Saturday saw hundreds of thousands march through London to demand a ‘people’s vote’ on the Brexit deal.
The march was billed as “demanding a democratic vote on the Brexit deal”, but the reality is that this was a march against Brexit, attracting in the main people who had voted remain, and sponsored by capitalists and supported by politicians who are desperate to salvage Britain’s place in the European imperialist project, either by remaining in the single market or by rejoining the European Union (EU).
As the Morning Star pointed out: “Coaches to London were funded by Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, Anna Soubry, David Miliband, Alastair Campbell and an assortment of wealthy celebrities.
“That’s on top of sizeable donations, up to £1m, from Superdry cofounder Julian Dunkerton, currency speculator George Soros and others.”
Not to mention the weight that Tony Blair and his ‘Institute for Global Change’ has thrown behind the campaign to keep Britain in the EU one way or another. (The institute has the goal of promoting globalisation with a specific focus on the middle east, by the way, in case you were wondering if the war criminal had any sense of shame.)
Blair was just one of a host of odious figures who should rightly be reviled as enemies of progressive humanity who gave their support to the demonstration.
As to the impact of the march, we can’t forget the 2003 demonstration against the Iraq war, which drew well over a million people to protest in the streets of London yet did nothing to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Will a march less than half the size be enough to convince the government to hold another referendum?
If it does, perhaps that might open the eyes of many as to the reality of our democracy – helping them to see that it is a democracy for the rich, propertied classes, for the CEOs and stockholders, rather than for the working people, and that if the occasional ‘mistake’ happens – such as the Brexit vote – then it must be corrected.
What were people marching for?
The marchers we spoke to gave a variety of reasons for coming on the demonstration: “For our children’s future; for my small business; for stability and national security; for peace; for freedom of movement; for our house prices …” and, overall: “Because we’re scared of fascism and racism.”
Lest we forget what the European Union really is, it is an attempt to forge a new, competitive imperialist power out of the much-weakened imperialist European powers after WW2. To do this it must destroy workers’ rights everywhere, push down wages, maintain a continent-wide reserve of the unemployed, and prey on the poorer nations in the union to sustain a higher quality of life for some in the wealthier nations.
Not only this, the EU member states must exploit the rest of the world – in trade, finance, and labour-power – and where they cannot negotiate or blackmail, they must intervene militarily – generally with the urging and support of the USA.
The destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria, enthusiastically conducted by many of the major EU imperialist countries, have resulted not only in the deaths of hundreds of thousands but in the displacement of millions of people, many of whom tried to leave for the safety and prosperity of Europe – who then found the EU’s much-lauded ‘freedom of movement’ hastily suspended while border fences were put up.
The tone of the demonstration was reminiscent of the very fascism that the protestors claimed to oppose – characterised as it was by pleas for European unity, European families and ‘European values’ (whatever they might be); for a strong Europe, able to defend itself against her enemies; for faith in the undemocratic European Union’s ever-growing bureaucratic apparatus, which manages her banks, her single market and (soon) her hoped-for army.
Trade unions across Europe are being crushed, corrupted or muzzled by laws, to be replaced at best by employment tribunals and arbitration balanced in the employers’ favour. EU rules now make it illegal for member states to nationalise any vital industry or service for the benefit of its people, if that in any way interferes with the potential for profit-taking (which, of course, it almost always does).
Concerned with their small businesses, their house prices, the threat of big companies taking their business elsewhere (which, of course, they have been doing for the last hundred years and more), the marchers appeared not realise that the things they are fighting to save have already been lost by the majority of British workers.
For those whose town hasn’t had any jobs for a generation or more; for those who will never be able to get on the housing ladder; for those who cannot afford university; for those who won’t miss the ‘option’ of travelling around Europe visa-free because they can’t even afford to travel around Britain, the myth of the friendly, benign EU has been dispelled, and no amount of fearmongering or threats will bring it back.
The EU was always, and remains today, a bosses’ club, designed to ensure more efficient exploitation of workers at home and abroad, and to help the fading European imperialist powers recoup their strength and retain their place in the world that emerged from WW2, when socialism was spreading like wildfire across the globe, and the US was the only imperialist power strong enough to stand in its way.
As a tool for strengthening the power of the ruling classes of Europe, and for strenghthening the warmongering Nato transatlantic alliance, it is most decidedly in our interest to see the EU, and with it both British and US imperialism, weakened. This is why British workers must not allow the referendum result to be overturned.