With the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming, the liberal establishment is redoubling calls for ‘unity’ to combat Boris Johnson. Big business and their political representatives are scrambling to stop the newly crowned PM from overseeing a car crash EU exit, and possibly even the break up of the United Kingdom.
The Blairites, Liberal Democrats, and ‘moderate’ Tories: all are united around their shared opposition to Brexit – and their desperation to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.
Phillip Hammond has reportedly been in secret, cross-party talks with other pro-Remain MPs (including Labour MPs) to mount a rearguard action against Johnson’s Cabinet of hard-Brexiteer fanatics. Lib Dem MP Ed Davey, meanwhile, has advocated a “government of national unity” to halt Brexit and force through a second referendum.
A number of other pro-EU Tories (including John Major) have recently made overtures to Lib Dem and Blairite MPs regarding the possibility of a coalition, a pact, or even a national government. Current Change UK leader Anna Soubry has been raising this prospect as far back as 2018. Others, like Conservative MP Philip Lee, have threatened to defect to the Lib Dems.
Meanwhile, Blairite grandee Lord David Blunket has suggested a “centre-left alliance” to oppose Johnson and Farage in parliament.
Adding to the pressure, a number of smaller Remain parties (like the Greens and Plaid Cymru) have already formed a strategic electoral pact with the Lib Dems. In the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election taking place today, for example, the Greens and Plaid are standing aside in order to prevent a Tory or Brexit Party victory, and to marginalise Labour. This could well lead to a Lib Dem win, reducing the government’s already thin majority down to just one.
For all their talk of fighting Boris Johnson and a no-deal Brexit, however, it is clear that these establishment characters are seeking ‘unity’ only for the sake of the capitalists and their interests. Having lost their grip over the Tory Party (to the frenzied Brexiteers) and the Labour Party (to the Corbyn movement), the ruling class is desperately seeking to regain control of the political situation.
Nothing progressive about the Lib Dems
Some prominent Labour Party ‘lefts’ - spooked by the prospect of no-deal, the local and Euro election results, and a polling ‘bounce’ for Johnson at the Brexit Party’s expense - are now also leaning towards the idea of a so-called “progressive alliance” with the Liberal Democrats to stop Johnson.
For example, Novara Media founder and editor Aaron Bastani recently tweeted that he could “imagine a transformative coalition including Lib Dems and Labour”. The only “problem”, he says, is that “the Lib Dems, for now, remain tied to economic status quo” (our emphasis). That’s a pretty serious problem.
I can imagine a transformative coalition including Lib Dems & Labour: scrap Lords, electoral reform, UK federalism, increase minimum wage, reverse sanctions w/ benefits, scrap fees, green revolution.— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) July 29, 2019
There's 1 problem: the Lib Dems, for now, remain tied to economic status quo.
In fact, the Lib Dems have always been tied to capitalist status quo, and will be forever. Any such alliance would therefore have nothing progressive about it. It would be a disaster for the Labour Party and for the Corbyn movement.
Indeed, the newly-elected Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, has categorically ruled out any pacts with Labour while the “Brexiteer” Jeremy Corbyn remains leader of the party.
For the Blairites, a coalition without Corbyn would of course be an ideal arrangement. But for the membership - and the working class as a whole - this would put a stop to any possibility of a left-wing Labour government coming to power. Moreover, it would likely put a stop to the possibility of any Labour government.
The Lib Dems’ renewed popularity is very superficial. Their support is completely distorted by the question of Brexit, where they have positioned themselves as the most dogged proponents of Remain.
But let us remember, this is a party that - having agreed to a Faustian pact with the Tories - fully backed austerity; lied to a whole generation about resisting student fees; traded the lives of millions of poor benefit claimants for a plastic bag tax; and whose new leader backed calls for a commemorative statue of Margaret Thatcher.
