Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton and former Government Whip under Tony Blair, has written this exclusive article for Get Britain Out:
The EU Makes a Mockery of Workers’ Rights
One of the oddities of contemporary British party politics is that the ‘right’ have almost monopolised scepticism and opposition to the EU.
This is especially strange given Labour’s historical opposition to the Common Market, the EU’s predecessor, from the fifties well into the eighties.
For a third of a century the leaders and members of the Labour movement understood there was a fundamental contradiction between support for the EU and the protection of British workers and our democracy.
One speech by Jacques Delors to the TUC in 1988 dissolved this principled stance. He persuaded the Trades Unions, the heart of the Labour movement, that the European Community could protect them from the ravages of Thatcherism. There were some short term gains but the chickens from this Faustian pack are now coming home to roost.
Free movement of workers both skilled and unskilled are providing unprecedented levels of competition for jobs in the UK. The trade unions can do little to protect workers job security. Worse than that, the European Courts of Justice have ruled the free movement of Labour enshrined in the Treaty of Rome takes precedent over national minimum wage legislation. Two rulings (the Laval and Viking cases) have demolished national minimum wage laws.
On a wider democratic front some of Labour’s most cherished and popular policies are unlikely to survive scrutiny by European Court of Justice. We can forget ambitious plans to renationalise the railways and Royal Mail or place a cap on energy prices.
Not to mention the fact that Labour’s plan to force UK companies to create new apprenticeship for British citizens equal to the number of people employed from outside the EU will not be allowed under the single market rules.
The institutions of the EU have ensured the interest of multinational companies take precedent over national laws and workers’ rights. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will effectively give multinationals powers over national governments and parliaments.
These barriers to the progress of organised labour have to be set against a background of the disaster of the Euro which has created an unprecedented level of unemployment and perpetual recession.
The failure of the economic policies pursued by the Marie Antoinette’s of the European Commission, have created fertile ground for extremist parties. But of course these rascals cannot be removed by the ballot box.
It is extraordinary that Labour, the main left of centre party which carries the hopes and aspirations of many working and unemployed people, is still supporting the job-destroying democracy-demolishing EU monster.
The EU cannot be reformed. Most of the objectionable policies are locked in the treaties, and there is no chance of persuading the other 27 EU members to vote for change. Fifty five times this country has tried to block Commission proposals – and fifty five times we have failed. We have diminishing influence as the EU increases in size. Now, the EU is just transposing rules on trade, agriculture, finance and automobile manufacture from world bodies. The UK would be much better off representing itself as an independent country at these global regulatory bodies.
Its time Labour returned to its roots and pursued democratic policies which protect workers and fought for an independent democratic United Kingdom outside the EU.
Graham Stringer MP