Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Workers of Europe unite, you’ve only euro chains to lose

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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Workers of Europe unite, you’ve only euro chains to lose

We’re all swivel-eyed eurosceptics now!

Note the outburst last week by Pedro Nuno Santos, socialist vice-president in Portugal’s Assembleia. “We have an atomic bomb that we can use in the face of the Germans and the French: this atomic bomb is simply that we won’t pay. Debt is our only weapon and we must use it to impose better conditions. We should make the legs of the German bankers tremble,” he said.

The sacrosanct 40-hour week is being stretched to 42 hours in Portugal. Manuel Carvalho da Silva, head of the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, said pay-cuts for public workers under successive austerity packages will amount to 27pc.

This is an “internal devaluation” of epic proportions.

Much has been written in recent weeks of Europe’s swing to the far Right, of the rise of Geert Wilders in Holland, or Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France, or – quite different – the black-shirt Garda Magyar of Hungary’s Jobbik party. The echoes of the 1930s are loud, and will become louder as combined monetary and fiscal contraction entrench depression.

Yet there is another parallel of equal resonance: the election of the Front Populaire in France with Communist support in May 1936, the cathartic rejection of deflation policy. Whether or not Leon Blum privately wanted to leave the Gold Standard – that inter-war replica of Europe’s unemployment union – the logic of his policies forced the outcome. Orthodoxy was overthrown.

The question for today’s Left is whether it is in their interests to keep apologising for an EU monetary regime that has pushed the jobless rate for youth to 49pc in Spain, 45pc in Greece, 30pc in Portugal and Ireland, 29pc in Italy and 24pc in France – yet 8.9pc in undervalued Germany – and that offers no credible way out of the slump for the Southern half.

Comrades across Europe, come over to the eurosceptic side. You have only your euro chains to lose.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email: