No 1514 16th June 2017
Tory election collapse useful but Corbynista revolt can solve nothing about the devastating onrush of monopoly capitalist Catastrophe, hurtling the world towards the greatest Slump collapse in history. Economic boost plans and spending within capitalism are no different to unworkable “No to Austerity” propositions of Syriza in Greece and other “left” populism – in other words useless. The crisis is unsolvable except by total ending and overturn of the bankrupt and warmongering capitalist system. Labourite illusions in “parliament” completely disarm the working class, feeding illusions in hoodwinking “democratic change” just when the ruling class is preparing draconian moves towards censorship, repression and ultimately coups and escalating its Nazi “anti-terror” Middle East civilian slaughter to prepare the world for oncoming World War. Revolutionary movements needed, built with deepest study and polemical development of Marxist and Leninist theory, beginning with historical lessons like Allende-ism and examining all the questions of the great communist and workers state achievements and revisionist failings and exposing fake-“left” and anti-communism.
The shock humiliation of the Tory ruling class in the general election usefully weakens an already desperate ruling class but illusions in Corbynism and parliament need to be firmly challenged.
The “left revival” of the Labour Party may have holed the Conservatives’ landslide plans below the waterline, puncturing the glib expectations of an easy ride to an overwhelming “mandate”, but it cannot change anything essential about the onrushing international capitalist Catastrophe and the much greater “austerity” – Slump – which the ruling class must impose to try and ride it out.
The entire world faces total breakdown and collapse from the intractable contradictions in the capitalist system itself and no amount of “boosting” the economy will bring back prosperity or even stop its collapse into utter chaos and the spread of the depraved warmongering hell imposed on the Middle East which has already torn apart country after country.
Quantitative Easing fantasy credit injections, which have held off the worst effects of the 2008 crisis for a decade, will soon run out of steam (as inflationary pressures indicate) and world trade and currency conflict can only deepen again.
The only answer to this onrushing Catastrophe, which is dragging the world ever deeper into vicious international antagonisms and eventually explosive world war conflict once more, is the total ending of the capitalist system and its world wide oppression.
What is needed is a revolutionary transformation, possible only through class war to take on the entire capitalist system and overturn it, ending forever the contradictions and crisis that the profit making system will always drag the world into.
That means a revolutionary leadership party needs to be built, taking on the task of rebuilding and developing Marxist-Leninist understanding, the only possible framework for grasping the world and changing it.
But that is not what any of the Labourites are offering, nor do they want it.
Just the opposite. The shallowest illusions are fostered by its “renewed spending” and notions of simply “refusing austerity”.
Partial or limited nationalisation plans (within capitalism), more borrowing and a “softer Brexit” will not stop the devastating impact of the world economic disintegration and collapse.
What people need to grasp is that breakdown of the entire world monopoly capitalist order is intractable and irreversible.
Only total takeover of all major finance, commerce, industry and agriculture into working class state control will allow the building of a planned socialist economy on a rational basis, freed from the greed and distorting private profit hunting of the “free market” (in reality the overwhelmingly “unfree” and ever more concentrated domination of bourgeois monopoly combines and all-powerful big finance, backed by brutal military and political power).
Far from giving the leadership to warn the working class that the only possible route is revolutionary struggle, this “left” Labourism it is an attempt to “ride the tiger”, heading off the great surge of discontent and dismay beneath the surface and channelling it into “safe” parliamentary channels.
Essentially this “left”ist upheaval is no different to the “tectonic shift” which supposedly took place in Greece after the 2008 crisis which melted down traditional conservative and social democratic (reformist) parties and replaced them with the Syriza assemblage of left reformist, Trotskyist and revisionist groups and its populist declarations and referendums saying “no to austerity”.
As warned by Leninism at the time, against of the majority of fake-“left” Trots and revisionists, all cheering at their Greek Solidarity meetings after the Syriza election “triumph”, this was a completely opportunist stunt.
Its populist reformist “no to austerity” posturing could do nothing against the imposition of the most savage cuts and so it has proved, with capitulation and agreement to all the austerity measures insisted on by big capital and forcing the slump burdens onto the working class and poor.
The banks and the big international corporations will have their way until the entire profit making system is brought to an end (whether or not they are European banks, or the “world market” outside the EU).
None of which rules out that the election was a stunning blow to the ruling class and its cynical plotting for a stitched-up “electoral authority” to continue its austerity impositions.
It will force its hand towards imposing ever more open dictatorship and delivering crucial further lessons in the lying fraud of capitalist “democracy”.
Parliamentary “democracy” is history’s most sophisticated racket for keeping the capitalist ruling class in place, hoodwinking the masses that they “have a say” in how “their country” is run when all sovereignty and real power remains with the rich and powerful, operating in a thousand ways behind the scenes, from the Privy Council and the influence of the “market”, banks and big corporations to assorted freemasonries, clubs and string pulling connections.
Its long developed mechanism is by far the most satisfactory way to maintain power, compared to making clear the brutal reality of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which actually runs things, and incurring all the economic, social and political costs of suppression and control required while facing constant instability from the threat of rebellion (as in many of the tinpot fascist regimes installed and kept in place by imperialist skulduggery and bribery in the Third World, to allow the ruthless neo-colonialist exploitation of their populations).
