Britain: the Corbyn surge begins – we can win!

This general election is going to mark a fundamental turning-point in Britain. It will have colossal ramifications internationally.

The political ground has begun to shift as a result of Corbyn taking Labour’s election campaign out into the country, raising the class issues and attacking capitalism.

A recent YouGov survey for The Sunday Times found that Labour gained six points within a matter of days into the campaign, slashing the Tory lead. The Liberal Democrats slipped three points, demonstrating the sharp polarisation that is taking place. And this is just the beginning.

It is clear that people are beginning to see the election contest as one between Boris Johnson, the Eton-educated multi-millionaire, and Jeremy Corbyn, who stands for a radical left-wing programme.

The people vs the billionaires

Labour has hit the ground running, correctly denouncing Johnson’s hidden plans to hand the NHS over to the clutches of American pharmaceutical corporations.

Corbyn has highlighted the staggering wealth of the super rich, with the top 10 percent of people owning 44 percent of the wealth. The giant corporations are getting away with murder, with the likes of Amazon paying only £220m tax on £10.9bn profits last year.

Boris Out Image Socialist AppealLabour has hit the ground running with a bold and class-based campaign focused on social issues / Image: Socialist Appeal

At Labour’s campaign launch meeting, Corbyn attacked the billionaires and promised that a Labour government would go after the wealthy elite who exploit a “rigged system” to amass their fortunes.

This has a big impact. Britain has around 150 billionaires – 0.0002 percent of the population – who flaunt their wealth and ill-gotten gains. Meanwhile, 14 million people live in poverty.

These billionaires have amassed their wealth and power by waging a relentless class war against working people.

We have the example of Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s third-richest man, who is worth £18bn as head of Ineos – the petrochemicals group that employs 17,000 people. He has slashed the wages of his workforce, cut holidays, and driven down conditions to boost his profits.

Or take Mike Ashley, the owner of the Sports Direct empire, which employs almost 30,000 people. Ashley’s employees are subjected to Victorian conditions in his warehouses, all to boost his obscene wealth.

Even if they didn’t spend a penny of their wages, it would take the average British worker more than 40,000 years to become a billionaire. This period is equivalent to the entire existence of Homo sapiens in Britain.

Boris Johnson has tried to frame this election as “Parliament vs People”. But Labour has correctly responded by posing it as a contest of the “people vs the billionaire elite”.

The spectre of Blairism

A sneering Tony Blair recently lamented the demise of the “middle ground”, arguing for “tactical voting” (i.e. not voting Labour). He shows his true Tory colours when he says “Parliament would be worse without the Conservative independents”.

Blairites save establishment Image Socialist AppealBlair's sneering criticism of Corbyn's attacks on billionaires shows his true colours as a pro-market, pro-imperialist huckster / Image: Socialist Appeal

Blair goes on to say that Labour’s attack on poor old “dodgy landlords”, “billionaires” and a “corrupt system” is “textbook populism”. This snake in the grass then continues, saying that: “It is no more acceptable in the mouth of someone who calls themselves leftwing than in the mouth of Donald Trump’s right.”

This is rich coming from the mouth of a multi-millionaire, warmonger, and poodle of US imperialism.

It is only with radical policies – aimed against what Blair cynically describes as the “pantomime villains of capitalism” – that Labour can win the election.

Tory campaign stalls

Ironically, this has been made easier by the decision of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party to fight all the seats in this election. This will take more votes away from the Tories than Labour, handing victory to Labour in many seats. In fact, Labour estimates that it could gain an extra 40 seats as a result. This has provoked panic in the Johnson camp.

With the Brexit Party entering the fray, the road to Number 10 is narrowing by the hour for Boris Johnson. Furthermore, after ten years of Tory austerity, people are very wary of voting Conservative, despite Johnson’s bluff and bluster.

This will certainly cut across Tory hopes of winning Labour seats in the North, Midlands and Wales. No matter how much they promise to increase spending, it all sounds rather hollow after years of Tory cuts.

Tory strategists can see that their tactic of running a “parliament versus people” campaign has already largely flopped. “Getting Brexit done” is also wearing thin as a slogan.

For these reasons, Johnson could end up having the most short-lived tenure of Downing Street in history.

Preparing for power

We can envisage a repeat of the 2017 election. At this point two years ago, Labour was 24 points behind the Tories. But by polling day Labour had gained 30 seats, almost gaining the keys to Number 10.

Labour is starting from a much better position this time round. Hundreds of thousands of people – particularly young people – have registered to vote. Corbyn is likely once again to overwhelmingly win the youth vote.

CorbynRallyYorkshireMay2017 Image Socialist AppealThere is still a long way to go, but Labour is starting in a better position than during the last general election and the polls are already shifting. It is all to play for! / Image: Socialist Appeal

Given all this, Corbyn could easily be propelled into power. Even if Labour does not win an outright majority, it could still be the biggest party in Parliament. The SNP, who are likely to take a big majority of seats in Scotland, would support a Labour government from the outside. And Swinson, who hates Corbyn, will nevertheless have great difficulty in supporting a Johnson Tory government. Corbyn would therefore still become prime minister.

Of course, Labour could gain enough seats to not have to rely on the support of other parties. That would be the best option. Whatever the outcome, Labour must not enter into any coalitions or pacts. Instead, it should stand by its promises, challenging the other parties to vote against the radical and popular demands on offer.

We can’t take things for granted. There are weeks to go before the polls close. The political situation is very volatile. We must still mobilise and fight for every vote.

Big business sabotage

A Corbyn Labour government will be faced by many obstacles – including from the Fifth Column of Blairites in the Parliamentary Labour Party. These Tories in disguise will attempt to sabotage all attempts to carry out radical policies.

In the words of Tony Blair: “There is a core of good Labour MPs who will not be whipped into supporting policy they do not believe in.” They will act as the reliable representatives of big business. When the time comes, they will stab Corbyn in the back.

The bosses and bankers will also attempt to undermine the government in every way they can. They not only fear Corbyn, but also the millions of workers behind him, desperate for real change. They fear that a Labour government will be pushed even further than it intends. And they are right.

“I want you to know,” stated John McDonnell to Labour conference last year, “that the greater the mess we inherit, the more radical we have to be.”

Well, Britain has been ravaged by a decade of capitalist crisis and Tory austerity. No amount of tinkering is going to turn this around. Only a bold programme of socialist policies can offer a way out of this great mess.

For a socialist Labour government!

Furthermore, the whole world economy – including Britain – is facing a new slump. Mervyn King, the former head of the Bank of England, when addressing a recent meeting of the IMF, stated that we are “sleepwalking with our eyes closed into another crisis”.

King warned that we are facing a new “financial Armageddon”. And he should know – after all, he was at the helm when the bankers “sleepwalked” into the 2008 crash.

Corbyn Boris Tories Out Image Socialist AppealBritain has never faced a starker choice: Etonian gangster capitalism under Johnson, or a radical, left-wing programme under Corbyn. Workers and youth must mobilise and win every vote they can for Labour! / Image: Socialist Appeal

Such a catastrophe can only be solved by clear socialist measures. Labour will need to take control of the economy out of the hands of the billionaires. This means taking over the commanding heights of the economy, the banks, finance houses, the land, and giant monopolies, all under workers’ control and management.

A Corbyn government will have to mobilise the working class in response to the sabotage of big business, in order to carry through the socialist transformation of society. That is the only answer to the crisis of capitalism.

Only in this way can Labour carry through its programme and radically transform the lives of the majority in Britain. This is what we must fight for.