General Secretary’s Report to the New Central Committee

On 20 April 2019 at the Marx Memorial Library in London, the first meeting of the Central Committee, newly established at our Congress in 2018, was held.

The Executive Committee discussed national plans of work as well as campaign, political and organisational issues with representatives from branches throughout Britain.

This is a transcript of the General Secretary’s political report to the meeting on developments relevant to Brexit, recent climate protests and the League.

CC meeting
General Secretary Johnnie Hunter (left) and Chair Robin Talbot

Dear comrades,

This first meeting of the Central Committee meets in turbulent times both in Britain and internationally. Much hangs in the balance. The struggles that we and our comrades around the world are engaged in now may in large part determine the trajectory and the success of the struggle for socialism for the next decade or more to come.

Imperialism, as an outmoded and decaying system, gives rise to constant crisis and turmoil. In the struggles which result social democratic, right wing and opportunistic forces present working people with false paths and dead ends for progressive struggles.

It is in this context and in times like these that the clear, consistent and revolutionary analysis of the Communists must come to the fore. We must provide young workers and students with a clear explanation of Britain’s Road to Socialism and how it can be won in the struggles of today.

Brexit

Since the referendum was announced on 20 February 2016 it has remained the most important political struggle for our class.

Achieving Brexit on terms most favourable to working people, a People’s Brexit, would open up new avenues in the struggle for socialism in Britain and potentially abroad.

In the first instance departure from the European Union would free Britain from EU rules on public ownership, state aid for industry and public procurement. These rules of the common market have hamstrung the British economy for decades, writing into law neoliberal economics and privatisation.

Britain could engage in a programme of nationalisation of key public services including rail, energy, water and telecommunications. We could initiate a programme of state investment in industry to rebuild Britain’s decimated productive economy. Both these efforts would enable the creation of a bold nationwide apprenticeship programme putting hundreds of thousands of young people into apprenticeships and meaningful work – tackling head on the scourge of youth unemployment. This radical economic programme would be impossible under current EU rules.

For the peoples of Europe, Brexit could stand to be the first mortal blow to the imperialist bloc. It should be common knowledge that the policies of the unelected European Commission, enforced through the EU, have caused untold misery to millions of workers across the bloc.

This is particularly true for the peoples of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – mockingly labelled the ‘pigs’ by admirers of the EU – who had anti-democratic budgets foisted on them by unelected commissioners. Budgets which ring-fenced military spending and interest payments to British, German and French banks while cutting jobs, pay, pensions, and essential public services.

Journalists and political figures in this country and abroad argue that Brexit is solely motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia. We would respond that if you want to see a truly racist immigration policy – look no further than Brussels! Brussels which allows tens of thousands to drown in the Mediterranean. Brussels which explicitly discriminates against immigration from majority non-white third countries.

Some even have the audacity to claim that the European Union is a bulwark against the far-right and populism! Totally ignoring that fact that it is the policies promoted and enforced by the EU leading to mass unemployment, poverty and disillusionment which have breathed new life into the far right and fascist movements across Europe.

In Britain we have seen the support for UKIP totally collapse following a Leave vote in the referendum. Only by breaking with the EU can we have an immigration policy based on humanitarian ideals.

These same individuals would similarly extol the European Union as an upholder of peace on the continent. Again this ignores not only the history but also the clearly defined trajectory of the integration project. The chief individual imperialist powers of the European Union, Britain, France and Germany continue to be major aggressors on a world scale. The European Union played a key role in coordinating the interventions in Libya and Syria. Just recently was the 20th Anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, a violent and unprovoked act. The EU’s ‘ever closer union’ includes the creation of an EU army which will be closely intertwined with NATO.

Since the Brexit vote, increasingly bold steps are being taken by the EU bureaucracy to achieve this. The two organisations have 22 members in common. The EU facilitates and promotes the interests of European arms manufacturers and their sales of advanced weaponry to dictatorships around the world such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The blows which could be struck for the defence and advancing of democratic rights in Britain are the chief reason why a People’s Brexit is essential. The EU is by its very nature anti-democratic and pro-capital. The purpose of the European Union is to subvert and circumvent national parliaments. To undermine and restrict the democratic ability of nation states to advance in a progressive direction. To confine and constrict national economies within the neoliberal framework. Any progressive economic programme within the confines of the European Union, its single market and the dictatorship of the European Commission.

