GORDON Brown ‘yesterday set the government on course for another nine months of wrangling over the euro’. That was the verdict of the Financial Times business paper on the government’s euro announcement.
It is bang on. All the 1.5 million words and fancy language in Brown’s ‘assessment’ are flannel to hide the reality that the government, and Britain’s bosses, are split to the core over the issue. New Labour’s leading figures are deeply divided.
Brown’s statement recalls the way Tory prime minister John Major sought to paper over the cracks in his government over Europe in the early 1990s. Just as with that Tory government, the issue will continue to erupt in bitter rows tearing at the heart of New Labour.
But there’s one thing all sides are agreed on. In or out of the euro, workers will suffer in a drive for what Brown calls ‘greater flexibility’. ‘As part of radical reforms at a national, regional and local level, I propose that by next year almost all pay remits for public sector bodies will include a regional or local pay dimension,’ said Brown.
This means an assault on national pay and conditions agreements for millions of workers. It is a signal to national private sector employers to follow suit. The union leaders should stop meekly gazing at what is happening around them and state clearly that they will call action to defeat the regional pay plans. Another thing is clear from the euro fudge too.
Taking Britain into the euro has been a central plank for Blair and his apostles at the heart of the New Labour ‘project’. The divisions and this week’s fudge leave that ‘project’ looking weaker than ever.
If there were a referendum on the euro now Socialist Worker would urge a no vote. The whole plan is based on slashing public spending and driving through attacks on wages and welfare. That does not mean giving an inch to the Little Englanders of the ‘keep the pound’ brigade.
They also want to drive through attacks on us and wrap themselves in right wing nationalist rhetoric. We need an independent, left wing politics, one which says no to the bosses’ plans and solidarity with workers across borders.
Bosses unleash misery on ordinary people