The missteps of the ruling class can create space for our side, notes Lindsey German
The court ruling today which says that Article 50 to leave the EU has to be triggered through parliament is a defeat for the government. Theresa May's fantasy that she could negotiate the whole deal without recourse to anyone - even other MPs - was just that and always unworkable. It seems to me that whatever your view on the referendum, it cannot be right that parliament - however imperfect an institution - has no say in the final settlement.
But parliament also has to respect the popular vote, rather than use this court decision to try to smuggle in a second referendum. Already the pro-remain journalists like the Guardian's Polly Toynbee are slavering at such a prospect. But it would not only be profoundly undemocratic - it would also almost certainly fuel the far right and racism that the remain camp claim is at the centre of their concerns.
The job for all those on the left now should be not to overturn that decision but ensure that the ruling class's division is turned in our favour. We need to fight for an outcome that ensures a solution to the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers' wages and employment rights, as well as total opposition to scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms.
In other words for what Jeremy Corbyn has called a 'People's Brexit', a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines. This now has an urgency given the likelihood of a general election next year. It means putting forward these demands, mobilising around them, building trade union strength, doing everything to support Corbyn in these electoral battles, and trying to give a voice to the millions of working people, whichever way they voted, who are looking for an alternative.
This government is thoroughly unpleasant but also weak. It is riven with internal divisions and May has shown herself to be a brittle prime minister. More widely the ruling class is deeply divided. We cannot allow them to escape the crisis without putting up a fight.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- This fight will take everything we’ve got – weekly briefing
- In the long run, the class struggle is king - weekly briefing
- The throne behind the power – weekly briefing
- Barbara Ehrenreich: a class act - obituary
- Ten reasons to prepare for a class war autumn – weekly briefing
- The stakes are at their highest for 40 years – weekly briefing
- Starmer backs the wrong side again…and again