Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Ireland’s turn to Reject Austerity Fantasy?

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http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/10/now-ireland-turn-austerity-fantasy?cat=commentisfree&type=article

Gavan Titley and John O’ Brennan argue for Voting No to the Austerity Treaty on May 31

Austerity in Europe: Susan George on the rise of neoliberal and undemocratic Europe

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Susan George interviewed for the Transnational Institute (TNI). Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

March 1, 2012. Text printed below video. Video posted here from YouTube.

What is the continuity you see between the Maastricht Treaty, through the Lisbon Agenda and the Lisbon Treaty, to the “six pack” and now this new fiscal treaty?

The Maastricht Treaty was a treaty that presented two completely arbitrary figures: 3 per cent budget deficit with regard to the GNP and 60 per cent for the debt.  Why not 4 per cent or 2 per cent? Why not 55 or 65 per cent? Nobody knows. They came out of the sky, those numbers, doubtless from the Bundesbank. But they have become sort of religious symbols, the holy numbers of Maastricht. That was the first effort to get government policy under control, but countries did not respect that, including Germany

When the time of Lisbon came, we’d rather stopped talking about that. Lisbon was about different issues. When people read that treaty (which they did in France, it was the biggest debate we’ve had since May ‘68) — and realised what was actually in the European treaties, they were horrified.

There were innumerable issues in that treaty which people were opposed to: that we were going to be forever under the command of NATO with the US president as commander-in-chief; all the economic detail and other issues in France which made people frightened of laïcité — secularism. But above all, people understood often for the first time that the entire economic program of the EU was, and always had been, completely neoliberal and put “free and undistorted competition” and the free market way above social protection.

In France, we had a huge campaign based on about 1000 collectives that sprung up all over the country, but nobody in the establishment expected us to win. We started off with 70 per cent for the yes, 30 per cent for the no. That is probably why they let us have a referendum. And we voted 55 per cent no. The establishment was furious. All of the major media, most of the politicians, they were stunned and they were furious. And they said in private, never again.

So what happened after that? After the French and the Dutch had voted against this treaty in no uncertain terms (the Dutch vote was 60 per cent against), they got into a very secret group. They had a small committee writing a new treaty, making it even more complicated. They drafted the Lisbon Treaty with the help of the top judicial experts of the commission. It was completely opaque as a process. There were no elected representatives in the group that wrote it. And they simply took the constitution that we had defeated threw out the anthem and the flag and a couple of other little trimmings. But as Valéry Giscard d’Estaing said — and he was the chief architect of the constitution — they have made cosmetic changes to make it easier to swallow. And every other official, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, said this is exactly the same thing as the constitutional treaty. Nothing has changed. And many, many other officials said that including Baroso, the president of the commission.

So here we have the Lisbon Treaty, we’re not allowed to vote on it because obviously we’re going to vote the wrong way. It was made clear that no one will have a referendum — except for Ireland. Gallant little Ireland, has in its constitution that it must have a referendum every time there is a change in the European constitution. And we should all have that provision. The European Constitution and the European legislation provides 80-85 per cent of our national legislation, it just gets transferred into national law. Therefore, when you are under the control of a non-democratic Europe, this is very serious because that is going to be transposed into your own national law.

Fortunately, I had the good luck to be asked by the Irish to help them in fighting against the Lisbon Treaty. Again, we won. It was fantastic! Starting from a very low level, and then for one reason or another, people understood what it was about.  They said no, even though it was extraordinarily complicated to read.

And so, they didn’t vote correctly either. They had to be disciplined; they had to be told to vote again.  By that time the crisis had broken, and the Irish were more or less told that if you don’t vote right this time and say yes, then you are going to be in very deep trouble, you are not going to get any loans and you are not going to get any help coming out of the crisis. So they dutifully went back to the polls and voted yes.

Why do we have to have, in addition to all of this, what is called the “six pack“, and now a new treaty that we should just call the “austerity treaty” (it has a much longer name but forget that, it’s the austerity treaty).  Why do we need this? We need it because Germany, principally, and a few other countries, want this engraved in stone. They want those Maastricht numbers, that people were not paying attention to, engraved in marble: 3 per cent budget deficit allowable maximum, 60 per cent debt allowable maximum. This means that member states are going to lose one of their principal powers in national sovereignty — the power over their own finances. They are not going to be able to control that because it is all going to be controlled by Brussels.

We have a serious problem with this because Brussels wants austerity. What does that mean? Austerity simply means that there is going to be an attack on every measure that has been passed before and since World War II to give ordinary people, workers, ill people, children, old people the benefits that they fought for and won over the last 50 to 100 years. It is that serious!

