The Conservative victory at the general election is a major setback for the working class and youth of Britain. The bumbling bigot Johnson will whip up prejudice and launch further attacks on our services, livelihoods and environment. This will meet with resistance which we will support and help organise.
Local “conferences of resistance” should be convened everywhere, by trade unions, climate strike bodies and local Labour parties where those are on the left, drawing together all those who are fighting back or who want to fight back. To mount the most effective resistance we need to understand the reasons for this election result.
This was not a Trump-like victory. Trump mobilized a base – organizing mass rallies, for example. In contrast, Johnson boycotted debates and hid in a fridge! The Tory share of the vote was 43% (up 1% point, gaining 300,000 votes) with no Boris surge. Compared to 2017, when Labour surged to 40%, the turnout was slightly lower and Labour’s vote fell by 2.5 million and its share to 32%. Substantial parts of Labour’s vote went to the smaller parties.
The savage media onslaught against Corbyn and Labour exceeded everything to date. This was not limited to the traditionally Tory press. At the BBC, which covered the campaigns in a scandalously biased way, it was as if all pretence of impartiality had been completely abandoned.
In the light of this pernicious press campaign, some people are likely to conclude that there’s nothing that can be done in the face of such forces. Worse, others could even accept the idea that it’s necessary to move towards the right to become “acceptable” to the capitalist media and to ultimately win elections.
This is not true. In fact, every single “centrist” defector from Labour and the Tories embarrassingly lost their seat in this election. Corbyn got more votes than Miliband in 2015, Brown in 2010, or Blair in 2005. Socialist ideas have not been and cannot be buried in a period of global crisis and revolutionary movements.
The colossal swing of voters under 44 towards Labour, and particularly young people under 24, is the music of the future. The youth climate strike movement has the potential to grow rapidly with Johnson in government. We do not embrace the ‘generation wars’ idea fed by the liberal media and some on the left. But we do see the huge opportunities for struggle by young people. The climate strike movement should convene climate assemblies around the next wave of action, for a real discussion about the way forward against a government of climate-deniers.
The right will argue that this defeat shows that it is impossible for left ideas to win support at the ballot box. We would strongly disagree with this. The recent experience in Seattle, where Socialist Alternative City Council Member Kshama Sawant decisively beat her Amazon-backed opponent to win a key election for the left and working class, shows what’s possible. Amazon and Jeff Bezos poured in over $1 million dollars to attempting to defeat Kshama. But Socialist Alternative beat big business by mobilizing mass campaigns on rent control, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, housing and much more. This shows the sort of methods – revolutionary methods – that can win elections against the 1%.
Corbyn’s Policies Popular
The ideas which Corbyn put forward were popular and will become more so. But in this complicated period it is not enough to just have some popular policies. For them to be implemented, it’s necessary to have a mass organisation capable of getting round the capitalist media to take them directly to the whole working class. This means building an organisation which is not focused solely on elections and parliament, but which is also campaigning all-year-round in defense of “the many not the few.” It requires being actively connected with struggles such as those currently being waged by postal workers, university staff and the climate strikes movement. Labour has not been sufficiently transformed from its Blairite past for it to have been capable of that kind of approach on a consistent basis in the last months or years.
The Tories’ real agenda is a savage right-wing assault against the many for the few. They do not have a mandate for their policies, and the Tories in general and Boris in particular lack a stable social base of support. This is clear when you compare this government to those headed by the likes of Trump in the U.S., Bolsonaro in Brazil or Modi in India.
In Britain, we have seen up to half of voters changing their allegiance at election time in recent years. This was a prominent feature in this contest, with many traditional Labour voters “lending” their votes to Johnson in the hope that he delivers on his promise to “get Brexit done.” The endless Brexit saga has undoubtedly frustrated millions of people who want it to be sorted out. This weariness and cynicism was tapped into by Johnson who promised a return to normality.
It wasn’t automatic that this was the “Brexit election.” As the polls narrowed once Labour started its campaign, evidence showed that the NHS was the biggest issue for the most voters, followed by the economy for male voters. Labour had some popular answers on those questions but was unable to cut through the tidal wave from the Tories and the media about Brexit. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to suggest that the press campaign was the only reason that this was the case.
Since 2017, Labour has not organised any serious mass campaigning, and when the election was called the party was often sluggishly organised on the ground despite the enthusiastic surge of thousands of activists to try to help. Mass canvasses and some large rallies were organized. But there were nowhere near enough rallies, and they were often held as semi-secret ticket-only events which tend to lose the impact on wider society.
