Allan Armstrong was delegated at the RISE National Forum held in Edinburgh on 8th April to be its representative at the LUP conference on May 20th. Due to the General Election this was postponed to June 24th. Here the link to the full version of the talk he prepared for the conference held in London. In the event, because of time constraints, the oral version was slightly abridged.
The terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower is a crime against working class people committed by the Tories with their anti working class policies on deregulation and austerity. It revealed the deep class prejudices which inform the behaviour of the Tory council. More than this, it is an accusation against the whole system of government from top to bottom.
The UK is not a democracy and this crime was not a failure of democracy but a measure of its absence. In our ‘elected dictatorship’ government behaves irresponsibly because they can. Concealing the truth and covering up their actions is normal. They rarely get caught out. Unaccountable government made unaccountable decisions with fatal consequences.
Of course behind this crime is motive, more profit for landlords by reducing costs and cutting corners. Landlords are a powerful interest, many of whom are Tories with seats in Westminster. But it is the concentration of political power in the hands of the Crown which has made this possible. Ministers of the Crown are taking more powers through the use of statutory instruments to change secondary regulations such as health and safety rules behind the back of parliament.
We can trace this story back to 2001 when the Labour Government brought in the Regulatory Reform Act providing wide powers to Ministers of the Crown to make changes by order of statutory instruments. This was replaced by the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 which gave the Crown even wider powers. Many statutory instruments are not subject to any parliamentary control.
In 2005 they brought in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order. The aim of this was to reduce burdens on business. From the angle of owners of buildings the major change was the removal of fire certificates with responsibility for fire safety given to ‘responsible persons’ such as landlords.
In November 2008 the FBU lobbied parliament to protest against rising fire-fighter deaths. Between 1993 and 2003 there were 6 deaths but in the last ten years there have been 14 deaths. It should be the other way round, like the dangerous sport of Formula One racing which has improved its safety record. By centralising powers, Her Majesty’s Governments’ have cut resources and made working and living more dangerous.
The disaster at Grenfell Tower has been a long time brewing. It highlights the absence of popular democratic control and accountability. Local government, in the shape of the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was impervious to the concerns and demands of the tenants’ democratic bodies. The whole of local government is unresponsive and controlled from above by central government. It is did not represent local people and was not accountable to them.
Ministers of the Crown, in their Whitehall offices, failed in the fundamental role claimed for the state in ensuring the safety of the people. Westminster did not do its job in exposing the corruption, incompetence and negligence in Whitehall or in passing the laws and regulations to keep the landlord class in check or in jail.
This is not something new. The Hillsborough tragedy was not simply down to corruption in policing and contempt for working class fans. The system of government was able to conceal the truth for decades. This is no democracy and finding the truth is like trying to extract blood from a stone. The West London protesters understand facts are concealed. When they ‘stormed’ the town hall one of their demands was to be given a list of tenants or how many tenants were registered there. The Council reps said they were not sure. We will get back to you, sometime-never.
This disaster highlights something else. When the state fails, its place is taken by the people, the commons, acting for the common good or the commonwealth. In the vacuum the people came out en-mass and began organising independently to help and support their fellow citizens.
The ‘commons’ did not wait to be told what to do. People started organising and protesting. This spontaneous uprising of an alternative self-help is not something simply for the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Any catastrophic failure of government will bring people to self -organise. Democracy provides the only form that can work.
The Labour Manifesto has promised more money and an end to austerity but Labour intends to operate through same undemocratic or bureaucratic system of local and national government. This is why we need a revolution in how government and politics works if we are to avoid the same thing happening again.
LU and Rise
It was a great, indeed incredible, victory secured by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party over the Tories. Theresa May would be sitting on the opposition benches, having been made to resign by her own party, if it wasn’t for the bonkers constitution.
Nobody understands how the Tory constitution works. It is a great national mystery. I think it is a Heath Robinson machine in the basement of Tory HQ. The Tories feed in the results. Hey presto, votes are translated into seats in the Commons. Then a letter from the Queen is printed on goat skin inviting one of the party leaders to visit Buckingham Palace.
May got the letter and drove immediately to the palace. Her Majesty was not amused. This great miscalculation had damaged the value of her shares. It might even mean missing royal Ascot. But the Tories clung on to May as the only person to save them from political meltdown.
