Huge turnout as Enough is Enough campaign launched

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
The Enough is Enough rally with Mick Lynch of the RMT speaking in front of a large Enough is Enough green banner

Mick Lynch of the RMT union speaks at the Enough is Enough rally (picture: Socialist Worker)

Over 1,500 people turned out to the Enough is Enough campaign launch rally in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday. It was full of an energetic sense of solidarity and renewed hope.

Announced just days before, the rally heard from trade union leaders Jo Grady from UCU, Dave Ward from the CWU and Mick Lynch from the RMT. Labour MP Zarah Sultana also spoke. Hundreds had to be turned away from the event that had reached capacity at 1,250 people. 

Under the slogan “It’s time to turn anger into action” speakers discussed fighting back against the spiralling cost of living crisis. The rally demanded real pay rises, nationalisation to combat rising energy bills, an end to the need for food banks and skyrocketing rents and a policy of taxing the rich. Ward announced that 400,000 people had signed up for Enough is Enough.

It had some of the atmospheres of the Jeremy Corbyn rallies in 2015 or 2017. But this time the focus was on workers in struggle. There was strong support from the predominantly young crowd for the upcoming rail, tube, bus and postal strikes, with speakers urging solidarity.

Anger also rang out against the Labour Party and Keir Starmer. “It’s good we’re standing up for members’ terms and conditions,” Ward said. “But we’re also standing up for those outside work and the whole of society being ripped off.

“People say where is Labour? It’s up to Labour—this campaign goes on with or without it,” said Ward to huge roars of approval.

Lynch said, “Unions must lead, we can’t wait for the politicians. We need to get out into the communities and the former red wall to assist them to campaign. We need to show them how to organise. Our job as activists and trade unionists is to lift them, give them hope and get them out on the streets.

“Join a union and join a campaign. Move the workers into campaigning and convert it into a wave of solidarity and industrial action across Britain.”

The size of the turnout shows a mood for change, and to do something about growing poverty and falling wages. Enough is Enough is an important meeting point for big numbers of people who feel lifted by the strikes and the chance to hit back effectively at the Tories.

Every socialist and trade unionist should be at its rallies and the other activities it says it will organise such as picket line solidarity and actions against the energy companies.

But while speakers pushed the need to support striking workers, trade union leaders were quiet on the need for escalating and united action. The sort of uplifting rally seen on Wednesday can help spread confidence and networks.

The most important arena is the strikes themselves. And they need to spread wider, be linked together and continue until victory. That’s why everyone should support the pickets in the next few days and be part of the push for strikes.

  • For details of Enough is Enough and events in your area go here
  • For further coverage see our website of the rally, follow updates on our website

Arriva North West bus strike suspended without workers’ vote

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
crowd of arriva northwest workers in birkenhead striking over pay. They were not consulted over the suspension of the strikes

Arriva North West workers voted to reject a below-inflation pay offer on Tuesday

Unite union officials suspended the Arriva North West bus strike on Wednesday—before consulting workers on a new pay offer. Unite said the workers, who’ve been on an all-out strike since 20 July, will “return to work from tomorrow and be balloted on the offer”.

The move is an outrage to democracy. It raises a basic question, “Who controls disputes—officials or rank-and-file members?”

The suspension came the day after the 1,800 workers at 11 depots overwhelmingly voted to reject a below-inflation pay offer and stay on the picket line. They threw out the offer of 9.6 percent despite Unite making no recommendation on whether to accept or reject it in the ballot.

Yet now workers will return to work and have two days to vote on bosses’ new proposals of 11.1 percent. This time Unite is recommending workers accept what’s still a real-terms pay cut.

Unite regional officer, Dave Roberts said, “Following our members’ very strong rejection of the company’s offer yesterday evening, Arriva have seen sense and met the demands of our members by tabling an 11.1 per cent pay deal. 

“Unite’s negotiating team is recommending the offer be accepted and it is being put to members in a vote.”

The vote to reject had Arriva bosses’ running scared—which led to them making a new offer. But Unite officials should have pressed home the advantage to win an inflation-busting pay rise.

The move came on the same day that inflation soared to another record high. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that the bosses’ preferred CPI measure had hit 10.1 percent.

In reality, the scale of the social emergency facing working class people is even bigger. The more accurate RPI measure of inflation, which includes housing costs, now stands at 12.3 percent and is predicted to keep going up.