The pretence has to be made credible with a few minor decisions and reforms allowed through when necessary, to give verisimilitude, (and even significant ones when retreating in the teeth of revolutionary communist threats such as faced the West in the wake of the Second World War when the Soviet Red Army swept across and ended Nazi Europe and which led to a deluge of “welfare state” concessions, now all being undone).
But it can spectacularly backfire, as it has more and more, particularly since the world crisis broke surface and the expense of bribing layers of the petty bourgeois and class-collaborating upper layers of the working class population with imperialist superprofits (wrung from the Third World) has become more and more difficult to maintain.
Hence the “left” Labour advance which is a symptom – not the cause - of seething rebelliousness brewing beneath the surface, here and worldwide, as the endless crisis continues.
It demonstrates a great upsurge in political debate and interest and a rejection of the slump which has been trying to burst through ever since the 2008 collapse showed once and for all that the capitalist system has hit the buffers, as Marxism has always explained would happen.
The discontent has had enough of endless cuts and welfare restriction, job uncertainty and wage stagnation, on-the-sly dismantling of the NHS, food banks and homelessness, and the sheer in-your-face greed of the ruling class fatcats and corporations, willing to destroy half the planet to continue their plundering profiteering.
Though locked into relatively limited reformist perspectives (even compared to past Labourism) it was able burst through every stinking trick, misrepresentation, electoral manipulation, brainwashing media onslaught and outright fascist propaganda lie in the book, all poured forth in a greater deluge than ever before.
The ruling class plans fell flat on their face despite the gerrymandered boundaries for constituencies, the huge open and hidden spending of the ruling class, the lies, advertising hype and PR image building, the calculated sloganeering derived from sinister military psy-ops methods, the latest social media Big Data “analytics” and two years of relentlessly hostile blanket press and media coverage, from the near-fascist Murdoch and Mailgroup press to the ostensibly “neutral”(!!!) BBC and “liberal” Guardian.
Even the attempt to further whip up public fear over the latest terrorist attacks in London and Manchester seem to have failed miserably.
Far from the public response accepting a need for even more escalated blitzkrieging in the Middle East, already savaged and driven to famine and devastation by utterly barbaric and largely American and British arms sales and “intervention”, along with increased surveillance and repression run by a draconian ruling class “firm and stable” government, the exact opposite happened.
Dimly and as yet confusedly, there was an acceptance that continuing eruptions of terrorism are caused, and not ended, by such “kill them all” barbarism and warmongering, exactly as was predicted by every rational mind even before the monstrous Iraq wars were criminally instigated in 1990 and under the Bush/Blair Big Lie on WMD.
And this clearly reflects the impact that such incidents have in setting back the arrogance of the imperialist order and shaking its bombast, demonstrating that when the alienated and downtrodden hit back it has a decisive and shattering effect on public opinion, not increasing its vengefulness and support for the Western order but setting it back.
Noone has to “justify” or support the methodology of such incidents, or the specific reactionary religious jihadist ideologies that they are associated with, to nevertheless grasp that they are the product of a world wide revolt and “blowback” by the alienated and excluded (wherever their origins).
And as the latest shooting in the US against Republican senators indicates, it is not only such jihadist ideology that is leading to such outbursts; though the circumstances remain unclear, it appears semi-anarchist “left” individualism is being driven to such outbursts too.
These desperate and obviously self-sacrificing suicidal attempts at guerrilla war on the West most certainly cannot be ended by the kind of “exterminate” policy dementedly poured out by Trumpism and more or less gone along with by the remainder of the imperialist world or by rounding up “activist” elements without trial into internment (concentration) camps.
Instead of declaring along with Theresa May that “extremism” is responsible, the Corbynite opportunism tentatively hinted that perhaps “British foreign policy” might be to blame, in line with its past opposition to further blitzing and bombing.
Of course this social pacifist line falls a long way short of any useful analysis, and its immediate retraction in principle by adding a moralising description of the events as an “abomination” – pumped out alongside the usual round of craven denunciations and “condemnations” from every shade of fake-“leftism” - immediately undermines any opposition to Western warmongering.
If world terrorist incidents are simply “criminal” then standing against the imperialist humbug pretence of “policing these evil people who want to attack our peaceful (!!) way of life” becomes impossible, however many “No to War” beads are counted on the rosary.
The war destruction is capitalism’s responsibility from top to bottom, deliberately set going by its crisis desperation to escape its slump, using Nazi bullying to suppress all rebellion and warming the world up for the coming international conflicts between the major rival powers as markets collapse into cutthroat turmoil.
Only ending capitalism can end the non-stop rise of such hatred and hostility, beginning with the justified defeat of all imperialist domination, wars and occupations including its barbaric civilian slaughtering onslaughts currently on Yemen, Raqqa, Mosul and Somalia (among others).
Condemnation of any blow against it, however tragic and painful for the innocents caught in the crossfire, as Lenin explained in his Guerrilla Warfare article in 1906 (see EPSR 1248 14-09-04) is capitulation to imperialism.
But even with such moralising confusions, the mood was clearly against the Tory calls for extending the international warmongering tyranny.
All of this for the moment has been channelled into this “left” Labour movement ostensibly offering a return towards “socialist” policies.
Such are the entrenched traditions of 150 years of “Labour Movement” TUC and Labour Party politics in Britain particularly that it is inevitable that some of the groundswell of mass discontent from grinding austerity impositions should go into the forms of struggle which are most familiar.