The half-million-strong membership was not mobilized systematically enough – though many thousands did take part during the course of the campaign. There has not been sufficient engagement with the mass of society except for door-knocking in the last few weeks. While Corbyn spoke at the huge earth strike that took place in September and the Labour leadership has offered support to workers taking action, there was not enough connection built with the struggles which are taking place by young people, among university staff and in Royal Mail. While some Labour candidates did this off their own bat, the Labour leadership ought to have played a far more active role in both supporting and helping to initiate struggle against austerity. So the Labour manifesto was unheard by many voters, while everyone knows Boris “will get Brexit done.”
Some Tory voters will most likely desert the party within a matter of months. Johnson is likely to suffer a backlash like Trump, with falling approval ratings, especially because, similar to his American counterpart, he is no statesman. Nor will he be able to deliver Brexit in a way which fully satisfies the Brexiteers without angering huge swathes of the population.
Nonetheless this is the first Tory government with a substantial majority since Labour lost in 2010. The newly elected Tory MPs are probably in the Johnson mould as he did what Corbyn didn’t and dealt with his oppositional MPs by expelling them. Johnson will rule in a chaotic and populist fashion, but it is now less likely that the Tory party will collapse by itself while it is supported by the capitalist class. Central to determining the fate of this government will be the intervention of mass protest and the workers’ movement.
Johnson has secured the interests of the capitalists, many of whom felt threatened by a Corbyn government, though some of the ruling class are not convinced by Johnson. While this is not likely to be a government of instant crisis, neither will it be one that solves any underlying problems either. It faces multiple political crises including a likely huge surge for Scottish independence as well as the potential rise of new forms of sectarianism in Northern Ireland and in Welsh nationalism.
The National Question
In Scotland, while the SNP surged, the Tories fell back despite opinion polls which claimed they would hold their positions. Labour collapsed to one MP. Labour’s position on the national question in Scotland – including its opposition to independence and Corbyn’s failure to give support to a referendum on the question – was ultimately to blame for this.
The demand for Scottish independence by one means or another, and for a second referendum, will almost certainly carry increasing weight, as illusions in independence to escape from Tory rule will grow enormously. While the SNP have been able to increase their support, ultimately their pro-capitalist politics will mean they are unable to meet the aspirations of those who elected them. It is also likely that they ultimately betray the struggle for genuine independence, especially should achieving it prove impossible through the SNP’s preferred means of a Westminster-sanctioned referendum.
In the Spanish state, a relatively strong, right-wing government came unstuck over the movement for national rights in Catalonia. The response of the Tories in becoming even more English nationalist will fan the flames of independence, and potentially even the flames of religious sectarianism with a unionist appeal to some Scottish Protestants.
Socialist Alternative defends the right to self-determination. We support a referendum on independence. In the next period, our role will be to advocate class unity against sectarianism, and workers’ struggle against the British capitalist state machine which will not easily grant meaningful political independence to Scotland. Socialist Alternative stands for independence on a socialist basis, to address the huge social problems facing the Scottish working class. We argue for a voluntary federation of socialist nations and regions across England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, in which the rights of minorities are fully guaranteed. We stand for a voluntary socialist confederation of countries and peoples of Europe, in a socialist world.
In Northern Ireland, both main parties – the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein – saw a significant fall in their share of the vote (5.4% and 6.7% respectively). Brexit partly explains this, with Protestant voters punishing the DUP for propping up a Johnson government which negotiated a withdrawal agreement that will put a border down the Irish Sea, while a layer of Catholics tactically switched from abstentionist Sinn Féin to other parties because they wanted MPs who would actually go to Westminster to oppose Brexit and Johnson. However, voters also punished both parties for the ongoing political stalemate, as we approach the third anniversary of the collapse of the devolved Stormont Assembly, and by extension for the crises in health, education and rising poverty.
The smaller parties increased their votes across the board, especially the Alliance Party, sister organization of the Lib Dems, which got an 8.8% increase. This self-described non-sectarian party takes a strong Remain position over the EU. It won one seat and is an emerging as a third “center” pole of attraction.
Despite their neoliberal policies, this reflects a search for an alternative to the sectarian parties. Independent labour and trade union candidate Caroline Wheeler won a modest but significant vote in the sectarian battleground constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone, a positive indication of the potential for anti-sectarian left politics to develop.
