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Editorial: The stakes could not be higher for our movement

THE stakes could not be higher for the labour movement as it gathers for its annual conference.

As TUC president Mark Serwotka states in these pages, this may be the most important congress for many years. Not only does a general election look to be round the corner but the country faces what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called a crossroads.

In No 10 we have a hard-right Tory Prime Minister with a disgraceful record of race-baiting, dishonesty and sexism.

Leading the opposition we have a socialist and anti-imperialist, whose commitment to fighting for peace, challenging racism and taking to the streets in the battle for social justice and equality is demonstrated in a decades-long record of principled struggle.

Take one path and we face more privatisation, more deregulation, more handouts for bankers and polluters, slavish adherence to a racist warmongering thug in the White House who is picking fights with other countries from Latin America to the Middle East.

Take the other and we are equipped with a detailed plan for national renewal. Few oppositions have outlined their proposals for government in such detail as Corbyn’s Labour.

Democratic public ownership of water, utilities and transport will allow us to take back control of our economy from a handful of tax-dodging plutocrats. 

A green new deal involving a revamped and publicly owned National Grid with a mission to meet the challenge of climate change would make Britain a world-leader in tackling an existential threat to hundreds of millions of human beings.

A new deal for workers would give us a voice in the workplace, empower trade unions, raise pay and end poverty, as outlined in today’s special Institute of Employment Rights Morning Star pullout.

And a fresh approach to foreign policy would see Britain become a force for peace and dialogue, not war and exploitation, around the world.

The case for maximum unity behind this programme is compelling. Yet currently we risk this radical, liberating vision being drowned out. 

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has taken out adverts in weekend papers calling for an electoral pact with Boris Johnson in order to “destroy Corbyn’s Labour.”

At the same time we hear that the Lib Dems are in talks with the Greens and some recently expelled Conservatives such as Rory Stewart to form similar electoral pacts, as worked well for them in the Brecon by-election.

Stewart is not a Remain supporter, but his opposition to leaving the EU without a deal has apparently endeared him to a Lib Dem party that is as keen as it ever was on getting into bed with the Tories.

A pincer movement in which Labour is trapped between rival political forces which fetishise Brexit and divorce it from the political, economic and social crisis which created it must be met by a massive mobilisation to fight for a Labour government whose mission is to deliver the radical change its programme outlines.

Pacts based on stopping “no-deal” that shackle Labour to parties of the status quo, that are intrinsically hostile to any fundamental shift in wealth and power to workers and that have been complicit in the devastation of our communities by austerity, the relentless rise of child poverty and the fire-sale of our public assets will bury our movement’s message and hand Boris Johnson the narrative he craves, as the man who defied Parliament and fought to implement the 2016 referendum decision in the face of Establishment sabotage.

Polls suggest that despite purging his parliamentary party and losing Commons vote after Commons vote, Johnson’s strategy is paying off with a growing lead over Labour.

Our movement should throw aside parliamentary games designed to trap the Labour leader and demand an immediate election to unseat an illegitimate government and replace it with a socialist one.

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