Defeat Johnson’s Coup! Stop Brexit, No immigration controls! No National Government! General Strike Now!1
31/08/2019 by socialistfight
LLOYD RUSSELL-MOYLE, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, has made the correct response to Boris Johnson’s constitutional coup in proroguing parliament on 28 August (see box overleaf). It must be met with mass mobilisations on the streets and a general strike.
The demos in London and in several other British cities on 28th and the call for the mass national demonstration on 31st and subsequent actions must be answered by the whole organised labour movement and every immigrant and oppressed minority in the land.
For we are all under threat as in the 1930s from a creeping fascism promoted by far rightist regimes and movements in Italy, Eastern Europe, France, Brazil but above all by the war-mongering racist bigots who now control the US Presidency, Donald Trump and his team.
Johnson is the expression of a vile English nationalism, protectionism, immigration controls, import controls and trade wars inevitably leading to WWIII in the short to medium term.
So we are not just demonstrating in defence of “democracy” or “parliamentary sovereignty” but for our own futures and for a socialist society which will abolish capitalism globally and end all wars, hunger and want on the planet.
Humanity has all the resources to achieve this now but the global imperialist hegemon, the USA and all its subordinate allies in Europe, Japan, etc. rule all via their great finance houses and transnational corporations. Their mode of production is individual profit based on private property. Capitalism can never produce for human need, so our task is revolutionary and not reformist.
As Trotskyists we understand that only the socialist revolution, spread internationally, will achieve this. But, as Trotsky observed, “those who cannot defend old positions will never conquer new ones”. This coup threatens the democratic rights of all the working class and oppressed and their ability to fight.
Attacks escalate on the poor and disabled, from Universal Credit and vicious sanctioning of DWP claimants and the disabled to attacks on immigrant workers, etc. Inevitably flowing from the racist referendum are the surge in attacks on all Black, Asians and ethnic minorities, on LGBTI and all the oppressed.
The 2016 referendum fostered these divisions in the working class that can only by healed by a revived class which confronts in militant strike struggles the whole capitalist system for wages, conditions, against zero hours contracts (now rapidly growing) and in defence of all its weakest and unorganised, the cleaners, the couriers, construction workers, sex workers, and all refugees-migrants within EU-borders, full democratic rights for all! These are the targets of rising neo-fascist/right-wing reactionary white racists who are a serious threat to them and subsequently to the whole left and working class.
France’s gilets jaunes and the uprisings in Algeria and Sudan, the resistance in Yemen, Palestine, Venezuela, Brazil and Russia and above all the internationalist courage of the climate change youth led by Greta Thunberg are new layers and a new generation who are ready for the fight and know no defeats.
Repeal ALL anti-trade union laws!
TO FIGHT FOR SOCIALISM the working class must secure the repeal of ALL the anti-trade union laws from the Thatcher and Cameron eras. But an incoming Labour government has not pledged to do this. In fact the 2017 general election Manifesto, For the Many, not the Few says in Rights at Work it will only:
“Repeal the Trade Union Act (2016) and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.”
But there could be no mistaking the political import of the article in the Morning Star of 26 July: In a full-page rambling article Andy Green, Secretary of the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, produced this gem towards the end:
“A new Industrial Relations Act could and should, we believe, restore a right to strike without necessarily making a public bonfire of the Thatcherite Acts of Parliament.”
The Campaign for Trade Union Freedom speaks for the TUC and the majority of the TU bureaucracy in Britain. It has refused to pledge to repeal the seven major anti-trade union laws passed by Thatcher, which makes Britain the most oppressive anti-union state in western Europe. Why not make this “bonfire”?
We see here a very important division in the trade unions and the labour movement in general., a division in the ranks of the Stalinists and the bureaucracy.
Only the FBU and Matt Wrack, Mick Cash and the RMT, and the small but militant non-TUC Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) and all those grass roots labour bodies who have rallied to the AWL-initiated Free Our Unions Campaign (80+ regional, local and other labour movement bodies), now stand for the repeal of all the anti-TU laws. We give them our unhesitating support.
The Campaign for Trade Union Freedom DID support the repeal of all eight anti-trade union Acts. Why this sudden collapse, why is the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and the majority of the trade union bureaucracy now against trade union freedom?
Defence of their privileges under capitalism and a fear of a resurgent working class that it could not control is obviously the reason these conservative, arrogant and corrupt bureaucracy now seek to defend Thatcher’s reactionary legacy. A genuine rank-and-file movement within all the unions is a burning necessity.
