Monday, March 28, 2011

Consequences of Saturday

I don't think it's true that it was Mao who, when asked what were the consequences of the French Revolution, said that it was too early to say (perhaps regular readers Sid and Doris Hoxha can advise if I am right?)

However it may be a little soon to assess all the consequences of Saturday's completely brilliant TUC demonstration.

On the negative side of the balance sheet, today's Evening Standard exemplifies the authoritarian narrative that "something must be done" about disorder (which will constrain the right to protest).

Keith Vaz - with all the political sense of a flattended hedgehog with a high opinion of itself - is using his position as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee to fan flames intended to incinerate our civil rights.

The truth is that even the laudable and sensible actions of UK Uncut were marginal on Saturday, when what really happened was that the trade union movement - and UNISON in particular - saw our potential strength.

The trivial political intervention of an even more marginal fringe whose politics matter less than their personality disorders was an irrelevance of service only to those on the other side of politics who share their contempt for organised labour.

Whilst we must both contest any attempt to infringe upon our rights, and defend those arrested (particularly those pursuing the sensible nonviolent politics of UK Uncut - but also those dragged along by adrenalin and inexperience behind people whose political programme can only be expressed in a flash and a loud bang) it is much more important that we focus on - and encourage - the positive consequences of Saturday's incredible turnout.

In our UNISON branches we must engage with the hundreds who will have demonstrated in order to draw them into greater organisation and activity.

I can't be the only Branch Secretary who returned to work today to more work than it is possible to do to deal with cuts, redundancies and privatisation. We need to draw those who marched on Saturday further into activity in the workplace. In this way we can enable ourselves to organise in the face of these challenges and raise the morale and combativity of our members, which will be essential if we are to build effective action against cuts.

At a national level the consequences of Saturday are at least equally important. Our leaders must draw confidence from the strong response to the call to demonstrate and must take the risk of calling for, and supporting, further action.

The fact that Dave Prentis (together with Christine Blower and Mark Serwotka) will address Wednesday lunchtime's rally in support of the strike against cuts by UNISON and NUT in Tower Hamlets ( is an important straw in the wind now beginning to blow against the Coalition Government and their cuts.

The consequences of Saturday are for us to determine.

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1 comment:

Geoff Collier said...

It was Zhou Enlai, actually.