How can we get rid of the Tories?

The Socialist Party campaigned in the EU referendum to leave the EU. Our slogan was to “vote OUT the Tories”. Correctly, we predicted that a leave vote would cause a crisis for the ruling party of capitalism, and would undercut support for the far-right.

We also said that Jeremy Corbyn should use his position and authority to lead the Leave campaign, and, as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) applied to the Electoral Commission to be the official Leave campaign; for no taxpayers’ money to be given to the Tories or UKIP as the officially sanctioned campaign. We attempted, with our limited resources, to counter the racist rhetoric on both sides of the referendum campaign. We pointed out that international workers’ solidarity was needed against EU attacks on the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland. We explained that Corbyn would not be able to carry through socialist policies without coming into collision with the Lisbon Treaty.

The Leave vote caused Theresa May to lose a parliamentary vote by the greatest margin ever. She is clearly incapable of running the country. By any normal measure, she would have resigned by now, and there would be huge pressure to have a general election. So why is she still clinging to power?

The opposition is no longer (as it was under Blair) a “safe pair of hands” for the capitalists. They are terrified that a left-wing Labour government would raise expectations of working-class people (not that Corbyn’s manifesto is more than mild reformism, with only piecemeal renationalisation of the railways for example, not as we would demand, expropriation of the railway franchises under workers’ control, with no compensation for fat cats). The bosses are afraid of the latent power of the trade unions, if Corbyn were to repeal the Tory anti-trade union legislation. They are afraid for their profits. The last thing they want is for a Corbyn-led Labour Party to be pushed further to the left by mass pressure from below.

Yet, Labour too is split. There is a rump of Blairites, predominantly councillors and MPs who seek to sabotage Corbyn and his supporters. We are calling for them to be deselected. Instead, socialists have been expelled for the nebulous charge of “bringing the Labour Party into disrepute” and have attempted to smear Corbyn with false claims of antisemitism. The majority of Labour councils are still carrying through the Tories’ dirty work, cutting services and jobs without protest. However, there is a beacon of hope – Islwyn and Enfield North councils have voted to set no-cuts budgets and fight back (it remains to be seen how this works out in practice). The Socialist Party (as Socialist Alternative) will be standing against Blairite cutters in a number of seats across the country, to put forward an alternative to austerity.

What are the chances of democratising Labour into a fighting mass party of the working class? We would argue that Corbyn has been too timid in capitulating to and seeking reconciliation with the Blairites. We have asked to join Labour, but our requests have been rebuffed with the retort that we should not have stood against Labour in elections – we asked for a debate, to discuss co-operation and affiliation on a federal basis, but so far we have not been successful in re-joining Labour (our leading members were expelled in the early 1990s). There are some hopeful signs of change, however, with a new layer of activists coming through and a trickle of deselections.

One factor that has been absent in getting rid of the Tories is the organised working class. If Corbyn had campaigned energetically and the TUC had mobilised its members for the recent march against austerity, using it as a springboard for co-ordinated strike action; if there was mass, spontaneous civil disobedience (as is the case in France) – May’s government would face oblivion.

One Tory backbencher commenting on May’s leadership said “stamina is not a strategy”, recognising the desperate situation she is in. On the one hand remainers are demanding a soft Brexit, or to remain, on the other, Eurosceptics want to break with the EU, and the DUP are threatening to withdraw support over the border in Northern Ireland. The situation has reached a critical impasse, and evidently there is no Plan B. The EU has said its deal is non-negotiable, so May is scuttling round Labour Leave MPs offering cash bribes for their support (just as she did with the DUP).

This shows, as we have argued consistently, that the money is there in society to fund public services. The Tories are carrying out an ideological attack, affecting the most vulnerable disproportionately. Yet, this is also an extremely weak and wobbly government – all that is lacking is the political will to bring it crashing down.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the coming weeks and months. One possibility is that the Blairite left and Tory right will split, to form an SDP Mark II-style party, but holding them back is the likelihood of electoral oblivion.

A no-deal Brexit is still possible, despite the vote in Parliament to the contrary, if a deal cannot be brokered. This would be a blow to ordinary people, with uncertainty around jobs, increased inflation and chaos around our ports.

The right wing of Labour and the Lib Dems are calling for a second referendum, a “People’s Vote” – we say that a real people’s vote is a general election. The Lib Dems would certainly use this as a bargaining chip in return for support for a coalition government, should we have a hung Parliament in the event of an election. To go down the road of calling another referendum would alienate the majority of the working class, drive up support for UKIP and result in a backlash against immigrants. It would be a disastrous climbdown for Corbyn, who has rightly said that he would honour the referendum result.

Any companies under threat of going under should be nationalised under workers’ control, to protect jobs. We would use Brexit to launch an appeal to workers across Europe, to rise up against the rotten capitalist system which enslaves us. We point out the racist nature of EU legislation – the withdrawal of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, the razor-wire border fence erected in Hungary. We do not blame immigrants, we blame the bosses. We would close tax loopholes and use the revenue generated to invest in our public services which have long been starved of resources. If there was a flight of capital, we would take control over the money supply.

Although this may sound like a socialist flight of fancy, meanwhile in Tory Britain homeless people are freezing to death, the disabled are suffering under Universal Credit, people are in insecure jobs and on zero hour contracts. It doesn’t have to be this way! We cannot afford to wait until 2022 for another general election.

During the election campaign in 2017, with the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto, this resulted in a huge groundswell of support. May’s gamble (on a snap election to pave the way for a majority for her version of Brexit) failed disastrously for the Tories. Despite a huge lead in the opinion polls at the beginning of the campaign, she has barely clung to power since. If we forced another general election now, the Tories could easily be defeated, if Labour were to pose a bold, socialist programme.

The Socialist Party, at this stage, is a small party, but we have a track record of winning gains for the working class. Locally, we played a central role in the campaign to save the Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre. We won millions of pounds of concessions from Thatcher for Liverpool, building council houses, leisure centres and schools. We led the mass non-payment campaign that led to the downfall of Thatcher and defeated the poll tax. Central to our strategy is the belief that workers are the most powerful force in society. We are the ones who create wealth for the capitalists. By withholding our labour, this can be stopped at its source, and they would have no choice but to capitulate. We are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to run society. We can build a new socialist society, based on equality and solidarity rather than profit and greed. We are part of an international movement seeking to overthrow capitalism, worldwide. If you agree with our ideas then – join us!

(Speech to Leicester Socialist Party meeting – 2/2/19)

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2 Responses to “How can we get rid of the Tories?”

  1. Mickael Druart Says:

    Hello Mr Walton, I am a french author, and I am trying to contact you about one of your spoken poem that I would like to use in the booktrailer of my upcoming book. How can I contact you ?
    Thank you very much for your answer !

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