Pay disparity between depots and grades is large. Drivers at Winsford are paid just £11.08 compared to about £13.50 for drivers in Birkenhead for the same work. If the deal is accepted, workers at Winsford will be paid just £12.30 when the cost of living soars and inflation hits 12.3 percent.

The fight against Arriva bosses is growing around the country. Strikes are set to hit Arriva bosses in Kent, Essex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire after 1700 workers rejected 4 to 7.8 percent pay offers. And workers in Kent and north London are all currently being balloted to strike.

There is a new mood of resistance as the cost of living crisis deepens, and workers take inspiration from the RMT and CWU unions’ strikes. Unions should be spreading the action. 

‘Something for every revolutionary’—review of Enzo Traverso’s Revolution: an intellectual history

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
The book cover for Revolution, an intellectual history. It has a brown background with white and red lettering

Enzo Traverso offers an analysis into into the symbols and memory of revolution (Picture: Verso)

What are socialists trying to achieve? We can argue about what socialism would look like, but there’s also the wholly linked fundamental issue about how we are trying to reach our goal.

If your vision is of tinkering with details of the present system, then winning a parliamentary election and ushering through some legislative shifts seems enough. And equally, if you are in principle committed to just the electoral road then you will have to accept that you are not going to tear up the whole basis of society.

If you want to destroy capitalism then you have to embrace some form of revolutionary change.

It’s become more popular to talk about the need for revolution—to confront catastrophic climate chaos or to tear out the roots of oppression. But often when it comes down to political practice, the prescription is for a version of some sort of radical reformism. It might be the latest venture of the parliamentary left such as Jean-Luc Melenchon’s Nupes alliance in France, or the yearning for Jeremy Corbyn to launch some new electoral project.

In another register it might be the ex-Labour Liverpool councillors’ drive to build a group focused on intensely local ‘community activity’.

But, very refreshingly, Enzo Traverso wants to talk about real revolutions, and rescue the word from smears and dilution. He wants to reclaim revolution as a realistic and necessary objective. He says this can answer the “great dilemma of our time… the conflict between resignation and hope, between capitulation and renaissance, between tragic impotence in the face of extensive defeat and the desperate effort to resist”.

The book’s ambition is stated from the beginning, using a quote from Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. “The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”

As Traverso comments, “The sudden synchronization between the cumulative changes that take place over the decades along with the reawakening of the collective consciousness produce a cataclysm that changes the course of history.”

For a large part of historical commentary, revolutions are now safely filed into the category of studies of tyranny. There might be nods to the original moments of liberatory aspiration of the Russian revolution, but the real object of study is the triumph of Stalinism and the following decades of terror, repression and dictatorship. Far from being a template for human emancipation, revolution is much more likely to be catalogued in genocide studies.

Traverso squares up to that distortion which acts to extinguish our striving for change. Revolutions enter the world like “an earthquake that human beings live and embody collectively”, he says. They are “intensely lived” and “display a quantity of energies, passions, affects and feelings much higher than the spiritual standard of ordinary life”.

During a revolution, he insists, life takes on a stunning intensity. In a break from the stultifying reality of normal life, people grasp an awareness of their own strength and their capacity to change the world.

As Traverso commented in an interview, “Many witnesses depicted revolutions as a feeling of lightness, like the characters of Chagall’s paintings who—overcoming the law of gravity—enjoy flying over villages and hills.”

The book is stuffed with examples. One tactic Traverso adopts is to quote opponents of revolution who nevertheless grasp, and fear, what is happening.

In his 1850 Recollections about the French revolution of 1848, the aristocrat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville gives a remarkable description of a capital conquered by the labouring classes during the February uprising.

“I spent the whole afternoon walking about Paris. Two things, in particular, struck me: the first was the unique and exclusively popular character of the revolution that had just taken place; the omnipotence it had given to the people properly so-called—that is to say, the classes who work with their hands—over all others.”

The second thing he noticed was the sense of calm and seriousness that convinced him the “lower order had suddenly become masters of Paris”.

In writing that echoes people writing later about the Russian or Spanish revolutions, Tocqueville says, “The people alone bore arms, guarded the public buildings, watched, gave orders, punished; it was an extraordinary and terrible thing to see all this immense town, so full of riches, in the sole hands of those who possessed nothing.”

He did not like it, adding, “It was only to be compared to that which the civilised cities of the Roman Empire must have experienced when they suddenly found themselves in the power of the Goths and Vandals.” But he could not avoid setting down what was one of the earliest examples of the masses, who included workers, collectively forcing their way onto the scene.

