Like the Scottish referendum, the ruling class in the United Kingdom is playing the fear card when it comes to the European Union referendum. British workers are asked if they would like to stay in the EU or leave it. The EXIT camp is led by the United Kingdom Independence Party and anti-EU conservatives versus the STAY camp supported by pro-EU conservatives, liberal democrats and social democrats. The Conservative Party is very split on the issue. Still most MP’s of the Tories wish to remain the EU. Revolutionary socialists offer a different exit strategy. One that is not based on nationalism, but on internationalism and socialism!
There is euro-skepticism inside the British ruling class. But most major capitalists wish to remain the European Union. Those who support a Brexit are mostly workers and small capitalists. Many of them are driven by deep anger over Brussels extended control over their politics. However it would be foolish to think that austerity and social cuts would end if Britain leaves the EU. The Conservative Party would present the bill to the working class and force them to pay for the costs of leaving. This fear tactic also worked with Scots during their independence referendum!
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn had a historic opportunity to become a force of resistance to European capitalism. But Corbyn choose to ally himself and his party with the monolith he is so critical of. By supporting the STAY camp, the supporters of the EU have a major joker in their arsenal. The Labour Party has been a pro-EU party for almost 24 years since the European Union was founded. Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few who raised objections to the neoliberal character of the union. Although he was elected Labour leader most MP’s and elected Labour councilors, still support austerity and hate Corbyn for his leftism!
Meanwhile the nationalists play the anti-immigrant card. They claim that Britain is flooded with illegal immigrants and that Europe is forcing multiculturalism on them. Because Labour has abandoned its leftist ideals, the working class is left win-out a party of their own. Although the myth still lives that British social democracy is leftist and pro-worker, the reality is that many if not all Labour politicians supported deep cuts to social welfare in the name of ”economic recovery”. Since Eastern Europe entering the union in 2007, British companies could move their production-work to (cheap) nations like Poland. Many workers lost their jobs and this fueled the anger and bitterness. Nationalism rose as social democrats did nothing to prevent job losses!
UKIP has become the main force for British nationalism. Founded in the early 1990’s, it is the successor to the Anti-Federalist League which fought against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The UK Independence Party is a right-wing party that promotes austerity and classic capitalism on a nationalist base. It has a very racist look on foreign (mostly Islamic) workers and claims to stand for (white) British workers. Many UKIP elected officials have have made statements proofing their racism. One said to have problems with black colored people while Godfrey Bloom, former representative for for Yorkshire and the Humber in the European parliament, called black nations ”bongo-bongo” (racist therm for Africa) lands!
Another UKIP elected official called Asians to be ”rapists of little white girls”. He claimed that they would love to steal, rob and bomb innocent white people. All Nigerians were said to be bad people in general, which forced UKIP to suspend its European election campaign in 2014. On the issue of Islam, most nationalists are single minded. They claim Islam is pure evil and because of that, all Muslims are a ”danger”. Like the Nazi’s, the nationalists use the fear of the unknown to their advantage. Because of the stereotyping of Muslims in the western world for so many years, many British workers are raised to think Muslims cannot be trusted. Racism and discrimination is high for workers with a Islamic faith!
This does not mean that all workers are racist. But because of rising poverty and anger over social cuts, Muslim and many other immigrant workers are easily blamed. Nationalists of UKIP point out that foreign workers cause job losses, because they work for very low wages. Not the British capitalists but Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian workers are blamed. This is how the nationalists play the game. They hope to split the ethic white workers from their none-white comrades. With this splitting the working class is far weaker and therefore much easier to control!
Nationalists have always used the fear and resentment of foreigners to split us. In the USA, fear of immigrants led to the idea that America was build by British colonialists only. Foreigners from other European nations were regarded as ”dangerous” and ”untrustworthy”. There was deep mistrust of Irish Catholics who were not loved by the Protestant majority as over 4 million Irish moved to the USA by 1930. German Americans were hated during world war 1, Japanese Americans (over 200.000) send to U.S build interment-camps in world war 2 and Russian Americans were extremely suspicious during the cold war!
Although UKIP is a right-wing nationalist party, there is one party even more racist. This is the British National Party or BNP. This fascist party try’s to appeal more modern and less violent. But all it members have their roots in British fascism. Before the rise of UKIP, the BNP was seen as the biggest white nationalist party. In 2014, the party claimed to have over 4.000 members. But today in 2016 it is estimated that only 500 hardcore fascists have remained. Many who once supported the British National Party have moved to the more ”acceptable” UKIP to spread their nationalism and racism!
Because of internal conflicts, splits and constant fighting among themselves, the BNP lost the white nationalist vote. With the election of Nigel Paul Farage as UKIP leader, the party won a man who could win the vote of many disillusioned workers, with simple populist rhetoric. Farage is the face of British nationalism today. He hoped to win the seat of South Thanet in the House of Lords, but his election attempt failed. Farage then tried to leave the party leadership but was rejected. Today he is a Member of the European Parliament for South East England!
