by Steve Ryan
So , the cuts continue, and every day new tales of slash and burn emerge from London Fire Brigade through the NHS to the Ministry of Justice.
The Left claim that this is the worst attack since the 1970s: depressingly the response is very far from that of the 1970s.
The 1970s were probably a heyday in union power and influence. A powerful network of shop stewards committees, a politicised work force and a responsive TUC led to significant victories and successes from miners’ strikes to the release of jailed activists such as the Pentonville Five, dockers imprisoned for ‘contempt of court’. Trade union membership was at an all time high.
The influence of far left groups was also high and membership way above that of today.
2010 however sees low union membership, a TUC that is in hoc to New Labour as are the big unions such as UNITE whose leaders played down strike action this week , even saying cuts were needed!
Whilst the more radical PCS and RMT are calling for action at the TUC this is unlikely to be supported.
In the meantime the left as always revert to type , calling demos to pressure the TUC into doing something, anything…
Pretty grim is it not? Well yes, with little fight back from union and labour movement leaders, few anti cuts groups springing up, it does look bad.
However, all is not lost. The fact is that anti cuts groups ARE springing up as the scale of the cuts hits home. As the cuts begin to bite this process will quicken. Similarly workers are beginning to sense what is coming after a languid summer, This at some stage will turn to anger, not just with the government but with union leaders, especially if some unions DO take militant action.
The ConDem coalition is clearly weak as well, with clear splits showing and the Lib Dems in turmoil.
So what should communists be doing?
Clearly anti-cuts groups need initiating in as many communities as possible, and as these grow they need to federate as with the anti-Poll Tax movement. This will allow co coordinated actions, stunts etc. these groups MUST be non sectarian, horizontal in organisation and inclusive but militant.
Leaflets need to be prepared outlining the attacks and how we fight back. This will need patience and hard work as bit by bit the class gets what is happening.
It means stunts and actions to highlight the effect of the cuts , who is responsible and why the rich should pay not the working class. Take this fight to constituency offices, Conservative clubs, banks, and, yes, support the demos outside the LibDem and Tory conferences.
It also means the slow but important task of building strong rank and files in the unions, linked with local communities, anti-cuts groups etc. If union leaders will not act we must. Workplace bulletins are imperative in this work.
As the struggle develops this autumn opportunities and initiatives will arise. As they do communists should be developing the argument for a permanent change to a society based on workers’ self management and communism from below. they should also be operating these principles in practice wherever they are engaged whether in the unions, anti-cuts groups etc demonstrating the practice as well as the theory.
This is a hugely important time, and reinvigorated libertarian left has a key opportunity to help a successful and mass fight back . Equally, if it is mishandled the movement is facing a massive defeat which may discredit it for decades.