LU 2018 Conference 20 June 2018

Left Unity and the crisis of democracy

On 16 June Left Unity held its annual conference. The party has been steadily shrinking since 2016 but it still has over five hundred members. Over twenty five activists attended which tells its own story. It was a significant conference after last year’s nervous breakdown. The demand LU liquidates into the Labour Party was no longer evident in resolutions or speeches.

The main question before conference was the ‘crisis of democracy’ which grew from the politics of austerity. The EU referendum has taken this to a whole new level. It has divided England between the Anglo-British and Anglo-Europeans. An emergency resolution was tabled about the recent Anglo-British mass mobilisation in London by the supporters of Tommy Robinson, the BNP and UKIP etc.

The battle over Brexit is bringing us to the brink of a constitutional crisis in relations between the Crown, parliament and the peoples of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The shocking disaster at Grenfell Tower showed the ‘crisis of democracy’ at local as well as at national and European levels.

This fed into the main strand of the conference. What kind of party are we going to be? Was LU to carry on with its own brand of Trotskyism or recognise the centrality of the working class in the struggle for democracy and socialism? Should the Crown, parliament or people ratify the Tory Brexit deal? Should Unionism be able to impose Brexit on Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Trotskyist front

Left Unity was set up in 2013 as a Trotskyist front. All the leading activists were either in small Trotskyist organisations like Socialist Resistance, CPGB or Workers Power or were refugees from the various organisations which litter the left landscape, such as the WRP, SWP and the Militant Tendency.

The rationale was that unlike the major Trotskyist parties – the SWP and the Socialist Party – the fragments were unable to engage in mass politics. They realised they could do better by hanging together than separately. So Left Unity made sense. When it came to a programme for this new front then it was left reformism or social monarchism that could bind them together.

In 1945 the Labour government carried through its programme of social monarchy – extensive ‘cradle to grave’ social reforms on the basis of loyalty to the constitutional monarchy as embodied in George VI. The ‘spirit of 45’ ran like a red line through LU inspired by Ken Loach’s call for unity. Left Unity was designed by Trotskyists to fill the gap which the Labour left was too weak and feeble to occupy.

In 2015 Jeremy Corbyn burst onto the scene and left reformism (i.e. social monarchism) took back the ‘sprit of 45’ and raised it to new heights previously unimaginable. LU’s small groups began decanting to the Labour Party. Why build a front when you could join a mass Labour Party and try to convert it into a much bigger Trotskyist front?

Left Unity began to shrink, disorientated by the unexpected turn of events. The first version of Left Unity as embodying the ‘spirit of 45’ was as dead as a dodo. None of the current leadership refers to it and some even pretend it never happened. So the question before this conference was the politics and character of Left Unity Mark 2 version.

Left Unity Mark 2 version

The main ideological dispute between socialists in Left Unity was between republicanism and Trotskyism. It was in effect a dispute as to whether the minimum programme of LU should be social republican or social monarchist. British Trotskyism had long become a voice for Labour’s social monarchism with its demands for social reforms – on health, housing, transport and public ownership.

The matter came to a head over the new LU constitution. A resolution from South London sought to amend the statement of party aims. It proposed to insert after “environmentalist” the French word “republican”.

If passed the aims of LU would now read “Left Unity is a party of the radical left, linked to the European Left Party, working in solidarity with like-minded anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist parties internationally. We are socialist, feminist, environmentalist, republican and opposed to all forms of discrimination”.

Some comrades from South London felt this was so innocuous that it was bound to go through. But they hadn’t reckoned with the fact that republicanism is like a red rag to the Trotskyist bull. Ex-SWP ex-Militant, and ex WRP lined up to oppose republicanism. It wasn’t the crown they worried about but the threat this posed to their leadership.

The various Trotskyists declared they were totally and utterly republican. It was so obvious that there was no need to mention it. Every socialist felt the same and never mentioned it either. So too the Labour Party which never had a republican programme. Indeed avoiding republicanism was the litmus test of (pseudo)‘revolutionary’ and left reformist politics.

