dreaded Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which most unions throughout the EU oppose is not so much a new US inspired development, it is more like an extension of the EU itself which exists to put companies above the interests of democratically elected governments and to privatise all public assets. A vote to remain is an endorsement of TTIP.
The EU is a corporate haven far more powerful and destructive than any tax haven. The big lobbyists there want to finish off public sector schools, our NHS and public broadcasting.
Unlike our predecessors in the Movement we do not have to risk imprisonment and life or limb to argue for democracy and self-determination for the people of Europe. We simply have to see the sense of voting to leave the EU and thereby inspire others, so cruelly treated and dominated by its imperial aims, to do the same.
If you want the daily madness of austerity and plunder of the people’s wealth to stop – Vote to leave the EU. For this May Day, this is our most pressing internationalist duty.
Don’t hand Cameron and Osborne a vote of confidence. Vote to leave the EU.