Not only would a People’s Brexit lay the basis for a radical economic programme. By removing the control of the EU, the class nature of British state would be laid bare. No longer would British governments be able to lay blame for anti-worker policies (falsely or otherwise) on EU obligations. The struggle for progressive policies and the class contradiction at the heart of British society would once again be back at the forefront of popular consciousness.

However we face a crucial juncture in the fight for a People’s Brexit. Right wing and social democratic forces are coalescing in an attempt to frustrate the Brexit vote. It shouldn’t be forgotten or the fact concede that the Brexit vote was part of the largest democratic expression in the history of Britain. Democrats and socialists cannot lose their nerve at this eleventh hour. The only way that we can respect the result of the Brexit vote is to secure a People’s Brexit and a genuine break with the European Union.

False arguments are made by those pressing for a so-called People’s Vote as a means of subverting the Brexit vote. This would not simply be a further referendum on the same terms as the first. It would be part and parcel of the EU’s historic use of repeat referenda in order to frustrate democratic decisions which stand in the way of further development of the imperialist bloc.

The dangers of failing to implement for the vote are serious and many. First and foremost we have already seen the scope for the resurgence of the far right is already manifest. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is polling high. Unless the Left leads the fight for a People’s Brexit forces of the right will capitalise on this failure.

In this context the Party will advocate a People’s Boycott at the May European Elections if Britain is forced to hold them by the institutions of the European Union. It is worth noting that the European Parliament is a parliament in name only. In reality it is a cloak for the dictatorship of the unelected Commission and big business.

Holding the election has been presented as a bureaucratic inconvenience and an annoyance. But it belies a much more sinister plot. A strong turnout at the European Elections would be presented as an endorsement of remaining within the neoliberal bosses club. Britain’s continued involvement in the institutions of the bloc, months after we were supposed leave, cements the basis for our continued involvement in the bloc.

The young communists call on workers and students to reject this assault on democracy. Reject and boycott the European elections! Join the fight for a People’s Brexit!

Climate protests

One of the few issues which has managed to break Brexit’s stranglehold on political discussion has been widespread public recognition of the climate crisis.

2018 and 2019 have seen some of the most destructive and unpredictable weather and climate events in generations. Across the world new temperature records were set this summer. Capitalist industrialisation is warming the planet. This is beyond dispute.

These events herald the potential onset of an irrevocable change in the Earth’s climate which could spell the end of humanity. This crisis has been decades in the making and despite years of warnings and irrefutable evidence, capitalism and the international ruling class have proven themselves unwilling and unable to solve it.

While there is money to be made in burning fossil fuels and while the massive monopolies which profit from it control our political establishment this is unsurprising. We are told that climate change is a problem equally attributable to everyone everywhere regardless of their class. Ignoring the fact that the world’s richest 10% account for 50% of fossil fuel emissions, while the poorest 50% produce just 10%. Just 100 companies have been responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

Time is running out. In a few decades we may already be too late. The story of the human race might end, almost as soon as it started, here on a planet which has been made uninhabitable by greed.

But the Communists argue that it doesn’t have to end like this. Britain’s Communists and the socialist countries have offered radical solutions to save our planet, the cradle of humanity. Cuba is ranked world number 1 for sustainable development by the World Wildlife Federation. China is reorientating itself as the world’s biggest economy towards renewable energy, building two new windfarms every hour along with the biggest solar farms in the world.

This crisis was created by capitalist greed but it can be solved by human cooperation. The choice we have to make is socialism or extinction.

We acknowledge and salute the leading role being played by the youth in this struggle. In this week alone London, the capital of the country, has been brought to a standstill. The youth of Britain have demonstrated once again that they are and always will be at the forefront of the struggle. The struggle to prevent irreversible climate change is perhaps the gravest struggle we have faced to date. It goes hand in hand with the struggle for socialism and the fight to break the dictatorship of the big business.

Conclusion

So comrades, we face a critical juncture in the struggle. Democracy and the potential for a left advance hangs in the balance. All socialists, trade unionists and democrats must rally around the call for a People’s Brexit. The fate of the planet and the continued existence of the human race stands to be determine.

But in this perilous context the YCL fully endorses that Party’s analysis that imperialism’s current crisis truly is the labour movement’s opportunity.

The conditions are ripe. We have to seize this chance to rapidly build and grow the organisation.

The message is clear:

Fight for a People’s Brexit!

Secure a left led government!

Build the YCL and the Communist Party!

Johnnie Hunter

General Secretary

Young Communist League

20/04/2019