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Unity! Communists at the TUC

September 2011

Wapping after 25 years

Lost in the space between the contending classes Milliband seems to have succeeded in the principal public relations objective set by his advisors – of presenting Labour at some distance from the unions engaged in a bitter pensions battle with the government. Labour leaders’ speeches at TUC are invariably an extraordinary rendition of tortured language. On one hand stroking the egos of the susceptible – especially union leaderships. On the other hand staking out a claim for the support of big business and swing voters while trying not to put too many strains on the loyalty of trade unionists.

Milliband said some sensible things. Prioritise tax cuts for the hard-working majority, not the super-rich. Cut VAT now to 17.5% to get the economy moving again. Insist that those who caused the crisis help pay to put it right. Renew the bankers’ bonus tax and use the money to support enterprise, put the young unemployed back to work, and to build homes. All good stuff. The warning that global “collective austerity” will fail to stimulate an export-led recovery is common sense. And his implied support for measures to safeguard Bombardier jobs and pursue top rate tax dodgers got a welcome.

A brief flurry of hope and expectation was felt when he said Britain needs an new economic model. But the new model turns out to be the same old class-cuddle social partnership drivel so divorced from the real world of work in a minimum wage economy scarred by mass unemployment and massive deindustrialisation. This most bizarre passage in Milliband’s speech took us into an Alice in Wonderland world where resistance to pay cuts, job losses, pension hikes, cuts in public services and price rises is presented negatively as opposition to change. continued overleaf

Murdoch did not “save” the newspaper industry. He wrecked it and the jobs and journalism that went with it. But in February 1987, when the Wapping dispute ended, the media crowed about the fate of printworkers and the unions. Now, for the first time since the end of the dispute the complete story and the lessons to be learned from it are being told from the point of view of the sacked workers and their trade unions in “The Workers’ Story”, an exhibition and booklet. “The Workers’ Story” tells how News International conspired with the government and the rogue EETPU union to get rid of an entire workforce with the support of the law and, in the face of rebellion on the streets of Wapping and elsewhere, the police. continued page 4

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Unity! TUC 2011 Wednesday 14 September

Groucho

‘Red Ed’ in amazing escape Such is the power of media branding that it seems that a few of the media’s finest were initially taken in by our spoof scoop of Ed Milliband’s speech to Congress. Ever since the boss press labelled him ‘Red Ed’ – because trade unionists had the temerity to prefer him over the PLP’s choice – he has been struggling to escape the appellation. Success is in sight. Incidentally, Groucho pays tribute to the redoubtable Ann Gilbert, late of Northern College and the civil service union for the idea of an early release leader’s speech. Next Congress we might try out an ideal speech from Brendan. On your marks, Brother Barber. See if you can outbid us in progressive policy and class analyis. Not every flower smells sweet I am sorry to report that the comrade dispatched to report on the Trade Union Friends of Israel fringe fell among bad elements and finished up in the pub. Since TUFI backed the Israeli government and their tame trade union leadership over the attacks on Gaza there have been efforts to put a gloss on the Zionist lobby’s efforts among trade unionists by recasting it as an initiative for reconciliation with Palestinian trade unionists. Watch out for the so-called Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (or Tulip.) ★

continued Alongside entreaties for workers to make further sacrifices he told delegates; “And you know you will never have relevance for many workers in this country if you allow yourselves to be painted as the opponents of change.” The truth is that Labour will lose further relevance for millions of workers if it does not offer some opposition to the changes wrought in their working lives and the prospects for their children in the interests of big business and the banks. There was a big gap between the messaging emerging from union leaderships and the line taken by Milliband. A gap that will present a big difficulty for Labour if it continues its present strategy of distancing itself from the forces prepared to challenge the changes wrought by capitalism's developing crisis. The level of class conflict that is beginning to develop cannot be accomodated within the studied ‘non-ideological’ stance Millband prefers. And the very depth of capitalism’s crisis; the particular features of Britain's specific crisis with its dependence on the relationship with US capital, its mediating role in relation to the US and the EU and the dominance of the finance sector over manufacturing; means that there is little room for concessions. Of course, as this autumn's struggles begin to mount the state, the corporate media and the government will begin to talk up the role of the law. We are about to hear a whole load of pious nonsense about the law standing above conflict, about the need to respect the courts and judges and keep our protests, demonstrations and strikes within the bounds of the existing industrial relations and anti union laws. Our union leaders are both

more sanguine and more realistic. On anti-union laws Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said “The fact that we came to an end of 13 years of Labour government with the Thatcher laws still in place is a stain on Labour’s record, and a betrayal of its historic mission and purpose of advancing working people’s rights. And he warned that “Law is an essential thing for a civilised society, of course, but class law, pushed through a parliament full of expense cheats by a cobbled-together coalition which no one voted for is not going to paralyse me and it should not paralyse our movement.” Paul Kenny warned that if the government brought in more anti-union laws in response to strikes against public sector they would have to be broken. “Civil disobedience in protest at erosion of civil liberties and freedoms have a place in our history.”

