- Unite and coordinate our strikes – Unite the strikes with community struggles
- To fight poverty we must fight racism, anti-immigrant prejudice and fascism
- Build elected rank and file action committees
The capitalists caused the crisis, they must bear the cost:
- Fight for regular, automatic pay, pension & benefit rises linked to the rate of inflation
- No job loss – Cut the hours not the pay
- Make the polluters pay for the climate crisis, take over oil, gas & coal companies & shut them down
Open the Borders – Stop immigration raids – Amnesty for everyone without papers
To the striking workers & those preparing to strike, to the communities fighting racism & stopping immigration raids, to the refugees who are treated as criminals, to the militant movement against global heating, to the youth fighting for a future of hope
This statement is addressed to you. The Movement for Justice stands with you against the attacks of the British government and its agents. This government is creating a fascist dictatorship. Together we are the active vanguard that can defeat the most dangerous government in modern British history.
The past 12 months have witnessed an inspiring resurgence of trade unionism. Trade union membership has grown steadily over the last few years, and this year’s strike-wave is the biggest rise in working class struggle since the 1980s. The spirit of these strikes is as impressive as the number; time after time we are seeing strike votes of over 90%, on turnouts of 90% and more. Many of this year’s strikers have never taken industrial action before, many are young, and we are all part of a multi-racial workforce that is more diverse and integrated than ever before. We are all fighting to win. The Movement for Justice is confident that together we can win.
The current strike movement is a response to declining real pay, an increasing cost of living, cuts in jobs and working conditions – and to broken promises and racist, bullying or abusing managers. At the same time, it is a response to a government and ruling elite that embody the arrogant privilege of wealth, with all its cruelty and corruption – a regime that is shutting down democracy and aiming to establish a dictatorship.
We have government ministers who think and act as though they are above the law, while they destroy our legal protections. They have trashed workers’ rights, immigrant rights and human rights. They have trashed our public services and turned them into financial assets for their friends and supporters. At every stage in the Covid pandemic they have put private profit above the safety of the people, with the result that Britain has the worst Covid death-rate in Europe.
The government that “Got Brexit done” has relied on whipping up the racism and immigrant bashing that was central to getting Brexit done. This government has found that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to its mistreatment of refugees and its plan to deport cross-Channel refugees to Rwanda – but its only response is to appeal even more to the most racist & fascist elements in British society.
The truth is that the resurgence of trade unionism and the inspiring strike-wave are as much a political struggle as they are economic. This is a movement against a hated government. Our spirit of resistance has only been strengthened by Kwasi Kwarteng’s recent budget – a budget that takes from the poor and gives to the rich on an unprecedented scale, like Robin Hood in reverse.
Moreover, workers and poor people generally can see that there is a serious crisis among the people ‘at the top,’ that the politicians and the ruling class are divided, uncertain and devoid of any plan to resolve the problems people are facing. They don’t deserve respect, they look weak, and so growing numbers of workers believe that the bosses and the government can be defeated. That mood has proved highly infectious.
We can’t live with this government any longer. We can’t live with the poverty, the growing insecurity and the destruction of public services it is responsible for. The Movement for Justice believes that together we must Bring Down the Government as soon as possible.
We can’t wait for an election in two years’ time, while the government and the employers continue to destroy lives and jobs through the coming winter and a deep recession. We can’t wait while people are starving, freezing, dying and losing their homes, and while thousands are condemned to destitution because they have no legal immigration status and ‘No access to public funds.’ We can’t wait while the government continues to detain & deport thousands of men & women, or dumps them in Rwanda, and while the police have a licence to harass, brutalise & murder black, Asian & Muslim people.
And we can’t put our trust in a Labour Party leadership that is opposed to the present strike movement, that won’t speak the truth about racism, and that is tied hand-and-foot to defending capitalist interests. The government can ONLY be brought down and its plans destroyed by the action of our growing movement.
Fight to win – Unite the strikes, mobilise our communities
As this movement grows it will have to respond to new and bigger challenges, because the economic crisis will inevitably deepen. The British economy is in recession and that will get worse because the economic crisis is global, regardless of what happens to Kwasi Kwarteng’s plans or what policy the Bank of England adopts. The working class, wide sections of the middle class, renters, the sick and elderly etc will face higher inflation, higher interest rates, job loss, evictions, and a health crisis. The need to bring down the government will be more urgent.
