May’s government facing Brexit endgame

May’s government facing Brexit endgame

SP_placard

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.

 

People’s Vote or General Election? An open letter to all who want to see an end to Tory rule

We publish here an open letter from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party, as a response to the calls for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the EU, where we argue that the focus across the trade union movement should instead be on a general election to sweep the Tories out of power.

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Tories are in trouble. There is open civil war in the ranks of the government. Recent months have seen high profile resignations from the Cabinet, including Boris Johnson. It is clear to everyone that Theresa May is weak – and that the entire government is in crisis.

This should be of interest to everyone who has experienced the terrible effects of austerity promoted by the Conservatives – whether that be the bedroom tax, the tens of thousands in our city who have had to use food banks, workers in the private and public sector who have not had a proper pay increase, the many on zero-hour con-tracts to name just a few of the pitiless policies that have been introduced.

Key issues facing our movement

The question as a movement we have to ask ourselves is this: how do we get the Tories out of office as soon as possible, and a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government in with socialist policies?

At the time when the Tories are teetering on the edge, unfortunately much of the talk from the recent meeting of the TUC, from some union leaders, and from generally right wing Labour MPs has not been about getting the Tories out.

The main focus for them has been to support a “People’s Vote” regarding Brexit. We want to explain why we think this is a mistaken and indeed dangerous approach to adopt.

Firstly, we want to be clear: a People’s Vote, despite pretences of being democratic, is an attempt to have a second referendum and to overturn the original vote. Its supporters want to see us re-main signed up to the European Union, with all that involves, including the Single Market – the key mechanism for corporations to maximise profits across the continent.

Who are the main forces pushing for a People’s Vote?

Although some celebrities are promoting a People’s Vote, the key movers promoting the campaign are right-wingers such as Tony Blair, Chuka Umunna, various other Blairites, the Liberal Democrats and others. The majority of the British and European Establishment are also supporting this campaign.

George Soros, one of the richest people in the world, has also donated funds (£70,000) to groups such as Another Europe is Possible, who act as the left-wing appendage of this coordinated ruling elite drive. Of all the aforementioned people and organisations – since when have they been champions of ordinary people to have a real say? It was Tony Blair who gutted the Labour Party of virtually all democratic channels – the Liberal Democrats propped the Tories up in government between 2010-2015. How much did Blair want to listen to the people when 2 million marched through London in 2003 against his crazy war in Iraq? None of this motley crew are interested in the democratic rights of working-class people. They act in the interests of the class they represent – ruling elites here in the UK and abroad.

Trade unions and the People’s Vote

The leaders of the unions, particularly the likes of the TUC general secretary and Dave Prentis of UNISON, are completely wrong to support the call for a People’s Vote. When the Tories are on the edge of the cliff, it is the job of the unions not to rescue them (wittingly or unwittingly) with this diversion of the People’s Vote, but to campaign for a change of government and specifically to get Jeremy Corbyn in on a radical socialist programme. It would be a disaster for the unions if they were seen in the eyes of millions of people to attempt to undermine and frustrate the original referendum result.

The danger of the far right

If the unions prevaricate on this and sections of the Labour Party continue to campaign for a second referendum it will aid not just the Establishment, but also the far right in this country. We can’t allow a situation where the unions and the Left abandon the ground to Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, who will not hesitate to take their divisive and racist politics to working class people who voted Leave. A boost to Theresa May is not ruled out if our movement is seen to be trying to keep us in the EU.

If you support the PV, who will you be uniting with?

It is best to be concrete about this. The People’s Vote campaign is an Establishment operation. Advertised speakers at the Coventry meeting of PV are Anna Soubry MP of the Conservatives and Beverley Neilson, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Midlands mayor. These two parties were in government together for 5 years, helping to decimate the lives of working-class people in our city. We would urge any trade unionist, any person who is against austerity and wants change, to consider whether uniting with these parties is the way forward.

The capitalist crisis requires socialist policies

Jeremy Corbyn has been at his best when he has pushed back against the policies that enrich the 1%. The call for a general election can unite working class communities, whether people voted Leave or Remain, in an effort to bring a government to power on socialist policies. By contrast, the call for a PV is divisive and is a recipe for disaster. The labour and trade union movement does best when we fight the establishment, not tie ourselves to large sections of it.