There will now be renewed talks aimed at re-establishing the devolved Assembly at Stormont, and the main parties will be under increased pressure to do a deal in light of the election results. However, the Assembly parties and politicians have no answers. Re-establishing the power-sharing institutions would show them up, against the backdrop of an increase in industrial struggle and potential struggle against any attempt to roll back the decriminalisation of abortion and on other social questions. A restored Stormont administration would be racked with crisis, under pressure on class questions but also from the sectarian forces which the main parties rely upon but are unable to fully control.
Brexit will continue to have an impact. It has the potential to increase sectarianism, creating further problems for the Tory government. This is the first time since the establishment of the Northern Ireland state that Unionist parties don’t have a majority of the MPs, as the DUP lost two seats to nationalists in the face of a “Remain alliance.” Many Protestants will feel threatened by the loss of the Unionist majority, the idea of a border in the Irish Sea and Scottish independence.
On the other hand, Sinn Féin are increasingly pushing the question of a referendum on the reunification of Ireland – commonly known as a border poll. This demand will increase among nationalists, due to Brexit and the Tory government. The trade unions will need to move into action against sectarianism and for workers’ unity, and our sister organisation in the North, the Socialist Party, will be looking at how it can push forward the project of building a cross-community, working-class political alternative in the coming period.
Capitalist Crisis Building
The current slow-boil economic crisis threatens to break into an outright recession in the next period. Even now, the service sector is sluggish while manufacturing and construction are declining. If the working class is better prepared politically for a new crash than it was in 2008, the ruling class will have inevitably learned nothing – preparing another huge crisis but one with potentially more serious consequences for them and their system.
The Tory government can be caught flat-footed in its response to this. Any attempt to go on the attack against workers’ living conditions in the mold of the Thatcher government could lead to a mass revolt, of a similar nature to the gigantic Poll Tax rebellion in the late ’80s and early ’90s, where 18 million people refused to pay up.
The Brexit trade deal negotiations will drag on for some time to come. So far, Johnson has only got a withdrawal agreement, not an exit deal. The questions on border controls remain, especially in relation to Northern Ireland and migration. Then there are the future trading arrangements to be agreed with the EU, as well as potential trade deals to be struck with the U.S. and the rest of world along with customs arrangements. These are all issues which the government will have to deal with and over which it can easily lose support on both sides. All Tory options will lead to attacks on workers’ living conditions.
Potential for Mass Struggle
Under this government of climate deniers, it is likely that the ongoing youth climate strikes will continue to be built and mobilized. Young people understand the need to fight not just the climate emergency, but the big business interests that lie behind it. The call for “system change” has been twinned with a growing anti-capitalism among youth. Socialist Alternative will throw itself into building this movement, mobilizing for the strikes. This will ultimately need to be linked to a mass movement of millions of working-class people and youth, mobilized around a clear demand for a socialist Green New Deal.
Public services face further catastrophe and collapse. NHS waiting times are at a record high, Accident & Emergency departments are in meltdown, and hospitals are at full stretch. Some health-workers will be feeling despondent, but we, in collaboration with other NHS campaigners, will be looking at how to fight back in the new year. If or when a deal is reached on pharmaceutical companies’ access to the NHS then there will be further anger and the basis for further struggle.
Social care has been cut to the bone and cannot recover under a Tory government, while huge cuts and privatization have left the probation service unable to cope. A Tory law-and-order “lock-them-up” response will worsen the already profound problems in the prisons. There will be community resistance to attacks on public services.
Fighting the Right
With the election of a more blatantly right-wing populist Tory government, there is a serious risk of bigotry and discrimination increasing. This could mean a rise in physical attacks on all those that the Tories seek to single out – women, LGBTQ+ people, Black and Minority and Ethnic people and migrants. This would be tacitly encouraged by the government and Tory MPs, as they try to shore up their shaky electoral base with anti-migrant policies, and potentially even through attacks on women’s reproductive rights.
The kind of struggles we saw in the U.S. against Trump’s immediate attempts to introduce discriminatory policies – with the huge women’s marches and airport protests against the so-called Muslim ban, in which our co-thinkers Socialist Alternative played a major role – will come here too if Johnson goes down the same road.
Where attacks happen we support immediate community protests in defense and response, reaching out to other local communities, unions and left-led Constituency Labour Parties, in order to build demonstrations that could stamp them out.