But this cannot change anything and the hopefulness of the young voters particularly that “now they will have to listen” is doomed to disappointment.
An immediate first lesson is the total outrage that this giant popular upheaval, did not get any further than it did, winning outright.
It is yet another lesson in the reality of bourgeois “democracy” and manipulation, lies, character assassination and distortion which it comprises.
But instead of drawing out the point the Labourites once again reinforce the notion of “parliamentary democracy” as a route to socialism and fairness, along with the great comet’s tail of Trotskyist and revisionist entryists riding behind them in Momentum etc declaring the result to be a “step forwards” or can be “won to socialism”.
It is not and it cannot.
As a symptom of the mood it is significant but Labourism is playing its classic role, disarming ordinary people and leaving them vulnerable to the imposition of the open class dictatorship that the bourgeoisie is already planning for as its crisis deepens relentlessly.
It will certainly be thinking even harder about that after this latest upheaval.
It is the fearfulness of the ruling class in the teeth of the crisis which pushed it to the opportunist election call in the first place – partly to cope with the mess it has got into with Brexit but mainly because it knows is teetering on the edge of far greater economic collapse than seen so far.
Whatever happens with the EU Brexit the economic collapse in capitalism will hammer the working class.
Austerity to date will be nothing compared to the Slump devastation that is coming once the effects of Quantitative Easing are worked through.
Alarm bells are ringing everywhere in the capitalist world about the scale of the crisis collapse which is imminent.
Dramatic falls in oil sales; plunging prices for London property; currency chaos; insane inflationary increases on the Stock Exchanges completely unrelated to any earnings or profits being produced; and the rapidly intensifying inflation now working into the day to day transaction of ordinary people are all straws in the wind:
In [March 2007], the average basic weekly wage, was £473....according to the Office for National Statistics...adjusted for movements in prices, [it] now stands at £458.
Resolution Foundation, a thinktank that concentrates on the living standards of those on middle and low incomes, says the 2010s are on course to be the worst decade for wage growth since the one that included the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
There is certainly no immediate prospect of workers becoming better off. In the past 12 months, wages have grown more slowly than prices. Basic pay in the three months to April 2017 was 0.6% lower than in the same three months of 2016.
The increase in prices is pretty easy to explain. Inflation was artificially low as a result of a temporary collapse in oil prices. The cost of crude has subsequently recovered a bit, but the depreciation of the pound since the Brexit referendum has also had the effect of pushing up the cost of living.
The continued depressed state of wages takes a bit more explaining. For years, the Bank of England has been predicting that the fall in unemployment will make it harder for employers to attract and retain workers, forcing them to offer more generous pay deals. But that has simply not happened. In the past year, employment has risen, unemployment has fallen and inflation has started to bite: in past times a combination of factors that would lead to pressure for higher wages. But a year ago regular pay was rising by 2.4%; now it is rising by 1.7%.
As John Philpott, who runs the Jobs Economist consultancy, noted: “What’s remarkable is that pay growth, however measured, is so weak at a time when employment is at joint record rate of 74.8% and unemployment at a 42-year low of 4.6%, driven almost entirely in the latest quarter by relatively strong growth in full-time jobs for employees on permanent contracts.
Pay curbs in the public sector are a factor but they are not the whole story. Just as in the early 19th century, private sector employers feel no need to pay higher wages. Despite the fall in the jobless total, they can tap into a large pool of unskilled, deunionised, insecure workers.
A worse-than-expected decline in retail sales volumes has sparked the biggest daily fall in the FTSE 250 since last summer, with shares in retailers, housbuilders, restaurant chains and car dealers all going into reverse.
The index lost 2.1% after the grim retail data was published. Sales volumes fell by 1.2% in May– their slowest rate for four years – as rising prices caused consumers to tighten their belts. Economists had expected a 0.8% month-on-month decline.
The fall means retail sales were 0.9% higher than a year ago – the weakest rise since April 2013.
The signs of distress included shoppers trading down from branded groceries to cheaper own label and more visits to discount food retailers.
About £9bn was wiped off the value of the FTSE 250 companies. The index is a better proxy for the health of the UK economy than the FTSE 100. The slowdown in spending by consumers will fuel worries that the UK economy is entering a period of sluggish growth.
The Office for National Statistics blamed the steep rise in the annual rate of inflation over the last year to 2.9% in May, up from just 0.3% in May 2016.
Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “May’s retail sales figures confirm that consumers are struggling to spend.
He said looking ahead, it was difficult to see the trend improving soon.
After the EU referendum vote last year the pound plunged by almost a quarter, dramatically increasing the cost of imported goods. While shops have absorbed some of the extra cost, many have passed on some in the form of higher prices.
With no let up in sight the ruling class knows that spontaneous upheavals are inevitable, making the limited riots which burned down city centres in 2012 look like a tea-party.
The seething working class anger expressed over the North Kensington Grenfell tower block fire shows the kind of event that will be the last straw for many.
Every aspect of capitalist profiteering, arrogance, incompetence, and sheer contempt is on show.
A multitude of local authority cutbacks, privatisations, and government indifference have clearly come together to produce these dozens of horrifying deaths, from the failure to develop building control standards, or apply them well, indifference to the conditions of the poor and working class, cuts in the emergency fire services, and even the elimination of legal aid which has prevented residents taking action to remedy things.
