UK: Critical Support for Labour at the EU Elections


Article by Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, 20.05.2019,




The European elections take place with growing rivalry and growing contradictions within the European bloc over Britain’s decision in the 2016 referendum to vote for Brexit. The issue of Brexit has dominated British politics for the last 4 years. The Theresa May government is facing a major political crisis and meltdown. The Tory party was heavily defeated in the Local elections in May and lost control of over 40 councils.


Both the Tory party and the Labour party are split between Brexit and Remain over Europe. The new Independent/Change group composed of Ex-Labour MP’s are standing against the Labour party. They are expected to do badly. Both the Blairites inside and outside the Labour party are desperate to prevent a Corbyn-led labour government as it opposes military intervention of Western powers and advocates various social reforms (e.g. abolishing the hated universal credit, for partial nationalisation).


May has lost the vote in the House of Commons several times and has now turned to the Labour party to prop up this rotten discredited government. The defeat of May’s withdrawal motion has led to the decision by the Europeans to grant and extend article 50 to either June or August in order that a resolution can be found to the crisis. This means that Britain will participate in the European elections which will take place on May 23rd.




The Brexit Party and Its Influence on the Election




The founding of the Brexit Party by Nigel Farage, a former leader of the right wing populist party UKIP, could wipe out large support for the Tories as well as reducing support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Labour is split between the right wing Blairites and Corbyn and Mcdonald who favour a Brexit with a customs Union. The majority of the Blairites are calling for a 2nd referendum to remain in the European Union. Like the Tory party there are a few Labour MP’s who support a full Brexit position. A recent poll by You Gov has predicted large support for Farage’s Brexit party with 34% of the vote while the Labour party can only muster 21%. This shows that the Tory party and the remain position of the Green Party, Liberal democrats and the Independent change party of Chuka Umuna and others will fall way behind the Brexit posit position.


“Brexit looks set to do the same on the European elections: the latest polling for the Observer puts Nigel Farage’s Brexit party on 34% – more than Labour (21%) and the Tories (a catastrophic 11%) combined. The news sparked near-panic in Britain’s two biggest parties, while the former Ukip leader insisted a win for his month-old party on 23 May would force MPs to reconsider the idea of leaving the EU without a deal, which they have already rejected.” [1]


At the recent NEC of the Labour party the Blairite position of a second referendum, advocated by Tom Watson, the leader of the Blairite cabal amongst MP’s, was defeated. Instead Jeremy Corbyn’s position of a Brexit together with a Customs Union and a push for a General election was agreed. This does not stop Blairites like Starmer pushing for a second referendum in contravention of Labour party policy.


“Jeremy Corbyn has faced down a challenge spearheaded by his deputy, Tom Watson, for Labour to signal its unequivocal backing for a second Brexit referendum in the forthcoming European election campaign. In a move that sparked an immediate backlash among remain-supporters, Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC), announced that its manifesto for the election would be “fully in line” with its longstanding policy.” [2]




Critical Support for the Labour Party in England, Wales and Scotland




For the working masses, many of them still have illusions in the Labour party as a party of Socialism, it is important for revolutionaries to work in that milieu and try to attract left wing Corbyn supporters. Jeremy Corbyn, who first ignited politics with his brand of anti-austerity and opposition to imperialist wars and partial nationalization, attracted support amongst a sizeable layer of youth and workers. It is now the biggest social democratic party in Europe.


The RCIT adopting a Marxist approach has always sought to unite the working class under a revolutionary banner and that means a united front against all forms of imperialism and for revolutionary defeatism. In the 2016 referendum we advocated an abstention position. There should be no support for either Brussels or London but a revolutionary programme to overthrow capitalism and imperialism.


“However, opposite trends cannot be excluded – at least temporarily. Under certain circumstances such parties can even experience an initial rejuvenation (see, for example, the British Labour Party under Corbyn). Nevertheless, the “neoliberalization“of social democracy incites the breaking away from it of significant sectors of the workers’ vanguard and the proletarian masses. However, at the same time, the consciousness of these proletarian sectors is not sufficiently advanced to join a revolutionary organization. In such cases, revolutionaries must apply the New Workers’ Party tactic, directing a call to found a new workers’ party to those sectors of the vanguard and the working class who are ready to break with traditional reformist parties, but still do not have a revolutionary class consciousness. The principles of this tactic are the same as with the Labor Party tactic”


“As we have outlined in our United Front Theses, the RCIT has always supported the tactic of critical electoral support for reformist parties as developed by Lenin and Trotsky. We have repeatedly explained that, where communist forces are very small, they should advocate the tactic of critical support for parties of the working class and the oppressed in their relations with the non-communist masses.


Our method of critical support implies raising a program of immediate and certain transitional demands which address the most burning needs of the masses. The purpose is to mobilize workers in the struggle and force a reformist party to take this or that act in the interests of workers. Such demands must always be combined with slogans for organizing the workers and oppressed, and which focus on establishing action committees composed of ordinary workers in workplaces and neighborhoods, and which are not controlled by the bureaucracy. This is crucial because, first, mass mobilizations are the only way to force the reformist bureaucracy to implement even limited progressive actions. And second, such organizing slogans can lay the groundwork for the workers to struggle for these demands independently if their bureaucratic leaderships refuse to carry them out.” [3]


The crisis of leadership in the working class remains the most important challenge of this period. Workers and youth in all the EU countries face an enormous onslaught from capitalism to destroy their standard of living and reduce them to paupers. As we have argued in this period building revolutionary parties is fraught with danger and difficulty but it is absolutely essential if we are to save the planet from destruction by the ruling classes all over the world. Many workers will be attracted to reformist or populist parties and support them.


“Quite the opposite, revolutionaries must advocate a socialist program and patiently explain their criticism of those left-reformist and left-populist parties to which these progressive workers and youth presently address their desire for change. Socialists must combine this with calling for a critical vote for such parties in the EU elections. Such a tactic applies for example to the Mélenchon’s LFI, Podemos, the Linkspartei, Labour in Britain, the Bloco de Esquerda or the Enhedslisten.” [4]


The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following demands during the European election campaign in Britain.


* No to austerity! For a general strike! For a proper rank and file movement in the unions! Expel the rotten bureaucracy from the unions!


* Against Islamophobia - defend Muslims! For armed self-defence committees to defend them against fascists and police provocation!


* Open the Borders for migrants and refugees! For the right of Migrants to wear their own dress and speak their own language!


* Neither Remain or Brexit! Defeat both camps of imperialism! For the Socialist United States of Europe!