Monday, 9 August 2010

Forging the links, raising our game: building on local and sectoral campaigns

Mike Marqusee on building resistance to the cuts:

'We have to be alert to and staunch in opposing attempts to create divisions between deserving and undeserving poor, private and public sector, productive and unproductive workers, the poor and not so poor. We have to appropriate the government’s slogan – “we’re all in this together” – and use it to consolidate a movement of the majority.

Our campaign has to foster interchange between workforces and service users. We have to organise locally, nationally and internationally, drawing strength from the struggles against cuts already underway elsewhere. We have to employ a wide variety of tactics, including cultural interventions. The London Olympics may well be held amidst social turmoil and we should prepare now for the opportunities it offers.

In the end, wide-scale industrial action will be necessary. For the trade unions, the next few years are do or die. Either they re-establish themselves as effective champions of working class people or sink into marginal irrelevance.

At the moment, the rhetoric from the leadership is militant but there’s not much evidence of strategic planning. In the meantime, momentum has to be supplied by community campaigns. These have emerged in some localities but need to become ubiquitous. They are indispensable vehicles for disseminating the arguments and recruiting activists.

Unity and solidarity are the watchwords. They have to be not just lofty sentiments but constant practice. The movement as a whole, trade unions and local campaigns, needs to rally to every flashpoint, widening (not isolating) local or sectoral struggles as they emerge.

The more confident people are that they will receive support, the more likely they are to take action. The key here is that the government will only retreat if we do not. In the 80s, every tactical retreat, every concession, left Thatcher et al hungry for more.'

The only thing I would add is the pressing need for a national framework to co-ordinate and generalise the local and sectoral campaigns. In addition to the new statement for a coalition of resistance, which has already attracted a great response, a national organising conference has been arranged for 27 November. ·

It will be from 10:00am to 5:00pm at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE. This is an opportunity to develop and strengthen existing campaigning, and to plan the way ahead strategically.


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