Going on the streets has changed things

Submitted by AWL on 5 September, 2019 - 10:16 Author: Paul Mason, Laura Parker and Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

A lot of people have been mesmerised by the speed and decisiveness of the Johnson regime — and of course there’s a legitimate worry that by resisting his moves we’re playing into his hands in an election.

But what that misses is the total blindness of elite technocrats like Cummings and Johnson to mass action.

By going on the street we’ve changed the situation. A few of us decided to call people onto the streets at a few hours notice and we got something like five or ten thousand people. By doing that we created a radical moment. We gave confidence to people who have up to now been mainly organised by People’s Vote.

We created a space in which Lexiteers who have been fighting us for three years could come on board, some of them at least, and we gave the whole movement a left and broadly labour movement character, but allowing others to find a space in it.

On the demos I’ve seen really impressive young people and I’ve seen people I haven’t seen since the Poll Tax movement, all learning or relearning about the power of mass action to challenge elites.

We’ve already made the overhead cost of calling an election and the overheads of No Deal higher. The Tory party is disintegrating. I think most mainstream journalists couldn’t factor that in — yesterday you could almost see their jaws dropping when we arrived outside Downing Street with a thousand people and a megaphone.

Now everyone in the labour movement needs a twin track. We need to support our MPs to defeat No Deal in Parliament. But we also need to develop the cultural vibe we’ve felt in the last few days, as an investment for an election. Even more than techniques and money and getting people mobilised, it’s about creating an atmosphere that Labour is creating a hegemonic offer, to lead the nation in resistance to this power grab and to the catastrophe of No Deal.

People need to get ready for a discussion of priorities for the first hundred days, which will be as much about democracy and stabilisation as they will be redistribution and economic policies.

Our watchword should be to get out on the doorstep with working-class people who are very pissed off with all kinds of things, sometimes with austerity, sometimes with migration, sometimes with Europe, but we need to listen, engage and offer a better argument.

• Paul Mason is a journalist, film-maker, and author

Migrant rights crucial

This democratic system is very far from perfect, but we need to defend the democracy we have so we can win more.

A crucial part of that fight is migrants’ rights. Tomorrow we’ll be rallying outside the Home Office to defend and extend free movement. We must make that demand central to this movement.

This struggle has been extraordinary. There’s real anger across the country and there’s been an extraordinary political response across the left and beyond. We need to find ways to keep the battle going.

We must stop No Deal and then go forward to elect a radical Labour government

Part of that radicalism needs to be stopping Brexit as a step in transforming Britain and Europe.

• Laura Parker was a Labour candidate in the May 2019 Euro-election, and is national coordinator of Momentum

Defending democracy

Fifty MPs have signed the letter stating quite clearly that we will refuse to leave the chamber or will set up an alternative parliament in the event of Parliament being prorogued and a no deal Brexit being forced through.

At the moment it is very clear that there are still parliamentary options open to us. This week we can push for new legislation that can prevent a no deal Brexit. There will be a few days after that where a no confidence vote in the government could be held.

And it is possible of course that a general election could be called. We will only support a general election on certain terms. A general election on Boris Johnson’s terms could facilitate no deal and we cannot accept that.

If these parliamentary options are exhausted and the democratically elected parliament is denied the ability to block a no deal Brexit, which nobody voted for and would be an absolute disaster, then we are very serious.

We will either sit in Parliament, refuse to leave and carry on parliamentary business; or we will form an alternative parliament.

• Lloyd Russell-Moyle is Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown

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