National interests are not our interests

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Cameron’s veto of changes to the European Union treaty to enforce fiscal stringency and shore up the Euro has left Britain isolated, alone among the 27 member states without a seat at the table discussing the financial future of the Eurozone. For media commentators, all representing the ruling class, it has posed the question whether this has “helped protect Britain’s economic interests” against “Eurozone integration spilling over” into other areas; whether it is to the benefit of the UK financial sector, especially the City of London, and manufacturing industry, as chancellor George Osborne thinks . Or has it undermined those interests: “As for protecting the interests of the City of London … that will scarcely be achieved with Britain locked out of negotiations on the future shape of European financial regulation” (Philip Stephens commenting on Others think it a cynical ploy to sacrifice the national interest to preserve the coalition with the LibDems, which would be undermined by signing up to a treaty change requiring a referendum, and to suck up to the Eurosceptics.

Whatever the truth of the situation, the national interest is not our interest. Whether the City of London has been protected or not the bourgeoisie will demand that the working class pay for the crisis by imposing austerity measures, cutting and delaying pensions, though hundreds of thousands of job losses in both the public and private sectors, through pay cuts as faced by the electricians… Nevertheless we do need to follow what is going on, not so that we can take sides but so that we can understand the decline in the capitalist economy, so that we can be prepared for the next round of attacks, so that we do not fall for all their lies.

In relation to the Eurozone it is clear that Britain finds itself in an impossible situation. On the one hand, it relies on the health of the Eurozone for much of its trade, and on the other hand it wants to safeguard its huge financial sector from interference, and benefit from the freedom of having its own currency, to be in the EU at the same times as maintaining its fiscal sovereignty. And as a declining power it is limited in its ability to defend its interests, even when ‘punching above its weight’. As these events have only just happened we will return to this question in a future online article. 

Alex 10/12/11

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Britain in the EU