We think the movement should fight for a general election to get rid of the shambolic Tories, and for a socialist Brexit in the interests of ordinary people. The crisis and inequality ridden system that is only working for the top 1% and not the 99% needs system change. In or out of the EU they’ll continue their attacks on our services and living standards. But if things are to be changed it will have to be done outside of and independently of the EU, but together with the working and young people of Europe.

The root of the problems facing working class people is the capitalist system of exploitation of the majority by the tiny minority. The EU does, however, act to facilitate that exploitation through the Single Market, its policy of undermining national collective trade union rights, and its favouring of corporations over working class people. It is Thatcherism on a continental scale. We only have to look at the example of Greece, where the Greek people suffered a form of collective punishment from the EU – enforcing privatisations, poverty and anti-trade union laws.

We need genuine international solidarity and co-operation

We are not ‘Little Englanders’ but we do not think we should outsource the valued and necessary internationalism of the working class to international capitalist institutions like the EU.

For example, the Socialist Party is part of a revolutionary international organisation which is present in nearly every single country on the continent, and in nearly 50 countries around the world. We need international solidarity, but it needs to be on our terms, through workers’ organisations such as the trade unions and other campaigns. A Corbyn government introducing radical socialist policies of public ownership, for example, will come under intense pressure from the capitalists.

In doing so our movement should appeal not to Macron and Merkel, but the millions of workers around Europe who will see our fight as their fight. That is the international co-operation that will be vital, not an international capitalist club designed to aid exploitation. These are key questions that our movement faces:
• No to a People’s Vote – Yes to a General Election
• Tories Out now! Labour to power on a socialist programme
• Break with capitalism, fight for a Socialist Europe and a Socialist world

In solidarity,
Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

If you agree with what we are saying, and want to distribute this in your union, workplace or community, please use the form below:

 

 

 

Build the fight against austerity – get the Tories out now! A contribution to the debate

Build the fight against austerity – get the Tories out now! A contribution to the debate

covyouthclub

Marching against cuts to youth clubs in Coventry

A Coventry Socialist Party member and active trade unionist in the city responds to the letter supported by local Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn


Anyone walking through Coventry will see the impact of austerity. Empty shops, a visible increase in people being forced to sleep in doorways and under bridges. Public services stretched almost to breaking point. An NHS in crisis. Students taking on tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt just to get an education.

It seems like a long time since George Osborne said “we’re all in this together”.

It is very welcome that local Labour MPs are supporting the letter to Prime Minister Theresa May highlighting the damage being done by cuts to local government funding. Any and all pressure that can be put on the Tories is a step forward.

At the same time, we need to think about what is the way forward in the fight against austerity, and what our MPs and local councillors can be doing to put the maximum pressure on this weak and divided government to force them out of office at the earliest opportunity.

With the Tories in such a crisis, we think if even a small number of Labour councils said to the government that they would not continue to implement austerity cuts, it would add to the pressure immensely. As we have consistently argued, we think it was mistaken that since the formation of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition in 2010 and then the Tory government of 2015, our Labour council has consistently passed on local government cuts to the people of Coventry. This has seen school transport charges levied on families of children with disabilities, cuts and closures in youth services, thousands of jobs lost at the Council, attacks on the terms and conditions of staff that provide vital services in our city to name but a few.

Our elected representatives should work with the people of Coventry, the trade unions, local communities, anti-cuts campaigns, and all those affected by Tory austerity to demand more money for our city. Letters will not be enough. The Labour council, with the support of the MPs, where possible linking up with other Councils doing the same, should say to the Tories we demand the restoration of all funding stolen from our city. The reserves that the council have built up, more than doubling since 2010 to over £90 million could be used as a temporary measure to set legal no cuts budgets to “hold the line” to allow time for a mass campaign to be built. And with May teetering on the brink, a future Labour government should pledge to restore all funding as soon as it was elected.

It is timely that at both Labour and Tory conferences, the spectre of Liverpool City Council was raised. Labour MP Dawn Butler invoked a frenzied response from the Blairites for remembering in a positive fashion that conference was taking place in the city where in their 1980s battle with Mrs Thatcher, the councillors said it is “better to break the law than break the poor.” Esther McVey of the Tories in her conference speech compared the left-wing group Momentum to Militant.

