Public Meeting: The fight against climate change and the struggle for Socialism

Coventry Socialist Party public meeting:

The fight against climate change and the struggle for Socialism

Tuesday 8th October 7pm @ The Squirrel Pub Coventry city centre, Greyfriars lane, CV1 3GY

Special guest speaker: Chris Baugh – former PCS Assistant General Secretary, who led for over 10 years the union’s campaigns against climate change.

What can trade unions do?

How can we protect jobs and services, whilst making a rapid move away from fossil fuels and towards a zero carbon economy?

What are the consequences if we don’t?

What is the role of public ownership in democratically controlling energy production?

Come and discuss these and other issues with local socialists.

07530429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk

Kashmir crisis: Attack on democratic rights must be opposed

Joint statement from New Socialist Alternative (Indian section of CWI) and CWI supporters in Pakistan – sister organisations of the Socialist Party.

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The ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) regime in India has once again displayed its contempt and aversion to basic values of democracy. During the past week this regime had been increasing its armed forces to the tune of 35,000 in the already militarised Kashmir valley, (which is estimated to have half a million Indian Army forces) citing bogus threats. This regime wilfully created a terror panic to clear tourists and students in the valley. This blatant abuse of power was only the tip of what had been in store.

The regime cut off all internet and communication facilities, imposed a curfew and put the democratically elected leaders in the valley under house arrest.  Monday morning when the Rajya Sabha(Upper house of Indian parliament) convened, it proved true what many news outlets had been speculating as the cause for the sudden build-up of armed forces in Kashmir. Home minister Amit Shah announced from the floor that their regime had decided to scrap Article 370 and 35A. These articles gave special status to the region of Jammu and Kashmir. It was initially enacted to bring Kashmir under Indian military control and some positive aspects of it were never fully implemented.

This week, the Indian state also went on to propose splitting the Kashmir state into two Union Territories (UTs) – Kashmir and Jammu as UTs, with legislatures, and Ladakh as a UT without a legislature. This decision by the BJP regime comes at a time when the democratically elected government has recently been scrapped and President’s rule imposed.

This regressive move was also supported by other regional parties like the Uttar Pradesh-based BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party, which claims to be a party of the oppressed and supposedly follows in the idological path of Dr. Baba saheb Ambedkar)), Andhra Pradesh’s TDP (Telugu Desam Party) etc. However this action has also faced mounting opposition from various other regional parties and the main opposition party – the Indian National Congress. The opposition, led by Congress with the left parties – PDP (People’s Democratic Party) in Kerala, the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) in Tamil Nadu, the MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) also in Tamil Nadu and various other parties all protested against this blatant disregard for the democratic values of the constitution. They were jeered on the floor of the national parliament. PDP MPs even tore up their copies of the amendment as a sign of protest. The CPI (Communist Party of India) announced immediate protests in Delhi and burned effigies of BJP leaders.

These right wing regional parties and Congress do not stand for the rights of Kashmiri workers and poor. None of these parties, including the Communist Party of India, has stood for the national rights of Kashmiris. Some of these parties are now using the situation to oppose BJP rule since nationalist tensions in many states, particularly in the south, have been mounting over recent years. The attempt of the newly elected government of the BJP under Narendra Modi to create one country – introducing one universal form of citizen registration, one taxation system and one language has faced huge opposition.

The attempt to make the Hindi language compulsory for all has met with colossal opposition in the southern states where there is a history of “anti-Hindi” struggle. This has seen forces including even right wing regional parties to come out vehemently against the BJP government.  A national register of citizens with the view of “checking genuine Indian citizenship” has also added to the burning national tensions. The BJP’s attempt to “integrate India” is destined to fail as India has never been one nation state. 

In his speech, Home Minister Shah blamed special status as a hindrance to the development and integration of the state. Like most of his statements, this has no truth in it. Comparatively, Kashmir has better levels of developmental than the BIMARU states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) which have been undisputed integral parts of India since independence. Amit Shah also quipped that article 370 has prevented Kashmiris from getting reservation benefits. This is the same regime that has diluted the reservation policy in favour of EWS hardly a month ago. Incidentally BJP has proposed the controversial 10% reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Section) as the first policy in Kashmir post article 370 removal.