To meet these challenges we will have to go beyond the ‘guerrilla war’ tactics of repeated, short strikes in different sectors of the economy at separate times. As a start we should bring the strikes together – united strikes by workers in all the different sectors and unions at the same time, and for more prolonged periods – everyone out at once and everyone on the streets!
Those strikes should be used creatively to build closer connections with the wider population in our communities, through demonstrations, marches, rallies, local conferences, community tribunals etc. – and by organising solidarity action to defend the poor and needy, joining the growing movement of community action to stop immigration raids, etc. Our unions, our strikes, and our fight to bring down the government will be many times stronger if, at all levels, they become champions of all the poor and oppressed.
We will be reviving a tradition rather than inventing something totally new. In the past, the local trade union organisations have been at the centre of their communities and there have been many examples of unions taking action to defend people in their communities, against evictions for example, or against racist and fascist attacks – as well as solidarity action with workers in other sectors, like the industrial workers who went on strike and marched to support striking health workers in 1980s. Reviving and extending those traditions will have a vital role in bringing down the most dangerous government in modern British history.
Set up elected strike committees in every workplace – build a rank-and-file workers’ movement
The development of this movement needs a secure base, and that cannot be left to ‘Head Office’ or to ‘Regional Office,’ or to outstanding national leaders, however skilful their organising abilities or however powerful their speeches.
We must raise our level of struggle and organisation to achieve our demands and send this wretched government to the dustbin of history, whoever is leading it next month or next year. To achieve that, it is essential that the rank-and-file of the strike movement organises and asserts its authority. We need to build our own leadership in every workplace and every locality. We need to elect strike committees, workplace committees or action committees in all sectors. These should be inter-union bodies wherever strikes involve members of different unions. Striking workers in every locality should set up city-wide or district-wide committees to coordinate action and build community links.
As the fight becomes more intense there will inevitably be points where the full-time leaders and officials are out of touch or become too cautious, as a result of pressure from the government, the media, or the Labour Party leadership. They may be afraid of some legal issue, being fined for ‘unofficial’ strike action, or want to cool things down because they think it will help with some negotiations.
The rank-and-file must be strong enough and confident enough to correct those mistakes or to act independently. That will only be possible if elected rank-and-file leaders are already working together and have the confidence of their members.
Fascism in Britain and the USA
We must bring down this government because it is establishing a fascist dictatorship, and that process is already far advanced. We don’t use the term lightly and should not be misled if most fascists don’t use the name today. Fascism is defined by what a movement or government does, not by what it calls itself.
In January 2017, barely six months after the Brexit referendum, a Movement for Justice conference adopted a statement with the title Perspectives for Action in the Time of Trump and Brexit. The first paragraph declared that,
“Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the boost that these events have given to neo-fascists across Europe have created a new and more negative political situation that has plunged the ‘western democracies’ into a profound crisis. We can characterise the threat of these developments quite simply: the most right-wing, reactionary forces in capitalist society have succeeded in establishing a mass base among sections of the middle class and working class, based on race and racism. For them to win total power only one thing is needed: that the poor and oppressed of all races stay silent and fail to fight back. The task before Movement for Justice is to build the mass movement that will fight back and defeat this threat by any means necessary.”
Four years later, on 6th January 2021, Trump and many thousands of his most racist supporters, ended a mass rally by storming Congress, spearheaded by violent organised groups like the ‘Proud Boys’ and the ‘Oath Keepers,’ in an attempt to overturn the result of the presidential election. We now know that the only reason Trump wasn’t at the attack on Congress in person was because his security team ignored his protests and drove him back to the White House.
That insurrection was a direct attempt to overthrow democracy – an attempted fascist coup. It didn’t succeed, but the fascist movement around Trump is very much alive. It has taken over the Republican Party, controls political power in many states, and its allies control the Supreme Court. The Court’s decision to abolish women’s right to abortion, and the anti-LGBT+ laws introduced in Republican controlled states, along with changing election procedures to exclude black, Latina/o and poor voters, have been major victories for the Trump fascist movement.