Not a peep of criticism could be heard from Tory MPs once the central decision had been taken. It is the type of discipline any Leninist could be proud. Once again Heath Robinson came to the rescue. By keeping Northern Ireland in the British Union, the Democratic Unionist Party would keep the Tories in office.
Those who felt Corbyn could not win on a programme of restoring the social monarchy have been proven wrong. After ten years of austerity, the social monarchy has proved popular with young people. But if the Crown doesn’t invest in it then the whole show is in danger, as the vote to leave the EU indicated. The message from this election is that the Tories cannot keep strangling the goose that lays their golden eggs.
Left Unity has been called the republican wing of the Corbyn movement. That seems like an exaggeration to me. But to their credit LU has taken an anti-Unionist stance which is a necessary precondition for any serious republicanism. It is goes without saying that British republicanism is a non-starter or a complete fake. It is a sordid attempt to mislead and deceive the working class.
The idea that Left Unity is the republican wing of the Corbyn movement is contested not an established fact. Left Unity began life in 2013 as a party of left social monarchism in the ‘spirit of 45’. But it adopted a republican position in the 2015 general election and had a change of mind on British Unionism in 2016 after the Scottish referendum.
With the first victory of Corbyn in the Labour Party, most of the LU’s left wing social monarchists went off to join Labour. It felt like going home after their house had been stolen by Blair.
Every forward march of Corbyn Labour poses the question of whether LU should liquidate into the Labour Party. If Left Unity is the republican wing of the Corbyn movement in England and Wales the answer must be no. There has to be an independent working class republican party, ‘strong and stable’ enough to resist the siren call from Her Majesty’s Labour Party.
With the ongoing crisis of British Exit, people will eventually conclude that we need something better than the Tory constitution to decide who gets the keys to Downing Street and access to Crown powers enabling the few to govern the many.
Despite crashing into the EU iceberg, HMS Brexit is still afloat with Captain Corbyn ready to take command on the bridge. Even more people want to get on board. We are tilting but not yet sinking. Does anybody know on which deck the lifeboats are stored or do we have to build our own?
On June 8 (tomorrow) people in England and Wales should go out and vote against the Tories in every constituency throughout Britain and against the Unionists in Northern Ireland. People should vote for Corbyn’s Labour in England and Wales. I would not vote for right wing Blairite Labour MP’s who actively sabotaged Corbyn, for example Neil Coyle in Bermondsey.
In Scotland we should support anti-Unionist candidates as long as they support the democratic right of the Scottish people to have a self determination referendum. No support should be given to Kezia Dugdale and her Scottish Labour Party candidates.
No doubt the Tories will do their desperate “Campaign Fear” trick. England is a frightened country and ratcheting up the fear factor should help deliver May, the weakest and most wobbly leader we have seen, back to Downing Street. Expect to hear about Diane Abbot, Nicole Sturgeon, the IRA and Hamas to gather up the votes of all the misogynists, racists and chauvinists.
No doubt Flip Flop May will try to show how tough she is by promising to take away our human rights and civil liberties. Corbyn has run an excellent campaign and confounded all his enemies. I don’t think he will win. I think the die was cast after the EU referendum. Divided parties don’t win. I hope I am wrong and Corbyn is the next PM. But the Tories will be set back if they don’t take many more seats than the current majority of twelve.
The bigger picture, whoever wins the election, is the urgent necessity for the UK to undergo a democratic revolution. The country needs a new democracy and a new constitution and this requires people to organise themselves into a democratic movement. Ireland and Scotland, and to a lesser extent Wales, are in the front line of the battle. England has to wake up and catch up.
Democracy provides the way out of the hole that neo-liberals have dug us into. Corbyn’s socialism is an alternative to democratic revolution. Labour has a programme to restore or revive the UK’s ‘social monarchy’ as represented by the ‘spirit of 45’. It is a project which is well past its sell by date, not because of ideas about public ownership, but because Westminster ‘democracy’ is a busted flush.
Democracy must have a Republican programme if it is to take itself seriously. In this ‘British Exit’ election it would be a good idea to start with 1) Democratic Exit from the EU 2) Repeal the 1707 Act of Union 3) For a Parliament for England. 4) For Local peoples Assemblies. 5) For an ‘Agreement of the People’ or written constitution. 6) For a Commonwealth of England.
The best way to prove our case is to have Jeremy Corbyn standing outside Downing Street, smiling and waving to the cameras, with Sinn Fein and the SNP having done well in Northern Ireland and Scotland. In the post EU world get ready for a rough ride. It will be exciting.