When examined, all the lame excuses by the BJP regime fall flat. At a time when even the capitalist economists and industrialists have been raising their concerns over the dire state of India’s economy and the stagnation of the automotive sector, the rulers have managed to distract the media and the public by dragging the Kashmir issue to the fore. Through this they are also trying to reinforce their idea of Hindu rashtra. The BJP has accelerated their push to further their ‘One India, One culture’ agenda since their re-election.

A section of the liberal media and the population cheer on this aggression as a bold move. Some social media users cheered on this action because it means they may now be able to buy properties in the Kashmir Valley. One mining industry billionaire-baron, Gautam Adani, wrote that this move would open up great mining opportunities and hoped to be establishing his business there. Even so-called progressive leaders like Aravind Kejriwal of the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party- Common Man’s Party) welcomed this decision. It should be noted that Kejriwal complained for the major part of his tenure of office as leader of the local administration in Delhi about the intrusion by central government in his affairs and had been constantly campaigning for more local rights for Delhi. This exposes the deluded stance of Indian liberals who believe Kashmir “belongs” to India. This lays bare the fact that even after seventy years of independence, Indian politicians have only replaced the British rulers with local rulers who have utter disregard for the people. They have made no effort to really safeguard the rights of the people that constitute this country.

While the present crisis has been created by the ruling BJP, the Congress Party, which previously ruled this country for 5 decades, is very much at fault. Congress created the mechanisms that the BJP is using now to suppress the national rights of the people of Kashmir. The confused stance of the various left parties and their failure to address the national question of this country has also to an extent contributed the current crisis.

The people of Kashmir have lost thousands of lives in this long drawn out conflict. Any so-called fragile peace has never brought any real improvements. After the recent threat of war, artificially whipped up by the BJP before the general election, there emerged some hope for a relatively calm period. This is now ruined.

This latest action is likely to provoke violent outbursts in Kashmir with the Indian state itself is predicting. They have moved tens of thousands of army personnel to this state which already has the largest presence of military per civilian population in the world. This can also feed into the geo political tension that exists already. US president Donald Trump in the past had offered to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan on the request of Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan. Already Imran khan had issued a forceful challenge to Modi and stated that he would challenge the decision at UN Security Council.

The BJP-led Indian state is now preparing for the brutal suppression of any opposition that may emerge in Kashmir. Of course they will also blame this on Pakistan. The Pakistani state in turn will use this opportunity to whip up patriotic support to cut across the opposition to the ruthless privatisations that they are carrying out as dictated by the International Monetary Fund as a condition of its loans to the country. Existing tension at the border is likely to escalate further even into an outright war between the two nuclear-armed powers. This could cause the loss of lives of tens of thousands.

India is a prison house of nationalities. Various regions that were brought together under British rule by force have never established a real union. The Congress party, that gave lip-service to being opposed, became the main culprit in the recent past behind the brutality that exists in Kashmir.

Congress must not be let off the hook from the historically abysmal role they have played in Kashmir. The BJP, acting in the interests of a small layer of a super-rich class, wanted to make sure that the whole of India’s territory is available for plundering without any intervention from the regional parties. The Congress party has no disagreement with the recent action of the Modi government. In fact it has to be noted that as for as the draconian and archaic rules are concerned such as ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act-1968 (AFSPA) the entire Indian political establishment takes a united stand to oppress the people of Kasmir and the North Eastern states.

Congress, which is facing near decimation now aims to win back the support of the section of capitalists they have lost and re-establish their vote base. But given the history of corruption and the total lack of ability of its leadership, this historically important party is now shrinking in size and support.

It is significant that various regional parties and the so-called left parties have come forward to oppose the attack on Kashmir. However, their opposition is also very limited. Historically, both ‘Communist’ parties – the CPI and CPI (M) – have opposed the nationality rights of the Kashmiri people. Article 370 was what they defended as it is part of the Indian constitution. They never stood for the right of the Kashmiri people to decide despite that right being included in the initial pact of 1947.