There is a very real danger of increased divisions between migrant and non-migrant workers. Some of the smallest trade unions have shown that the most oppressed workers can be unionized and mobilized in struggle for equal pay and a living wage. This is the best answer to the divisive narrative of migrants “undercutting” wages. It is urgent that the biggest trade unions wake up and start seriously organizing migrant workers in unorganized workplaces, linking anti-racist campaigning with the need to defend jobs in the private and public sectors through unity and struggle. When Johnson disappoints over Brexit, then the far right can start growing again in an organised way.
A number of these factors will combine at a certain stage for a major catastrophe with the government. Johnson has not yet remade the Tory party as fully in his image as Trump has with the U.S. Republicans. The social base for this government is less solid than Trump’s support. And because British capitalism is globally a lot less important than U.S. imperialism then the capitalist class, both here and especially elsewhere in the world, are less inclined to put up with Trump-style stupidity from Johnson.
Labour’s Heartland Losses
In this election, Labour saw a repeat of what happened following the Scottish independence referendum, losing seats in a number of its traditional ‘heartland’ areas. These losses have a number of causes. Among them is the ongoing issue of the role of Labour-run councils in passing on Tory austerity. Their continued slashing away of services, along with the legacy of Blairism, has contributed to declining turn out and growing disillusionment with Labour over a long period.
More specifically to this election, Labour also lost a large number of votes from some of its traditional supporters because of Brexit. Corbyn’s attempt at a compromise position, arrived at under huge pressure from Labour’s right to adopt a wholesale Remain stance, ultimately failed to do what was necessary. To win this election, Corbyn needed to unite voters who supported both Leave and Remain on the basis of an independent, working-class approach to this question – as well as to all others. The failure to do so has opened the door to right-wing populism to fill the vacuum.
Role of the Blairites
This mistake, as with so many others that have cost Corbyn since 2015, was ultimately rooted in his doomed attempt to square the circle with the Blairite MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party, whose pro-austerity, pro-imperialist politics ultimately represents the interests of the capitalist class. This has allowed the right within Labour to conduct a sustained and slanderous campaign of sabotage – seizing on every possible opportunity to attack and undermine Corbyn’s leadership.
Far from this campaign being suspended for the duration of the election, it was instead intensified. Even Corbyn’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth stabbed Corbyn in the back two days before polling day with his leaked “joshing” with his Tory friend. Ultimately, failing to take on the “Red Tories” handed seats held by right-wing Labour MPs and ex-Labour MPs to the blue Tories.
The Blairites are to blame for some of the heaviest defeats. Dudley North now has an 11,000 Tory majority and was held by Ian Austin – an arch-Blairite MP who resigned from Labour and campaigned for a Tory vote in this election. In Bassetlaw, John Mann gifted the Tories a 28 percentage point majority. In Redcar the MP was an open anti-Corbyn right-winger and now the Tories hold it with a 3,000 vote majority. In Barrow-in-Furness, John Woodcock helped the Conservatives to a 14 point lead. In Bury South where Labour lost by 1%, Blairite Ivan Lewis ran as independent and got 2% of the vote.
If these people had been dealt with earlier they would not have caused this problem. Instead they were left in place. In some areas, Labour party members took matters into their own hands and ousted some especially pernicious Blairite MPs. Nonetheless, the Labour leadership, the treacherous tops of Momentum’s undemocratic leadership, most of the trade union leaders, and in some places also the constituency activists, failed to oust the Blairites collectively with mandatory reselection or individually through the trigger ballot process.
The capitalist press has tried to explain this result by posing a divide between “lefty middle-class youth” in the metropolitan areas, against a uniformly more right-wing, and especially “socially conservative,” working-class. This is completely inaccurate. Where the Tories have made gains, their majority has often been extremely narrow. In north west Durham, left-winger Laura Pidcock lost her seat by only 2.5%. This contrasts with the huge margin of losses by right-wingers in nearby seats such as the 11% Tory majority in Sedgefield.
In 2017, McDonnell argued that Labour would have won if the campaign had continued for another fortnight, which was probably true. These seats would be held by Labour MPs now if the campaign had not stopped in mid-2017 for two years.
The 2017 vote was taken for granted and it was not there when Labour went back to it. Union leaders and the Momentum leadership, together with the right-wing of the Labour party, pushed Corbyn into a non-credible position on Brexit which was widely seen as a Remain position, not least because Keir Starmer was free to put forward a Remain position in the media as Labour’s Brexit spokesperson. Corbyn didn’t sufficiently explain what ‘pro-worker’ policies he would campaign for in renewed negotiations with the EU. What’s more, he came across indecisive when he wouldn’t commit to supporting his own negotiated Brexit deal in a referendum offering the option alongside Remain. He also didn’t successfully expose the neoliberal nature of the EU and which progressive policies would require a left government to defy EU rules in order to implement.
