theresa may Prime Minister, Theresa May. Photo: Annika Haas (EU2017EE)

With the country in chaos, we need change now – keep up the pressure!

Britain is a country without a properly functioning government. The Tories have no majority, are deeply divided, and are so engulfed in the slow-motion car crash of the Brexit talks, that next to no other government business is getting done.

Meanwhile, the country is seizing up. There is a desperate housing crisis that is forcing thousands of homeless onto our streets, even in freezing weather. The NHS is broken. For the first time, management has postponed non-emergency operations across the board. Food bank use is soaring while wages slide. Striking lecturers have shown the level of anger at widespread attempts to rob pension funds. There is a long list of other urgent issues from the Grenfell catastrophe to the collapse of Carillion that are simply not being dealt with. 

The only sensible response to this situation is to demand the government stands aside, and that we have a general election to elect one that will confront these problems. The media and many on the right see the question of Brexit as the main issue in politics. Actually, the real question is whether we are going to continue in a low-wage society dominated by outsourcing and austerity at home and pursuing wars abroad, or the alternative that Corbyn stands for. 

Jeremy Corbyn is popular precisely because he stands for a break from the pro-market, privatising policies that have brought us so low. People want to see a massive house building programme, refunding of the NHS and public services, higher wages and secure pensions, and increased taxes on the rich and the corporations. In this situation, it is very important the left doesn’t allow the issue of the EU to dominate politics and doesn’t make any concessions to those on the Labour right demanding a commitment to staying in the single market, whose rules would make many of these policies hard to implement.

The left needs to be on the attack on the questions that matter, and make it clear that a Labour government would bring tangible and immediate change for working people. We shouldn’t listen to those who want Corbyn to moderate his policies on foreign policy or anything else.  

His attacks on Tory foreign policy proved particularly popular. The result was the biggest swing in any election since 1945. This is the atmosphere we need to recreate to keep up the pressure. 

University workers have shown what can be achieved when workers take a stand. Their strike action against pension cuts has been supported by students and many others up and down the country in an inspiring display of solidarity. Together, students and workers have won support because they have committed to a serious cycle of strikes designed to have a real impact, and because they have been open about the political nature of their action. The lecturers were clear from the start about the fact that they were fighting against the attempt to turn education into big business.

As well as rattling the employers, the strike has put the question of the great pensions’ scandal centre stage. The big People’s Assembly demonstration over the NHS in February put the government on the defensive over health funding in a similar way. The lesson should be obvious. We need to be strengthening the unions and the mass movements in every way we can. We need to be supporting every single strike and building towards the widest possible protests in order to push the government on to the defensive and ultimately force it out. This is also the best way to prepare for a possible Labour government. Because, if Jeremy Corbyn does get elected with a progressive programme intact, he will face fierce resistance from the establishment and from the right in his own party. Popular organisation and campaigning will be essential to push change through.