Britain: parliament shut down – now let's build for an election

Parliament has now been shut down for five weeks by an unelected Prime Minister and a hereditary monarch. This scandalous state of affairs is perfectly legal under the constitution. This is what British parliamentary ‘democracy’ looks like.

Johnson has bought himself some room for manoeuvre. Already he looks like he might be backtracking and considering putting a border with the EU in the Irish sea, now that he no longer needs the DUP to prop up his government. The ruling class will use this time to plot how to regain control over Parliament and the government. Corbyn and Labour must also use this time wisely. We should spend the next five weeks on an election footing, ready to trigger one as soon as parliament returns.

General election

The need for a Corbyn government is urgent. One year ago this week, a woman set herself on fire and burned to death in the housing offices of Barnet council, after being threatened with eviction. This is a stark reminder that every day this Tory government remains in power is another day of misery for working-class people.

Not one day more Tories out Image Socialist AppealCorbyn has beaten slippery careerists and establishment politicians before, and he can beat them again with radical socialist policies / Image: Socialist Appeal

It’s high time we had an election. Johnson is already preparing an election campaign based on a fake anti-establishment image. In reality, all he has to offer is racism, xenophobia, and policies to make his rich friends even richer at the expense of the rest of us.

We need to enhance the genuine anti-establishment credentials of Jeremy Corbyn. Working-class people are sick and tired of a Parliament dominated by slippery careerists and establishment politicians. Corbyn has beaten these types before, and he can beat them again with radical socialist policies.

Against a ‘unity government’

But the Establishment has plans to stop Corbyn’s march to Number 10. They want to use the next five weeks to lay the basis for a ‘unity government’ of ‘moderates’ who can be relied upon to carry out the preferred policies of big business. This is why Amber Rudd, a leading ‘moderate’ Tory, resigned from the Tory party last week. And it’s why another Tory, Phillip Lee, quit the Tories to join the Liberal Democrats last week.

Corbyn Lib Dems Labour Remain 1 Image Socialist AppealThe Establishment wants to use the next five weeks to lay the basis for a ‘unity government’ of ‘moderates’ who can be relied upon to carry out the policies of big business / Image: Socialist Appeal

If we spend the next five weeks campaigning hard for Corbyn to power on a socialist programme, we can sink this Establishment plan before it even gets underway. We must condemn this unholy alliance of ‘rebel’ Tories, Lib Dems, Change UK defectors and others. They are unapologetic defenders of the big business owners who have driven down wages and dragged working conditions into the dirt over the last few years. They are all complicit in the implementation of austerity policies and cuts in social spending.

There are even some in Labour, mainly of the right-wing Blairite faction in the Party, who are warming up to this idea of unity with the Establishment. These people need to decide where they stand – are they willing to fight for the working class with radical socialist policies, or do they prefer to follow the instructions of CEOs and bankers? There’s no place for the latter inside the Labour Party, and local members have already begun mobilising for trigger ballots to remove those MPs who have chosen to line up against the working class. This is something all socialists in the Labour Party should support.

Socialist programme

The Labour conference later this month should be a landmark in the pre-election campaign. The question of Brexit will come up there, and Corbyn needs to set out a clear socialist policy. 

Sweep1As soon as Parliament is recalled, Corbyn must force a general election. There is no need to delay – we can win this! / Image: Socialist Appeal

Labour must build a mass movement for nationalisation, workers’ control, and an economy run for need not profit. A Corbyn government backed by such a movement would be intolerable to the EU, for which austerity and the free market are sacred. The election of a socialist Labour government in Britain would signal to the labour movement across Europe to mobilise against the EU on a socialist basis, for the formation of a Socialist United States of Europe.

Clear socialist policies, which cut through the Gordian knot of Brexit, could unite the working class behind Labour and cut across Johnson’s xenophobic and divisive rhetoric. This must be clearly spelled out at the Labour Party conference.

If we use the next five weeks well, we’ll see a Labour landslide in the next election. We need to campaign now on an independent socialist programme, with no hint of joining this Establishment push for ‘unity’. Radical, anti-establishment, socialist policies that serve the many not the few are on the order of the day.

Above all, as soon as Parliament is recalled, Corbyn must force a general election. Campaigning for a socialist Labour government should move into top gear. There is no need to delay – we can win this!

Model resolution - Campaign for a socialist Labour Government

This CLP notes that:

  • Parliament has been shut down for five weeks by the unelected Tory prime minister, who is threatening to push through a no-deal Brexit.
  • Discussions are openly taking place in the media about forming a ‘unity government’ designed to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister (Financial Times, 8 September).

This CLP believes that:

  • We urgently need a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.
  • By campaigning on a radical, anti-establishment, socialist programme we can win a Labour majority.
  • We should use the next five weeks to campaign on an election footing.
  • The Parliamentary Labour Party should do everything it can to force a general election as soon as Parliament returns in October.

This CLP therefore calls upon the Labour Party to organise a national campaign for a general election and a socialist Labour government over the next five weeks. Such a mass campaign must mobilise the forces of the entire Labour and trade union movement, with rallies in every town and city.

The Labour Party should organise as soon as possible a national march and rally in London, under the slogans:

  • Down with this Tory government!
  • For a general election now!
  • For a Corbyn Labour government!