Traverso demands that this history matters. He sees it as both a strength and a weakness that the “new anti-capitalist movements of recent years do not resonate with any of the left traditions of the past. They lack a genealogy”. It enables them to think anew about how to win, but at the same time it throws away both the positives of the past and the errors to avoid.

“The revolutions of our time must invent their own models, they cannot do so from a clean slate”, Traverso notes. They have to embody “the memory of past struggles, whether these are victories or, more frequently, defeats. This is undoubtedly a work of mourning, but also of training for future battles”.

The book is not a chronology of revolutions or an analysis of key themes. Instead it ranges over issues such as revolutionary symbols and memory; revolution and the body; freedom and liberation; and much more.

A fascinating chapter on railways looks at the tensions and similarities of Karl Marx’s “revolutions are the locomotives of history” with Walter Benjamin’s “Perhaps revolutions are an attempt by the passengers on this train—namely, the human race—to pull the emergency brake.”

Nearly every page contains a fact or example that is fresh and useful. I did not know, for example, that by 1920 the Red Army had 120 armoured trains and just how they were critical to the defeat of the White armies.

There’s a brilliant section on how progressive movements sweep away the symbols and statues of the old regimes they are replacing. Anyone involved in the arguments about Black Lives Matter (BLM) and slavers’ statues would find it captivating.

In August 1792—as part of the French revolution—the National Assembly enacted a decree that prescribed the systematic destruction of all monuments erected to “prejudice”, “tyranny” and “feudality”.

In February 1848—in another act of revolutionary France—many portraits of Louis-Philippe were destroyed or disfigured, and processions headed by the bust of the overthrown king, with a rope around his neck, swept through several French cities. In May 1871 the Paris Commune demolished the Place Vendome column, a symbol of militarism, imperialism, “false glory” and “an insult by the victors to the vanquished”.

Other revolutions “deployed a similar iconoclastic fury”. Arriving in Barcelona in December 1936, George Orwell observed that “every church had been gutted and its images burnt” and that “some of the foreign anti-fascist papers even descended to the pitiful lie of pretending that churches were only attacked when they were used as fascist fortresses”.

But Orwell pointed out, “Actually, churches were pillaged everywhere and as a matter of course, because it was perfectly well understood that the Spanish Church was part of the capitalist racket.”

It brings home the fact that far from BLM activists carrying out a wave of unacceptable vandalism, they have only scratched the surface of the change that will come with a revolution in Britain.

Traverso is also very good on the importance of symbols of transformation and the need for audacity. The taking of the Bastille in 1789 was originally just a practical necessity: to obtain powder for weapons. But it quickly turned into an act of iconic destruction. The fortress held only seven prisoners, but it had been a symbol of aristocratic rule since the Middle Ages.

In his History of the French Revolution—written some 50 years after the events it describes—Jules Michelet sets out what a tough task the Parisian people faced.

“The Bastille, though an old fortress, was nevertheless impregnable. The people had neither the time nor the means to make a regular siege. Had they done so, the Bastille had enough provisions to wait for succour so near at hand, and an immense supply of ammunition.

“Its walls, ten feet thick at the top of the towers, and thirty or forty at the base, might long laugh at cannon balls. Its towers, pierced with windows and loop-holes, protected by double and triple gratings, enabled the garrison, in full security, to make a dreadful carnage of its assailants.”

It’s easy to imagine the arguments as compromisers and waverers argued for delay and negotiations. But, as Michelet concludes, the seizure of the Bastille was an act inspired and allowed by the irresistible strength of the insurgent people, not based on a calculated assessment of the balance of forces. Far from being reasonable, he emphasizes, “it was an act of faith”.

How to explain this successful attack? The answer, Michelet suggests, lies in the symbolic dimension of this building. “The Bastille was known and detested by the whole world. Bastille and tyranny were, in every language, synonymous terms.” Eventually “the Bastille was not taken; it surrendered”.

Although Traverso does not use the example, the Russian revolution went through similar arguments. Trotsky described how on the eve of the October revolution the “enemies of the insurrection in the ranks of the Bolshevik party itself found sufficient ground for pessimistic conclusions”.

They pointed out that the provisional government had thousands of soldiers apparently securely under its command. It had “a very considerable quantity of artillery spread out fan-wise around Petrograd”.

