The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 8th December 1978

Into the Valley of Death

The charge of the Light Brigade, 1978-style. That is what the expected action by public service manual workers increasingly threatens to be.

Within weeks now over a million of these appallingly low-paid workers could be engaged in an industrial fight.

They will face a barrage of vilification from the millionaire press, being accused of every death, injury and inconvenience occasioned by their temporary absence from work.

Their leaders expect that and have, no doubt, made what arrangements they can to counter it. As far as this paper is concerned, they can be certain that we will answer the lies to the best of our ability.

But the public service workers have a right to expect much more than that, they have a right to expect a wave of solidarity throughout the labour movement.

In that expectation they may well be disappointed. Theirs may well be a brave ride into the "Valley of Death".

"AF and BF"

One bourgeois industrial correspondent has recently coined the phrase "AF and BF" - "After Ford and Before Ford".

It's not a bad gag and, more seriously, neither is it possible to fault his further claim that the period After Ford may fall far short of the "Winter of Discontent" promised by some top trade unionists a matter of weeks ago.

The unpalatable truth is that, with the exception of the public service workers, no major section of our class has definite action plans for the weeks ahead.

As these lines are being written the possibility is increasing of the lorry drivers taking united action, action which would break the Five Per Cent and make the effective use of sanctions against "offending" hauliers impossible.

There is even the beginning of talk amongst militant mineworkers of forcing the bringing forward of their April negotiations.

But all that is "ifs and buts" and what is needed is decision.

Perhaps this is not the quietest-ever autumn on the industrial front by it is certainly a strong challenger for that title.

A strike by public service manual workers would change that, but it might well not change the overall position so far as the capitalist class is concerned.

That class, or rather the pundits who operate on its behalf, are coming to the conclusion that Phase Four will achieve a quite unhoped-for degree of success.

Its loop-holes, such as they are, are proving to consist of the kind of productivity deals and attendance payment arrangements which are sweet music to our rulers.

If, to that music, can be added howls of anguish from a million or more isolated public service workers, sold out by the General Council as the firemen were last year, then it will be the greatest symphony of all time by the reckoning in Britain's boardrooms.

Gloom and Doom?

Is that all just doom-watching on our part? Shouldn't we be a bit jollier in our predictions? Wouldn't that encourage the fight and make everything go with a swing?

No - it isn't, we shouldn't and that wouldn't. The "It's all getting better" approach has bedevilled Communist analysis of the industrial situation for some years past and been a significant contributor to the labour movement's present ills.

Scanlon and Jones, it was argued, were still good "lefts" really even when they were building the Social Contract.

The Trades Union Congress was still "moving left" the year it agreed Phase One!

Some of those associated with this paper were saying even at that time that this moonshine was dangerous opportunist nonsense. Today that estimate can be seen to be incontrovertibly true.

Some weeks it is possible in this column to ask our readers to take . some action the results of which could be apparent by the time you pick up the next week's issue.

This is not one of those weeks, though there are some things which can be done right away.

All that is here and now. If it sounds substantial, it's nothing compared with the longer-term tasks which we now face.

Ensuring that Phase Five is not an even greater success for the bosses than Phase Four is not just a matter of calling for more militancy next year. Left at that it is absolutely certain that the call would fall on deaf ears.

Neither is it just a matter of exposing the myth that wage rises are the cause of inflation, though that is important.

It is a matter of exposing the whole sordid structure of social democracy and opportunism which ensures that the myth is believed and that no lead for action is given.

Expose that and demonstrate in practice the difference between it and Communist leadership and the tale of positions lost can be ended and advance resumed-

The task is simple to state, enormously difficult to achieve. Nevertheless its achievement is the most imperative requirement of our class today.