50 Years Ago
The Common Market. In or Out. Does it Really Matter?
It seems that the government will not have an easy ride into the Common Market, whatever happens at the negotiations. In this country there is a strengthening lobby which is pledged to fight the British entry. One theme which this lobby is playing is the fact that the people have not been consulted on the issue. This is not, of course, entirely true; anyone who voted for either Labour or Tory in the last election thinking that he was opposing Britain joining the EEC must have a serious mental blockage. More to the point, when were the people ever consulted on this kind of issue? When was there a referendum on a declaration of war? When did we have the chance to vote on issues like racist immigration Bills? Anti-trade union laws? So why make an exception over the Common Market? Could it be that the Labour Party are seeing in the issue the chance to grab quite a few votes and know that a middle line policy will grab them all the more and all the quicker? It is not unknown for issues like the Common Market to be obscured by a propaganda smokescreen behind which a capitalist party makes its attack. And the talk about a referendum is no more than a smokescreen put out to hide the essential fact that workers have no interests in the issue; whether Britain goes in or not will have no fundamental effect on our standing as workers.
How would you suggest we vote in any referendum on the Common Market?
The government don’t want to risk one in Britain for fear that the anti-German and imperialist prejudices stirred up in the past might result in a vote for “NO”. But in Ireland there’s got to be one. We suggest abstention, or rather rejection of the false choice by writing “WORLD SOCIALISM” across the ballot paper.
(Socialist Standard, July 1971)