Narendra Modi has campaigned to get rid of this for a long time and it featured as one of the core issues in his 2014 election campaign. None of the left parties has organised any opposition to this reactionary policy. So far they have not brought together their strength in the unions to support the democratic rights of the Kashmiris.

We, as socialists, stand for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Of course this demand is not mechanical nor can it be applied mechanically to the whole region. Due to past history and the policy of divide and rule – Kashmir is now divided into many regions with varying interests. The ruling BJP government is trying to use the same approach and further divide the region to control it and plunder the wealth.

The fate of this region should be determined by the people living in it. This can only be realised by linking up the struggle of the workers, peasants and poor in Kashmir, India, Pakistan and other countries in the region to end the grip of capitalism and landlordism once and for all.

The socialist transformation of society will also emancipate the masses from all sorts of national oppression. Defending the national rights of all oppressed peoples in the region – whether it be in Kashmir, other parts of India and Pakistan or in Sri Lanka – means struggling for a voluntary confederation of socialist states on the basis of public ownership and democratic control to be able to plan and share the resources in the region to the benefit of all.

We fight for:

  • The immediate reinstatement of the special status of Indian occupied Kashmir.
  • Stop all action which plunders the natural wealth of Kashmir.
  • End the occupation! Withdraw all army and paramilitary forces from this region.
    Repeal AFSPA immediately both in Kashmir and North East.
  • Stop repression, release all the political activists and protesters.
  • All democratic rights – to free speech, free assembly and organisation, freedom of the media, free elections – including a referendum on the situation of the Kashmiri people.
  • For the right of self-determination for Kashmir!
  • For a socialist Kashmir and a socialist confederation of the sub-continent.

knife crime rise – a product of poverty & austerity

By Jane Nellist

Incidents in Coventry involving knives and guns are on the increase.  There have been several fatalities and serious injuries.  The most recent attack in The Burges, where a 15-year-old was shot and seriously wounded in a ‘drive by’ attack, has left people horrified.  The deaths of Emmanuel Lukenga from a knife attack in Tile Hill and Patrick Hill in Earlsdon are just two of the 28 knife attacks in Coventry in the first seven months of 2019.  In the whole of 2018, there were 16.

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ITV weatherman Alex Beresford told Good Morning Britain that wider social problems are the cause of knife crime, photo by ITV Good Morning Britain

Parents are understandably in fear for their children.  It’s only because of the skill of paramedics and doctors that more youngsters have not died.  But many young people have been left with life changing injuries.

The response by the police, much depleted in numbers and resources, was to state that they would have more armed police on the streets. Increasing the number of armed police will not deal with the underlying reasons why gun and knife crime is on the increase.  We need a much more holistic response to get to the root cause of this.  Policies to deal with growing poverty and the rise of gang culture must be prioritised.

For the last 9 years, austerity cuts have hit our city hard.  Austerity has been a political choice by the government.  Local politicians have failed to mount a serious campaign to win more resources for our communities.  Millions of pounds have been taken from the city which has meant that vital services such as youth clubs, Sure Start centres, community wardens, and other services that we relied on, have been slashed or disappeared altogether.

Young people see their families struggling in low wage precarious work, often taking more than one job to survive.  Benefits are being slashed with the introduction of Universal Credit.  The reliance on food banks is growing.  Food and fuel poverty affect thousands.  Imagine how young people feel when they can see their families struggling.

Add homelessness and overcrowding, with the lack of affordable homes, and you have a toxic cocktail where young people feel increasingly alienated.

If young people feel that they don’t have a future, the temptation that gangs and crime offer can seem more attractive.  As we know only too well, this can ensnare them into a life of misery and potential violence, exploited by others.

More armed police are not the answer; Other Measures, like extra police on the streets can have a contradictory impact – sometimes making whole communities feel criminalised rather than protected – especially with police powers like ‘stop and search’ which disproportionately target black people and only creates more tensions.  More local police and PCSOs rooted in the community would help – but much more is required.

Our younger generation must feel that they have a future.  They need a guarantee of high-quality training and a job with proper rates of pay.

We desperately need a huge injection of money and resources into our city.  The money is there – it’s just that it’s in the wrong hands.  Whilst the rich are getting richer, squirreling their money in offshore accounts and refusing to pay their contribution in taxation, our city is being squeezed.

