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A radical Labour can win a general election

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Issue 2670
Jeremy Corbyn at a rally in Glasgow on Saturday
Jeremy Corbyn at a rally in Glasgow on Saturday (Pic: Andrew McGowan)

There was a strong possibility that Boris Johnson was about to call a snap general election as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

We should welcome a general election as an opportunity to drive out Johnson and the Tories. But could Jeremy Corbyn and Labour win?

The answer is yes—but not if Labour becomes a “moderate” party of Remain.

That’s the lesson from the general election in 2017, when Corbyn defied all predictions and denied Theresa May a majority of her own.

Labour focused on class issues and the manifesto was its most radical in over a decade.

It promised to defend the NHS from privatisation, scrap tuition fees and bring in £10 an hour minimum wage and union rights.

The rhetoric was radical, as Corbyn pledged to “overturn the rigged system” that has “protected the interests of the few”.

And he led an insurgent campaign, holding big rallies that helped to shift the mood on the ground.

Only a radical campaign can win. And Labour also should at least accept the Scottish parliament’s right to decide if it wants another independence referendum.

Johnson has positioned the Tories as the party of a racist Brexit and law and order in a general election.

He hopes that he will be able to win back right wing votes from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Labour has to have a class programme of defending workers’ and migrants’ rights and confronting the bosses

The wrong response is for Labour to be the Remain party.

At the last election around two thirds of Labour’s voters were people who had backed Remain—but around one third had voted Leave. And Labour did lose five seats to the Tories.

All of the constituencies, some of which Labour had held since the 1930s, had voted Leave.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell thinks he can use opposition to Brexit to show that Labour is a “responsible” party of government.

He boasts that bankers and bosses are willing to have discussions about the party’s economic policies.

It is a fiction and folly to think that big business won’t oppose Labour’s policies if it adopts a Remain position.

Big business is angry with the Tories. It wants to stay within the European Union’s single market, because its neoliberal rules protect profits.

Labour has to have a class programme of defending workers’ and migrants’ rights and confronting the bosses.

What happens outside parliament is still important. When people struggle in the streets, workplaces and campuses, they can shift the mood in society to the left.

And we need to build bigger fights over austerity, racism and climate change now, not just staking everything on the election.

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