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Boost for ‘Another Europe is Possible’ Remain Campaign: Varoufakis, McDonnell, Lucas and Clive Lewis Join.

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Ex-Greek finance minister will help launch nationwide campaign alongside John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will join the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and Green party MP Caroline Lucas for the start of a tour to persuade leftwingers to vote to stay in the EU.

The senior figures from the political left are teaming up as part of the Another Europe is Possible campaign, in which they will make a progressive case for the UK to stay in.

The tour will start with an event in London with Varoufakis, who was severely critical of the EU’s dealings with Greece’s debts when he was finance minister but has recently warned that Brexit could plunge Europe into a 1930s-style depression.

Other rallies will involve trade unionists, as well as the Labour MP Clive Lewis, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, at cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.

Lewis said: “This referendum will define relationship to the world for decades, and we will be joining together with progressives across Britain and Europe, not just to make the case that we are better off in Europe, but also to talk about the kind of society we need to build.

“Capital long ago fled national borders. In order to build a society which is fair for everyone, we need an international response to austerity and the financial crisis. That’s why we are campaigning on an unapologetically progressive platform – for social justice, the environment and freedom of movement.”.

This follows last week’s decision by the Fire Brigades Union,

Fire Brigades Union conference says, ‘Stay in Europe to change Europe’

National conference agrees to support campaign for Britain to remain a member of the European Union. But brilliant speech from General Secretary Matt Wrack rejects status quo Europe and calls for alternative

Delegates at FBU conference debated EU membership at length both in a fringe meeting on Wednesday and in a plenary debate today, but ultimately decided by some margin to remain and campaign for change with trade unionists across Europe.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, gave a fiery speech, critical of the current EU but strongly in favour of staying in to defend workers’ rights and change the union from within.

In particular, Wrack passionately defended the free movement of workers, saying that problems such as unemployment and housing crisis were caused by banks and the failure of markets, and not by migrants.

Kieron Merrett, trade union officer for Another Europe Is Possible , who spoke at a conference fringe meeting the evening before the vote, said:

“It’s terrific to see one of Britain’s best organised trade unions back the workers’ case for ‘In’ with an explicit ‘stay in Europe to change Europe’ line. It was an excellent debate that we were delighted to participate in. But the message must now go out, not only to every firefighter, but also every trade unionist in the UK. There is only one way to vote in this referendum to defend the vital interests of working people. That’s to vote to remain inside the European Union.”

Supporters of leaving the Union are also holding a rally this week.

Lexit: London left leave rally WEDNESDAY

All London meeting this Wednesday 18 May – 7pm:

The Internationalist Case against the EU – Friends Meeting House (Small Hall) 173-177 Euston Road, NW1 2BJ.

Speakers: Philippe Cordat (CGT union confederation France), Brid Smith (TD (member of parliament for People Before Profit, Ireland), Quim Arrufat (international secretary of the left wing Catalan party CUP), Lindsey German (Counterfire), Argyri Erotokitou (Greek doctor and leading member of Antarsya, Alex Callinicos (Socialist Workers Party) and Rob Griffiths (Communist Party).

In the Morning Star today Alex Gordon Lexit convener on the Left Leave Campaign writes on the present conflicts about new labour laws in France.

French Trade Unions Fight EU Attacks on Workers’ Rights.

Startled by this link between the EU and the El Khomri Law?

It’s backed by the following extraordinary claim.

LAST week France’s Socialist government issued an emergency decree to weaken workers’ rights at the behest of the European Commission.

Last Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls imposed the hated “El Khomri” law — named after Minister of Labour Myriam El Khomri — using an emergency constitutional mechanism (Article 49.3) to prevent a debate or vote that his government would lose in the French parliament.

Gordon repeats this assertion,

President Hollande’s decision to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution to comply with radical measures the European Commission demanded in November 2015 brutally exposes his own government’s weakness.

Article 49.3 of the Fifth Republic was designed to prevent repetition of the chronic instability that characterised France’s Fourth Republic (1946-58), which famously saw 22 governments come and go in a mere 12 years.

In other words, it’s French Sovereignty which is is being used to……obey Brussels.

Every single report indicates that the El Khomi law originates in the demands of the French employers’ organisation, the MEDEF (” le basculement idéologique dans lequel François Hollande et Manuel Valls, inspirés par le Medef. Liberation. Passim). The Communist Daily, L’Humanité noted the same in February, “le Medef est devenu extrêmement offensif pour remettre en cause le modèle social français, pour réclamer des baisses d’impôts et de cotisations sociales, pour exiger la remise en cause du droit du travail. S’appuyant sur son vaste réseau de médias et d’économistes, il prétend cogérer l’État en imposant la réduction de la protection sociale, le report de l’âge de la retraite, la baisse des dépenses publiques..).

This is the first I’ve heard of an involvement of the European Union in the El Khomri law.

But, you’ve guessed it, the news hounds of  RTRussia Today, have sniffed it out for the benefit of all, no doubt including the Morning Star,

Bruxelles, discret chef d’orchestre de la loi El Khomri.