Republican Number One
All the odds predict Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be the next Prime Minister. However there are only two ways the impossible can happen. First Scottish Labour wins back Scotland, and Corbyn confounds his critics in England and Wales. We then have a Labour majority in Westminster. Alternatively the SNP keeps Scotland from the Tories and Corbyn wins enough seats in England and Wales.
If the latter happens, Corbyn could become Prime Minister at the head of an anti-austerity coalition or as the Tories call it a “coalition of chaos”. If we are talking realistically about a Corbyn government we have to take this seriously. The fact that Corbyn seems to be doing well means we have to have a view on a Labour-SNP government.
The Cameron Tories played the ‘coalition of chaos’ line against Ed Milliband and it worked then. So play it again Sam. Either we will have a hard anti-working class UKIP-Tory government led by a weak bully prepared to play the race card or a Labour-SNP anti-austerity government.
No matter what criticism we can have of these two capitalist parties, Labour and the SNP, a ‘coalition of chaos’ means the likely UKIP-Tory government, the real merchants of chaos, has been defeated. A ‘coalition of chaos’ is definitely preferable from a working class perspective, not least in encouraging working class direct action.
The Labour Manifesto has ruled out an anti-austerity “coalition of chaos”. Since the entire Labour Party knows Corbyn cannot win then boxing yourself into a corner is no problem. But if Corbyn does well in England and Wales then Labour will have to get out of hole it has dug for itself.
However the right wing of the Labour Party will prefer a Tory minority government than Corbyn, as PM, leading an anti-austerity coalition. We have to remember that Labour is an Anglo-British chauvinist party. The 2017 Manifesto confirms this if that was ever in doubt. Labour has inevitably crashed on the rocks of the Scotland question in 2014 and 2015 and will continue to do so.
Now let us turn to the left. The CPGB (Weekly Worker1155) says “Organisations such as ….. Left Unity are having a hard time of things at the moment. Not only are they haemorrhaging members: there is profound political disorientation”.
“Having rejected any active involvement in the Labour Party at its 2016 conference, what remains of Left Unity is also reduced to issuing its own thoroughly unremarkable list: Another Europe, Stand Up to Racism, People’s Assembly demo” etc.
The allegation is that Left Unity’s action programme is no more than supporting an eclectic mix of progressive campaigns. This is not true, or at least not the full picture. At present Left Unity is critically supporting Corbyn Labour in England and Wales in this election. The party has no position on what to do in Scotland beyond, by implication, being anti-Tory.
In Scotland politics is now British Unionism versus anti-Unionism or the constitutional future of Scotland. Sitting on this fence is, like Theresa May, weak and wobbly. LU has less than a week to come off the fence. The party has decided not to have any executive committee meetings during the election because we are too busy out campaigning on the front line. So if we are stuck on the fence, we have no ladder to climb down off it.
Now the position of the CPGB was clarified in Weekly Worker. The CPGB has two programmes which I will call Number One and Number Two to avoid all the ideological baggage of minimum, transitional and maximum programmes and the war of words between Leninism, Stalinism and Trotskyism.
Number Two programme is a republican-communist programme. It is headed up by the demand for a British Republic (or federal republic). It is a Unionist programme because it does not include abolition the Acts of Union except for Ireland. This programme would ensure “genuine equality for women, extending popular control over all aspects of society.” The aim of this is “a federal republic” which will include “Irish unity, abolishing the monarchy, the second chamber and MI5, and disestablishing the Church of England”. It sets the goal of communism as a “society which aims for a stateless, classless, moneyless society”.
This programme is, a like a tin can, to be kicked down the road. The CPGB is for “not taking power till it is in a position to realistically carry out its full (Number Two) minimum programme”. This full programme needs “international co-ordination” and since this is not realistic “our task is to act as the party of extreme opposition. Hence our perspective of transforming the Labour Party”.
