Down with the EU, fight for workers’ Socialism!

Tory problems over Brexit are very deep and are alarming some of the more thoughtful capitalist commentators such as the Economist,

The government has its head in the sand about the painful trade-offs that leaving the European Union entails. As long as the country stays in denial, we argue, it is on course for disaster” (20 July 2017).

Economic problems are increasing. Inflation is running at 2.6 per cent, the pound is falling, and consumer debt is rising. At the same time, industrial production and construction fell in the second quarter of 2017, 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. This anaemic economy grew overall by 0.3 percent.

Tensions being caused by Brexit appear at every turn. Michael Gove, the environment secretary said British food standards must not be downgraded in relation to a trade agreement with the USA, while Downing Street refused to rule out such a downgrading.

Trade with the American farming industry will mean unbanning chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-fed beef and genetically modified crops, all banned in the EU.

Some Tories think that a trade agreement with the USA will compensate for any trade problems with the EU and make a Britain that once ruled the world ‘Great’ again. But each trade agreement will bring consequences. Far gone are the days when British capitalism could impose its trade policies on the world.

Europe and EU fierce class battles

There are fierce offensives taking place against workers’ rights in France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The EU is an area of class battle today as the EU try to impose heavier austerity burdens. But workers are fighting back: Alitalia in Italy and Volkswagen in Portugal are two examples.

The French Solidaires union federation is calling for strike and demonstrations throughout France on 12 September. Organised links are being made through the International Network of struggle (Conference in Madrid in January 2018).

The answer is not ‘Remain’ or ‘Brexit’. However, these are the only options being considered by British left groups from the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, Socialist Outlook, to Left Unity. In opposing both Remain and Brexit it is necessary to build and link all workers struggles across Europe and to destroy the EU before it destroys many more workers rights. We fight for socialism and a workers’ socialist Europe. To do that an International (world) Marxist party of workers and struggle is needed.

Strikes spread

In Britain immigrant and young workers have started to organise and win. That is why we argue for strikes to spread.

Workers are increasing their resistance such as the victorious LSE university cleaners, the five week refuse workers strike against Labour’s Birmingham Council, the continual rejection of Durham Labour Council seeking to cut teachers assistants wages, the fight of British Airways staff, the continuation of RMT strikes over keeping guards (including train drivers In Liverpool) and there are many other disputes taking place.

Capitalism kills

Another source of great anger is the terrible tragedy of Grenfell Towers. This horrible disaster was caused by the destruction of council housing, and self-regulation by the private sector. From Thatcher to Labour governments, and now the current May administration, profit has been prioritised.

There is an explosive anger growing against capitalism “inspecting” itself, combined with austerity cuts. While, privatisation rips away social safety nets in housing, transport and health and drives the most vulnerable such as immigrants and low paid to dangerous levels of poverty and insecurity.

Capitalist “planning”, i.e. the drive for cuts and deregulation, led to the deaths at Grenfell and the local Tory council and Government have no other plan. That is why they could not provide help immediately after the tragedy. The government will control any inquiry into the tragedy organised from above. However, there is strong opposition to the callous attitude of the establishment.

Rent control, tenants control over safety and the social environment is the way forward to prevent these tragedies.

Labour disarray

Labour will not call for strike action to bring the government down. Instead, they will manoeuvre in parliament and wait for an internal Tory crisis and hope for another general election.

The Labour Party are also in disarray. “The right, left and centre of the Labour party seem, to varying degrees, to be lapsing back into the same habits on national identity and immigration that contributed so much to the conditions that made Brexit possible.” (25 July, Guardian.)

On the Andrew Marr show, 23 July, Jeremy Corbyn referred to the “wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry”.

Corbyn and McDonnell (shadow chancellor) have made a political choice to pander to the prejudices of former UKIP voters who switched to Labour, rather than fight those prejudices and build on the anti-austerity feeling shown in the Labour vote on 8 June.

It is urgent that we build a Marxist workers party and a revolutionary Marxist International rooted in working class struggle.

This is a vital task of workers, youth and the poorest sections in our society in order to break through union and labour leaderships barriers.

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Originally published in Socialist Voice #28