Britain is in a state of turmoil. There is a political crisis, which will be followed by a constitutional crisis. Independence is again on the cards in Scotland. There is fear in European establishment that Brexit could spark a continent-wide revolt.
“We have started a nuclear chain reaction in which no one knows the outcome”, stated Barry Gardener, Labour MP for Brent North.
Nearly two years ago, the Scottish Referendum came close to breaking up the United Kingdom. Today, Britain has voted to exit the European Union and Cameron has also been forced to resign. There is civil war in the Labour Party.
Cameron was a man hoisted by his own petard. He initially warned the Tory Party not to “bang on about Europe”, then went on to “bang on about Europe” and got himself banged up as a result.
British society resembles a bubbling caldron of discontent and uncertainty. While Scotland and London voted to remain, many in the former industrial areas of northern England, the Midlands and Wales voted to leave.
They voted with mixed reasons, some xenophobic and reactionary, but nevertheless underpinned by a sense of dejection and anger after years of factory closures, job losses and depressed wages. A Sports Direct warehouse on the site of a former coal mine says it all about today’s big business Britain.
Most Labour voters and overwhelming numbers of youth voted to Remain, mainly in protest against the stinking nationalism and racism of the Tory right and Farage.
The Brexit vote was nevertheless a revolt against the status quo and the Establishment. People felt let down, where things have gone from bad to worse. It was a collective howl of discontent with the way things are. The vote has been described as a 21st century "peasants' revolt".
The knives are out
The result has shaken big business, which saw its long term interests in Europe. Business wanted to stay in the bosses’ club for the free market, big profits and a docile labour force. Now they have experienced "shock and awe" as they have never expected.
They blame Cameron for all this mess, who gambled the whole nation on winning his premiership by promising a referendum. Now they are cursing him. He has therefore been forced to resign with his tail between his legs. Clearly, George Osborne will be next to walk the gangplank.
Like all privileged millionaires, they will not suffer. They will find rewarding careers in big business and the City of London.
However, the Tory leadership battle will be a bloody affair. After that, Boris or whoever wins will face a deepening crisis. They will have to pick up the pieces. There are consequences in this decision, painful consequences. Boris or whoever will learn a painful lesson that it is easier to mount a live tiger than get off its back.
We are heading for slump, as investment falls and output declines. Austerity will be piled on austerity. This was always going to be the case, but things have now accelerated. Rating agencies have announced that Britain will be stripped of its top credit rating. Britain has a massive balance of payments deficit, which is only sustained thanks to the kind permission of foreign investors, a sentiment that could easily evaporate.
Of course, the governor of the Bank of England says “all the fundamentals are sound”, as the economy heads for the rocks.
It could take 10 years before Britain can divorce from the EU. The European leaders will not want to make it easy or pleasant. They fear a domino effect and will seek to make exit very unpleasant indeed. Some talk of retaliation. Whatever happens, there are no guarantees and Britain will end up out in the cold.
Brexit has also helped reactionary populist forces in Europe, such as the NF in France, who are demanding their own referendum. Pandora’s Box is well and truly open. Nothing is going to be the same again. With the dangers of contagion increasing, the whole project of the European Union is now at risk. “The full-scale disintegration of the EU is now a real possibility”, states the Financial Times (25/6/16). They have lit a fire that threatens to consume everything. “Britain has led the way over the cliff”, explained Martin Wolf. “Others might follow.”
The dis-United Kingdom
There will be other consequences. Scotland voted overwhelming to remain. The Scottish Parliament is even threatening to veto the result. This could create a constitutional crisis and has certainly put another referendum on Scottish independence back on the table. With polls showing 60% in favour of independence, and with growing resentment north of the border, we can very easily see the breakup of the United Kingdom in the near future. With talk of a border poll in Northern Ireland, there will soon be little left of the “United” Kingdom.
Everything seems to be unravelling. All the old certainties have disappeared. Britain has been thrown into turmoil, politically, constitutionally, socially and economically.
There could be a new general election later this year or early next year, as a new Tory leader attempts to strengthen his or her position. With the Blairites relentlessly attacking Jeremy Corbyn, they may take a chance to go to the polls.
The Blairites have been betraying the working class for years and building up colossal resentment against the Labour Party. Corbyn won the party leadership as a reaction to this. The Blairites are the reason why Labour in Scotland was politically smashed. They jumped into bed with the Tories and Liberal Democrats, and were completely discredited. They did the same in this referendum.
They have become hysterical in their efforts to unseat Corbyn. Their attempted vote of no confidence in him is a stab in the back. The majority of the shadow cabinet have resigned and joined the coup attempt.
But enough is enough! Corbyn has no alternative but to go on the offensive. The Corbyn Revolution in the Party was only half a revolution. It needs to be completed. He should call an emergency Labour Party conference to settle the matter of who leads the party: the elected Leader or the Blairite clique in Parliament? He should immediately move to reintroduce mandatory reselection of MPs in order to clear out the Tory cuckoos in the nest.
Capitalism is crisis: make the bosses’ pay!
The EU Referendum has shown how a mood of discontent can be diverted into reactionary channels. The offer of the status quo could never win these disenchanted layers. They wanted change. What was needed was a bold programme by the Labour Party to oppose the bosses' EU and fight for the socialist transformation of society. This is the only way to solve the problems of jobs, wages and housing. We warned: without this, the mood of discontent would find other outlets.
No matter how they voted, both the Remain and Leave supporters will now be betrayed as we are asked once again to pay for the crisis. We are in an epoch of a declining capitalist system, which can only continue by permanent austerity. Inside or outside the European Union will made no fundamental difference for working people.
Even the strategists of big business have a sense of foreboding. “Each of these elements of instability – the British, the European, the global – will interact with each other over the coming months in unpredictable ways”, explains the Financial Times. It concludes: “But the reality is that Britain looks set for political, social and economic turmoil.”
The capitalist system is in a dire crisis. It threatens all the gains of the past. There is a growing anti-capitalist mood reflected in all kinds of ways. The Financial Times, the mouthpiece of big business, states bluntly “globalisation is not working. Big business has become bad political news… Since 2008 the unfairnesses have been amplified by austerity: the wealthiest one percent have been barely touched… Capitalism needed saving, but in bailing out the financial institutions with taxpayers’ money, governments transferred the stresses from markets to politics… If they want to save liberal democracy, they will have to reform capitalism.”
But capitalism cannot be reformed. It is based on the exploitation of working people. The capitalists squeeze unpaid labour out of the workers. Inequality in an inevitable outcome of private ownership and production for profit. Only by overthrowing this bankrupt system that is now in permanent crisis can the productive potential be used for the needs of peoples and not the profits of the billionaire class. We must use this crisis not to bail out capitalism, but to put an end to it.