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Social change never comes without turmoil—we have to seize the time

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Issue 2510
Defy Tory rule - marching against austerity in June last year
Defy Tory rule – marching against austerity in June last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Britain’s rulers face seismic political questions after the Leave vote—and none have any answer.

David Cameron departed just hours after the referendum result.

The man who headed up the most brutal austerity since the 1930s, attacked migrants and presided over the Islamophobic campaign against London mayor Sadiq Khan is gone.

Chancellor George Osborne emerged from hiding on Monday to reassure the stock markets that “our economy is as about as strong as it could be”. The result was a big slump in share prices.

The Brexiteer Tories are discovering that European states won’t make life easy for them.

Their promises, such as more money for the NHS, have disappeared without trace.

The Tory leadership contest will divide them even more sharply. Another Scottish independence referendum is on the agenda. A general election is possible this year or early in 2017.

The release of the Chilcot report next week will unmask at least some of the bloody lies behind the Iraq war. If it doesn’t, there will be fury at the whitewash.

These hammer blows reinforce one another. The government is marked by inertia, paralysis and drift. This is a genuine crisis.

And it can be resolved in working class people’s interests, not the elites that suffered a hammering in the referendum.


Many on the left have plunged into gloom. We do not share that view. There are dangers and potential pitfalls, but also a chance to break the austerity consensus and hurl back the racists.

The Leave vote has weakened our enemies. It is time to step up the assault on the establishment.

Racists will seek to gain in the atmosphere of turmoil.

Politicians’ and the media’s racist scapegoating long before and during the referendum encouraged them—and some will step up violence and harassment.

But they can be defeated.

We have to shape how the crisis unfolds. We have to be participants in the outcome, not spectators of manoeuvres at the top of society.

This is the context of the attempt to remove Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. At first sight it is perplexing that just as the Tories disintegrate Labour MPs turn on their own leader.

But they see a wider struggle. Corbyn and his supporters want Labour to be an anti-austerity and anti-racist party. The majority of Labour’s MPs think Labour should not pose a threat to the bosses.

They agree with Tony Blair who “wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it”.

Corbyn’s opponents want Labour to shift sharply rightwards.Most Labour MPs never accepted Corbyn as leader. The only issue was when to strike him down.

Urged on by the Financial Times newspaper, saying that “having unsheathed the dagger Labour MPs cannot now draw back”, they will fight to the end.

Everyone on the left needs to back Corbyn against the right.


But he will not survive unless he mobilises outside parliament—and the Labour Party. It is time for an open fight, not conciliation.

Another Labour leadership election seems likely. Corbyn must be on the ballot paper and win. Trade union leaders who have supported Corbyn must not now betray him. The MPs knifing Corbyn should be deselected and cut off from union support.

But there is a broader battle taking place. We need to fight for solutions to the crisis that unify and mobilise the working class.

We must ensure anti-austerity and anti-racist forces emerge stronger—and that the right is defeated.

It is good that people from Newcastle to Tower Hamlets have already taken to the streets against racism and fascism.

The more strikes, protests and occupations for our side, the better the outcome of the Leave vote. Such action must involve everyone, however they voted in the referendum.

The England-wide teachers’ strike is one important focus. The march against austerity and racism called by Stand Up to Racism and the People’s Assembly on 16 July in London is another crucial date.

Why should the Tories get away with any attacks on our side?

The teachers can win, steel jobs can be saved. The Trade Union Act can be defied.

Union leaders can be part of bringing the Tories down or give them the space to survive.

Social change never comes without turmoil. We have to seize the time.

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