Brexit is the British version of the Trump movement. It was always a project to complete the destruction of the democratic and social gains of the working class and Britain’s black, Asian & Muslim communities. The Brexit referendum campaign was a multi-month festival of racist myths and lies, whether it was the ‘official’ campaign dominated by Boris Johnson or the ‘independent’ campaign led by Nigel Farage, the fascist leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In reality they worked in tandem. They used racism, xenophobia and the scapegoating of immigrants, not only as a divide-and-conquer strategy, but to create a mass movement – and they succeeded. Their propaganda gave a licence to a parallel campaign of racist & fascist attacks and abuse, on the streets and on public transport.
That escalated massively after the narrow victory of the ‘Leave’ campaign in the June 2016 referendum. There was a sharp rise in physical attacks and other forms of abuse & extreme harassment against
immigrants of all races, refugees, black and Asian people, LGBT+ people, community centres – and the organised racist harassment of children and parents at the gates of primary schools. Johnson, Farage and their allies had incited those horrors; they never disowned them and they never dropped their racist rhetoric.
That is fascism at work, and by the end of 2019 Johnson and the hard-line Brexiters had taken control of the Conservative Party and the government.
The terrible impact on people’s lives is all too clear. Recorded racist hate crime has nearly doubled since the year of the referendum, with over 100,000 recorded between March 2021 and March this year. All forms of hate crime rose by more than a quarter during the same 12-month period, with rising attacks on LGBT+ people and the disabled, but during that period only 8% of those crimes were prosecuted. A similar pattern is seen in figures for sexual assaults, domestic abuse and violence against women.
The global crisis and the worldwide rise of fascism
The last twelve years or so have seen a sharp, worldwide rise in attacks on democracy, with the growth of fascism and the establishment of fascist governments.
The democratic system that has existed in the rich countries of Europe and North America since the late 19th century has always been based on an implicit ‘deal’ between the capitalist ruling class and the working class: the capitalists continue to make huge profits through the exploitation of the workers, not only at home but in colonies & neo-colonies; they and their political and professional allies (MPs, bureaucrats, judges etc) control the administration of the state, the army, police etc. In return, the working class gets the right to vote, the right to organise and strike, a series of welfare benefits (pensions, sick pay, health insurance etc) and, for the skilled workers at least, higher wages. That was only possible because of the huge wealth of those ruling classes.
The financial and economic crash of 2008/2009 – which was caused by the reckless gambling of the banks in the world’s richest countries – delivered a huge blow to the global capitalist economy, and to the political authority of the capitalist ruling classes of the different countries. They responded by bailing out the banks – and then they made sure the cost was borne by the working class, the poor and oppressed, and the world’s poorest countries. That meant slashing public services and welfare schemes. And it meant increasing the exploitation of the working class – cutting corners on health and safety, more privatisation, fake ‘self-employment,’ zero-hours contracts, and the rise of Uber and similar companies.
Those policies have not led to any significant or lasting recovery from the crash, and the financial gambling has continued. Since every national government has resorted to the same desperate measures the conflicts between them have become sharper. That has meant new and expanding wars, and no international co-operation to deal with the climate crisis or the rise of new pandemic diseases. The period since 2008 has seen greater poverty on a world scale, the mass migration of refugees, the rapid development of a climate disaster – and the rise of fascism on a global scale.
Governments everywhere imposed cuts, but the crisis continues. In one country after another, sections of the elites decide that the only way to protect capitalist power and wealth is to dispense with democracy completely, establish a dictatorship and crush the independent action of the working class.
To achieve that, especially in the richest countries, they promote the growth of a mass movement of mainly lower middle class people who hate the established political system but despise the working class and fear losing some real or imagined privilege. Those movements are outside the machinery of the state (police, army etc) and they are motivated by some form of extreme nationalism based on racial or religious identity. They peddle the myth of a ‘glorious past’ that has been betrayed. The myth of betrayal is their justification for using physical violence against the ‘alien’ racial or religious groups, the organised working class and the defenders of democracy.
That is fascism. That describes Brexit and it describes the Trump movement. It is the character of the regimes in Russia, India and Brazil – and in Italy, where the fascist Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) and its close allies now control the government. Fascist movements are growing across Europe.
The global rebellion against growing poverty and inequality – Open the Borders
The inhumanity of the government’s attacks on the mass migration of refugees is an essential part of its drive towards fascism. It is not only about ‘divide and rule’ and the racist language of a threat to ‘national identity.’ It is, firstly, an expression of the ruling elite’s fear of the courage and determination of people who are part of that mass migration, part of a global rebellion against growing poverty and inequality, wars without end and the impact of the climate crisis. Throughout modern British history people, men and women who have uprooted themselves from their home countries to escape persecution & poverty have been leaders in the fight for equality and democracy and a force for progressive change.
