As students will be arriving at university this September, the Tory government will be returning to parliament. So too will they be returning to the monumental crisis which opened up for them during the summer.
A meeting at the prime minister’s countryside residence, Chequers, hoped to stabilise the situation for Theresa May, but instead brought her government to the very brink of collapse. After hoping that the meeting could cobble together an agreement within the Tory Party that would reconcile the pro and anti-Brexit camps within the party, the steady trickle of resignations began from her cabinet team and other positions soon afterwards. The Chequers deal only lasted a week before the splits once again rose to the surface, resulting in all out warfare between each side. However the summer recess temporarily saved them.
The divisions which have split the Tories down the middle have not disappeared however. In fact, they will only worsen as we enter into September and Brexit negotiations drag on.
Students and the general election
Since the snap general election back in June 2017, the Tories have stumbled from one political crisis to the next. Theresa May called the election with a view to strengthen the Tory majority in Parliament, and arrogantly approached the election assured that this would be the case. Herself and the other Tory leaders severely underestimated the popularity of Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme. The election gave Corbyn the chance to present and argue his anti-austerity manifesto in front of workers and students across the country. As a result, Corbyn rapidly climbed the polls in the short campaigning period. The end result – the biggest increase in Labour’s vote share since 1945 – severely damaged the Tories, forcing them into a coalition with the reactionary DUP.
Students played a key role in the 2017 general election, mobilising in their tens of thousands, alongside young workers, to demand an alternative to years of capitalist driven austerity. Since then, it’s been crisis after crisis for the Tories – from universal credit to the NHS, from Windrush to Brexit.
Why are they still there?
This begs the question then – why are they still there? Although the Tory government is sitting on the precipice, their collapse is not guaranteed. Theresa May, despite her total inability to lead the Tories effectively, is all that sits between the current government and an early general election. All the senior Tory figures who want her gone simultaneously understand that moving against her risks the possibility of another snap general election, and that Corbyn might win it. For now, the fear of a Corbyn-led government is staying the hand of the potential Tory assassins. This means that it’s going to take a determined fight to kick out this long hated government. Corbyn should call on working class people to mobilise in the streets to fight tooth and nail against the Tories. Students and young people could be integral to this fight back – especially if it were also led by the NUS was linked to the fight against tuition fees and attacks on the lives of young people in general. An all-out offensive by workers and students, alongside co-ordinated strike action led by the trade unions (which have an overall membership of 6 million), could rapidly change the situation and force another early general election. Kick out the Blairites It isn’t just the Tories that Corbyn has to worry about however. Within his own party, the majority of the Blairite Parliamentary Labour Party, like Theresa May, fear the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. The Blairites aren’t cut from the same cloth as Corbyn. They represent the right-wing takeover of the Labour Party which was carefully prepared by the ruling class for decades, culminating in the rise of Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’ in the 1990s. This was, for years, the ambition of British big business: to have both major political parties, the Tories and Labour, reliable to carry out the political ambitions of the rich. Margaret Thatcher famously declared that her proudest achievement during her political career was the creation of New Labour. Whilst the election of Corbyn represented the overwhelming desire of working and young people to break with the anti-working class and pro-establishment Blairite tradition, the bulk of the Labour Party’s structures, including the Parliamentary Labour Party and the party machine, today remain dominated by the right of the party. Ultimately, the Blairites and the Tories both represent and defend the interests of the rich and their system of capitalism. As such, they rely on each other to prevent a Corbyn victory. There is no better example of this than a tweet posted by Blairite MP and rampant Corbyn critic Jess Phillips in the middle of the Brexit white paper crisis. Phillips tweeted of the government cabinet resignations “Theresa May should hold her nerve, just replace them”. While the former Tory MP Chris Patten and current Chancellor of the University of Oxford spoke of having never seen the party in such crisis, the pages of the media were loaded with attacks by the likes of Phillips against Corbyn. Instead of taking the opportunity to push for a general election, the Blairites instead chose to attack Corbyn, and therefore hand to the Tories on a plate the opportunity to cling on to power. Their treachery doesn’t stop there however. It has since been revealed that a group of 20 Blairite MPs have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss building yet another coup against Corbyn’s leadership. This includes secretive meetings at what has been described as a ‘luxury estate’ in Sussex on two occasions. And they aren’t just discussing a plan to remove Corbyn from the party leadership ahead of the next general election – but also a plan to split from Corbyn in the event of his successful election as Prime Minister. Such a split would see the Blairites come together with Tory and Liberal MPs to found a new ‘centrist’ political party. This reveals how totally hopeless attempting to compromise with the Labour right is. No matter what Corbyn does, the Blairites will never be satisfied until they have regained total control of the Labour Party from both Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands of members who have joined Labour to support him. The fight to kick out the Tories and put Corbyn in Number 10 has to be linked to the fight against the Blairite saboteurs within the Labour Party. Fight for a Corbyn-led government! Socialist Students calls for the building of an almighty movement which can exploit the crisis which currently grips the Tory Party. Students, who voted in their tens of thousands for Corbyn’s anti-austerity manifesto (with its policies to scrap tuition fees, nationalise key industries and establish a £10/hour minimum wage), would rally behind a call by Corbyn to flood the streets demanding a new general election. The cause of mobilising students also means a struggle to dislodge the stale Blairite leadership of the National Union of Students (NUS), and replace it with a leadership which reflects the determination of its members to struggle against the Tories. (See article on page 19 for further analysis of the NUS). A mass student mobilisation which moved alongside a campaign by the leaders of the trade unions for decisive, coordinated national strike action, could boot the Tories out. Students can play an important role in sweeping away this dying government. Tories out – Corbyn in with socialist policies!
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Theresa May admits tuition fees system is broken - organise to kick out the rest of the Tories!