But Trotsky insisted that “when society openly splits, both armies are copies of the two warring camps. The army of the possessors contained the wormholes of isolation and decay”.

Trotsky was not demanding offensive tactics whatever the odds. But he insisted that “a moment comes when the habit of regarding the enemy as stronger becomes the greatest hindrance to conquest. Today’s weakness of the bourgeoisie hides itself, so to say, under the shadow of its yesterday’s strength”.

Traverso does not shrink from the question of violence, which many theorists would prefer to avoid. He quotes approvingly Frantz Fanon’s description as “violence in its natural state” and therefore that “it will only yield when confronted with greater violence”.

Certainly any revolutionary should wholeheartedly support the right of the oppressed to use whatever means they choose against their colonial and imperial overlords. But is it really a programme for the Palestinian people to say that the Israeli state and its US backer can be beaten only by ‘greater violence’?

Traverso is right that revolutions do need to be ready to use violence. The ruling class is ruthless and prepared to destroy its enemies through the most gore-soaked means. Look at how the US and its allies have turned large parts of the world into killing fields for profit and power, despite the lack of a genuine threat to its entire system. Pacifism leaves that system intact.

This is a live issue. In Sudan, revolutionaries are determined (obsessed would not be an unfair word) by their principled commitment to non-violence. They embrace this partly for moral reasons, partly as a unifying element that keeps people on board and partly as a form of appeal to the ‘international community’: imperialism.

Certainly, the example of Syria—where the revolution became militarised and civil war destroyed half a country—should weigh heavily in anyone’s calculations. But the total repudiation of all violence means no opportunity to discuss carefully the possibility of mass resistance, guns in hand, against the coup regime’s armed forces. The forces in Sudan who raise this issue are right to do so.

Mass movements and workers’ collective ability to strike and organise alternative structures of democracy are crucial. But there are also moments when the brutality of the rulers, or former rulers, has to be met by defensive force. Without a readiness to use guns, the Kornilov coup could have ended the Russian revolution in August 1917, ushering in a form of fascism.

Traverso quotes anarchist-turned-Bolshevik Victor Serge from Petrograd in 1919 where it is “war to the death with no humanitarian hypocrisy”. Even here it’s important to stress that the Russian revolution did not seek violence. It was indeed the greatest anti-killing movement in history, by ending the First World War on the Eastern front and encouraging the revolution in Germany.

A section on barricades and their sometimes-symbolic role is also relevant to Sudan today. Look at the pictures of the structures thrown up in Khartoum and you wonder why the activists bother—they are so flimsy that they would not stop any serious military force.

But of course the barricades are primarily a sign of defiance, a line that the cops and soldiers should not cross. They mark out ‘our’ territory liberated from the coup regime.

It is, however, weakened by Traverso’s lack of analysis of Stalinism and ‘really existing socialism’. He says that after 1989 we became “spiritually rootless”. But that’s true only if it was a break from a project of liberation. For those who understood Stalinism as the opposite of 1917’s hopes, the division had taken place decades before. So 1989 was no cause for mourning.

Traverso does not say much about the future of revolutions, which may not be the preserve of the historian, but it is still nevertheless an urgent necessity in a world of overlapping crises and catastrophes, and resistance.

‘Modern’ revolution requires a sharp rejection of present political methods. During the First World War Lenin stated that the previous methods of socialist organisation were dead. He was looking at the horrors of a global conflict spawned by imperialism and the collapse of Labour-type parties into support for their ‘own’ ruling classes. Instead what was needed was a party and a movement centred on revolution.

Previously there had been a trade unionism confined to agitation over wages and conditions. Separately there was a parliamentary grouping focused on elections and votes. A pacifism opposed wars from the basis of individual revolt and personal refusal to fight. Feminism largely pushed for formal equality with men within the present system.

The war exploded all this. Trade unions acted as cops in the factory, driving up production for the technology of slaughter. The ‘left’ parliamentary parties mostly acted as recruiting sergeants. Pacifism was ineffectual against the great structural forces causing war. Feminism split between a few who opposed the whole system and the majority who shamed men for not signing up.

There needed to be a new party focused on action in the workplaces and the streets, wholly opposed to imperialism, and dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist state and the corporations it protected. It had to be for fundamental change, not for manoeuvres within the existing system.

The Russian revolution of 1917 showed that such a party could lead the working class to conquer power. It’s a lesson and a method we need again.

Read this book. It has something for every revolutionary.