Liverpool City Council won back the equivalent of £60 million in today’s terms from the Tories. Despite the lies of the right wing, not a single worker was made redundant. Decent housing, leisure facilities and public parks were created.

We need our public representatives to show some of the audacity and determination of the Liverpool councillors.

To build on the letter sent to the Tories, words should be turned to action. Our MPs should call mass public meetings in conjunction with trade unions in the city which would bring together union members, campaigners and all those hit by austerity to hammer out and discuss the tactics and strategy needed for us to win.

The trade union movement also needs to discuss what demands we should be fighting for.

For example the letter that MPs and councillors across the West Midlands signed finishes by demanding “complete reform of local government funding to make councils more sustainable and more accountable to the local electorate. Local authorities should be given the power to set local taxes and retain local revenue, allowing the proceeds of growth to be kept locally“. The letter doesn’t actually specifically call for the cuts of the last eight years (which now amount to over £100 million a year in Coventry) to be refunded, but for “government to reverse the disastrous policy of austerity” which is not quite the same.

Without a restoration of national government funding then “the power to set local taxes and retain local revenue” might be okay for some richer boroughs, but not for poorer.

We think mass meetings organised by our public representatives would take the struggle forward in terms of the fight for public services, but also help build the movement that can drive the Tories from office, and bring Jeremy Corbyn to power. Socialist policies are what are needed to end austerity, which is a direct result of the capitalist crisis triggered by the collapse of the banks. We are still paying for it. Working class people have paid enough. Time to stop all the cuts, get the Tories out and fight for socialism.

If you agree with this, please share this contribution and consider joining the fight for socialism.

 

Coventry Socialists start 2018 campaigning to defend the NHS

Coventry Socialists start 2018 campaigning to defend the NHS

NHS stall

Signing the petition calling for Jeremy Hunt to go

Coventry Socialist Party kicked off 2018 in the city centre with the continuation of the campaign to defend the NHS against cuts and privatisation.

People were understandably angry with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who was forced to apologise over Christmas for the latest crisis in the NHS, with around 55,000 operations cancelled. SP members spoke to a number of NHS workers as well as patients and their relatives who are having to pay high sums of money to use the car park at Walsgrave – another result of the Private Finance Initiative rip off.

With a campaign stall also taking place in Radford’s Jubilee Crescent, Coventry Socialist Party are looking forward to building the movement to save the NHS during 2018.

Michael Fallon resigns! Time to get the Tories out

Michael Fallon resigns! Time to get the Tories out

fallon

Michael Fallon has resigned – picture from Huffington Post

News has broken this evening that Tory Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has resigned stating that his conduct had ‘fallen short’ of what is expected.

His resignation illustrates once again how weak and fragile the Tory government is – not the ‘strong and stable’ that was promised by Theresa May. The Tories are split over Brexit and are currently relying on the DUP to stay in government. But the Tories won’t just go of their own accord, they need to be forced out.

We need to get them out as soon as possible and campaign for a Corbyn-led Labour government to power on bold socialist policies to fight austerity and capitalism.

A great opportunity to come together and discuss the current situation and what action, programme and policies we need to fight for to get rid of the Tories will come on on 11/12 November at Socialism 2017, a weekend of discussion and debate organised by the Socialist Party. Get your ticket and make sure you are there!

Give May and the Tories their real P45

Give May and the Tories their real P45

Today’s speech by Theresa May will go down in history as the one where she was famously handed a P45 by a protestor.

Millions of working class people around the country will have great sympathy with this action; little wonder when May’s Tories continue to cut benefits, refuse to fully break the pay cap, when foodbanks exist in every major town and city throughout the UK and our standard of living is dropping.

The only thing better than this stunt today will be when we can give May her real P45 and the Tories are turfed out of power. We all need to put maximum pressure on the Tories to get them out of office, particularly with the trade unions co-ordinating action on the issue of pay and austerity.

Lets get the Tories out and campaign for Corbyn-led Labour government on socialist policies.

