FOR THE GENUINE ARTICLE- REAL PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLIES!
Over the last five years workers in the UK have experienced massive cuts in their wages and living standards. Many workers are experiencing pay freezes, many have seen both their hours and overtime cut. Many more have lost their job altogether, whilst relatively better paid jobs in the public sector have been replaced by “outsourcing”, privatised jobs with lower pay. At the same time inflation has outpaced average earnings. Overall wages are now less than they were in 2007 by £52 billion.
At the same time the social wage- pensions, the health service, etc. – are under attack like never before. A recent report gave the figure of 500,000 people now using food banks in the UK. The situation is obviously desperate. Eighty per cent of planned cuts have yet to be implemented and the situation will get a lot worse over the next few years.
A scenario for the future would see the Labour Party being elected in 2015, perhaps by a large majority. But what would this new Labour government do? The Labour Party has already said that it will continue with austerity packages and that they will not reverse cuts. It has questioned the whole idea of universal benefits. As Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, recently said: “We will have to govern in a very different way and in circumstances very different to what we have known for many years. We will inherit a substantial deficit. We will have to govern with much less money around. We will need to show an iron discipline.” Miliband has made a pledge that he will install a three year benefit cap if re-elected. He has checked into the vicious anti- welfare claimant campaign, where those claiming benefits are seen as scroungers. As he said “Labour – the party of work – the clue is in the name. Our party was founded on the principles of work. We have always been against the denial of opportunity through the denial of work. And against the denial of responsibility by those who could work and aren’t doing so…This country needs to be a nation where people who can work, do work. Not a country where people who can work are on benefits.”
And if the Labour Party are ALREADY saying all of this, think what they will be like if re-elected! By then the debt crisis will have worsened, and Labour will use this as an excuse to push through more austerity measures, more cuts.
And yet here at Westminster Hall we have members of the Labour Party like Tony Benn and Owen Jones who will be pushing the illusion that somehow Labour can be pushed left, that workers should get involved in re-electing Labour, that it will somehow be better under a Labour government. This will undoubtedly be one of the key-notes at today’s Assembly. But Labour Party leadership has the same ideas as the Blair and Brown governments, nothing will change.
Those people attending this Assembly today who are genuinely disgusted with the present state of affairs should have a long hard look at what is going on. Rather than be involved in a static event where a range of washed out Trotskyists, Left Labour celebrities, trade union bureaucrats and film makers yearning for a false “Golden Age” of Labour deliver a series of speeches at a set-piece event where there is little or no input from activists , they should consider another alternative.
They should take inspiration from the movements now sweeping the world, whether it be some of the events associated with the Arab Spring, whether it be Taksim Square, whether it be the series of actions by rank and file electricians here in Britain (despite attempts by trade union bureaucrats to sabotage their actions), the fight against Workfare, the recent occupation at Sussex University and the library occupation in Barnet.
This Assembly will be proposing another demonstration in October. But ask yourselves, did any of the previous A-B demos change anything? The million strong demo in 2003, did it stop the war? Did the huge demonstrations in March 2011 and October 2012 stop the cuts this Coalition government is continuing to push through? Did they hell! No, in all instances, government carried on as before.
What is needed is imaginative action at local and national level. This will mean blockades, occupations and other forms of direct action. It will mean campaigns and movements where decisions are not made by bureaucrats or celebrities but by the mass of people affected by this crisis of capitalism. It means an effective link up between workplace and neighbourhood, between, for example, workers in one industry or workplace on strike and other workers, students whether in school, further and higher education, pensioners, the unemployed. The same goes for people fighting cuts nationally or in a locality, maximum support needs to be striven for. It means, as our friends at Thurrock Heckler say:
“ More people getting stuck into action, more experimenting and risk taking to see what does and doesn’t work, more willingness for groups andindividuals to be flexible to join together for actions as and when the need arisesandabove all more militancyandcertainly more momentum. A continuous streamof adiverse rangeofpeopleandtaking actionin amyriadofwaysthatwill leavetheauthoritiesin astateof bewilderment is the key to building that momentum”.
Come and hear what the anarchists have to say, in the open air meeting outside today.
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