what we think
Direct action for our demands
IF NEW Labour really cared about pensioners it would immediately give back what the Tories robbed from them. It would restore the link between pensions and earnings, backdated to 1979 when Margaret Thatcher abolished it.
That would give every pensioner �100 a week, paid for by taxing the mammoth profits of the oil companies and other corporations. Instead of hitting business hard, Blair has invited more businessmen into government than any other prime minister.
The government gave pensioners an insulting 75p rise last year. Now it cynically claims it is helping the pensioners and that all other demands must come lower down the list.
It says it will not be swayed by popular direct action. The problem with the hauliers' and farmers' protests is not direct action. It is their narrow demands around fuel tax, which chime with the Tories' aim of whipping up support for right wing policies.
In fact it is not fuel taxes which are hitting small hauliers the hardest. As haulage expert Alan McKinnon pointed out this week, it is the supermarket and manufacturing bosses who are trying "to squeeze hauliers to the limit" to keep down their transport costs.
And it is poverty pay, pitiful pensions and benefits, sky high housing costs, and the expensive and ramshackle transport system which are screwing working class people in urban and rural areas alike.
We do need militant tactics, but over demands that will benefit the mass of working people who have been betrayed by Blair. Think of the impact if there were mass protests and blockades to demand:
- Renationalisation of the railways and full funding for a decent public transport system.
- Restoration of the link between pensions and earnings.
- A minimum wage of at least �5 an hour.
- An end to privatisation.
- Big multinationals to stop poisoning our food and polluting our environment.
If trade union leaders called such action instead of cravenly supporting the government we could force Blair to concede to workers' demands. Their failure to do so highlights the urgency of fighting for socialist politics and building left wing opposition to New Labour.