Swinson has voted with the Tories more frequently than some Tory MPs! She previously voted to cut the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for 16-to-19-year-olds; to raise university tuition fees; to slash disability payments; in favour of fracking; for the bedroom tax; and for war in the Middle East.
These are the discredited policies of the past - policies whose unpopularity was decisively proven by the embarrassing collapse of the Blairite splitter party – currently in its third incarnation as ‘The Independent Group for Change’. Labour must not be tainted by this legacy.
There is no possibility whatsoever that the Lib Dems would support a left-wing manifesto in a general election. They are nothing more than a reserve party for the capitalist class, as shown by their record in the coalition government. Their only role in any Lib-Labour alliance would be to sabotage our movement.
Running alongside the Lib Dems would therefore send a clear message to Labour members, the working class, and the youth: that Labour would never carry out any genuine reforms in power. This would have a terribly demoralising effect, blunting Labour as an electoral force and paving the way for certain defeat.
Unity on whose terms?
The establishment and its mouthpieces decry Corbyn for refusing to take a “clear position” on Brexit. Labour is allowing the country to be “torn apart” they say. But the truth is that Corbyn is the only political leader attempting to unite workers and youth on class-based policies.
It is the pro-EU Tories, Lib-Dems and Blairites who are hellbent on dividing the country along the lines of a toxic 'culture war', one in which society is split not between the exploiters and the exploited, but between Brexiteers and Remainers.
Talk of electoral pacts and alliances with capitalist parties to “unite the Remain vote” will lead to nothing but disaster for Labour. Corbyn is correct to try and bring the social - class - issues to the fore. Only on this basis can Labour span the Brexit divide and unite working class communities across the country.
For example, Labour recently clinched the pivotal Peterborough by-election - after the establishment had declared the seat a safe bet for the Brexit Party - with a positive programme that united voters from either side of the referendum.
And let us remember, despite a handful of polls putting the Tories and the Lib-Dems ahead of Labour today, the party overcame a 20-point gap to rob the Tories of their majority and confound the entire political establishment in the 2017 general election.
Again, this was accomplished with a radical manifesto promising nationalisation, free education and an end to austerity. It was thanks to these bold demands that Labour inspired and mobilised hundreds of thousands of members, and won over millions of voters (particularly the youth).
The way to counter despair and frustration is to inspire hope. Labour can only accomplish this by providing a socialist alternative to grinding austerity and the racist, jingoistic circus of Johnson’s no-deal Brexit demagogy. Labour activists in Johnson’s home constituency are already gearing up to take the fight to his doorstep.
Resist class collaboration
If Labour did go on to form a coalition with a capitalist party like the Lib-Dems, this would be a class-collaborationist government in which all of Labour’s radical policies will be shot down by their ‘partners’ in Westminster. It would most likely collapse within a matter of months.
A government of national unity would also be the last trump card of the Blairite MPs organised within Labour. These gangsters would not hesitate to cross the floor and split away to bring down a majority Labour government that threatened the fundamental interests of capitalism.
The experience of such a government would completely discredit the Labour Party in the eyes of the working class, and possibly destroy it politically – like so many mass workers’ parties across Europe who have entered into coalitions with big business parties.
This underlines why grassroots members must organise to deselect these pro-capitalist traitors in the Parliamentary Labour Party, before they have the chance to sabotage a left-wing government.
The political establishment is naturally very enthusiastic about the idea of the ‘adults’ in Westminster putting aside their differences to halt Brexit and counter the ‘populism’ of Johnson and Corbyn.
This would be a last, desperate attempt to defeat the Corbyn movement. It must therefore be mercilessly resisted by party members. The so-called ‘progressive’ alliance is not our only hope to stop Boris - it is the capitalists’ final hope of annihilating the Labour Party as a political threat.
There is only one progressive alliance that will defeat Johnson and the vile forces behind him: that of Labour members and supporters, allied with the trade unions, taking to the streets to force a general election and throw Boris out.