Sunday, July 17, 2011

Panem et circenses

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the discomfiture of a rich bastard as much as the next trade unionist.

Watching the odious Murdoch and his entourage playing the camel trying - and (most importantly) failing to get through the eye of the needle has been a great deal of fun.

I am, however, a tiny bit worried that whilst we celebrate the downfall of News International (and the emergence of Ed Miliband as a leader of the stature of Neil Kinnock) the TUC may be about to throw away our strength in the fight to defend our pensions (and therefore give up any hope of a national fight against the Government.)

It may be that we are being distracted ( whilst what we should be doing is focusing on our own interests.

Of course we don't want our media dominated by one plutocrat (or two, or three) - whether or not he (or improbably she) is British. Of course we want a greater democratisation of our mass media.

However, the key issue which confronts us is the Tory assault upon our Welfare State - and our only chance of effective, nationally co-ordinated action to confront this is if the TUC can find both the courage and the intelligence to organise the widest, earliest and most effective action against the assault on public sector pensions.

(For those whose scripted response to such a suggestion is to observe that the TUC could not do this, I invite you to consider whether your script was prepared at 10 Downing Street, by Ed M, or at Congress House, and to reflect upon what it says about you to be in agreement with such a parcel of rogues.)

The Government's attack on pensions provided - and still provides - the trade union movement with the opportunity to organise widespread national strike action (around a series of separate trade disputes), likely to achieve a large part of our objectives, whilst delivering a shattering political blow to the Coalition.

The Government, having belatedly realised that they were in danger of over-reaching themselves, have been drawing back in order to disrupt the unity of the union movement which (alone) can threaten their hegemony.

Those union leaders who focus now on building strength sector-by-sector in order to do the best we can in "scheme specific negotiations" are abandoning the very cause which brought into existence the largest of UNISON's "former partner union"s, as well as the interests of our class. (The purpose of a trade union is not simply to continue to exist, but to represent and promote the interests of our members, so as to give some purpose to continued existence.)

We need to press home the advantage given us by the present political weakness of the Coalition of the millionaires in order to assert the agenda of the millions. The key battle of the moment is about whether we humiliate the Government over pensions or they humiliate us.

If tomorrow the PSLG support a move to scheme-specific negotiations, without having won a single concession, then we shall enter this battle under a leadership which neither believes in, nor wants, victory.

If that happens - as I hope it will not - rank and file activists need to redouble our efforts to secure both unity and action.

In the mean time dear reader, enjoy the pain of the Murdochs as we once enjoyed the pain of the Maxwells - but don't be distracted by the Murdochs from the Government's plan to "do a Maxwell" with the pensions of all public servants!

Unity is strength. It's not complicated. Don't be distracted.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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