Arriva North West bus drivers reject below-inflation pay offer

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
A group shot of strikers and supporters at a north west Arriva bus depot with few unite flags

The pressure is mounting against Arriva as the indefinite strike continues

Arriva bus drivers in the north west of England have overwhelmingly rejected a 9.6 percent pay offer and will continue their month-long indefinite strike.

Their refusal to accept a deal below inflation shows how workers are feeling more confident to chuck out offers that might have seemed acceptable a few months ago.

The 1,800 workers at 11 depots have been on strike since 20 July. Unite union reps will soon discuss the next steps to step up pressure on the bosses.

The combined vote of Unite and GMB union members was 1,449 votes against the deal and just 380 for it on a 84 percent turnout. It follows a rejection of 8.5 percent two weeks ago. The vote came despite Unite making no recommendation on whether to accept or reject.

George Patterson, GMB regional organiser said, “Working people are facing the worst cost of living crisis for a generation. These drivers are fighting for a fair pay rise to help them through it.  

“We need something better from Arriva. Bus drivers need to know that they’ll be able to cover their bills.”

A big factor in the rejection was the huge pay gap between depots and grades. Drivers at Winsford are paid just £11.08 an hour compared to about £13.50 for drivers in Birkenhead for the same work.

The drivers were right to reject this pay offer, with inflation at 12.3 percent the offer was a 2.7 percent real terms pay cut.

Patterson said drivers are demanding £15 an hour across the board. That—if achieved—would mean drivers in Winsford would win a 35.4 percent pay rise and would be a huge blow to the bosses who said that a double digits offer was impossible.

It’s not unachievable Deutsche Bahn, the parent company of Arriva, banked £5.9 billion profit in ten years.

As the offer was rejected all Arriva buses in the north west remain sat in the depots. Just some specific hospital routes are running. 

Unite regional officer Neil Clark said, “Strikes will continue until Arriva tables an offer our members can accept.”

The fight against Arriva bosses is growing around Britain. Strikes are set to hit Arriva in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire as 900 workers rejected 4 to 6 percent pay offers. And workers in Kent, Essex and north London are all currently being balloted to strike.

The pressure is mounting against Arriva—they could have almost 5,000 workers on strike in September if the union officials act quickly. This would massively increase the pressure on the firm.

It would also give confidence to other bus workers.

Determined strike by Pemberton caravans workers in Wigan

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
Pemberton strike picket line, 20 workers with big black and orange GMB union flag

Confident strikers on the Pemberton strike picket line (Picture: Wigan SWP)

More than 100 workers in the GMB union at Pemberton Park and Leisure Homes (PPLH) in Wigan have been striking over pay and working conditions. The action began on Wednesday of last week.

The company initially offered a 3 percent pay rise. This increased to 3 percent with a lump sum after talks, and then bosses imposed 4 percent. After discussion with its members, the GMB pushed for 10 percent plus an improvement in working conditions.

Strikers say PPLH made £8.5 million profit and paid £3 million in dividends to shareholders. Yet workers are paid just £12 an hour 

Striker Jason described working conditions as “appalling” and other workers described them as “Dickensian”.  They said bosses were completely inflexible and bullying.

Others complained that because of low pay and poor conditions the company found it difficult to recruit and this resulted in them employing agency workers on higher hourly rates of pay. The picket was large, serious and friendly. One non-union member refused to cross it.

Paul, the local GMB rep, said that earlier in the year there were 33 union members. But with the level of anger and a possible strike looming this had risen to 106. It’s another example of how struggle builds unions.

GMB organiser Steve Whittle said, “Workers at Pemberton Caravans have seen a doubling of profits, only to see £3.4 million shared among three owners but union members got offered a 3 percent increase.

 “This is a workforce that has zero sick pay and is only able to book two actual holiday days a year with remaining holidays in fixed periods of the year at the company’s behest.

 “We have seen the membership triple during this dispute, and we had a 93 percent turnout for a strike ballot with 89 percent voting for it.”

The local trades council and other trade unionists have supported the pickets.

Messages of support to [email protected] 

Inflation soars to new record high—now is the time to spread the strikes

Posted on: August 17th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
BT and openreach picket line outisde Birkenhead, Palm grove offices with a crowd of strikers some in pink CWU union shirts and holding CWU union flags in a fight for inflation busting pay rise

BT and Openreach workers stage solid picket line in Birkenhead

Inflation in Britain has soared to a record high. It now sits at 10.1 percent, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) announced on Wednesday. But it’s even worse than that.

