Workers Hammer No. 246

Spring 2020


Enough of Labour’s betrayals!

For a multiethnic revolutionary workers party!

The story of the 12 December 2019 general election was clear enough long before all the votes had been counted. Labour’s commitment to overturn the Brexit vote — coming after Jeremy Corbyn’s betrayal over the 2016 referendum on EU membership — had brought about an electoral meltdown in the party’s working-class heartlands in northern England and Wales. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Old Etonian toff and confirmed enemy of working people everywhere, succeeded in tearing away the votes of much of Labour’s working-class base with the simple pledge to “get Brexit done”.

The collapse of Labour’s so-called “red wall” was dramatic. Voters in former mining villages and industrial constituencies that had not returned a Tory MP for decades, if ever, turned their backs on the party. Tellingly, of the 54 Labour seats lost to the Tories, 52 were in constituencies that had voted to leave. Down with the EU!

Decades of economic devastation — the wholesale destruction of industrial jobs and social services — drove the 2016 vote for Brexit among the downtrodden and dispossessed as an expression of class hatred against both the EU bosses’ club and the smug British ruling establishment. The same anger and discontent at the base of society had also fuelled the election of left-winger Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2015. The parliamentary reformist programme put forward by Corbyn at the time — renationalising privatised services, defence of the NHS, opposition to the anti-union laws — and his credentials as a spokesman against racism ran counter to the Blairites’ schemes to turn Labour into an outright capitalist party and resonated with many working people and minorities.

But in carrying the baton for the City fat cats by supporting the EU, Corbyn trampled on the interests of those who looked to him for a change. His arrogant Unionism over Scotland further alienated working-class voters in that country. Labour got its just deserts. We told it straight in our 21 November 2019 statement (reprinted page 6): in this election there was no choice for workers.

The anti-working-class treachery of Corbyn’s Labour Party has aided the ascendancy of right-wing demagogue Boris Johnson. The epitome of ruling-class contempt for working people, for women, for the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations and for the black and Asian minority populations, Johnson is rightly feared and loathed by many.

Signalling the Tories’ intent to carry out further attacks on the trade unions, Johnson’s first raft of legislation for the new parliament included outlawing transport strikes in the absence of “minimum levels of service”. This legislation aims to nullify the chief weapon workers in this industry have — the ability to shut down transport.

The government is squaring up for attacks on the working class and on minorities, but what it is able to get away with will be determined by the level of class struggle. The trade unions need a leadership that unleashes the workers’ social power instead of paralysing them with parliamentary illusions. Labour under Corbyn has shown yet again that both Labour’s left wing and its right wing have a pro-capitalist programme, bowing to the dictates of finance capital. To lay the basis for a decent life for all requires the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist rule under the leadership of a workers party purpose-built for that task.