By the end of conference the Trotskyists secured their control of Left Unity with a new more centralist constitution. A great opportunity to rethink and discuss the strategy and programme was lost. This conference confirmed the decline of Left Unity. The ‘crisis of democracy’, which is growing in England, the UK and Europe, is showing itself in LU which is shrinking but more importantly has no answers.

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Jack Conrad’s timely article in Weekly Worker came out against a Second (EU) Referendum. Last Saturday the issue was raised at the Radical Independence Conference in Edinburgh in favour of Scottish Ratification Referendum in 2018, or at least before March 2019.

The very words “ScotRatRef18” are anathema for Jack. He has no sympathy for “Scotland” because it is nationalist and not British. He fails to recognise the danger of the EU ratification process which will impose an anti-working class Tory Brexit. He claims that for communists a ‘referendum’ is beyond the pale, perhaps because he fears working class people voting on political matters will only end badly.

Scotland voted by 62% to remain in the EU. This, of course, has no political meaning for the British. Pretend it never happened and roll your British tanks over it as if it is not there. The Scottish people have no right to self determination and ‘British Exit’ reminds the forgetful. Don’t forget Northern Ireland either.

There is no Article 50 in the British Unionist constitution, as Anti-Unionists in England keep reminding everybody. As Queen Anne said in 1707, this Act of Union is forever. There is no legal way out of it. It is true Cameron gambled that he could defeat the rise of Scottish democracy by allowing the 2014 referendum. He won, only just, and kept his job. But not before he had made the present Queen more than a little anxious for her throne.

After the defeat of 2014 the idea of a second Independence Referendum (Indie Ref 2) is for the birds. I have taken to calling it IndieRef34, sadly as I am unlikely to be around in 2034 to join in. There is no way after Brexit that the British Crown will allow Scotland to have another Indie Ref for at least twenty years.

Yet Scottish self determination remains a live issue because of Brexit. Now the issue is whether Scotland can be forced out of the EU against its democratic vote to remain. Even an intelligent Unionist can realise that if Brexit ends badly there will be a permanent in-built grievance that the rights of the Scottish people were trampled underfoot by English votes combined with the political force of the British Crown.

Of course there is a ratification process for the EU treaty. There are only three candidates – the British Crown (Ministers etc) or the ‘Crown in Parliament’ (Westminster) or the people through a referendum. If Jack rules out the latter then in the real world he is choosing by default the Crown or Westminster. This is why ScotRatRef18 is not simply a Scottish issue but a UK wide RatRef issue.

I should add for clarity that I do not support the slogan of a ‘Second Referendum’ since it implies repeating the first one. It is a dangerous obfuscation, which will only benefit UKIP and the far right by alienating that section of the English and Welsh working class who were misled into voting to leave. I agree with Jack there should be no truck whatsoever with the nasty, vile and disgusting second EU referendum.

The last point refers to Jack’s principled objection to referenda, citing the ideas of Karl Kautshy. His method is to counterpoise the ideal of socialist democracy to the dirty business of bourgeoisie democracy. Once the proletariat is in power there will be no need for general elections or referenda because life will be permanent voting every day. Set against the real capitalist world we live in, socialism has no need for any kind of bourgeois voting, from dodgy elections to dickey referenda. The ‘case’ for boycotting bourgeois democracy is not confined to referenda.

Workers demand wage increases in the fight against poverty pay. Without real democracy, workers demand the right to vote on this, that, and the next thing. Nowadays when the Council decides to bulldoze your estate and build mansions for absent Russian oligarchs, it has become fashionable to demand mini-referenda on the council plans. Referenda are more prevalent than most recognise.

Why should working class people, the ignorant mob and their friends the great unwashed masses, be allowed to interfere in the royal prerogatives of Crown and Parliament? Why should they be allowed to vote for or against the Tories dirty little Brexit deal? If Cameron had taken Kautsky more seriously we wouldn’t be in this Brexit mess in the first place and he would still be Prime Minister!