Join us in this struggle and the fight against capitalism

Fill in the form below to find out more

Book your place on Coventry transport to July 1st Tories Out protest in London

Book your place on Coventry transport to July 1st Tories Out protest in London

A mass demonstration has been called in London on Saturday 1st July. The Socialist Party is fully supporting this protest – we need to build maximum pressure on the Tories to evict them from office, as soon as possible. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called on 1 million people to take part. We urge all organisations, including the trade unions, the entire Labour Party and the TUC to actively support and build this movement to get May and the Tories out, and to help a Corbyn-led Labour government in to power. From cuts to emergency services, to coalition with the DUP and now the corporate and capitalist murder of innocents housed in Grenfell Tower in West London, we need to get them out and to fight for socialism.

There is transport being organised from Coventry by Coventry TUC and others, details are being finalised but fill in this form below and we can reserve your place.

 

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

paisleyred

Ian Paisley

Following the disastrous results for Theresa May in Thursday’s snap general election the Tories are now in negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Many are rightly asking ‘who are the DUP?’. We are pleased to publish this article from 2014 written by our comrades in the Socialist Party (Northern Ireland) looking at the life of Ian Paisley who is the figure most associated with the DUP. It outlines some of the history of that party and as the article concludes, we believe that ‘A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives’.


Ian Paisley: peacemaker or warmonger?

How will Ian Paisley, who has died at the age of 88, be remembered? As the firebrand preacher who stoked the fires of conflict in Northern Ireland or as a peacemaker and the partner in government of Martin McGuinness?

Many people struggle to make sense of what appear to be entirely contradictory phases in his life. Most of the media, the British and Irish governments, and even Martin McGuinness who describes him as a friend, choose to focus on his 2007 decision to form a coalition with Sinn Fein. The media have made much of Paisley’s nicknames, claiming that for years he was known as “Doctor No” because of his rejection of all attempts at compromise but that at the end of his life he and Martin McGuinness together were known as “the chuckle brothers” because they were seen laughing together so often. The use of both of these nicknames is largely confined to the media. Most simply knew Paisley as Paisley, his creed as Paisleyism, and his followers as Paisleyites. And for decades the name Paisley struck fear into the hearts of not just Catholics but Protestant working class activists. The lauding of Paisley grates with most Catholics, who cannot forget the role he played, but also in the throat of the many Protestants who reject everything he stood for.

So how did a preacher who led his own church (the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster) for six decades, and his own political party (the Democratic Unionist Party or DUP) for nearly as long, become the most prominent politician in Northern Ireland? After all this is a man who defended the most repressive approaches on social issues such as sexuality (in the late 1970s, for example, he launched his odious “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign to oppose even limited rights for gay men).

Paisley’s initial base was not built in industrial working class areas but in the North Antrim area around the large town of Ballymena. His first following was largely rural, conservative and religiously fundamentalist. Even in Ballymena itself it took time before he seized control of the council. When he did in the mid-1970s he imposed his fundamentalist ideas on everyone else, closing the swimming pool and chaining up the park swings on Sundays. It was members of Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) from a Protestant background who lead the opposition in this largely Protestant town, protesting against the Sunday closure policy and challenging the DUP in council by-elections.

Working class Protestants gave Paisley little support in the 1950s, 1960s and well into the 1970s. In Protestant areas he was a figure of fun and contempt for anyone who was forward looking or left inclined. This changed over time. In the late 1960’s there was a sense that change was in the air, represented politically by the growth of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) but as the Troubles spun out of control “hard men” on both sides came to the fore and the sense of working class solidarity and unity weakened.

There was nothing inevitable about this development however. The leaders of the labour and trade union movement abdicated their responsibility to provide an alternative, and their responsibility to stand up to right-wing and anti-working class demagogues like Paisley. As a direct result the previous NILP stronghold of East Belfast fell to the DUP in the 1979 General Election. The victorious candidate was today’s DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. The DUP gained its working class base in part by deliberately cultivating an image as the representatives of the Protestant working class, in opposition to the “big house” unionism of the Ulster Unionist Party or UUP (the party which governed Northern Ireland from partition until the imposition of direct rule in 1972).

1979 was a turning point: the DUP now had three MPs and could not be ignored. Its support reached a ceiling over the next twenty or so years however, as many potential supporters could not stomach Paisley’s on-off flirting with paramilitary organisations and paramilitary methods. As far back as 1956 Paisley was one of the founders of Ulster Protestant Action (UPA). From the start violence wasn’t far away. In June 1959, after Paisley addressed a UPA rally in Belfast, some of the crowd attacked Catholic-owned shops and a riot ensued.

