July 02, 2016

This Is Not A Coup Within The Labour Party. It Is A Coup Against The Labour Movement Kevin Ovenden MORNING STAR JUL 2016

Saturday 2ND
posted by Morning Star in Features
by Kevin Ovenden

THE Financial Times on Tuesday. David Cameron on Wednesday. The entire national press — barring this paper — throughout this week.
All of them supported the coup against Jeremy Corbyn and demanded that he go — for the good of the Labour Party, apparently.
When the premier paper of international big business, the leader of the Tory Party and Rupert Murdoch all start professing concern for the wellbeing of the labour movement, you know something is afoot.
If Corbyn were an unelectable disaster for the opposition party, why should the outgoing prime minister demand his replacement by somebody more effective? Even Cameron is not that spiteful towards his Tory successor.
The Establishment intervention — united across the Leave/Remain divide of the referendum campaign — against Corbyn tells us what is really driving this anti-democratic coup.
It is not a coup within the Labour Party. It is a coup against the labour movement.
The target is not just the left-wing Labour leadership. The aim is to extirpate the idea of an independent politics based upon and faithfully representing working-class interests in Britain.
And it is happening now because British big business and the Establishment as a whole face their gravest political crisis probably since the second world war.
That was the grim portrait painted by Tory patrician Lord Heseltine this week as he flayed Boris Johnson for creating “the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times.”
The cause of the crisis is far deeper than the former mayor of London, who was politically assassinated by Michael Gove in the early hours of Thursday morning.
British capitalism — and the considerable weight of foreign capitalism in Britain — desperately wanted a Remain result in the referendum and threw everything it had into delivering it.
Three-quarters of big business, the entire Establishment, the agencies of state and of official civil society all mobilised.
For nearly half a century they have been settled upon the particular global, strategic orientation Britain has had as a semi-detached member of the European Union.
The voice of Washington in Brussels and, with its “special relationship,” the premier representative of the EU in the court of the global empire.
The British economy, with the outsized finance sector of the City of London, depended on that position. Though not in the euro, one third of trading denominated in the single currency takes place in London. Dependent too has been the British state’s capacity to project itself still as an imperial power, as the detail of the Chilcot report next Tuesday is set to remind us.
Those interests have not changed since the referendum. Nor has the determination on the part of big business to pursue them by fighting to maintain its settled policy regarding Britain’s strategic position.
Hence we see the universal business calls to remain part of the increasingly deregulated European single market and all sorts of kite-flying about second referendums (Heseltine) and delaying the process of Brexit negotiations (Cameron).
That brings the British Establishment face to face with an enormous political problem. Their primary political instrument for winning support, or at least acquiescence, since the extension of the franchise beyond the wealthy classes in the late 19th century has been the British Tory Party. And it is riven by division and facing crisis.
Anyone who doubts the extent of that should read the vituperative comments by Tory MPs even as the leadership contest starts. The problem is beyond individual Tory MPs and their ambition. It is structural.
Cameron won the general election last year with the support of less than one in four of the electorate. The Tory Party in the 1950s used to have 2.5 million members. It is now down to probably 150,000 — a third of the membership of the Labour Party, not including its affiliates.
The Europe question has divided the Tory Party for a generation. The division now is deeper than ever before.
Some 150 Tory MPs backed the Leave campaign. The other 180 or so backed Remain. Tory Party members are more strongly for leaving the EU.
Tory voters also — that is why Cameron cynically relied, as in the Scottish referendum, upon the labour movement to deliver the Remain vote for British capitalism.
British capitalism is overwhelmingly united in wanting to stay in the single market and, in so far as possible, reversing or setting aside the referendum result.
But its party, the Tory Party, is far from united or with great traction in society. Half of it is committed to a policy antithetical to British big business interests, but seeking the chimera of a pro-capitalist break from the orientation capital has been agreed upon for nearly half a century.
The divided Tory Party, alone, has insufficient political weight for British capitalism to be confident of weathering this storm.
The historic second choice for the Establishment has been the Labour Party. Until the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments and counter-reforms to Labour it was a problematic second choice for capitalism.
While the party since 1924 has been committed to working within the confines set by the British Establishment and its state, it has also, by virtue of its support from working people and its connections to the trade unions, pressed against those confines.
New Labour was meant to have resolved that contradiction and turned Labour into a vehicle for capitalist interests little different from the Democratic Party in the US or the historic Liberal Party in Britain, against which Keir Hardie led independent labour candidates to stand and form what became the Labour Party.
It is a telling irony of our times that the reform driven through by the Blairite wing of the party in 2010 to weaken the role of the unions though the introduction of a kind of US primary system for electing the party leader delivered Jeremy Corbyn on a landslide last summer.
This is a nightmare scenario for British capitalism. It lost the referendum to an upsurge of what Diane Abbott called anti-Establishment rage (however conflicted and confused).
The party of capital is split, with much of it committed to a strategy which capital does not want. Cameron is but a shade.
We have someone in the office of prime minister, but no actual prime minister.
The party of labour, which was meant to have become fully subordinated to capitalist interests, is led by socialists who are opposed to austerity, racism and war.
With them this week stand hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members and activists of the working-class movement and the trade unions.
It is not just that the Establishment fears Corbyn could win a general election. Tellingly, one of Theresa May’s main pitches to Tory MPs and members is that she is the leadership candidate who can get away with avoiding an election until 2020.
It is that in the next three months, a hiatus which Cameron swiftly decided upon in the early hours following his referendum defeat, the labour movement might assert in this national political crisis the independent interests of working people against a capitalist Establishment reeling from popular rejection at the polls.
That is why the other side are out to get Corbyn. And that is why the whole of the labour movement must rally to defend him and offer a way forward for society as a whole.

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