Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Socialist Case for Exit

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/903/22880

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 May 2016

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 903

EU referendum can bring the Tories down

The EU has undermined workers' rights across Europe, photo Paul Mattsson

The EU has undermined workers' rights across Europe, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

"As the debate on the EU referendum intensifies, so do the possibilities for a split in the Conservative Party." This is not a quote from the Socialist or even an opposition politician, but from Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg writing in one of the main mouthpieces of capitalism, the Financial Times.

He goes on to compare the divisions emerging in the Tory party today to those that led to chasms within it in the mid-19th century over the repeal of the Corn Laws. Nobody can deny the scale of the crisis facing the Tories as a result of this referendum. And it will be far from an easy task for them to put Humpty back together again, regardless of the result.

Majority of 12

This was always a weak government - voted for by 24% of the electorate and with a parliamentary majority of just 12. And now, unable to function as one party, it is a lame duck awaiting its fate on 23 June.

That explains why they have been forced to retreat, at least partially, on so many issues. Initially determined not to give an inch to the junior doctors, Jeremy Hunt was forced back to the negotiating table. Nicky Morgan's attempt to legislatively force every school to become an academy had to be re-hashed. Cuts to tax credits were put on the back burner until the planned (but much-delayed and far-from-guaranteed) introduction of Universal Credit.

Equally, this paralysis explains why there was very little policy of substance included in the recent Queen's Speech. A continuation of austerity absolutely, but as one Labour MP was quoted as saying: "It was mostly re-announcements of previously ditched polices, and small measures which just tinker at the edges. It shows that this government are completely hamstrung by the referendum."

Cameron is backed into a corner trying to fight off foes from all directions. He faces threats from the right-wing Tories campaigning for Leave - a position which is more popular with the Tory party membership at large. He's forced to talk almost-left on issues like jobs and the health service in an attempt to win over working class people to his Remain position. But he must keep big business on side and never drop the clear fact that it's their interests which he will always put first, including in this referendum.

And then of course, there's Ukip. Nigel Farage has predicted that a third of Conservative Party members could defect to Ukip in the case of a victory for Remain. While this is unlikely to be a scientific assessment, having spent 25 years putting the EU centre-stage of all its politics, Ukip was clearly always going to see this as an opportunity to shine.

And many working class and young people will vote Remain because of an understandable fear that a Leave vote would mainly benefit Ukip and lead to a strengthening of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment and policies.

But Ukip has gained ground and has been expressing its racist politics while the UK is in the EU. The status quo is clearly not working to combat this.

Racism

This is because it's not membership of the EU that is decisive in tackling the growth of Ukip or its politics. In fact the racist policies of the EU - which continues to brutally deport thousands of refugees from Greece to Turkey - are contributing to gains for the right across Europe.

The ground for Ukip to grow is provided not by Brexit but by vicious austerity, repulsion with the political establishment and a deep desire for working class people to take control of their own lives and have the chance of a different type of society.

 photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Ukip doesn't represent this alternative - it is yet another party of big business whose politicians vote for cuts to jobs and services just like the other capitalist parties. But its rhetoric is designed to appeal to a layer of working class people looking for something different.

Polls have consistently shown Ukip voters are more likely than average to support nationalisation of the railways and utility companies and other pro-worker policies. Ukip recognises this base of support. In the recent Welsh elections, where Ukip won seven assembly members, they hardly spoke about immigration at all, instead using slogans like 'save our steel' and 'save our NHS'.

The way to combat this support is therefore to build an alternative capable of actually achieving this kind of policy and answering the fears of working class people about how best to defend their jobs and services. This requires building a strong, united movement against austerity - which could cut across racial division and bring about real change to ordinary people's lives. Why would such a movement opt to give a vote of confidence to an institution that is fundamentally opposed to these aims, as the EU is?

To nationalise the railways, for example, would require a confrontation with the EU, which places obstacles in the way of state intervention and nationalisation. It would be one extra barrier for a left government to overcome.

If a lead had been given to a left Leave campaign by the trade union leaders and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, any benefit to Ukip could have been cut across. Instead they have, with a few honourable exceptions, fallen into line behind Cameron and the official Remain campaign.

This means that in the mainstream debates no working class voice is heard. Instead we have two sides trying to out-racism each other - as was shown clearly recently in the debate over the possible future admission of Turkey to the EU.

Left alternative

But, despite their mistake, it is still a Leave vote that would present the best chance to kick out the Tories and offer a huge opportunity for Corbyn's Labour to come to power well before 2020. Around the world it has been shown time and again that working class people will favour a left alternative over a right-wing one when this exists and is seen as a serious force.

When Greek party Syriza was presenting a left stand against austerity, it was propelled to power by the working class (before later capitulating to the EU and continuing to implement its austerity memorandums). At one stage, when seen as most radical and serious, Syriza was supported by more than 60% of those who had previously voted for the far-right Golden Dawn.

A Labour Party standing on the programme that won Corbyn such huge support in last summer's Labour leadership race - for a 10 an hour minimum wage, against privatisation and cuts, for free education and so on - could undoubtedly triumph against the Tories and Ukip.

The crisis in the Tory party is not a unique phenomenon. All over the world the traditional parties of capitalism are disintegrating. In Spain, a new general election has been called after only six months, because no government could be formed after the last one. The main capitalist party, the PP, lost 3.6 million votes. In Portugal the last government collapsed after only weeks in power. The fault lines are shifting and an entirely new political landscape is possible - shown this time in Britain. This referendum could lead to major splits - not only in the Tories but also in Labour and even in Ukip itself.