Instead of investing millions of pounds of our money into a luxury hotel or the City of Culture, councillors should be prioritising those most vulnerable in our community.

  • Use the council reserves to provide necessary services for our communities and launch a massive campaign, alongside trade unions and community groups, to demand the government provides the money that is needed;
  • Join with other councils to demand that the government starts to invest in our communities and pays back the money we should have had;
  • Open well-funded youth and leisure centres that provide free sport opportunities including free swimming and gym membership and other activities
  • Train more youth workers and mediators to work with those caught up with gangs;
  • Raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour and stop the exploitation of young workers;
  • End zero-hour contracts.

If young people in Coventry are to have a decent future, we need a socialist society that values the lives of young people. Where the resources of this wealthy country are spent on the majority, not the millionaires.  We need to plan the economy for need not for profit.

Do you agree with our ideas?

If you are interested in finding out more and getting involved – get in touch!

07530429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

Socialists oppose congestion charge

Socialists oppose congestion charge

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Coventry Socialists have launched a petition opposing a levy on motorists in the city.

The petition, which is available on the city council’s website, opposes what it calls “the Government imposition” of a congestion charge.

Coventry Council has been ordered by the Government to establish a Clean Air Zone. This could mean motorists being charged to enter the city, alongside buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and other vehicles whose engines are not clean enough.

The Council has been given a deadline of June 14th to respond to the government direction.

Speaking today, former councillor Dave Nellist said:

“We want to see determined action to improve air quality, protect people’s health and tackle climate change, but this isn’t the way to go about it.

“Responding to these problems should be a collective responsibility not a personal cost.

“The best solution to reduce transport-related air pollution, as our petition argues, would be by introducing free public transport in Coventry.

“This is radical, but not impossible. In fact, it was the West Midlands Labour Party policy until 1986.

“And today dozens of cities around the world have some form of free transport – including cities of a similar size to Coventry, like Dunkirk in France, and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.”

Free public transport using environmentally-friendly powered vehicles would do far more to cut air pollution, argue the socialists, than either redirecting traffic, through closing the Coundon Road rail crossing, or making travel more costly via a congestion charge.

“The measure would help everyone” argues Mr Nellist, “but especially those on lower incomes.

“If introduced on a wider basis, reduced emissions would also have a major impact on greenhouse gases, and therefore climate charge”, he says.

Coventry Socialist Party wants increased public investment into publicly owned, democratically managed, integrated bus and train services.

It hopes the petition will gain hundreds of signatures and be discussed by the city council in the coming weeks.

The petition can be viewed and signed here.

 

Party wants more robust strategy against austerity

Party wants more robust strategy against austerity

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Dave Nellist

The following piece is a press release sent to the local media regarding the local elections in Coventry on May 2nd, 2019. If you agree with us, please fill in the form at the bottom to get involved. You are also invited to our public meetings, see details at the end!


‘Socialist Alternative’ is the electoral name of the city’s Socialist Party.  The party is fielding 3 candidates in the local elections: in St Michaels, Lower Stoke and Radford wards.

Party spokesperson, and candidate in St Michaels, Dave Nellist, the former Labour MP, claims that the Conservative government has cut £120 million a year from the city’s budget. He argues that this has exacerbated austerity.

“Coventry was once the richest working-class city in Britain, now we have thousands of people relying on foodbanks, and people sleeping in shop doorways in the city centre”, he says. “Essential services such as libraries and youth clubs are underfunded, under threat or closed.”

Good quality, affordable housing

Many people find it hard to get good quality, affordable housing in Coventry, according to Mr Nellist.

“The Socialist Party wants more public housing in the city. The two universities ‘dash for growth’, particularly with city centre student tower blocks, is leaving local people behind. And for many debt laden students they face exorbitant rents to make large profits for developers.”

Compulsory register of landlords

“Neighbourhoods are being blighted by changing housing ownership and use”, declares the former socialist city councillor. We urgently need a compulsory register of private landlords so that housing conditions and fly tipping can be tackled.”

Opposition to PFI

The Socialist Party organised the main opposition to the PFI financing of University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and has collected thousands of signatures against what it describes as “rip-off” car parking charges at Walsgrave.