“Human labour cannot

be dispensed with, and this also counts for the growth within advanced capitalism of a vast ‘industrial relations’ enterprise, whose purpose is to elicit from wage-earners the ‘positive’ attitudes, the ‘loyalty’ and cooperative spirit which the collective, ‘socialised’ process of production requires, but which the dynamic of capitalism serves to undermine.” Ralph Milliband On the main industrial relations question union leaders were equally at loggerheads with Milliband. Mark Serwotka was particularly critical of the

Labour leader’s call for unions to return to the negotiating table. “It is quite shocking that he remains badly briefed on pensions. He keeps saying there are negotiations but there are no negotiations going on,” he said. And Milliband had no response to Mary Bousted’s sharply worded point on the real nature of the ‘negotiations’ with government over pensions. Milliband ended his speech to say: “Out of crisis comes the chance to think about the kind of economy and society we want to build”. But nowhere in his speech was there the slightest hint that the reorientation of the economy and the construction of a society in which the interests of ‘hard working families’ were paramount could only come about by the replacement of the existing set up. He seems lost in the space between the contending classes – a dangerous place do be after a TUC which has begun strenthen its stand against cuts, so-called pension ‘reform’ and job losses. Ed Milliband’s election as Labour leader represented a partial rebuff to the neo-Blairite tendency that dominates the parliamentary Labour Party, resides in the shadow cabinet and infects the internal machinery of the party. An actual majority of real Labour adherents, in the unions, constituencies and affiliated organisations prevailed over the unrepresentative curias of MPs, and MEPs who dominate the party to select him as leader. But leader he must become. Just as there is no real opportunity to avoid taking sides in the big class battles that are coming there is little chance of appeasing the Blairite New Labour rump whilst retaining the loyalty and support of Britain’s trade unionists, working people as a whole and their families. Which side are you on, brother? Which side are you on? ★


Unity! TUC 2011 Wednesday 14 September

Why we remember Cable Street 75 years ago this year, the Battle of Cable Street took place, on the 4 October 1936. It was the most famous antifascist demonstration in British history. To this day the East End remains proud that it was on its streets that march of Mosley fascism was blocked. In 1936, countries across Europe were falling to the fascist jackboot, with workers’ organisations – political parties and unions – outlawed. From Poland and Hungary to Norway and France, aggressive rightwing and fascist forces were challenging for power. In Germany and Italy they

had the power of government and had used it ruthlessly to persecute religious minorities, extinguish democratic liberties and freedom of association and the press. They imprisoned and tortured and established concentration camps, and they pursued expansionist foreign policies. All such forces were united in their hatred of the Soviet Union, the first workers' state. In Spain, a treacherous General Franco led an uprising against the constitution and the legitimate government. Britain had its fascist followers grouped in Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists; which was in fact

funded by Mussolini. Its leadership looked abroad for inspiration and was tied by marriage and business interests to the Hitler regime. Mosley used anti-Semitism to divide working-class communities. He was backed by influential business interests, the Rothermere Press (the Daily Mail wrote ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’) and bankers grouped in the Anglo-German Fellowship which was influenced by Von Ribbentrop, the Nazi representative in Britain. Blackshirts were marshalled in military formation and trained to attack workers’ meetings, disrupt rent strikes and were often protected by the police. As part of their strategy to terrorise important communities, they announced that on Sunday 4 October, they would march on London's East End starting at Royal Mint Street and then fanning out eastwards, particularly in areas with Irish and Jewish communities. Just days before, when it became obvious that the Government would not ban the fascist march (after all, why would they: this was a government actively frustrating an international alliance against

fascism) the Communist Party and local labour movement and Jewish community organisations put out a call for east Londoners to unite and block Mosley's path. They issued a slogan, chalked on streets and doorways to factories which echoed that of heroic Madrid, then resisting Franco: "They Shall Not Pass." And this they did, turning out in tens of thousands to deny the streets to fascism. After much street fighting and the erection of barricades – quite a bit of it with the police who were trying to clear a path for Mosley – he abandoned plans to march. What he soon came to realise was that his influence in high circles was broken and as his mentor Hitler threatened freedom and Britain more and more, the little support he had built up in working class circles evaporated. Within four years he was imprisoned as a traitor. Britain was the only country in Europe where fascism was successfully blocked and the battles of Cable Street and later, in Bermondsey, did much to blunt his advance. For this reason we remember Cable Street a day of dignity and unity for a vibrant and diverse community that would not lay down. http://cablestreet75.org.uk/ ★

