Name the day for a 24-hour general strike!
Commentary from the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales
The Con-Dem government has suffered a huge defeat over Syria and its plan for UK involvement in a US-led attack.
After being humiliated in the House of Commons vote, David Cameron has been forced to concede that there will be no British military participation in Syria.
This defeat will complicate Obama’s planned bombing campaign, leaving US imperialism more isolated, perhaps having to rely on backing from the “socialist” Hollande in France, dictatorial pro-Sunni Arab regimes and the Israeli government.
But this debacle has consequences way beyond Britain’s imperialist military adventures. Cameron and Clegg could over the coming days and weeks be forced out.
The government itself could be brought down. The trade union movement – particularly the TUC which meets in early September – should finish off this floundering cuts coalition by calling a national day of strike action – a 24-hour general strike – against cuts and austerity.
Cameron is a ’dead man walking’. 30 Tory MPs opposed the government motion on Syria and nine Lib Dems.
The last time a British prime minister was defeated on a war motion was in 1782 when MPs voted to end Britain’s involvement in the American war of independence.
For weeks prior to the vote on Syria, Cameron and William Hague were agitating for support for an attack on the Assad regime.
The horrific chemical attack that killed hundreds in the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August gave them the opportunity to pose as ’humanitarians’ in order to justify the bombing campaign.
But internal divisions inside the Tory party and in particular the mass opposition to an attack among millions of people in Britain, led to their defeat.
The long shadow of Iraq has made it much more difficult to secure support for British imperialism’s foreign policy.
This was as much a defeat for Tony Blair and New Labour’s “dodgy dossier” and alleged WMDs legacy on Iraq as it was for the current Con-Dem government.
The Socialist Party is completely opposed to the murderous Assad regime. Nor do we give any support to the reactionary, sectarian forces who dominate the anti-Assad opposition.
We stand instead for the building of a united, non-sectarian mass movement of workers and the poor to establish independent trade unions and a mass workers’ party that can play a key role in overthrowing Assad.
Cameron’s humiliation will bolster Ed Miliband’s position in the short-term, despite his and Labour’s tepid and partial opposition over Syria.
Miliband, we should remember, did not oppose outright an attack, only that more time should be given to the UN inspectors to allow evidence to be collected.
Nevertheless, Labour’s stance does show the massive potential for a political party that stands on a platform of consistent and principled opposition to war and austerity.
Very quickly such a party – that champions mass struggle against cuts and promotes anti-capitalist and pro-socialist policies – could become a mass force in society.
However, Miliband’s determination to stick to Con-Dem austerity if elected and his attack on the trade union involvement in the Labour Party means he will not be widely seen as a real alternative for workers – at best more of a lesser evil.
The entire legitimacy of the Con-Dem coalition and its austerity programme has taken a battering. It is vital that the main opposition in society, the organised trade union movement and the broader working class, take this opportunity to finish off the government.
The trade union movement must build urgently for a mass coordinated strike. Name the day for a 24-hour general strike and link that to the building of a new mass working class party to oppose war, all cuts and poverty!