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.

As the Fire Brigades Union in Britain goes out on strike for the second time, we are publishing the second Firefighters' Bulletin distributed by the Socialist Appeal throughout the fire stations up and down the country. The struggle of the firefighters in Britain is becoming a major industrial battle with the Labour government commited to smash the union. We support the struggle of the firefighters for fair pay.

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Revolution 2018 - a three-day festival of Marxist ideas
Revolution 2018 is a three-day festival of Marxist ideas, hosted by Socialist Appeal, In Defence...
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