Essential Step to Rebuilding Britain
European Union membership is such a fundamental issue that it has created divisions between workers which must be healed. The vast majority of people are saying ‘Get on with it’; the people are
eager to move on, so must Labour.
Jeremy Corbyn is right to emphasise the common interests that binds workers regardless of whether they voted leave or remain; they face the same problems and they need the very same social and economic regeneration. The task of bringing them together is primary, but that can only become a reality once the thing that divided them in the first place is sorted out.
Britain, independent and united as Wales, Scotland and England, can determine its own independent destiny and create a socialist economy serving the people – Northern Ireland, the six counties, is a relic of Britain’s colonial past, an anachronism that should have been resolved a long time ago. Neither Ireland nor Britain want a border in Ireland, so there is no need for one.
In its election manifesto 2017, Labour promised to respect the outcome of the referendum on the EU. More recently, Jeremy Corbyn in a letter to members clarifying the shadow cabinet’s position on Brexit, wrote: ‘As democrats, Labour accepted the result of the 2016 referendum’. There can be no turning back.
National independence is essential to delivering the transformative politics and new economic priorities that we need. We should be controlled neither by Brussels nor Washington.
Respect the result
Johnson went into Downing Street promising to deliver Brexit, yet asks for a general election on the grounds that Parliament had passed a law that would prevent a no-deal departure.
The determination to keep faith with the electorate and leave the EU by the legislated date of October 31 needs to be supported; it reflects the wishes of the vast majority of the people who want parliament to deliver. Brexit by October 31 is the only thing going for Boris Johnson and once that’s sorted, his government will be defunct, an empty shell with no majority, no future, no raison d’être and that’s the time for a general election. This would be about the future of our country and our policies would shine out.
In normal circumstances, negotiators should have the option to walk away without a deal as a lever to get the other side to move; but we live in abnormal circumstances: a minority government, plagued with dissention among its own ranks, a zombie government unable to govern, unable to escape, unable to call a general election and a parliament terrified into a state of paralysis, refusing to allow Article 50 to proceed, but not daring to revoke it for fear of the wrath of the people they are supposed to represent.
Parliament’s own crisis
Politicians and pundits incessantly talk of a crisis gripping the country. Yet, in the country at large, there no sense of a crisis as workers go about their business paying little attention to the shenanigans going on in the parliamentary bubble.
The crisis is in parliament, one of its own making: the people voted to leave the EU, parliament has failed to deliver. Three years on from the referendum and MPs continue to put obstacles in the way. We have entered a dangerous terrain where the Parliament created by the people turns on any Prime Minister or government seeking to implement the will of the people.
The Labour Movement is rooted in the long struggle for democracy. Our ancestors were the first in the world to crush the unelected power of the monarchy.
The rise of trade unions developed a pervasive sense of democracy not just at the workplace where the principles of accountability and majority decisions being supported by all prevailed out of necessity, but also in the struggle for universal suffrage which only really came into effect in 1969 with votes at 18 following over 150 years of struggle and sacrifice.
The formation of the Labour Party primarily to represent trade unions in Parliament and argue for reforms in favour of the majority of the working population was another key step.
Yet the inspiring democratic traditions of the trade union and Labour Movement has faded in face of the overwhelming assault on us during the Thatcher years. The TUC and Labour Party under New Labour believed our saviour was not ourselves, but the corporate- ruled EU. Our confidence and political and economic self-reliance has been hollowed out. And now nine of the ten poorest regions in Northern Europe are in Britain.
Popular working class discontent with the EU is growing in all member states. Working class opposition has been spurned by the EU and scorned by the liberal left who long ago adopted the globalising agenda of the EU and its neoliberalism. Certain liberal strands of thought agreed with finance capital that the nation state, strong trade unions, national measures to defend domestic industry, territorial waters, vibrant agriculture and fishing were obstacles to progress. Such politics has become dangerously out of touch as there is so much to rebuild now.
The vote that shook the Establishment
The 2016 referendum has shaken the establishment, the strings holding it together are taught and some have snapped; its shiny facade has cracked, its polite demeanour is fractured. The task of progressives and socialists is not to attempt to tie up the broken strings and re-assemble the shattered pieces, but to reshape them to reflect the interest of the vast majority of people. Freeing our country once and for all of the unelected dominance of the EU is the essential first step in re-shifting the balance of power back to our people and our democracy.