Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Socialist Case for Exit

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/906/23025

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 June 2016

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 906

EU referendum: whatever the result, political turmoil is ahead

TUC demo 26 March 2011: A 24-hour general strike would be a serious step in a campaign to defeat the cuts, photo Suzanne Beishon

TUC demo 26 March 2011: A 24-hour general strike would be a serious step in a campaign to defeat the cuts, photo Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

The days are counting down to the EU referendum and the polls remain on a knife edge. For the first time the Financial Times 'poll of polls' has put exit in the lead. Cameron's team is reported to be in a 'blind panic'. Project Fear has tried to step up the doom-mongering, with David Cameron declaring that Brexit would mean 40 billion worth of added cuts to public spending, including to pensions and the NHS.

It is incredible, however, the degree to which Project Fear has so far failed. Instead trust in Cameron - already low - has tumbled to just 18% believing his announcements on the EU. As the Socialist predicted, voters - particularly working class voters - are increasingly seeing the referendum as a chance to protest both against Cameron and everything they have suffered in recent years: low pay, zero-hour contracts, benefit cuts, the lack of affordable housing, and public services cut to the bone. One poll shows that 60% of 'blue collar' workers intend to vote for exit.

Had Jeremy Corbyn been prepared to lead a left, internationalist campaign for Leave, that anger would have found a clear expression. Corbyn could have explained, accurately, that he had always opposed the EU because it is an Employers' Union, adding that it is illegal under EU law to nationalise the railways or the steel industry. Many of those who are currently voting Remain because they are repelled by the little Englanders who lead the official Leave campaign could have been convinced to vote for exit.

At the same time Corbyn should have declared that, after the referendum, Cameron would have no right to continue in office, demanding a general election which Labour would contest on a programme of a 10 an hour minimum wage, mass council house building, public ownership of the privatised utilities and more. Such a bold stance would have transformed the political situation in Britain.

Relying on Labour

But it would have required defying big business, and also the pro-big business, pro-austerity and therefore also pro-EU wing of the Labour Party. Instead, one of Jeremy Corbyn's first serious retreats in the face of the Blairites was to agree to campaign for Remain. And now, as it becomes clear to Cameron that his speeches increase support for Leave, he is standing aside to allow the trade unions and the Labour leadership to try and convince workers to vote Remain.

It is possible that this will have some effect on the referendum polls, but it will also act to discredit the Labour and trade union leaders. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are struggling to avoid this; correctly refusing to appear alongside Tory politicians. Most of the Labour leadership, however, have shown no such scruples. It is incredible that Sadiq Khan, after the vile racist campaign run against him by the Tories, is now standing together with them to call for a Remain vote.

And such is the desperation of the Remain camp they are thrusting Jeremy Corbyn into the front line despite his reticence and having poured scorn on him. In the Observer (12 June) David Cameron brazenly declared that he couldn't, "be accused of an establishment stitch-up" because he was "saying listen to Jeremy Corbyn and the Green party." There is a real danger here that - as in the Scottish referendum - Labour could end up being undermined by its role in this referendum as attempted saviour of the establishment.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has openly recognised that outers are voting to get rid of Cameron and pleaded with them not to because 'Boris Johnson would be worse'. We completely reject this argument, which is a new form of 'lesser evilism'. Over the six years that Cameron has been prime minister a ruthless campaign has been run to make working class people pay for the capitalist economic crisis. The interests of the working class are not served by keeping him in power but by launching a mass campaign to force him, and his government, out of power.

A Brexit vote, and Cameron's subsequent resignation, would lift the confidence of many workers in Britain who would rightly feel they had managed to land a serious blow on the opposition. At the same time it would be a serious defeat for the capitalist class. The potential would be there for the working class to go on the offensive against the endless austerity that has rained down on us. A 24-hour general strike could quickly be posed.

Tories in meltdown

And the Tories - once the most successful capitalist party on the planet - are already in meltdown and in the event of a Brexit vote could face a terminal crisis. Far from a smooth succession from Cameron to Johnson, a vote for Brexit could potentially lead to the shattering of the Tory Party. If Johnson does take over it will be against the background of the divisions in the Tory Party having become a gaping chasm, with the Cameron wing constantly sniping from the back benches.

David Cameron, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

David Cameron, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Even if Remain wins narrowly, Cameron could be forced out. The current Tory government is very weak - carrying out 20 u-turns or partial u-turns in the last year - but the new government would be even weaker. Voters who have been told by Johnson and Gove that Brexit would mean more money for the NHS and better workers' rights will not passively accept a Johnson-led Tory government trying to impose further austerity on the working class.