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Discussion Paper on Europe

The struggle for democracy against British Exit and for a fully democratic Europe

The Tory Brexit deal negotiated by May will be used to damage and divide the working class. Left Unity should oppose it by mobilising the working class to vote against it in a ratification referendum to take place in early 2019. If the Tories are defeated then there would be a strong case for a general election.

Of course the case for a ratification referendum has not been won. The Tories oppose it and Corbyn is unsure. We should mobilise our allies (for example Another Europe) and the trade unions to back a call for a referendum. The case is basically a democratic one. The people, not parliament or the Crown, must have the opportunity to vote for or against Tory Brexit.

We should not re-run the case for remain or leave. Most remain supporters say that whilst they think leave will damage British capitalism (profits, employment, and workers rights etc) they accept the ‘democratic mandate’. Left Unity should not simply fall in behind that and say we accept British Exit as a valid democratic interpretation of the result.

Left Unity should question the democratic legitimacy and meaning of the EU referendum rather than simply follow Corbyn’s view. This is not because we want to re-run the first one again as happened in Ireland. The undemocratic features of the first referendum and the biased conclusions drawn by the Unionist parties, demands the working class have the opportunity to vote on the deal once we know those details made public (rather than the hidden clauses or secret deals). We should strongly oppose those who deny the right of the working class to vote on this vital issue.

Undemocratic features of the 2016 EU referendum

1. At least 3 million were excluded from the vote – some EU residents, for example French but not Irish, and all 16 to 17 years olds.

2. A recognition that 13 million abstained or 29 million did not vote for Exit compared to the 17 million that did. As democrats we do not claim that 13 million abstentions can overturn the majority. However every public commentator ignores the abstentions as if they did not exist. We should demand that the leave majority does not behave like a dictatorship and take no account at all that the majority did not vote to leave.

3. Although people had mixed motives for voting – people voted for the official question on the ballot paper to leave the EU. People did not vote to leave the single market. It was not on the ballot paper.

4. As democrats we recognise the sovereignty of the nations in the UK and their right to self determination. We recognise that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU and this should be recognised as a negotiating aim. No Tory or Unionist recognises the rights of the Ireland and Scotland to self determination.

Left Unity should be raising these points in any forum, such as Another Europe, Momentum, Rise in Scotland, in the trade unions, NHS campaigns etc. We are raising these points to encourage EU citizens, young people, and the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland to fight harder against British Exit because their democratic rights have been denied by the Tories.

Ratification Referendum

Many in the liberal establishment with elitist views think it was a mistake to allow people (or plebs) to vote on EU membership. They think it should be decided by Ministers or by a vote in parliament. This is not the view of consistent democrats. All elections and referenda in capitalist societies are biased because money and control of media is a powerful factor. Recognising and exposing the many forms of bias does not mean we oppose elections and referenda. The political involvement of the working class is better than their exclusion.

The best answer to biased elections and referenda is to expose the corrupt practices and have more of them. Democracy is a learning curve which should enable people to vote again and confirm or change their minds. (Why should we have to wait to 2022 to vote out the Tories?).

We should therefore call for a Ratification Referendum to vote for or against the Tory Brexit Deal. It cannot be left to Ministers of the Crown to mark their own homework. Neither should we leave it to Westminster which is controlled by capitalist interests and acts as a rubber stamp.

The Scottish Parliament is in a special position to call for a Ratification Referendum because the SNP with the Greens has a parliamentary majority. Scotland voted to remain and it should be given the opportunity to see if they back Tory Brexit or continue to reject it and thus enforce their claim of right to self determination. If Scotland votes to reject Tory Brexit then the case for a second Indie referendum becomes stronger and more urgent. It would strengthen the Irish case too.

The Future of the EU

Brexit is not simply a failure of democracy in the UK but a failure of democracy in Europe. It is this European non-democracy that has failed the people of Greece. The lack of effective democracy requires a radical answer. For some it is to ‘restore’ national democracy (hence Brexit) and for others it is to replace the EU constitution with a full democracy – a European federal republic (or a republican united states of Europe).

