Unity in the fight against the cuts

THROUGHOUT Britain people who have never been involved in anything political before are thinking about joining the multitude of protests against the Con-Dem Coalition cuts. There has not been such an upsurge since the millions-strong popular struggle that defeated the poll tax. And that is the point — the strength of the working class lies in its numbers, its diversity, and the thousands of different but complementary tactics that arise through people’s ingenuity. These range from those prepared to defy the law and go to prison to those who write letters to papers and their MPs. All make a contribution and all are needed.

In the fight against the poll tax those willing to go to prison rather than pay hit the headlines but it was the hundreds of thousands who delayed paying, who bombarded the authorities with awkward queries and generally messed around that made the unjust tax totally unworkable and forced the Tory government to abandon it.

We need that kind of unity now. But as ever, there are forces fostered by the ruling class that wish to sow division and we must be very careful not to play into their hands. There are anti-cuts campaigns developing spontaneously in localities and various ultra-left organisations are setting up their own campaigns that are more to do with recruiting new members and attacking mainstream labour movement leaders in the unions and Labour Party.

Many people new to politics will join them because they want to protest at the cuts and these divisive organisations are the first they come across on the high street. And if we criticise them for this we play into the hands of the splitters and we become the unreasonable sectarians. We must welcome and support all actions against the cuts while emphasising the need for unity across the movement.

Many right-wing labour leaders lay themselves open to attack for lack of courage and enthusiasm in this fight; there are some who would have us sit on our hands until the next general election and trust to a new Labour government to deliver us. That will not happen — the working class has to organise, mobilise and deliver itself from this vicious ruling class attack on all of us.

Our role as communists is to take a full part in the struggle at all levels, injecting a Marxist-Leninist perspective, building class unity and class confidence. The ultra-left splitters and the right-revisionist cowards and traitors will show themselves up. We do not need to go around pointing fingers; that would confuse and discourage those who are new to the movement. We must focus on giving positive guidance of the correct way forward if we wish to win the respect of the newly politicised workers.

We must argue against artificial barriers between those who are willing to engage in strong tactics that defy the law and the millions who are more cautious but want to do something. We are all on the same side. We must support involvement and activity at all levels — experience in struggle is a process that leads to courage and commitment.

And we must continue to publicise the mass protests against cuts happening in places like Greece and France and hold them up as great examples of mobilised workers in action. We must strengthen our international links with workers all around the world who are engaged in similar struggles.

The TUC and the unions now could help by issuing an information campaign through leaflets or newspaper adverts giving central contact details to enable everyone to find out what is happening in their area and a range of activities they can get involved in. This would help to get new activists engaged in the mainstream of the struggle before the splitters can recruit them.

Within the labour movement there are differences between those who want to build a giant demonstration next 26th March and those who want a big demonstration before Christmas. There should not be a contradiction, the more activity the better. Certainly the March demonstration must be truly huge but that does not preclude other activity in the meantime. It all helps to raise awareness that protest is growing and encourages people to get involved.

The building of a mass, organised, mobilised, politically conscious and united working class movement is the greatest contribution we can make to securing the demise of capitalism and the achievement of socialism.