The aim of turning Labour, a party opposed to republicanism and communism, into a republican communist party is truly revolutionary in its ambition. Therefore the CPGB turns to its Number One programme as the means of winning a “democratic republic” and “re-establishing socialism in the mainstream of politics means committing the Labour Party to achieving a “democratic republic”. Hence the CPGB comes forward with a bold “Ten-point platform”. These are:
1.) Fight for rule changes. 2.) We need a sovereign conference once again. 3.) Scrap the hated compliance unit “and get back to the situation where people are automatically accepted for membership, unless there is a significant issue that comes up”. 5.) Securing new trade union affiliates ought to be a top priority. 6). Every constituency, ward and other such basic unit must be won and rebuilt by the left. 7). Our goal should be to transforming the Labour Party 8). Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a career ladder, not a way for university graduates to secure a lucrative living. 9). We must establish our own press, radio and TV. 10). Programmatically, we should adopt a new clause four. Not a return to the old, 1918, version, but “a commitment to working class rule and a society which aims for a stateless, classless, moneyless society”
This is the real practical action plan of the CPGB. The republican programme is for show and propaganda. Any militant or revolutionary republican socialist cannot take this too seriously. We need a Republican Number One programme which takes into account the present political dynamics. It has to start from the reality of the 2014 Scottish referendum and the reality of the 2016 Tory EU referendum.
The Republican Number One programme has to start from the vote for leaving the EU and be built on around 1) Democratic Exit from the EU 2) Repeal the Acts of Union 3) For a Parliament for England. 4) For Local peoples Assemblies. 5) For a Commonwealth of England. This is a programme to be developed for now and for after 8 June. It will be relevant if we end up with a Tory government or if we have a Labour-SNP coalition. It does not box us into an Anglo-British chauvinist corner.
RIC-Edinburgh Statement on the June 8th Westminster General Election
Theresa May’s forthcoming general election is not a normal election. It is being called in defiance of the Tories’ own 2011 Fixed Term Parliament Act. It bears a strong resemblance to a presidential-style plebiscite. But in the absence of actual presidential powers, such as those now wielded by Trump in the USA, May still wants to be able to override Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont altogether.
To do this she needs a supine parliament of nodding-head Tories, quite happy to go meekly through the government lobbies. In return they will be able to pocket their large salaries and many ‘fringe benefits’, whilst also making big killings from second (and more) jobs, the rewards of business lobbying and by directly employing their families. Furthermore, in Scotland, David Mundell and Ruth Davidson have already shown they will do whatever May tells them.
The Tories are in the reactionary European Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists, along with Erdogan’s Turkish Justice and Development Party. May hopes to emulate Erdogan’s concentration of personal power after his recent rigged referendum. However, unlike Erdogan she doesn’t need to rewrite the UK’s constitution since it doesn’t exist in a written form. Instead she wants full control of the Crown’s armoury of anti-democratic powers. Thus armed, May hopes to cement the British ruling class behind her hard Brexit. In the face of ongoing global economic and political crises, she seeks to ensure that the ever-rising costs are borne by others, so ‘our’ rulers can continue to live in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
To counter any remaining ruling class opposition to Brexit, May is offering them a mouth-watering deal. There may still be some “bespoke” EU deals for the City and selected corporations. However, to compensate for other possible losses, the Tories are preparing the ground for a major attack on workers’ pay, conditions and remaining trade union rights. They want to step up austerity, which falls most severely on women’s shoulders, and ensure remaining welfare benefits are fully subjected to punitive sanctions administered by ruthless private companies. More than 2 million workers from the EU are to be subjected to the draconian legislation, already in place for other migrants, so that British firms have access to a highly segmented workforce, divided by pay, conditions and residency rights, with the illegal lowest tier subjected to super-exploitation and to act as scapegoats. Civil rights will be further eroded. There is to be an increased militarisation of policing and state surveillance is to be stepped up. Our environment will continue to be sacrificed to corporate profits, as May’s support for fracking in England shows. New trade deals are to be signed with Trump to open up the NHS to full privatisation. The UK is to sign up fully to all US wars for the benefit of the British arms industry, thus bringing untold misery across this planet.
Scotland is in the frontline of May’s attacks. The British ruling class wants finally to see off Scotland’s attempted democratic revolution of 2014, where 97% of people registered to vote and 85% actually did so. This level of political engagement is without precedent in UK politics. Furthermore, this and the massive surge in support for Scottish independence, from 30% in 2012 to 45% in 2014, was done in defiance of the UK state, the EU bureaucrats, the US State Department and the British media, including the BBC. Open political, social and cultural meetings and events across the length and breadth of Scotland, supplemented by new independent media sources, massively contributed to this.
