As the Tories prepare to meet in Manchester, our side needs to keep its eyes on the prize
The first leaf of autumn had not fallen from the tree before it became obvious that the Tory government is in an even more chaotic state than it was before MPs went on their overlong summer-break.
Brexit is a shambles, whichever way you voted in the referendum.
The Tory government’s one aim is to survive in office and to make Brexit into the most anti-democratic, anti-migrant, pro-business deal it can get. The European Union is simply interested in making the British exit as painful and damaging to Britain as it can in order to scare other nations into staying in the corporate club.
The trench warfare between the two sides isn’t going to end well, or soon.
But that isn’t even the worst of it. With all its energy devoted to Brexit and keeping itself in office the government is spending very little thought or effort actually running the country.
In recent weeks the head of the NHS, the head of the prison service, and the head of the police have all told the government that the cuts are so deep that the institutions they represent can no longer function.
The same of course could be said of the housing situation. Over three months after the Grenfell fire only 2 families have been successfully rehoused.
And it could also be said of the social care crisis, so much spoken of during the general election, and still deepening day by day.
In fact, right across the face of society the most essential services are in an unprecedented crisis.
Working people are increasingly taking matters into their own hands: civil servants and postal workers are balloting for industrial action; rail workers, airline staff, refuse collectors in Birmingham and McDonalds staff are already striking; Grenfell residents left to fend for themselves have done just that.
Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has acted as part of the inspiration for the spreading mood of resistance. He has backed every strike and his emphasis on opposing austerity has helped revive the labour movement and emboldened those who want to see a socialist society.
But Labour’s recovery at the last election carries the danger that a mood can spread which simply assumes that all we have to do is wait for the next election and that will be the end of the Tories.
This is far from automatically going to be the case. If the ill and old, the poor and the homeless, the hard-pressed and troubled parents are forced to wait there will be consequences…and they may not benefit Labour.
If ‘peak Corbyn’ is reached before the Tories are driven from office, if the daily grind goes on and on without alleviation, hope can turn to despair.
If Labour begins to look like just another party again (and this is the danger of Labour’s ‘moderation’ on Brexit) the insurgent mood can dissipate.
Then the new chief of the stuffed-shirts, Keir Starmer, will be lined up by his fellow lawyers in the Parliamentary Labour Party as the new Owen Smith, he of blessed memory.
That is why the time to strike is now. There should be only one policy that really matters: get the Tories out by any means necessary.
Every strike and protest, every movement of direct action, every petition and act of resistance needs to be strengthened and supported. The long night of Tory rule can be ended. But we must create our own light, not just passively wait until the light comes to us.
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