The ferment around the event shows the tinder box nature of society.
The immediate talk by the Tories, post-election of “hugely strengthened anti-extremist” moves is the clue to the real agenda of the rich and powerful.
All kinds of notions have started to be floated including internment without charges (it means concentration camps), the “right” of police to “shoot on sight”, massively increased surveillance, intensified official indoctrination through “Prevent” brainwashing and the introduction of “thought crimes” where merely holding an opinion declared “extremist” will be enough for a guilty verdict.
In order to slip this Nazi programme through public opinion these moves all use the hysteria whipped up around the meaningless concept of a “war on terror” as justification but the target and purpose is left deliberately vague and unspecified.
In fact it is aimed squarely at the revolts and rebellion that the ruling class know only too well are going to explode once the onrushing crisis breaks open again with full force.
But ever more open imposition of class dictatorship is a sign of weakness; Nazi rule in Germany in the 1930s lasted for only 12 years.
For as long as possible the ruling class wants to hang on to its “democracy” pretence, however threadbare.
Hence the clinging of the Theresa May government via the desperate deal making being done with the reactionary DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) orange colonist thugs in Ireland, still trying to turn clock back a century on the triumphant national liberation defeat of their defunct “Northern Ireland” occupation.
But apart from delivering even more lessons in the fraudulent cynicism of “democracy” this is itself fraught with problems.
The difficulty is not primarily the fossilised fundamentalist attitudes prevalent in the colonists’ Presbyterianism such as opposition to abortion and issues of women’s equality, and the more contentious, and yet to be scientifically settled question of LBGT (gay) rights, which the fake-“left” is concentrating on, once more locked into their diversionary single-issue PC subjectivism.
Backward and reactionary as some of these are, they are not the critical issue.
It is the fact that any arrangement with the DUP will trample all over the peace settlement which ended the national-liberation war raising the spectre of renewed revolutionary struggle.
The Sinn Féin, which consolidated its all-Ireland growth during the general election in the still formal pretence of “Northern Ireland” with a storming victory, for the first time sweeping the board in the nationalist areas of the occupied zone with all seven seats, made it very clear to Theresa May this week that any deal with the DUP would be an abrogation of the carefully constructed 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and its 2006 coda in St Andrews, which finally created a shared power arrangement.
The fake-“left” cannot grasp the devastating significance of this because none of them understood the Sinn Féin-IRA revolutionary nationalist struggle in the first place and particularly the victory it achieved in forcing the long slow pullout of British imperialism from this remaining section of occupied Ireland, and the capitulation of the colonist bourgeoisie, forced to accept an end to their “no surrender” fascist triumphalist dominance, stitched up in the Partition of 1921 when a section of the nine counties of Ulster was artificially ripped away by armed violence and declared a “separate country” in perpetuity, its borders deliberately calculated to give a built-in supremacist majority to the colonists.
The myth perpetrated by imperialism and left unchallenged on all sides (as part of the deal itself), was that the nationalists had finally “renounced the armed struggle in favour of the democratic path”.
And certainly they had, but only as a consequence of imperialism’s failure to stop or suppress their decades long and dogged armed struggle against the most brutal imperialist savagery, which for decades ran the full gamut of intimidatory military occupations, endless destructive midnight house raids, internment, inhuman torture, civilian massacre, sectarian killings, death squads, shoot-on-sight assassinations (Patrick Finucane eg), stitched up Diplock “no jury” (and often no evidence) courts.
The peace settlement was achieved because it was clearly accepted by Britain that it was pulling out of Ireland, that the Orange bigots were to understand they had lost their colonist dominance and it being understood on all sides that the process of unification would gradually unfold.
The nationalists had won their liberation struggle in other words, but the deal was to be fudged and drawn out, – the “snail’s pace withdrawal” as the EPSR declared it even back in the 1980s (see ILWP (EPSR) Book vol 8 on Ireland - available by post and shortly pdf) to save imperialist face all round and particularly to obscure the fact that it was the armed struggle which had won the victory, which none of the world imperialist powers wanted made clear.
Most of the “lefts” and even some of the minority “dissident” republicans declared that the Sinn Féin had “sold out” or failed to achieve its aims, or that a peace settlement had been “imposed” by the influence of an allegedly all powerful US imperialism (“hot-spots” theory) to the cost of the nationalists.
But the reality, that the GFA guarantees the nationalist cause, is highly visible in all the cross border connections and deepening consolidation of 101 economic and administrative links between Dublin and the north, which mean in practice that for all the formalities of “Northern Ireland” continuing as part of the UK, a sop thrown to the gradually declining backwardness of the colonists, it is increasingly being re-absorbed and becoming part of Eire.
The constant electoral success and growth of cross-border Sinn Féin (gaining as much against the Green Tories in Dublin as in the “North”) tells this story as does the recent astonishing visit of ex-US president Bill Clinton at the Martin McGuinness funeral making clear to the Tory government that it should stop pandering to the Orange bigotry as it has been doing for some years, (already reliant on the DUPers behind the scenes for voting support) and allowing them to stall and renege on the joint devolved power arrangement.
