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Workers must seize this new sovereignty

DOUG NICHOLLS argues that the working class as a whole ensured the country can govern itself again thanks to Brexit - but it must now start setting the agenda

LAST Friday, Britain left the EU and with that the Johnson government lost its legitimacy. The Tories were elected to get us out of the EU, to lay the basis for national independence. Their time is now up.

There are three things that will seek to prop them up.

At a technical, legalistic and constitutional level the profoundly undemocratic Fixed Term Parliament Act, passed in 2011 in the vain hope of keeping the Liberal Democrats in power for eternity, means that individual MPs can only be deselected if they commit a heinous crime and the Speaker of the House of Commons triggers a ballot which gets more than 10 per cent of a constituencies’ electorate to vote for a by-election.

It means also that only the government can call a general election, or the opposition if it achieves more than a two-thirds majority to do so.

Pre-December 13 2019, both main parties vowed to repeal this Act. They will not be so eager now.

At a political level, the Labour Party will not want a general election for at least five years. The thumping it got in 2019 for being so out of touch with the people will mean years of hopeless navel gazing.

People generally want a period of stability and growth as powers are repatriated to the country, foreign-imposed rules and regulations are removed and as we learn again to prioritise investment in our own people and productive economy.

An obstacle to getting on with things could be the separatists, particularly the Scottish National Party. They plan to create mayhem to further their desire to in effect build a hard border around themselves, abandon sterling, give back the British-wide subsidy and lie supine at the feet of unelected EU commissioners.

The crass stupidity of their project will have to be exposed – the separatists prefer Brussels to Westminster and seek to divide the country when maximum unity of purpose and solidarity is needed.

So the key now is to focus the progressive patriotism, the generous internationalism and the confident optimism that really underpinned the steadfast decision to leave the EU in a new way.

The working class as a whole ensured, despite the media, despite the entire Establishment hectoring and despite the attempted coups by hapless politicians and uppity Supreme Court judges, that the country could govern itself again.

This is the precondition of progress.

It will challenge trade unionists in particular to take up where we left off in 1976 when we had nearly 60 per cent membership density, 80 per cent collective bargaining coverage and helped retain controls on the flight of capital.

We will need to shake off the intervening years of learning to be subservient believing that all that could be done was to rely on the hidden hand of the market and the illusory magic wand of the unelected EU commissioners.

The challenge is not to give any power away again – and to assertively and confidently trust in our own power to run the country better than anyone else.

Real power begins in the workplace and with workmates and that sense of solidarity and democratic decision making that enables us to progress our cause.

Rather than looking up to lobby and protest, or pretend that giving up power to EU commissioners or even MPs can solve our problems, we have to feel it again in our own hands.

Trade union education when we were strong included politics, philosophy, economics and our history.

As unions transformed into empty houses and lobby groups, mechanical training took over in the unions. Social power structures were no longer analysed. Trade union training became about giving information to and from barrack-room lawyers to interpret this or that bit of legislation, forgetting that the whole legislative framework had become unjust.

When the sleeping giant wakes again as it is now, or whether the lions rise from their slumber depends on the sharpness of vision and intellect.

Union meetings should become vibrant, dynamic cauldrons of new debate about our shared future and organising centres of action and ideas to create an unstoppable new deal for workers.

Independent trade unionism, protecting its own interests, is the essential ingredient to take a newly independent nation forward.
The 32 million workers in Britain, with all their incredible skills and ingenuity are the nation.

No-one, least of all Boris Johnson, can tell us what to do. We are self-reliant, we are strong. The defensive posture of the victims of 44 years of EU membership and government batterings are now officially over.

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