While we struggle, they squabble: only our collective fights can defend our interests

4 October 2017

The politicians' world is in turmoil again, with the Tory conference exposing the same rivalries which have characterised British politics for the past two years.
    May's Florence speech, which was supposedly meant to unlock the Brexit process, turned out to be a balancing act designed to pacify her party's warring factions.  But to no avail: they already had their guns out.
    Boris Johnson fired the first shot.  He pulled his tired old lie (£350m/wk) out of his bag of buffoonery, to reassert himself as the cabinet's leading hardline Brexiter - in case someone was needed to replace a stumbling May.  He was followed by David Gauke, a May "loyalist", who declared his ambition to take Hammond's post at the Treasury.  Meanwhile, Hammond, who's never concealed his distaste for May's policies, refused to say he’d support her for a second term.

Corbyn ready to serve... the City

On the other side of the Parliamentary fence, Labour made a point of coming up with "new ideas" for its conference.  But then, it was easy to draw up the list of emergency measures which would be needed - in the here and now - to reduce the burden weighing on the rest of us, workers.
    Renationalising the former public utilities, rail  and postal services, which are all being used by their private owners to racketeer the working class?  Of course!  Abolishing zero-hours and other casual contracts used by the bosses to drive wages down?  That goes without saying!  A massive programme of state-funded social housing against today's housing crisis?  An obvious need!
    But these promises wouldn’t materialise before 2022 at the earliest, when and if Corbyn is elected, - if they ever do.  Therefore, since he has nothing else to offer for now, we just have to bite the bullet and manage in the meantime!
    This is why, in reality, the most significant aspect of this conference was elsewhere: it lay in the fact that delegates were denied a chance to debate Brexit, the one issue which dominates the political scene today.
    The reason for this, was that just like May, Corbyn wants to have his cake and eat it.  His pro-Brexit policy may be packaged differently, but it is just as divisive:  while "welcoming" EU workers who are already in Britain, he opposes the free movement of workers across borders.  He wants the EU's billions to carry on feeding the profits of the City, but not EU plumbers and nurses to be free to come and work here!
    In short, Corbyn is offering Labour's services to the City to oversee - or even, maybe, deliver - the Brexit it wants.  And by preventing any real debate on the issue at his party conference, he has proved that, unlike May, he won't allow dissenters to get in his way!
Our fighting capacity will be decisive
Corbyn's promises may sound like a big change from the Blairite business-management style.  But this is only true in form, not in content.  His plans involve all sorts of protection for capitalist profits - for instance, some form of compensation in case of nationalisation, for those same sharks who made a killing by milking public services for so long!
    In any case, against the backdrop of a capitalist crisis with no end in sight, such promises are of no use to us.  It is now that we need to start regaining the ground lost over the past decade.  And it is now that we need to prepare ourselves to fight any attempt to turn the screw of exploitation even further, using the on-going crisis as a pretext, or the fallout of Brexit, or, more likely, both.
Yes, it is now, and not in 5 year's time, that we need to end the bosses' use of casual jobs to undermine pay and conditions.  It is now that we need decent homes we can really afford.  It is now that we need many more recruits in public services, to stop the degradation that is crippling the NHS, Transport and Education, among others.
    And it is now that we need to protect our wages against Brexit inflation.  Just as it is now that we need to stop the bosses from slashing thousands of jobs, as retail chains Asda and Aldi have already done, blaming the slowdown in consumption, and as Monarch is about to do, blaming the Brexit fall in the pound.
    Above all, what the working class needs is a party of its own.  We need a party which sets itself the task of replacing this rotten capitalist order - not patching it up.  We need a party which will take the lead in our fights against the capitalists' attacks.  And a party which is prepared to unite our ranks, across all divisions, whether sectional or national, in order to help organise our collective strength and get the most out of it.  Because, ultimately, it is only our collective strength which can and will shape our future!