Additionally, mistaken positions held by Corbyn and a section of the left – although not including our forerunner organisations such as Militant – in the past on conflicts such as Northern Ireland or the Middle East were used against Corbyn to some effect. Whereas Corbyn comes from a tradition on the Labour Left that tended to side with one national group against another – genuine Marxists fought for, and continue to fight for, united working class struggle across national, religious and ethnic divides whilst resolutely defending the right to self-determination, pointing out that capitalism provides no answer to sectarian conflicts.
Combative Approach Needed
Corbyn’s failure to adopt a more combative, class-struggle based approach, coupled with the weak and unclear position in relation to the EU, has allowed the Labour right to shoehorn him into a position of appearing indecisive to a large portion of the working class in Britain.
The great Militant-supporting Labour MP Pat Wall once said “we need leaders of our movement as ruthless in defense of our class as Thatcher is of theirs.” We need leaders armed with clear Marxist ideas that are devoted to their class and able to act decisively when the situation arises, not least against the likes of the Blairites who have achieved what they wanted to achieve in sabotaging Corbyn from winning the election and now going on the offensive for a change of leadership.
We think it was a mistake for Corbyn to have announced he will step down, and even worse for McDonnell to have volunteered his and Corbyn’s resignation before the election in the event of a Labour loss. Without a sufficient mobilization of the left rank-and-file membership in the CLPs, there is a serious risk of a change in leadership marking a shift away from the most radical aspects of Corbyn’s policies. This has to be resisted strongly and all socialists must make a clear stand for socialist ideas against the Blairites’ offensive.
Now we need Corbyn to use his remaining time most usefully, not just to oversee the leadership election but to help transform Labour from a primarily electoralist organisation into a struggle-based party. Unite the Union leader Len McCluskey is right to pin the main blame for the defeat on the Brexit position and to advocate retaining anti-austerity and class policies, but he is absolutely wrong to attack the manifesto and Corbyn personally, including for his “failure to apologize for anti-Semitism.” These criticisms can only help the right, avoid addressing what kind of campaign was needed and, incidentally, the almost complete absence of much of the trade union movement from any mobilization to assist Labour winning the election.
Momentum and John McDonnell’s grouping in the Labour party are responsible for a lot of the current mess and will likely encourage the next leader, even if they are drawn from the left, to move to the right of Corbyn. Any candidate from the right or the so-called soft-left, including some of the names currently floated like Emily Thornberry or Lisa Nandy, would be merely a device for moving Labour back to the Miliband era and wasting all of what is left of the potential from Corbynism. Remainers like Thornberry, supported on occasions by McDonnell, bear a huge responsibility for the election defeat.
The most left-wing potential candidate seems to be Rebecca Long-Bailey. Any real left would-be leader needs to stand by all the pro-working-class policies contained in the manifestos of 2017 and 2019 plus the more radical conference policies passed since Corbyn was elected leader. They need to support struggles including strikes and demonstrations. And more than that, they need to be prepared to mobilize struggle against austerity without waiting for someone else to do it. Where struggle is taking place now, such as in the climate strikes and university strikes, a new leader would need to be prepared to actively mobilize for it. Crucially, with more punishing austerity on the way under a Johnson government they must call on all Labour-run councils to fight cuts instead of implementing them.
Labour’s parliamentary left, including the new Corbynista MPs, will now be tested out. They should organise themselves as a distinct pole, alongside playing a part in organising and mobilising at rank-and-file level.
An important lesson of the last three years while Corbyn has been leader, is that of those over 150 weeks, only about 30 weeks have been used to actually campaign in public on a large scale. Instead, most of this time has been spent with Corbyn’s leadership focussed on the goings-on in parliament, and in attempts to appease the Blairite saboteurs in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
If those 30 weeks show how polls can be narrowed in the 2017 and 2019 elections, then another 120 weeks spent engaging in the living struggles of workers and young people, as well as campaigning for socialist policies that could offer an alternative to the misery of austerity, would have allowed Corbynism to take root far more deeply among the working class. Such an approach would have increased Corbyn’s own confidence to take on the right and resist their attempts to hem him in. It would almost certainly have led to a different outcome in 2019. Genuine socialist change cannot ultimately be achieved through electoral politics alone.
