A FEW short weeks ago at the Labour Party conference, the ‘left’ shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, proudly announced that the party would no longer have to whisper the word ‘socialism’ in private, the implication being that it would be proclaimed proudly from the rooftops under his and Corbyn’s leadership.
In yesterday’s speech by McDonnell at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, it is clear that socialism doesn’t even merit a whisper – it is not being talked of at all. In his speech, McDonnell denounced the Tories for preparing a ‘bankers’ Brexit’.
He said: ‘Whether by design or default, this shambolic Brexit will end up where the Tories always end – looking after the few, not the many. Already, Tory Cabinet ministers are looking to cook up special deals for their friends in the City of London, while Tory backbenchers want to attack hard-won workplace rights.’
The Tories, McDonnell explained, are determined to ‘cut a deal for finance, but ignore our small businesses and manufacturers’. Labour on the other hand, ‘will fight for all our businesses to have Single Market access, not just the favoured few.’ The working class does not come into it!
No mention of any socialist policies, just a pledge that Labour under its ‘left’ leadership would fight for the interests of all of the British capitalists, not just the banks, to achieve what he called a ‘people’s Brexit’.
Labour in government, he assured his audience, is the only party that would be prepared to take the necessary measures to make a success of Brexit. These measures include the vague promise to take control of public finances and work with European governments to ‘protect our key industries like steel’ and the obligatory promise to make big multi-nationals pay their taxes.
Nowhere in his speech does McDonnell advance even modest socialist policies. Instead, he is offering Labour as the party that can save British capitalism, including the banks, and somehow make it work.
Exactly how he intends to perform this miracle is completely absent, covered up by attacking the Tory chaos over Brexit and castigating Theresa May for her about-face on the question of a third runway at Heathrow – something he was careful to avoid committing Labour to either supporting or opposing.
This is typical of the Corbyn/McDonnell leadership, facing both ways and always seeking a compromise while completely avoiding the reality that capitalism is in its death throes. Indeed, what was remarkable about McDonnell’s speech was not only that he left out the word socialism but he also avoided any mention of the world crisis that is tearing European and British capitalism apart.
Instead, he is proposing the ludicrous and delusional policy of a ‘people’s Brexit’ without bothering to explain how the banks will be brought to heel and stopped from quitting Britain if they face any restrictions because of the Brexit vote, a move they are already preparing.
The simple fact that eludes McDonnell is that the working class did not vote for a protracted, negotiated agreement that leaves the banks free to carry on as before. The Brexit vote for workers was a revolutionary vote made in the teeth of opposition from the Labour Party and the TUC.
The working class, after years of seeing its wages and living standards smashed up and the welfare state systematically destroyed to pay for all the bail-outs of the bankers, delivered a huge blow to the ruling class by voting for an immediate break with the capitalist EU.
In place of McDonnell’s reformist delusions, workers will demand that this revolutionary vote be concretised now by demanding the TUC organise a general strike to bring down the Tory government and advance to a workers government and socialism.
A workers government will carry out a socialist programme of nationalising the banks and major industries, placing them under workers’ control and management. Such a government will win the support of the working class throughout Europe and create the conditions for it to follow suit and replace the EU with the Socialist United States of Europe.