In the campaign preceding the UK general elections, the YCL advocated a vote for the British Labour Party under the leftwing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. This was the only logical conclusion, it being the only immediate option for an end to austerity for the British people, and instant gains for the Working Class.
In the election, the Labour Party went against predictions and broke the Conservative Party’s majority rule, greatly weakening the right wing’s position in parliament. What the country witnessed was a large increase in votes for a manifesto that promised progressive policies like an increase in the minimum wage, free education, nationalisation and protection of state welfare. In addition, the Labour Party programme has helped to glue the British people back together along class lines, disregarding nationalism and Remain and Leave divides over the EU, in favour of a ‘jobs first’ Brexit and policies to benefit all that would have been impossible to deliver within the EU’s straightjacket.
Despite support for the Labour Party being the only viable option, the YCL has reservations and criticisms of the Labour Party, as we have always done. Not least its adherence to Social Democracy which is perceived by many in Britain to be ‘Socialism’. Whilst we also believe Corbyn and others within the leadership and Left of the Labour Party to be genuine anti imperialists and Socialists, we think they will struggle to carry genuine antiimperialist and Socialist policies to the whole Party, let alone into government. The Labour Party has always been an imperialist party ruling on behalf of the Capitalist Class, and will continue to be so whilst powerful sections within the party adhere to imperialist values and the back and forth of Capitalist parliamentary ‘democracy’. It seems unlikely at this stage that a Labour Party government would ever be able to steer Britain away from NATO for example, and if the Labour Party achieves government, their progressive elements will have the full weight of the Capitalist Class thrown at them.
What is required is that the YCL, as part of the workingclass and progressive movements in Britain, continue to grow and be able to present the youth of Britain with crystal clear Marxist analysis and fervent action. We must cut through the illusions of Social Democracy with precision, and present the reasons why it is necessary to go further than mere reformation of the Capitalist system. We must end it. The British people must accept nothing less than the end of Capitalism.
While we encourage and support the broad mass movement that has grown up around Jeremy Corbyn, this movement must understand and promote the idea that a welfare state alone is not Socialism. Social Democratic reforms offer some respite from the worst of Capitalism, but they can easily be reversed, as they have been in the past, by the Capitalist class if that class is not removed. Social Democratic reforms also serves as a compromise with Capitalism, enabling it to survive by offering the working class concessions enough so as not to destroy it completely. The Labour Party may profess ‘Socialism’ but it will not be Socialism until Imperialism is ended and the Capitalist class removed.
A Labour government is best, when it opens up possibilities for our class as a whole, not just implementing better management of capitalism. For this to be the case they need to strengthen the mass movements of the working class, not only to secure their own base, but to allow workers to win struggles and articulate their demands beyond an election manifesto. As Communists we believe in the empowerment of the working class through organisation, in communities and workplaces, to change the balance of class forces in favour of the working class majority in all aspects of life. So the working class to have not only its own voice, but its own power structures to not only win the battle of ideas but have the structures to actually build the socialist society it needs, both in immediate solidarity, but also the defeat the power capitalist class.
We must of course work with and support the Labour Party where necessary, especially its left wing section and its new and enthusiastic young base of support, but we will criticise and highlight its flaws where it falls short of a realistic vision for a Socialist Britain. We must remain vigilant to the opposition and disruption that will come from the ruling class to any left leaning government, let alone a more radical socialist one, for as long as the capitalist class remain in power they will not settle for any threat to their prosperity and power, regardless of the cost to ordinary working class people. Our allies there can count on us for any assistance – for example, building 21st Century radical trade unionism, community and other extraparliamentary bodies and strengthening the movement, or specific campaigns such as cementing the idea of a People’s Brexit, reuniting all people against the EU for Socialist policies in our shared class interest. But above all, we must work to grow our own organisation, the YCL, for the period of struggle ahead so that we may be better able to contribute our unique Marxist Leninist perspective to the
movement, ensuring its health and success.
-Executive Committee of the YCLBritain