United Kingdom: Reject General Election 2017 – Follow the French Voters – Hand in Blank Votes

Workers of all Ethnicities – White, Black and Brown – unite!
Unite against the Corporate, anti-Working class, Racist and anti-Immigrant British State!
Build a Strong and Militant Working Class Movement in Britain!

The Brexit referendum that came as a shock to the British Corporate ruling classes

It is almost impossible to talk about this General Election, without talking about Brexit. That’s because this General Election is only happening because of Brexit, which is going to happen at an uncertain time in the future. Brexit referendum shook the foundations of UK’s corporate ruling classes. Several millions of British working class people voted Britain to get out of the European Union. The panic then was so immense that the Conservatives halted their leadership election and the 1922 Committee of their backbenchers rushed to appoint Teresa May as the new Conservative leader, without an election. In May 2017, nine months after the Brexit vote, Theresa May, who replaced David Cameron as the Prime Minister, activated the official mechanism that is supposed to make way for Brexit to happen – the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The Snap General Election that Teresa May denied several times …. and then announced!

Then to everyone’s surprise, within weeks after that, May announced snap elections for the British Parliament, despite repeated denials that she was not going to do any such thing. Neither the opposition Labour Party nor the mainstream corporate media questioned this decision of hers, which shows their complicity with the Conservative Party. It is evident that all three major British political parties will not be able to face the public, should they decide to go for elections in 2020 in view of the fact that the British public may not be happy with the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The British people do not know what the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be. But the British mainstream political parties and their corporate ruling class masters certainly know. They are however, not ready to share what they already know, with the people. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Teresa May say they accept the Brexit referendum but would negotiate with Brussels to retain the ‘benefits’ of single market and customs union, which itself is negation of the result of the Brexit vote.

The unholy alliance of British corporate class with the infamous European Troika

The Brexit referendum results came as a shock not just to the British political Parties but more to their clandestine masters. They include the British financial institutions and multinational corporate business houses, their transeuropean / transatlantic counterparts and the Brussels based infamous European Troika – a tripartite committee formed by the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Brexit is a response of the British working class to the austerity and neo-liberal economics

The Brexit vote is obviously a response of the British working class to the austerity measures imposed by the British government at the behest of European Trioka that made Greece bankrupt and pushed countries like Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland to the brink of collapse. This vote is also a response of the British working class to the ongoing job loses, closing down of businesses and moving industries to the weaker economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as in Eastern Europe, in order to achieve super profits.

The darker side of Brexit

There is however a darker side to the Brexit referendum. It has further divided the already-divided working class of Britain on ethnic lines, making lives easier for the corporate employers. Several million working class people backed Brexit overwhelmingly on the proposition that immigration is the cause of the problems they face in their day-to-day lives, whereas in reality, those problems have been created by the neo-liberal economic policies of the successive British governments and their austerity measures. The Brexit debate ended up as an inherently racist and xenophobic argument, to the extent that it was accepted by a large section of white­ British working class people as a response to austerity and ‘de-industrialisation’. In essence, fear of immigration drove the leave victory, more than the economic reasons. However, it is important to note that not everyone who voted for Brexit is a racist.

Brexit gave strength to racist and xenophobic elements such as UKIP and Britain First Group.

Brexit gave strength to racist and xenophobic political parties such as UKIP and British Nationalist Party. A large section of Conservative and Labour Party MPs too, participated in the xenophobic anti-immigrant and anti-refugee campaign, to the extent that Jo Cox, a pro-Remain Labour MP was stabbed and shot dead in her constituency during the referendum campaign by a suspect with links to the anti-immigration far-right Britain First group. A sudden surge was seen in anti-immigrant hate crimes in the aftermath of the EU referendum, which was particularly intense in areas of the country that strongly voted Leave. Disturbing new figures from local police forces’ databases show consistent doubling and tripling of ethnic and religious hate crimes in the most Eurosceptic parts of Britain. The worst recorded hate crimes happened in the Brexit heartlands such as Lincolnshire and Kent, which saw a 191 percent rise in hate crimes.

As we the working class are very much divided on ethnic and racial lines, all this worked out greatly in favour of the British corporate businesses, who are increasingly able to hire and fire workers at their own will making the working conditions at workplaces miserable. There is an urgent need for the working class in Britain to unite across ethnic lines to counter this onslaught on us.