We do have higher debts, and we do have budget deficits, but the European Commission and the governments are pretending that these deficits exist because we have been “living beyond our means”. That is not the case. It is not because old people have been getting their cheques for retirement or the unemployed have been receiving compensation. It has nothing to do with social spending.

We have deficits because when the crisis came, our governments had to spend huge amounts to bail out the banks. They had to confront a drop in GNP of about 5 per cent — which is a lot of money. They had to try to compensate for that which also costs a lot of money. And since there was more unemployment, they were not receiving the tax income that they were used to receiving. That was a drop in the income with an increase in the expenditures. And since they won’t tax the rich either, there was no money in the till.

What do they do? They say, ah, it is up to the people to pay. So what has happened is that the banks have contributed zero, they are not being asked to make sacrifices at all. We are punishing the innocent, the people who are supposed to pay through austerity, and we are rewarding the guilty because the banks are continuing to receive huge privileges and subsidies from our governments.

That is why we must defeat this fiscal compact, this austerity treaty, and all the measures that come with it unless we want Europe to be retrograded to, shall we say, the 19th century. That’s what it is about.

[Susan George is a TNI fellow, president of the board of TNI and honorary president of ATTAC-France (Association for Taxation of Financial Transaction to Aid Citizens).]

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Vote No to EU Austerity Treaty – Bailout People Not Banks – Public Meeting, Liberty Hall, Monday March 5, 7.30pm

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Say No the Austerity Treaty – Irish Times Front Page Photo, 29.2.2012

First Poster of the 2012 EU Austerity Referendum Campaign

Bailout People Not Banks

Link to PDF of Poster is Here :

Say No to EU Austerity Treaty

More Information on the Danish Red-Green MEP Soren Sondergaard Here :

Soren Sondergaard on Denmark and the Euro

Danish People’s Movement Welcomes Foreign Workers

Public Action was needed to force the government to hold a referendum.

We have extra time after the Lisbon Treaty 1-1 draw – let’s score in extra time and win this European battle on Irish Soil – start the fight back against the parasite banks in Ireland, spread the spirit of rebellion beyond our shores to the rest of Europe.

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United Left Alliance calls for a NO vote in ‘Austerity Referendum’

The five United Left Alliance TDs (Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Joe Higgins and Seamus Healy) today called for a NO vote in the referendum on the Fiscal Treaty – the austerity treaty. Read the rest of this entry »

France: The NPA in Crisis

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Both the SWP internal communication of 6th February and a commentator on it reffered to the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste  (New Anti-capitalist Party, NPA) in France. It has truely suffered the dramatic decline in membership mentioned. The NPA is particularly significant for those of us who promote a new pluralist radical left and it deserves consideration beyond hostile and misleading soundbites.

We reproduce below an article on the NPA, complete with comments, by Jason Stanley, from the January/February 2012 issue of the US magazine Against The Current, an analytical journal for the broad revolutionary left sponsored by the Solidarity group there. It is a model, for any online discussion, of informed substance, civility, commitment and calm.

France: The NPA in Crisis

— Jason Stanley

FRANCE’S NEW ANTI-CAPITALIST Party (NPA) is in crisis. While only two years ago many on the international left talked about the NPA as one of the brightest lights on an otherwise dim revolutionary horizon, today the Party is hemorrhaging members and struggling to stay afloat. Read the rest of this entry »

Enda Kenny Grins For The Gintry – But Can He Stop A Referendum on the new EU Fiscal Treaty?

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image

Enda Kenny was one of the courtly mummers in the presence of her britannic majesty in 2011 – good practice for 2012!

See Also :

Old Kenny Apologises For Ireland to the Gintry

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2012/01/27/kenny-apologises-ireland-gintry/

UPDATE :

Enda told Nicolas he would stop an Irish Referendum on the new European Union fiscal treaty – has the Taoiseach broken another promise?

The ruling class discreetly applauds the Fine Gael leader’s broken promises to the little people – such as when he went back on a pre-election pledge to stop the closure of Roscommon Hospital.

http://www.endakenny.com/?p=213

But Enda won’t get any ear-grabs for letting down the big people – a much more serious mistake!

Article 27 and the Independent TDs

A group of Independent TDs who want Europe’s new fiscal treaty put to a referendum will seek to use a little known constitutional provision to petition the President to do so, it has emerged.
Under Article 27 of the Constitution, a Bill can be referred to a referendum if requested by at least one third of the Dáil, and a majority of the Seanad.
Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle said he was “hopeful of achieving that requirement.”


More Here :

http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/article-27-and-the-independent-tds/