Boycott present difficulties

This was published in Weekly Worker before Theresa May’s deal became public and a new stage of the crisis began. It criticises the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) for hiding behind the idea of boycotting all referenda as a matter of principle.

The recent CPGB members aggregate seems to conclude that “the working class must take responsibility for changing direction” without any clue as to what that might be. It is no good avoiding present dilemmas and contradictions with abstract calls for a socialist Europe.

Boycotting the last referenda and then the next one has the advantage of consistency but the CPGB has boycotted everything in between. Criticising all other views, except those you are ignoring, without stating your own, makes Weekly Worker a commentator on events not an agitator.

The case for a ‘democratic England in a democratic Europe’ is that England must be ‘democratised’ and become the most advanced democracy within a United States of Europe. I make no claims about the future of Ireland, Scotland or Wales or what democratic relationship these nations will want to have with the rest of Europe.

Weekly Worker “What we fight for” statement calls for a “United States of Europe” or as we say a European federal republic. This democratic slogan expresses a very different position from the liberals who want to remain in the existing European Union. It is different from ‘left-remainers’ who want to remain and put Corbyn in charge of the EU.

Longer term democratic strategic aims are significant but what is the link to the present? The CPGB advocates nothing except why everybody else is wrong. Forget about whether another referendum is a good or bad thing. Is the CPGB in favour of remaining in the EU or leaving the EU? You can boycott a referendum. But you cannot avoid the question about whether the CPGB is in favour of remaining or leaving the EU.

So far the CPGB has failed to draw distinctions between remain (and left-remain) versus a democratic exit or between a repeat referendum and a ratification referendum. It is nearly as bad as saying you haven’t noticed a distinction between Chuka Umunna and Jeremy Corbyn when the former is a remainer and the latter supports a (version of) democratic exit.

‘Democratic exiters’ are those on the remain side who accepted the referendum result as the best way of dealing with the problem of a divided working class. It is the duty of communists to draw sharp lines which delineate all positions including shades of opinion. All CPGB writers have done so far is to fudge the differences and thus help to big up the liberals.

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