Industrial militancy in Britain is on the increase. It reflects a general
mood in the workplace that enough is enough. The Blair government is not only
confronting the first national firefighters' strike in 25 years, but is facing
action on a number of other fronts. This has raised the spectre of another
Winter of Discontent similar to the one faced by the Callaghan government in
At the beginning of this month, as the first wave of strikes loomed the Blair
government was preparing to square up to the firefighters. "Picket lines
might be crossed… no options are being ruled out" Blair triumphantly
proclaimed. This was a blatant threat of attack. Such actions would have put the
government on a collision course with the unions. It shows how removed from
reality Blair is in arrogantly attempting to trample over the concerns of
working people. However they are in for a rude awakening.
Interview with Mick Shaw member of the FBU EC for the London Region: "We
have now reached the stage where the government and the employers are hiding
behind this so-called 'independent inquiry', and are refusing to engage in
negotiations. Our members see no alternative but to take industrial action in
order to persuade the employers to return to negotiations."
It's amazing how people change. And it's even more terrible when you forget your roots. This is surely the case with poor old John Prescott, once National Union of Seamen firebrand, and now "responsible" statesman and minister in charge of the Labour Government's stand against the just demands of Britain's firefighters.
Fredrick Engels once defined the state as "armed bodies of men", together with their appendages, in defence of private property. Last month's BBC 2 TV programme in Britain entitled True Spies by Peter Taylor examined one of these appendages, Britain's secret services. The programme revealed how in "democratic" Britain, MI5 and the Special Branch systematically infiltrated political groups and organisations, and secretly spied on trade union leaders such as Arthur Scargill and Derek 'Red Robbo' Robinson. While none of the revelations are particularly startling, what was of interest was the use of first-hand interviews by ex-M15 agents in explaining their sordid undercover activities.
The dearth of leadership in the Tory Party is not the cause of their crisis, but it is not an accident either. The failings of these leaders faithfully reflect the impasse of their system. Nye Bevan once said of the Tory leaders (including Churchill) they have nothing to say about tomorrow, and harp on about the past because they have no part to play in the future. They are a doomed party representing a doomed class and a doomed system. The crisis in the Tory Party is symptomatic of the impasse facing the profit system. The sickness of that system spreads like a cancer affecting every aspect of society.