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On Thursday 8 June 2017, young people helped generate an earthquake in British politics. We turned out in our thousands to give the Tories, and their capitalist friends, one hell of a shock. We showed that far from responding with apathy, when given the chance to vote for an alternative – for the politics of hope – young people will not be found wanting in energy, enthusiasm, and determination.
Free education, an end to zero-hour contracts, a £10 an hour minimum wage, nationalisation, council house building: These were just a few of the socialist policies that created a tidal wave of support for Corbyn.
Theresa May has emerged without a shred of legitimacy. Strong and stable has morphed into weak and chaotic. Her government of the 1% has no mandate. In joining up with the reactionary DUP leadership she is clinging to power in order to save the capitalist establishment from a Corbyn-led government that would threaten their interests. But this will be a coalition of chaos. Under the weight of events, it can crumble and fall.
We now face a crucial turning point in British politics. Confronted with a mass movement of workers and young people, this Tory government can be rapidly forced from power. That’s why we need to organise the fightback.
Students have an important part to play. Corbyn’s pledge to introduce free education had an electrifying effect during his election campaign. We know that the abolition of fees is not some pipe dream. On the basis of a mass movement that forces the Conservatives from office, it is imminently achievable.
And we must continue to demand not only that Corbyn’s manifesto is implemented, but more from the Labour leadership. It is regrettable that Corbyn has not committed to writing off student debt. Rather than accepting the faulty logic of the capitalist establishment which deems this ‘unaffordable’, Corbyn should boldly demand that the money to fund it is taken from the pockets of the super-rich.
That’s why as well as fighting the Tories, it’s essential that we link this campaign with the struggle for a positive alternative – for socialist policies. That includes not only the fight against Theresa May and her government, but also against the Blairites who, until just months ago, were claiming Corbyn’s left politics would render Labour unelectable.
While the right have been forced to change tack in the aftermath of the 8 June, it took only a few short weeks for their campaign to begin again in earnest. Emerging from the election in a strengthened position, it is essential that Corbyn now goes on the offensive against these determined saboteurs. He certainly should not be returning to a failed strategy of compromise.
At present, the majority of Labour’s MPs, councillors and party apparatus are deeply hostile to both Corbyn as an individual and to left and socialist politics in general. It is therefore vital that the Labour leadership, along with the rank and file, mobilises to ensure that they are taken on at every level – including in right-wing-led sections like Labour students.
Crucially, taking on the right means support for democratic measures including mandatory reselection, which would allow party members and trade unions a genuine say in who represents them in elections. We must also demand the opening up of Labour to all socialist and anti-austerity forces, along with the restoration of genuine democracy within the party. In short, it means waging a concerted struggle to refound the Labour party along fully democratic, socialist lines.
It’s necessary not only to carry out renationalisation of rail, mail and water, but to take on the major monopolies that dominate our economy and – by extension – the lives of millions. It means nationalising them under democratic workers control with compensation paid to shareholders only on the basis of proven need. It means being prepared to rely on the mass action and organisation of working class people to push for this programme. In short, it means being prepared to fully transform society along socialist lines – to do what is necessary to build a society for the many not the few.
Who are Socialist Students?
Socialist Students organises in universities, colleges and schools all over the country. We have groups on over 40 campuses – which meet regularly to discuss and debate the politics of changing the world . But Socialist Students does more than just discuss. We are active in the struggle to change things. We organise and mobilise students to defend education, fight war and racism and to campaign on a wide range of other issues relevant to our members. We organise democratically, and hold regular national meetings and events. Join us and get involved!