Since the 2007-2008 financial crash and the turn to austerity policies in 2010, social conflict has accelerated due to inequalities in wealth and income being as high as existed during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Todays’ casualties of austerity – homelessness, foodbanks, child poverty, millions facing relentless precariousness, NHS and local service cuts, debt, high transport and energy costs, is the ‘norm’ facing millions of workers. However, this savage ‘age of austerity’ is solely driven by capitalist greed, the crises of the rich and a powerful and an unrelenting programme of privatisation where the sole motive is the accumulation of profit.
The result of the 12 December election remains uncertain, because of their unclear Brexit policy and their reluctance to promote and organise mass struggle against austerity. Not surprisingly trust in politicians is extremely low leading to increased uncertainty amongst many independent minded workers having no confidence in the parliamentary system.
The Labour 2019 Manifesto promises the £10 minimum wage, abolition of zero hour contracts, ending tuition fees, abolishing prescription charges in England, a 5% wage increase for public sector workers, 100,000 council houses a year, reversing and ending NHS privatisation, free dental check-ups, tenant rights and cap rents, scrap Universal Credit and the benefit cap and two-child limit. Labour also promises to bring back into public ownership the key energy and water companies, Royal Mail, rail and bus transport. They also claim that they will abolish the anti-trade union laws.
These promises are demands that the working class and the youth have made for a long time, yet they are incomplete and limited. Labour have not committed to fully restore all old union rights. The plans to tackle understaffing, the NHS’s biggest problem, are clearly insufficient. Labour’s plan for transport and to end NHS privatisation and other services is nationalisation at snail’s pace – one contract at a time, it will take 20 years! Labour’s tax and other measures to redistribute income and wealth from the super-rich to the rest are very limited.
Labour promise freedom of movement only if the UK stays in the EU! Labour intend to end the indefinite detention of immigrants however this falls short of ending all forms of immigration detention and the promise to close two detention centres, will leave a further eight open. This is a dilution of the congress pledge to “maintain and extend free movement rights” and to close all immigration detention centres.
Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent and will remain in the imperialist NATO.
Labour’s program does not match workers and youth need
The only guarantee that the workers’ demands contained in the Manifesto will be carried out is if the working class and the youth go all out for mass struggle, organise ourselves and go well beyond parliamentary procedures. If Labour win we have to demand that they be implemented without excuses and without delays.
If Labour start implementing their limited program, there will be a big reaction from big business and their media. They have already threatened an investment strike and a ‘capital flight’ that would cause a run on the value of the pound and a sharp increase in interest rates, provoking businesses to go bust and lay off workers. Of course, they will erect huge barriers to the creation of the promised million green jobs.
This financial terrorism can only be defeated by nationalisation, under democratic control of workers, of the ‘commanding heights of the economy’: the banks, insurance companies, pension funds, and the key strategic companies in Britain’s main manufacturing, energy and other productive sectors. And this is precisely what Labour reject. They think they can create ‘a regulated and managed capitalism’ that does not exist nor will exist.
Corbyn has announced his position in relation to Brexit is ‘neutrality’ on whether to Remain or create a customs union with the EU. If there is a Labour government he says he would not campaign for either position. Many workers are opposed to a new referendum. But the real problem is that even his promises of change are incompatible with staying in the EU. The EU is not a shield to defend the interests of the working class but a social war machine. To defend workers and youth demands to make a real social change means a socialist Brexit it is necessary.
Because the Labour leadership keep the ‘broad church’, Chris Williamson (a former shadow cabinet minister), was banned from standing in the elections because of his fight for mandatory re-selection of MPs and his support for Palestinian rights, which Labour’s right wing call anti-Semitism (without proof). He is standing as an independent in the Derby North constituency, we critically support his fight. We also give a critical vote to People Before Profit in northern Ireland who are for the unity of Ireland and fighting austerity.
We think that we need to build independent working-class organisations in communities and trade-unions to approve a real anti-austerity programme and choose independent and fighting candidates. Where no such candidates exist we call to vote critically for Labour to kick out the Tories, but with no confidence in the Labour party
Kick out the Tories and continue the struggle
Long years of struggle against austerity and neo-liberalism saw many new working class anti-cuts groups emerge, numerous campaigns to save the NHS and local services, alongside the new unions fighting precarious work and winning and the beginning of a rank and file rebellion inside some old unions. These must be rebuilt or extended.
We congratulate all those unions who are now striking including the UVW, IWGB, RMT, UCU, PCS and Unite. That struggle will have to continue and extend after 12 December to ensure workers’ rights are won.
We call on workers and young people to increase self-mobilisation, building and fighting against anti-working class policies. Anti-austerity groups such as Old Swan Against the Cuts, Stockport anti-austerity activists and all the widespread groups fighting for services need to link together with combative union sections. The rank and file union and community struggles should, in the future, organise to discuss programme and when there are elections choose their own candidates.
Revolutionary processes are developing across the world. There are explosions in Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Haiti, France, Argentina, Bolivia, Lebanon – the list goes on (see pages four to seven). Supporting these struggles directly is the meaning of socialist internationalism and mobilising support for them from the UK such as over Chile and Colombia is essential. Every important struggle challenges the stranglehold that British imperialism has over oppressed nations.
There will be no road to socialism with the Labour Party, capitalism will continue to steer our lives in a downward trajectory as austerity and climate disaster loom. We must build a revolutionary workers party to lead the working class in overthrowing this barbaric capitalist system and build a revolutionary road to socialism. This is the only way to end austerity, end privatisation, stop climate disaster and create a socialist society.
• Support independent class struggle candidates!
• Where this cannot be done critical vote for Labour against the Tories, with no confidence in Labour!
• Implement and extend pro-worker plans immediately!
• Not piecemeal but full nationalisation under workers control to stop society’s decay!
• Equality and Equal rights for all – No one is illegal!
• For a socialist Brexit!
• Build our independent class struggles!
• Build the ISL to fight for a revolutionary party!