Mr Nellist said: “The car parking charges at the hospital, and the profit made by the private company that collects them, are a national scandal. It’s a tax on ill-health and should be abolished immediately”.

Lack of serious strategy to challenge austerity

The Socialist Party complains that the Council says it has no choice but to implement “savings” but has managed to find millions of pounds to invest in Coombe Abbey hotel or loan to student developers. It further alleges that the Council has lost millions of pounds by not using a national levy to charge developers of student accommodation.

The Socialist Party wants Coventry Council to:

  • adopt a legal no cuts budget;
  • freeze council tax and abandon planned cuts in council staff, pay and conditions.
  • oppose new charges for museums and sports facilities;
  • use council reserves to offset next year’s cuts and future cuts planned in areas such as children’s services;
  • link up with other local authorities to campaign for restoration of government funding;
  • call on Labour leaders to pledge to reimburse reserves spent, or borrowing undertaken, defending local communities in this way.

Not afraid to put Brexit into its local campaigning

Mr Nellist said: “I helped Tony Benn organise the “No” vote in 1975, and socialists campaigned for a leave vote in 2016. In our campaign we are calling for a Brexit that benefits workers, putting the millions ahead of the millionaires.”

“Neither remaining in, or aligned to, the EU – nor a Tory pro-big business Brexit – will provide a solution to austerity and privatisation. For that we need a change of government, major re-funding for local councils, and socialist public ownership.”

Opportunity to widen the political debate

“We are the sixth richest country in the world, yet our schools and hospitals lack the resources they need. Something is not right!”

“In this election we hope to widen the political debate and convince more people that socialist planning in the interests of the majority, not the fat cats at the top, could mean that we can both protect our environment and ensure everyone has a decent life”, he ends.

Socialist Alternative candidates:

St Michaels – Dave Nellist

Radford – Isla Boadle

Lower Stoke – Terri Hersey

Details of election public meetings – all welcome!

Austerity deepening, Tories in Brexit crisis – we need a voice for working class people!

Monday 29th April, 7.30pm Jubilee Crescent Community Centre, CV6 3EX

Tuesday 30th April, 7.30pm, Humber Pub, Humber Road, CV3 1BA

 

If you agree, fill in the form below to get involved!

Published by Dave Nellist, Coundon Road, CV1 4AR

A socialist response to “Dispatches: New Landlords from Hell”

A socialist response to “Dispatches: New Landlords from Hell”

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We recieved the following article from a Socialist Party member who works in the social housing sector. 

A recent Dispatches programme prompted the question “ Are Housing Associations
the New Landlords from Hell?”

Datshiane Navanayagam investigated various complaints from Sanctuary Housing
tenants, including one family living in a Sanctuary property that was riddled with
mould, damp, rot, slugs and silverfish. This family’s youngest child has been
diagnosed with Reactive Airways Disease and has been in and out of the hospital on
several occasions. The parents and their little boy slept in the living room while the
other six boys shared one bedroom because the rest of the house was uninhabitable. The living room and bedroom also contained damp and black mould.

The family complained several times to Sanctuary with no avail. They then called in
environmental health, who categorised the home as a very serious health risk. They
presented this report to Sanctuary who sat on the report for four months. The family
submitted evidence from their surveyor, hospital specialist and their GP. They also
had the backing of their local MP. Eventually, they used the Data Protection Act and
were able to obtain internal emails from Sanctuary. These emails showed that
Sanctuary knew the dangers of the property. Captured in one of the emails was the
suggestion that they (Sanctuary Housing) delay the response in hope that the tenants
would get tired and move out. The family have since hired a no win no fee solicitor.

Finally, after 21 months of complaining Sanctuary went into the house to make the
necessary repairs. However, when the family moved back in a month later they were
already noticing that streaks of water were coming down the kitchen wall indicating
to them that nothing structural had been done to truly alleviate the cause of the
damp and mould problem.

Navanayagam investigated another case where an elderly man’s son
informed her that his dad had his boiler disconnected by a Sanctuary engineer
because the boiler was unsafe. However, it was not immediately replaced even
though his father had chronic bronchitis. His father was given four small electric
heaters as a substitute until the boiler could be replaced. His dad did not feel he
could use all four at the same time due to potential fire risk as well as the expense. His dad was on a pay as you go meter.

