RMT has backed the NO2EU Coalition for the European elections, in the first major union backing for a political initiative outside the Labour Party for years. It is good that RMT has decided to give us a political voice, but this is a flawed and potentially dangerous campaign, especially in the context of recession.
It is flawed for several reasons:
Its title opposes European integration, whereas the E.U.’s breaking down of nationalism and national boundaries positively bridges divides between workers.
It specifically blames the European Union for privatising public services and anti-union legislation, when they are in fact part of a world-wide ruling class offensive against workers’ rights and services. Margaret Thatcher was violently anti-Europe yet pioneered both.
It is anti-migration within the E.U.: against ‘the free movement of capital, goods, services and LABOUR’. There are many RMT members from Spain, Greece, Poland, Italy, who have exercised their right to move across Europe and work, who are now angry at their union’s stance.
The wrong time for this campaign.
There is a recession on! This campaign seems to have forgotten. While workers are demanding government intervention to save jobs, bring banks under public ownership, more public housing and services, NO2EU is focusing on narrow anti-EU-ism. Workers need a political voice right now. This is a big lost opportunity.
The far right usually gain from exploiting workers’ fears during a recession. This means it is precisely the time for a working class-based campaign on concerns like housing, jobs and public services to steal political thunder from the BNP.
During a recession, nationalism grows as workers increasingly feel they’re competing against each other. Although posing as an alternative, this campaign does not challenge the nationalism and anti-migrant prejudice on which the BNP feeds and grows. It just re-phrases nationalism in softer terms.
This campaign did not come up from union branches and was rubber stamped by the union leadership. Let’s build a campaign from the grass roots of the union that gives a political voice to all workers in the E.U.!