This can only come ‘from below’ by a democratic mobilisation across Europe or a pan-European democratic revolution. The struggle for a Pan-European Republic does not contradict the struggle for democratic change in any one country. Hence the struggle for democracy in Ireland, Scotland and Catalonia goes with or is part of the European democratic revolution.

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Europe’s republican revolution

The popular democratic movement in Catalonia which culminated in the declaration of the Catalan republic is not simply a Catalan or even a Spanish matter. It is part of battle for democracy across Europe and the wider world. It is a link made by author Liz Castro. She says “with the establishment of the Catalan Republic, we hope that the triumph of grassroots ……….democratic process can be precursor to a much more democratic Europe”.

The Catalan rebellion has the characteristics of a democratic revolution – the declaration of the republic, a provisional government, a process for a new constitution and rank and file ‘Committees for the Defence of the Referendum and the Republic’. But the revolution is unarmed and faces the might of the fully armed Spanish state. Already the Republic has been overthrown by a counterrevolutionary coup by the Spanish state.

The class struggle between the Spanish ruling bourgeoisie and Catalan petty bourgeois nationalism – the Kingdom versus the Republic – is vital for the development of the revolutionary democratic working class. The vanguard of the working class is neither indifferent to the Catalan rebel republic nor sitting on the fence. On the contrary the revolutionary working class takes sides with the republic against the (United) Kingdom of Spain.

Paul Demarty seems to criticise the SWP’s Alex Callinicos “for claiming that Spain retains its Francoist state core, that Rajoy’s Popular Party is the inheritor of the Franco regime”. What is wrong with that? The Spanish monarchy was put on the throne to claim the mantle of ‘democracy’ for entry into the European Union whilst retaining Franco’s police state apparatus. It only took the attempt to hold a peoples’ referendum for the Spanish state to reveal its true colours.

That the rebellion in Catalonia is not a ‘socialist revolution’ is a statement of the bleeding obvious. It is a democratic republican revolution more akin to the Dublin 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin. Lenin’s famous observation on proclamation of the Irish republic says “To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc. – to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution”. (Lenin- the discussion on self determination summed up July 1916)

Some leftist intellectuals wash their hands of such national rebellions, uprisings and even “revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie” on the grounds this is not “the socialist revolution”. This will not overthrow capitalism in one country!

Lenin had his own answer. “Whoever expects a “pure” social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is”. (Lenin- the discussion on self determination summed up July 1916). He takes aim at the abstract revolutionism of the ultra lefts. He ridicules their ideas.

“So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view could vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a “putsch”.

Lenin saw the Irish uprising as a European event and this is how we should see the events in Catalonia. They are obviously connected to the democratic movement in Scotland and the unfinished business in Ireland. The people of Catalonia were inspired by the Scottish democratic movement expressed in the 2014 referendum. They hoped they could go one better.

The SNP government wanted to keep the British monarchy and Bank of England. The Catalan movement embraced the republic as their Unionist opponents clung to the Spanish monarchy. Cameron thought he would win easily in Scotland and got a nasty shock before being rescued by Gordon Brown. The Spanish ‘Cameron’ knew the republic would win and was determined to stop it or disrupt it by all means necessary including violence.

Paul Demarty makes a very important point (Weekly Worker 1177). He says “The long-distance left urges support for the “Catalan Republic”; but that republic exists largely in theory, and the local state apparatus is largely obeying the new direct rulers. To make the republic a reality, what is demanded is nothing less than the organisation of a militia or other armed force.”

On Paul Demarty’s demand to arm the Republic we can compare the Irish Republic in 1916 and the Kurdish referendum earlier this year. The Irish republic existed “largely in theory” but had arms. It lacked popular support. The Catalan Republic has mass support amongst Catalan workers, not least Barcelona fire-fighters, but no militia and no weapons except those in the hands of the Catalan police. The Iraqi Kurds won their referendum and are backed up by the armed Pesh Merga.

