Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 18:53 UK

Crow launches NO2EU euro campaign

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News

Just when you were beginning to think that Eurosceptics were all dyed-in-the-wool right-wingers, along comes Bob Crow.

Bob Crow at NO2EU launch
NO2EU believes the EU is destroying workers' rights

The RMT rail union chief is a bastion of the Old Left, now detached from the Labour Party, and he is hopping mad about the European Union, which he believes is destroying workers' rights through its promotion of privatisation.

Speaking at the European election campaign launch of a new political alliance NO2EU - Yes to Democracy, on the steps of the Department of Health in Whitehall, he blames the EU for everything from threatening the jobs of workers in the NHS, through a new directive on breaking up monopolies, to attacking trade union collective bargaining and the right to strike.

The group wants British withdrawal from the EU, attacking its "completely undemocratic institutions" - the European Commission and the European Central Bank - and what it sees as the corrupt Brussels "gravy train".

NO2EU was born out of the "British Jobs for British workers" protests at the Lindsey oil refinery and its aim is to provide working class voters and trade union members with a left wing alternative to the British National Party.

'Not being represented'

Mr Crow, who is the new party's lead candidate in London, said that - unlike the BNP - he was "not against workers coming into the country" but he was against "two workers from different countries competing against each other on different rates of pay".

"It is the system that is wrong," he adds.

We are against the export of jobs and factories from the UK, but we also want unity
Dave Nellist, NO2EU candidate

He says his party's executive committee fully backed the setting up of a new political party to take on Labour and the other major parties and he says he is comfortable with spending his members' money on what is, by any measure, a huge political gamble.

"Our union believes our members are not being represented at the moment," he argues.

If N02EU manage to get any MEPs elected, they say they will not take their Brussels wage or spend much time in the European Parliament.

Instead, they will man the barricades at picket lines across Europe, says Mr Crow, campaigning for workers' rights.

"Our main role will be out there among working people, giving them our support and helping to save their industries from privatisation."

'Clean hands'

The new group is an alliance of the RMT, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Indian Workers' Association and the Alliance for Green Socialism.

It is running a full slate of candidates on 4 June, including Dyal Singh Bagri, President of the Indian Workers Association, Solidarity's Tommy Sheridan and trade union convenors from the Lindsey oil refinery and protests at the 2012 Olympics site.

The party's lead candidate in the West Midlands is former Militant Labour MP Dave Nellist.

Asked what the difference was between NO2EU and the seemingly ever-growing list of parties competing for the Eurosceptic vote on 4 June, he says: "We are not barmy.

"We are against the export of jobs and factories from the UK, but we also want unity. We don't want to start a war with France or Italy."

Mr Nellist, who says he only ever claimed an average factory worker's wage when he was in Parliament, claims it can tap into public anger with mainstream politicians over the expenses scandal, saying: "We come into politics with clean hands."

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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