Monday, 11 May 2009

No2EU Candidates, Definitely NOT aboard the EU Gravy Train

This letter and Dave's reply have been sent to the Brighton Argus over the last few days.

Old warhorse renews his appetite

It was good to read that Brighton's old political warhorse Dave Hill has renewed his appetite for political struggle and will be contesting the European elections as lead candidate for the No2EU – Yes to Democracy party (The Argus, May 5). However, his quote: “I now have the chance to represent that socialist opposition to neoliberalism, privatisation, wage cuts and the EU gravy train in the European Parliament”, requires clarification since No2EU’s website says it will not sit in the European parliament and that its elected candidates will only nominally hold the title MEP. Despite a rush of new parties appearing for next month’s election, no others appear to be giving voters the chance to demonstrate their outright opposition to the EU by electing candidates who will boycott its so-called parliament. I guess the prospect of an MEP’s pay, perks and allowances is just too attractive.

Dave has repiled to try and anwser these very justifiable concerns.

Letter from Dave Hill submitted to The Argus 11 May 2009
Here’s my answer to the question about whether I will take up my seat in the European Parliament if (as is very possible) elected as MEP campaign (as lead candidate for the NO2EU-YestoDemocracy in the June 4 European elections.
MEPS can expect to `make’ £ one million in a five year period by claiming various allowances and their pay will rise by even more after June’s election. This, at a time when millions of hard working families- including members of my own family- are living on low and poverty wages and millions of manual and white collar working class families are finding the going tougher and tougher.
The European Parliament- just like Westminster- is a gravy train! And we (the NO2EU-YestoDemocracy campaign and candidates) are not jumping aboard! A major plank of our policy is `No to the EU Gravy Train’. We will absolutely not get rich from getting elected as MEPs! We are united in opposition to the EU Gravy Train.
How do we do that? Within the NO2EU campaign there is debate between those who argue that The NO2EU-YestoDemocracy candidates and campaign should actually get stuck in- as Workers’ MEPS on a Workers’ Wage. This happened, honourably, once before, (with Dave Nellist, lead NO2EU Eurocandidate for the West Midlands, and a handful of other Westminster socialist MPs in the 1980s). All expenses were immediately made public and presented openly regularly to trade union and party organisations and made openly available- to make sure there was no get rich quick fiddling within or without the rules!

The other view within NO2EU, currently represented on the developing website, is to boycott the EU and its Parliament completely, taking no pay or expenses whatsoever.
How should workers’ elected representatives best proceed? Of the two views about how best to advance the interests, pay, conditions of the working class, my own view is that workers’ elected representatives (MPs, MEPs) should accept a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, fair being the regional average for a skilled worker- not that of a hedge fund investor! and that we should act primarily in Britain as spokespeople for the campaign and movement and workers’ interests.
The decision about which of these two anti-Gravy Train policies to adopt will likely be taken by a convention of supporters following election. But for all of us, we want to derail the Gravy Train! Not climb on board!
I would take the gravy train argument further, I would reduce pay and expenses for all MPs and all MEPS- and, furthermore, instead of cutting public services, tax the rich instead, with the 50% tax rate coming in at £60,000, and 75% tax rate coming in at £100,000, and a 95% tax rate coming in at £200,000. When millions of workers and pensioners are on less than £10,000 a year poverty wages, it’s time for the rich who have milked the system and grown rich and fat out of the Thatcher and Blair/Brown giveaways, and time for and upper middle income earners, to pay their fair whack. Then we could raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour and pensions to £164 a week. As well as renationalising the railways, keeping the post office public, reversing the post office closures, and putting green investment into job creation and building a decent public service infrastructure in this country.

Funnily enough, when I asked local MEPs at a Brighton public meeting on Saturday what their pay and expenses were- who had `made a million’ in their five years as MEP- there was a deafening silence! I have written to all the region’s MEPs to get them all own up about how much they have received in pay and expenses in the last five years as MEPs!
Barbara Booker is very welcome indeed, as is any elector, to come to my monthly public reportback meetings and become a member of my pay and allowances scrutiny committee (if I’m elected) showing any EU pay and expenses claimed/ received. I promise you, it’ll be just a fraction of that of the current money grabbing expense account fiddling of many of our current MPs and MEPs. There won’t be any bathplugs, bidets or bungs there!
Just socialist representation, by a Workers’ MEP on a Worker’s Wage.

Professor Dave Hill, lead NO2EU candidate in the SouthEast region Euroelections