General Strike

General Strike

Last Monday, 23 May 2016, Her Majesty’s Treasury produced an analysis on the immediate impact of leaving the EU. It was shocking reading. In the event of an exit vote the Gross Domestic Product would fall between 3.6% and 6%. This is a serious recession on any estimates. Average wages will fall by 2.8% or £780 a year and unemployment will rise by 500,000. This will increase poverty levels amongst the poorest sections of society.

Obviously this is an attempt to bully the working class into voting to Remain. Should workers be frightened by the threats emanating from George Osborne, the Treasury, and the City of London into voting for dodgy Dave’s dirty little deal? Certainty not. With or without threats workers should refuse point blank to support the Tory demands. Let them stew in their own juice.

However it would be irresponsible to ignore the threat. It is credible. We don’t know whether these estimates are exaggerated. But it makes sense to think that Capital and the City of London are planning to take revenge if we vote to leave. If there is an exit vote there will be retribution. The Tory government will enjoy imposing greater austerity and blaming us for bringing it on ourselves!

There is no way we can vote for exit. Workers have been promised more immigration controls, creating more division, encouraging greater racism and hence lower wages. Now we have been promised the additional ‘benefit’ of more unemployment and lower pay. Voting exit would be like pouring a pot of crap on your own head. Why would anybody do that?

This referendum is a fight between the Tories. Nothing good can come of it. We should not be turkeys voting for a blue Christmas. We should not be taken in by ‘parliamentary cretinism’ which thinks the vote is the only, or even the main decider, rather than the class struggle. The day after the votes are counted the struggle will have to continue. If there is an exit vote the working class will be facing the attacks promised by Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Bank of England and the City of London.

So it is sensible to prepare for this danger. Indeed it would be irresponsible for the working class not to plan for dealing with the attacks that will follow an exit vote. The working class movement will have to take strike action to defend ourselves. It would have to be generalised political strike action in the face of a general attack on the working class. A general strike is the only sensible and reasonable response to the Tory threats.

Now some sections of the left call for general strikes at the drop of a hat. It is sometimes seen as a panacea. But in this case, a general strike is the only meaningful response to the threat of a major attack on the working class. There is no point in waiting for June 24 we must begin agitation now.

We should put resolutions to trade union branches. “In the event of an Exit vote, this branch calls for a general strike against all threats to pay and jobs from the government, the City and the employers”. Under the anti-union laws this would be illegal so we need rank and file organised action to take the lead.

The socialist movement is much divided over the Tory referendum. Whether you are taking a reformist socialist position of “Remain-Reform” or an ultra left position of ‘Exit-for-Revolution’, let us fight for the socialist movement to reunite with a DIY general strike against Cameron’s ‘Do-It Yourself’ imposed Exit-Austerity.

Steve Freeman
LU and Rise

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