Whatever happens, in the aftermath of the referendum politics in Britain will be in serious turmoil. The 1%, the capitalist class, will be fumbling around to try and find parties that can act reliably in their interests. At a certain stage the divisions in both Labour and the Tories, who are in reality only held together by the electoral system, can lead to a realignment of British politics.

A split in the Tories and Labour could lead to a new alignment of the pro-capitalist wing of the Labour Party and the pro-EU Tories. It is not for nothing that Janan Ganesh comments in the Financial Times (14 June) "the Tory and Labour moderates newly mingling in the Remain offices rather get on." It is even possible that the capitalist class could shift towards supporting a change in the electoral system to proportional representation in order to try and put such a coalition into power.

Political voice

While the political representation of the capitalist class is in turmoil, it is urgent that the working class fights for its own political voice. The complete absence of a mass working class voice in the referendum has left the ground free for the ex-Tory, ex-stockbroker Nigel Farage to falsely pose as the voice of 'the little people'. In reality, of course, the divisive little Englander ideas of Ukip offer no way forward for working class people.

To cut across them, however, requires a mass party that opposes racism and fights in the interests of all working class people, whatever their country of origin. When the anti-austerity left Syriza government was first elected in Greece over 70% of people who had voted for the far-right thugs of Golden Dawn supported the new government. It was only the betrayal of the Syriza leadership - capitulating to the institutions of the EU and implementing vicious austerity - that left room for Golden Dawn to grow again.

For big business in Britain, particularly against the background of a new economic crisis, a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government is a nightmare they will do their utmost to avoid. They fear the huge expectations it would raise among working class people who have suffered years of austerity. Therefore once the referendum is over, the offensive will once again start against Jeremy Corbyn. If Brexit wins Corbyn will be blamed no matter how many speeches he makes for Remain in the next week.

As a new round of attacks rains down on Corbyn - from inside and outside of the Labour Party - it is vital that he stands firm and makes no more retreats. It is only the popular support for Jeremy Corbyn which has so far prevented the Labour right moving to oust him, but they still intend to take the first available opportunity.

It is likely that, in collusion with the Blairites, the Tories will put the debate on the replacement of Trident on the parliamentary agenda before its summer break. Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, has already said that Jeremy Corbyn has privately promised him that MPs will not be whipped. Given the right-wing character of the Parliamentary Labour Party, that would mean the majority of MPs voting to keep Trident. The right wing Labour backbench defence committee has gone further, demanding that MPs are whipped to vote for Trident, with Jeremy Corbyn being given permission to 'absent himself'!

The replacement of Trident would cost 200 billion over its lifetime. Any further retreats by the Labour leadership would inevitably lead to an ebbing of support for Jeremy Corbyn among those who have been enthused by his stance. Jeremy Corbyn should stand firm against renewal, while at the same time guaranteeing the jobs, pay and conditions of all workers in the defence industry, through a bold programme of nationalisation of BAE, Rolls Royce, Qinetiq and other companies.

Strategy to defeat austerity

He also urgently needs to launch a fight against austerity, with the programme on which he stood for Labour leader as its starting point. This should include making clear that he opposes austerity whoever it is implemented by - Brussels, Westminster, or local councils.

In May's local elections there was a swing to Labour in Bristol, partly as a result of support for Jeremy Corbyn. But the new Labour Mayor has immediately proposed 100 million worth of cuts and appointed a 'rainbow cabinet' including Tories! This - and the vicious cuts carried out by Labour councils across the country - is not the 'new politics' that workers and young people voted for when they gave Jeremy Corbyn his landslide victory. That is better represented by the recent GMB conference, which joined the Unite and Unison local government committees and the Wales TUC in demanding councils set no-cuts budgets.

Those decisions reflect the growing determination of many workers to accept no more austerity. We urge a vote for exit on 23 June, which will strike a serious blow against the Tories and the capitalist class. That, however, is only the first step. Whatever the result of the referendum, the workers' movement needs to go on the offensive against austerity - both by fighting for a 24-hour general strike and for a mass party that stands in our interests.

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


In The Socialist 16 June 2016:


EU referendum

EU referendum: whatever the result, political turmoil is ahead

EU: busting the myths that Remain is best for the 99%

TUSC anti-EU tour touches down in Wales

BT Brexit baloney

Letters: EU referendum


International socialist news and analysis

Orlando massacre: working class unity to defeat homophobia, terrorism and racism

France: workers' revolt against labour law grows


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Hilarious, innovative satire on state bureaucracy


Workplace news and analysis

Unison conference 2016: fighting leadership needed more than ever

GMB backs no-cuts budgets and steel nationalisation

Pennine Foods strike forces bosses back to the table

Hospital porters and domestic staff claim jobs and pay victory

Strike at Argos depot against contracting out of jobs

Buses parked three deep in Leeds strike

School support staff mobilise against slashing of pay

Uber drivers strike against unfair fares

Lorry stoppage paves the way to victory

Solidarity with victimised bakers' union rep


Housing crisis

Action to defeat the Housing Act: we won't move!

