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United as a movement we can radically reshape our society

THIS WEEKEND the labour movement comes together to march for a new deal for working people.

Tens of thousands will march through London to tell the Tories enough is enough — but what’s really important is what comes next.

The legacy of the Conservative government we’ve endured (including for five years when it was aided and abetted by Lib Dem collaborators) since 2010 is grim: a million more children in poverty, a million public-sector jobs lost, more than a million families reliant on foodbanks.

In the fifth-richest country in the world, vulnerable people like David Clapson and Mark Wood have actually starved to death after having their benefits cut off.

As with all those who died after being declared “fit for work” by the Department for Work and Pensions’s punitive assault on disabled people, this is evidence that Britain has regressed to the sort of barbaric capitalism we thought we’d seen the last of after the welfare state was founded by Labour in the 1940s.

Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron have much to answer for. But our challenge is much greater than simply reversing the damage done to our communities since 2010.

The bankers’ crash of 2008 exposed the rotten nature of the deregulated, finance-dominated “free” market promoted by every British government since Margaret Thatcher.

And in Britain more than in any other country in the developed world, people have woken up to that fact. The momentum for real, fundamental change is gathering pace.

That momentum propelled Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party and turned it into the largest political party in western Europe, almost tripling in size since he became leader.

It’s why Labour received its biggest vote share increase at a general election since 1945 last year, as a manifesto pledging expanded public ownership, higher pay, better rights at work and strategic management of our economy in the public interest caught the imagination of the British people.

And it’s why, in a country where wall-to-wall media hostility to trade unionism and misrepresentation of industrial action has often made strikes unpopular, we’re now seeing huge solidarity for workers in dispute.

The crowds who came out to back the McStrikers when they walked out for proper pay and union recognition last September and on May Day did so because the issues those McDonald’s staff face struck a chord with millions of other young people in dead-end jobs who can’t afford a home of their own.

The students who came out in force to support striking University and College Union members battling to save their pensions did so because they understand that the attack is part of a war on the whole of the working class — and every time workers are beaten it sets the stage for the next assault.

Many of the conditions are present for a successful working-class offensive to defeat this government and radically shift power and wealth to working people.

We have a left-led Labour Party with a popular programme for the democratisation of the country and the redistribution of wealth.

We have trade union members forcing significant retreats from employers in both the public and private sector.

What we’re lacking is unity as a movement — and consciousness as a class.

Many on the left are exasperated at those Labour MPs who have made it their mission in life to try to derail Corbyn’s leadership — but we need a wider understanding of why: these are lackeys of a British Establishment which is utterly petrified of the dramatic change Corbyn is offering.

Across our movement, we need a better grasp of just how much is at stake and an emphasis on support for the Labour leadership’s efforts to transform our society.

Britain’s economic system is broken, but the forward march of the left since 2015 demonstrates that we can change it. We mustn’t let the opportunity pass us by.


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