13 Days Remaining

Monday 16th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

THE clarion call “for peace and socialism” has for generations adorned the masthead of this paper.

It may have sometimes seemed no more than a distant aspiration. But today it is not.

The threat to peace is immediate. Across the Middle East and parts of Central Asia and North Africa there is already war.

Today the US begins 10 days of military exercises across the Korean peninsular. An unprecedented force of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and heavy bombers is being concentrated in the region.

Simultaneously the US president has signalled a showdown with Iran. Last week he refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that sustains the agreement brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama and which now requires ratification by the US Congress within 60 days. Congress may well refuse.

These moves reflect more than just the folly of a maverick president.

On Iran he is backed by powerful forces in both the Republican and Democratic parties and beyond the US in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Both these states, dependent on US policy a generation ago, now have wider agendas of their own.


In Syria and Iraq they see the victory of forces allied to Iran as a potentially mortal threat to their own regional power and internal stability.

Nor does our own government stand apart from these developments. It is desperately seeking arms orders from Saudi Arabia while the City vies for the public launch of its giant oil company Aramco.

So far our government has made no clear call and is as divided on its alignments to US policy as it is on the EU. The Times and the Murdoch papers highlight Iranian aggression. The Financial Times urges caution.

For the trade union and labour movement the demand for peace can no longer be something for the distant future. The threat of war is immediate and intensely dangerous.

But socialism? This takes us to the issue of the EU and the new round of negotiations that start this week.

Again the press reflects the battles in the Tory Party and the wider economic rivalry between the US and the EU.

The Murdoch press and the Telegraph call for Philip Hammond to go. Banking capital and the Financial Times demand that he stays.

In Parliament David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox demand preparations are made for no agreement.

Hammond wants a prolonged “transition period” in which Britain remains within the EU. Once more banks are threatening to leave unless this is agreed immediately.

“Hard” and “soft” Brexit dominates the political agenda and does so on solely neoliberal lines.

Both sides offer solutions that would directly annul any prospect of a progressive Labour agenda.

Johnson would negotiate free trade treaties that would lock in the same neoliberal conditions as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta).

Hammond and the soft Brexiteers want a deal that would be equivalent to Single Market membership and do just the same.

Either settlement would fatally compromise the programme that brought Labour to the verge of victory in the last election: no comprehensive public ownership, no state aid for industry, no mandatory collective bargaining, no state investment bank, no prospect of an eventual advance to socialism, a prospect essential if we are to halt march of the populist right.

This is what is at stake in the coming week. It is why both peace and socialism must be back, explicitly, on the agenda.