Next year’s local elections will likely see a backlash against the result of this election and quite possibly whatever the Tories have managed with Brexit. By then, the further damage they intend to public services will also be clearer. Labour now should urgently select left candidates to resist the inevitable Tory attempts to smash what’s left of local government services. At the same time, they should set about “no-confidencing” what’s left of the Blairites. Most of all, the left and the ranks need to start mobilizing independently, immediately engaging with supporters and discussing how to resist the Tories, linking up with fighting sections of the wider movement in local conferences of resistance.
With few exceptions, the trade union tops and bureaucracies were fast asleep for the last few months. They bear significant blame for this result. Having said ‘wait for Corbyn’ while pushing a pro-EU line and blocking mandatory reselection, and drifting to political lobbying approach, there was no serious attempt to fight Tories when the government was in crisis and no serious attempt to mobilize their memberships to campaign for Labour at the general election.
Most of these leaderships have been found completely wanting and the movement needs new leaders representing a completely new era of resistance. Faced with a further round of austerity, many workers may turn toward workplace struggle in order to defend themselves from the onslaught.
Mass Movements on the Horizon
We can gain a glimpse of our possible future by looking to the movements developing internationally. Revolutionary movements in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, and others all show the potential that exists. All have been spearheaded by young people.
The private sector now faces utter deindustrialization with whatever trade deal is agreed in or out of the EU. Boris investment promises are worthless. Unite has to start fighting in a coordinated way across sectors and between disputes or it will lose its base bit by bit. The public sector faces obliteration in local government by a Tory party which hates it, and the NHS faces being opened up to private companies completely.
In Unison, the largest public sector union, it is urgent that the right-wing general secretary and NHS service group leaderships are replaced at next year’s elections by those willing to fight, and that the left unites around one candidate for general secretary.
Developing a serious base of workplace activists will be an immediate priority for the trade union movement. The National Education Union has proposed a campaign of “winning in the workplace.” Socialist Alternative (England and Wales) agrees with the spirit of this, but we are keen to see detailed plans for how to make this a reality. A recent statement by Communication Workers’ Union leader Dave Ward, hit the right notes. He correctly points out the that trade unions are the “first line of defense” for working-class people. With the CWU in the frontline taking action over attacks on postal workers, it’s vital that a movement of solidarity is organised to support them.
Key practical steps necessary in most unions include: training reps properly (in some, at all) in how to deal with viciously hostile employers, organizing industrial action, delivering support for reps from the officials and wider structures, having branches based on workplaces and centered on workplace activists, clear structures which deliver reps a voice in the union structures, meetings organised in ways which assist reps to attend and a serious battle for facility time where necessary.
The most fundamental role of a union is resisting workers’ immediate employer on basic workplace issues. If done seriously this will bring forward a new layer of fighting workers who can then be integrated it with union branches and renew the structures of the movement.
More anti-union laws are certain, as Johnson has outlined. The trade union leaders should resist these and the union ranks and left need to demand action. Since the tops weren’t prepared to fight against the Tories’ last Trade Union Act, we cannot expect much from most of them unless there is colossal organised pressure from the base.
Where action is blocked legally then unofficial action will be needed, in local disputes and wider ones. The tactic of workers in the U.S. of using the “mass sickie” when the mass strike is not possible is something which has potential to catch on in Britain. Unite’s policy of not repudiating action called by stewards unofficially, and of removing a constitutional commitment to obey the law, needs to be adhered to and extended to the rest of the movement. It needs to be translated into practice which again means rebuilding the workplace activist layer numerically and in terms of ideas and resources.
In this new period there will be an anti-Tory backlash and a determination to struggle. The scale of media onslaught including the liberal media shows need for a different kind of party and struggle to social-democratic electoralism. Since Thursday night, we have already received well over 100 applications to join, attracted by our two videos, two leaflets and very widely shared social media posts, as well as our public activity.
Socialist alternative campaigned energetically to see a Corbyn-led Labour government elected. Our members took part in mass canvassing sessions with the Labour party and raised our ideas and offered our material to a friendly audience. Equally as importantly, we also ran an independent, clearly socialist campaign in support of Corbyn, through which we sold over 1100 copies of our publication.
Now we are encouraging everyone who is angry about the election result and keen to organize to fight back and win: contact us, talk about joining us, get organised together with us. Let’s mobilize for the struggles that are already taking place. Let’s organize conferences of resistance to bring them together. Let’s discuss the need for socialism, and the revolutionary politics ultimately needed to achieve it. Workers and young people are central to that. Don’t mourn, organize!