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Politics is about a lot more than parliament

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Issue 2671
Protests have demanded, Tories out - we need more of this
Protests have demanded, ‘Tories out’ – we need more of this (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The chaos in the British establishment has exposed the swamp that is parliament and British democracy. This week Tory leader Boris Johnson prorogued parliament—shutting it down to avoid scrutiny of his Brexit manoeuvres.

And instead of fighting to get the Tories out as soon as possible, politicians from other parties united to avoid a general election.

The Tories are the preferred party of the rich. Their divisions have created an unprecedented crisis for the ruling class.

But infuriatingly, the Tories cling to office. Why?

A big problem is that there is too much focus on what happens in parliament and not enough on what happens outside it.

This position has spread among the left since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

It’s much better to have Corbyn, an anti-war, anti-racist and anti-austerity campaigner, leading Labour than a right winger.

But his leadership has also seen many people focus on getting Labour into office rather than building struggle. During the current crisis, some have hailed “clever” parliamentary machinations as the way to push back the Tories. But they are still in office.

We need struggle by ordinary people to beat them. Unfortunately the talk two weeks ago from Momentum for its supporters to “occupy bridges and blockade roads” came to very little.


The TUC union federation held its annual congress as parliament shut down. It was a disgraceful missed opportunity.

Union leaders should call action to pile pressure on this weak government. Instead they have followed Labour’s line that puts stopping a no-deal Brexit ahead of getting the Tories out. Socialist Worker wants a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. But such a government isn’t guaranteed to stand up for ordinary people.

Corbyn has already made concessions to the right. In government the pressure to do so would intensify.

Left Labour MPs such as Laura Pidcock argue we need a movement on the streets to get change. But too often Labour MPs see that movement as simply operating to bolster a Corbyn government, not to win change itself.

Politics is about more than parliament. Real change comes about when ordinary people push themselves to centre stage and take action for themselves.

There is a chance to do that on Friday of next week over climate change. The demonstration at the Tory party conference in Manchester should be backed by Labour and all the unions.

And the national strike ballots in Royal Mail and universities could launch much-needed action.

People were right to take to the streets in recent weeks to oppose Johnson and the Tories.

We need more of this to get them out.

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