On 18 April, Theresa May called a snap election for 8 June. The decision was not based on confidence in the economy or Brexit, but following a massive Tory lead in the polls at the weekend showing that the Conservatives led by more than 20 points.
International Socialist League Statement.
May believes Jeremy Corbyn is a weak leader. He is because he appeases right-wing Labour, and union bureaucrats, weakly opposes austerity, with a belief in parliamentary reform of capitalism and socialist gradualism. None of Labour’s policies address the deep crisis of British capitalism. Corbyn has also capitulated to the Tories by supporting Brexit and agreeing to a snap election.
May also hopes that an election victory will strengthen the Tories because mass resistance could emerges to Brexit and austerity, due to attacks on living conditions, wages and rights.
Currently there is strong resistance to Tory plans by RMT rail workers, and mass popular support against the destruction of the NHS. The list of potential struggles continues to grow against issues such as increasing trade union victimisation, attacks on the unemployed and low paid, increasing use of zero hour contracts, the dismantling of all levels of public education, a massive crisis in housing and homelessness, and inflation soaring above wages; pensions and benefits.
Tory policy: Brexit, austerity and racism
May’s election campaign will focus on Brexit and nationalism. However, she appears to lack confidence as so far, she has ruled out participating in live TV debates. Tory interests lie in the City of London and the transnationals and as Britain pulls out of the EU harsher measures of austerity will be a consequence. Brexit and austerity will merge.
Tories plan to popularise and impose these policies. Hence immigrants and the unemployed will be scapegoated, seeing racism and islamophobia rise. A divided class will see poorer and young workers, and women suffer the most.
May faces many problems
Problems facing the Tories can worsen with an increase in internal economic and political crisis in Europe and across the world.
The French political situation is in turmoil as the European Union and European capitalism wants to roll back the gains of the French working class. This is in part a consequence of inter-imperialist crises taking place inside the EU which makes the benefit of Brexit for British capitalism even more uncertain.
The fight will deepen over who dominates the UK economy, as the Tories follow the U.S. developing a U.S. style private health care system, building walls to keep immigrants out and privatising education, while European capitalism extracts what it can. Further world crises in capitalism will accelerate these tendencies.
The Tory government also has internal problems with Scotland and northern Ireland. In northern Ireland, more people have died by suicide in the past 17 years than were killed during 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. More than three quarters of those who have died by suicide were men. (Government statistics January 2016). Brexit, austerity and lack of progress since the establishment of the N.I. Assembly is raising again the question of a 32 counties republic.
In Scotland the call for a second referendum on Scottish independence has gained ground.
For the UK working class unity in mass struggle is essential to fight austerity and cuts, which is being imposed by local councils and the government.
Can Corbyn Fight for Socialist Policies?
Corbyn has failed over more than a year and a half to use his political and popular support to lead workers. His messages for “social justice” ignore the necessity of independent class action and militancy and since his victory the movement against cuts and austerity has seriously waned.
Corbyn becomes caught up in many contradictions of his own making. He was for Remain and now is for Brexit, he calls for the re-nationalisation of the rail but his policies are too weak to ensure the railways will be re-nationalised. And his 10 pledges for social justice totally ignore the brutal cuts to Welfare and attacks on immigrants.
Many left parties think Corbyn can be pushed into fighting for socialist policies. The Socialist Party say, “If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.” Britain: Jeremy Corbyn must fight general election with socialist policies.
A socialist programme means fighting and mobilising against racism, austerity, Brexit and the European Union. The EU will not defend the working class, as Greek and France workers will testify.
The position of the TUC, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Socialist Party is to call for a Brexit in the interests of the working class but this is a sham. There cannot be a Brexit in the interests of workers. Brexit means a British, that is nationalist, exit from the EU, not a workers’ exit.
We have to unify the European working class in a struggle against borders and nationalism for a free European Federation of Socialist Countries.
In March 2017, the SWP suspended its membership of TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) in England and Wales. “Our unwillingness to put forward candidates is not because Labour councils are doing a good job. They are ruthlessly imposing Tory cuts.” Yes every Labour Council is implementing cuts and left Labour councillor do not fight for an anti-cuts strategy. Such as in Durham 67 Labour councillors voted to cut teacher assistant wages by 23%. Labour cannot fight austerity in the councils because it is a pro-capitalist party tied to financial capital.
So, the SWP make peace with Corbyn and the Labour Party by abandoning the electoral fight against the reformist policies while councillors destroy services, jobs and attack the poorer and most vulnerable.
Both the SP and SWP continue to sow illusions in Labour who support devolution, which includes a policy of regional privatisation of the NHS. Some Labour party members have supported the fight for the NHS but the leadership has not sought to organise and build a mass movement.
Corbyn’s conciliation with the right-wing has been prioritised over anti-cuts mobilisations. Some Labour MPs and councillors have attacked the RMT and other strikes. In Liverpool, Labour councillors voted for Driver Only Operations trains supporting the employers, not the workers or public who oppose this policy.
The fight for working class socialism
Many workers are looking for a solution to their problems but do not recognise Labour as the alternative because they see Labour cutting services and jobs. A mass struggle of workers can change everything and must be built during and after this general election, whatever the outcome.
The International Socialist League will support left working class candidates opposing austerity and cuts, posing a needs not a cuts budget – this is the sixth richest nation in the world.
We call on all the fighting organisations such as the Durham Teachers assistants, campaigns in defence of the NHS, anti-cuts committees, union rank and file organisations and those fighting union victimisation to build the electoral opposition to Brexit, austerity and cuts. We also propose the calling of a national conference by TUSC and Left Unity open to all workers and the left that want to fight.
We need to build a workers’ socialist alternative to fight against austerity and capitalism, and towards building a socialist society based on workers democracy and control.
- Solidarity and support to all striking workers
- Continue to mobilise to fight for the NHS
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