Labour Conference: Constitutional Crisis and fear of the global working class

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06/10/2019 by socialistfight

Socialist Fight No33 Editorial

Boris Johnson is now seeking to mobilise the far right and provoke riots to get his preferred hard Brexit through by the use of inflammatory language in parliament; surrender Act, betrayal, humbug, traitors etc.

Whenever rival factions of the ruling class clash, they are always acutely conscious there is a third force, the working class, is listening in. Today that clash is obviously deep and bitter. Boris Johnson is now seeking to mobilise the far right and provoke riots to get his preferred hard Brexit through by the use of inflammatory language in parliament; surrender Act, betrayal, humbug, traitors etc.

Johnson is pitching towards a reviving English nationalism, an Empire nostalgia, a hatred of foreigners and import controls in trade wars in which his preferred ally is Trump and US imperialism. In response the Labour party acknowledges the need to defend progressive EU legislation on workers’ rights, essentially won by the militancy of the French working class.

But the Labour party conference this year was very disappointing because the main concern of Corbyn and the leadership was to keep the membership in check. These were obviously younger and far more leftist than last year, as increasing numbers of CLPs have fallen to the left. And they were expressing the push from the mass of the working class as its vanguard. But Corbyn again and again blocked with the Trade Union bureaucracy and the right wing of his own party to frustrate that push, as Tony Blair had done.

Andy Green defends Thatcher’s anti-union laws in the Morning Star: “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.”

Labour is determined to keep all the Thatcherite anti-union laws so they can be wielded against a resurgent working class when that log jam is inevitably broken. This has the support of the Labour leaders and almost the entire trade union bureaucracy with the honourable exceptions of the FBU, the RMT and the IWGB. It is in direct defiance of Labour party conference decisions of 2017; they are pledged to repeal ONLY the 2016 Trade Union Act and only to “roll back” Thatcher’s Acts. In other words, to slightly modify them by a new trade union act but not to “make a bonfire” of them, in the words of the execrable Andy Green, leader of the Instruction of Employment Rights and TUC-backed Campaign for Trade Union Freedom in the Morning Star on 26 July 2017 (page 4).

Likewise, on immigration controls, a Labour government will certainly not implement the excellent socialist internationalist resolution passed this year. Diane Abbot assures us that the party backs a workplace visa system. We will not be swamped by floods of poor immigrants fleeing from Middle Eastern wars created by USA and British imperialism, racist bigots are assured, visas only for those who can assist to enhance the profits of capitalism.

The pledge to create a state-owned drugs company to undercut the rip off of the NHS by Big Pharma is welcome but without nationalisation of the drugs companies and equipment manufacturers this plan is dead in the water. Likewise, the four-day week is pie in the sky without control of the commanding heights of industry and a block on capital flows out of the country. Thatcher finally abolished exchange control in 1979, completing the neo-liberal work of Callaghan. Labour wont repeal this law either, John McDonnell assures us.

Sounding very radical Angela Rayner signalled she wanted to develop the motion passed by conference to seize the assets of private (public!) schools and redistribute them throughout education and end tax relief and state aid to the privileged. McDonnell indicated to the Times that seizing assets was ‘draconian’, it could be illegal and he would not do it. No tuition fees must also be in doubt.

The Guardian‘s Economics Editor: “Labour’s approach is like that of a trade unionist who reassures the employer from the outset of negotiations that there is no possibility of a strike.”

Writing in The Guardian on 30 September Larry Elliot says, “there was nothing revolutionary about either of the two big economic themes of his (McDonnell’s) speech. The capitalists won’t invest and Elliot tells us why:

“the economic model of the past four decades means a growing share of household income is financed by borrowing, while the increase in the profit share has either been saved or channelled into buying assets … Yet, businesses would rather sit on piles of cash or use profits to buy back shares rather than seize the plentiful investment opportunities.”

McDonnell also promised to raise the national living wage to a minimum of £10 an hour, a shorter working week with no loss of pay, and by rolling back (!) the Thatcherite anti-trade union legislation from 1979. Because, Elliot says:

“Thatcher and her ministers recognised that the right to strike was easily the most potent weapon at labour’s disposal. Unions (bureaucrats, he should say!) don’t really like strikes, especially long ones that make it harder for their members to pay the mortgage and feed their families. But they know that often the only way to get a deal out of an intransigent employer is to threaten to walk out … Labour’s approach is like that of a trade unionist who reassures the employer from the outset of negotiations that there is no possibility of a strike.”

So we can see that the sharp conflict at the outset of the conference, over Jon Lansman’s attempt to remove treacherous deputy Watson and the defeat of the CLP delegates’ push to win Labour to a remain position was really a signal to the capitalist establishment itself that Corbyn was a safe pair of hands.

John McDonnell: “a serious and intriguing figure: a supposed Marxist who looks, and sometimes talks, a bit like a bank manager.”

On 21 September, to assure the Labour party leaders before the start of their conference, The Guardian’s Andy Beckett, headlined, “Even bankers are starting to think Corbyn might be the safe choice now” and the subhead assured us, “Faced with the Tories’ no-deal extremism and a glaring crisis in capitalism, the financial establishment is losing its fear of a radical Labour government,”

He went on to supply the gory details; Oliver Harvey, an analyst for Deutsche Bank in the City of London, told the Telegraph: “We see the magnitude of economic damage caused by a no-deal Brexit as much higher than policies proposed in the last Labour manifesto.” In the same article, Christian Schulz, an analyst for Citibank, noted approvingly that “Labour has become more decisively pro-EU”, while “a fiscally profligate no-deal Conservative government” had become less “enticing”.

And Beckett observed that the city bankers see John McDonnell, who has been touring the city recently, as “a serious and intriguing figure: a supposed Marxist who looks, and sometimes talks, a bit like a bank manager.”

The Financial Times says, “Capitalism: time for a reset”, The Economist is grudgingly respectful of the efforts of Corbyn and McDonnell to please them, Conservatives Welsh MP Guto Bebb, says “a short-term Jeremy Corbyn government” would be “less damaging” than a no-deal Brexit. Ken Clarke said the same to the Observer but did not mention caretaker only (see page 5 on National Governments).

The disgraceful capitulation of Corbyn yet again to the Zionist lobby over Peter Gregson’s banner (see pages 10 and 11) is another clear signal of subordination to the masters of life; the whole capitalist establishment.

For those who see politics as an eternal electoral conflict between Tory and Labour about who can best serve the interests of British imperialism these are comforting thoughts. Boris Johnson is making a complete hash of serving  capitalism as seen in the Tory party conference.

For internationalist socialists, who look to the global state of the international working class and who note the very similar constitutional, corruption and sexual assault crisis in the USA over Trump (see page 16) these are pre-battle manoeuvres between the two great remaining classes on the planet, the international working class and world imperialism.

We always remember with Karl Liebknecht that the main enemy in war and conflicts is ALWAYS at home in an imperialist country. We are left remainers in this ongoing political and constitutional crisis. Everything that increases the confidence of the working class and its vanguard in the Labour party ranks and its confidence in its own strength and ability to confront and defeat capitalism itself is good.

Everything that seeks, like the Labour party leadership now, to put them back in their boxes by bureaucratic manoeuvres and to use them only as a stage army to get Labour elected the better to manage capitalism, is wrong.

Of course, vote Labour now and still fight to get Corbyn elected, the Tories are the main class enemy, Labour is better for the class consciousness and militancy of the working class but have no illusions. As in international wars and conflicts the Marxist united front motto is always unconditional but critical support to every, even partial and half-hearted, opposition to imperialism and capitalism itself. ▲

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