The socialist left in the Labour campaign

Submitted by Zac Muddle on 21 November, 2019 - 12:34 Author: Editorial
Protestor with anti-Brexit, anti-Tory placards

The Tory campaign for this general election has more money, but the Labour campaign has more people.

Tens of thousands of Labour volunteers are taking to the streets and the phone-banks.

As socialist internationalists, we are with those volunteers. The labour movement is our movement, and we want it to win in this election against the Tories and Lib Dems.

We also have more to do than adding our numbers to the general labour movement mobilisation. We have political tasks.

The road to socialism, in our view, fundamentally goes through working-class organisation and struggle in the workplaces and the neighbourhoods, and through the expansion and education of the labour movement, and not just through the election of well-meaning individuals to high office.

Working-class politics is not just about elections. It is about day-to-day agitation, education, and organisation, before elections and after elections as well as during them.

What we do in an election is the continuation of what we were doing before the election, and will help build the basis for what we do after the election.

In this election campaign, as well as contributing to the general Labour effort, we want to pull people round full-strength socialist policies, draw them into ongoing activity, and organise them.

As well as joining in local Labour Parties’ canvassing efforts, we are helping to organise Labour for a Socialist Europe street stalls, with L4SE leaflets, posters, stickers, and briefings, and with our own newspapers and briefings in our hands too.

The measure of success, for us, will not just be the constituency voting totals on 12 December, but the numbers of people ready to continue discussion and activity with groups like Labour for a Socialist Europe, the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, the Student Left Network, and Workers’ Liberty.

We have distinct ideas to argue within the Labour election campaign:

• For full-strength socialist politics. We need social ownership and democratic control of the banks and industry both to win social equality, and to tackle the climate emergency

• For support for the workers’ struggles now under way, in the post, in the universities, etc., for the repeal of all the Thatcher anti-union laws as well as the 2016 Trade Union Act, and for positive rights to strike and to take solidarity action

• For “Remain and rebel” — build unions, not borders — build on the capitalist semi-integration of Europe to unite workers across the continent and go for a socialist united states of Europe

• Against antisemitism of all stripes. Support the Palestinians in their right to self-determination in a real independent state alongside Israel (“two states”), oppose the demonisation of Israel and “Zionists”.

This is a more complicated election campaign than 2017. Then, the Tories proposed “strong and stable” continuation of cuts; Labour proposed taxing the rich and well-off to restore social provision.

Seven years of agitation and demonstrations against cuts, since 2010, provided the fuel and the engine for Labour’s rapid gains during the weeks of the election campaign.

This time, the Tories offer a moving target, with Johnson’s demagogy. And even if voters completely disbelieve Johnson’s promises of more funds for the NHS and schools, they know that other issues are hot. Brexit. Climate change.

Labour’s policy on Brexit is a mess. Remainers should vote Labour in order to get a referendum on any Brexit deal, but they should also join the battle within the Labour Party to commit Labour to support free movement and to lowering rather than raising borders.

Labour passed a good policy on climate change (though with gaps) at its September conference, but the signals are that the manifesto will have a pale and inadequate version of that policy.

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