The colonist bourgeoisie is constantly seeking to turn to clock back and regain the kind of privilege it had during the years of its triumphalist ascendancy and has been behaving in an increasingly openly contemptuous manner to the republicans, and while this is a long way from an all out challenge to the GFA – the Orange bigotry knows it cannot win –it has seen them attempt to take the lion’s share of the Westminster finances and subsidies to the six counties, one of the poorest areas under its economic control for the moment.
That has been particularly escalated as the crisis has bitten and austerity measures and severe cutbacks have been imposed, as the Sinn Féin made clear this week.
It brought the Stormont power share to a halt early this year and is still unresolved.
It needs the orange backwardness to be brought sharply into line by Westminster (as had to be done in the negotiations which ended the IRA war to put an end finally to their endless dog-in-the-manger intransigence), using the formalities of the agreement which depend on the British acting as an independent arbiter.
Political dependency by the Tories on the DUP for its parliamentary survival makes that impossible.
And to go back on the GFA is to threaten the whole basis of the settlement made with the IRA, as senior ruling class figures (who trod their way through the negotiations to finally take the devastating, and unwinnable colonial occupation off the agenda) have felt obliged to warn:
this is a terrible mistake with lasting consequences and not just for the reasons raised by Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Tories, about the DUP’s attitudes to LGBTI rights.
Since 1990, the British government has been neutral in Northern Ireland, backing neither the unionists nor the nationalists. Peter Brooke, the Tory Northern Ireland secretary at the time, made a speech saying Britain had no selfish strategic or economic interests in Northern Ireland. Our aim since then has been to find an agreement that both sides could live with.
That was the basis for the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, which allowed us to be an honest broker between the sides and reach the Good Friday agreement in 1998. And it has been the basis ever since under which we have resolved problems between unionists and nationalists that have disrupted the implementation of the peace agreement that ended 30 years of war.
No British government since then, Conservative or Labour, has chosen sides. Even John Major, when his political support in the House of Commons was at its most parlous, never took the step of relying on unionist MPs to save his government because he knew that to do so would make it impossible for him to play the role of mediator in Northern Ireland.
We have had a political crisis in Northern Ireland since the collapse of the executive last year over a heating scandal implicating Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP. The government, together with the Irish government, has been trying to resolve the standoff by bringing the two sides together in talks. So far, they have not succeeded but when the dust has settled after the election they will have to try again. If they fail, the choice is between direct rule from Whitehall, which is considered illegitimate by nationalists and the Irish government, or new elections, which nobody wants.
If Mrs May depends on the DUP – Ian Paisley’s party, not the old Official Unionists, who used in the past to work with the Tories – to form a government, it will be impossible for it to be even-handed. The other parties in Northern Ireland will know that the unionists can pull the plug at any stage and hold the government hostage.
If the British government cannot play the role of mediator it is not obvious who can. A previous attempt to use a distinguished American diplomat failed because only the British and Irish governments have the levers to cajole the parties into an agreement. Failure to reach agreement will catapult Northern Ireland into a serious crisis and back on to our front pages, where it has been happily absent for 20 years.
Jonathan Powell was chief negotiator in Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2007
Theresa May has been warned by Sir John Major that striking a deal with the Democratic Unionist party could put the “fragile peace” in Northern Ireland at risk.
The former Conservative prime minister said a deal with Arlene Foster’s party could risk alienating armed republicans and loyalists, and cause resentment in other parts of the UK if the government made promises to spend large amounts of public money.
The intervention by Major, who also called for a more collegiate approach to Brexit, came as May held talks with Foster. It will be seen as deeply unsettling for the prime minister.
On Tuesday afternoon, Foster indicated a deal to support the Conservative minority government was close to being finalised.
She also gave a glimpse into the issues upon the table, saying Brexit, counter-terrorism and “doing what’s right” for the Northern Ireland economy were among the key issues being thrashed out.
Major told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One that he felt May should try to run a minority government rather than seek the planned loose alliance with the DUP.
“I am concerned about the deal, I am wary about it, I am dubious about it, both for peace process reasons but also for other reasons as well,” he said, warning that if peace unravelled, Northern Ireland’s “hard men” could return to violence.
Major, who as prime minister was central to the start of the peace process in the 1990s, said an alliance with the DUP would jeopardise the UK government’s crucial role as an “honest broker” in Northern Ireland where power-sharing talks remain unresolved.
“People shouldn’t regard it as a given,” he said of peace in Northern Ireland. “It isn’t certain, it is under stress. It is fragile. And although I don’t expect it suddenly to collapse – because there is a broad consensus that wishes it to continue – I think we have to take care with it, and take care that everything we do does not exaggerate the underlying differences that still are there in the Northern Ireland community.”
Saying he supported May and could understand why she sought the DUP deal, Major argued it was a mistake.
“A fundamental part of that peace process is that the UK government needs to be impartial between all the competing interests in Northern Ireland,” he said. “The danger is that however much any government tries, they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal, at Westminster, with one of the Northern Ireland parties.
“The last thing anybody wishes to see is one or other of the communities so aggrieved that the hard men, who are still there lurking in the corners of the community, decide that they wish to return to some form of violence.”
Major also warned against the “baggage” of a deal, not least the DUP seeking extra funding for Northern Ireland, and the potential resentment this could cause among voters in other parts of the UK.
