Britain has served the EU with notice to quit and the world has changed. It was a brave declaration, born of clarity and determination. When it counted the working class stood up and shouted. The fiercely independent spirit of British workers at its best. We’ll need more of that in the coming months and years.
The working class has created a momentous opportunity. We must grasp it with both hands.
Already the parliamentary rabble is doing its best to change the outcome of the referendum. Jostling for position, talking down the meaning of the vote, putting off the leaving process, it looks and feels that after the turmoil of the referendum and the stunning night of the count, we have entered a period of phoney war.
It means Leave
Leave means leave. The sooner we do, the sooner we can get on with rebuilding Britain. Stop the phoney war! Get on, get out!
‘The working class has created a momentous opportunity. We must grasp it with both hands.’
That means rebuilding our tottering industry and our disappearing energy generation capacity. It means reversing the cuts to training so that we can, for example, produce our own nurses instead of luring nurses from countries where they are desperately needed.
It also means rebuilding the organisations of the working class. With honourable exceptions, the trade unions – ignoring their own memberships, and in turn being ignored by them – played a shameful role in the referendum. Now the members must enforce their will on their own organisations.
If you are an optimist, you might point to signs that some in the union hierarchies have learnt their lesson. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said that although she had voted Remain, it was time to listen to workers. Let’s see – we’ve heard it all before. The problem for her was that workers didn’t listen to her, nor to the Great and Good preaching to them about what they should think.
Workers cannot afford to wait and see whether they will be listened to. They must act to impose their will.
And talk of “a divided country”, young versus old, educated outvoted by the uneducated, whites versus migrant families (how could they know any of this?), Scotland and London against Wales and the rest of England – Project Sneer is well under way to set us against each other. The insult “racist” is being thrown around to explain the outcome. So it was dim old white racists who voted Leave – over 17 million of them? Rubbish.
In Scotland there is a new push to separate from Britain, rejoin the EU, adopt the euro, and sail off into the sunset. Yet again it seems this battle may have to be fought.
For years our rulers have told us that anti-EU feeling was a fringe obsession, that when it comes to it people are more concerned about issues closer to home. The referendum proved them wrong. People realised that the EU was very much connected to what goes on closer to home.
Realising that there could be rocky times ahead did not deter them from seeing the big picture. So much so, that during the campaign complete strangers were eager to talk to leafleters to discuss politics. In the streets, outside stations, on the doorstep, in the pubs, young and old, men and women, all skin colours and ethnic origins, Britain became a nation where politics was no longer a dirty word. There was universal disdain for politicians on both sides who claimed to speak for workers. Now that discussion must continue, and feed into practical action. What kind of Britain do we need to build?
We have seen the power of the people. A single, simple vote threw the world of finance capital into turmoil. That power, that determination, must now be turned to the rebuilding of Britain. Like putting a cross on a referendum ballot, that’s not something that should be ignored or left to someone else.