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‘We need a summer of discontent’—activists, trade unionists and Labour supporters on where next after the election

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Issue 2558
People have already taken to the streets to demand the end of Tory rule
People have already taken to the streets to demand the end of Tory rule (Pic: Dave Gilchrist)

Theresa May is clinging onto office after ordinary people delivered a shattering blow to her regime of austerity, racism and war in last week’s general election.

Trade unionists, Labour Party members and campaigners spoke to Socialist Worker about how we can force the Tories from office.

Mark Serwotka, PCS union general secretary

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka (Pic: Alan Kenny)

This election has shown there is huge enthusiasm for an alternative to the Conservatives’ failed policies of austerity. Theresa May has no mandate for further attacks on public sector pay and jobs.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have defied their critics and inspired millions of people with a manifesto of hope. Their policies, such as investment in public services and renationalisation, were hugely popular and caught the mood for change.

I look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver the alternative to austerity that PCS wholeheartedly supports.

We have to fight to halt any cuts and win decent pay. PCS will fight—and we urge the rest of the trade union movement to join us.

Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead

What we’ve got to do as a movement—the Labour Party and the other parties on the left along with the trade unions—is keep the pressure on Theresa May and her coalition. I don’t think it’s going to last very long.

She held this election to try and deal with the divisions within her own party. Those divisions are still there and haven’t gone away because her majority has reduced.

I think what we can do within parliament is really put the pressure on them and heighten those divisions and those rifts.

Ian Hodson, Bfawu union president

Theresa May has no option now but to resign.

People want a real alternative, not just a watered-down version of Conservative policies. They have had their lives stolen from them for many, many years—this result is their victory.

It proved that the Labour Party membership is more in tune with what’s going on than the right wing MPs in the Westminster bubble. Members live in communities around the country and could sense the anger in society at the Tories.

From here we can only go on towards a better country. A country without austerity, zero hours contracts, and where access to education isn’t based on ability to pay.

It’s time for the Tories to move over—people should get out onto the streets to protest.

Sheila Coleman, Hillsborough Justice Campaign

Hillsborough justice campaigner Sheila Coleman

Hillsborough justice campaigner Sheila Coleman (Pic: Guy Smallman)

We’ve got a right wing government that is made up of bigots, racists and homophobes— just look at the DUP’s attitude to lesbians, gays and women.

But I think there will be a lot of Tories that will not be happy with that alliance. I think, watch this space, because I don’t believe this government will last.

That’s why we need to stay organised—and stay ready for round two.

I was out knocking on people’s doors during the election campaign saying, ‘Vote Labour’—I never thought I’d do that. There was tremendous camaraderie, we were doing this because it felt like change was afoot.

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign ignited a flame—and we can’t let that dissipate. We have to keep fighting, we have to keep together, and work out common ground.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis, Labour Party member in north London and leading junior doctor in the British Medical Association (BMA)

The result is a seismic event in politics.

It has proved that lots of people were really wrong—that includes most of the media and the right of the Labour Party.

The ‘centre ground’ has shifted to the left and that’s down to Jeremy Corbyn and the team that got out and campaigned.

As a junior doctor working in the NHS, I’m hoping this will lead to more positive changes.

Now it’s up to everyone, not just Labour Party members but the wider movement for social justice. We have to ensure that we get Theresa May out—and a Jeremy Corbyn government in.

Roger Hutt, Unison union member and care worker in Doncaster

We now have a movement of like minded activists who believe a new world is within our grasp.

Protests defy the Tories and the bigoted DUP
Protests defy the Tories and the bigoted DUP
  Read More

Many of the younger generation have become politicised—it’s for them that we fight Tory austerity.

But now is not the time to be complacent, we must press home our advantage. We need a nationwide drive and network of organisations and contacts linked to the end game of bringing down this government.

We must hit the streets at every opportunity and expose every dirty trick the Tories try to pull.

The Tories are in disarray—so let’s finish the job.

Megan Charlton, teaching assistant in Durham

While I’m gutted that we still have a Tory government, I was delighted that so many people around the country chose Jeremy Corbyn’s vision. He stands for a fairer, more equal society for everyone.

My daughter was able to vote for the first time. It gives me hope to see so many young people actively engaging in politics and feeling they have a voice and a part to play in their future.

We now need to make sure that we build on that enthusiasm and continue to put pressure on a seriously weakened government. We need to bring an end to the brutal austerity so many have been suffering under for the last seven years.

Kendra, a Labour Party member

We can weaken Theresa May by highlighting that she shouldn’t be in power in our workplaces.

My local MP was against Jeremy Corbyn—I emailed her about how disgusted I was with the right’s attacks on him.

It weakened the whole party, but we still got a great result.

After the election the right wingers need to eat humble pie and stand together with the rest of the party and the membership. That’s the only way they’re going to get the support of trade unionists.

Eileen Imlah, College lecturer, Lanarkshire

I think that Jeremy Corbyn did a fantastic job with a clearly socialist agenda. Scotland is a huge disappointment by comparison.

I voted SNP but with a heavy heart given the attacks in FE colleges. My heart is with Labour but they cannot be trusted in Scotland.

In North Lanarkshire they teamed up with the Tories and took control of the council and immediately got rid of classroom assistants. The Labour Party in Scotland is still largely seen to be clinging to New Labour values so it missed out on the upsurge which Corbyn has created.

The SNP has to pay more attention to the public sector, particularly the NHS and education as people are losing

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against the Cuts

Paula Peters from Disabled People Against the Cuts

Paula Peters from Disabled People Against the Cuts (Pic: Guy Smallman)

We organised a #TrashtheTories campaign highlighting the record of their austerity

We handed out thousands of leaflets about what disabled people are subjected to and we got a really positive response

More people are now awake to it.

Theresa May wanted a large mandate, but her campaign was in chaos from the start and it has completely backfired

Jeremy Corbyn is in a very strong position going forward—he’s shown that he’s electable

Now it’s massively important to keep the fire burning.

While we haven’t got the Tories out yet I think its only a matter of time before May’s government will crumble. There is palpable anger on the streets—people have simply had enough

We’ve got to turn this into the summer of discontent and mobilise, organise and get on the streets.

John Burgess, left wing Labour Party activist and Unison union member in Barnet

I’m convinced there’s going to be another general election in the autumn—Jeremy Corbyn could be in power by Christmas.

We’ve got to carry on attacking the Tories and carry on meeting and campaigning.

It was Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto that delivered such a big vote, because it’s so clearly on the side of working class people.

But I’m not sure everyone knew what was in it so we’ve got to get that message out into the workplaces now.

James Smallwood, Bfawu union member

Trade unions need to work together to support Corbyn—action needs to be organised and supported by all the unions.

A big argument in my workplace is Trident nuclear weapons. People think we need a deterrent, but that’s mad—it’s mutually assured destruction. We need to put the money into the NHS and education.

My parent’s generation get their news from the BBC and papers such the Sun, but now we’ve got a generation that don’t rely on one source of information. Maybe that’s why the mainstream media got the result so wrong.

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