Monday, February 20, 2023

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Enough is Enough is NOT enough

 First we should applaud recent events where it seems for the first time in a long time that working people are far more combative


This week we saw teachers, civil servants, university staff, the supposedly middle-class that we have always correctly called a myth take strike action.


Half a million workers on strike.


hbIt appears to be a new confidence in their industrial muscle via their trade union power.


Perhaps a result of being encouraged by being view themselves as the essential workers during the pandemic that kept the economy and society running


And of course its also being the victims to the cost of living rises that is happening since then.


What is promising is the employers attempts to turn public opinion against the strikers has failed, pretty miserably 


The smears have fallen on stoney ground , and in fact it the ministers and bosses who have had to defend their roles in causing the strikes by their intrangience in not negotiating.


Overall, people rhave sympathy for those on strike.


They understand from personal experience the problems of cancelled or late trains, long hospital waiting times, slow ambulance response times, crowded classrooms and delayed letters and understand these all existed without the strikes.


The nurses and teachers are not being seen as militant troublemakers like the miners were in the 1980s.


Suffering from the same pain of inflationary prices and falling spending power, people can relate to the pay demands and don’t think them as extortionate or Over The Top.


An example of the government propaganda is to take the pay of the small number of senior experienced staff in health or education sectors and suggest that all receive the same generous pay.  


The railway workers of RMT are accused of already being overpaid by constant reference to the wages of train drivers in ASLEF - who possess just as much responsibility as airplane pilots, hundreds of lives dependent on their training and skill.


However RMT represents the lower paid railway workers such as carriage cleaners


But the real reason they don’t want to settle with the RMT is that the government understand the consequences of creating a precedent.


This was admitted to a Parliamentary committee by the TRANSPORT  MINISTER that the government feared an agreement with the rail workers would be followed by similar expectations by NHS staff


Because of the success of the unions with the strikes while retaining the sympathy of much of the public, as I have said, the government are intending to pass new laws to hamstring the unions. Like all previous efforts …rules on ballots and picketing, these ultimately failed to have any great effect.


My second main point, sadly, is emphasising limitations of the strikes and the trade union’s  goals and their very moderate hopes.


Unions are essential for the working class and have done much to advance its cause. Without them, workers would still be subject to the every whim of the employers. But unions, while indispensable in the struggle of the workers against capital, have limits.


We need to acknowledge that fact


As for the unions being moderate, let’s look at the demands being made.


During Covid lockdowns government payments reinforced various proposed schemes for the UBI, some sort of conditional Universal Basic Income.


That has been put on the back-burner, it seems.


Now with inflation the demands have rightly returned to the battlefield of collective pay via trade unions.


The weakness of UBI with its dependency on the government action and policy has been recognised to be weak and that union strength is the position of class power.


So while we can full-heartedly offer our endorsement of our fellow workers in their various trade unions, there is an aspect of it that we must be sceptical and suspicious of.


It is the campaign called Enough is Enough that is being promoted by a number of unions and pressure groups  


On their website the demands which they declare as rights are


1. A real pay rise and minimum wage of £15 an hour
2. Slash energy bills and nationalisation of the energy companies
3. End food poverty introduce free school dinners
4. Decent homes for all - a cap on rents and council house building program
5. Tax the rich - a wealth tax on the top 5% and closing of loopholes and non-domicile status. As well as calling for higher and wider windfall taxes on the likes of the oil ccompanies.


That is the rough gist of what they want.

 Visit their website for a fuller list


Over the years these reforms have been repeated over and over again in some form or another.


Clearly they expect a new Labour government and newly elected Labour MPs to pass the legislation and new laws.


It means they will be campaigning for Labour at the next election, just as they have always done.


I don’t think they believe Starmer as Prime Minister will deliver - he won’t even appear on their picket lines -  but hold to the hope that they can convince enough MPs to make him receptive.


Starmers agenda is the same old Blairite one …a New New Labour Party to capute the middle ground.


But what sort of leverage will they exert when Starmer will say he has the mandate of being elected on HIS manifesto, not Enough is Enough’s.


MPs no matter how sympathetic will not destabilise Starmer.


Yet again it is the call to vote for the lesser evil.


 While we can discern some positive developments in recent events, we can’t ignore that still the workers stop short of wanting real system change.


 They may believe they are challenging the fundamentals of capitalism but it is for ourselves to show that they are not.


So in conclusion I think the Party is faced with a dilemma


 We have two options to choose.


First, to encourage and urge working class resistance bthrough the unions to the cost of living crisis for the protection of our standard of living in pay and working conditions.


Something we have always said we do, unlike some of the Left Communist groups who try to distance themselves from the official trade union movement.


But the problem we have is as Marxists is Do we rain on their parade?


Do we point out the futility of their broader campaign to seek reforms from the Labour Party.


How much of our Party efforts should be devoted to shooting down the unions and our fellow workers delusions of a better government to come?


Will it undermine the new confidence at a crucial time when people are re-discovering the power of economic and industrial organisation?


And here we come along and say to them all very good and well but Enough is Enough is not enough as this month’s  Socialist Standard article said.


We are the only political party that is willing to put our popularity at stake by acting as a wet blanket at a time of optimism.


 Albeit the voice of socialist reason.


Our propaganda walks this tight-rope. 


And we have to achieve a balance


With the workers actual struggle and fight on one hand


But against many of their supposed solutions.


How do we communicate our cynicism and scepticism and still get sympathic hearing? 


How do we show solidarity and support but still express our disagreement and opposition? 


Should we emphasise our case AGAINST capitalism


Or alternatively, make our case FOR socialism


Lesser evilism politics always seems popular but it fosters false solutions and brings forth non-socialist recruitment to all its various proponents


What a dichtotomy we face.


My own opinion is whatever strengthens the potential power of the working class, what keeps it healthy and virile, is a benefit to it. 


And eventually to us to achieve socialism when we have strong fellow-workers, in a fit state to heed our message,


 But more importantly to reach their own socialist conclusions, without necessarily having heard our voice.


 I know some of you will have a lot more to add, especially some are actually directly involved in the strikes and possess a lot more information and insight than I do.


Usually, the format is that the speaker gets asked questions to answer or comment upon


Here I think every member has a valid opinion worthy of being heard.


My own reply to them are not required.  


Thursday, January 12, 2023

We can make the world stop (music)


They got money but it never worked a hospital They got money but it never drove a bus They got money but it never worked a railway line They got money but all of that was us [chorus] So if you feel intimidated by a higher power Just stop what you're doing And right within the hour You'll see the power that we've got We can make the world stop We can make the world stop and start again We can make the world stop We can make the world stop and start again They make laws but their laws have never dug for coal They make laws but have never cleaned a school They make laws but their laws have never worked the land They make laws but hey that was me and you chorus we bloody well should *3 Cause every power that they hold Every law or block of gold Every policeman, every jail Is guaranteed to fail Because everything that they demand Is a powerless command Unless we obey to what they say But if we say no way We can make the world stop We can make the world stop and start again *4 and we bloody well should *3 we can make the world stop