Saturday, January 19, 2019

How do we respond to the forthcoming General Election?


There may well be a General Election on the way.

We need to prepare for this possibility as it becomes a probability.

Labour needs to prepare to campaign for a majority Labour Government.

In doing this we need to understand that “Brexit” is not the only – nor even the main – issue confronting working class people in our everyday lives (albeit, of course, both the issue of “Brexit” and the consequences of the outcome of the 2016 referendum have implications for many of the issues which do matter).

We need a Labour Government that will strengthen our trade unions to reverse the decline in our living standards.

We need a Labour Government which will invest in our health service, and defend it from privatisation.

We need a Labour Government which will reverse cuts in public services and rebuild our Welfare State.

We need a Labour Government which will bring our rail services back into public ownership.

We need a Labour Government which will encourage and enable the struggle against racism.

We need… (well, I could go on for some time, but you get the point).

Labour needs to prepare a campaign which focuses upon the interests of working class people – we don’t want a General Election in which “in or out” of the European Union becomes the main issue.

Whenever and wherever an issue which is not, fundamentally, an issue between the working class and the ruling class becomes the main political issue, that inhibits the organisation of our side in politics.

(Look , for example, at the politics of the occupied six counties in the North of Ireland throughout the twentieth century, or the impact upon Scottish politics when the question of independence moved to centre stage).

Therefore we need to prepare for a Labour campaign in a forthcoming General Election which does put the interests of the working class front and centre. That cannot be a campaign which puts either the word “Remain” or the word “Leave” in its title.

If we present ourselves as – essentially – a “remain” Party we may alienate many “Labour leavers”. If we present ourselves as – essentially – a “Brexit” Party we will alienate the larger number of Labour supporters who oppose Brexit.

That said, however, we obviously need a point of view about the question of the European Union (as we do about many questions) – and therefore we need to understand what the interests of the working class are in relation to this question.

There is – in the current circumstances – no “leftwing” exit from the EU for the UK. Any route out of the EU threatens our class in the UK, without – of itself – offering any benefit in terms of socialist possibilities.

Labour’s approach to “Brexit” over the past two years – based upon the “six tests” - has been and is a sensible way to structure our response to a question which we would sooner not be asked around the interest of the people our Party was established to represent.

Having structured a response in this sensible way we have to be prepared now to arrive at an answer – and the answer is that, if forced to choose, in the interests of the working class, we know that leaving the EU, in current circumstances, is against the interests of our people.

But that doesn’t make EU membership the single, or most important, issue in any forthcoming election – it is only the single, and most important issue, in the current disintegration of the political Party of our ruling class.

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