Will Blair swap the pound for the euro?
By Colin Foster
Will Tony Blair use his boost from the relatively quick US/UK military victory in Iraq to make a dash for the euro? Or will Gordon Brown's caution hold him back?
Is it really true that euro entry would undercut the Health Service? Or is that scaremongering given that in the core of the eurozone welfare provision is generally better than in Britain?
The huge strikes in France on Tuesday 13th, the rallies in Austria the same day, and the strikes in Austria the previous week, cut right across these speculations.
European capitalism is becoming more integrated and coordinated. Short of some huge crisis turning the clock back to the walled-off trade blocs of the type of the 1930s - which is hardly to be wished for - there is no way out of that.
When and how Britain will join the euro is a matter of the balance between those sections of the capitalist class more tied to Europe, and those with stronger links to the USA and the dollar. For the labour movement to throw its weight behind one or another capitalist faction is foolish.
What happens in a more integrated and coordinated capitalist Europe, however, is by no means fixed. It depends on class struggle.
Will social provision be levelled up, or levelled down? Will there be stronger cross-border workers' unity, or will the more integrated Euro-capitalists be able to divide and rule? It depends on struggle.
Labour movements across Europe have been fighting to defend pension rights for many years now. Working people in Britain can only gain from cross-border unity in this struggle.
In France on 13 May, an effective 24-hour public service strike, and marches mobilising a total of two million people, opposed government plans to cut public-sector pensions (much better than in Britain). More strikes are planned.
The demonstrations and strikes in Austria are against similar cuts planned there. In Sweden, public sector workers are on a week of strikes over pay.
Italy has seen huge trade-union protests over pensions for many years now. At present the right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi has been scared off further cuts.
Unite workers' struggles across Europe - so that we can meet European capitalist integration with European workers' unity, and move forward towards a democratic, united, workers' Europe.