Housing Act: landlords and developers set to profit

Generation rent demands affordable housing


NHS

Re-open Chorley A&E - end the staff shortages

Hands Off HRI campaign grows from strength to strength


Socialist Party news and analysis

Systemic failures hurt kids in justice system

Them & Us

Socialist Party fundraising: punching above our weight


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 June 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

EU:

triangleThem & Us

triangleBrexit and British capitalism - why Johnson's juggernaut is set to jackknife

triangleTrouble ahead for Johnson: Brexit is far from 'done'

triangleThe Brexit battles still to come

triangleGeneral election is the real 'people's vote'

The Socialist:

triangleSocialist sellers

triangleThe Socialist: Ideas to change society

triangleSocialist Sellers

triangleBuild independent workers' media with May Day greetings

Socialist:

trianglePreparing for the post-Corbyn era

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: Couldn't pay, wouldn't pay, didn't pay - the battle to defeat the poll tax

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: Behind the Sinn Fein surge in Ireland

Labour:

triangleUnite union executive council elections

triangleStop Newham Labour's cuts and gentrification

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleUnite union nominates Long-Bailey and Burgon

Austerity:

triangleCuts and climate change cause floods

Working class:

triangleLabour Party and trans rights

Tories:

triangleJavid's departure foreshadows deeper Tory divisions

Capitalist:

triangleTrump's trashing of the environment - Dump the capitalist profit system!

Government:

triangleJohnson emits huge quantities of hot air!

Workers:

triangleWorkers call on Interserve bosses to recognise union

Cuts:

triangleCallous Tory cuts to children's speech therapy in Nottinghamshire

Britain:

triangleWindrush deportations: end the hostile environment

Trident:

triangleNHS cyberattack: budget cuts and spy agency to blame

Labour Party:

triangleReverse Unison's undemocratic nomination of Blairite Starmer

Big business:

triangleLow Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!

Pay:

trianglePeterborough food workers picket and protest

Economic crisis:

triangleMassive protests against Lebanon's corrupt elite

Tory party:

triangleTories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time

NHS:

triangleKeep the pressure on to save Royal Glam A&E

David Cameron:

triangleThe Cameron Tory legacy

Low pay:

triangle6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay

Public ownership:

triangleNationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

Racism:

triangleUnite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity

Local government:

triangleUnite regional committee votes to support anti-cuts Enfield councillor

Trade union:

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Fighting austerity & anti-trade union laws

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

Unions:

triangleTrade unions - new decade, new challenges

UKIP:

triangleMay ends in June! Boot out the Tories!

Trade unions:

triangleBuilding Tamil Solidarity with youth and the unions

Nigel Farage:

triangle'Vote Leave' fined: For a workers' Brexit

Nationalisation:

triangleLabour leadership contest and public ownership

Boris Johnson:

triangleEnd health and wealth divide - Fight for our NHS

Anti-austerity:

triangleLabour Party leadership contest: Fight for a mass anti-austerity, workers' party with a socialist programme

British politics:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Fighting cuts and getting the Tories out!

Far-right:

triangleFight the far-right - fight for socialist policies

Minimum wage:

triangleTory minimum wage hike not enough

John McDonnell:

triangleDefend the right to strike! RMT and NSSN lobby parliament

General election:

triangleWhat next after the general election, for PCS and the left

Nationalise:

triangleHS2 debacle: nationalise rail and construction!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

21/2/20

Socialism

Preparing for the post-Corbyn era

19/2/20

Poll tax

Couldn't pay, wouldn't pay, didn't pay: the battle to defeat the poll tax

19/2/20

Environment

Cuts and climate change cause floods

19/2/20

Tories

Javid's departure foreshadows deeper Tory divisions

19/2/20

Trans

Labour Party and trans rights

12/2/20

Terrorism

Streatham attack: Johnson's bill can't stop terror

12/2/20

Cuts

How to resist Tory attacks on local communities

12/2/20

Trade unions

Trade unions - new decade, new challenges

12/2/20

London

Council houses - not private property developers

12/2/20

Councillors

Cuts councillors are the real problem

12/2/20

NHS

NHS debt so high it can't be repaid - so don't pay it!

12/2/20

NHS

Unnecessary surgery scandal shows need for democratic control of NHS

12/2/20

NHS

NHS: Fight for full funding!

12/2/20

What We Heard

What We Heard

12/2/20

Them & Us

Them & Us

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999