On 28 August, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, called for a general strike to stop Brexit in the Daily Mirror:
At the last election the majority of parties pledged they would not allow No Deal and, in the referendum, even the leavers said that No deal was a bad idea. By forcing through a No Deal Brexit, the government will have ignored widespread warnings about food and medicine shortages, NHS ward closures and security risks. It will cost the public billions and usher in a new era of austerity.
Because of these dangers and strong evidence that the public does not want a No Deal Brexit, MPs have explicitly voted against a No Deal Brexit on no fewer than three occasions. The Government’s move to try to suspend Parliament is an attempt to force through No Deal anyway – against Parliament and the people’s will. I therefore call on Parliament and the people to resist this deeply anti-democratic move, using any peaceful means available to them.
Last year I picked up Parliament’s ceremonial mace in protest at the last Prime Minister’s decision to call off a crucial Brexit vote. Today, my shadow cabinet colleagues have pledged to occupy Parliament to resist the greatest abuse of executive power in living memory.
I chaired the Socialist Campaign Group rally at Labour Conference where Laura Smith MP called for a general strike to stop the Government in its tracks. Whilst it might have looked rash for some then, now it looks more and more like the only way forward to stop our country falling into the hands of the undemocratic right. If the Government tries to drive No Deal through by stopping Parliament from sitting, we cannot just rely on the courts and parliamentary process. We need a mass movement of resistance, with marches, civil disobedience and protests in every village, town and city of this country.
If the Government plans to ignore the will of Parliament and the people, then that is a coup. The resistance starts now.
Letter to the Morning Star: No Popular Fronts, No National Governments!
THE MORNING STAR COMMENT, “the left must be on guard against a national government” (MS Aug 7) is correct in its conclusion, “even a major break with a significant number of MPs leaving the party would do less damage than meek participation in such a government”.
I say this from the standpoint of a left remainer who believes that the internationalist perspectives of the working class must be fighting alongside the EU working class against EU imperialism, Karl Liebknecht wrote “The Main Enemy is at Home” in 1914:
“This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists”
Paul Mason, in The Guardian on August 3, wrote:
“Labour must adopt a tactic from the 1930s: a popular front … we need a one-off electoral arrangement between parties of the left and centre aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit and removing Johnson from Downing Street”.
In Spain the Popular Front took power in January 1936 and “in May that year the Popular Front won in France, giving the country its first socialist prime minister”, he pleas. This went so well that it paved the way for Labour’s wartime coalition with Winston Churchill. This tactic, “halted or delayed the march to fascism in the 1930s”, he claims.
It did not. It facilitated the victory of fascism in Spain in April 1939 and in France in June following the Nazi occupation; right wingers in Paris chanted, “Better Hitler than Blum.” In conditions of frontal assault by the far right and fascism the most precious commodity the working class possesses is their class independence; conceding that to popular fronts and national governments with the liberal bourgeoisie denied them the possibility of fighting for socialism via revolution, the only real way to defeat fascism.
That former fellow Trotskyist Paul Mason has forgotten, if he ever understood it in the first place.
Comradely Gerry Downing
Constitutional coups and revolutions
BORIS JOHNSON’S CONSTITUTIONAL COUP by proroguing parliament on 28 August has been likened by some to Oliver Cromwell’s dissolution of the Rump Parliament on 20 April 1653. This was the remnants of the Long Parliament, purged of the Presbyterian faction compromisers with Charles I by Colonel Thomas Pride on 6 December 1648.
The execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 was England’s single most revolutionary act. The Rump Parliament then passed an “Act prohibiting the proclaiming any person to be King of England or Ireland, or the Dominions thereof”, and to declare the representatives of the people, the House of Commons, as the source of all just power.
An act abolishing the kingship was passed by the Rump on 17 March, followed by an act to abolish the House of Lords on 19 March. On 19 May an Act Declaring England a Commonwealth was passed.
The Treasons Act made it an offence to say that the House of Commons (without the Lords or the King) was not the supreme authority of the land.
Cromwell’s speech at that time was that of a bourgeois revolutionary who have grown impatient with those who wanted still to compromise with the old regime and make only half a revolution. Even the Rump had retreated from finishing the job:
“Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves are yourselves become the greatest grievance! … Take away that shining bauble there and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”
Cromwell’s “fool’s bauble” is the ceremonial mace, symbolising the then absolute monarchy – disrespect for that is still taken as implicit republicanism. Lloyd Russell-Moyle refers to his own interference with the mace in the box opposite.