During the 1964 general election campaign Paisley fomented the so-called “Tricolour riots”, the worst in Belfast since the 1930s. In April 1966 Paisley and Noel Doherty founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and a paramilitary wing, the Ulster Protestant volunteers (UPV). Around the same time, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) emerged, led by Gusty Spence. Many of its members were also members of the UCDC and UPV, including Noel Doherty. In May 1966 the UVF set fire to a Catholic-owned pub and caused the death of an elderly Protestant widow who lived next door, and shot John Scullion, a Catholic civilian, as he walked home. He died of his wounds on 11 June. On 26 June, the group shot dead a second Catholic man and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast. Following the killings, the UVF was outlawed and Paisley immediately denied any knowledge of its activities. This established a pattern that was to be repeated over the following decades and led to those who became active in Loyalist paramilitary organisations to hate him with a vengeance. One of those convicted for the 1966 killings was explicit in his words: “I am terribly sorry I ever heard of that man Paisley or decided to follow him”.

Paisley spent the rest of his career playing with violence: he enrolled the help of mainstream loyalist paramilitary groups in two work stoppages (in 1974 and 1977) and established several groups of his own, including the “Third Force” in 1981 and “Ulster Resistance” in 1986.
When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 Paisley and the DUP were opposed. Over the following decade he sniped at the UUP but ensured he and his party had their hands on whatever levers of power were available. In these years the uncertainty and fear felt by most Protestants delivered Paisley want he wanted – majority support amongst the Protestant electorate. This support was built on a clear platform of opposition to Sinn Fein in government. As late as July 2006 Paisley stated that Sinn Fein “are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there.”

The lure of power, created its own momentum however. Once the DUP were the dominant and largest party the question of going into government was concretely posed. The rigid structures created by the GFA (the aim being to maintain peace by copper-fastening sectarian division) made it difficult to stand aside. Personal factors may also have played a part-Paisley reportedly had a near death experience in 2004, and younger members of the DUP such as Robinson were keen to do a deal. It was also easier for Paisley to go into government when he could credibly claim victory, pointing to the fact that Sinn Fein agreed to support the police and the IRA to destroy its arms.

On 8 May 2007 Paisley was elected First Minister with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Ironically when he made his decision the fiercest opposition came from his original base in rural areas, especially in North Antrim. He was forced out of his positions as DUP leader and Free Presbyterian moderator and retired to snipe at his successors. Attempts to canonise him as a peace maker were hampered by his own words and actions. As late as 2013 he stated in a television interview that the 33 innocent civilians who died in UVF no-warning car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 had “brought it on themselves”.

Everything had changed but nothing had changed. Political theorists argue that it was necessary to bring the most extreme representatives of each community together in order to deliver a stable peace. The reality is that the most extreme representatives of each community can only deliver division and conflict, even if for now there is less violence on the streets.

Paisley certainly stood out but it would be a mistake to see him as unique. If Paisley had never lived someone like him would have come to the fore. And whilst the entire generation of politicians who emerged to prominence in the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s now bask in the “success” of the peace process all played a negative role in that period. One day there will be an historic reckoning. Paisley won’t be around to see it but his ilk and his successors will be. A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives. Remembering Paisley’s real role is one step on the road to that reckoning.

May and the Tories must go!

May and the Tories must go!

CorbynMay

Tories out! Fight for socialism!

The following is an article by Hannah Sell, the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party following the election results. We are holding a public meeting in Coventry on Tuesday at Methodist Hall, CV1 2HA, starting at 7.30pm where we will be discussing how we can step up the fight for socialist policies following the election. Come along and join the discussion and get involved!


Organise to fight for Corbyn’s policies!

Theresa May’s failed election gamble is a nightmare for the capitalist class in Britain. Seven weeks ago most of Britain’s elite were hopeful that May would succeed in dramatically increasing the number of Tory MPs, thereby buttressing her government to be able to weather the storms of economic crisis, to carry out vicious austerity against the majority in society and to implement a Brexit in the interests of the 1%.

