Elections in the UK: Workers and youth are desperate for an alternative

JUNE 6TH, 2017
Is Corbyn that alternative?
Theresa May believed that a snap General Election would provide a “strong mandate” to deliver Brexit and strengthen anti-immigration policies. “Strong and stable” rhetoric was the Tory election cry yet behind every step of her Presidential style campaign lingers the nightmare of years of austerity and attacks on public services, health, education, jobs and workers’ rights.
A U-turn was forced on their Manifesto plans because almost immediately after it was published wide spread public anger erupted over their social care policy that would force people to pay for social care almost without limit. The Prime Minister’s personal ratings slumped over that issue and she has made other U-turns. The Tory party is now ridden with recriminations and the Conservative lead over Labour more than halved (according to the polls).
The consequential rise in support for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party was due to the weakness of the Tories but also because of Corbyn’s ‘honest’ manner, which contrasts to the arrogance and secrecy of May. The Labour Manifesto makes many promises to combat austerity and Tory attacks that if implemented would improve the lives of many people.
There are a growing number of young and other people who may vote for the first time and genuinely believe and trust that Corbyn is an alternative.
Many working class people are desperate for an alternative. They can see the destruction of the NHS as international vultures are getting their claws into sections of the NHS. Public education is being drastically cut at all levels. Essential local services have been cut by an average of 22 per cent since 2010 and in working class areas this is as high as 50 percent. There have been huge cuts in children services, adult social care and homelessness is soaring.
Zero hour and casual contracts are increasing exponentially, official figures state 7.1 million jobs. Workloads are increasing and the victimisation of union representatives growing.
Anger against all this is drawing people towards Corbyn. Some promises in Labour’s Manifesto are attractive to young people such as an end to university tuition fees. They also promise a Labour government will repeal of the last anti-trade law.
Union conferences are declaring support for the Labour Party and union headquarters across the country have become Labour election campaigning centres.
Why is Jeremy Corbyn is still behind in the polls?
Labour’s right-wing control all local Labour councils and all left-wing Labour councilors have voted without protest for all the cuts in the last seven years, while many activists and workers have opposed Labour’s Council implementation of austerity.
Corbyn instructed Labour councils to set a cuts budget in the last two years, and even if Labour wins there is no promise to restore all the cuts let alone go further to meet rising demand for public services. The Manifesto is vague on how it will address local authority cuts.
The struggle against the cuts has been weakened by the bureaucratic machinery of the TUC that supports Labour. They have repeatedly diverted or stopped strikes against pension, wages and jobs cuts. The Guardian recently reported that 2016 saw the biggest ever recorded fall in union membership of 275,000 members. While job losses due to closures and cuts boomed, casual contracts also grew rapidly. The union’s leaders have not offered any resistance to these attacks and they prefer to blame the Tories.
Inside the Labour Party, right-wing war mongers and pro-privateers (Blairites) remain, Corbyn will work with and concede to them as he prioritises party unity.
The promise to remove tuition fees from this September is very popular but to increase student numbers, that dropped five per cent last year (a trend likely to continue), is also in the interests of British capitalism that needs more graduate workers. So, these and other proposals do not hit capitalism in its heart. The privatisation drive in the Education Act for universities and colleges is not opposed in the Manifesto.
The older anti-trade union laws that a Labour government would keep, acts as a sufficient brake on workers’ struggle in the current period.
Labour’s nationalisation plans are limited such as taking back train franchises as they expire (a process that would take decades) and piece-meal public energy control. These are not against the interests of capital, as huge compensation payments will be given such as in the case of the Post Office. These promised nationalisations are not against capital, but on the contrary, will help it, their motive is profit.
The economic crisis, the bourgeois parliament, control of society by the banks, the city of London and big business (all of whom are responsible for the 2008 crisis) set limits on Corbyn and will prevent him from going beyond their interests, that is growing profits.
The lack of Labour posters in many working class areas indicts distrust reigns, and they are right.
Corbyn is a reformist
Some readers will agree with the above points and defend Corbyn as the lesser evil in contrast with the Tories. But the “lesser evil” still means capitalism, that Corbyn wants a “humanitarian capitalism” a capitalism that is based on justice. We call it reformism, and that creates the worst illusion for workers and the youth because that illusion does not challenge capitalism’s control of society, conduct of military wars or the planet that brings ever closer environmental disaster.
Reformism will not make any structural change in capitalist society, it is limited to the mechanisms of bourgeois democracy, the democracy of the rich. That is why the Manifesto does not mention Socialism.
Corbyn will remain in NATO (an imperialist military alliance), keep building nuclear weapons and does not want to get rid of the Monarchy or the House of Lords, which are vestiges of the feudal system.
Corbyn saved the Labour party from destruction, that is he has given reformism another, perhaps short, lease of life. He is using the role as saviour to restore trust not only in the Labour Party but in the existing regime and capitalist system.
The great assumption by so many is that reformism can re-build the welfare state. We say that only a socialist revolution can defeat capitalism and capitalism’s desire and need to get rid of the Welfare state and bring about a Socialist Welfare State – that will go far beyond what was created in the post-war period.
For reform or socialism?
There are organisations, like the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Left Unity and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) that abandoned any challenge to the Labour Party in England, Scotland and Wales. And by doing so deceive workers and youth that Corbyn is the way out to socialism. This is the biggest lie because socialism cannot be built through elections and Parliament!
These parties have capitulated to reformism and because of that the International Socialist League believes that we need to construct of an independent workers and socialist alternative, as a pole in elections and an opposition to both bourgeois alternatives, and in order (more importantly) to encourage the actual struggles and independent organization of the working class as the only way to avoid another betrayal of young people and the working class.
The SP and SWP, who proclaim themselves as revolutionary parties, have shown themselves unable to fulfill the necessity of building a revolutionary party in the tradition of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.
We, therefore, call for support and for the construction of the International Socialist League now and after the elections.
We fight for a workers’ and socialist alternative based in the most exploited and oppressed sections of the working class, and we are with every struggle against capitalism and reformist control. We participate in elections where we can, our aim is for a government of workers and the oppressed.
We follow the guidance and practice of Lenin and Trotsky that the building of a revolutionary party must continue in every moment of the class struggle including elections. The only way out for the toilers of Europe and the planet is in international struggle and socialism.
We say:
-Support all working class organisations fighting austerity and all cuts.
-Restore all public services and improve them by public investment.
-End and remove all privatisations.
-Immediate repeal all anti-trade union laws.
-Nationalise all big business and the banks, without compensation and under workers control.
-For a government of workers, and the oppressed.
-Build a struggle across Europe linking all combative workers and the oppressed.
Build the International Socialist League and the International Workers League (Fourth International)!
International Socialist League.

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