This why the real purpose behind the Unionists’ shrill ‘No to IndyRef2’ is to shut down this mass participation, so that things can return to normal – politics run by self-serving careerists, subservient to the British establishment and corporate power. This is one reason why Tories, Labour and Lib-Dems all cynically tried to hijack the recent Scottish local council elections to deny the Scottish people the right to hold the referendum agreed by Holyrood on March 27th, on the basis of prior election commitments.
However, May wants to go even further. The Tories, having played Labour for fools in Better Together during IndyRef 1, now want to finish them off as a major electoral party. May will also undermine the existing devolution arrangements in Scotland and Northern Ireland and take whatever harsh measures are needed to deal with the consequences. To achieve this, May will fall back on the Crown’s Supreme Court ruling that she, with supine Westminster backing, can override any devolved assembly powers. Cameron’s, Miliband’s and Clegg’s pretended liberal unionism is to be buried by May’s very real reactionary unionism. UKIP’s and the DUP’s politics have been mainstreamed by May’s Tories. Sadly Jeremy Corbyn, loyal to British Labour and Westminster above all else, just can not see this.
The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) has members in the SNP, Greens, socialist organisations, Labour supporters of Scottish independence, and a majority in no party at all. Therefore, as in the 2015 Westminster and the 2016 Holyrood elections (when RIC-Edinburgh held hustings), we will not be making specific voting recommendations for the June 4th general election.
Nevertheless, we call on RIC supporters to recognise May’s attempt to turn this election into a personal plebiscite to centralise UK state power in her hands, to be wielded on behalf of her big business backers. A prime target is the democratic right of the Scottish people to exercise our right to self-determination. Brexit is to be used to reinforce all the most reactionary features of Britishness. Instead of a Brexit fiasco we need an Ex-Brit (or break-up the UK) strategy to help us break free from the UK. In RIC’s spirit of internationalism from below, this involves the people of Northern Ireland, Wales and England too. Therefore, we call for the rejection of all Unionist candidates.
We also recognise that the Tories want to use the UK’s profoundly anti-democratic powers to mount a major attack on the overwhelming majority. We will continue to work in and with trade unions, community organisations and all those campaigns we have supported to prepare both a defence against the planned attacks and to create a new society based on RIC’s 5 Principles:-
1) For a social alternative to austerity and privatisation
2) Green and environmentally sustainable
3) A modern republic for real democracy
4) Committed to equality and opposition to discrimination on grounds of gender, race, disability, sexuality or age
5) Internationalist and opposed to war, NATO and Trident
We remain adamant that Another Scotland, Another Europe and Another World are Possible.
No Muslim, Bruv
I was planning to comment on last week’s paper but we have been overtaken by the terrible tragedy in Manchester. It is a city I love, having lived there for four years. So I want to record my condolences for all the families and friends who are suffering, all who died or are in hospital, and solidarity with all the people of Manchester.
It is important to make a sharp distinction between Muslims and terrorists. Muslims aren’t terrorists and terrorists aren’t Muslims. Of course terrorists might dress up as Muslims and even pray five times a day. It isn’t fooling me. Neither am I fooled when fascists fire bomb a mosque and call themselves ‘Christians’. As a young man shouted out during a terror knife attack in London “You ain’t no Muslim Bruv”.
So we have to be in solidarity with Manchester and with all Muslims whilst condemning this and all terror attacks on people. It is important to say that these terrorists are like fish that need water to swim in. If we can drain all the water they are left flapping about on the bottom of the lake. Calling terrorists “Muslims” is like filling up the lake with fresh water.
These terrorists are not Muslims and they aren’t going to heaven. For this reason we need to be in solidarity with all Muslims, who the fascists and the right wing Tory press are going to target. I would add that Muslims don’t need to start apologising any more than anybody else.
But we cannot duck the question as to why this stupid moron was so filled with hatred as to do such an inhumane anti-Muslim act. We all know the answer even if nobody likes to mention it. It is not an excuse just a fact of life. The UK has been waging war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria since 2003. Fourteen years later the UK remains in a state of permanent warfare. The UK is dropping massive bombs on Syria and Iraq right now. Some will say that Britain drops bombs humanely, only killing terrorists and not innocent children. If you can believe that you will fall for anything.
More tragedies like Manchester are not going to stop until there is peace in the Middle East. At the top of the list are the Palestinians who are often forgotten. The British bombing of Syria and Iraq is part of the problem not the solution. So don’t just blame the last Labour and Tory governments but Labour MPs like ‘bomber Benn’ who made one of the finest speeches on the need for massive bombing in the Middle East that the House of Commons has ever cheered.