The son noticed that his father’s health had taken a turn for the worse and after five
weeks without a new boiler his father was hospitalised and diagnosed with a lung
infection. The son stated that the nurses told him not to take his father home until
the boiler was fixed. His father died in hospital of bronchial pneumonia. His boiler
was finally replaced one month after his death and two and half months after the boiler was initially turned off.

These two examples, though extreme, are only the tip of the iceberg. In her
investigation Datshiane found several other complaints made by tenants against
Sanctuary Housing. There are several complaints about delayed repairs. Datshiane
spoke with a Sanctuary gas engineer who stated that they were under so much
pressure to do things that they never had time to fix things properly.

Sanctuary’s failure to look after their properties goes against the original ethos of Social Housing; that everyone deserves a decent and affordable home. Navanayagam rightly asks how is it that housing associations have lost this focus?

Housing Associations’ roles started to change after the 1988 Housing Act was passed. That act allowed for the first time for housing associations to borrow private money
in order to build affordable homes. Since then the Government has pushed housing
associations to build more homes, and this is how they have become
to be judged – not by the upkeep or the quality of the service they provide to
tenants.

Additionally, deregulation and funding cuts have helped pave the change in culture in which Housing Associations act like private developers. This culture includes paying their senior staff incredibly high salaries; for example, in 2017 Sanctuary’s CEO made £365,000 and their Chief Financial Officer made £240,000! Most of their Board of
Directors come from the financial and legal sector with no background in housing.

The Housing Association sector as a whole has problems with repairs and
maintaining their homes. The English Housing Survey discovered that across the
Housing Association sector that 11% of housing association properties failed to meet
The Decent Home Standards and 5% of properties had problems with damp and
mould.

Housing Associations are often not prosecuted because they exist in a loophole
between being government and private bodies, and the government tends to look at
them as private entities outside of government control. Adding to this, in 2010 the Tenant
Services Authority which was responsible for the inspection of housing associations
and addressing residents concerns was abolished. In 2015 the Audit Commission
which played a key role in monitoring housing associations was dissolved. Tory
policy continues to deregulate the sector, meaning that councillors and local
authorities have little power to take action against housing associations.

Social Housing tenants often feel ignored, stressed, drained and powerless to change
things due to the perceived stigma of living in social housing – including being told that “you should feel lucky that you have a roof over your head” if you dare to complain about the poor standard of your home. This is reinforced by government policies and
rhetoric, the right-wing press demonising benefit claimants and social housing tenants, and of course exploitative TV programmes like Benefits Street, Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, On Benefits and Proud and The Great British Benefits Handout.

Safe and secure housing for working class people should be a right, not a luxury! The Socialist Party calls for a massive programme of council house building, and rent controls to stop greedy landlords exploiting people.

If you agree, please get in touch by filling out the form below!

May’s government facing Brexit endgame

May’s government facing Brexit endgame

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With the Tory government in crisis we republish below the editorial from the latest issue of The Socialist newspaper.


With just ten days until the date of departure from the EU at the time of writing, there is unprecedented daily turmoil in parliament on what will happen. The government’s position has become so intractable that a complete government collapse is possible in the coming days or weeks, with a general election becoming the only solution.

Alternatively, prime minister Theresa May is now so discredited and ineffectual for the Tories that a no-confidence vote in her government might again be moved, with enough Tory MPs voting for it this time to bring about success. Then parliament would have 14 days to come up with another government, or a general election would be called.

Either way, a trade union-headed workers’ movement – with a plan of action – needs to be launched to help sweep the Tories out of power. It’s also needed to prepare a massive campaign to get Jeremy Corbyn in as prime minister, with socialist policies.

This outcome is greatly feared by the capitalist class. “The top 0.1% in Britain are doing very well”, wrote the economics editor of the Sunday Times. They want no obstacles to their hoarding of vast wealth, which could be created by the election of a government proposing to take measures in workers’ interests.
But the capitalists’ political representatives in Westminster are mired in such an acute and protracted civil war over Brexit that now is the time to turn the tables on them. Now is the time to take full advantage of their weakness, kick out the Tories, and inside Labour turn seriously to the task of deselecting the Blairites.