Brussels, discrete Chief Conductor of the El Khomri law.

The author of the RT article, Pierre Lévy, is in charge of the journal Ruptures that claims to be, “progressiste et iconoclaste”. It is to say the least, a strange mixture of ‘communism’,  anti-globalisation rhetoric, and French nationalism. In other words it’s a ‘sovereigntist’ project, an assertion of French nation against the European Union. (1)

Instead of this claptrap, for a serious account of the long-standing employer pressure to get red of labour law ‘red tape’ see the Blog de Gérard Filoche

Or this article by Filoche, an expert in French labour law, from his experience as an Inspecteur du travail: Un nouveau bouquet de lois sur le travail en janvier 2014.

Meanwhile in the UK a ‘sovereigntist’ connection runs through Alex Gordon’s ‘Lexit’ rally.

Amongst the speakers we note Philippe Cordat  Cordat is “Secrétaire du Comité Régional de la Cgt Centre, that is a region of the French trade union federation, not the national CGT. He appears to have conflicts with the CGT union leadership –  as outlined in this Front Syndical de Classe.

Cordat has strong opinions on the ‘super-national’ forces at work in the European Union.

The« idée européenne » a été historiquement portée par deux forces : la social-démocratie et le Vatican.”

The European ideal has historically been carried by two forces, social democracy and the Vatican. (Here)

Cordat also has views on the activities of the Socialist Party, the NPA and other far-left groups, as well as Freemasons and religious networks not to mention bosses’ influence inside his union ,

A bien y regarder la déferlante anti-communiste qui marque le débat public dans le pays depuis plus de quarante ans a conduit de nombreux syndicalistes à faire une fixation sur « la mainmise de Moscou » sur la CGT sans ouvrir les yeux sur les pratiques du PS, de la LCR devenu NPA, des autres structures de l’extrême-gauche des réseaux maçonniques et religieux, du patronat qui s’activent dans et autour la plus importante organisation syndicale française.

The successive waves of anti-Communism that have marked public debate in this country over the last 40 years, we can see,  has led many trade unionists to be fixated by the ‘hand of Moscow’ in the CGT, without opening their eyes to the activities of the Socialist Party, the LCR which has become the NPA, and other far-left  structures, Freemasons and religious networks, as well as the bosses, operating in and around the most important trade union body in France.

Réflexions d’un syndicaliste de la CGT  Philippe Cordat. (2011)

These opinions form part of Cordat’s wider complaints against the the CGT’s own version of Another Europe is Possible (whose details are too similar to the UK campaign to need repeating).

He stated in 2012 (Front Syndical de Classe) that this strategy is completely wrong.

Elle ne remet en cause ni les fondements, ni même les principes pour lesquels l’UE agit en ce moment : effacement des souverainetés, remboursement des dettes au profit des marchés …

It does  not question the foundations and the principles which drive the present EU: the iblteration of soveriegnties, the payment of debts to the profit of the markets…..

This emphasis on the importance of national sovereignty is shared by the Communist Party of Britain as one can see here: Why the EU is a negation of parliamentary sovereignty and democracy. argues Robert Griffiths.

It is to be wondered if the ‘revolutionary’ speakers at the Lexit meeting, from Counterfire and the SWP, not to mention Antarsya, or even the ‘municipalists’ of the Catalan CUP, share this sovereigntist vision.

Or indeed if they have the slightest concern about this project:

Iain Duncan Smith says workers’ rights should be ‘flexible’ after Brexit in epic on air tantrum.


(1) Fondé par Pierre Lévy, ex-journaliste à L’Humanité, ex-militant du PCF et de la CGT Métallurgie1, BRN compte ainsi dans son équipeLaurent Dauré (UPR et Acrimed)2, Dominique Guillemin (UPR)3 et surtout Bruno Drweski, militant anti-impérialiste entretenant un réseau d’amitiés et d’alliances tant à gauche qu’à l’extrême droite4. Il est à noter que le directeur de la publication de BRN, Hervé Berbille, a participé ès qualité à une réunion de l’Action française à Bordeaux en 2005 visant à promouvoir le « non » au TCE, comme le relate le compte-rendu publié sur le site de l’organisation d’extrême droite5. Confussionnisme Info. “RUPTURES, NOUVEAU MENSUEL SOUVERAINISTE.”


12 Responses

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  1. Basically the “radical left” has transformed itself into a neo-keynesian Left with a radical language don’t you think ?. So nothing surprises me anymore from this side of the political spectrum. Unfortunately those who pretend to have a moral radical perspective and language seem only bothered about breaking banks or temp agencies windows… following the scheme provocation/repression/solidarity hoping it works this time in France… So they get banned from demonstrating (according to the state of urgency law) and what will come next ? No idea.

    Yves Coleman

    May 17, 2016 at 11:47 am

  2. Well, there’s nationalist left-Keynesian projects and there’s European Keynesianism….

    What’s happening in France does not cheer me up at all.

    Casting aside the RT rubbish recycled by the sovereigntists in the UK the Valls government has not pleased the MEDEF either.