About fifteen years ago Leeds United went bankrupt and sold their ground, Elland Road, to a property business. The fans and the club have been paying for that mistake ever since. It has cost a small fortune in rents. It is like a private tax on supporters. Selling the ‘family silver’ is easy profit for the landlord class but a disaster for ‘consumers’ – fans, students, patients and passengers etc. We have all been screwed and we know it.
Privatised gas, electricity, water, railways and postal services have also proved expensive. Water is a basic monopoly yielding easy profits for the water barons. These profits are flowing abroad and mainly hidden in tax havens. We have to keep paying because we can’t do without water or indeed lots of the other stuff they own.
With a democratic revolution we can get it all back for free. But otherwise we have to pay. Labour is quite right not to include the cost of buying water back in their taxation and spending calculations. This is capital investment, and like all good capitalists, in planning to invest we have to borrow some or all of it. Trump did not become a billionaire without massive borrowing.
But how much will the country need to take out a mortgage on all our reservoirs? We can’t take out a mortgage on a house until we know the price of the house. We cannot know the price of these water assets until Corbyn has been elected. One current estimate is £42 billion. But the actual price is unknowable, not least because if Corbyn is elected the price of water assets will drop. Shares in water will dive as the owners try to run away with as much loot as they can stash in their pockets.
So I hope Leeds United will buy back its football ground and the country takes back its water assets. It is a price well worth paying. Otherwise we will continue to be screwed by the Water Mafia who can’t believe their luck. They are realists and know their licence to print money cannot go on forever and a day.
The BBC’s Laura Tory Kunsberg asked Corbo the classic trap question “have you stopped beating your wife”? It was wrapped up as ‘will you leave the EU under all and every circumstance?’ Any sensible person would have to think before answering that hypothetical. Corbo repeats “we are leaving the EU”. “Yes but” says Tory ‘what if it is really really bad?’ ‘Will you back a totally shit Brexit? Yes or No?’ So here is headline news for the BBC and the Tory press.
It is not the sort of question anybody would ask May who says we are leaving the EU, the single market and the customs union no matter how disastrous. If necessary we will have a trade war with Germany. [Don’t forget we have the nukes just in case!] The Tories are ruthless. They would sacrifice anybody and anything for the good of their party. They want to harvest the votes of all the Anglo-British chauvinists. Nothing like ‘war’ and war mongering to ignite the UKIP wing of the Tory Party.
There are really three separate elections going on in parallel universes, which only become one because we vote on the same day. The first two elections are in England and Wales. The Tories are running a plebiscite on “strong and stable leadership” provided by a weak and unprincipled opportunist. Why does the country need an elected dictator? Because of the dangers of Brexit, silly! This is the Tory Brexit election plebiscite and so Laura Tory was on message with her question.
May’s record of twisting and turning is there for anybody to see. Never forget her two London vans with adverts of the side telling any immigrants to ‘go home’. It was a publicity stunt for May. She didn’t actually use the second van. It was only there so she could say there was more than one. The Tories are experts in wasting tax payers for the sake of vanity and a bit of racist publicity.
Of course her behaviour contrasts with the everyday Tory story of ‘Corbo-the-Weak’. For a man who has had more bombs dropped on him than the Second World War and emerges smiling from his bunker, it is truly remarkable. Strong leader battles on against all the odds. No wonder they hate him. Nobody is more dangerous than a man, or women, who doesn’t know when they are beaten. Corbo will not be the next Prime Minister or I will eat my porridge. If the polls are right it will be a heavy defeat. But a score draw would be a great result for Corbyn and equally bad for May. So it is all to play for.
Labour are running a different, and in some ways a more normal, election. They are focused on issues like health, education, taxing the rich and “for the many not the few”. We have yet to see the manifesto. Whatever it’s finer points we have to recognise that Corbyn is currently the political leader of the working class movement. However we should give no support to Labour’s fifth column of right wing (or New Labour) MPs whose main aim is to sabotage Corbyn at every opportunity. So we should give critical support for Corbyn and oppose all his right wing enemies in the Tory Party AND the Labour Party.
