Paul Mason on the anti-coup struggle

Prominent left-wing anti-Brexit journalist, author and campaigner Paul Mason spoke to us about the the battle against Johnson’s regime.

A lot of people were mesmerised by the speed and decisiveness of the Johnson regime – and of course there was a legitimate worry that by resisting his moves we’re playing into his hands in an election. But what that missed is the total blindness of elite technocrats like Cummings and Johnson to mass action.

By going on the streets we’ve changed the situation. Last week 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 mainly been 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 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 – on Tuesday 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 a general election. Even more than techniques and money and getting people mobilised, it’s about creating an atmosphere that Labour is creating a hegemonic offier, to lead the nation in resistance to this power grab and to the catastrophe of No Deal.

People need to get read for a discussion of priorities for the first hundred days, which will be as much about democracy and stabilisation as they will about 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 better arguments.

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