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The ‘broad church’ and the Popular Front

The kind of adulation that arose at the beginning of Corbyn’s reformist leadership is weaker than it once was, his refusal to break from the party establishment, for fear of losing his ‘electorability’ has shown his weakness. If he is too scared to take on the ‘broad church’ of Labour, how would he ever take on the ‘broad church’ of capitalism?

By Margaret McAdam – International Socialist League – UK

Labour’s ‘broad church’ always had something of the nature of a popular front, and now it is being pushed beyond the boundaries of the Labour party. John McDonnell went to Scotland to appease the Scottish National Party, an overtly nationalist capitalist party. He promised a Scottish referendum to the SNP if Labour forms a government.

The leader of the Scottish Labour is not happy because this proposal contradicts Scottish Labour policy and the formal position of the UK party not to support such a referendum on independence.

However, McDonnell recognises the weakness of the Corbyn’s Labour and is keen to ignore Labour policy if he can build the basis of a future ‘unity’ government.

He takes his cue from Tom Watson, deputy leader of Labour, who talked some months ago about a government of national unity, and Labour MPs have been talking about unity with the Greens and even the Liberal Democrats.

That can be seen today as some Labour councils, Liverpool for example, are keen to make the next round of draconian cuts to services and jobs in unity with the Liberal Democrats.

Such Popular Fronts as in the councils, with the SNP or with the Greens are a repeat of all the Popular Fronts that have taken place in history: anti-working class. They will be used today to try to hold back and defeat the workers’ struggle and to continue to impose austerity.

That this is the thinking of many of the reformist left is shown by the article written by Paul Mason “Labour’s best tactic to beat Boris Johnson? A Popular Front” in The Guardian. The need to get rid of the Tories is used by the supporters of the Popular Front to justify their position. But they never call for a united struggle of the working class to get rid of the Tories.

No doubt McDonnell took his line from this type of thinking.

The ISL says no to Popular Front government. We are for the class independence of the workers, against all those who seek to maintain austerity and wish to support an imperialist and capitalist Europe.

If Mason, Labour or the Greens called for workers action to get rid of the government we would fight side by side while opposing any demand for a government of national salvation.

We say no Popular Front; workers independent struggle to remove Johnson is the way to fight for workers’ interests and socialism.

Tory and Labour councils to slash more services

Many councils (1 in 5) are proposing drastic cuts as the last part of the current four-year funding plans. Labour councils are planning many millions worth of cuts that will hit all services including adult and social care, sure start centres, library services, and bin collections.

By 2020-21 all local authorities will stop being funded by the central government, and large numbers may follow the Tory-controlled Northamptonshire County Council, who became bankrupt last year. By 2022 up to one-third of councils may cease to exist.

The independent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers of the financial pressures facing local government across the country in the period up to 2024/25 claims local authorities will need an additional £51.8bn.

The slogan to defeat Tory plans in the past was, “it is better to break the law than break the poor”. But Labour councillors left and right vote for cuts.

We demand that councils call town and city meetings in all areas, to fight central government in order to fight for services and jobs and to put an end to privatisation.

The anti-cuts groups that emerged in 2013 must be rebuilt, without the control of the Labour Party or the trade union bureaucracies.

Working-class communities have to organise and build community organisations to fight. Grass root trade unionists are key. They must help organise the fight against the cuts!

Spanish and British ‘socialists’

Podemos, the Spanish ‘radical’ party, tried to take an easy road. They made anti-capitalist promises that many activists in Spain (and Britain) believed.

But what happened? Podemos rose and fell within five years. In 2015 they obtained 5.2 million votes (only 340,000 less than the PSOE – the Labour Party of Spain) and they won the leadership of many of the main councils. Four years later it lost 1.5 million votes and also lost the municipal governments it had gained control of.

They emerged out of “the wave of social and political outrage unleashed with the 15M mass movement” (from www.corrienteroja.net the IWL-fi section in Spain) that fought austerity and misery and became an international reference, like Syriza in Greece.

But both parties betrayed the trust of young people, activists, and workers. Neither broke from left establishment parliamentarism or the EU. That is why we argue there is a parallel with Corbynism.

Corbyn arose inside the old reformist party not outside of it, he did not arise out of mass struggles, but more out of deep frustration with the betrayals of New Labour over the mass struggles against war and austerity.

Corbyn has compromised many times as he adapts to the establishment inside the LP and modifies positions to appease the right wing: on Brexit and not calling for a workers and socialist exit from the EU and fight for its breakup alongside European workers; instructing and lending support to council leaders who make drastic cuts to public services and jobs; refusing support the Syrian revolution, retreating from defending the Palestinian people and accepting Zionist definitions on anti-Semitism; and making deals with the banks and multi-nationals.

Syriza and Podemos show where compromise leads.

Source: Socialist Voice N. 36