time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?

In the lead-up to the latest national strike day on 28 March, Sheila Cohen asks whether the anti-cuts campaigns are working

I have been asked to write an article about anti-cuts campaigns, and said I don’t know much about them. I don’t know much about them because I don’t think they work. I don’t think they work because the government and ruling-class generally are rabid hyenas without an iota of inclination to give a flying **** about the needs and wishes of so-called “ordinary people” – if they did give such a thing they wouldn’t be, well, ruling. But I was asked to write nonetheless.

The several large demonstrations against the cuts programme have presented a confident outward image, mocking the Coalition: but what power do we actually have to stop Cameron and co.?

As a dutiful writer, I began preparing for this piece by doing (admittedly, a very small modicum of) research. One dedicated anti-cuts organisation I turned up which shall be nameless, but describes itself on its website as “a diverse collation of…groups and individuals that have come together to challenge social exclusion and promote social justice” includes as part of its many activities a project to unite unemployed workers, a “celebration” of its locality with a “one day community event” and, of course, intransigent opposition to racism – and quite right too. The community event was warmly received, with one participant commenting that it had, indeed, given “a real sense of community”. So what’s not to like? Continue reading “time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?”

Advertisements

strikes and solidarity

If this year’s strikes are to have power, we must take our lead from the electricians, bypassing union attempts at defusion by offering each other solidarity in new ways and across artificial divides, writes Deb Harris.

Solidarity is illegal. Thatcher said so. She only permits us to strike if we have a specific and identifiable common complaint – we are not allowed to strike together in recognition of the general horror. In 2011, submissive as ever, the unions found the only thing that the public sector can legally unite around – pensions – and conveniently forgot that everyone is angry about a lot more than that. Their speeches, placards and leaflets were all about pensions. As if we had given up on anything but retirement. Continue reading “strikes and solidarity”

the n30 strike day and a 2012 of struggle

Steve Ryan, a PCS activist in Wrexham, looks at the aftermath of the November 30th pensions strike and the opportunities for class struggle in the year ahead.

November 30th. I was dropped off by the picket lines outside  a large government building in Cardiff. The line was well attended, the PCS yellow jackets bright in the dawn light, The wood was already blazing in the brazier, The mood was upbeat and determined.

As the dawn broke a rainbow appeared over the building: that’s where our pensions are, someone quipped. Pictures were taken, reports sent in.

From the lines we travelled into Cardiff to join the march. 5,000 people, some say, certainly it was big, biggest for years, The march was noisy, with music and chants, Crowds thronged the pavements clapping and cheering, We debated when we could last remember this happening. The march needed with the usual speeches from union bosses and sympathetic politicos, By about 3pm we were done and drifting home, or to cafes and pubs. It had been a momentous day , reports had been received from comrades all over the UK with similar stories, biggest ever march, solid picket lines, huge support from the public. Continue reading “the n30 strike day and a 2012 of struggle”

the cuts: not just defending the ‘welfare state’

The Sheffield Commune is holding a public meeting on the afternoon of the 30th November public sector strike.

We will be discussing the capitalist state, the cuts and the communist alternative vision for how workers and service users can run public services.

The welfare state: 'ours'?

From 3:30pm on Wednesday 30th November (after the rally/demo) at the Rutland Arms, Brown Street, near the Showroom Cinema. All welcome, plenty of time for debate. Continue reading “the cuts: not just defending the ‘welfare state’”

sheffield anti-cuts: a fairer capitalism?

Barry Biddulph found the Sheffield anti-cuts alliance heavier on top-table speakers than real politics or organisation

The second public meeting of the campaign against the cuts in Sheffield was was far smaller and less representative than the first founding meeting last year, despite the recent demos and strike votes. Less than one hundred people sat in a University lecture room with seats for five hundred, to listen to seven speakers. It was a trade union rally, not a meeting for activists to discuss the socialist alternative to the crisis of capitalism and how to organise to make the transition to  a real movement.

The character of the speeches was very defensive. It was all about keeping what we had. Defending our welfare state against the Nasty Tories as if the Labour Party was not making cuts in Manchester and elsewhere. There was no criticism of the Labour Party or those union leaders reluctant to fight the cuts. The political implication of the speeches was the Labour Party could somehow represent the fight back or to register that there was a trade union fightback. There was no analysis of the economic crisis and no speaker including a Permanent Revolution supporter, mentioned the S word. John McDonnell MP came closest with his call for a new society.   Continue reading “sheffield anti-cuts: a fairer capitalism?”

bristol anti-cuts: in and for the state?

Oleg Resin asks if we can do more than make defensive arguments against the cuts

One afternoon towards the end of February, a bizarre scene unfolded in Bristol City Council’s main meeting room. While the local councillors were discussing the vote on the cuts of some £20 million, a small group of protesters was shouting at them from the public corner.

The ‘funny’ thing about this was that while dozens of thousands people work in the public services in Bristol, the only people who in an organised way actually stuck their heads out, and were therefore dragged out by the police, were pro-anarchist Industrial Workers of the World and a few ‘non-aligned’ radicals. Anti-state activists beaten up as a ‘vanguard’ of a pro-welfare state protest! (without a mass following)… If curious, this scene nevertheless captures something crucial to our condition in Bristol. Continue reading “bristol anti-cuts: in and for the state?”

anti-cuts: room for concern and room for hope

Steve Ryan reflects on the progress of the anti-cuts campaigns

As we move towards spring and towards what is being billed as the biggest demo for years on 26th March, now is perhaps a good to time to reflect on the anti cuts “movement “ and where it is going.

So far it has looked very good. Hundreds of cities and towns now have anti cuts groups. There have been a series of demonstrations, events, public meetings stunts etc. Anyone who uses social networking sites will not have failed to be aware of this. It looks rich and diverse.

Before Christmas the student protests galvanised the movement with a series of imaginative demonstrations and occupations. There have been strikes, for example, the London Underground  and Department for Work and Pensions, and currently the UCU lecturers’ union is balloting over pay. Couldn’t be better. Could it?

Well yes, actually. There are clear signs that the movement is stalling. Continue reading “anti-cuts: room for concern and room for hope”