Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Defend Scots Democratic Rights - Part 2 of 6

The Tory government is more and more appearing as an elected dictatorship, whilst Labour seems intent on committing political suicide. The Tories attempt to deny the Scottish people the democratic right of self-determination, and Labour's alignment with the Tories over the issue, is the latest example.

As I wrote recently, May's government shares many features with that of Trump, Putin, Erdogan and Netanyahu, as well as with the right-wing populism of Le Pen, Wilders and others. This right-wing populism, based on conservative social forces, is acting neither in the interests of capital nor labour. That is one reason it has to resort to authoritarian methods. The Tories, for example, did all in their power to prevent Parliament having any say in how the government implemented Brexit. When the courts, insisted that the government was acting illegally, and insisted that it operate constitutionally and in conformance with such basic democratic principles, a wave of conservative hysteria was unleashed against the judges, just as Trump has done in the US, when the legality of his actions have been challenged.

What has facilitated this conservative response has been the appalling position adopted by Labour, which stands in contrast to the wave of popular protest and opposition to Trump that has been built up in the US, and the oppositional stance to Trump and the Republicans that Democrats have adopted in Congress and other parliamentary forums. Corbyn originally put forward the correct approach, which was to argue that socialists would fight for a Remain vote, whilst giving no support for the existing capitalist limitations of the EU. We seek to be in the EU, as the starting point for building European workers unity, and creating a Workers' Europe.

Its true that Corbyn did campaign extensively during the referendum, contrary to the accusations of the Blair-rights and Tories, but, for a party that proclaims its intention of developing a social movement, the referendum should have been the opportunity to launch a massive Europe wide campaign for such a perspective, complete with regular large street demonstrations and so on, bringing together socialists and workers movements across the continent.

After the referendum, Corbyn also correctly set down a series of red lines, of principles around defending membership of the single market, customs union and acceptance thereby of the right of free movement, without which Labour would oppose triggering Article 50. But, as with so many other red lines and principles, the Labour leadership soon abandoned them under pressure.

Brexit is against workers' interest, and so as a matter of principle, Labour should oppose it, but even within the context of the argument it presented, of respecting the referendum result, it should have refused to vote for the Brexit Bill without its amendments. Signalling its surrender in advance, let alone its failure to mobilise any kind of mass social movement in defence of those principles, was an act of class cowardice, which also guaranteed that any such opposition would be demobilised, and that the potential even of generating support from Tory rebels would be undermined.

It might have been thought that Labour would have learned its lesson, in that regard, from the last Scottish referendum. By lining up alongside the Tories, in that referendum, Scottish Labour was destroyed, opening the door not only for the Tartan Tories of the SNP, but even resurrecting the long dead Scottish Tories, who pushed Labour into third place! Labour might also have learned from the experience of the Liberals in the coalition government of 2010-2015, or the similar destruction of the Dutch Labour Party, in the recent elections, following its lash up with the Dutch conservatives. But, it seems that the Stalinist influences operating now in the background of the Labour Party, have made such Popular Fronts the tactical order of the day.

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