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.