Updated: Mar 26
In a desperate move to shore up the Tories’ stumbling election campaign, Nigel Farage has announced his Brexit Party will not stand in seats currently held by a Conservative MP. At one stroke Farage has killed any ‘anti-establishment’ credentials of his party. His pro-Tory tricks should be ruthlessly exposed anywhere the Brexit Party does contest.
His manouevre may not succeed. While the great majority of Brexit Party votes come from the Tories rather then Labour, it’s not automatic that they’ll go back to the Tories. Howls of “Traitor” have already gone up from the Brexit Party ranks.
The more that Johnson’s Brexit ‘deal’ is exposed as not delivering a real exit from EU regulations then the less appeal the Conservatives will have for the ultra-Brexiteers at the general election. This underlines the need for the left to campaign clearly against any Tory Brexit but also against the neoliberal bosses’ EU, and for an exit deal in the interests of working-class people and for a socialist Europe.
No time should be wasted now in talking about ‘progressive pacts’ with pro-EU parties that will merely play into the hands of Farage and Johnson.
The Tories will now target the towns, having given up on the cities, with renewed enthusiasm. They are hoping that the Brexit Party will be their dirty attack-dog against Labour and also take some votes away from Labour. If Labour comes out fighting hard, this can be defeated.
Labour can win with socialist policies
Labour’s left-wing policies on public ownership can cut through all the spin and propaganda, winning voters from other parties, mobilising Labour votes, and crucially turning out millions of those who have not voted for years in disillusionment with mainstream politics.
In every town, the local Labour party should already be organising mass canvasses and mass campaigning in the nearest target seats. In every town a major demonstration needs to be immediately called on the basis of ‘Renationalise mail and rail!’ Local Labour parties should call this, or a trade union body if Labour won’t, linking the fight by postal workers at Royal Mail against the devastation of their working conditions with Labour’s pledge to renationalise the business, linking the fight by rail-workers to save the guards on the trains with Labour’s pledge to renationalise the franchises.
This can be connected with Labour’s election campaign and the trade unions’ industrial action, building mass turnouts for canvasses and pickets.
Labour shouldn’t be starting from here. Had Corbyn and the left – including the left trade union leaders - used the last three years to oust the Blairites and build mass support among the working-class, then Farage wouldn’t be able to cause these problems for Labour. Had mandatory reselection been introduced, as rank-and-file Labour activists wanted to do in 2018, then selecting left candidates could have been used to raise left ideas with the public.
Far too much time has been wasted in placating the Blairites, and orientating towards parliament has meant paying far too little attention to the working-class communities on which a left Labour party should be actively based.
But it is still not too late. Labour’s new left policies are a promising addition to the 2017 election manifesto. We believe they need to go much further, especially in terms of nationalising the banks. Nonetheless, if Labour now connects policy with mass action on the streets and on the doorsteps, the Tories and their Brexiteer tricksters can be confounded and a famous victory won in December.