“That is going to cause a great degree of grievance elsewhere,” he warned. “They would see it as the government paying cash for votes in parliament, and in doing so I think that could well cost votes in the country for the Conservative party, by the bucketload, at a subsequent election.”
A failure to gain support from the Northern Irish party would risk the Queen’s speech being voted down next week.
Sinn Féin has warned such moves undermine power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland.
Lord Trimble, the former Ulster Unionist first minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, said the DUP were also putting their political future at risk by striking a deal because they could be blamed for unpopular Tory policies.
Away from the seafront in Carrickfergus, lampposts on the estates inland flew loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) flags. Gable end walls displayed freshly retouched loyalist paramilitary murals. An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) painting bears the motto, in Latin and English, “We dare to defend our rights. None shall divide us,” beneath the image of two balaclavered gunmen.
The town has been the scene of an internal UDA feud that has resulted in two murders this year. That visible activity has raised pressing questions about the relationship of the DUP and its leader, Arlene Foster, with paramilitary groups. The murder of Colin Horner, in a North Down supermarket car park in front of his three-year-old son last month after he fled the UDA feud in Carrickfergus, revived community fears of loyalist violence and racketeering.
Foster, who met the senior UDA leader Jackie McDonald days after the killing, was criticised for failing to condemn all loyalist activity robustly enough. The Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said: “It beggars belief that only two days after the UDA murdered Colin Horner … Arlene Foster did not challenge a senior UDA leader to disband the armed loyalist gang.”
Foster said all paramilitary groups should disband. At the party’s manifesto launch she was asked if she had told McDonald that. She replied: “I had no need to say it to Jackie McDonald. [He] knows my views. If people want to move away from criminality, from terrorism, we will help them do that, but anyone who is engaged in this sort of activity should stop, should desist, and if they don’t they should be open to the full rigour of the law.”
The row escalated, however, because the Loyalist Communities Council, which represents loyalist paramilitary groups including the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, publicly endorsed three DUP candidates – Nigel Dodds, Gavin Robinson and Emma Little-Pengelly – and the Ulster Unionist party (UUP) candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott. In recent elections, loyalists have put up their own political candidates.
The UUP and the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson swiftly rejected loyalist paramilitary backing but there were calls for Foster, as leader of the DUP, to join in a more explicit and public disavowal of UDA and UVF support.
Questions over the DUP’s links to loyalist paramilitary groups stretch back into the early years of the Troubles, when for example, Ian Paisley, the party’s charismatic founder, marched at the head of masked loyalist paramilitary ranks during the 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike.
The mainstream republican movement is a long way yet from being driven back to any revival of its armed struggle and the overall public support for the peace process remains strong; the Orange colonists know they don’t have mass support for their backwardness.
Their “reasonableness” in promising not to raise “sectarian” demands for the agreement with the Tories, such as the “right” to reinstate provocative and aggressive marches in nationalist areas, is recognition that their hand is played out, as is the demand that a “soft border” be maintained with the rest of the Irish Republic in any Brexit negotiations.
For all their ostensible “United Kingdom loyalism” (ie colonialist nature) leading to support for the backward chauvinism of Brexit, many of the former “loyalist” population voted for continuing EU membership, which in this context is primarily a vote for continuing integration with Eire.
And in the Stormont election in March earlier the colonists doggedness backfired with the nationalist vote increased, for the first time finding a majority and expressing general discontent with the petty self-seeking of the intransigent colonialism, which still hankers after its old arrogant supremacy.
If they can’t have that, they are still demanding an extension of the comfortable privileges that they were allowed to retain when they finally conceded the end of their “No Surrender” supremacy, and which are now being threatened by the crisis.
They also want to avoid the obvious continuing path towards integration with Dublin which the anti-Brexit majority indicated last year; other options for this which have been promoted include a special EU status for the north which would obviously be another step accelerating the eventual (agreed) unification.
Hence their “soft” border demand, obviously a “cake and eat it” nonsense by the colonist bourgeoisie to evade those developments while trying to simultaneously avoid the implications of their petty Union Jack Brexit nationalism; if Britain is to “stand alone” and “regain sovereignty” and “control of its borders” then obviously that requires proper borders with customs and immigration controls, a disaster even for large number of the bourgeoisie in the north and their open cross border trade.
That really would trample all over the GFA; and it is inconceivable that the British ruling class would contemplate – or more significantly has the power and resources for – a reversion to any major conflict or even the political, economic and other costs of reinstating direct state authority, with its implications of intelligence, police and military controls, at enormous expense and inconceivable domestic and world opprobrium.
But risking the breakdown of the Irish settlement with their selfish petulance, is untenable which is why the Tory government has been completely paralysed by the issue since January, when the Sinn Féin made it clear that it would not continue with this one-sided (and possibly corrupt) lack of cooperation and contempt (when the GFA requires a balanced devolved administration).
Delaying any resolution of the Stormont breakdown with first another election and then ever longer extensions to talks solves nothing and risks much.
The mind boggling contradictions in this situation are really an expression of the mind-boggling contradictions of the developing capitalist crisis and the squirming of the Westminster ruling class Tories to hold on, fearful of opening a Pandora’s box of debate and upheaval if it gives way even to the most limited reformist demands advanced by Labour – and knowing that the necessary extension of debt and credit would leave the already highly vulnerable British economy at the mercy of the ever more nervous sweeps of international finance which can be startled into a stampede at the drop of a hat.
