By Martin Thomas
Many socialists unsure on the euro say that the question for them is whether it is possible to make an internationalist campaign for "no to the euro" sufficiently strong that it will become not just a quirky adjunct to the Murdoch/Tory "no" campaign.
In fact, I think, a genuinely internationalist campaign for "no" (as distinct from one run by people who, for the sake of self-delusion, make peculiar private "internationalist" interpretations of their "no" vote) is no more possible than a square circle.
Whether I'm right or wrong about that, we now have new information. Even if a strong internationalist campaign for "no" were theoretically possible, it certainly will not happen.
At the Socialist Alliance National Council on 7 September, John Rees of the SWP said flatly and clearly that he wanted a "no" campaign run in unity with "other left forces", including, by name, the Communist Party of Britain. None of the other "no" advocates at the meeting dissented or objected.
The Communist Party has a long, long tradition of British nationalism - on Europe especially - and any "no" campaign involving the CPB will certainly not be internationalist.
This is what the CPB says (from their 2001 election manifesto): "The people of Britain say 'no' to the euro.
"Tony Blair wants Britain to join the Single European Currency. But 70% of people in Britain are against the Euro... It would be a further step towards an undemocratic European super-state run for bankers and big business.
"It would remove our ability to defend jobs in Britain by setting our own interest and exchange rates...
"Tory opposition to the Euro is based on a reactionary outlook - they prefer Britain to be allied to, and dominated by, the USA and NATO. Communists want a Britain which is independent and democratic."
This opposition to the euro is based on counterposing an "independent Britain", "our" interest rates, and so on, to Europe. It is "us against them", with "us" meaning Britain and "them" meaning Europe. The CPB differentiates from the Tories only on the grounds that the Tories are pro-US, i.e. not properly British-nationalist.
Back in the early 1970s, when the European Union was previously a hot issue in the British labour movement, all those on the revolutionary left who said "no to Europe" were at pains to claim that their "no" was radically different not only from the Tories' but also from the Communist Party's. The dropping of that claim is, I think, a healthy stripping-away of self-delusion and pretence. It should certainly clarify the current debate on the left.