This bosses’ preferred CPI measure doesn’t take account of housing costs. The more RPI measure puts inflation at some 12.3 percent.

But whatever way it is measured, the new figures indicate a real social emergency. Coming as no surprise to anyone who’s stepped foot in a supermarket recently, increased food prices are the main driving factor behind the rise.

The ONS said prices for staple foods such as bread, cereals, milk, cheese and eggs “increased notably.” Housing costs have risen by 9.1 percent in the year to July. Items under “recreation and culture”, such as pet food, holidays and hobbies, rose by 5.6 percent.

And transport costs rose at an annual rate of 15.1 percent. Fuel prices are up by some 43.7 percent in the year to July—the highest rate recorded.

“Average petrol and diesel prices stood at 189.5 and 197.9 pence per litre, respectively, in July 2022, compared with 132.6 and 135.5 pence per litre a year earlier,” said the ONS.

The inflation rate analysis comes hot on the heels of the ONS’s announcement that workers’ pay is falling at the fastest rate for 20 years.

Annual wage growth grew by 4.7 percent in the three months to June—making workers’ suffer a 7.6 pay cut. And the data revealed pay in public sector jobs grew by just 1.8 percent. It means a horrifying pay cut for millions of workers.

Tory chancellor Nadhim Zahawi mewled that “getting inflation under control is my top priority.” “We are helping where we can,” he claimed.

But the Tories’ help—just £400 for every household, and another one-off payment for those on very low incomes—doesn’t go nearly far enough. 

Even the rich are becoming frustrated at the Tories’ inaction as the cost of living crisis deepens.  Asda chairman Stuart Rose reacted to the news by blasting the government. “We have been very, very slow in recognising this train coming down the tunnel and it is now here and it’s going to run quite a lot of people over,” he said.

“Nothing is happening, we are sitting here into the fourth month into this crisis and we’re still waiting to see what action will be taken. It’s horrifying.”

At the top of everyone’s minds is that soaring inflation is only part of the picture. The Bank of England is expected to raise the interest rates when it meets next month. Further interest rate rises spells disaster for those paying off mortgages, loans or credit card balances.

And energy bills—already outrageously expensive—will rise by 80 percent in October and again in January 2023.

Data from the Institute of Fiscal Studies show that high energy prices affect poor families more, as they spend more of their budget on fuel.

For the poorest in society, inflation soars to 18 percent, compared to 11 percent for the richest.

Jake Finney, economist at accounting giant PwC  said, “We expect inflation to continue rising in the next few months, reaching its peak in January 2023 as the energy price cap is uplifted once more and household energy bills potentially exceed £4.2 thousand a year. Though some of this impact could potentially be offset by additional government support.”

Grim statistics and pathetic Tory soundbites can feel really demoralising. But people’s frustration can be pulled into a sense of resistance.

The upcoming national strikes in the rail, telecoms and post industries—alongside the wildcat walkouts by Amazon and construction workers—point to a new mood of resistance. It’s important to celebrate these struggles—and fight to spread the revolt. 

Rage against the Tories at hustings in Perth

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
Line of 100 anti-Tory protesters at Tory hustings in Perth wiht banner saying 'Tory scum out'

Many people had reasons to protest at the Tories in Perth (Picture: SWP Scotland)

Around 1,000 angry anti-Tory protesters gathered in Perth, central Scotland, on Tuesday to rage at the Liz Truss-Rishi Sunak hustings.

Anti-racists, trade unionists, pro-independence supporters, welfare campaigners, climate change activists and many others came to savage the leadership contenders. It was the biggest protest at a Tory hustings so far.

Protesters tried to break through police lines and some threw eggs at Tories entering the event. Activists greeted Conservative members with a chorus of boos outside the city’s concert hall.

Protest organiser Cat McKay from Perth Against Racism told Socialist Worker, “There is no way they couldn’t hear us inside the hall. It was a great atmosphere on the protest with lots of young people and  a great mix of activists and campaigners.

“For us the main issues were the Tory hostile environment towards refugees and migrants. But there were many other reasons to protest—the cost of living crisis, climate chaos, pensions and much more. We went away feeling stronger and more united. I’d encourage anyone else to go to a hustings and let your anger rip.”