The hurricane force of the markets can sweep whole economies away.
But the mass mood is growing daily more explosive as the events around the horrific North Kensington fire demonstrate, forcing all kinds of potentially revolutionary notions to the surface.
Once empty houses are temporarily “requisitioned” as suggested by Jeremy Corbyn, to house the families made homeless, then what is to stop thoughts turning to helping all the other homeless and poor in that way?
Then what about doing it permanently?
Or taking over other kinds of property too, to solve all kinds of other problems of poverty and deprivation?
Or why not take over industries? Banks? Everything?
Because of class war obviously and the reality of the ruling class dictatorship that lies beneath the surface of capitalist society and which is going to be increasingly driven into open as the crisis lurches into ever greater chaos and mayhem.
What the working class needs is an understanding of the revolutionary questions that are posed, of the need to organise to take over, establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.
What it is getting, despite the post-election surges in popularity for the Labourites is a complete heading away from these questions.
Biggest of these is reinforcing the notion of “parliamentary democracy” as a route to socialism and fairness.
As always with this class collaboration all kinds of “compromise” and “toning down” is already underway; so much so that the disgusting Blairites, who spent two years ruthlessly sabotaging the Corbynite upheaval now see no problem with supporting it as expressed by an assortment of the petty bourgeois scribblers:
If you look at Labour’s policy on the police, Trident and the monarchy, Corbyn has proved well able to put his own convictions to one side in the greater political interests of the Labour movement.
Corbyn called Labour’s manifesto the star of the campaign, and he was right. He’s emphasised how much it was the product of collective conversations inside the party and among affiliated organisations. As he said it, that sounded a slightly dull idea. But what he was really saying was that he and everybody else had compromised in order to get the best, most engaging political agenda possible.
It was certainly that. Although by the neoliberal standards of contemporary Britain it was regarded as wildly leftwing, in fact it was a manifesto that almost no traditional Labour leader would have flinched at. Nationalisation? Tick. A bit of relatively modest redistribution? Tick. Equality-of-opportunity policies, particularly aimed at children, the young and the elderly? Again, tick. Wonderfully, a pledge on one of my great bugbears – hospital parking charges. Tick.
This was a manifesto that allowed many Labour candidates who are no fans of Corbyn to honestly and unapologetically campaign for a Labour victory. That, as much as engaging the youth vote, was his tactical victory.
So what is the second achievement he could pull off? Let me paint a picture of the Labour party in a year’s time. Corbyn is the leader. John McDonnell remains as shadow chancellor. But Yvette Cooper is home secretary; and Chuka Umunna, Angela Eagle, Hillary Benn and Rachel Reeves all have key jobs.
The Labour party’s long civil war is over. Almost all Corbyn’s critics have openly and frankly acknowledged his qualities and his success, (Peter Mandelson and Owen Smith were among the first to do so). Elements of the manifesto that still made middle Britain nervous, in particular the highly ambitious borrowing and spending projects, have been modified and endorsed by impeccable outside experts.
But even if this rank careerism does not swamp all the “radicalism”, then there are other tricks yet to come.
All kinds of notions have been floated by the likes of Tory William Hague and others for the Brexit negotiations to be continued with a “cross party grouping” obviously laying the foundations for either a Grand Coalition of the kind that has run German imperialism for at least a decade or a complete and fully fledged “moderate” party.
The would leave a “left” rump or possibly one might form as a Labour breakaway at some point if the “long civil war” (waged only by the Blairites it should be pointed out) should continue.
Some other kind of centrist development (in the Marxist sense of halfway between reformism and revolution) might soon emerge under the pressure of the crisis which more clearly advocates openly anti-capitalist and full socialist views; the kind of intermediate working class party that Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party had the potential to be when first founded in 1995/6 but which eventually succumbed to the stifling bureaucratic woodenness of traditional trade unionism which Scargill was unable to break free from (including all the disastrous Little Englander chauvinism of “protecting British jobs” and imposing “import controls” which has been a central part of class collaborating attitudes instilled during the long century of British imperialist dominance, and which can only drag the working class further behind the bourgeoisie warmongering it is heading for).
Even the “leftist” of these possibilities will leave the working class without the kind of revolutionary understanding that is increasingly vital if it is to transform the world.
The core of that understanding is grasping the nature of the hidden dictatorial class rule society that they live within and the dangers they are confronted with for as long as the bourgeois remains in control.
If the “parliamentary” system fails to hold the line for capitalism it will resort to as much brutal oppression and suppression as needed, and it is able to impose, all the way to the open fascist barbarity.
The philistine anti-theory which saturates the British “Labour movement” including even much of the fake-“left” will sneer that it “could not happen here”.
As the Irish war already demonstrated, and the British Empire rule of its string of colonies, every foul atrocity in the book has been and can be used by the British ruling class.
And the disingenuous notion that “things are different here” was precisely what was advanced by the “parliamentary socialist” Salvador Allende in Chile after winning majority democratic socialist government in 1970-1973.
It was proven horribly wrong with the “trusted and honourable” military mounted its violent and bloody torturing coup under Augosto Pinochet, the very man brought in by Allende to the cabinet (!) to “restore stability” when endless CIA coordinated reactionary sabotage was undermining the economy and creating societal mayhem and turmoil.
