Parliament has been paralysed by the Brexit political crisis. Corbyn needs to force a general election by mobilising the forces of the entire labour movement.
The situation facing millions of working-class people today is dire. From the housing crisis to Universal Credit, austerity has caused immeasurable damage to people’s lives. And staring down the barrel of an even deeper economic crisis, ordinary people can’t take much more of a Tory government.
But Brexit has created deadlock in Parliament. Theresa May can’t get her deal through the House of Commons. The Tories now can’t get rid of their leader for another 12 months. And Corbyn is currently unlikely to get the numbers needed to win a vote of no confidence in the government.
All sides are desperately trying to find a way out of this situation. A number of Tory MPs are already talking of the need for a National Government, whilst those Blairite, Liberal, and Conservative MPs pushing for a second referendum claim that only a “People’s Vote” can offer a way forward.
But another referendum would only further aggravate the social crisis gripping Britain, splitting the working class even further. Importantly, it would not solve one single aspect of the crisis faced by millions of working class families in Britain today.
Instead, we urgently need a general election to bring a Corbyn government to power on a socialist programme. But how can Labour force an election under these circumstances?
Mobilise and organise
Corbyn is waiting for the best moment to call a vote of no confidence. But simply waiting for backbench Tories or the DUP to break ranks isn’t enough. What if they don’t and the perfect moment never arrives? We could be stuck with Tories in government for years.
With parliament paralysed, the only force capable of clearing up this mess is the masses, mobilised and organised in the streets, workplaces, and universities to bring down this government and force a fresh election.
Labour should therefore take the initiative. If Corbyn issued the call, millions of working-class people would be willing to act to bring down this government.
The Labour Party and the trade unions have adopted resolutions recently saying that their preferred route out of the current crisis is through a general election. But this will not be achieved by simply passing resolutions at conferences. We must fight to make this a reality.
The call for a general election from millions of Labour and trade union members is not a polite request to be considered by someone higher up, while the rest of us passively look on. It is a demand around which everyone in the labour movement should be actively organised immediately.
Labour should begin mobilising a massive campaign of public meetings and rallies, up and down the country, under the slogans of: no confidence in the government; for a general election now to kick out the Tories; and to fight for a socialist Labour government.
The national demonstration called by the People’s Assembly for 12th January 2019 – demanding a general election now – is a welcome step forward in this respect.
Unite and strike
Local Labour parties and trades councils should organise mass meetings and general assemblies to plan demonstrations and strikes aimed at bringing down the government and forcing a general election.
These should be linked together nationally by Labour and the TUC. Supporters of a second referendum have called for an emergency national conference to discuss Labour Brexit policy. Instead, we need an emergency conference of Labour and trade union delegates to plan how to give the Tories the boot and bring in a Corbyn Labour government.
At the TUC Congress in September, Frances O’Grady announced that if Theresa May did not deliver a good deal for British workers, the TUC would “throw our full weight behind a campaign and demand that the terms of the deal are put to a popular vote”. Instead, they should be throwing all their weight behind a mass campaign to hold an immediate general election. But lamentably the trade union leaders are sitting on their hands while May and the Tories continue to cling to power.
The trade union leaders should begin mobilising their members to take industrial action, linking this up across the country and across sectors as far as possible.
Already, many public sector unions – such as those representing NHS staff, teachers, academics, local government, and civil servants – are in dispute with the Tory government over wages and pensions. At the same time, local councils are fighting a defensive battle against austerity cuts.
The TUC should take this opportunity when the government is weakest to bring these struggles together. This means organising coordinated industrial action and working towards calling a one-day general strike as part of the campaign to bring down the government.
Red and yellow
In France, the yellow vests have shown that militant mass movements in the streets can get results. Hundreds of thousands have mobilised against the Macron government; the largest trade union confederation in France (the CGT) has called a one-day general strike in support; and the government has caved into the gilets jaunes demands. Not only has Macron given the protestors the reforms they wanted, he’s started granting reforms they haven’t even asked for!
It is time for Labour’s own yellow vest movement. Corbyn doesn’t need to pin all his hopes on manoeuvres in Parliament when he could rally the working class and the youth behind him. With a bold socialist programme Labour could build a campaign to force a general election and elect a socialist Labour government. This is the only way forward.