Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/701/13514
Labour leadership approves the Con-Dem cuts
Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
Public support for a struggle against cuts is overwhelming: strikers march through London on the 30 November 2011 'N30' public sector strike, photo Senan (Click to enlarge)
Ed 'Moribund' and the Labour leadership have had a brainwave to boost Labour's poll ratings - their slogan going into the next election is "Vote for us and we will freeze your pay and cut your services"!
As well as accepting the government's public spending cuts, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, now supports the two year public sector pay freeze followed by measly pay increases of 1% until 2015 - in effect a pay cut of one fifth for public sector workers.
Balls's assertion that it is a choice between pay rises for workers or more jobs is absolutely false - the government has no intention of using the money saved to create jobs. Lower spending power for public sector workers will decrease demand for goods and services, further eroding jobs in the private sector.
The Labour leaders are making it clear that they are worthy representatives of capitalism - including what Ed Miliband has branded 'predatory capitalism'. Miliband and Balls might criticise the 49% annual increase in the pay of leading company chief executives, but they do not propose to freeze their pay. They disapprove of bankers bonuses but they do not limit them to 1% pay increases.
Some trade union leaders have rightly condemned the Labour leaders. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil service union, and Bob Crow and Alex Gordon leaders of the RMT transport union, condemned the Labour leader's attack.
91% of Labour's funding in 2011 came from donations from the trade unions. Paul Kenny, general secretary of one of the affiliated unions, the GMB, has now questioned his union funding Labour.
And Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, which is also affiliated to Labour, said that "this year we have seen one shadow minister after another falling over themselves to endorse savage spending cuts" dubbing four of Labour's front bench "the four horsemen of the austerity apocalypse".
But both union leaders still support the affiliation of their organisations to the Labour Party.
The Labour leadership has been under increasing pressure because Miliband and Labour has sunk in the polls, even as there is a growing tide of revulsion within the electorate at the grotesque wealth being amassed by the rich in 'Austerity Britain' and huge opposition to cuts in public sector pensions.
Miliband's weak opposition to the Tories has lost him credibility even among Labour voters, with 70% saying they could not imagine Miliband as prime minister in a recent poll.
Most voters blame the super-rich for the crisis. 61% supported the strike in defence of public sector pensions. But Miliband and Balls decided to try and rescue their position by gaining 'credibility' with the right wing media by declaring themselves to be a safe pair of hands for big business if elected. New Labour has returned to its default position of supporting the fat cats - not that it ever travelled far from that stance.
The thin veneer of Labour opposition to some cuts that led some on the left - including some who claimed to be 'Marxists' - to mistakenly call for support for Miliband has worn off very quickly.
And Unite and GMB members will be wondering why their union is affiliated to a party that supports the pay freeze. Len McCluskey compared the position of the three main parties to the "national government consensus" in 1931 when the leaders agreed on massive cuts for working people to assist capitalism.
But in 1931, Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald had to part from the Labour Party to join the national government. The Labour Party then remained outside the consensus partially reflecting workers' opposition to austerity, preparing the way for the 1945 landslide Labour win with pro-working class policies. Together with a mass Communist Party in some areas, workers had a political vehicle to oppose the cuts.
McCluskey said in the Guardian: "Where does this leave the half a million people who joined the TUC's march for an alternative last year? Disenfranchised."
The conclusion can only be that Unite and the trade union movement need to come together to create a party of the working class to fight the cuts consensus and provide a political voice for the millions fighting it.
Anti-cuts London election stand
With the support of leading London members of trade unions, including the RMT transport workers' union and FBU firefighters' union, and the collection of hundreds of signatures, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) plans to stand on the Greater London Assembly list, from which eleven candidates are elected to the assembly.
Every TUSC candidate opposes all cuts, privatisation and Private Finance Initiative.
- To add your support, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.tusc.org.uk
In The Socialist 18 January 2012:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis