One year ago, as Tony Blair’s premiership was reaching its fag end, there was a new spirit of optimism among Britain’s union leaders and MPs on the centre left of the Labour Party.
With an air of relief they said that under Gordon Brown foreign wars, tax breaks for the rich, privatisation and the other “excesses” of New Labour would come to an end. They believed there would be a renewal of the party.
Yet within a few short months their hopes, and those of the mass ranks of Labour supporters, have been destroyed. The scandal of rich businessmen handing over wads of cash to would-be party leaders has been followed by that of the billions spent bailing out the banks.
And while the wealthy have been rubbing their hands in glee, Brown has been declaring war on Labour’s traditional supporters.
The abolition of the 10p tax band, the effective pay cuts for workers in the public sector, plus the failure of the government to provide any protection for those most hit by rising prices and the credit crunch have all served to send a message that Labour is on the side of the rich.
No wonder then that the party’s support is haemorrhaging and that Brown now faces a crisis.
Conversely, those who resist – like those who took have taken strike action in recent days – become the focus for the anger of millions. This growing spirit of resistance among workers must be focused into a fight for a more just society.