The general election was a disaster for the Tories. Theresa May had to bribe the DUP £1 billion to join her coalition of chaos. The DUP were happy to take the money and help the Tories maintain the public sector pay cap. But Labour exposed the Tories’ weakness by forcing them to give women from Northern Ireland the right to access free abortions on the NHS. This is the way to keep up the momentum – hammering blows on the Tories, inside parliament and on the streets, frustrating their plans at every turn, denying them the ability to rule. The demonstration on 1 July should be the springboard for a campaign of resistance through the summer and in the run up to the Autumn budget.
This government has overseen the steepest fall in living standards for generations. Now inflation, pay caps and soaring rent and utility prices are destroying the value of people’s wages.
The public sector unions should all ballot their members for strike action to break the pay cap. The unions need to put more effort into organising rank and file members and give them more say over the union in order to increase participation – but if the Tories try to use the anti-union laws to ban strikes, we should strike anyway and defy the Tories to use the courts and police. This weak government wouldn’t dare – and that would make the laws unenforceable and deal a serious blow the Tories’ legitimacy.
At the same time the private sector unions should coodinate pay claims that scale up with inflation but also address years of falling real-terms value. We should start fighting now for a Living Wage of £10 an hour. This would give a real boost to millions of workers, strengthen the trade union movement – and we have a Labour Party with over half a million members to help campaign and win decent pay and secure employment conditions.
Everyone now knows May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is rubbish. But Labour needs to be clear about what its position is. Labour needs to reject any class collaboration on Brexit and adopt its own plan which above all safeguards the interests of working people of whatever nationality to live, work and retire in the UK.
It’s time to recognise that there is an irreconcilable contradiction between seeking to sever links with Europe, to privilege British over European workers or being the party of the multi-national and multi-ethnic working class.
We think the interests of Labour, the trade union movement and the working class here and abroad are best served by choosing to come down on the side of closer integration into Europe and strengthening ties with the European labour movement. In practice Labour should seek a deal which guarantees free movement and access to the single market. It should then put this to a referendum, give all residents over 16 a vote and campaign for this outcome to be accepted.
The Tories’ determination to impose Brexit whatever the consequences means millions of EU citizens in Britain face the prospect of having to register and hand over personal information like criminals.
We have to launch a massive campaign to force the government to unilaterally guarantee the right of all EU citizens and their families to remain in the UK with exactly the same rights as British citizens.
The blowback from the UK and USA’s failed ‘war on terror’ has seen the country subjected to murderous terrorist attacks – and now British Muslims are targeted by white terrorists and a resurgent fascist street movement picking up where the EDL left off, marching in the streets under racist anti-Muslim slogans.
The spike in racist and xenophobic violence is a product of the renewed confidence felt by racists in the light of the Brexit vote. It must be countered by a powerful anti racist movement, which organises self-defence in our communities and solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and peoples’ fighting for national liberation and freedom from imperialist oppression around the world.
In the worst possible way, Grenfell has acted as a lightning rod for all that is wrong with our society.
From the response of the local authority, through the contractors, up to the top of government, a chain of criminal responsibility can be established which, whilst it must certainly condemn individuals, also condemns the entire political and economic system. But the priority must be ensuring all housing is safe.
Once those affected are rehoused and given the support to start rebuilding their lives, the absolute priority is an audit of all council and private housing, to ensure it meets relevant safety standards. We should not wait for our irresponsible and incompetent government to do this, but start organising it ourselves, through residents’ groups which link up with the fire brigade and council employee unions.
The fact that most affected residents live in Labour-controlled areas should be the final nail in the coffin of the argument that Labour councils have “no choice” but to impose Tory austerity. This complacent attitude has led to Labour councils destroying public services that took decades to build up and has left hundreds of thousands in sub-standard and dangerous living conditions. Well before the 2018 local government elections we need to ensure local Labour Parties draw up budgets which provide for the needs of residents, select councillors with a track record of standing up for working class poeple, and get the Labour Party nationally to commit to backing anti-austerity manifestos for local government across the country.
Stop the war
The government’s statement that it would absolutely back any US attack on the Syrian government demonstrates just how close we are to a clash between the nuclear armed superpowers waging a proxy war in the Middle East. All sides in this war freely accuse one other, and especially each others’ local allies of being terrorists and thus legitimate targets. All of these accusations are expressions of self-serving hypocrisy.
Added to the crisis in the Gulf, this is not a situation we can ignore any longer.
The antiwar movement, which opposed the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the genesis of this cycle of horrors should now mobilise to put mass pressure on the imperialist governments to withdraw their forces from the region, to stop all bombings and avoid the incalculable dangers of a clash between nuclear-armed powers.
With Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and a historically powerful antiwar movement in the Stop the War Coalition we have an international duty to raise the standard of revolt against the threat of imperialist war. Corbyn should now insist that the Labour Party in parliament opposes all UK involvement in the bombing and put down a motion to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all British air, sea and land forces from the region. He should impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to vote for this and make it clear that those who do not do so will be suspended.
Meanwhile the local and national bodies of the party must join with the antiwar movement in mass agitation on the streets against the war threat, which is greatly increasing and which the population must be alerted to.
Red Flag is a
socialist organisation campaigning within Labour for a democratically planned
and owned economy. We campaign for grassroots democracy in the labour movement,
militant defence of the oppressed and an anticapitalist programme for the
Labour Party. Against Brexit, for free movement. Anticapitalist and
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