‘Labour’s shift towards a “Stop Brexit” stance did not turn millions of Labour electors into Tories overnight last week – but it did drive them to abstain or vote to “Get Brexit Done”‘, according to Britain’s Communist Party.
Addressing an extended meeting of the CP political committee on Monday evening (December 16), Robert Griffiths said that other factors in Labour’s General Election defeat should not be seized upon to obscure this ‘undeniable and overriding’ fact.
Pointing out that 52 of the 54 seats lost by Labour to the Tories had voted in 2016 to leave the EU, he cited a Financial Times analysis showing that in many constituencies across Britain ‘the bigger the majority for Leave in the EU referendum, the bigger the abstention rate and the swing against Labour in last week’s General Election’.
The CP general secretary declared that the FT’s election coverage had also revealed the extent to which Britain’s monopoly capitalists feared many of Labour’s manifesto policies, because ‘these not only threatened big business interests – they were popular as well’.
Hence the determination to prevent a Labour victory, Mr Griffiths argued, which meant backing Boris Johnson even though he had departed from the majority ruling class position of maintaining EU membership.
‘Hence, too, the ferocious media campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, abetted by treacherous anti-socialist and fanatically pro-EU Labour MPs and the Guardian newspaper’, he added.
The CP political committee warned that ‘the same alliance of forces now aims to drive class politics and socialism out of the Labour Party altogether. They want to “Europeanise” Labour into the same ditch filled by all those traditional social-democratic parties whose pro-EU, pro-market politics have driven away much of their electoral support’.
As for Prime Minister Johnson, Mr Griffiths reckoned ‘he will be pulled back into line on the EU, proposing a Withdrawal Bill and a new trade agreement with the EU that keeps Britain closely aligned with the pro-market, pro-big business rules of the EU Single Market’.
‘This will be a Brexit in name only at a cost of around £33bn – not the “People’s Brexit” that would allow a British government to support strategic industries, take transport and energy fully into public ownership, reform public procurement rules, slash VAT, regulate the labour market and raise funds for massive investment in housing and economic infrastructure’, the CP leader declared.
Looking to the future, Britain’s Communists said that the scale of Labour’s defeat should be kept in proportion. Despite the loss of seats, the party’s share of the popular vote under Jeremy Corbyn had still exceeded that under Neil Kinnock in 1987, Gordon Brown in 2010 and Ed Miliband in 2015.
More than ten million people had voted for the most radical Labour manifesto in more than three decades.
But the Tory victory meant that a new offensive would now be launched against trade union and workers’ rights – especially in the transport and emergency services – and against democratic local government.
‘Only militant mass campaigning can derail or modify these and other measures we will see in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech’, Robert Griffiths urged.
More fundamentally, he insisted, the labour movement had to be built, strengthened and politicised in workplaces and working-class communities across England, Scotland and Wales.
‘This is the basis on which trades unions, trades councils, the Labour Party, the Morning Star and the Communist Party can enhance their vital roles in providing organisation, expression and direction to the popular, democratic, anti-monopoly alliance that needs to develop over the coming period’, Mr Griffiths asserted.
The CP political committee reaffirmed the party’s support for progressive federalism in Britain and the peaceful reunification of Ireland by popular consent.
It also welcomed the continuing growth in CP membership and approved further plans to mark the centenary of the Communist Party in Britain next year.