Wednesday, November 10, 2010

March in March: Not before

I was copied into an email by mistake and was somewhat concerned to find that one of my union’s NEC members, was so keen to support a motion calling for a "National Demo" against the cuts before Xmas, that he advised another branch secretary to basically make something up to try and get it qualify as an emergency motion and therefore get round the democratically agreed deadlines.

The TUC is planning what they hope will be a successful and massive demo in London against the cuts on March 26 2011. Now, it there is an entirely legitimate view in the Labour Movement that we are being too cautious and there should be a national demo before March. I respect this view from some because it is genuinely felt and there is no ulterior motives. Unlike some.

The real alternative view (as explained in detail here) is that we must ensure that the March in March is an outstanding success and everything should be done to build for this. We cannot afford for it to be badly supported or a flop. We must aim for millions to attend. This is going to take time, energy and money. What we cannot do is to allow anything to interfere in building this demo nor can we afford to be diverted by attempts to bounce the unions in trying to organise two demos simply for the sake of demos.

Some folk believe that such demos are the means will that enable their little groupings to leave the lost deposit brigades in the next General Elections. However, for the rest of us on planet earth, a poorly supported “National Demo” in December would fatally undermine March 26th. We already have a job of work to do with our own existing members about why these cuts are wrong and not necessary.

What we should all be doing now is building the union, building the membership, building the steward network, building the links within the wider Labour movement and preparing for the long fight ahead. The aim must be to defeat this coalitions by democratic not “despicable” means and bring about an alternative (Labour) government as soon as is possible.

I think that if there had been a really genuine and widespread call for such a demo next month then you would have thought that someone would have genuinely thought it was important enough to have actually written a motion and got their branch or service group to agree to it without resorting to sly secretive daftness which discredits their national office. IMO.

(Picture is of the oldest trade union banner in existence - the 1821 Tinplaters workers in the Peoples Museum Manchester - could we get a copy made to lead the March in March?)


Anonymous said...

I agree John.

While I will be, like many Trade Unionists, be supporting the up coming PCS rally, it is important that we get the demo in march right. A half hearted attempt to rush a demo would be unconvincing and uninspiring.
We must though use the time we have before March to properly build and organise for the demo.
See you there John


Anonymous said...

However John

We should be building towards the 26th March. In Scotland, the STUC took the decision not long after the coalition was formed that we needed to have a broad based campaign which showed that the labour movement had an alternative economic message and to challenge what has become the orthodoxy that that cuts were necessary. The “There is a Better Way” Campaign was launched in the Summer and activities were organised to build the campaign towards the demonstration in Edinburgh on 23rd October. This demonstration was huge in Scottish terms with 20,000 people on the streets. At the same time, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions organised a demonstration in Belfast .

This has been followed up by a 1000 people in Lossiemouth campaigning to keep the airbase open as to close it will decimate the local economy and public services.

A lobby of the Scottish Parliament has been organised for the announcement of the Scottish Budget on Wednesday 17th November.

There is a Better Way has also spurred the Trades Council movement into action with rejuvenated TUC’s organising better way events, lobbies of Council Meeting etc.

But this will all work as an ongoing campaign working towards building the Scottish profile at the TUC demonstration in March.

The campaign against government cuts (at all levels of government, national, devolved administration and local government) can’t wait for one event but must tackle every single “flashpoint” along this process because as we have found, people get energised from the first event and want to be involved in more and more. We need to get things going on, all round the country and not just focus on one event.