29th October 2019
Corbyn – ready to fight the General Election
With the date for a UK General Election now established as 12th December 2019, mobilisation to support the manifesto of the Labour Party has to be an absolute priority for the labour and trade union movement. The austerity loving Liberal Democrats have demonstrated that they are fully paid up members of the pro EU Remain tendency, blind to the devastation EU membership has wreaked upon the UK economy over the past forty years and indifferent to the impact upon workers’ rights. As their time in coalition with the Tories demonstrated, their interests align with those of big business, not the working people of the UK.
The Scottish Nationalists continue to bluster as paper radicals but like the Lib Dems align themselves to the EU and will work towards preventing Brexit at any cost. The DUP continue to tread their sectarian opportunist path, in defence of partition and the protection of Protestant privilege, in the North of Ireland. They do not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to other parts of the UK, unless they say so.
The Tories have gathered some momentum under Boris Johnson but will still be vulnerable to hardline Leavers defecting to the Brexit Party and pro-EU one nation Tories drifting towards former bedfellows the Lib Dems. Enough disaffection across the country could see the Tory vote dwindle and, in some cases, let Labour in through the middle.
Labour, while having a compromised position on Brexit, negotiate a new deal then go to a referendum with Remain on the ballot paper, are still the only Party with policies which will give hope to working people in the UK. The core manifesto promises represent the best chance in a generation of effecting anything like a shift in the direction of travel in social policy and would begin to challenge some of the core economic assumptions which have underpinned the neo-liberal consensus of the past forty years.
Public sector investment is the engine of the economy. Without it the private sector cannot function. Without schools, roads, hospitals and welfare provision the private sector could not operate on any significant scale. Labour’s commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030 is the biggest single commitment of any party to taking seriously the climate emergency and linking environmental concerns to the need for progressive industrial investment.
The Green Deal will be at the heart of Labour’s pitch to the electorate in general and young people in particular.
Labour are committed to the re-nationalisation of the failing railway infrastructure; bringing the Royal Mail back into public ownership; taking back the water industry from foreign investors profiting from water supply, a basic human need. Labour will be committed to more Council housing; more investment in and co-operation with local government; a rebuilding of the NHS and adult social care programmes.
Ofsted will be abolished and a National Education Service established. University tuition fees will go. Anti-trade union legislation introduced by the Tories to shackle workers’ rights and left unchallenged by the EU, will be repealed. Universal Credit will go.
Housing bought purely for profit and standing empty while people are homeless will be subject to compulsory purchase.
Ironically, the major barrier to Labour implementing such a radical programme is membership of the EU itself. The four pillars of the EU, the so called four freedoms for the movement of goods, services, capital and labour are not freedoms in any real sense at all. They are the freedoms of the free market, the freedom for capital to move and cheap labour to be exploited. They are constraints, they are chains.
The manifesto which still stands up to scrutiny, published in the 19th century, had a bit to say about chains. As Marx and Engels quite rightly observed in Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), workers of the world “have nothing to lose but their chains.”
As importantly, and even more relevant now than it was then in the face of the worldwide climate emergency, is the closing sentence of the quotation, “They have a world to win.”
A Labour victory in December may not be quite on the scale of winning the world, but it will be a first step in the right direction.