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Now is the time to Arise

The left needs to be leading the fight to both get rid of Johnson and resist the Tory offensive, write the Arise Volunteer Team ahead of Saturday's organising conference

IT SEEMS the party is nearly over for Boris Johnson — but the work we on the left need to be doing in organising in our workplaces and communities must only just be starting.

Every day we see another disgraceful development when it comes to the Tories’ rule-breaking and hypocrisy. Every week we see them ram through yet more reactionary measures — from their anti-protest Police Bill to cuts to universal credit. And they continue with an approach to the pandemic which has led to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths and is about putting private profit before people’s health.

The scale of the attacks the Tories have unleashed — and will further unleash with a massive cost-of-living crisis developing — mean we cannot go on with “business as usual.”  We need not only to force Johnson out but to build the levels of resistance that can defeat the whole rotten Tory ruling-class offensive on our health, rights, jobs and livelihoods.

The starting block of this must be supporting, amplifying, linking up and building up those movements already doing the work needed in opposing the reactionary Tory agenda across the board, which the Labour front bench under Sir Keir Starmer so rarely does — but the left can and must do.

To give just a few examples only since 2020, we have seen just since 2020 the Black Lives Matter uprisings, the protests around women’s safety and rights following the murder of Sarah Everard, the ongoing national Kill the Bill movement, an amazing level of engagement in climate justice movements from the school student strikes to Extinction Rebellion and many more examples of struggle.

Additionally, numerous industrial disputes have broken out, from higher education workers in UCU, to the RMT defending their members on the London Underground, to PCS members successfully striking in the royal parks to Unite beating off fire and rehire tactics of employers.

For this reason on Saturday, Arise — A Festival of Left Ideas will be, in the words of John McDonnell MP, “bringing those people together to talk about the way we can work together to develop a strategy not just to oppose this government, but eventually to rid us of it.”

As McDonnell explained in previewing the event, “There's a whole range of different campaigns that have come together, who are campaigning against the reactionary legislation this government is pushing through; the way in which another wave of austerity is hitting our communities; and from the industrial strikes that are taking place at the moment to protect wages and jobs.”

As Johnson becomes increasingly unpopular, the left faces a challenge of both seeking to lead opposition to his rule — rather than leave it in the hands of Tory backbenchers or liberals who will fail to oppose large elements of his reactionary economic and social agenda — and trying to build on this opposition both quantitatively and qualitatively so it becomes a nationwide movement of struggles across the board.

Our aim should be not only to get Johnson Out but ultimately defeat the Tories and their policies, and put forward a different agenda, based on putting public need ahead of corporate greed.

As Mercedes Villalba, left MSP in Scotland, put it this week, “Johnson has to go, but we can’t stop there because no Tory Prime Minster will ever work in the interest of our communities.”

We mustn’t let the steam that is the anger building up against Johnson and the Tories evaporate, including in the circumstance of Johnson being replaced by another Tory. The left must be the piston that harnesses this steam in these vital times — stepping up and taking initiatives, making the demands, ensuring that energy is not wasted.

For these reasons, we urge Morning Star readers to join us at this vital time for a major online event featuring voices from the frontline of the resistance to the Tory attacks — coming together to amplify our collective voices, to link up the Labour left’s campaigns with the new wave of trade unionism and with those social movements and community organisations struggling for a better future.

We’ll leave the final word to Richard Burgon MP, secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs: “Johnson can’t go soon enough — but as a movement we can’t just wait for the Tory backbenchers to decide when it’s time to get rid of him. We need to bring together all the progressive resistance to the Tories taking place across our communities and workplaces, and step up the fightback — to not only get Johnson out, but to defeat all their attacks on our health, rights, jobs and livelihoods.”

Johnson Out: Resist the Tory Offensive takes place this Saturday, January 29 at 2pm and is hosted by Arise. Register at www.mstar.link/Arise22.

Speakers include John McDonnell MP, Sarah Woolley — BFAWU, Dr Sonia Adesara — Keep Our NHS Public, Shami Chakrabarti, Mark Serwotka — PCS, Helen O’Connor — People’s Assembly, Daisy Carter — Young Labour, Murad Qureshi — Stop the War, Beth Winter MP — Welsh Labour Grassroots, Dave Allan — TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee, Nathalia Urban — Brasil Wire, Akram Salhab — Migrants Organise, Manuel Cortes — TSSA, Nadia Jama — Labour NEC, Mercedes Villalba MSP — Campaign for Socialism, Scotland, Sabby Dhalu — Stand Up to Racism, Kirsty Turkington — Care and Support Workers Organise, Chris Peace — Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Paul Holmes — Unison, Marvina Newton — Kill the Bill Coalition, Louise Regan — National Education Union, Holly Turner — NHS Workers Say No, Matt Wrack — FBU and Richard Burgon MP, secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group.

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