Greetings to the Left Unity conference, which is taking place at a critical time. Without doubt, there are colossal challenges facing left activists and the trade unions, as well as the working class generally.
We are confronted with the deepest crisis for 300 years. GDP is forecast to fall by 11% or more – the biggest fall on record. Mass unemployment and attacks on living standards are staring us in the face. Hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs as part of the ruling class preparing an offensive against the working class.
What we are facing in reality is a world capitalist crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It exposes the rottenness of the system, where profit is the prime motive, and risking the health of millions. Billions have been made by the pharmaceutical companies and their hangers-on. While millions face cuts in wages, the billionaire class has never been richer.
In Britain, the consequences of Brexit – whether there is a deal of not – will further undermine the position of British capitalism. As before, the working class will be asked to shoulder the cost. All this will serve to intensify the austerity coming down the line.
Every trade union will be under pressure, as workers realise that their backs are against the wall. We need to prepare for the battles that lie ahead. This, of course, includes our union. Given the seriousness of the situation, this certainly cannot be ‘business as usual’.
The fact that these attacks will be across the board means we must seek to generalise the struggle and involve the other unions, beginning with those in the public sector. We must not allow one set of workers to be isolated and picked off. We must involve the left unions in a militant unified strategy, and put pressure on the TUC.
Increasingly, workers will look to the trade union front to solve their problems. Keir Starmer, under orders from big business, is trying to push the Labour Party to the right. That explains the move to kick out Corbyn and purge the left. With the Tories in difficulties, he would be quite willing to jump into a National Government to serve the interests of capitalism.
In this civil war in the Labour Party, we should give our support to the left. However, it also illustrates the need to build up the forces of Marxism, to act as a backbone. The left cannot afford to compromise. But this requires clear ideas and determination. The right wing
are the agents of capitalism. They should have been wiped out long ago by bringing in mandatory reselection of MPs, but the left leaders failed to act. In fact, they blocked the move in favour of so-called ‘unity’. Now we are paying the price for this prevarication.
The most important thing is not to lag behind events. The working class, and the labour movement, is going to be shaken from top to bottom.
Important trade elections are taking place, such as in the Unison general secretary election, where the left can win. Unfortunately, the antics of the Socialist Party are placing this at risk by threatening to split the left vote. Their infatuation with prestige politics, as in PCS, means that they are destined to play a destructive role. That is their function.
Our task is to offer a Marxist analysis of events, as well as a clear strategy and tactics that can take the movement forward. We will fight for every reform or gain for the working class. But we also link up these struggles with the need to change society. On the basis of capitalism, which is in terminal decline, there is no solution to the problems of working people.
Only by taking the economy out of the hands of the capitalists and bankers, and putting it under the control of the working class, can society be democratically planned in the interests of the majority. In other words, the fight is for the socialist transformation of society!