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Unity! TUC 2011 Wednesday 14 September

A world to win L A N O I N T O A N EARS R E T 5Y N I 2 S – W NE PPING by Liz Payne-Ahmadi

The United Nations’ report The World’s Women, published makes sobering reading. The picture of women it portrayed is still alarmingly bleak.

WA

The aim of Murdoch’s “dash for freedom” was to be free to pursue world-wide political influence at the highest level, world-wide, as well as to make money. Using the highly lucrative Sun and News of the World to fund USA ventures and service debts, Fox News, 20th Century Fox films and subsequently Sky News and Sky Sport, along with the strings of newspaper groups around the globe have provided that power and influence. The Exhibition provides some answers as to why and how a trade union-organized workforce had to be sacrificed to achieve those aims. It tells the story in words and pictures that should be seen by anyone who is interested in what sort of organization hacks into people’s private phone messages and seeks to corrupt police and politicians with apparent impunity over many years.

SEE THE EXHIBITION: LIVERPOOL: 19-30 September weekdays only Unite Regional office, and public meeting 24 September LONDON: 1-14 October daily, Goldsmiths College, and public meeting 4 October MANCHESTER: 18 October – 18 November daily, Peoples History Museum BRIGHTON: 28 November – 1 December, Unite national sector conferences LONDON: 5-16 December, weekdays only, Unite London + Eastern regional sector conferences. LONDON: 9-31 January 2012, Bishopsgate Institute For more information see: www.cpbf.org.uk www.unitetheunion.org www.nuj.org.uk ★

21st century marxism

21st century marxism a world to win is the theme of the 2011 Communist University which takes place at the Bishopsgate Institute from Friday 25 until Sunday 27 November. The event includes a solidarity rally, plenary sessions adressed by communist leaders from South Africa, India and Germany plus leading British labour movement figures with workshops and seminars led by key activists and marxist intellectuals. Follow www.communist-party.org.uk and the Morning Star for further details and registration

We are, in general, poor and vulnerable and, in many places, isolated, overburdened and frequently unable to access the most basic of services. We are also without voice. Less than 20% of parliamentary seats worldwide are held by women. Only 11 of the 192 heads of state and 13 CEOs of the 500 largest corporations are female. This is reflected too at every level in local government and organisation. But low visibility of women in public life is hardly surprising, given the barriers we face. Violence against women – physical, sexual, psychological and economic – is ‘a universal phenomenon’. Women still do twice as much work as men, much of it domestic and unpaid. The gender pay gap too is almost universal. The majority of the 72 million children in the world not receiving primary education are girls and two thirds of the 774 million who cannot read or write are women. Almost 80% of the world’s 27 million refugees are women and children. The majority of those in Africa and the Middle East with HIV/Aids are women and,

in some parts of the developing world, pregnancy and childbirth still carry a high risk of death or permanent injury. All this, of course, is inexcusable. The world has the knowledge, science, technology, medicine and resources to provide health care, food, clean water, education and a decent standard of living for all its population. We know that what stands in the way is the profitseeking and greed of capitalists and their corrupt and crisisridden system. The super rich cannot reproduce corporate and individual wealth in a just and peaceful world. International Women’s Day (IWD) has always provided an opportunity to think about these things and, as we prepare in 2012 for a second century of women’s heroic struggle since we first marked the day, we know for sure that there is an alternative for which to fight and win. Next March we will remember the heroism of our sisters across the world, facing arrest, torture, imprisonment and execution for speaking up for this. ★ Liz Payne-Ahmadi is the Communist Party’s women’s organiser

Women and Class by Mary Davis £2 www.communist-party.org.uk

CP daily Journal UNITY for TUC 2011 - Wednesday  

The communist party union conference daily journal UNITY 2011

CP daily Journal UNITY for TUC 2011 - Wednesday  

The communist party union conference daily journal UNITY 2011

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