Instead she is now a ‘dead prime minister walking’, only able to temporarily cling to power by leaning on the reactionary, sectarian Democratic Unionist (DUP) MPs, describing them as her ‘friends’ on the steps of Downing Street.

The DUP, founded by Ian Paisley, are anti-abortion, anti-LGBT rights and deniers of climate change. However, it will not only be the Tories who are dirtied by this new ‘coalition of chaos’.

The DUP’s base is mainly among a section of the Northern Irish Protestant working class who are badly affected by Tory austerity.

It seems that the DUP have already demanded the dropping of May’s plans to abolish the winter fuel allowance for the majority of pensioners as a condition of co-operation.

Tories Out! There is no mandate for May

The Tories are split down the middle and now have a leader with no authority inside or outside the party.

She is only remaining in place because the Tories can find no other alternative for now, and fear falling apart if they attempt a leadership contest.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have rightly called on May to resign and pledged to put their programme to parliament and challenge MPs to support it.

Now we need to build a movement for the implementation of their policies, whatever the parliamentary arithmetic.

The general election result was a complete vindication of Jeremy’s anti-austerity stance. On 18 April, the day the election was called, the Socialist Party declared that: “If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.” At the time that was met with derision by many including the right wing of the Labour Party: who wrongly thought a general election would give them the opportunity to unseat Corbyn.

Let’s not forget that just last September arch-Blairite Peter Mandelson told the press that he ‘prayed every day for a snap general election’ as it would mean the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

Corbyn strengthened

Instead this general election has enormously strengthened Jeremy Corbyn’s position in the Labour Party and potentially in society.

Labour got over 40% of the vote compared to just over 30% in 2015, the biggest increase in the vote share for any party since the Attlee government in 1945.

This was against the background of a phenomenal increase in the popular vote of 3.5 million, from 9.3 million in 2015, to 12.8 million this time.

This was almost entirely accounted for by the streams of young people that flooded to the polls. The very opposite of apathetic young people participated in a mass electoral revolt to demand a future.

Some estimates suggest that as many as 72% of young people on the electoral register voted, compared to 43% in 2015.

Two thirds of them voted for Corbyn. The Liberal Democrat’s hope of winning young, middle class voters by claiming to be the ‘true remainers’ largely fell flat.

Instead Nick Clegg finally got his just deserts for increasing tuition fees in 2010. Corbyn’s programme of a £10 an hour minimum wage, abolition of tuition fees, rent controls, and council house building inspired young people to take a stand.

The resulting politicisation of young people will not be reversed, and lays the basis for the development of mass support for socialist ideas.

The support for Corbyn among young people was widespread among both the working and middle class; demonstrated by Labour’s victory in Canterbury, which didn’t elect a Tory for the first time since 1918.

This reflects the increasing radicalisation of middle class young people who, as a result of low pay and astronomical housing costs, are increasingly being pushed down into working class living conditions.

It is wrong and scandalous, however, as some in the capitalist media have done, to paint this election as ‘young versus old’. This is a conscious attempt to divide the working class which both generations should consciously attempt to overcome by standing in solidarity with each other, whether over tuition fees or winter fuel allowance.

Many older workers, disillusioned with Blair’s Labour, put a cross next to a Labour candidate for the first time in decades in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In Wales, despite the Tories dreaming of gains at the start of the election, Labour made significant gains.

The figures are not yet fully clear, but the UKIP vote did not simply collapse into the Tories as May had hoped.

Among some who voted UKIP in 2015 (undoubtedly including some ex-Labour voters) May’s false posturing as being ‘tough on Brexit’ meant that they voted for her this time.

Had Jeremy Corbyn not made an early concession to the Blairites by reluctantly agreeing to campaign for ‘Remain’, and instead stuck to his own historic position (and that of the Socialist Party) of calling for exit from the EU bosses’ club, on an anti-racist, internationalist basis, May would never have been able to make the gains she did among working class voters.

Nonetheless, the position Jeremy adopted during the election campaign – of explaining he would fight for a Brexit in the interests of working class people – was able to win over a section of workers including some who had previously voted UKIP.

Even Nigel Farage had to admit that Corbyn had ‘pulled off’ winning the support of both young ‘remainers’ and working class UKIP voters.

