EU Is Fundamentally Undemocratic & Anti-Socialist - I Will Spoil My Ballot Paper

© AFP 2023 / Oli ScarffA Scottish Saltire (C) flies between a Union flag (L) and a European Union (EU) flag in front of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 27, 2016.
A Scottish Saltire (C) flies between a Union flag (L) and a European Union (EU) flag in front of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 27, 2016. - Sputnik International
Since the delay of Brexit made it almost inevitable that elections to the European Union would proceed on May 23rd I have been regularly asked how those who believe in socialism and an independent Scotland but are opposed to the undemocratic neo-liberal EU should cast their vote.

In England and Wales the answer to socialists is straightforward. You boycott the election or, better still, consciously spoil your ballot paper in the polling booth. England and Wales voted to leave the EU three years ago. The fact this election is taking place is a democratic disgrace.

Here in Scotland however the country voted strongly to stay in the EU by a 62% to 38% margin. The SNP and Greens are for independence and staying within the EU. That is a perfectly understandable stance. It is a stance, however, that I firmly oppose.

I am for Scottish independence. I am for a modern democratic republic. I am for an independent socialist Scotland. I believe membership of the big business promoting EU is inconsistent with an independent socialist Scotland as the EU Commissioners, in pursuit of their austerity loaded ‘stability pact’ policies, would seek to block a socialist budget which radically improved the legal living wage, significantly increased the pathetic state pensions paid in Scotland and laid the framework for public ownership of land, oil, energy and pharmaceutical production.

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Even the limited, but welcome, socialist manifesto of Corbyn’s Labour Party in 2017 would have been blocked by the EU had Labour won. The re-nationalisation proposals and public services expansion promised in that manifesto would have caused panic in Brussels and led to threats of financial penalties if they were not changed completely or radically diluted. The Single Market and State Aid rules would have blocked the energy, water and transport re-nationalisation plans.

On a smaller scale the regular EU instruction to Scotland that it must conduct an expensive and wasteful tendering exercise before awarding essential ferry services provision to a safe public provider is but one small example of the restrictive, wasteful and undemocratic competition rules and regulations which the EU imposes on member states.

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Over £1.1 million of Scottish taxpayers money was wasted on the last tendering exercise before the contract was once again awarded to CalMac, the publicly owned provider. There are noises about defying such restrictive EU rules and tendering exercises in the future but only time will tell if the Scottish Government has the stomach to stand up to the restrictive EU rules.

If an elected Scottish Government cannot award an essential life and limb ferry service between its islands to a public provider without first carrying out a one million pound tendering exercise in futility then what happens when the long overdue order to take the Grangemouth oil refinery into public ownership, where it belongs, is given?

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Grangemouth is the literal industrial heart of Scotland. It is our only crude oil refinery yet it is privately owned by a Texas billionaire tax dodger, Jim Ratcliffe, through his INEOS Company. Would the EU allow Scotland to take such an essential hub of Scottish industry into public ownership? Probably not but the fact we even have to pose the question illustrates the heart of the problem.

No unelected, unaccountable outside body should be permitted to interfere in the democratically expressed will of any sovereign nation. The EU Commission is such an undemocratic and unaccountable body.

So while I accept many independence supporters in Scotland will support the SNP or Greens on May 23rd because they support both independence and the EU I will personally spoil my ballot paper and scroll ‘For an independent Scotland in Europe but not the EU’ across it. Such an action is not illegal and some will call it futile but spoilt ballot papers are counted and while a party promoting Scottish independence and opposition to the EU is not available I will instead use my vote in a negative fashion to express my discontent with the choice on offer.

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In England and Wales such a conscious ballot spoiling exercise is even more relevant and important. Both those countries voted to leave the EU. The fact they are being asked to take part in an EU election three years after that vote is simply pathetic.

The wealthy backers of the Brexit2 proposal form the core of the out of touch political classes who have ignored and scoffed at the poor and low paid for years. The warnings of reductions in wages, jobs and living standards on the back of Brexit cut less ice among those who have been suffering from low wages, insecure jobs and reduced living standards for the last decade while in the EU.

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The argument around the fundamental nature of the EU will generate heat and anger for years to come but for me it is a neo-liberal, big business construct committed to protection and promotion of the interests of the rich and owners of capital across Europe and the world. It is no friend of ordinary workers, public services or socialists. One recent spat between two Law professors highlights the dividing lines in the argument. One argued that the EU is a body which needs reform but that it remains a progressive force for good. The other was stridently unimpressed with that argument:

“Let us, however, face unpleasant reality. For middle class professionals such as university professors the EU is indeed a place of endless opportunity. By contrast the working class have borne the brunt of the consequences of the unlimited labour supply and enforced privatisation of state services. Professor Syrpis’ piece does not engage with how, whilst the European single market has served the capitalist class and the upper-middle professional classes well, it has steadily reduced Britain to a financialized economy, with low wages, low skills and next to no rights for the majority of the British population. Indeed when Professor Syrpis concludes his piece by predicting ‘years of economic and social harm’ outside the EU, he little seems to realise that years of economic and social harm are exactly what the working class has been suffering for at least the last four decades”

Indeed. No to the fundamentally undemocratic and anti-socialist EU I say. YES to an independent socialist Scotland, full sovereignty and worker’s rights.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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