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New Interventions, Volume 11, no 4

New Interventions, Volume 11, no 4

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Published by rfls12802
Political and Historical Magazine
Political and Historical Magazine

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Published by: rfls12802 on Oct 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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New Interventions
Volume 11, no 4, Autumn 2004
Current Business
The European constitution
the left and the elections
the crisis in Iraq
Respect and Islam
Europe and British politics
counterfactual history
Israel and anti-Semitism2
Al Richardson
, A Forgotten Work of Leon Trotsky 18
Introducing Trotsky’s
History of the Russian Revolution to Brest-Litovsk
 John Sullivan
, Rolling Your Own
23Handy hints for setting up a left-wing group
 Walter Kendall
, Isaac Deutscher as a Prophet
25How Isaac Deutscher got the Soviet Union wrong
Eric Shelton Jones (1919-2003)
29Remembering a former
New Interventions
Editorial Board member
CLR James
, Intervening in Abyssinia 31An article and a letter on the war in Abyssinia
Paul Flewers
, A Happy Land Far Far Away 35Fellow-travelling with Sir Bernard Pares and Sidney and Beatrice WebbA Basic Guide to the Butler Report
50Lord Butler
s Report on the Iraq War
Loren Goldner
, Didn’t See the Same Movie
51The strange story of Maoism in the USA
Glyn Beagley
, Workers’ Democracy in the Revolutionary Process
62Democracy a
nd workers’ revolution —
the Russian and Spanish exam-ples
Nigel Balchin
, Trotsky or Notsky 83Taking the mickey out of the Moscow Trials
Paul Flewers
, Paul Foot (1937-2004) 85Farewell to an irreplaceable figure
Rod Shearman’s songs, the
Yugoslav catastrophe, British tradeunionism, democracy and the Third World, the story of Gareth Jones86
Iraq and the USA, the left in New Zealand 97
Current Business
The Proposed European Union Constitution
THE government has decided to allow a referendum on the draft European Consti-tution, although they do not say when this is going to be held. Socialists must de-cide, nonetheless, whether to rec
ommend a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ vote.
 It should be said at the outset that a referendum is a crazy way to proceed,since the draft contains many provisions that are unexceptionable alongside a num-ber of insalutary ones, so that asking people to accept or reject it wholesale is some-thing of an insult. In what follows, I will try to indicate some sections which deserveour support, as well as those we should condemn.The first obnoxious feature of the draft Constitution lies in the procedure foramending it. A proper EU Constitution ought to finish once and for all with the pro-cedure whereby every time fundamental changes are tabled in the EU, a new treatyhas to be negotiated. This method inevitably leads to progress at the pace of theslowest, and affords ample scope for nationalist objections and roadblocks. Insteadof recognising this, Article IV-7 provides for the signing of a new treaty to amend theconstitution as and when required. A much better way would be to have a vote onthe amendments in the European Parliament, changes to be adopted on a two-thirdsmajority. It should also be possible to propose constitutional amendments in nation-al parliaments, to be sent afterwards to the European Parliament.None of this was to the liking of the special European Convention which draft-ed the Constitution, the reason being that in its view the EU was still significantly a
Europe des patries
, as General de Gaulle once famously expressed it. The constituentnation-states still determine the political direction of the EU: the EU powerhouse isnot the Parliament, nor even the Commission, but the Council of Ministers, which iscontrolled by the various national governments. The draft Constitution proposesthat decisions in the Council of Ministers shall be taken by qualified majority, that is,either a bloc constituting 62 per cent of the population of the EU or two-thirds of themembers of the Council of Ministers
as well
(Articles I-22, 24). (This proposal firmsup what, very broadly, happens now.) Short of abolishing all national governmentsand having an EU-wide ministry commanding a majority in the EU Parliament, onecannot envisage the abolition of the Council of Ministers, and that may not even bedesirable
there are arguments for and against
but what one can do is work to-
wards the diminution of the Council of Ministers’ powers. The EU Parliament
should, in the immediate future, be the locus of sovereignty within the EU.Under the draft Constitution, it is envisaged that the EU Parliament will havenot more than 736 members (under current proposals the number is 732). This seemsa shade large, and points to the somewhat unwieldy nature of a grouping of 25states. It would make more sense to split up the continent into some four distinct re-gional groupings,
A West European Federation, comprising the Iberian Peninsula, France, Britainand Ireland (possibly), the Benelux countries, Germany, Switzerland, Austria,Italy and Malta
with the possible addition of Poland and the Czech Repub-
A Scandinavian Federation, including the Baltic States and possibly also Britainand Ireland.
An East European Federation (Russia, Belarus, the Ukraine, the states of theNorth Caucasus, plus
Poland and the Czech Lands).
A Balkan Federation.But all this is music of the future: right now we are saddled with the current set-up,with a Parliament to match. A key requirement is that the powers of this Parliamentbe maximised. It is allowed under the draft Constitution to elect the CommissionPresident (Article I-19). It should be given the power to ratify all the Commissionersas well, and, contrary to Article I-33, should have power to override the Council ofMinisters in cases where the two bodies are in conflict. It should also be allowed toappoint the EU Foreign Minister, a role reserved in the draft for the otherwise whol-ly advisory European Council
a body which would appear to serve no usefulpurpose whatever (see Article I-20). The EU Parliament should also be empoweredto remove individual commissioners if so desired, not being obliged (as at present)to sack the whole Commission if it wishes to censure that body (see Article I-25.5).Interestingly, the draft Constitution specifies a procedure whereby states canwithdraw from the EU if they wish. This procedure should be retained.The draft contains a Charter of Fundamental Rights, containing much that so-cialists would support, and one formulation that they would not endorse. The draft
speaks of the need ‘to promote balanced and sustainable development’ involving‘free movement of persons, goods, services and capital’ (Preamble).
 Article III-46, however, states t
hat: ‘The European Parliament and the Council
of Ministers shall endeavour to achieve the objective of free movement of capital be-tween Member States and third countries to the greatest extent possible and withoutprejudice to other provisions of the Const
 The right of free movement of capital is thus
, even if it can apparentlymove unhindered between EU member states. It will presumably be up to the judi-cial authorities to resolve any disputes that may arise in this area, but we cannot relyon the judges to rule in the desired direction. What the working class requires is aclause upholding the right to work, with provision for adequate income for thoseunemployed or disabled or otherwise unable to work. Such a clause requires para-mount status. It is here that we see the real deficiencies of the draft, not in the re-strictions upon national sovereignty, or voting rights in the Council of Ministers.Similar objections can be made as regards the EU competition rules as set out.Article I-3 up
holds ‘a si
gle market where competition is free and undistorted’, as
does Article III-69 on economic and monetary policy. Furthermore, Article III-70
states that: ‘Member states shall conduct their economic policies in order to contri
b-ute to the achieveme
nt of the Union’s objectives, as defined in Article I
3… The
Member States and the Union shall act in accordance with the principle of an openmarket economy with free competition, favouring an efficient allocation of resources,and in compliance with the principles set out in Article III-
 All this is reprehensible, as it clearly prescribes any kind of democratic plan-ning. Such principles ought not to feature in the Constitution at all, and it is on thatground that the draft should be condemned in a referendum.
Similar considerations apply in the case of the ‘i
dependence’ of the European
Central Bank as set out in Article III-80. The rationale behind this, of course, is thatmonetary policy is technically complex and best left to experts
but then, if so, why

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