And example after example has followed particularly in Latin America where a slew of left nationalist parliamentary governments supposedly carrying through a transformation of working class lives, have been toppled or are under attack by a series of outrageous stitched up counter-revolutions, using various mechanisms from manipulated judicial coups to the ever increasing violent demonstrations organised by the local bourgeois counter-revolution and coordinated by the CIA.
Even the UK’s own experiences from the 1970s are a useful starting point when the defeat of the Heath Tories by the 1972 and 1974 miners strikes led to a minority Labour Government at first under Harold Wilson, and later James Callaghan, after his mysterious resignation, in crisis conditions and a “hung parliament” partly paralleling the current situation (though with obviously multiple developments since).
A whole slew of sinister private armies and intelligence agency manipulations against the government (notably MI6 against Wilson) emerged from the woodwork, (later laughed off as of “no significance” in TV “comedies”) and the plotting and planning began for the anti-union conflicts which culminated in the Thatcherite state civil war against the miners in 1984 (of which details about the calculated violence and stitch-ups, particularly at Orgreave, have been emerging recently as a result of Hillsborough).
And such sinister developments have re-emerged in recent times, including appearances on TV and radio by gold-braid senior generals when Corbyn was first elected, warning of the “possible need for a coup” if he were to abandon Trident and nuclear weaponry.
All these lessons and much more (the coup against the Arab Spring in Cairo for example, re-establishing a brutal dictatorship, numerous “colour revolutions”, the nazi-coup in Ukraine in 2011, the current coup in Thailand, and calculated overturns in Libya and Syria) all need to be grasped.
Even more basically the question of history of the workers states, above all the Soviet Union, has to be gone into, demonstrating the enormous advances made by the working class once it does take power and can protect itself with the dictatorship of the proletariat, as well as the debilitating consequences of abandoning the open struggle for revolutionary Leninist grasp which led to the revisionist flaws of Stalinism and their ripening into the needless liquidation of the Soviet Union.
This is the great battle for revolutionary theory that is required with increasing urgency as the crisis deepens, to guide the growing anger and ferment and give it the clarity it needs to overcome the deceit and trickery and lies of the bourgeois system.
And that is equally required to win the support of the sections of the working class who did not turn out in the election or who were unimpressed or distrustful of Corbynism.
Part of that reflects a continuing and sound long term distrust in the working class which has made deeply learned lessons from over a century of experience in the corruption, duplicity and untrustworthiness of “Parliamentary democracy”.
And notably, traditional working class areas in the north-east, the Midlands around Stoke and some other sections which voted Brexit in order to give Westminster a good kicking in the referendum still remain distrustful.
As the EPSR has previously argued, (EPSR 1133-36) the clannishness and defensiveness this reflects in the teeth of the crisis cannot be overcome by shouting “racists” at workers concerned about the significant and real impact of economic migration driving down wages and taking up scarce welfare and service provision and glibly informing them that we should “welcome all workers wherever they are from”.
That is a sure recipe for driving them into the arms of the fascist or chauvinist parties:
[No 1085 17-04-01] And once unemployment starts to rise and there are not enough jobs to go round of any description, how are longer-established residents expected to react when hard-to-come-by jobs start going to ‘economic migrant’ newcomer ‘foreigners’???? How are longer-established residents likely to respond to the ‘explanation’ that “these poor people have only come here to better themselves”, especially in an ‘advanced’ and ‘sophisticated’ a country of extravagant consumerism such as Britain where mindless unserious smut, advertising gimmicks, and trashy pop music are relentlessly heaped on people’s heads as ‘culture’ to try to guarantee that there is no room for the tiniest scrap of political philosophy in anyone’s brain????
The backward basis for racist responses and disastrous divisions in the working class is there as the crisis deepens towards serious social conflict. Capitalism’s degenerate cultural trap for a massive diversion to split the working class (so that the chances of a united revolutionary reply to deepening slump and poverty should be as close to zero as possible), has been well laid.
The worst way to fight this diversion is to denounce workers for racism. All that this does is take everyone’s eye off the main issue more than ever. Reactionary ‘political correctness’ is the Council of Europe’s sinister game. The hypocritical ‘moral’ pressure on ordinary people to feel guiltily ‘xenophobic’ because they react enviously and politically backwardly to what they see as ‘foreigners’ taking their jobs is almost certain to drive more and more of the poor, lumpen, and petty-bourgeois minded into the arms of the nationalists like the BNP.
The only hope of a solution to this threat is a massive education-drive to explain the degenerate rottenness of the whole capitalist system and society, - for all countries in the world whether they have immigrant-population minorities or not, - a decay that is menacing everyone on earth with horrors far worse than mere job losses; and which warmongering tyranny can only be halted and reversed by communist revolutionary action by the whole proletariat of the planet.
But this is the one thing that the ‘politically correct’ hordes, wagging a finger at racist backwardness, will make certain is not said and never explained.
What is needed is a revolutionary leadership which looks at and re-analyses every possible question about the nature of society, class exploitation and the struggle against the monstrous greed and violent domination of the world imperialist system, now heading towards international conflict.
Much of that theory exists already in the gigantic works of Lenin and Marx in nearly 100 volumes and the long running development of Leninism fought for in the last 30 years by the EPSR and still struggling to take it forwards.
More needs to be fought for in open polemical struggle.
Back to the top