WSWS don’t think it makes much difference which side wins in britain

Britain’s general election and the coming struggle of the working class for socialism
Chris Marsden, Dec 12 2019

Today’s snap general election in the UK was made necessary by the inability of the contending factions of the ruling class to resolve their disagreement over membership of the EU, but we were correct in predicting that for workers and young people, despite the insidious divisions fostered over Brexit, the decisive issues are social: falling wages, brutal exploitation, rising unemployment and the destruction of vital social services. We warned that this election would be the most socially and politically polarised in the post-war history of the UK.” Numerous commentators now acknowledge it to have been the dirtiest ever fought. Political tensions have reached such a pitch that the essential framework of democracy is in danger of breaking down, with billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s the Sun railing against the threat of a “Marxist revolution” and the pro-Tory Daily Telegraph declaring:

This election is really about saving capitalism.

Underlying the intensity of political conflicts is an historically unprecedented social polarisation between the classes that is now beginning to find expression in a global eruption of the class struggle. The past year has seen millions take to the streets in mass strikes and protests in Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Egypt, Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon, Catalonia and Chile. We are now witnessing the explosive events across the Channel, a public sector strike and mass protests in France, in the very heart of Europe. Everywhere the growth of social inequality is the driving force for a new period of revolutionary struggle. The ruling class understands that it will not be long before Britain too is engulfed in class conflict and is preparing to take on the working class. Only this can explain the ferocity of the campaign by the mass media to oppose a Labour victory. Accompanying dire warnings of economic catastrophe is the portrayal of Corbyn and the “left” as anti-Semitic and a threat to national security by a cabal stretching from the Chief Rabbi to the Archbishop of Canterbury, former heads of the armed forces, MI5 and MI6 and led politically by the Blairite right-wing of Corbyn’s own party.

Our fight has been for workers to base themselves on a socialist and internationalist perspective, one rooted in a profound concern for history and informed by its lessons. We do not call for a Labour vote. To do so would only reinforce illusions in Corbyn and Labour that must be exposed and dispelled. If Corbyn comes to power, he will either attack the working class himself, as did Syriza in Greece, or deliver the working class bound hand and foot to the forces of political reaction like Salvador Allende did in Chile (? – RB). Since he was elected Labour leader in 2015, Corbyn has done everything possible to demobilise the hundreds of thousands who joined the party seeking an end to austerity, militarism and war. He has sought to block any political move to drive out Blairite MPs whose nakedly pro-business politics and warmongering are the true face of the Labour Party. For its part, the trade union bureaucracy has relied upon the illusions generated in a possible Corbyn government to suppress workers’ struggles, including a planned strike by 110,000 postal workers and curtailing action by 40,000 university staff during the election itself—strikes that, along with action on two rail franchises serving London, would now be taking place in tandem with the movement in France.

The SEP opposes the claims of pseudo-left groups such as the SWP and SP that Corbyn’s leadership offers the prospect of a renewal of the Labour Party and a chance to implement a national reformist policy. At the same time, we oppose illusions in a national path for the working class regarding Brexit, with the same tendencies boosting Corbyn claiming that Brexit will provide the basis for a “left” Labour government. Labour is a pro-capitalist and imperialist party of more than a century’s standing. It will not be transformed by the election of a “left” leader or even an influx of new members seeking a socialist alternative. Our criticism of Corbyn and his backers is based on the realities of contemporary capitalism. Advances in science and technology have enabled the development of globalised production, ripping the ground from under the feet of the outmoded national labour organisations and their programme of economic regulation to suppress class antagonisms. It is this, and not the merits or otherwise of this or that leader, that has led to the transformation of social democratic parties and trade unions into the direct instruments of their own ruling classes in imposing savage exploitation on the working class to secure global competitiveness. On Brexit, we insisted that the 2016 referendum offered a false binary “choice” between two right-wing capitalist factions, differing on whether to ally with Pindostan or Eurostan in a deepening trade war, but both hostile to the working class and anxious to deepen what they referred to admiringly as the “Thatcher revolution.” We said that the road forward was neither Brexit, nor support for the EU and its policies of austerity, anti-migrant measures, authoritarian rule and the cultivation of the far right, but a unified struggle by workers across the continent for a United Socialist States of Europe.

