Socialist Worker

Moderation from Labour struggles to beat the Tories in general election campaign

Issue No. 2680

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Macclesfield last week - more rallies and radical policies can create a mood that change is possible

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Macclesfield last week - more rallies and radical policies can create a mood that change is possible (Pic: Jeremy Corbyn/Flickr)

The Tories should be reeling. Despite the helping hand Nigel Farage gave Boris Johnson this week the campaign has exposed the ruling class arrogance and racism that runs through the party.

Last week it was Jacob Rees-Mogg proclaiming that many of the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire had lacked “common sense”.

This week it was revealed that Anthony Browne, Tory candidate for South Cambridgeshire had previously written a vile racist article. “It is not through letting in terrorists that the government’s policy of mass migration—especially from the third world—will claim the most lives. It is through letting in too many germs.”

Browne is a former aide to Johnson.

While the Tories are vulnerable, they are still ahead in the polls.

The first phase of Labour’s campaign has been too lacklustre and too conventional. It’s a trap that lures all social democrats to think they can win by sounding more professional and more acceptable than the right.

It’s a mistake to think that moderation succeeds. This is a time when there is deep bitterness in society and it won’t be tapped by trying to sound “reasonable”.

The Tories are almost certain to make attacking migration part of their campaign. The right response is to confront the myths that migrants are a problem.

The wrong response was for Labour’s Emily Thornberry to say this week there will be “managed migration”. She added, “We will need to have people from other countries for short periods of time to help our services.”

That boosts the idea that migration causes difficulties.

The best part of Labour’s 2017 campaign was the series of mass rallies and the more radical policies. They helped shift millions of votes. Labour needs to do the same again now—on an even larger scale. It has to be a campaign of working class warfare against the ruling class.

Every compromise and retreat—such as the dumping of Chris Williamson as a candidate—weakens the sense of insurgency and confidence.

An election period isn’t a time to stifle struggle, it’s a time to boost it. The coming strikes by university workers, rail workers and, we hope, postal workers, should be central during the election period.

So should the climate strike on 29 November and the demonstrations against Donald Trump on 3 December.

We want the Tories out and Corbyn in Number 10. We’re campaigning to make that happen.

But we know that voting won’t be nearly enough to get the change we need.

At the moment everything in the media is centred on opinion polls and speculation. But politics is about a lot more than voting.

The struggles of ordinary people are needed now and after the election—whoever wins.

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