Socialist Worker

‘Centre ground’ offers no way to beat right

Issue No. 2543

The right are miserable—we should be optimistic

The right are miserable—we should be optimistic (Pic: Tim Sanders)

If you’re on the left it can feel like there isn’t much to be cheerful about.

US president Donald Trump is deporting migrants—and some US union leaders back him. A number of fascist parties are winning high votes across Europe while mainstream parties push through austerity and racism.

In Britain the Tories won the Copeland by-election last week and are beating Labour in the opinion polls.

There has not been nearly enough resistance to them. And the new anti-union laws look set to make any fightback even harder.

But while it’s true that dangerous attacks are taking place, it isn’t true that everything is going one way.

Trump is causing splits at the top of society and, more importantly, mass opposition in the streets.

New ideas are being discussed. When Bernie Sanders stood as a socialist to be the Democratic party candidate in the presidential election he got over 13 million votes in the primaries.

There is a deep discontent with the political system across the world—that discontent can go to the right or the left. Parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain won support by promising to oppose austerity.


In Britain Labour’s membership has almost trebled under left wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And while there is a low level of struggle, workers usually vote for strikes when they get the chance.

Ukip has been plunged into crisis after Labour won in Stoke-on-Trent with former leader Nigel Farage calling for the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, to be expelled.

Big mobilisations on the left show that the right isn’t all-powerful.

People completely new to politics are getting involved. This gives the lie to the idea that only a hardened minority are interested in changing society. The question is, how to push these movements forward? Some strategies and politics will spell disaster.

In the US the Democratic party is continuing with the politics that led to its defeat. In Britain Corbyn is right to refuse to resign, but must not make concessions to the right.

Some argue the left must occupy the centre ground.But sticking with the politics that has produced widespread disillusion and the victories of Trump and Theresa May will not help our side. Nor will accepting the limits of a system that has failed working class people.

Instead we need to challenge the way that politics is done and offer a radical alternative. That means encouraging self-activity and organisation.

There is potential to build a stronger left in Britain and push back the racists and the right. We shouldn’t squander it.

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