We are oriented to the most advanced elements in the working class and the younger generation, with the aim of resolving what Leon Trotsky identified as the fundamental question of the epoch: the crisis of revolutionary leadership. The struggle for that perspective is the vital preparation for the political and social struggles that will follow the general election. If Corbyn fails to secure a majority, or there is another hung parliament, then the Tories will lead an offensive against the working class of unbridled ferocity. An indication of what is planned is provided by the courts twice ruling against the planned strike by Royal Mail postal workers, which was backed by over 95% of union members. This was followed by Johnson’s threat to ban all strikes on public transport in response to the action taken by workers against South Western Railway. What enforcing such strike bans means can be seen in France, where the Macron government has repeatedly mobilised riot police against strikers and Yellow Vest protesters. The scale of what is being prepared in the UK was laid out in Operation Yellowhammer, with 50,000 regular and reserve troops made ready, backed up by 10,000 riot police in the event of post-Brexit civil unrest.

A Labour defeat will lead to Corbyn’s removal and moves to secure the Blairites ascendency in the party. But if Corbyn wins, only the form of this offensive will change. The Blairites will move to split the party and create the basis for a multi-party realignment to the right, as they have been preparing for months under Corbyn’s nose. Corbyn’s response will be to try and appease his opponents, obeying the commandments of the major corporations and the City of London to attack the working class. If further proof were needed of his infinite malleability and lack of principle, then Corbyn’s refusal to take a stand in defence of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and against his extradition to Pindostan on espionage charges provides it. Any illusions that Corbyn offers an alternative to Tory rule, endless austerity and global military violence will be cruelly dispelled in the weeks and months ahead. The ruling class will not, moreover, confine itself to parliamentary dirty tricks. It is preparing for counter-revolutionary violence against the working class. As soon as he took office in 2015, Corbyn was threatened with “the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny” involving “senior generals” by an unnamed “senior serving British general.” Whatever party has secured a majority on Dec 13, the election will prove to be a staging post in an escalating class struggle. Only a unified movement of the British, European and international working classes offers the means necessary to defeat the conspiracies of the ruling elite…

The Sun forced to delete article promoting fascist propaganda against UK left
Paul Bond, WSWS, Dec 12 2019.

The article by Tom Newton Dunn in the Sun

Workers and youth should take warning from the publication by billionaire media oligarch Rupert Murdoch’s the Sun of explicitly far-right propaganda issued by military figures in the week before the UK general election. On Saturday the Sun published this: “‘Hijacked Labour’: Ex-British intelligence officers say Jeremy Corbyn is at the centre of a hard-left extremist network.” The article by political editor Tom Newton Dunn promoted the claims of “former British intelligence officers” that Labour Party leader Corbyn “is at the centre of an extraordinary network of hard-left extremists.” Newton Dunn reproduced, with hyperlinks, a chart “drawn up by the ex-military veterans in their spare time.” The group calls itself “Hijacked Labour.” The chart gives short summaries of some 490 individuals and organisations, lumping them together as part of an “extreme network who are now very close to running the country.” Many of the chart’s political summaries were sourced from neo-Nazi websites. Author Daniel Trilling pointed out in the Guardian that the entry on British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight cited the Aryan Unity website, and the chart recommended a critique of Antifa from anti-Semitic conspiracy website, the Millennium Report. None of this elicited any comment from the Sun. The SEP and the WSWS are both identified. In the section of the chart on the “Militant Left” it describes us thus:

Rather left-wing, in fact classic old hard-line Marxist-Leninist, keen on revolution. Supported by the WSWS website. See this article, in which they are very critical and scathing about Corbyn’s politics.

Trilling noted that a larger version of the chart entitled “The Traitor’s Chart” had featured high-profile journalists. Before it was taken down, the chart had also been promoted by right-wing websites. James Delingpole, the UK editor of Breitbart News, praised it as evidence of the scale of what he denounced as “cultural Marxism.” The revised chart reappeared as Hijacked Labour shortly afterwards, and was immediately picked up by the Sun. The explicit purpose of Hijacked Labour is to target political dissent or opposition from the left. Newton Dunn quotes without comment the group’s statement:

The Labour party is no longer the patriotic party of Attlee or Wilson. Today’s Labour has been hijacked by Marxists. Vote wisely, Compatriots. Your Country Needs You to.

