ConDems on the ropes?

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Political Views

ConDems on the ropes?

Labour Fight- Kate Williams

It’s clear that the Tories aren’t going to get everything they wanted. With tensions in the coalition simmering, Cameron has signalled that they’ll be a pause in public sector reform for a few weeks at least. According to a report in the Financial Times a White Paper is to be delayed until mid-July at least with Cameron apparently already having had to drop the plan to introduce quotas in public services for provision by independent i.e. private sector bodies (FT 2 June). A ‘pause’ was recently called for a ‘listening’ exercise on NHS proposals which was clearly a tactic to buy time in the face of major public opposition, which crystallised at the RCN conference where the Health Secretary received a resounding vote of no-confidence from nurses and the BMA conference where Doctors voted for potential industrial action. These normally conservative unions are showing just how unpopular NHS reforms are. Now the Lansley Bill is to be watered down even further if he and or/it isn’t ditched altogether. The wider agenda to reform i.e. privatise public services is being vigorously opposed by local anti-cuts campaigns, rank and file Trade Unionists and young people. But it is unlikely that Cameron, and Clegg, are trembling in the face of opposition, especially with the Labour Party and Trade Union leaderships providing no major coordinated national focus to the movement. This is because they are both incapable and unwilling to do so! These ‘pauses’ are tactical and can be considered a sign of the weakness of the government. Despite the Lib Dems’ position as junior partners even before the AV referendum and council elections massacre, they are going to need to stand firm in the face of rank and file dissent in order to deliver the Tories’ and British capitalism’s agenda while hanging onto their ministerial salaries, perks and privileges. There is clearly no need to impose cuts- in whatever form- the arguments are easily refuted. A quick google search will turn up enough facts and figures to prove this beyond doubt. And a rather stark reminder of just how efficient the private sector is in delivering public services has been all over the news in recent days with two examples of how the most vulnerable in our society are being treated.The Financial meltdown at Southern Cross, Britain’s largest (privately owned) care home provider could leave thousands of elderly homeless and the horrific abuse at a Bristol care unit for people with learning disabilities, recently uncovered by Panorama, was a private hospital ‘charging huge amounts of money’ for a service which is clearly failing in more ways than one (Guardian 1 June). Any ‘pause’ will not alter the government’s course whatever deals are done to keep Clegg and co on board. Nor will any strike or demonstration alone. It’s matter for the balance of forces. Plans to cut and privatise will continue to gather pace with mass redundancies and outsourcing plans underway in many councils across the country, alongside the continuing slaughter of jobs in government departments. Public services like Royal Mail remain in the government’s sights and further attempts to drive down terms and conditions and smash union organisation is a key objective in softening things up for the privateers. The unemployed and sick, demonized and denigrated as spongers, are under further attack with further draconian measures and an £18 billion cut in welfare budgets planned under the Welfare Bill now being debated in parliament. Meanwhile Stephen Hester, head of RBS, which is now ‘owned’ by the taxpayer received a 4.5m bonus for his ‘work’ overseeing a £ 1.1 billion loss! Who are the real spongers?! However, any pause, any sign of retreat, however partial, by the ruling class, provides an opening for the movement to make a step forward. The role for Revolutionary Socialists is to raise the need for any steps forward to go beyond mere concessions and to connect each seemingly isolated struggle together, in words and deeds. A slightly bigger slice of an already meagre portion of pie is not good enough! We want the whole pie and the only way we will get it is by punching our weight! The bourgeois’ most intelligent strategists will be warning of the dangers of a strike on 30 June involving thousands in the civil service and teachers over public sector cuts and pensions. While the media can be relied upon to employ a blackout, a campaign of denigration and outright lies and/or any combination thereof, the turnout on the 26th demonstration has not gone unnoticed as a sign of just how deep the disaffection with austerity politics runs. The view expressed by many mainstream economists that government policies would engender a renewed period of recession- a ‘double-dip’- is very nearly a reality and the effects are being felt by workers, the unemployed and young people. While perhaps not creating major economic pressure for the government as other unions and groups of workers might, a coordinated strike will provide a further focus for this disaffection and put pressure of the bureaucracy of the other unions to launch industrial action. The pressure will be initially political. The ruling class- the bankers, board members and their government cabinet – are clearly preparing for a response from the organised working class. They understand that this is inevitable but they also understand the role of the Trade Union bureaucracy. We must also understand the role of the Trade Union bureaucracy. It will at times act as a damper on the mood and activity of the working class and at times will be forced to express the will of the class to fight. The power of the working class is immense. This power is the power to overthrow capitalism and rebuild society by taking control of it. This can and will be achieved. The only missing element is a genuine leadership, steeled in the experience of the class struggle and armed with its distilled theoretical essence, that of Revolutionary Socialism. – Strike, demonstrate, occupy! – Fight the anti-trade union laws! – Build a new leadership! Kate Williams

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