An Autumn of Discontent and Winter of Resistance?

Is discontent and resistance growing? The trade union movement is stirring from its supine accommodation to the authoritarianism of New Labour. According to the Guardian,

Britain faces an autumn of discontent as trade unions threaten a campaign of national strikes over spending cuts, pay and pensions in the public sector.

Civil servants, teachers and health and transport workers face calls to join a national day of action on 20 October, the day the chancellor, George Osborne, is to disclose details of a spending review designed to cut public spending by £83bn.

A further day of marches and demonstrations is planned for 23 October, as well as a series of strike days during the autumn as unions gear up to fight an expected 600,000 public sector job losses.

In addition,

On September 29, to coincide with a meeting of European finance ministers, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) will organise a European Day of Action.

As European Governments move collectively to slash public expenditure, including jobs, pay and pensions, while the European economy is fragile and vulnerable to renewed recession, the ETUC is to mobilise a collective trade union response. This will be centred on a big demonstration in Brussels but the ETUC is calling on affiliates to take the maximum possible degree of action in all the countries of the European Union. This can include protest stoppages, demonstrations, meetings with Government finance ministers etc.

Whilst Tony Benn [and 73 other leading figures of the Left, including Doug Nicholls] argue ‘the time to organise resistance is now’.

It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government’s budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.

The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers’ profligacy.

The authors continue,

We commit ourselves to:

• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.

• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.

• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.

• Oppose all proposals to “solve” the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.

• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.

• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.

• Support the development of a national coordinating coalition of resistance.

We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.

Our campaign needs to respond to these initiatives and we need your views upon and criticisms of the proposals being made. Personally I think we need to be involved, but I harbour reservations. In particular my opinion is that we should have forged resistance long before to the anti-working class authoritarianism of New Labour, a neo-liberal party par excellence.  Those, who refused to criticise and break from New Labour, must be wary of the easy way out, a simple falling back into hating the Tories and into a tired  regurgitation of a ‘top-down’ state socialist  creed. Of course my speculation is but a contribution to the self-critical debate we must encourage. As it is, whatever my caution, I believe we should support the days of action, sign up to the coalition of resistance and attend their conference. What do you reckon?

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