Jeremy Corbyn is receiving huge support outside of parliament. His anti-austerity perspectives resonate across the working class in opposition to the mainstream political system of the Tories, the capitalist media and constant right-wing Labour attacks on Corbyn. Corbyn is seen to be giving a voice to voiceless and an alternative to the disenfranchisement from Labour that came from the Blair and Miliband years.

Statement by International Socialist League

 

Labour’s right-wing group of 170 Labour MPs made their move to oust Corbyn after the Brexit result, which they used as an excuse in calling a vote of no-confidence, just 40 MPs defended Corbyn.

However this has backfired and increased opposition to the right-wing. All of this comes from deep opposition to eight years of austerity that has also been implemented by the Labour Party as not a single Labour Council has opposed the Tory onslaught against the poorest and most vulnerable. All have implemented cuts – even under Corbyn’s leadership. Enough is enough!

There is intense interest and discussion in this Labour political struggle, and those who stand with Corbyn think and hope he will be different.

Fight cuts and bosses now!

So far the campaign has been limited to an internal election debate. No one has made the call to fight now and take to the streets against austerity.

Strikes taking place involving railway, education, cleaning, energy, oil and delivery workers, show that workers are ready to fight. There is also an important emerging fight against the rapid dismantling of the welfare state and NHS.

Many workers are calling on Corbyn to use his election campaign to support their strikes and mobilisations. He has expressed sympathy with some struggles, and attended some picket lines, but there needs to be a strong clear call for mass mobilisations for all strikes and anti-cuts struggles from Labour’s left leadership.

The International Socialist League thinks it is essential for all workers now to build and join the mobilisations against austerity including those who support Corbyn.

Councillors who support Corbyn have to stop following the Labour controlled councils right-wing policies. So far they have all voted for council cuts and closures, it’s time to vote against.

We call on all left Labour MPs and councillors to fight the cuts now! To their supporters we say make them fight now!

We need to make a front of action in all struggles and build mass actions, for example, to save the NHS left Labour leaders and activists should be making public their support for current mobilisations, such as the one In Liverpool 25 September and help build them – against right-wing support for closures. Constituency Labour Parties (as 84 per cent voted to support Corbyn) should promote these mass mobilisation.

Capitalism will find many ways to block any progressive policies unless they are forced through by mass action.  Without workers’ struggle on the streets nothing will be achieved. Movements need to be built now.

Fight Labour’s right-wing

The fight against austerity cannot be made with right-wing Labour. In response to 246 Labour councillors endorsing Corbyn, 1,000 signed a letter of support for the opposition, Owen Smith.

That also means about 4,750 have not taken sides! This indicates that a majority in councils are for the status quo.

Corbyn has retreated on some of the promises he made in the first leadership contest, in order to appease the right-wing such as dropping the demand for energy nationalisation, retreating on ending student fees and refusing to vote for proportional representation.

If left Labour’s opposition against austerity is to develop into action they must adopt a policy of de-selecting right-wing MPs and councillors who continue to vote for cuts and other capitalist policies. But the left leaders are against re-selection.

Mass action now

To remain with Labour’s right wing MPs and councillors will paralyse Corbyn’s struggle against austerity, a break has to come.

ISL proposes that left Labour Party members and supporters join anti-cuts groups, and where necessary create new ones with workers democracy that can link unions and communities together in struggle.

Left MPs and councillors must stop colluding in the implementation of austerity. They should call open city wide conferences to discuss a programme against austerity and cuts now.

To those who think Labour can become socialist we say let’s make a common front of action against austerity. Socialism will be fought for on the streets, in strikes and the centre of that struggle will be the class struggle outside of parliament.

That means building a struggle that goes way beyond the confines of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. The centre of gravity of the socialist struggle is not parliament but the streets and the independent struggle of workers.

Reformism or Marxism

Lenin wrote many years before the 1905 revolution that “to limit the activities of the proletariat under any circumstances to peaceful ‘democratisation’ alone is arbitrarily to narrow and vulgarise the concept of working-class socialism.” A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy 1899.

“…We have no parliament, but then there is no end of parliamentary cretinism among the liberals and of parliamentary licence among all the bourgeois deputies.

The workers must thoroughly master this truth if they want to learn how to use representative institutions for promoting the political consciousness, unity, activity and efficiency of the working class” (Capitalism and “Parliament” – 17 June 1912).

Lenin insists on the independent struggle of the working class as the basis of socialism.

The ISL believes that an experience of persistent struggle will show that to break from all the class collaborationist and pro-capitalist policies of the past that Corbyn will have to break from the Labour party and take with him all those who want to fight austerity.

The International Socialist League will be at the frontline supporting and helping to build a real working class alternative including a new working class party, and proposing that it be socialist, revolutionary and internationalist.

Action not pledges

In August Corbyn announced 10 pledges but without a single mention of welfare, even in its broadest sense which includes social security, working and child tax credits, child benefit, homelessness and pensions.

With the number of homeless and levels of poverty set to rise significantly when the benefit cap is lowered in November 2016, action is needed now not promises for the future.

On the housing pledge the building of 1mn new homes in five years with at least half of them council homes is not enough. Furthermore construction is left in the hands of private profit making companies.

Another pledge will, “Put the public back into our economy and services: includes renationalising railways and bringing private bus, leisure and sports facilities back into local government control.” The banks and trans-nationals control the economy so without removing their power by nationalisation under the control of workers this pledge means very little. It has been explained that rail nationalisation will only take place after the current franchises are completed, so as stated by the Economist “Nationalising franchises as they expired would also take a painfully long time: only around one-third would be in state control by 2025.” (3 October 2015.)

Critically it can be said, the ten pledges are vague, and without a concrete programme to fight now they remain meaningless. We need to fight austerity in deeds not by words with mass action today, as the only way to defeat austerity.

Nationalise bank of England

In a BBC Radio 4 interview 4 July John McDonnell on 4 July, stated that under a Labour government the Bank of England would remain “independent” but independent of whom we must ask?

The Bank of England is the central institution that determines the fiscal and monetary policy that pro-austerity British capitalism wants. We demand its nationalisation and the opening of all the financial books, including of those that that lead to offshore banking.

A socialist programme will demand that banks be taken over by workers control and administration for the needs of society.

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Originally published in Socialist Voice N 25