Newton Dunn cites extensively the group’s leader, ex-SAS officer Mark Bles, describing him as “an intelligence specialist who has spent much of his career tracing and analysing extremist groups.” Newton Dunn appreciatively referred to the group’s exposure of Corbyn’s “spider’s web of extensive contacts, from Marxist intellectuals to militant groups and illegal terror organisations.” In their own statement, Hijacked Labour accuse Corbyn of connections with “a shocking mix of communists, Marxists, Stalinists, Trotskyites, anarchists, at home and abroad.” Bles links Corbyn’s Labour to what he describes as “postmodern neo-Marxism in its various forms.” Newton Dunn eagerly reported Bles asking:

How can anyone believe Labour’s current election manifesto, if they promise anything to get into power?

The level of implied threat involved is clear. The group say in their own “Not Labour” manifesto:

The Marxist radical left is intimately linked to Labour’s leadership and threatens the British way of life.

The chart focuses on McDonell, Milne and Lansman. The group claim Labour was hijacked in 2015, leaving “Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in the hands of Marxists.” They were prompted to start researching the chart in 2017 “by Tory inactivity and ignorance of the threat to the country.” The project has unfolded against a background of increased physical attacks by the far right. In Jun 2016, during the last week of the divisive Brexit referendum campaign, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by fascist Thomas Mair. Stabbing and shooting the MP, Mair shouted, “Britain first!” In 2017, as the chart was first being drawn up, neo-Nazi Jack Renshaw was plotting to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a sword. That year Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd outside Finsbury Park Mosque, killing one worshipper and injuring 12 others. In court, Osborne admitted planning to murder Corbyn and Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. In Jul 2018, Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, and his partner were attacked by fascists in a pub after a Stand Up to Racism demonstration. In March this year, Corbyn was punched in the head by a far-right thug and Brexit supporter, John Murphy, at Finsbury Park Mosque’s Muslim Welfare House. Labour canvassers have been attacked by right-wing forces in the last fortnight. In August, Guardian journalist Owen Jones was attacked by four men in a politically motivated assault. Jones is listed on the Hijacked Labour chart. The Sun removed Newton Dunn’s article from its website within one day, citing unexplained legal reasons. This prompted Jones to tweet:

I was among hundreds of left-wingers named in this map published by the Sun, whose sources included Nazis and anti-Semites. Many of us are under direct threat of violence from the far right. The author, @tnewtondunn, simply deleted it. There’s no apology. This is a scandal.

Hijacked Labour have also subsequently edited out citations from Aryan Unity and the Millennium Report. This damage limitation exercise cannot conceal the fact that the Sun published an article based on fascist propaganda. The targeting of the left as “dangerous” and “terrorists” is consistent with everything the newspaper has written since the day Corbyn became party leader with the backing of hundreds of thousands of Labour members and supporters, who responded enthusiastically to his professed opposition to austerity and war. A search of the Sun’s website brings up 420 articles mentioning the words “Marxist” and “Corbyn,” and 432 mentioning the words “Marxist” and “Labour.” Two days before Newton Dunn’s article, the Sun published a comment warning of the possibility of “a Marxist-led Government.” It has since editorialised about Corbyn as “the most dangerous man ever to stand for high office in Britain,” calling him “a mortal threat to our economy, jobs and security.” Calling Wednesday for a vote for Johnson in the election, the Sun editorialised that it “has long considered Corbyn an unprecedented threat to our country” and that his defeat was necessary to stave off a “Marxist revolution.” Publication by the Sun of Hijacked Labour is part of an authoritarian turn by the ruling class. The “patriotic” language invoking left-wing “traitors” to the “nation” echoes comments from security and military personnel who have been warning and planning for four years against any potential Corbyn government. Almost as soon as Corbyn was elected Labour leader, in Sep 2015, a leading British general warned of “a mutiny” if he came to power:

The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that.

Two weeks ago, former head of MI6 Richard Dearlove described Corbyn as “a present danger to our country,” saying:

Do not even think of handing this politician the keys to No 10.

Military figures like Colonel Tim Collins have warned that Britain would be “frozen out” of international security alliances under Corbyn. This is in line with the declared aim of Pindo Sec State Pompeo to prevent Corbyn’s election. In June, Pompeo told the CPMAJO:

It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best … It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.

The venom reserved for Corbyn is ultimately directed against a leftward moving and resurgent working class, as is clear from the Sun’s railing against Marxism and revolution. In July, only days before Boris Johnson became Conservative PM, the government published a report branding large sections of the “left” in Britain as “extremist.” It warned of growing public sympathy for the left’s “revolutionary workerist ideas.”

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