General Election 2017 – Let’s challenge the leaders of all parties – Tories, Labour, Lib Dems etc.

General Election 2017 is yet another opportunity for all of us to challenge the political leaders who come to us asking for votes and to expose them on the following burning issues / demands. Let’s identify our tasks as British working class.

1. Repeal all anti-Trade Union laws. Between 1980 and 1993, several anti-Trade union laws were introduced by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher’s regime. Not a single one of them was repealed during 13 years of Labour in office. All three parties are in favour of strengthening these laws never mind repealing them. These draconian anti-union laws have increasingly restricted the unions’ ability to undertake lawful industrial actions and have taken away the working class’s collective power to fight for better wages, better working conditions and a right to decent living standard. These laws are an infringement of working people’s democratic rights which must be defended at any cost. Let’s demand to uphold the right to strike and the right to strike in solidarity. Jeremy Corbyn & Co are using the tactics of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. They have clandestinely and systematically destroyed the working class movement in Britain and have blocked the emergence of a militant resistance to austerity. Instead of making the working class realise that the very nature of capitalist system is the root cause of the economic recession after recession, they are creating illusions in them that a future Labour government will ‘deliver a fairer, more prosperous society for the many, not just the few’. The capitalist class and the working class are two antagonist classes, whose class interests are diagonally opposite. Hence, the political representatives of the capitalist class can never be the real political representatives of the working class. We the working class must expose these wolves in sheep’s clothing, Jeremy Corbyn being one of them.

2. Stop the Austerity measures such as cuts to NHS, education, housing and welfare – stop the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – Stop the privatisation of the public assets. The sole purpose of these austerity measures is let the private corporations takeover our already-in-shambles public services. Privatisation has become the multibillion-pound centrepiece of Conservative’s austerity – yet it rarely gets a mention from either the opposition Labour Party or the corporate media, proving that they are all complicit in this. Under the earlier Labour governments and later under the Conservatives, everything from our last remaining stake in the Royal Mail to shares in Eurostar got shoved out the door in the biggest wave of privatisations in British history.The austerity of earlier Labour and the present Conservatives deprives us the working class of the much needed resources to create jobs, better health service, housing, good education to our children and decent welfare services for our sick and elderly. The controversial Housing and Planning Act 2016 hands over whatever remains of social housing in urban centres to private investors, forcing working class people back into overcrowded private slum accommodation at higher and higher rents. The NHS is near collapse while state education is undergoing complete fragmentation in the drive to create grammar schools, making way for further privatisation of education. Employment Support Allowance for many has been slashed by nearly 30%. Housing benefit eligibility has been restricted, and payments have been cut by the Overall Benefit Cap and the Bedroom Tax, threatening homelessness for hundreds of thousands. Child Tax Credit has been removed for a third child. Up to three million children risk going hungry during the school holidays, while there has been a record usage of food banks.

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader almost two years ago, the British left claimed that he would transform the Labour Party and bolster the fight against austerity. In fact, under his watchful eyes, Labour and their opportunist trade union leadership have ensured that any grassroots struggles are nipped in bud in order to avoid any possible split within the Labour Party. Together with John McDonnell, Corbyn instructed Labour councils not to set illegal budgets for 2016/17, thereby authorising further savage cuts in public services and jobs. This year no such instruction was required since changes to the Labour Party rule at the September 2016 conference made it a disciplinary offence to oppose legal budgets. This let both the Labour councils and the trade unions off the hook.

