After May’s woeful Party conference speech, the Tories are more divided than ever. But their conference has also left them in an impasse. They can’t easily sack Theresa May because she was the unity candidate for Leader and the Tories who supported her don’t yet have a plan B. There is no sign of an acceptable alternative to May.
The underlying struggle for dominance between soft and hard Tory Brexiteers has not resolved itself. At some point, most likely now in the medium term, those divisions will come to head, and May will be ousted. As the Tory internecine struggle becomes more infected by jealousy at Labour popularity, especially among young people, it is impossible not to feel a great deal of schadenfreude at their chaos. But it would be a mistake to act as if either Tory implosion or a Labour victory were inevitable. For all their new Labour-lite policies and talk of being the party of working people, the Tories have indefatigable ruling class instincts. They can and will band together against Labour, show their contempt for, and act to undermine Corbyn.
It is good that the Labour leadership has gone on the offensive since June’s general election. But Labour now has two additional reasons to mount a unrelenting fight against the Tories. As we said in Solidarity 449, Labour still requires wider electoral support. Only a further shift in voting patterns, or a fuller activation of its support among younger voters, can ensure an overall majority.
To be left without that majority would open the door to a Labour-SNP-Lib Dem coalition. And such a coalition would kill off all of the radical political promises made by Labour since the general election. Secondly, the victims of Tory policies cannot, as all Labour leaders in the past have advocated, “wait for a Labour victory”. Inflation is rising, economic growth is slowing down, real wages continue to fall. Labour conference passed policy on workers’ rights which gives the Party and the labour movement a clear mandate to organise and deepen a left-wing, class-struggle fight against poverty and inequality. In the first place the Labour leadership should actively mobilise support for current workers’ strikes, such as the McDonald’s workers and Picturehouse workers, who are making a stand against poverty wages and insecure contracts.
Messages of solidarity, the encouragement of MPs to visit picket line are welcome, but a much stronger mobilisation could secure a victory for these workers. Their cause is both popular and gives hope and strength to other low-paid and precarious workers. A Labour campaign of street stalls and meetings, arguing for a £10 per hour minimum wage and scrapping of zero-hours contracts, a campaign which fought against bad employers in every town and city, would build the kind of support Labour needs to win at the next election.
Local Labour Parties are starting the preparatory work for the next election canvassing support. Labour can only build confidence among working-class voters by raising a socialist banner against capitalism and its Tory servants.
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Workers’ Liberty has a new website! Our 30,000+ articles not only have a clean, nicer-looking layout but are also better organised for you to access. So how can you find what you want on the website? The new website has a cleaned-up and more focused front page. You can find the latest articles that we want to feature in the carousel on the left (and you can also swipe through these quickly). For the latest news, try looking at the latest issue of Solidarity on the right hand side. Below this you can find our bookshop, as well as links to a selection of more in-depth coverage picked by us to cover the biggest issues of the day.
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