Labour must listen to the workers

by Daphne Liddle

OPINION polls trying to predict the outcome of May’s general election are changing daily. Right now the average of all the recent polls put Labour ahead by just one point with 34 per cent of support while the Tories have 33 per cent.

This would give a hung Parliament with Labour leading but short of a majority by 18 per cent.

With the Tories promising more drastic Government spending cuts — 30 per cent according to the Tories but 70 per according to Labour — it is astonishing that the Tories have any support above one per cent because such cuts can only bring further pain, hardship and destitution to the 99 per cent who are not part of the very rich elite.

Unfortunately Labour’s biggest enemy is within its own ranks — the party professionals who are totally out of touch with the needs of the working class that created the party that the policies they come up with differ so little from those of the Tories.

Labour promise to get rid of the “bedroom tax” and to get rid of Department of Work and Pensions targets for benefit sanctions.

But the current government does not own up to the existence of such targets anyway. They are a product of the cuts. If you cut the DWP budget so much there is not enough money to go round for genuine and deserving claimants then some claimants will get their money cut unfairly. This will continue to leave them destitute and liable to starve or die.

And Labour has yet to promise it will increase the DWP budget so this will not happen.

Labour has yet to promise it will not engage in any more Nato/American wars on the basis of a pack of lies and imperialist propaganda as Tony Blair did in Iraq in 2003.

If the Americans try to drag us into another war against Russia it could easily turn into a third world war. Even the European Union leaders Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande can see the danger.

Labour has yet to promise to scrap Trident. Are they expecting that we will be taking part in a third world war?

This month we have been remembering the 30th anniversary of the end of the Miners’ Strike — and remembering the issues involved.

The Tory government set out to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers and trade unionism as a whole. They introduced compulsory balloting for strikes and banned solidarity strikes.

We forget how hard this has made the fight for wages, conditions and many other things. Before these laws were introduced strikes could happen instantaneously on the basis of a show of hands at the workplace. And the workers would stay out until the matter was settled.

These strikes really hurt the bosses. They usually ended in a negotiated settlement but the workers were always at least a bit better off.

And you had picket lines of miners outside hospitals — striking in solidarity with low paid nurses who could not stage a full, proper strike without abandoning their patients.

Currently emergency workers do sometimes strike — for just one day or a few hours. And even so they maintain a service for genuine life-threatening emergencies.

And we have seen their pay and conditions steadily eroded. The whole working class has seen pay and conditions eroded and wealth has flowed upward to the filthy rich one per cent.

Recently there was an early morning TV debate over a suggestion from Labour to outlaw discrimination against the poor, including in the workplace. It’s hard to believe but not one of the participants called for a rise in wages to lift workers out of poverty.

This is Labour accepting that “we will always have the poor with us” when it was created to end working class poverty.

Union leaderships must bear a lot of responsibility for this. They could defy the anti-union laws and engage in proper strikes but that would leave them open to being sued by aggrieved employers and possibly bankrupt them.

They must make a judgement about whether their coffers are worth more than betrayal of the working class. What are the unions worth if they do not lead the fight? Especially if they do not use their power to force the Labour leadership to commit to peace and social justice.

We must vote Labour because we must stop the Tories winning again at all costs. But we must also prepare for a much bigger fight to lead the workers to overthrow this rotten system.