3. Stop the Anti-immigrant xenophobia and the racist campaign – Scrap the numerical cap on immigration – shutdown the immigration detention centres and stop deportations – guarantee rights of EU nationals living in UK. For the last fifty years or so immigration has been an issue in every single general election. Racism and immigrant-bashing politics have been intensified with Brexit. The lead given by the abominable UKIP Party has now been taken up by Teresa May’s Conservative Party in the racist campaign against the immigrant population. Immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America are being blamed for the shortage of jobs, housing, hospital beds and lack of places in schools. Just for the sake of wining votes, every parliamentary party is trying to pit the native white working class against their own brethren from other ethnic backgrounds. They are campaigning that immigrant are the cause of unemployment, where as the truth is that unemployment and economic recessions are inevitable and inherent characteristics of their own capitalist system.With the ongoing civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Somalia, demonisation of Muslim population is on the rise. Teresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in Britain – the immigration raids, charter flights, detention centres and numerical cap on immigration – has been intensified over the past few months, as new measures are passed and previously announced policies take effect. Following the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts, new immigration checks have been introduced in hospitals from April 2017 onwards. Checks also now operate in areas of everyday life, including private rented housing, employment, banking, and traffic enforcement. A further Immigration Bill is planned later this year. Instead of organising resistance against this immigrant-bashing, all Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is doing is promising 10,000 extra police, 3,000 extra prison officers and 1,000 extra border guards to enforce immigration laws.

Teresa May has got a clear intention to use the plight of three million EU residents as a bargaining tool in Brexit negotiations. We the British working class must demand the guarantee of rights of EU nationals living in the UK and demand the same guarantee to the British nationals living in the EU.

4. Stop the ‘Stop and Search’ by the Metropolitan Police

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in England and Wales stated that the evidence in ‘Stop and Search’ suggests that some forces are exercising their powers not on the basis of intelligence or reasonable suspicion but on stereotypical assumptions, which is not helping to make society safer. Black people are at least six times as likely to be stopped as white people; Asian people, around twice as likely. Let’s demand an end this racist ‘Stop and Search’ by Metropolitan police.

5. Stop Spending on wars of invasion at the expense of our NHS, housing, education and welfare. As Britain remains the most aggressive member of NATO after the US, all major political parties have time and again proven themselves as war-mongering. Having destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria with 1.5 million people’s blood up to their elbows they are dutifully following their White House master’s war plans on Iran, North Korea, etc. In the name of fighting terror, they first spread terror in order to generate more terror. With their unholy alliance with America, they keep invading weaker countries or fight proxy wars in order to create more and more markets for the US / UK military hardware corporations. In the words of none other than Jeremy Corbyn, this foreign policy of Britain is fuelling fundamentalist attacks in Britain such as Manchester bombing, Westminster Bridge and London Bridge. However, Corbyn, who used to be the leader of Anti-War Coalition, now ironically declared Labour’s commitment to Trident renewal, to the NATO alliance and to maintaining defence spending at or above 2% of GDP.

6. Abolish the Tuition fee in Universities. The rise in tuition fees has reached extortionate levels. This is the direct result of privatisation of our educational institutions. Working class parents are increasingly unable to afford sending their children to universities. Those who have more than one child, old enough to go to university, have to choose which child they cannot support. Working class parents are becoming bankrupt whilst their children end up being burdened with heavy debts. Higher education is now becoming the privilege of the upper class.

7. Implement the Section 9(5)a of the Equality Act 2010. In March 2013 Parliament agreed the legislation to outlaw Caste discrimination in some of the Asian population of Britain by considering Caste as an aspect of Race. The Government has been failing the will of Parliament by not bringing into force Section 9(5)a of the Equality Act 2010. There have been numerous reports that points to the wide spread existence of discrimination based on Caste in the Britain. The Conservative Government is failing the victims of Caste Discrimination by not making this practice illegal immediately whilst the Labour Party remains silent on the issue.

Let’s follow the French voters

In the view of all the above issues, it’s worth noting that 4.2 million French voters were so disgusted with their political parties in the recent Presidential elections, they took the time to go and cast blank votes, rejecting the bankrupt economic policies of both Marcon and the far-right Le Pen. Estimates currently suggest 9% of the votes cast were blank or spoiled ballots—the highest share on record. (The ballot blanc has a long history going back to the French revolution). Our British parliamentary system has proved over several decades that it’s a bogus system. Let’s follow the French and hand in blank votes on June 8. Let’s reject these bogus elections and pledge to build a militant working class movement in Britain. Workers of all ethnicities – white, Asian, African and European – let’s unite.

Indian Workers’ Association, Great Britain
Central Organising Committee
Charan Athwal (Chairman) Lekh Pall (Secretary)

C. Kistler

Also editor of Nouvelle Turquie.