The approach of looking purely for the 'lesser evil' cannot defeat the right. In the US, the establishment 'left' would like working class people to fall into line behind Hillary Clinton, raising the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency as a whip. But workers in the US are sick of the same old politics of the super-rich 1%. Which is why it's not guaranteed that Clinton would win such a race.

In fact several polls have shown that Clinton's left-wing challenger, Bernie Sanders - with his call for a 'political revolution against the billionaire class' - would stand a better chance of defeating right-wing anti-establishment candidate Trump.

Because ultimately only a socialist, independent working class position can defeat the right wing. That means building parties everywhere that can represent the mass movements that will be necessary to change our futures.

The current weakness of Cameron and his Tory government offers a unique opportunity for workers to press this home. Imagine the opportunities that would face the labour and trade union movement if Cameron was forced to resign (as he would be in the case of a Leave victory) and the more so if a general election was called. Fighting for a strong working class Leave vote on 23 June can contribute to achieving that.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 25 May 2016:


International socialist news and analysis

Brazil: Fall of Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class

Venezuela - on the brink of collapse?

Austria - Hofer defeated, but far-right threat remains

Mass protests against regime take on Kazakhstan cops

Canada: fire devastates Fort McMurray


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories forced back in junior doctors' dispute

'Socialist case against the EU' TUSC tour kicks off

Boris hid killer air report

Them & us

What we saw: 'I, Daniel Blake' and Hunt/'Thick of It' remix


What we think

EU referendum can bring the Tories down


Workplace news and analysis

Link the strikes - come to the NSSN conference

PCS BIS staff strike against office closure

Pennine Foods - Strikers persuade delivery lorries to turn away

Train conductors strike to keep their role

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to win: join the Socialists!

We won't move! Mass resistance can defeat the Tories' housing act

Leicester drives out Britain First

Coventry sees off EDL

Campaigning for a people's plan for Waltham Forest

Chorley A&E battle


Socialist readers' comments and obituaries

Greece crisis - please vote Leave

Socialist inbox

Obituary: Jenny O'Sullivan (1988-2016)


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 May 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

EU:

triangleWorkers warned boss of tech failure danger

triangleCorbyn and Brexit: Why a socialist approach to the EU is needed

triangleSingle market = TTIP

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

No unity with Tories:

triangleWhat lies behind UKIP?

triangleTUSC sends formal letter to election watchdog, 'don't back UKIP & Tory EU outers'

triangleTUSC challenge to UKIP & Tories: 'Let's debate who should be the voice of Leave'

triangleBBC reports on TUSC bid to be official EU 'leave' campaign

Tories:

triangleTories may have broken election laws... again

triangleTrade unions must organise mass movement to kick out the Tories

triangleStep up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites

Socialist:

triangleWest Cheshire Socialist Party: Workers' control and nationalisation explained

The Socialist:

triangleTo join the struggle to save the NHS

UKIP:

triangleMay and Tories must go!

Working class:

triangleWhole establishment exposed for role in Grenfell fire

Austerity:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell - austerity kills

Tory party:

triangleThe Queen's Speech; and defending the right to protest

Cuts:

triangleLiverpool's 1983-87 socialist council - power to the people!

Racism:

triangleFinsbury Park attack: No to terror, racism, war and austerity!

Conservative party:

triangleTories escape election fraud charges

Britain:

triangleConsolidating the Corbyn revolution

Nigel Farage:

triangleEurope and the workers' movement after Brexit

Refugees:

triangleAttacks ratchet-up Syrian conflict and fuel tensions between powers

Immigration:

triangleHomelessness agencies accused of being complicit in coercive deportations

Far-right:

triangleRacist EDL humiliated for third time

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

28/6/17

Anti-austerity

Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites

28/6/17

Trade unions

Trade unions must organise mass movement to kick out the Tories

28/6/17

School

Students 'skirt' school uniform issue!

28/6/17

Banks

Barclays finally charged for having their hands in the till

28/6/17

What we saw

What We Saw

28/6/17

Tories

Tories may have broken election laws... again

28/6/17

Austerity

Benefit cap defeat for government

28/6/17

Homelessness

Homelessness soars - Corbyn offers housing revolution

28/6/17

Newham

Police accused of killing cover-up

28/6/17

Grenfell Tower

Grenfell fire compounded by overcrowding: build more council homes now

27/6/17

Housing

After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

26/6/17

Britain

Consolidating the Corbyn revolution

21/6/17

Trade unions

The have-yachts and the have-nots

21/6/17

Education

Open University facing huge cuts

21/6/17

Inflation

Inflation: Workers lose out - time for action

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle28 Jun Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites

triangle28 Jun Confident delegates take control, give Corbyn 'rapturous' welcome

triangle28 Jun Trade unions must organise mass movement to kick out the Tories

triangle27 Jun After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

triangle26 Jun Consolidating the Corbyn revolution

triangle24 Jun Camden evacuation - residents expose fire risks

triangle21 Jun Justice for Grenfell and safety for all

More ...

triangle28 Jun Hackney Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell

triangle28 Jun Caerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa

triangle29 Jun Lambeth Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell

triangle29 Jun Waltham Forest Socialist Party: Workers' Brexit? What does it mean?

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2