LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has one fatal virtue – he cannot tell porkies well. After a lifetime of opposition to the EU, in order to appease MPs who despise him, he backed staying in. The place where he recanted was the building George Orwell chose to depict as his Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty Four.

There was more than a hint of despair in his voice when he proclaimed that out of the EU, the Tories would roll back workers’ rights. Let us set aside that grim forecast of a coming Labour defeat and deal with Jeremy’s claim that the EU is a bulwark for workers’ rights. Let me take you back to when it all began, in the 1970s, and Labour’s special conference on the EEC. There I denounced the EEC treaties as enshrining the ethic of capitalism, that is its right to move and do what it likes irrespective of the damage to society. If I may say so, I was right. When it comes to a clash between the rights of capital and labour, capital wins in the EU.

The proof of that is in the Viking case. A Finnish passenger vessel company wanted to transfer its flag to Estonia, to employ workers there at lower wages than paid in Finland. The Finnish union threatened to strike and the International Transport Workers Federation, opposed to flags of convenience, backed it. The case ended up in the EU Court of Justice and this is where the decision in favour of the free movement of capital over the rights of workers was made, to the permanent advantage of employers.

The court decided that the right to take collective action by workers was not an absolute right and could lawfully be subject to restriction in certain circumstances, such as a company deciding to relocate its business to another EU state to get lower wage costs. The Viking case, now EU law, puts the handcuffs on workers and leaves employers free to do what they like. But it is not only in law but in practice that workers in the EU, faced with the power of capital, have been hammered by an unelected, self-regarding, self-selected elite operating in Brussels, like old-style monarchs. Greece and Portugal come to mind.

You may have forgotten that in the early days of recession, Greece was in debt to German and French banks. Like other banks they had been foolish in their lending policy, but they were not to pay the price. Greece, we were told, was bailed out. Orwell would have smiled. Greece was placed in greater debt so it could pay the banks and save them. The price of the “bail out” was government, not by the elected one, but by the Troika of the Commission, the Eurozone central bank and the IMF. Result: workers sacked, mass unemployment, wages depressed, pensions cut, small businesses ravaged, and widespread poverty. Saving the banks was more important than saving the people.

It was the same in Portugal, which now has 2.6 million people living in absolute poverty. Recently the IMF, part of its Troika, demanded the sacking of more teachers.

In the EU, capital calls the economic and social tunes. A good reason for getting out.

Jim Sillars is a former deputy leader of the SNP and is campaigning to exit the EU

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