But there is a further depth to the very real physical and mental cruelty that this government inflicts on refugees and the immigrants who are denied papers – it is an attempt, essential to fascism, to get the whole population to regard such cruelty as ‘normal’ and even inevitable.
So far that has had limited success, but it must be challenged and defeated. The cross-Channel refugees, everyone seeking asylum in Britain, and immigrants with or without papers are our brothers & sisters in the fight against Britain’s racist, imperialist ruling class. Movement for Justice demands Opening the Borders of Britain & Europe because that is what refugees are doing every day, in order to resolve the material problems in their lives and find some degree of safety & freedom – and because the only alternative to open borders is a world of increasing barbarism and tyranny.
The Movement for Justice demands an immediate & unconditional Amnesty for everyone living in the UK without legal immigration papers, because Papers for All is the only way to end the nightmare created by 61 years of immigration, asylum & nationality laws, brought in by governments of all the main parties.
We call on the growing strike movement and anti-poverty movement to take up these demands and unite with the growing, community-based movement & networks that are stopping immigration raids. If we are not fighting racism, we can’t stop the creation of a fascist dictatorship in Britain.
Our greatest strength in this fight is the increasingly integrated character of the working class, the youth and the major towns & cities – in other words, the majority of the population. That is a major problem for the government and its supporters. It is the base we must mobilise in order defeat the move towards fascism.
The strike movement and government
The purpose of Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’ was this: to use huge tax cuts for the rich and powerful, and the need to repay the money the government has to borrow, as the reason to stop funding the services and benefits that the poor and oppressed rely on for their survival. It was effectively a plan to starve those services and destroy them. At the same time he plans to bring in yet another law to stop strikes and restrict trade union action, and yet another law to make it easier to deprive the poorest people of their welfare benefits.
Those are direct attacks on the present strike movement and shows how much the government fears its impact.
The current divisions among the Brexiters certainly make the Conservative Party and the government look weak, but they are not a fundamental division. There is no real disagreement about aims, only about tactics and presentation.
They have all voted for the laws that are creating a dictatorship, destroying workers’ rights, legal protections, human rights and the right of asylum. They all voted for the Borders Act and supported the plan to dump cross-Channel refugees in Rwanda. The Tory critics of Truss and Kwarteng are angry that by provoking a fall in the value of the pound and acting too fast they have alienated many of their own supporters.
Meanwhile the Labour Party leadership has used those divisions to present itself as the ‘reasonable’ alternative, without doing or saying anything significant about their own policies.
The truth is that the Labour leadership and other supposed defenders of democracy fear our inspiring strike movement, and the power of the working class and the poor, far more than they fear the government and the advent of British fascism. They fear a working class uprising more than they fear fascism.
We see that fear of working class struggle and appeasement of rising fascism every time Keir Starmer wraps himself in the Union Jack, sings God Save the King, sacks MPs who try to speak out against racism, covers up racism & Islamophobia in the Labour hierarchy, expels Jewish members who criticise Israel and Zionism, expelled left-wing delegates before they could take their place at the recent Labour Party Conference, and orders MPs not to join picket lines or support strikes.
In reality Starmer and the rest of the leadership are making the rise of fascism seem ‘normal.’ That is a betrayal of the working class. Many of the left-wing MPs have been targets of racism and misogyny themselves and we should call on them to lead a fight against the direction in which Starmer is taking the Labour Party – and support them when they do. This can’t wait until after some future election.
Our immediate general demands
Every current strike has a specific set of demands over pay, conditions, job cuts etc. At the same time, the most urgent fight overall is to Bring Down the Government. In addition the strike movement must put forward demands for real solutions to the issues that apply to all workers and can unite the entire working class in struggle. Firstly, in the current crisis, those are the rising cost of living and unemployment. Secondly, there is the climate crisis, the issue that affects the future of humanity and that has often been used to divide the working class and tie many to the selfish interest of their employers.
