A victory for the working class

LAST WEEK’S referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) was a tremendous victory for the working class. It has forced the prime minister, David Cameron, to step down and plunged the Tory party into crisis.

During the campaign deep divisions within the ruling class came out into the open, splitting the Tories, whilst both sides appealed to the working class for support on the day. Despite a barrage of propaganda from pro-EU politicians and their media, millions of working people on the day clearly said “NO” to the EU and to the Treaty of Rome.

Sadly most of the public debate revolved around immigration and not about economic democracy. Lexit, the campaign for a UK Left exit from the EU which was only launched in March, did its best, but the Labour leadership and most of the major unions followed the line laid down by big business and essentially claimed that EU membership was positively beneficial to the working class.

The public debate was therefore dominated by the rival wings of the ruling class, so it never rose beyond the parameters set by the bourgeoisie themselves. The socialist case was barely heard above the hubbub of the Remainers with their “Project Fear” scare stories of untold woes if we left the EU, and the roar of the Tory Eurosceptics and Nigel Farage’s followers banging on and on about immigration.

The Tory grandees and the UKIP crowd cynically played the race card because they believe that the working class is deeply and inherently racist, but the No vote reflects a much deeper distrust of the EU.

Cameron couldn’t credibly point to a single benefit that the EU gives to workers. Everyone knows why millions of eastern Europeans have come to Britain to work. Everyone has seen what EU membership has done to Poland and the rest of eastern Europe. Everyone knows that Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are suffering under the thumb of Franco-German imperialism, and the facts are that nearly 17 million people voted Leave but only 3.8 million voted UKIP at the last election.

No-one is going to miss David Cameron, least of all those who covet his job; his successor is unlikely to come from the die-hard Tory Eurosceptic camp. This could open up the opportunity to delay the withdrawal process until the time when it might be possible to reverse the decision.

As soon as the results were announced the pro-EU wing of the ruling class moved to annul them. The first step — the petition for a second referendum allegedly endorsed by some four million voters — has had its credibility challenged when some of the “signatories” were proved to be bogus or from non-British citizens. The second step is to force a general election to secure the return of a new government that would not be bound by the referendum in the first place.

The problem for the Europhile wing of the ruling class is that the only alternative to the Tories is Labour. This is a price they would gladly pay if it meant staying in the EU but they could do without Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader committed to defending the health service and restoring part of the sold-off public sector.

The puerile Blairite attempt to hound Jeremy Corbyn out of the leadership may have been planned for months but the timing has been dictated by the hidden hand of those members of the ruling class that right-wing social democracy serves.

Our first task is to defend Jeremy Corbyn and defeat the reactionary right-wing clique in the Parliamentary Labour Party. Our second is to take the socialist case against the Treaty of Rome to the streets in a big way now because although we have won a vote the battle is not over yet.