    As for the protests, they are so dispersed, ideologically and physically…

    The comrades on Facebook have been pointing to the influence of sovereigntists there, the demand for united struggles from convergence de luttes, not to mention the call for a grève générale notwithstanding.

    The problematic ideas of M.A.U.S.S. (Mouvement anti-utilitariste dans les sciences sociale), Frédéric Lordon’s response to them, and all the rest.

    Today it looks as the cycle you cite Yves, is already underway:

    This of course is tomorrow: Une manifestation contre “la haine anti-flic” organisée le 18 mai par le syndicat Alliance Police Nationale.


    Andrew Coates

    May 17, 2016 at 12:08 pm

  3. So the former Greek finance minister after ranting about how undemocratic the EU is, is now saying that we should stay in the EU even though it is still on democratic. Done all right out of this country’s misery has he.

    Kevin Algar

    May 17, 2016 at 1:17 pm

  4. As the (losing) Tory Ipswich Borough council candidate most famous for his admiration for George Galloway, your charm is legendary Kevin.


    Andrew Coates

    May 17, 2016 at 3:50 pm

  5. Interesting, isn’t it, the alliance that’s developed between the isolationist and/or racist right and the regressive semi-Stalinist “left” for Brexit. The truth is their essential case is the same: only the rhetoric differs.

    Jim Denham

    May 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm

  6. We’ve had quite a rigorous discussion on this claim about the EU ‘ordering’ the El Khomori Law and there is no evidence, apart from the general idea that the Commission wants labour markets to be competitive.

    Gordon says, the French government “issued an emergency decree to weaken workers’ rights at the behest of the European Commission.” which is a straightforward lie.

    And that’s without this type, Cordat, with some strange sovereigntist and obvious retro Communist orthodox, views, who they’re wheeling out tomorrow.

    Andrew Coates

    May 17, 2016 at 5:57 pm

  7. Grassroots OUT!. No the the EUSSR/Fourth Reich!

    Traitor Varoufakis sell out!
    As George Galloway said left right, left right, forward march to victory!!


    May 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm

  8. Another Europe may well be possible. But is another EU possible? It may well be that the consequences of leaving would, on balance, be worse than the consequences of remaining a member. But let’s not kid ourselves that a vote to remain will be taken as a vote for a more democratic, more solidaristic, more redistributive, less militaristic etc. etc. EU. No – it will be taken within the UK as a vindication of Cameron and Osborne’s gamble, and in Brussels as a thumbs up to carry on just as before – austerity, TTIP, the lot. “Left exit” and “left remain” are not on the ballot paper, and they’re not on the political agenda either. The real political choice in the referendum is between two rival right-wing agendas. I cannot muster the slightest enthusiasm about either of them.


    May 17, 2016 at 10:46 pm

  9. In principle, Francis, your argument that this is a argument “between two rival right-wing agendas” and therefore (presumably) abstention is the correct stance, is a reasonable one. Indeed, its the position taken by the forerunner of the AWL (Workers Fight) in 1975, and over issues like Maastricht, the Euro, etc. But in the present situation it’s clear that a victory for “out” would be a victory for the isolationist, racist right and a massive setback for internationalism and working class interests. That, in a nutshell, is why the left must vote to Remain.

    Jim Denham

    May 18, 2016 at 11:26 am

  10. Andrew Coates

    May 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

  11. The implication of the USDAW leaflet is that the European Union is far more effective than a trade union as a guarantor of workers’ rights. This may well be true, but if it is, then the prognosis for the labour movement is dismal. And any campaigns for a “social” EU (whatever that is) seem quite unnecessary. The future is transnational corporate capitalism, it already guarantees our rights, and everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.


    May 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

  12. Francis, unions can only progress member’s interests in two ways industrially and through legislation, as union’s industrial power has declined so the importance of pro-union legislation has increased. Seen as a totality such legislation creates a floor below which unions and workers’ rights cannot fall. With one major exception (TU recognition) all such post 1980 legislation originates from the E.U.

    It is the case our floor of rights is weaker than many other European counties, a cumulative effect of the way European laws have been introduced in the UK – the Posted Workers Directive being a case in point. This has recently been cited by some as an example of legislation which divides workers: in reality the Directive gives member states latitude to determine what constitutes the minimum rate of pay. The Blair Government set the rate at the minimum wage creating a two tier workforce while in Ireland they linked the Posted workers rate to the ‘going rate’ set by collective bargaining. While we may blame many things on the EU the vast majority of problems unions have with EU legislation is a consequence of how successive UK governments have enacted EU legislation.

    However weak the present floor of rights may be post-exit would see the Government dismantle it, further eroding unions abilities to defend members and further worsening workers terms and conditions. The consequence of this pulling apart of the floor would have European wide consequences generating a European race to the bottom. What possible benefit can unions and workers derive from such a development? On this fundamental level of workers’ rights those who wish to leave do not have a leg to stand on and it is noticeable how quiet they have been on the matter of workers’ rights, unlike the populist right, who simply blame foreign workers for undermining British pay and conditions.

    Jim Denham

    May 19, 2016 at 1:38 pm

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