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TOPIC: Britain’s general election: A new stage in the class struggle

Britain’s general election: A new stage in the class struggle 11 Jun 2017 09:29 #3176

  • Paul-UB40
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10 June 2017
Britain’s snap general election delivered a major political blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government. The outcome was the product of an outpouring of anti-Tory sentiment among millions of workers and youth and anger over the devastating consequences of endless austerity, the relentless decline in wages, cuts in welfare benefits and the destruction of essential social services.
This produced the surge in support for the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, which saw Labour’s vote share increase by 10 percent and come within two percent of the Tories’ 42 percent total. Among the younger generations, two thirds of those aged 18–24 voted Labour and more than half of those aged 25–34.
For the media, the result came as an enormous shock. To the extent that their universal predictions of a Tory landslide were not raw political propaganda, the outcome demonstrated just how far the well-heeled, cosseted, six-figure salaried commentariat are removed from the experiences and concerns of the broad mass of the population.
The election was another major indication of the ongoing political radicalisation of workers all over the world. Corbyn’s gains show that had Bernie Sanders been the Democratic presidential candidate, he, not Donald Trump, would be in the White House.
There is, of course, a degree of satisfaction and even euphoria among workers and youth at May’s humiliation. This is understandable, but what is needed in the aftermath of June 8 is sober analysis and a clear political perspective. After all, the Tories are still in power and, despite their political crisis, are working to create the necessary political shifts to impose their austerity agenda and plans for escalated warfare in Iraq and Syria.
The greatest political danger is to identify the radicalisation of the masses with its initial and undeserving political beneficiaries such as Corbyn and the Labour Party.
A lesson can be drawn from the warning made in 1967 by the Socialist Labour League, then the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), to the then-French section, the Internationalist Communist Organisation (OCI). The OCI was moving in a pronounced centrist direction, under conditions of the beginning of a major political shift in the working class that was soon to take on revolutionary dimensions.
The SLL cautioned the OCI:
There is always a danger at such a stage of development that a revolutionary party responds to the situation in the working class not in a revolutionary way, but by adaptation to the level of struggle to which the workers are restricted by their own experience under the old leaderships, i.e., to the inevitable initial confusion. Such revisions of the fight for the independent party and the Transitional Programme are usually dressed up in the disguise of getting closer to the working class, unity with all those in struggle, not posing ultimatums, abandoning dogmatism, etc.
The OCI ignored these warnings, broke with the ICFI and went on to play a critical role in building up the Socialist Party (PS) as the French capitalist class’ main “left” party of government.

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