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Year 2000 No. 193, November 14, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

Government Offensive on Europe: European Integration to Strengthen Role of British Finance Capital

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Government Offensive on Europe: European Integration to Strengthen Role of British Finance Capital

Workers Vote against Rolls-Royce Plans

Protesters in Milan Resist Police Attacks

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Government Offensive on Europe: European Integration to Strengthen Role of British Finance Capital

"Britain’s Choice: Engagement, Not Isolation" and "Europe 2010". These were the titles of speeches given yesterday by Tony Blair and Robin Cook respectively.

The represent the vision of the British financial oligarchy to further strengthen the European Union as the bloc of European finance capital, and for British finance capital to play a leading role in dominating the direction of the EU. At the same time, this vision represents the direction of the escape route which the British financial oligarchy sees as the way out from the deepening and broadening crisis of capitalism. In this way, it is a concrete form of the agenda of globalisation and the neo-liberal agenda with which the international financial oligarchy is blocking the road to the progress of society. It represents the arrangements which the Labour government are working to put in place as part of their "Third Way" programme to strengthen the status quo, block the road to socialism once and for all, and eliminate all trends which oppose the success of business in the global market. It is the cutting edge of its programme for "making Britain great again", and seeking to maximise the dominationist and interventionist role of Britain in the world.

Tony Blair at his speech at The Mansion House, sought to make the case for "engagement not isolation as the basis of British foreign policy in the 21st century". His argument is that not only are "finance, technology and communications global today, so is politics". Therefore to "maximise our national interest", the Prime Minister advocates that "Britain should be at the centre of the alliances and power structures of the international community, including the EU". It is necessary to realise that this "national interest" is nothing but the interest of the financial oligarchy, and it is in their interests that "Britain", in the form of the representatives of the government of the day, wants to be at the "centre of the alliances and power structures of the international community".

This is unashamed big power chauvinism, and indicates the seriousness of the reactionary direction that the Labour government is taking Britain, and which the workers and all democratic forces need to be alive to. To Tony Blair, this is what he calls "enlightened patriotism and it is the true way of standing up for Britain". To make sure the point is not lost, he continues, "The purpose of a nation’s foreign policy should be power, strength and influence in furtherance of its interests and beliefs." Such a statement would not seem inappropriate coming from the mouth of a Hitler. On the contrary, the purpose of a country’s foreign policy should be good neighbourliness, mutual benefit and assistance, the promotion of friendship and respect for sovereignty, based on the recognition of equality of all nations, large and small, and the respect for all peoples to choose their path of social development. Tony Blair’s advocacy of engagement in Europe is based on the kind of rabid chauvinism which plunged Europe and the world into bloody all-encompassing wars in the 20th century, and which again spells catastrophe if allowed to go unchecked in the 21st century.

This is so despite Blair’s contention – which he gives with a potted history of wars over the centuries in Europe, quoting Churchill whom he quotes as saying "The history of the human race is war" – that within Europe, the various countries "cannot even imagine fighting each other". What this shows – since it obviously cannot be taken at face value since Tony Blair seems to have forgotten that Yugoslavia is a European country which Britain was bombing but a few short months ago – is that war is on the Prime Minister’s mind. It is a recognition of the contending capitalist powers within Europe, and advocating that it would be best to get together under Britain’s leadership to pursue the path of dominating the world, in the context of the ethics of globalisation. Indeed, Tony Blair is proud of having "pursued a policy of military engagement since becoming Prime Minister".

As he remarked in the speech about Sierra Leone, "I am sure Britain’s and Europe’s long-term interests in Africa are best served if we intervene, not excessively, but to do what we can to save African nations from barbarism and dictatorship and be proud of it". Seldom can the doctrine of the "white man’s burden" have been so clearly expressed. The emphasis on "humanitarian" intervention itself has almost vanished from Blair’s vocabulary to be replaced with Britain’s naked self-interest, the interest of the financial oligarchy.

The offensive of the government on the European Union is taking place as a run-up to the Nice Summit of the Inter-Governmental Conference. Britain is staking its claim to become the leading player in a strengthened and enlarged EU. It sees all its arrangements as being in place by 2010.

The British working class must get organised on the basis of their own vision and programme, on the basis of the rights of nations and peoples to sovereignty and self-determination, to choose their own paths of social development, and strengthening their unity and friendship in the process. The British working class and all democratic and progressive people must organise to oppose the helter-skelter direction of reaction in which Tony Blair is taking Britain, organise to dismantle the European Union and build a new society.

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Workers Vote against Rolls-Royce Plans

Rolls-Royce Ansty workers have voted unanimously to oppose the company’s plans to move parts of its business to other areas of the country and overseas.

A total of 1,300 jobs in Britain are under threat as part of a restructuring plan that is expected to cut the 40,000 workforce at the engineering group by an eighth over the next three years. Some 2,000 jobs have already been lost at Rolls-Royce in the past year.

Workers at the Ansty plant near Coventry held a mass meeting yesterday in order to initiate plans for a ballot for action over the proposals.

Vince Butler, Senior MSF Representative at Energy businesses Ansty, said, "Strike action is inevitable if the company insists on compulsory redundancies."

It is a good sign that workers are preparing to defend their interests. As the struggle at MG Rover and elsewhere has shown, the struggle is not simply against short-sighted responses to business pressures on behalf of the monopolies. It is against the whole programme of globalisation and the neo-liberal agenda of the rich, which is to put competitiveness on the global market above every other concern, including the livelihoods of the workers and their communities. To turn the situation around, workers will have to discuss these issues connected with the nature of society in the course of their struggles in defence of their future.

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Protesters in Milan Resist Police Attacks

Anti-globalisation protesters in central Milan resisted attempts to break up their demonstration last Saturday.

About 500 people were protesting against a meeting in the city of the Trilateral Commission, an organisation of business and political leaders. Police fired tear gas to break up the demonstration and erected barricades, and the protesters responded by throwing stones and setting fire to the barricades.

Banners of the demonstrators read "Down with anti-social capitalism" and "May the fight for freedom never die".

The police had cordoned off a wide area around the hotel where the two-day Trilateral Commission conference was being held. Delegates to the meeting included the chairmen of oil companies BP Amoco and Shell, the heads of several international banks, the European Commissioner for competition policy, Mario Monti, and Sirkka Hamalainen, a member of the board of the European Central Bank.

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