Sunday, 3 July 2011

Anti-cuts coalitions should unite in call for a huge national demonstration

30 June in London
In a new article called 'Britain's trade unions: the shape of things to come' Martin Smith, a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party, criticises the Coalition of Resistance. He writes:

'The rejection of a general strike was not confined to the trade union leaders. The national steering committee of the Coalition of Resistance (CoR), one of the national anti-cuts organisations, voted down a motion calling for a general strike. Some officers of CoR claimed it would upset Unite.'

Of course, it isn't true that 'some officers claimed it would upset Unite'. There has also been no 'rejection of a general strike'. You can only reject something that has been offered. What Smith really means is that CoR currently doesn't call for a general strike. It is a question of appropriate slogans and tactics at a given point in time.

Right to Work is also a national anti-cuts organisation, one which the SWP is heavily involved in. Right to Work is also not calling for a general strike. Nor should it. The slogan is hardly a unifying position for a broad campaign.

You won't find the general strike slogan anywhere on Right to Work's website, on its placards, or in its literature. Yet Martin Smith is criticising Coalition of Resistance for not calling for a general strike. I find this baffling.

It would be great if the TUC called another huge national demonstration for the autumn, alongside the co-ordinated public sector strikes we're likely to see. A major national demo can mobilise the full range of people opposed to cuts - not just the unions, or specifically those unions taking strike action - and link all the different issues together.

I know CoR representatives have advocated this to the TUC. I trust that Right to Work will wholeheartedly support the proposal. It is the sort of thing the TUC might plausibly do in the months ahead, but only under pressure from grassroots union activists and the wider movement.

Demonstrations like those at the Lib Dem and Tory conferences will be essential. But we also need a massive national mobilisation in central London, called by the TUC with full support from across the trade union movement and beyond.




    you're not being very honest here
    'A few good resolutions fell, but we can always take these to the next conference to be considered by a larger number of people. They included additions to CoR’s policy like being in favour of a general strike and the development of a rank and file movement'

  2. I'm being entirely honest. Anyone who wants to propose a general strike call can of course put that at the national conference (which is this Saturday). I never suggested otherwise.