The ruling class might not like people like Farage, but they keep workers in doubt about foreigners. By blaming immigrants and foreign workers, the capitalists can be sure that fewer strikes and demonstrations are made as a united class. Nigel Farage and his UKIP play a vital role in dividing the workers and to poison them with ethnic nationalism. This is the smoke screen of the UK Independence Party. In reality they too support austerity, privatizations and increasing power for big business. All of which many British workers reject!
It is the lack of a socialist alternative that puts many into the arms of Farage. The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has not moved away from its historic betrayal and remains a right-wing neoliberal party. To the left of social democracy there is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Founded by the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, Socialist Resistance and Solidarity – Scotland’s Socialist Movement, TUSC tries to offer a genuine socialist alternative to the forces of capitalism in the UK. On the Brexit referendum, the coalition puts forward a socialist plan of exit. Unlike UKIP, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition wishes for the UK to become a socialist federation!
Some portray the debate over a possible Brexit as a struggle between ordinary people and the big political elite, this is how the nationalists are doing it. But the real debate should be about the neoliberal political ideology of the European Union. The rich of Britain wish to remain in the EU as it serves their interests. Billionaire; Richard Branson is starting his own campaign to keep the UK inside the EU. Other millionaires and billionaires might join him!
Then also came the murder of a Labour member of parliament. Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox was the representative of Batley and Spen constituency. Cox was a moderate social democrat, who did not supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election to become chairman of the Labour Party. She was a fighter for woman and her community, but believed that the EU was a positive force, a typical paradox for social democracy. On 16 June 2016, Jox Cox was murdered by what appeared to be a nationalist. As a strong supporter of the European Union, Cox was the ideal ”enemy” in the eyes of radical nationalists!
With her murder, the EXIT camp was put in a negative light. Not only was the killer a nationalist, but could have murdered Jo Cox out of his hatred for the pro-EU positions of the Labour Party. The killer is a white male in his 50’s, it is said he is unemployed and cried ”Britain First” as he opened fire. Killing a politician, a member of the House of Lords is very uncommon in the UK. The capitalist media branded him already a ”mad man” but it is clear that Cox’s support for the EU, might have let him to carry out his crime. Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox was murdered because she was a (moderate) social democrat and a supporter of the European Union. Her death shows how radical nationalism can led to great harm!
Revolutionary socialists stand for a socialist exit. We reject the EU from a anti-capitalist standpoint and call for a socialist Europe based on workers self management and democratic control over our economies. We want a Europe that promotes solidarity and unity of workers in the struggle against world capitalism. Since the European Union was founded as a free market zone, we cannot support it!
However our position that Britain can only leave the EU as a socialist nation, is not heard in the media. This is why the EXIT camp remains dominated by the nationalists conservatives and anti-immigrant xenophobes. With the support from billionaires like Richard Branson and even leftists like Jeremy Corbyn, the supporters of the European Union stand stronger. Fear is also a weapon, which we will see been deployed. STAY supporters will claim that outside the EU, the workers of Britain will be forced to pay more taxes. Toyota has started to boost that their cars would be 10% more expensive under a Brexit. They are the first capitalist enterprise, which has started to use fear of higher prices to promote a STAY in the EU!
It is very possible that the British will vote to stay in the EU. Still it would be a great defeat and a political victory for David Cameron and his austerity government. It would also boost the undemocratic; European Commission and the idea that the EU is supported by the British. They would fail to mention that fear was a driving factor if the STAY camp wins. European capitalist propaganda would also never tell you about alternatives exists, like our socialist plan of turning Great Britain into a independent socialist federation of England, Scotland and Wales!
Could there have been grounds for this socialist exit of ours? Yes if the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn called for a genuine socialist exit. But he is under siege by right-wing social democrats and there is enormous party pressure to compromise with them. Many capitalist commentators even claim that Corbyn cannot win any election, if he remains a socialist. Proofing that the media thinks that Labour politicians who calls for socialism are ”doomed” to lose. This is true because the capitalist media has pronounced socialism death since 1991. Anybody who stands for nationalizations and expropriation of the rich, is denounced and vilified. Yes, Jeremy Corbyn would have to fight, but he has the support of many young Labour members. He could have offered a socialist exit plan had he remained committed to his criticism of the EU. But the pressure must have been too great for him!
Whatever the outcome, there will be battle ahead. Corbyn might have to compromise more and may even capitulate like Alexis Tsipras of Greece. Proofing that moderate socialists like himself are unable to offer alternatives. This is why revolutionary socialists are needed, because we are not afraid to stand up to right-wing social democrats and their capitalist masters. We dare to fight the populists and the sensationalist newspapers. Socialism is the only road for a independent Britain, free from neoliberalism and the exploitation of capitalism!