Few are celebrating the fact that Boris Johnson has been appointed as Britain’s prime minister. The leadership contest was a most artificially drawn out formality, and no-one was surprised by the result. As only 160,000 Tory party members were asked who should be Britain’s PM, it was a foregone conclusion, presaged months ago by a poll conducted by the Tory website Conservative Home.
Despite the Conservative party’s wafer-thin parliamentary majority and derisory electoral minority, therefore, Britain has acquired yet another unelected Tory prime minister, who will continue to preside over a schismatic and fractious parliamentary debacle.
British democracy or British ruling-class hypocrisy?
Boris was elected by just 0.3 percent of the British people. Yet our press blithely passes over this spectacle to accuse Venezuela, north Korea and Syria of being ‘undemocratic’, despite these countries’ vibrant mass political participation and popular leadership.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin made the cutting observation that British democracy (hypocrisy) seems “to poke a finger at us all the time over the democratic process, the electoral law and so on and so forth, but let’s look at the method of bringing the country’s top person … to supreme power in Great Britain. Is this done through general elections? No. This is done with the help of the party’s gathering. This is strange for me – but such is the British system.” Indeed!
The ‘leadership contest’ did, however, offer the slightly amusing theatre of Tory MPs running and falling, and getting involved in the most absurd and anachronistic horse-trading. And, of course, the entertainment of Boris knifing his former leave ‘comrade’ Michael Gove in order to ensure that he was running off against Jeremy Hunt in the final vote, a man who notably achieved the improbable, in being both bland and viscerally hated simultaneously – even among Tories.
Perhaps the clincher, though, was Hunt’s equivocation over Brexit. He was notably anti no-deal, while Boris, feeling the breath of the Brexit party down his neck, repeatedly claimed that he would ensure that Britain will leave the EU by Theresa May’s extended deadline of 31 October, thus fulfilling his pledge to “restore faith in Britain’s democracy” and deliver on the clear outcome of the 2016 referendum.
No-deal: ‘a million to one’?
Or did he? On closer inspection, it seems that Boris was not quite so firm a Brexiteer as surface appearances suggest, reserving the right to promise all things to all people. He pronounced during his campaign that the chance of a no-deal Brexit was “a million to one”, and that he would be able to re-negotiate Britain’s Brexit deal and scrap the backstop.
In his first day of prime-ministerial office, Boris finally achieved his lifelong ambition and was able to bow hypocritically before the Queen; a sad and awkward spectacle, and a ‘national’ memory that few will cherish.
The ceremony dispatched with (and noteworthy in that even Queen Elizabeth II asked Boris why anyone would want to hold the much tarnished office of British PM), he was ensconced in Downing Street, sacking Hunt, and pretty much the entire cabinet, and putting in place his own rabidly reactionary cabinet – but one that is, apparently, very firmly in favour of a no-deal Brexit.
“Never mind the Backstop – the buck stops here,” promised Boris in his inaugural speech, in which he set out his agenda in simple terms: Deliver Brexit, Unite the nation, Defeat Corbyn and Energise the country (DUDE).
But can Boris renegotiate the Brexit deal?
Not likely! If the words of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, French president Emmanuel Macron or Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are anything to go by, there is no further deal on offer from the EU. So the only remaining question is: Now that Boris has achieved his aim and has the office he so cherishes, will he bottle Brexit?
Even his supporters, on the eve of his victory, advised him: “Don’t screw it up.” When push comes to shove, the bourgeois prime minister must act in the interests of the bourgeois class. And just as Johnson suddenly crumbled in the face of his unexpected (and clearly unwanted) Brexit victory in the 2016 referendum, he is very likely to crumble in the face of the continuing hostility of his bosses – the ruling class – to the idea of Brexit.
Where is Labour?
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has caved to its neoliberal Blairite wing and positioned itself alongside the LibDems and Greens as the third party of remain. It knows which side its bread is buttered, as the City, Britain’s ruling capitalists, the Bank of England (represented by its director Mark Carney) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) all back remain, while the Scottish Nationalist party (SNP) wishes to remain in the EU, but quit Britain.
The Ulster unionists, conversely, wish to preserve their racist bigotry by keeping the north of Ireland as part of the UK, in or out of Europe – against the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which provided for ever-closer cooperation between the occupied six counties and the Irish republic, along with the removal of all physical borders between the two.
Ireland’s only way out of the backstop conundrum, in fact, is reunification. But will Britain readily quit the north of Ireland? Not likely, even though the Tory faithful have indicated their readiness to give the six counties back to Ireland if that would make it easier for Britain to quit the EU, and even though Irish reunion was the logical outcome of the stalled Good Friday Agreement.
Instead, the unionists have been allowed to unilaterally veto a power-sharing assembly at Stormont in Belfast.