The fundamental reason that Jeremy Corbyn started the election campaign so far behind was that the majority of the population had not heard what he stood for.

Of course, this was partly because of the inevitable hostility of the big-business media, but that was – if anything – stepped up in the course of the election campaign, yet support for him soared.

The difference was that, instead of staying quiet in a vain attempt to appease the Blairites, the Corbyn wing of the party took their programme to the country.

The right tacitly accepted this, hoping that Jeremy would then ‘own’ the defeat – instead he ‘owns’ the highest Labour vote since 1997.

This would have been even higher if Jeremy had earlier and more clearly stated he supported the right of self-determination for the people of Scotland, including a new independence referendum if they so wished.

As it was, increasing disillusionment with the SNP’s implementation of austerity in Scotland, meant that Corbyn was able to win increased votes in some working class Scottish heartlands, but it was far less than could have potentially been achieved.

At the same time the Tories made considerable gains in more affluent areas of Scotland, largely by mobilising a certain ‘anti-independence’ vote. (For more information see Socialist Party Scotland article: May Must Go! – Build mass struggle to drive out the Tories).

Trade union mobilisation needed

Jeremy Corbyn’s success now needs to be urgently built on. The trade union movement should call an immediate national ‘Tories Out’ demonstration against austerity – calling for the scrapping of the Tory attacks on the NHS and schools, and for the abolition of tuition fees.

Such a demonstration could be millions strong and the springboard for a 24 hour general strike. This in turn could force May to call a new general election.

At the same time Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left should make a clear call for Labour councils to stop implementing Tory cuts.

In a short campaign very impressive numbers were convinced to vote for Corbyn despite their initial scepticism about whether he would implement his programme.

This scepticism is a result of the betrayals of New Labour in office, and the experience of Labour councils at local level that have presided over 40% cuts in services since 2010.

To consolidate the enthusiasm that was generated for Corbyn in the election it is necessary to now make clear that he opposes any more council cuts, and that this Tory government is too weak to force Labour councils to implement them.

This is particularly important in urban areas, where the surge to Corbyn was strongest, and where every council in England has elections next year.

Transform the Labour Party

“Big up Jezza for reviving so many ppls hope in politics. If Labour was united behind Corbyn this past year he coulda won this outright!” said Riz Ahmed of the hip-hop trio Swet Shop Boys (one of the many musicians who supported Corbyn) – stating what is obvious to many Corbyn supporters.

Jeremy has not only faced the relentless hostility and sabotage of the capitalist elite, but also from the Blairites – the representatives of capitalism inside the Labour Party.

In the immediate aftermath of this election they will not dare to try and launch another coup against him, but we can’t be fooled into thinking that they are reconciled to his leadership. Labour remains two parties in one.

For the capitalist class Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, and even more the hope they are creating for millions, are a real threat.

Therefore their representatives in the Labour Party will search for a new way to defeat Corbyn. Even in the week of the election right-wing Labour MP Joan Ryan openly attacked Corbyn and banned Labour canvassers from using leaflets which mentioned him! Now in the aftermath of the election Blairite Hilary Benn has poked his head above the parapet to mutter about how ‘Labour must learn from its third electoral defeat’.

Even those Blairites who temporarily make statements supportive of Jeremy cannot be trusted. They will do so in order to try and surround him and force him to retreat from his radical programme.

What else does the ultimate Blairite and would-be assassin of Corbyn, Peter Mandelson, mean when he talks about Corbyn needing to ‘show respect’ to all wings of the party? It was the rights attempts to gag Jeremy which were largely responsible for most people not knowing what he stood for before the election.

We cannot allow this to happen again. Instead a campaign needs to be immediately launched to transform the Labour Party into a genuinely anti-austerity, democratic party of workers and young people.

This requires the introduction of compulsory reselection of MPs. The next general election could be at any time and Labour must not face another election with the majority of its own candidates opposing Jeremy Corbyn.

This should be combined with the democratisation of the party, including restoring the rights of trade unions, and welcoming all genuine socialists in a democratic federation.

These measures could create a party which was genuinely able to bring together all the young people, socialists, workers and community campaigners who are inspired by Jeremy Corbyn into a powerful mass force.

Fight for Socialism

This general election campaign has introduced socialist ideas to a new generation. That is enormously positive.

