This speech was delivered by Chris Marsden, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (UK), to the 2017 International May Day Online Rally, held on April 30.
Every general election necessarily unleashes a torrent of lies.
That is because parties that speak for the ruling class must portray themselves as the guardians of the national interest, and even friends of working people.
Such has been nature of the campaign since Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election for June 8.
She claimed that Britain, despite supposedly “coming together” since Brexit, and with “economic growth that has exceeded all expectations,” needs “strong leadership.”
May said she wants to negotiate the terms of Britain’s leaving the European Union with a large majority, won by crushing the “saboteurs” in parliament. But events have confirmed that the Socialist Equality Party was correct to insist that May wants a de facto elected dictatorship to push a much broader agenda of austerity, militarism and war.
Brexit is the product of growing antagonisms between the major European powers, which provoked strident Tory demands for an end to the UK’s EU membership, in order to free City speculators to exploit relations with the United States and penetrate the more vibrant markets of China and India.
Instead, far from appearing strong, May has proved how far the rot eating at the vitals of British capitalism has gone.
In the name of “taking back control,” she has made her government even more dependent on an alliance with the Trump administration—which also came to power committed to the brutal assertion of national interests.
For her pains May has been kicked in the teeth by Trump, who has made clear that a trade deal with the EU is more important than one with Britain.
At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has led the EU states in insisting that the UK will be treated like any other third country, with “illusions” to the contrary “a waste of time.”
This much could have been anticipated by anyone not blinded by the naked propaganda that passes for news coverage in the UK. What will have surprised many is the degree to which June 8 has been transformed into a virtual “war election.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is no longer denounced merely as a saboteur of Brexit, but as a threat to national security!
In the past two weeks, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon called him a stooge of President Vladimir Putin for opposing the build-up of NATO troops on Russia’s borders.
This week, after Corbyn refused to publicly commit to the renewal of Trident and pledge to trigger a nuclear attack, Fallon made the unprecedented declaration that Britain would use nuclear weapons “as a first strike.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that if asked by the US, Britain would say “yes” to war in Syria, including using “submarine-based cruise missiles in the Med.”
He added that there would likely be no parliamentary vote, and going to war would be “for the prime minister to decide.”
To underscore the gravity of the threat now emerging, this week saw the launch of the Royal Navy’s new giant 7,400-tonne £1.5 billion nuclear submarine, HMS Audacious. It is the third of seven such subs commissioned as part of the £200 billion Trident/Cruise missile renewal programme.
Russia’s response to all of this was chilling. Military expert Konstantin Sivkov said of Fallon’s first strike threat, “If this is so, it means that the world is standing on the edge of a nuclear war.”
Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of Russia’s Committee for Defense and Security, said, “The UK, which doesn’t have vast territory, will be literally wiped off from the face of the earth with a counterstrike.”
Russia has 33 times more warheads than the UK—7,000, with 4,500 deployed or stockpiled. The most powerful of these, the 40 megaton Satan 2 missile, carries up to a dozen warheads and can level an area the size of the UK in one hit—slaughtering, in the process, 65 million people.