Lead story

Our class needs unity

by Daphne Liddle

LEN MCLUSKEY, general secretary of the giant union Unite, last week wrote in the Guardian that unions must be able to fight for workers, even if it means breaking bad laws. He said: “People have intrinsic rights that democratically elected legislatures sometimes violate. The right of working people to combine, to organise, is one of them.

He added: “Restrictions imposed on our campaigning role in the Lobbying Act will be followed by laws to make picketing nigh on impossible.”

“Last week our governing body, Unite’s executive, unanimously agreed to make it shorter. It recommended the deletion from our rules of six little words that have governed our union’s actions: ‘so far as may be lawful’,” he said.

It is a shame that it has taken three decades, since the defeat of the Miners’ Strike and the passing of anti-union laws that made it very hard for our class to defend our living standards, to realise that the class struggle cannot be won if we passively allow our class enemy to make all the rules.

The New Communist Party has sometimes been criticised for being too soft on lazy and opportunist trade union leaders and on the Labour Party leadership.

We do recognise that these vital organs of our class struggle are full of self-seeking careerists who are easily bought and influenced by the wellheeled agents of the ruling class.

But we also know the answer is not to attack the existence of the unions and the Labour Party and set up dozens of tiny splinter alternatives that will divide and demoralise the class.

The Labour Party is not going to bring us socialism because it is a reformist party and not a revolutionary party. Only a working class revolution, the breaking of the capitalist state and replacing it with a workers’ state can bring us real socialism.

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Scottish News

from our Scottish Political Correspondent

FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has been busy metaphorically measuring the curtains of Number 11 Downing Street. He has been going about claiming that he will in effect be running Britain by using SNP MPs to prop up a minority Labour government, but only on his terms.

If the opinion polls turn out to be accurate there will be a large contingent of Scottish National Party MPs in the House of Commons. This will be a defeat for Labour and give David Cameroon a fighting chance of remaining in Downing Street to impose harsher anti-trade union laws and sell off more of the National Health Service than Margaret Thatcher ever dreamt of.

Voting SNP to secure a Labour government is as absurd as voting for the Democratic Unionist Party or the Official Monster Raving Loony Party for the same ends.

Despite their public posture there is no doubt that the leadership of the SNP positively want a Tory government.

Naturally they don’t let the cat out of bag by saying so in public as this would alienate their followers, but having a Tory government gives the SNP a useful alibi, it can easily blame Westminster for the shortcomings of its back of a cigarette packet policies when they fall apart.

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Fight for wages; fight for socialism

THE NEWS that inflation had fallen to zero in February was hailed by Tory cheer-leaders as another boon for the British economy and the mythical “hard-working families” that all the bourgeois parties claim to represent. But it was soon swept off the front pages in favour of the latest plane crash and the sacking of a well-known TV presenter, which reflects the fact that the inflation rate is utterly meaningless for millions of workers living on the bread-line across the country.

Last month’s figure was indeed the lowest rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation since CPI estimates began in 1988. But the CPI statistics can be misleading as they exclude housing, unlike the Retail Price Index, the old inflation yard-stick that includes housing costs and mortgage repayments.

There has been a fall in the price of food and petrol but that has nothing to do with the policies of the Conservative-led Coalition government. Crude oil prices have plummeted. But this is largely due to stepped up production by the Saudis and the other feudal Arab princes who, at the behest of US imperialism, are working to undermine the Russian and Iranian oil industries.

The cost of food has also dropped but this is largely due to the glut of agricultural produce in the European Union following Russia’s ban of EU food imports in retaliation for the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation over the Ukrainian crisis.

The Tories tell us that the cost of living is the same as it was last year. The employers will use it to justify pay freezes and pay cuts in the year to come. They will all say that everyone now has more spending power and that’s another good reason for voting Conservative at the general election in May.

No worker cares about the inflation rate one way or the other. It’s what’s in the pay packet that counts.

The wages struggle is central to the improvement of living standards and ensuring that workers have the money to buy back the goods and services that they produce and provide. But once a wage increase has been won it is quickly eroded in a variety of ways, either directly or by stealth, such as increases in the cost of living through inflation, increasing cost of energy, transport, private and social rents, increases in pension contributions, paying to use the health service or education, VAT increases and tax rises or by the state increasing the retirement age. Winning a wage increase under capitalism only gives temporary respite and can be taken back at any time.

Read the full editorial here >> [ Fight for wages; fight for socialism ]