It has also given a glimpse, however, of how far the capitalists would go to try and sabotage any attempts to introduce policies in the interests of the many not the few.

The hostility Jeremy Corbyn faces in opposition is only a pale shadow of how they would attempt to derail a Jeremy Corbyn led government.

To prevent this will pose the need for far-going socialist measures including nationalising the 100 or so major corporations and banks that dominate Britain’s economy, in order to be able to introduce a democratic socialist plan.

This would allow a socialist government to begin to manage the economy in a planned way under democratic workers’ control and management – that really would be “for the many, not the few.”

Join the fight for socialism! Fill in the form below and we will be in contact

 

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

The last time I voted Labour in a general election was thirty years ago, in 1987.  I was expelled by the party just before the 1992 election for refusing to back down in my opposition to the Poll Tax and for refusing to disassociate myself from those in the Militant who were the main (and successful) organisers against it.

Seven years ago I helped co-found, with Bob Crow, the late elected leader of the transport union the RMT, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition because you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the any of main political parties.  All stood for making ordinary people pay for the recession of 2008 triggered by the gambling and speculation of the banks.

Well now, in this election, you can tell the difference between the Labour and the Tory leaders.

Putting my old backbench colleague Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10 Downing Street today would make a major change to so many people’s lives in Coventry.

If Jeremy wins today thousands of 17 and 18 year olds in our city could wake up tomorrow morning knowing they could go to university in September without the fear of a £50,000 debt at the end of three years – and with an acceleration of housebuilding, they could look with more confidence at having their own home in the future.

People in low-paid work could look forward to a 50% pay rise, as the national minimum wage is raised to a more decent level of £10 an hour.

Health workers, teachers, police and council workers – in fact all in the public sector – could look forward to an actual pay rise as Labour has promised to scrap the 1% cap on public sector pay increases, which has been in place for the last five years whilst inflation has eroded the real value of that pay.

And some workers at Walsgrave Hospital, paying hundreds of pounds a year to park at work, could benefit by another pay rise when hospital car parking charges are scrapped –and many thousands of familes would be freed from a charge to visit sick relatives or friends.

Those and many other changes – for example ending the cuts in education and health, giving the public ownership again of rail, mail, water and parts of the energy industries –  could give a glimpse of a different way of running society, the first steps in a socialist direction.

And it wouldn’t be ordinary people paying the price, rich corporations and the richest 5% in the country would have to shoulder more of the burden they’ve escaped in recent years – their taxes would go up, but not for the 95% majority.

So voting Labour in Coventry could make a huge difference today; and I’ve not been able to say that for thirty years.

Now that’s not to say I agree with everything Labour’s doing.  I think they were wrong not to support Scottish independence linked to a socialist programme (and they have lost 50 seats because of it); they were wrong not to stand in the traditions of Tony Benn and Bob Crow and argue for a socialist Brexit last June; they should be promising an end to all council cuts for example in libraries, youth clubs and community centres; and I certainly don’t support spending £200 billion over the next 30 years on a replacement to the Trident nuclear missile system.

But Teresa May and the Tories stand for more austerity – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories stand for low pay, student debts, housing shortages and worsening health and education – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories would let rich individuals like Richard Branson and wealthy corporations own our essential public services, such as rail, mail, water and energy – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

But for Jeremy’s challenges to succeed – when the whole of the press, media and Establishment would try to undermine his efforts – he’s going to need more help even than your vote today.

Just like we’ve marched on the streets to defend the NHS or oppose the war in Iraq, we’re going to have to organise to defend Jeremy if he gets into No. 10 from the powerful rich vested interests that don’t want you to have free health and education, higher wages and more secure employment, decent homes and a future to look forward to – if it means their profits and rich lifestyles have to pay for it.

We need to build a powerful socialist organisation in Britain that can take the fight for a new socialist society forward, whoever wins on June 8th. The Socialist Party is trying to do that.

So, vote Labour in Coventry today, and let’s get Jeremy into No. 10.  And join us in the Socialist Party to fight for a socialist future. Fill in the form below!

We are holding a public meeting to do discuss the election results and how we can continue the fight on Tuesday 13th June, 7.30pm at Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. The Facebook event is here.