The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 5th May 2017

Disasters for May as Corbyn gains ground

WHEN Theresa May announced a general election for 8th June the opinion polls were giving the Tories a 21 per cent lead over Labour. The Tories were confident they would win easily.

But the timing of May’s announcement was governed by the growing scandal of election fraud investigations into the Tories’ campaigning in the 2015 election. Around 20 Tory MPs were about to face questioning and possible charges, and there was a prospect of 20 by-elections that could have robbed May of her slim overall majority of just 12 MPs. In reality, although unexpected, a general election was the only way forward for May.

Although Labour was down in the polls because of constant attempted sabotage by right-wing Blairite MPs, it is the Tory party that is really most divided and that is now beginning to show.

So far May’s election campaign has been a disaster. She has refused a televised open debate with other parties. Interviewed alone by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, May totally fudged a question on why nurses are being forced to use foodbanks, which totally disproves her assertion that hard work is the way out of poverty. She muttered something irrelevant about “complex issues why people use foodbanks”. And then she also fudged awkward questions about Iraq.

After years of media bias in favour of the Tories, May now finds herself making enemies of some of the press through her tactics on Brexit. On a campaigning visit to a factory in Cornwall, instead of being tailed by an entourage of press photographers and microphones, the press found themselves all locked in a room.

Meanwhile, the Blairite MPs amongst Corbyn’s ranks have realised that the only way they are going to keep their jobs is if Corbyn wins the election. A few resigned, thinking this was an impossible, task but the rest are now being unusually supportive. Labour is at last becoming more united whilst the Tories are falling apart. Labour supporters throughout the country are galvanised and out knocking on doors by the thousand.

And YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has put support for the Tories now at 44 per cent; for Labour at 31 per cent; the Liberal Democrats at 11 per cent; UKIP at six per cent and the Greens at two per cent — the Tory lead reduced from 21 per cent to 13 per cent in just one week.

The pollsters report that the biggest change has been amongst former Labour supporters who, until the election was called, were not sure whether they would vote at all.

So Corbyn now has a real chance of success. If he does win it will be a mighty step forward for the working class in Britain.

But it will not be paradise overnight; it will not be a socialist revolution. It will be the beginning of a new, more intense phase of struggle. Some things Corbyn will be able to do immediately — like the promise he made on Wednesday to stop the new round of NHS cuts. He should be able to scrap the bedroom tax fairly quickly.

A lot of his promises depend on Corbyn being able to make drastic changes to our taxation — to shift the burden from the working class to the filthy rich — and may take some time. There may be legal challenges and bitter opposition from really powerful individuals and organisations.

Wages will not rise instantly, but repealing anti-trade union laws and restoring labour rights will give us the opportunity to fight this battle ourselves.

Some fear that Corbyn could turn out to be a disappointment — like Syriza in Greece. It is true that many of his policies are close to this line but even that would be an improvement on where we stand now.

Corbyn seems to be an honest man, but how well he fights the massive ruling class opposition he will face will depend a lot on the active support of the trades unions and the massive ranks of active Labour supporters. Token support and armchair revolutionism will no longer be an option. If the wheelchair heroes of DPAC [Disabled People Against the Cuts] can come out to fight on the streets the rest of us have no excuse.

But the fight will be easier because the dead weight of decades of defeat and despair since 1979 will have been lifted. Time to resurrect some old left slogans: “Dare to Struggle! Dare to win!” and “Audacity! Audacity! Audacity!”

The strength or weakness of Corbyn is not as important as the strength of the organised working class movement behind him.