Fighting inflation and poverty – Fighting unemployment
The working class, and the growing strike movement in particularly, are already facing the increased cost of living because of inflation. The recession will increasingly threaten us with unemployment. It is essential that this movement is able to put forward, and fight for, a plan to counter these twin evils and meet the essential needs of the poor and oppressed.
Inflation is at the highest level since the 1970s, but then workers’ wages, though under attack, were higher, and the trade unions had more power to win wages rises. Now inflation was rising to higher levels even before Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’ sent the value of the pound tumbling to the lowest level ever and pushed prices to even higher levels. Since the biggest prices rises are affecting food and energy, inflation is hitting the poorest people hardest of all.
Almost every wage rise that workers have got this year is really a wage cut, because the cost of living is rising faster and higher. It is simply not possible for new pay claims and strikes to keep up with this rising inflation. So far, the talk of ‘inflation proof’ wages is just empty words.
The only way that workers can actually defend their income from inflation is by securing automatic increases tied to the rate of inflation in the cost of food, energy, housing and transport. That should be decided independently of the employers and the government and agreed with the unions and workers. Adjustments should take place monthly, or weekly if inflation increases at a faster level.
The same system of automatic adjustments must be applied to all pensions and benefits (Universal Credit etc). Without that arrangement millions of people will be driven to destitution, starvation, ill-health and death.
A prolonged recession will inevitably mean that employers try to defend their profits by laying off workers, in a situation where new jobs are becoming more and more scarce. The jobless workers and their dependents will face destitution. That is unacceptable. We must fight for job-sharing on full pay – the available work should be shared out between the workers, while they continue to receive what they would have got for a full week or month. The workers did not create this crisis. It was the capitalists who created it and they must pay for it.
Fighting the causes of global heating must be a workers’ struggle – Make the Polluters Pay
Prime Minister Truss plans to re-start fracking in Britain and open up new oil fields in the North Sea. The Secretary for Business, the super-rich super-snob Jacob Rees-Mogg, has announced that he wants to see “Every cubic inch of gas” got out of the North Sea (a cubic centimetre would be an even smaller amount, but that would be too ‘European’ for this arch-Brexiter). This dangerous government would rather let the planet burn than see the capitalists lose a penny of profit. On that issue it only speaks for a tiny minority of the British population.
Our movement and the wider trade union movement must take up this existential fight. We must take the same approach as on inflation, wages and unemployment – the people responsible for the climate crisis, the people who are blocking any effective measures to resolve it, must be held responsible. We must make the polluters pay!
We must fight for the expropriation of the oil, gas and coal companies – they must be taken into public ownership in order to shut them down. Their vast wealth must be used to fund a rapid transition to sustainable energy, repair as far as possible the damage that has already been done, and to support and retrain the workers in those industries. Further investment in fossil fuels should be made a criminal offence.
We will be told that the proposals on dealing with inflation and unemployment are unrealistic, just as we will be told that Opening the Borders is unrealistic, and we will certainly be told that expropriating and shutting down the fossil fuel industries is unrealistic. In fact these are the only realistic solutions to the present crises that we face. They are ‘unrealistic’ only if we live and think by the rules of a morally and politically bankrupt system – parasitic, ‘neo-liberal’ capitalism.
Building the political power of the working class as an alternative to capitalist rule
If the mass movement succeeds in bringing down the government there will inevitably be a general election, but it will be in the context of a victory for mass working class action. A new government will be confronted with the power of the poor and oppressed. There will almost certainly be a Labour government or a Labour-led coalition, and there will probably be a section of more left-wing Labour MPs who, from the start, put pressure on Starmer or come out publicly against his right-wing policies.
On the other hand it is possible, though perhaps unlikely, that the present government simply collapses in the near future. If that happens there will be a general election that will most likely lead to a Labour government. Starmer will Prime Minister.
Neither outcome will end the crisis, and either way it becomes Labour’s crisis. Either way we will still face the threats of greater poverty, accelerating global heating and fascism. Either way the fight to build the movement remains on the order of the day, and in many ways it will be more urgent.
The task facing the movement will be to create a new power structure, based on the rank-and-file organisations. The movement and those organisations must grow stronger and become more representative of the broad layers of the working class, and all the poor and oppressed. They will assert that power against whatever crisis-ridden government is presiding over the broken political system and trying to defend capitalist profits.
Then the working class will be in a position to create an economy that meets the needs of everyone on a basis of equality.