The Kingdom of Spain (or the ‘United’ Kingdom of Spain) is opposed to the Catalan Republic, has declared it illegal and is determined to crush with as much or little state violence as necessary. Without arms to defend the democratic revolution, it is, as Paul says, a very unequal contest unless the working class in the rest of Spain and Europe come to their aid. It is therefore time for every socialist and communist across Europe to come off the ‘self determination’ fence and support the Catalan republic against the United Snakes of Spain.

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Catalan Republic


More than 1000 Scots gather to show support for Catalonia

Scotland First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, took a cautious line on Catalan independence. She hoped that “dialogue will replace confrontation”. She called for a way forward that “respects the rule of law” and also “respects democracy”. She refused to say if the Scottish government would recognise the result of the disputed referendum.” She told Andrew Marr “I consider myself a friend of Spain”.

Spain is nothing in this context but its ruling class exercising political power through its crowned Unionist ‘Francoist’ state. Sturgeon is giving comfort to the enemies of the Catalan people in the hope that ‘Spain’ will be more favourable to the Scottish government’s quest for independence under the Crown. The leaders of the SNP want to keep friends with the Queen of England and the King of Spain.

The parallels with the 2014 Scottish referendum are significant. The national democratic movement in Catalonia has declared in favour of a republic and this was spelt out on the ballot paper. In a Spanish context the Catalan republic is revolutionary not least because it goes back to the 1930’s when the Spanish republic overthrown by Franco. In 1934 the Catalan President Lluis Companys was jailed after declaring a Catalan Republic. Later he was captured by the Nazis and shot by one of Franco’s firing squads in 1940.

Spain is a Unionist state and constitutional monarchy like the UK. The national question is the lever for republicanism and democratic revolution. There is no right to self determination in a Unionist state like Spain. The Spanish constitution is against it. The attempt to hold a referendum was thus illegal.

Naturally the Spanish government sent in the national police to uphold the law by closing down the polling stations and beating up those trying to vote. They could have sent in the army and tanks to stop the ballot. But they chose a more moderate option. Liberal opinion was outraged but did nothing.

British Unionism is no better. The Scottish people have no right to self determination. They have no more legal right to referendum than the Catalan people. The British crown, acting through its first minister David Cameron, decided to grant a referendum because he calculated he would win it. The Queen kept a low profile whilst letting it be known what every loyal subject should do. The Spanish King was not so reticent and came openly in support of his ‘Tory’ government.

The democratic forces in Catalonia had to face the full weight of the Spanish state, the banks and major corporations, and the European Union. The threats of economic sabotage and expulsion from the EU followed the Scottish example. If Catalonia became a republic then hell fire and damnation would rain down on them.

We must support the right of the Catalan people to hold a referendum on independence. The Catalans, like the Scots, are a politically oppressed nation because the Union with Spain is not voluntary, as the violent intervention of the Spanish police showed. But supporting the right to hold a referendum does not mean supporting the republic.

The second issue is whether a Catalan republic would be a progressive democratic step forward from the Unionist monarchy. The answer is yes. A republic is a democratic and revolutionary break with the Francoist-Monarchist state. This is why all the reactionary forces in Spain and the EU are opposed to it.

British Unionists are worse than their Spanish imitators. They like to pretend that Scotland has a legal and constitutional right to self determination. It has no such right. Neither the Scottish people nor a Scottish government can hold a legal referendum. If they hold an illegal one, they have to organise the forces necessary to defend the polling stations.

In Ireland and Spain, Unionism and Republicanism are diametrically opposed, engaged alternately in hot and cold warfare. In Scotland, the national democratic movement is not republican. The SNP are moderate constitutional nationalists. They want to keep the Queen as head of state in a post independence Scotland. This is aimed at convincing the capitalist class that independence will not destabilise their hold on economic power or weaken their political influence. The Catalan republic is a reality which the Scottish republic is not.

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RISE Speaker Addresses LU Conference

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.

RISE speaker addresses LU conference

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Democracy Burns Down

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.

Steve Freeman
LU and Rise

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Republican Unity

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?

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Vote Corbyn

Vote Corbyn

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.

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Republican Number One

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.

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