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Vol. 81/No. 19      May 15, 2017


Communist League debates class lines in UK election

MANCHESTER, England — “There’s not one Britain, it’s class divided. In or out of the European Union, the crisis coming down on working people is not going away,” Peter Clifford, Communist League candidate for Member of Parliament in the Manchester Gorton constituency, told over 200 people at an April 22 candidates’ debate organized by the Levenshulme Community Association here.

“Working people are looking for change. The answer is not promises to soften the blows, promises that will go nowhere,” he said. “We need to build a party among working people that can lead a revolution and end capitalism.”

Clifford is one of three Communist League candidates running for Parliament in the June 8 election. The CL in London is standing Andrés Mendoza in Islington North and Ólof Andra Proppé in Harlow, Essex.

Clifford’s comments came after Liberal Democrat candidate Jackie Pearcey had said that the central issue in the election was who could win the best terms in Britain’s exit from the EU. “We shouldn’t be forced to accept what is second best,” she said. Her “get the best for Britain” framework was echoed by the other candidates — except Clifford.

On April 18 Prime Minister Theresa May called the June snap general elections. Riding high in the polls, her goal is to bolster the Conservative Party in Parliament as the next government engages in protracted negotiations with rival capitalist governments on the continent over terms of Britain’s exit from the EU.

May replaced David Cameron as prime minister after passage of the Brexit referendum, which he opposed. She told the Conservative Party conference last October that she would “put the power of government at the service of ordinary working-class people.”

As the opposition Labour Party’s veneer of being a party fighting for working people fades, its working-class vote is ebbing away. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched the party’s campaign April 20, saying he shouldn’t be counted out even though the party’s poll numbers were very low.

The Scottish National Party, which favors staying in the European Union, won a vote in the Scottish Parliament March 28 for a second referendum on independence, to be held after the terms of the U.K.’s exit from the EU are known.

Communist League campaign

“The elections will change nothing of what working people face, nor will it solve the problems facing the U.K.’s rulers from their declining position in the world, or from the fracturing of the U.K. under the impact of the worldwide capitalist crisis,” Clifford told people after the debate. “The deepening insecurity of workers’ living standards and working conditions will continue as capitalist bosses drive to rein in costs and increase ‘labor flexibility’ in an effort to boost profits. The U.K. rulers will continue their military participation in Washington’s never-ending wars.”

Clifford was joined by six other candidates at the April 22 debate, among them Liberal Democrat Pearcey, Labour’s Afzal Khan and former Labour MP George Galloway, standing as an independent. The Conservatives and U.K. Independence Party declined to participate. Asked about the possible election of National Front leader Marine Le Pen in France, Clifford pointed out the parallel with the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. Most workers in France “have no confidence” that the main bourgeois parties could offer “change” workers badly need as they, like their counterparts in Britain, feel the brunt of the capitalist crisis.

Jess Mayo for the Green Party said the prospect of a Le Pen victory demonstrated “the rise of a narrative of hate.” Her comment was echoed by all the other bourgeois candidates.

Marine Le Pen winning the French presidency would no more signify a rise in racism among working people than did Trump’s election, Clifford said. Her support is based on workers’ anger over the assaults they face and a search for different answers. “But neither of them can deliver change, as workers will find out,” he said.

Clifford said he and other Communist League members campaign knocking on doors in working-class communities. “We find interest in the need for a revolutionary working-class party.”

In response to a question on the “creeping privatization” of the National Health Service, Khan claimed that “Labour is the party of the NHS.”

“Working people face more than creeping privatization of the NHS,” Clifford said, “because health care is a commodity. There will always be a crisis of health provision for working people under capitalism. It’s a Labour Party myth that they were responsible for bringing in universal free health care. It was a concession by the capitalist class to the deepening struggles and ferment within the working class in the closing years of the Second World War.

“In Cuba health care is not a commodity, because they made a revolution and overthrew the dog-eat-dog capitalist system. That’s why doctors there are able to start from solidarity, not running a business,” Clifford said. He pointed to the Cuban volunteer doctors and other health care workers who played a decisive role in eliminating Ebola in West Africa.

“As Nelson Mandela explained, history is not made by kings and generals but by the masses of the people,” Clifford said. “We have to look to ourselves, get organized, unite, and develop solidarity in order to move forward.”

The Communist League calls for the unions to fight for a national public works program to create jobs for the growing number of unemployed and unorganized workers, Clifford said. And the party calls for an amnesty for all undocumented workers and an end to restrictions on immigrant workers’ right to work.  
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