Just days after John Mcdonald told the city that a “better Europe is possible”, the TUSC 25 city tour came to Armley, Leeds. Around 25 people came to discuss the Socialist Case Against the EU, with speakers from the 3 TUSC component organisations and BFAWU President Ian Hodson.
Maddy Steeds, Leeds Socialist Party
Peter Pinkney, former RMT President, began the evening by stressing the importance of distancing our campaign from the campaign of UKIP which dominates the mainstream media. Racism is commonly attached to the idea of leaving the EU however our campaign highlights how leaving the EU can improve international solidarity which is hindered by ‘fortress europe’. Peter also argued that the EU is too far gone into the capitalist ideology to be reformed from within. The privatisation of the NHS is on the agenda if we stay in the EU and we must continue to fight against TTIP and the EU bosses club if we want to keep healthcare available to all.
Socialist Party National Committee member, Iain Dalton, then spoke emphasising the weakness of the current Tory party. They have a majority of only 12 mps and the current split over the EU while they continue to having to make u turns a whole series of issues means they are weak. Even a close vote to remain in the EU could spell the end for the current regime. The TUC have not taken the opportunity of the referendum to try to defeat the Tories, instead sharing a platform with them and helping Cameron appear to support workers when he really wants to support the bosses. Iain stressed that this referendum shouldn’t be a passive choice between bad and not quite as bad, but that it was incumbent on the workers movement to fight to put forward a socialist alternative.
Ian Hodson, criticised the current living wage saying that within the bakers union it is known as the ‘Gimmick Wage’ as it is miles away from the living wage of ten pounds an hour that the Socialist Party and TUSC call for. He argued that while the labour party is supporting the remain campaign, it is not Corbyn’s EU that is being negotiated- It’s Cameron’s. That is not an EU that will fight in the interest of workers. It was also pointed out that the EU did not win us worker’s rights it was – as it says on the TUC’s website- the trade union movement. Leaving the Eu won’t lose us those rights, losing the Trade Union movement will.
We had a lively discussion with many important issues being discussed such as refugee rights, the environment, nationalisation and how the EU has treated other countries like Greece. One contribution that stood out was the question of whether the vote reached in the referendum will actually be maintained, or whether the Government will simply spread fear about the decision made until there is another referendum that comes to the ‘right’ conclusion. In other words until we reach the decision that best suits the big bosses and the Government.
Many of the speakers agreed that it was likely that the Government will try to find a way around the results of the referendum and also that the TUC needs to step up and represent the workers rather than offer a token protest and refuse to mobilise. We need TUC leaders who are willing to fight for workers rights and move forward towards a general strike. Whether we are in or out of Europe there will still be attacks on workers. The difference will be in if workers are able to stand up for themselves, and being outside of the EU means legislation from the continent will not be an excuse to not build a workers movement.
See videos of all four speakers at the meeting on our youtube channel –