General election looming
Neither the Tory party not Labour wishes to fight an election before Brexit has been delivered, fearing to be trounced at the polls by parties like the Brexit party and the LibDems, which have a clear line on the issue. But with parliament backing remain and determined to obstruct all attempts at a meaningful Brexit, press and politicians alike smell a general election in the air.
Sensing the frustration of working-class people with Labour’s inevitable U-turn over Brexit, George Galloway has announced that he will stand against the right-wing Labour deputy leader Tom Watson in his constituency of West Bromwich East.
In doing so, he has positioned himself as both a pro-Brexit and a pro-Corbyn candidate; an interesting position made possible by the fact of Watson’s very public involvement in the Blairite Labour wing’s campaigns for remaining in the EU and ejecting Corbyn as the party’s leader. To these ends, Watson has been daily fuelling media lies undermining his own party and smearing his leader as a racist antisemite.
Watson himself has been accused of receiving generous funding from businessmen and zionist organisations for his nefarious services. If true, he is in good company with newly-appointed home secretary Priti Patel.
British workers demand Brexit
Mr Galloway, meanwhile, has quite rightly been pointing out that the British working class voted to leave the European Union three years ago. They did so in an act of defiance towards the status quo, which quite clearly does not serve them. Some four million Labour voters voted leave, and the very clear outcome of the recent European Union elections – which Britain should not have been contesting – was to confirm that position.
Workers voted leave because they are fed up with rapidly declining living standards, pay, conditions and public services; because they are desperate for any change that might improve their lot.
Labour, Tory … same old story!
Speaking at the Durham miners’ gala in July, Mr Corbyn claimed that he was advocating remaining in the EU to ‘protect jobs’. But that is not the experience of the British or European working classes. Quite the reverse.
Our experience is that the EU protects the billionaire capitalist class, not the workers. Incredible as it may seem, in adopting this position – against his stated beliefs and principles over the last 40 years – Corbyn has positioned himself closer to finance capital than Boris Johnson!
Boris is viewed by most Britons as at best a bungling gaffe-prone buffoon, and at worst a toxic figure and borderline racist. But the hypocritical stance of Labour, which organised a poorly attended ‘Not my prime minister – say no to racism’ demonstration on the day of the new government’s formation, stands out clearly to anyone who has the slightest memory of Labour’s numerous and plentiful services to imperialism.
Its happy collaboration, for example, in stabbing the striking miners in the back in 1984, or in orchestrating the murder of millions of Iraqi men, women and children between 1990 and the present. All in the service of the greater glory of mammon – the enrichment of the financial magnates of the City of London.
It is clear that Boris anticipates an election – whether over no-deal or the impossibility of delivering Brexit at all. And on first glance at the opinion polls, his apparent championing of Brexit seems to be stemming the haemorrhaging of Tory votes to the Brexit party. Should he fail to deliver, however, he may suffer a dramatic turn in fortune. After all, hard as it may be to believe now, Theresa May had an even bigger surge in popularity when she became prime minister three years ago.
Meanwhile, Labour has still not recovered from losing its voters: principally to the Brexit party, and secondarily to the LibDems. With his adoption of an openly remain position, Corbyn seems to have done all he can to scupper his own electoral chances.
We come to bury Boris, not to praise him!
Our party remains convinced that British workers need Brexit.
Not because quitting the EU group of imperialists will abolish overnight the oppression of British workers. No. We will remain subject to our own powerful financial capitalist class, represented no doubt by more Eton-Oxbridge educated clowns of the Boris Johnson variety, until we actively organise to overthrow them, and put the economy – real economic as well as political power – not in the hands of the Labour party (which would simply be ‘business as usual’ for the capitalist ruling class), but in the hands of the organised working class.
That is a far larger struggle than either Brexit or a parliamentary election. But in order to even set out on that road in earnest, we must smash the two-party stitch-up that constitutes the most stable ‘democratic’ shell for the very real dictatorship of our moneyed class – that oldest, most cynical and still a truly powerful monopoly capitalist ruling class, the British bourgeoisie.
We still would like to see a so-called ‘left’ Corbyn government, unlikely as that now seems. Such a government will prove once and for all that even the most left social democrat cannot ‘reform’ capitalism – it must be smashed. And in the wake of that most creative act of destruction, we can build a new, equitable, sustainable and truly modern, rational and scientifically planned society.
Socialism – real socialism: workers’ power, a workers’ government and a working-class state, nationalising under working-class rule all of our wealth and resources – is the only salvation of the British working class.
Sometimes, the longest road turns out to be the shortest. At the moment, the capitalists and their politicians are doing the work of exposing themselves. Communists must do the work of organising the workers that these exposures are bringing to consciousness, and complete the task of separating them from the bourgeoisie’s political orbit.
LEST WE FORGET:
Remember how Boris reacted when he ‘won’ the referendum in 2016?