Bring on the general election – and a referendum in 2020

1 November 2019

Originally published on Labour List 

Author: Chi Onwurah

A December election it is. Brace yourselves for snowflakes on the Labour doorstep, a ton of Jeremy Corbyn as Santa memes, and, of course, an onslaught from our right-wing opponents and their friends in the media.

Yes, there will be challenges, but we must stay optimistic – this is the most important election since the war, and the best opportunity we have to rebuild and transform the country, putting socialist principles back at the heart of our society.

We have had ten years of Tory-Lib Dem austerity starving our NHS and public services of the funds they so desperately need, and a free market economics that gives big business big tax breaks and working people wage cuts and job insecurity. The country can’t cope with any more Tory neglect. It is time for real change. It’s time for a Labour government.

If Labour gets into government, we will set about implementing the most radical agenda for government since Clement Attlee was Prime Minister. The future is for the many, not the few, with our bold, socialist and thoroughly modern programme for the country: half a million new council homes, 400,000 new green tech jobs as part of a people-powered Green Industrial Revolution, the restoration of workers’ rights, the ending of prescription charges, public ownership of mail, rail and water – and so, so much more.

So yes, we do need to make this election about more than just Brexit. The Tories cannot possibly match our popular and radical policies – our message about ending austerity and putting people before profit will resonate up and down the country. However, Brexit will of course loom large over this election. Rather than run away from that, we should embrace it.

Why wouldn’t we? At our conference, we democratically decided to back a public vote between a credible deal and remain. This referendum will come within six months of Labour coming to power. For many, this is a sensible, common sense offer that will put the final decision back into the hands of the people. It is an offer only Labour is making at this election.

Labour can also use the election campaign to make the case for a socialist Europe. We can show our European friends in the declining social democratic parties that bold, transformative policies and a radical vision is the way to win power. And we can build on our long, deep-rooted traditions of internationalism and solidarity to set out how we are better and stronger in a socialist Europe that upholds free movement, takes on the big polluters and protects workers’ rights. If we win in December and then vote to remain in the EU, the Labour government will be a strong force arguing for this type of Europe from a powerful position.

It’s all to play for. Will we have a Britain with another five years of Tories in power, hacking away at our rights and standards, and a Trump deal Brexit carving up our NHS? Or will we start to address the fundamental challenges of our time with a Labour government: action on the climate crisis, a rebalancing of wealth and power in our society in favour of working people, and a pathway to end the Brexit chaos.

At this election, we won’t just be deciding what the country looks like for the next five years – the decisions the government takes during this period will affect all of our lives for decades to come. With the stakes so high, you can bet the Winter weather won’t put us off pounding the pavement. Let’s get out there and win the real change we need.

Love Socialism is a group of socialist Labour MPs fighting to stop Brexit. We will be writing a column for LabourList every week until the Brexit crisis is over. You can find out more about us here, and follow us on Twitter @LoveSocialism.