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Socialist Case for Exit

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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2016

Tories tearing themselves apart over EU referendum: vote leave to get Cameron out

European Parliament, photo by Thijs ter Haar (Creative Commons)

European Parliament, photo by Thijs ter Haar (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, speaking on the Marr show on BBC television said that people on the left who argue for a Brexit by saying it will shatter the Tories are being 'petty'. He couldn't be more wrong.

Both the Tories and Labour are said to be preparing for the possibility of an autumn general election which raises the potential of a Jeremy Corbyn-led anti-austerity government by the end of the year.

Alongside devastating job cuts, benefit cuts and a war on young people, Tory governments have delivered 343 libraries closures, 34 closures of women's refuges and sent 1,084,604 people to foodbanks in 2014-15. That's while the richest 1,000 people in Britain saw their wealth increase by nearly 78 million a day! Getting the Tories out of power would be a significant victory in the fight against austerity and to take the wealth off the 1%.

Even before the vote the Tories are split down the middle. They have a wafer thin majority and had the backing of only 24% of the electorate in May 2015. Their austerity policies mean they are hated. As the Guardian editorial put it: "the Conservative Party has not got a lot of electoral credit in the bank".

When they sought to enforce academisation, the odium Tory MPs faced in the constituencies was a major factor in the partial u-turn, one of 20 since the election.

Now backbench Tory Brexiteers are saying that even a Remain vote would leave the Tories as a zombie government, too divided to be effective in the interests of the 1% which they are in power to serve. Preparations among some backbenchers are underway for a no-confidence vote against the prime minister, increasing the possibility of an early general election.

Youth vote

Understandably many workers and young people are utterly turned off by the referendum. A recent YouGov poll found that only 10% of 18-30 year olds trust politicians to make the case for either a Remain or a Leave vote. It is also understandable that many people identify with neither the right-wing anti-working class and racist leaders of the Leave nor Remain sides, nor give them any legitimacy.

But it is wrong to argue, as Varoufakis and Guardian writer Owen Jones and others in the so-called left Remain camp do, that a Leave vote will automatically propel the likes of Ukip and Boris Johnson to power. Even if a Boris Johnson-led government came to pass it would be weak and divided, facing an onslaught from the Cameron wing.

Boris Johnson may have a following among the columnists but not in the workplaces. When he was Mayor of London the city became an anti-Tory city and, as a measure of how he's seen in the northern cities, he is hated in Liverpool after his 'whingers' comments. More to the point the current strikes by workers emboldened by the divisions among the Tories would also be a factor.

Ukip and the right-wing Brexiteers seem to be aware that they cannot appeal to working class voters with their true position and this is reflected in the left mask they have donned for the referendum campaign.

Cameron is a prime minister who is of the 1% and for the 1%. The Panama Papers provided ample evidence - as if it were needed. But this is now being used by another cabinet minister, Priti Patel, who suggested Cameron was too rich to care about ordinary people's concerns.

Similarly Ukip campaigned in the Welsh valleys on the NHS and steel - not immigration. That Patel, a vile representative of the 1% who has always voted for higher university fees and lower benefits, is forced to make such an attack is a reflection of the limited audience for her, Farage's and Johnson's anti-working class position.


It also shows the potential for an independent working class position on the referendum that opposes the bosses' EU and the bosses' parties. What's more, if a lead had been given to a left and working class Leave campaign by the trade union leaders and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, any benefit to Ukip and Johnson et al could have been cut across. Again the potential for a left out voice to gain an echo is revealed by the half of Labour voters who thought Jeremy Corbyn had that position!

Instead we see the right wing in Labour trying to take the upper hand. London Labour mayor Sadiq Khan shared a Remain platform with Cameron, willing to put the Tories' racist attacks on him to one side to defend the interests of the bosses in the EU. He is already pitting Blairite ideas against the anti-austerity ideas Corbyn has raised, saying he is a mayor for all Londoners and the most pro-big business mayor ever. But you cannot defend both the interests of the working class and the bosses.

Socialists have a duty to fight for an independent working-class position and this will include the battle for Labour's programme to be a working class and socialist one. It should start with a 10 an hour minimum wage, rent control and investment in council housing, free education and no academies and nationalisation of the steel industry, the railways and the banking system to start to run society in the interests of the 99%.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 1 June 2016:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Shatter the Tories: vote out

Motion passed for no-cuts council budgets

Jobseekers told: take three-hour commute

Public asset sales will lose us money

Stop Ryedale fracking

Blairite baloney

Khan air

Library lie

Them & Us


Tories out to knife the BBC


France: struggle against government intensifies

France 1936: sit-in strikes

Fighting austerity: French strikes show the way

What we think

Tories tearing themselves apart over EU referendum: vote leave to get Cameron out

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference takes serious approach to key political and industrial questions

Could it be 3 strikes and you're out at 2 Sisters?

Welsh Government under attack at Wales TUC conference...and museum strikers close to victory

University lecturers strike for fair pay

Thomas Cook cabin crew to strike over breaks

BIS office closure: Anger and determination to fight on

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Property speculators target Butterfields tenants

Pent Valley campaigners take council to judicial review

George Tomlinson school: Academy fears

Birmingham Labour council takes credit for Tory privatisation

Peterborough PFI palaver

Get a copy of the Socialist from a workplace near you!

International socialist news and analysis

Solidarity with protesters in Kazakhstan

Portugal: Lisbon dockers' victory

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Film: Money Monster

Obituary: Simon Gomery 1968-2016

Letter: Parcel farce


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