Demonstrators blasted The Imperial March from Star Wars on a loudspeaker and a group of activists broke through a barrier intended to hold protesters back and tried to force their way into the venue. Police halted them as Tory members watched from inside just a few feet away.

The protest was called by Perth Against Racism and backed by Stand Up To Racism, Waspi women pensions campaign and Fridays for Future school strikers. There were speakers from the Unite and PCS unions, the Scottish TUC union federation, Stand Up To Racism and others.

Nurse Pauline Brady told the demonstration that health workers had rejected the 5 percent pay offer. She said, “This Tory government is trying to remove rights from workers and to make strikes ineffective.” She called for “all workers to go on a general strike and bring the country to a standstill. United we can win.” 

Inside the hall, top Tories referenced the protests. Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire, has the task of introducing Sunak. He denounced the “politics of gripe and grievance, of division and hate, that we have seen outside this hall tonight”. He wrongly said the protests were led by the Scottish National Party (SNP).

In fact David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East reply to Tory slurs by saying militant protesters, “don’t speak for me or my party. We condemn their behaviour utterly and without equivocation. If anyone of them is found to be an SNP member, then they should be chucked out immediately.”

Anti-austerity campaigner Sean Clerkin told the Daily Record, “I’m here to call for support for the many Scots who face a winter without being able to afford heating.”

Stand Up To Racism supporters were there to show their anger against the state’s assault on migrant and refugee rights, the death of Sheku Bayoh after police contact, and the government’s attempt to start deportations to Rwanda.  

Protesters chanted, “Refugees are welcome here.” In the run-up to the hustings, Truss has vowed to keep the Royal Navy in charge of patrolling the Channel to confront refugees and migrants after it was revealed that it planned to withdraw from the role next year. At hustings, she pledged to expand the Rwanda scheme to other countries. 

As the strikes and protests grow against the Tories, hustings are a good chance to take the fury to Sunak and Truss.  

  • Future Tory hustings are: Fri 19 August Manchester, 6pm. Manchester Central, Windmill Street, M2 3DW Tue 23 August Birmingham, Thu 25 August Norwich, Wed 31 August London

Tories must face full force of class anger

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Isabel No Comments
bus strike strike picket fighting the Tories' cuts

Workers on picket lines show the way to fight the Tories (Picture: Unite North West)

The Tories are still partying while ordinary people face spiralling crises. Droughts are causing thousands to go without running water, and floods are set to follow. Yet in his final weeks as prime minister Boris Johnson, as ever, is living the high life.

He bragged about wanting a “champagne soaked soiree” to celebrate his one-year wedding at Chequers. And he was spotted on holiday at a five-star luxury “eco‑lodge” in Slovenia, and then at a second jaunt in Greece. As Johnson sponges off donors and rich friends, workers have suffered a record fall in the value of their pay.

Official figures on Tuesday showed real levels of wages fell at the fastest rate for at least 20 years in the second quarter of this year. Workers’ pockets are being emptied quicker than ever as the cost of living continues to outpace wage rises.

It means, for example, that buying a house is even more impossible for more and more people. Perenna, a specialist mortgage lender, has been handed a licence to offer mortgages with a fixed rate for up to 50 years. The 50‑year span effectively accepts that most people will never pay off their mortgage in their lifetime.

But this doesn’t concern Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. They are still busy battling to be the most brutal and right wing to please their ultra-reactionary audience. Both want to be the most vicious towards trade unions and limit workers’ ability to hit back. They’re competing to attack trans rights the hardest, and are refusing to take action over rising prices.

Through all their blunders and nastiness, the rising tide of resistance against the bosses, profit-hungry firms and their Tory scum friends is growing. Strikes, whether wildcat or official, have spread and are a sign of the hunger for revolt.

Another indication is that a poll showed that 49 percent of 18-24 year olds agree that “given the rising cost of living, rioting on the streets would be justified”. And only 41 percent didn’t agree. Meanwhile Labour won’t back the strikes, let alone more militant tactics and policies.

Even when he came up with some plans to curb fuel bills temporarily this week, Keir Starmer still opposed renationalisation of the privatised firms. The TUC union federation estimates that nationalising the energy retailers would cost £2.85 billion. It should be less— why should they be compensated at all?

But Starmer is talking about handing over £29 billion just to keep prices down. His opposition to nationalisation is pro-capitalist ideology, not hard-headed realism. As the social catastrophe looms larger, let’s make sure that whoever becomes the next Tory prime minister faces the full force of class anger.