Just two weeks after the Christmas holiday period we can already see the coming together of the issues that will dominate British politics for the next four months. The main parties are shadow boxing in expectation of an election in May. But on the ground there is growing opposition to the policies they agree with each other on.
- Tube workers in London are preparing to strike over privatisation.
- Some 600 hospital workers in Dudley in the West Midlands are continuing their inspiring strikes against New Labour's plans to transfer their jobs out of the NHS.
- In Luton shop stewards have called a demonstration to fight for the jobs of thousands of workers at the Vauxhall car plant.
- Across Britain hundreds of trade union activists and tenants are preparing for a lobby of parliament as part of a campaign which has pushed back government plans to privatise council housing.
- The recent launch of the national petition calling for the renationalisation of the rail by 95 MPs, Bob Crow of the RMT and Mick Rix of ASLEF has met with a resounding success.
Anywhere people raised the issue of renationalisation last weekend they found an echo amongst ordinary people. The only people who refuse to consider renationalisation as the solution to the crisis on the rail are the mainstream political parties. Instead New Labour throws money at private companies and the Tories spend £1.5 million on a hypocritical poster campaign. Hundreds of thousands of people are disgusted at the way Tony Blair is ecstatic at receiving millions of pounds from one individual but hates the fact that Labour still receives donations from millions of individuals in the union movement.
There will continue to be large and angry mobilisations of tens of thousands of people, as seen in Prague and Seattle over the last 18 months, against the financial institutions that keep the Third World in debt and poverty. Already the Swiss finance minister is worried about the level of the demonstrations against the World Economic Forum in Switzerland later this month. There is an urgent need for a socialist alternative that draws together all these different strands into a challenge to the free market consensus which the main parties all subscribe to.
The decision by the Socialist Alliances in England and Wales, and the Scottish Socialist Party, to stand in over 120 seats in the general election is part of this process. In every area people should be coming together in the next few weeks to plan the challenge to New Labour in the election and build the struggle against the system they support.