Fight Back Now!

LAST WEEK’S pay protests clearly reflected the anger of the class at the Coalition Government’s austerity regime. The health and civil service strikes and the massive demonstrations in London and Glasgow sent a clear message to the ruling class and the Labour leaders who claim to represent the workers that Britain needs a pay rise. Whether they will heed it is another matter.

The Cameron government, which directly represents the interests of the capitalists, industrialists and landowners, naturally ignored it. Sadly so did Labour’s leaders who were noticeably absent from the rallies that were organised by the TUC. That too is also not surprising.

Despite all the waffle about “hard working families” Labour’s leaders have pledged to maintain the current policy of pay restraint and general austerity if they win the general election next year. What is surprising is that they can get away with it. This is the organised labour movement that pays Labour’s wages and doles out the millions to fund its election campaigns.

This is the TUC that is dominated by Unite and Unison, the biggest unions in the country, and whose leaders led the protests.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady tells us that the trade union movement has now found its “fighting spirit”. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis points out that working people have been betrayed by “the rich and powerful who rule our society” while Len McCluskey of Unite says: “Britain needs more than a pay rise. It needs a government that fights for working people like the Tories fight for the rich.”

We would all agree with all of that. But we also have to remember that back in February when the TUC launched the “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” campaign it was originally intended to be part of an integral campaign of co-ordinated strike action involving Unite, Unison and other public sector unions. What we got was more like a rally to mobilise working people behind Labour in the run-up to the election.

We all want to see that as well. But we also want to put mass pressure on the Labour leadership to ensure that the working class agenda is placed top of the list when Labour is back in government.

North of the border it’s already started, no doubt chastened by large number of supporters who voted for independence or abstained in the referendum. Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran is now calling on her party to dump Blairism and return to its “socialist principles”.

The Glasgow MP says: “Being timid won’t win us any supporters. We need a response from the left that responds to the conditions of people’s lives.

“The socialist principles of equality, redistribution and social justice need to shape our politics as much today as they did when I joined the party.”

A Labour government, with the yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the unions and the co-operative movement, offers the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right-wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions.

Day-to-day demands for reform, progressive taxation, state welfare and a public sector dedicated to meet the people’s needs are winnable under capitalism, particularly in a rich country like Britain today. We support these demands and back the demands of those within the Labour Party and the trade union movement who are campaigning for greater social justice.

The Labour Party is not the enemy of the working class nor is it a barrier to communist advance. The NCP’s electoral policy is to vote Labour in all elections apart from the bogus European parliamentary polls, which we boycott. This is not because we support the venal right-wing policies the current leadership or because we think a Labour government can solve the problems of working people. It is simply the best possible outcome in the current circumstances.