“We need a lot more of this conscious co-operation and collective organising, and the basis for working together must be to support the real struggles taking place and to put forward a positive Left agenda.”
This is a vital time for the Left writes Matt Willgress, national organiser of Arise: A Festival of Left Ideas.
As the crisis facing British capitalism deepens, the first thing we must do as the Left is understand the scale of what we are up against and the depth of the economic, social and political crises.
Johnson had already used the cover of the Covid crisis to launch a massive offensive on all fronts, which is now going into hyperdrive with Truss.
Every day sees more attacks – whether that be on our trade unions, the scapegoating of refugees, attacks on benefit claimants, and much more besides.
This is combined with a hard-right foreign policy agenda. And not only not inaction on tackling the climate catastrophe, but driving any hint of a green agenda backwards dramatically, as exemplified by support for fracking for example.
Yet it is scary but true to say that we have seen nothing yet.
Such a prospect means the left but must rise to the challenges ahead.
As movements such as Enough is Enough and the People’s Assembly emphasise, we need to be organising resistance to the Tory offensive right now, and give all we can in solidarity with those communities, trade unions and popular causes making a stand.
This means we need to be out on the streets, backing those movements taking direct action against core elements of Truss’ reactionary agenda such as Don’t Pay and Just Stop Oil, and vitally, standing with those workers taking industrial action for the future of us all.
With Truss and co putting their deeply reactionary ‘war on woke’ at the centre of their agenda, there must also be no room on the Left for adapting to the politics of scapegoating.
Migrants, disabled people, and trans people (to name just some in the Tories’ firing line) haven’t caused the deep problems the majority of people face – Tory austerity and forty years of neo-liberalism have.
And as we build and co-ordinate this resistance, it is vital that anti-racism and black liberation must be central to our politics not an occasional add on. The inspiring BLM movement provided the springboard for the massive Kill the Bill mobilisations that followed, and activists from both are organising people across the country on issue after issue, standing up for our right to resist.
The same should be said of our anti-war internationalism and solidarity for global justice. The ruling class organises globally and we must too.
And the Left must work together more and work together better, both in the Labour Party and beyond it – we are delighted as Arise Festival to have had Momentum, Save Our Socialists, Tribune, JVL, CLPD, LRC, No Holding Back, the Morning Star, Labour for a Green New Deal, Labour CND, Labour Women Leading and many others at recent events we have hosted, and also vital campaigns such as the People’s Assembly, Stand up to Racism, Stop the War, our trade unions and many more.
More organisations should not only invite each other on their platforms, but also co-ordinate campaigns, actions and more, and seek to work as productively as possible together in ‘umbrella’ movements.
We need a lot more of this conscious co-operation and collective organising, and the basis for working together must be to support the real struggles taking place and to put forward a positive Left agenda.
And that agenda we put forward together must be unashamedly radical. As Labour NEC member and former Young Labour Chair Jess Barnard put it this week, “Tinkering around the edges won’t end the crisis – but an agenda that puts public need before corporate greed can.”
The ruling-class are putting forward unashamedly radical policies such as decades more austerity as ‘solutions’ to the crises. We should shout ours from the rooftops and drive support for them throughout the labour movement and beyond. These must include – but are not limited to – controlling prices across the board; public ownership of energy, water, transport, broadband, mail, the NHS, social care and more; homes for all with a mass council house building programme; a real industrial strategy and Green New Deal to create decent jobs, and ending austerity for good by investing in our future.
The fightback has started this summer, lets build on it with an autumn of action and win real support for socialist solutions that put public need before corporate greed.
- The “Solidarity* Struggle* Socialism” Conference is being hosted by Arise Festival in London on December 10th, featuring leading campaigns, trade unionists and socialist parliamentarians including John McDonnell MP; Barry Gardiner MP; Nadia Whittome MP, Richard Burgon MP; Dave Ward, CWU; Sarah Woolley, BFAWU; and many more. Register and find out more here.
- Matt Willgress is national coordinator of Arise: A Festival of Left Ideas. You can follow Arise on Facebook and twitter, listen to the Arise Festival podcast on Spotify and check out all past and upcoming events on Linktree.
- This article was originally published by The Morning Star on October 15th, 2022.