The poisonous British establishment has closed ranks in order to smear all the victims of Margaret Thatcher’s wretched government. What are we going to do about this? Jonathon Dimbleby is a decent journalist by any standards, even if he has crossed a picket line or two.
When it comes to Any Questions, he has been scrupulously fair n all the years I’ve listened. Can’t, off the top of my head, come up with any exception to that rule. However, often the only decent points made on Any Questions are those he makes himself as well, of course, as those made by the audience. Not infrequently, all four of his guests are utterly wretched right-wing bastards.
Yesterday’s edition (repeated within the last hour) did have John Cooper QC, and he did make a fair number of excellent points. He is also someone who has supported many good causes, like representing the Occupy protestors in court. However, even he refused to challenge the anti-trade union bias that is misrepresented these days as common sense at the BBC, alongside SKY News, Channel Four News etc. Margaret Thatcher, we are told (by Ed Miliband as well as Alan Johnson, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock and John Cooper) was absolutely right to take on the trade unions. And we are expected to sit back and agree with all of this? Fuck off!
What exactly are trade unions, by the way? They are the most elementary form of working class organisation, and a million times more democratic than our wretched monarchy with half the legislature unelected, a first-past-the-post system that stops us voting for who we like, mass media that spends a fortune in propaganda to manipulate the result, as Rupert Murdoch’s vile SUN boasted they did. Those who own the factories etc are subject to zero democratic scrutiny. Shareholder democracy is bullshit. It says that the richer you are the more votes you get. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
Trade unions are democratic organizations that workers use to set limits on the rate of exploitation by those who are privileged enough to own the means of production, distribution and exchange, as often as not no thanks to their own hard work but because they have inherited wealth or married into inherited wealth, with both wealth and lack of wealth cascading down the generations, century after century.
This exploitation is in no sense eliminated by trade union activity. So long as a profit is being made by those whose labour fuels the capitalist system, then exploitation remains a fact of life. Ed Miliband can join Lord Tebbit and Rupert Murdoch in defending capitalism, but their lies on behalf of the exploiters changes nothing. All this bullshit is ineffectual in changing reality. It has the same status as The Pope’s placing Galileo under house arrest. He could stop the world discovering the evidence that the moons of Jupiter orbited it and did not orbit the Earth as the Catholic Church would have us believe. But they couldn’t bury the truth forever. And the same is true when it comes to all the anti-Marxist drivel of the capitalist BBC. The truth will out.
Workers organise to limit the supply of labour power. Simple logic of supply and demand thereby pushes up the bargaining power of that commodity. And that allows the worker to eat, and to have enough left over to put food on the table of those of us too young, old, or infirm to work, and to put a roof over the heads of himself/herself and the rest of their family, and maybe to even have a little left over for luxuries like a holiday, television, computer, car and other stuff.
This power of organized labour allows us to defend decent health and safety legislation for the workers and for the public as well. Economic strikes have always had a tendency to burst through some arbitrary political ceiling and change government policy. Happened in France in 1968. Happens all the time, all over the world. It has happened in Britain too. That is what Thatcher’s government set out to change. She used the brutal state (using illegal police tactics, by the way) to attempt to cripple the organized working class. We fought bravely in 1984-85, but, despite everything, we did lose. We lost because the leaders of our movement refused to pull their weight. They talked a good fight, but they let us down. Badly, with one or two honorable exceptions. Arthur Scargill was one of those exceptions.
Arthur Scargill is not the most popular figure on the left anymore. I am sorry about that. I always had disagreements with him. Over Poland’s Solidarity trade union, and the rest of the Stalinist regimes, for example. Nevertheless, he fought bravely. And he doesn’t deserve how he has been treated, regardless of some of the mistakes he may have made in the intervening years. The SLP was a step forward in the face of Tony Blair’s ripping up of Clause Four, but we need democracy, comrades. The same arguments apply with George Galloway’s RESPECT.
Everyone needs to remember what happened to us during the Great Miners Strike. Everyone lucky enough to have been politically active at that time. Initially, my party (the SWP) wanted to boycott the Miners Support Groups, to rely on Socialist Worker groups, but that position didn’t last long. Very quickly comrades learnt to appreciate that there was something in the air. The best of the left grew together rapidly. This happened semi-spontaneously as a consequence of what the miners were doing. Thirst for unity in our common class struggle was palpable throughout our movement. Sectarians were given short shift. We need to remember that feeling, to become inspired once more by the rewriting of history that we are seeing today as a result of Thatcher’s death.
The ninety nine percent are simply refusing to be intimidated by a media out of control, with Tory propagandists who think they have brainwashed us. We will download what the fuck we like. If the BBC censors our choice this week, then next week I expect it will be Elvis Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down”. Who knows what it will be after that. We are simply not going to be dictated to by an out-of-control, out-of-touch shower of Thatcherite bastards.
Not satisfied with denying us a single supporter of the socialist attitude to class solidarity on Question Time, Any Questions or This Week (Will Self wasn’t up to that job either), Anita Anand virtually reduced a victim of Thatcher’s class war against the miners to tears, then she insults a wonderful woman who supplied the Any Answers phone-in programme with one excellent point after another as a conspiracy theorist! Quite sickening.
We are going to protest. And we need to work together. We need to resist sectarians who want to set us all at each others throats at every point in time. We will argue over strategy, tactics, even principles. We are going to fall out, specific individuals finding it impossible to work with someone or other. Personalities do get in the way and insults don’t heal overnight. We will form opinions and suspicions. But we need to be able to work together for the good of our movement.
We need Left Unity, comrades. Ken Loach, naturally, needs to play a key role in any new electoral alternative to what Ed Miliband delivered up to our class in the House of Commons the day it sank into hypocritical eulogies for a dead Tory bastard. We cannot afford leaders who want our class to put up with more of the same old discredited pro-capitalist polices, including bankrupt Keynesianist borrowing. Even someone who promised a lot more than Ed Miliband ever will (Holland) started betraying as soon as he got elected. The capitalist markets don’t give you much choice if you support their legitimacy. The socialist left needs a strategic approach. We need to examine class forces. We need to take a long, hard, sober look at the first-past-the-post electoral system. And that means we can’t be indifferent to the splitting of the left vote. That is what Miliband wants us to do. It is what Blair wants, what Cameron, Murdoch and Farage want. I propose we don’t give them that satisfaction.