A third election is taking place in another country. The battle lines are drawn up in Scotland around the constitution and the related issue of a second independence referendum. On one side are reactionary or simply conservative Unionists who include the Orange Order, the Tories, UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Labour. The present period has seen the growth of the Tories, who under Davidson have become the hard core militant fighters defending the British Union against ‘nationalism’.
On the other side are the national democrats and internationalist democrats, or anti-Unionists. All are demanding more democracy and self government for Scotland including the right to decide on remaining in the EU. These include the SNP, Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party, Rise, Left Unity and the SWP. Looked at from England there is only one position to take. We must critically support anti-Unionists and totally expose and condemn the Anglo-British chauvinists, especially the English social chauvinists.
So in conclusion the socialist movement needs to fight this election with its own independent democratic manifesto and not see it as simply or primarily about ‘supporting’ this and ‘opposing’ that. I would propose the following democratic demands for consideration.
• Democratic Exit from the EU
• Repeal the Act of Union
• Parliament for England
• Commonwealth of England
• Democratic NHS and public sector
• Democratic republican United States of Europe
Repeal the Union
The Tories, UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Labour have all refused to recognise that Scotland voted, as did Northern Ireland, to remain in the EU. This is the one fact that every democrat, never mind socialist, should recognise and defend.
As socialists we should be campaigning for a Great Repeal Act. Not the one the Tories want for Europe, but the repeal of the 1707 Act of Union. At a stroke the Scottish Parliament and people would secure their sovereignty and hence the right of the Scottish people to decide for themselves whether to remain in the EU and maintain free movement and existing workers rights or not. It is their decision. Only the Tories and the other English inspired chauvinist parties would deny it.
Repealing the Act of Union does not rule out any closer relationship with England. It does not as such preclude any decision to be part of a new republic. On the contrary political action from ‘England’ to end the Union makes genuine internationalism possible. Indeed it is a precondition for it. This is a policy for the international working class, not some opportunism designed to help Corbyn win the general election. It is too late for that. The die is already cast on Labour’s Manifesto.
It seems like only yesterday that I stood as a Republican Socialist in Bermondsey and Old Southwark against Simon Hughes and Neil Coyle. Since Coyle won his seat he has become one of the Jeremy Corbyn’s chief tormentors and back stabbers. I stood as the first anti-Unionist socialist candidate in England. I started my campaign in Glasgow, one of the best places to highlight the need for English anti-Unionism.
On May Day 2015 I launched the “Manifesto For Democracy” outside the parliament calling for the Palace of Westminster to be closed down before it fell down. The democratic message was well received by those who heard it. But it wasn’t a vote winner. The opportunist politicians were fanning the flames of English chauvinism not least Simon Hughes in his infamous article in the London Evening Standard. Cameron himself played the anti Scottish card a big factor in his victory.
The good people of Bermondsey did not support my campaign with their precious votes. I don’t blame them. Somebody claimed that Cameron got the most votes in England and I got the worst. I felt it was a neat juxtaposition of the past and the future. In a conservative country the past is way more popular than the future.
A year later the past was in the bin, no doubt making a small fortune for services rendered, only to be replaced by something even worse. I am pleased report the future is making steady progress not least when Left Unity adopted an anti-Unionist stance.
Many more socialists have rejected the 1707 Act of Union. I am not surprised that one of Queen Anne’s vilest Acts is now hated and despised by anybody who has thought about it. There are hardly any communists and no real democrats left who don’t condemn it.
The 1707 Act of Union secured stability for the ruling class at home and the bloody profits from slavery abroad. Queen Anne abolished the Scottish parliament because she did not want it to be used as a platform for rebellious subjects. She wanted to secure the future of the monarchy as a protestant institution. All this was tied up by bribery and access to slave plantations in the West Indies.
This law was intended to make sure Scotland would never have self determination. Scotland would be welded to England ‘forever’. There was no getting away from it. Scotland could only be represented at Westminster where Scottish MPs would be a permanent minority. In 1998 the arrival of a Scottish parliament undermined the 1707 Act. It blew a hole in the great ship ‘Britannia’. Now we can see the water flooding in.
Little did I realise that there would be a referendum within a year of the last general election. Brexit has given a new boost to Anglo-British chauvinism. In these conditions supporting this law is ignorant and short sited and amounts to political scabbing and a betrayal of the working class. It is not good enough to keep quiet or hide in a corner. A general election is a time to expose the poison of Anglo-British chauvinism which is slowly killing the English left.