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8 January 2020

The Socialist Inbox

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Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight!

This week's Socialist Inbox is given over to readers' comments in the hours and days following December's general election and its likely implications.

Build trade unions fit for purpose

Labour's electoral catastrophe was entirely predictable. A party founded to represent the political views of the working class, that abandons that role in the most important political decision of the age, in this case Brexit, cannot expect to retain working-class support in an election.

We expected the opposition of the Blairites, but the short-sighted, pro-remain position of Labour 'lefts' was no less damaging to Labour. Their inability to understand the true, pro-capitalist, anti-working class nature of the EU is tragic; and when Corbyn allowed himself to be manoeuvred into this position, the anger of the working class was palpable in Labour's heartlands.

But for the working class a pendulum swings between two planes, the political and the industrial. Defeated on one plane, they move to action on the other. The trade unions will soon be the main field of struggle, as the Tories capitalise on their success by attacks on workers' rights and living standards.

Attention now falls on the trade unions, sluggish, ill-led in many cases; with a few exceptions, dominated by right-wing, non-militant leaderships.

This situation must be challenged and changed. Relentless war must be waged on faint-hearted union leaders. Challenge, oppose and replace them. Above all, organise workers to resist the attacks. Build a trade union movement fit for the momentous tasks ahead.

Let the Tories know that they have won the election, but not the attack on the working class.

Roger Bannister, Liverpool

Labour's appeasement failure

Now that the dust has settled on the general election, a sober analysis is required. The Brexit Party standing down in the marginals allowed the Tories in.

Farage even bragged about keeping Corbyn and Labour out.

Also, Corbyn's limited left-wing programme probably wasn't even heard by most constituents because pseudo-Labour MPs kept it off their election material. Some of them even called upon their constituents not to vote for Labour. Absolutely appalling.

Corbyn was his own worst enemy. He tried to appease everyone and appeased no one. He should have come down on the side of Leave. By not doing so he left the field open to Johnson. He wasn't assertive enough with enemies both inside and outside the Labour Party.

The Blairites blame him and the left for defeat; they've been saying that since the 1980s. They ought to look at their own Tory-lite politicians before they blame the left.

Thatcher said her greatest achievement was Tony Blair and New Labour. They governed with Tory-lite policies and started the privatisation of our NHS. No wonder workers abandoned them or abstained. No real alternative to austerity.

The class struggle continues.

Bill Buchanan, Nottingham

Don't blame the working class

Corbyn's Manifesto was a good start - but needed to be campaigned for over many months, not a few weeks. Certainly don't blame the working class, blame years of Labour councils passing on cuts, years of Blairite backstabbing (and they will now go all out to steal Labour back).

But also it's down to misunderstanding the bitterness of workers - who voted for Brexit to put two fingers up to the establishment. Instead of Labour explaining clearly that they will fight for a different kind of Brexit - for jobs, services, ie the nationalisation the EU opposes - Labour seemed to be, at best, fudging it, at worst, backing the neoliberal EU.

Martin Powell-Davies, Cumbria

France will come to Britain

There will be many understandably feeling devastated, angry and even frightened by what the next five years of a Tory majority government will mean.

Parallels are being made with the dark days of Thatcher but this is a mistake in my view. Let us not forget this was a Tory party forced into an election in which it had to promise the biggest spending on the health service and education; a party which had to say austerity was over.

What can look like a dark day today can very soon become a very angry one tomorrow. Look what happened to Macron in France who threatened to wipe away a generation of workers' rights. Within months he faced the yellow vest movement and a general strike. And look what happened to Bolsonaro in Brazil: elected on a right-wing, anti-worker programme, but within months was faced with massive general strike.

Our job now is to organise on the streets and in the workplaces to demand an end to austerity.

Now is the time to begin that fight.

Glenn Kelly, Brighton

Stand up and fight back

I am 81 and doubtful that I will see another Labour government. However, I am not pessimistic because fighting for socialism is not just a parliamentary thing.

Look at the upheavals in France, the demos in Italy, Lebanon, Iraq, Brazil, and so on. This rotten Tory government will be a government of crisis. It will be incapable of retaining working-class Brexit voters in the north on a permanent basis.

No matter what the Tories say they are the 1% we are the 99%, when we mobilise we can take them down. I say to the Trade Union Congress get up off your knees and fight; I say to Labour councillors fight and defend your communities; I say to Labour reject the siren voices urging you to move to the right.

The world is in turmoil. Only socialism can resolve the contradictions of a failing capitalist system. Let's make 2020 the year that we began the fight back, the year we rejected the evil dogma of capitalism.

Terry Pearce, Bracknell

Labour council cuts

The more the election debate goes on, the more irritated I am by people who are stony silent on what Labour councillors did in Labour areas and the repercussions of implementing Tory austerity for ten years.

Virtually all Labour members went along with the idea that there was nothing they could do. Even if they opposed cuts many of them didn't participate in the anti-cuts community campaigns and instead bought into the idea that all we had to do was wait for a Labour government.

And what did that mean? It meant a drastic deterioration in our livelihoods and the services we used.

The Socialist Party has fought as many campaigns as we possibly could, and are responsible for some victories. But we were/are fighting with one arm behind our back because we constantly came up against Blairites who viciously defend neoliberalism.

Corbynistas were sympathetic to these community campaigns but not present, many were wary of being associated with local campaigns directed against a Labour council.

Nancy Taaffe, Walthamstow

Union leaders - no more excuses

'Wait for a Corbyn-led labour government for workers' rights', and so on. These words have been spoken daily from some of our trade union leaders over the last few years.

Those at the sharp end of trade unionism have fed back: 'why should we wait for a Corbyn-led government while these attacks are happening every day to our members?' Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears.

We now face one of the most brutal governments for generations. The trade union movement was born out of the need to take action in defending and gaining workers' rights. We've waited but we cannot wait any more.

This government will not be a government for working-class people.

We need to make the streets ours, see the whites of the bosses' eyes when we say no more. We've had enough of waiting, it's time to take what's rightfully ours; our future depends on it.

Rebel with a cause, Rotherham

Join the socialists

The key to these election results is that it's still the situation that we don't have a mass socialist party of the working class. Labour is two parties in one and Corbyn's compromises to keep it together (on Brexit and the national question in Scotland) undermined his anti-austerity policies.

Johnson will have plenty of hurdles to overcome - not least is the further negotiations with the EU, but also things such as the issue of a new Scottish independence referendum. I doubt he will satisfy the aspirations of workers in any of the seats the Tories win tonight.

We're in an increasingly unstable world, with the capitalist system increasingly unable to offer working class people a future.

We need to pick ourselves up, and get ready for the new struggles to come. If you're not in a trade union, join one! If you agree with the ideas of the Socialist Party, join us!

Iain Dalton, Leeds

Rise up against the Tories

Insurrection is the word you must use frequently in your articles.

Writing as a disabled person on benefits - three years from receiving the state pension - I know that we have a Tory government for the next five years. I also know that in the last nine years of austerity, the Tories have used the Department for Work and Pensions to attack my very existence because they have deemed me a scrounger.

Despite the election result I cannot merely sit and wait to be attacked by Universal Credit, constant reviews and other schemes the Tories may choose to implement due to their large parliamentary majority.

If every person who voted Labour were to rebel, using every means available to them, we would soon get them out.

I urge the Socialist Party to offer a lead to all those who confess socialism as their creed, and that includes the Labour Party.

Adrian B Rimington, Chesterfield