From crisis to crisis

On 12 March, Theresa May had her withdrawal plan decisively defeated in parliament for the second time. The week included Brexit minister, Stephen Barclay, summing up a debate in parliament in which he called – on behalf of the government – for a short extension to the withdrawal deadline.

He straightaway bare-facedly defied May by voting against the extension himself. Seven other cabinet ministers also voted against it and Tory chief whip Julian Smith abstained.

They had allowed their MPs a ‘free vote’ on that motion, but on one which ruled out a no-deal Brexit, the government whipped Tories to reject it after it was amended to apply indefinitely. The government lost that vote, with 13 ministers abstaining and one voting against. Cabinet members were among them, but the government is so powerless and fragile that May felt unable to take any action against them.

These votes were not binding, but no plan has yet been passed and May’s government has been sinking more and more deeply into crisis. When Attorney General Geoffrey Cox didn’t assist May’s deal by giving a legal assurance against the UK becoming stuck in the EU Customs Union, there were frantic attempts to get his ‘opinion’ altered.

Faced with threats that Brexit might not otherwise happen – or could be softened further or long delayed – there is a small possibility that May could end up getting a variant of her deal voted through.

But the parliamentary arithmetic doesn’t yet add up for that and many different scenarios are possible over the coming weeks. A new factor is a ruling by the Speaker of the Commons John Bercow that May can’t have a third vote on her deal if it remains the same.

Pressure is escalating in Tory and establishment circles for May to be removed. Although she won a confidence vote in December, an attempt to force her to resign could come.

Who would replace her? Numerous Tory ministers and MPs are flaunting themselves as leadership candidates and canvassing for support, but none have a position or strategy that could bridge the chasm over Europe in their party.

Extent of division

Certainly, there’s sharp division on the EU among MPs, in many cases reflecting their careerist ambitions. But the Socialist Party strongly counters the idea – repeated ad nauseam in the capitalist media – that working people are fundamentally divided on this issue.

A dangerous and inciting example of this was shown in Will Hutton’s 17 March column in the Observer. He argued that on the one side in society are pro-EU Remainers who recognise the “interdependencies” between European countries, realise the need for EU institutions that can tackle climate change, want a strong public

sector, effective trade unions, and are not hostile to other cultures, languages and people. On the other side, are those who support Brexit, who want “a world of closure, intolerance and suspicion of the other”, according to Hutton.

The idea that useful and desirable cooperation between people across Europe is only possible by supporting membership of the EU is complete fiction and pro-capitalist propaganda. The EU is, in essence, an alliance of the ruling classes across Europe, to serve the interests of big business, not those of working-class and middle-class people across the continent.

A socialist confederation of European states would be able to achieve levels of cooperation and mutual benefit for ordinary people way beyond what is possible on a capitalist basis.

Public ownership of the top companies that dominate the economies, together with democratic socialist planning, would mean the raising of living standards for all working people. This, and the removal of profit-making and market competition as over-riding forces, would also lay the basis for resources and cooperation to stop environmental disaster and enable rapid progress in useful technology and medicines.

It would be the very opposite of a Europe of ‘intolerance and suspicion’. Rather, it would be one where the removal of poverty and austerity would cut the ground from beneath distrust and racism.

Working-class people, whether they presently identify with the Remain or Leave side, have the same class interests. Corbyn recognises this. For instance, he said in Wakefield in January: “The real divide in our country is not between those who voted to Remain in the EU and those who voted to Leave. It is between the many – who do the work, who create the wealth and pay their taxes, and the few – who set the rules, who reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes”.
He must cut across the confusion and scepticism arising from the manoeuvrings in parliament and get out this message loud and clear, along with a promise of pro-working-class measures both regarding Brexit and irrespective of it.
This also means standing firm against the Labour Blairites who want to reverse the EU referendum result. Corbyn needs to stick to the demand for a general election, and help to mobilise the labour and trade union movement to urgently bring it about.

If you agree with us, get involved! Click here for more information.