- Blairites have to go! Kick them out of the Labour Party and refound Labour as a party of workers and young people with a socialist programme!
- For a council of war on campus, bringing together students, workers, trade unions and others on campus to resist the next round of Tory attacks!
- Defend on campus democracy! For democratised students’ unions and a refounded, fighting NUS!
- Join Socialist Students!
Students and young people will be disappointed with the news that the Tories managed to win a majority. Already the right wing media and the right of the Labour Party, the Blairites, both who moved heaven and earth to attack Corbyn over the last four years, are piling on to try and claim that Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme which lost the election. They’ve been waiting for four years to jump at the opportunity to hammer that Corbyn’s programme is ‘unpopular’.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. While the right wing media and capitalist press have attacked Corbyn for delivering ‘Labour’s worst result since 1935’, the reality is that Corbyn won 10 million votes – higher numbers wise and percentage wise than Labour’s vote in 2005. Policies such as free education, the abolition of youth rates, the scrapping of zero hours contracts, the mass construction of council housing, and the renationalisation of rail, mail, water and the energy companies remain enormously popular policies.
No peace for the Tories
Despite winning a majority, there will be no easy ride for Boris Johnson’s government. The divisions in the Tory Party over how the best handle Brexit in the interests of big business will not disappear, but will deepen.
And the anger at years of Tory cuts and austerity will also not disappear. Johnson was forced to promise measures to improve funding to the NHS, education and so on, in order to win this election. Workers who, in their words, ‘lent’ the Tories a vote to get Brexit finished, will not forget those promises.
But he also vowed to introduce further legislation to curb the ability of workers to take legal strike action – and indication not only of the massive attacks which are to come the way of working class and young people, but also of the Tories anticipation’ for mighty struggles of workers and young people will launch against the coming Tory attacks.
Compromise with the Blairites to blame
Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell do share some of the blame however. Chiefly, they have to accept the responsibility for not using the last four years to mobilise a campaign in the Labour Party to kick out right wing Blairites saboteurs out of the party and replacing them with socialist fighters!
Take for example Corbyn’s mistaken position on Brexit which cost him dearly in seats in the North and the Midlands. His position of remaining ‘neutral’ in a second referendum was understood by many workers to be an attempt to undo the democratic result of the 2016 referendum, and was a complete concession to the right wing of the Labour Party, who if they had it their way would have forced Corbyn to adopt an out and out remain position.
Brexit was not the only mistake. Corbyn made other vital concessions to the pro-capitalist wing of Labour. Corbyn’s programme was missing from the vast majority of local Labour Party campaign material. The mass rallies of the 2017 election campaign, which made that election feel at times like a movement, were missing this time round.
But above all else, Labour councillors who control hundreds of councils up and down the country, have for years voted for vicious and life changing cuts to local jobs and services. ‘Labour’ for millions of working class people wasn’t just the legacy of Tony Blair, which included the Iraq War, the privatisation of parts of the NHS, and the continuation of Thatcher’s anti-union laws, but it concretely meant job losses, homelessness and poverty for local working class communities.
Socialist Students called for Labour councillors to take a stand against cuts delivered from the Tories in Westminster – to use their enormous spending reserves to pass no cuts budgets, and to build mass local campaigns to demand the funding stolen by the Tories back to local communities.
Had Corbyn and McDonnell issued the order to Labour councils to adopt such an approach after the release of their manifesto, and demanded that Labour councils began immediately with turning Corbyn’s anti-austerity promises into a reality, many would have seen that Corbyn was prepared to fight to improve their lives.
A new party needed
Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party now must hold firm to resist the attempted onslaught by the right of the Labour Party to discredit his enormously popular programme. Corbyn and McDonnell have correctly said that their anti-austerity programme wasn’t what lost them the election. But they now must go further and draw the conclusions necessary to fight to make that programme a reality.
This election result is proof that it is impossible to fight for the interests of working class, young people and students while attempting to represent the interests of big business at the same time. It is now urgent that a labour movement conference is called, of Corbyn’s supporters, trade unionists, and students and young people, to refound the Labour Party as a mass democratic workers’ party organised around a socialist programme.
What next for the fight on campus
The Tories will no doubt come for further attacks to education and students’ rights. Needed now is a council of war on the campuses – bringing together students, campus workers, UCU and UNISON members, and anyone who wants to fight against Tory attacks – to discuss how to resist the next round of Tory attacks, and to defend the rights of students and workers to organise and protest on campus. The new year will no doubt bring new struggles on campuses, with the UCU union already discussing a second round of industrial action in 2020.
The NUS leadership should begin organising now for a mass student demonstration in the new year, linked to mass student and workers meetings on campuses which plan and discuss the tactics of building for such a demonstration. These local meetings on campuses should be organised by Students’ Unions, linked to a programme for the refounding and democratisation of the NUS. Alongside measures for national student actions to defy the Tories, the trade union leaders need to mobilise in the workplaces to defend the NHS, public services, jobs, living standards, and the environment from further Tory attacks.