Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/156/7795
Take Over Rover
Don't Subsidise Big Business
TONY BLAIR has said he will "work night and day" to save Rover jobs. This is a turn around from last month when Labour said they were powerless to stop BMW selling the plant to asset-stripping venture capitalists Alchemy.
Now, the collapse of Alchemy's bid has seen New Labour left with more egg on its face than Anne Widdecombe. BMW, however, warn that the Phoenix bid has until 16 May to finalise a sale or the whole Rover operation will be shut completely.
Why Blair's dramatic change of heart? Is it because over 100,000 jobs are threatened or because 27 vulnerable Labour seats are close to Longbridge? Is it because Labour is experiencing an electoral meltdown after being discredited by its fiasco of handling the Rover crisis and other matters? Is it because Labour has been shaken by the massive anger that is building up against it because it has done nothing to improve the lives of millions of working-class people, despite its promises at the last election? Or is it because workers are threatening industrial action at Ford if sackings go ahead?
Of course it is all these things which New Labour are now worried about. But Blair and New Labour have made plenty of promises before which they haven't delivered. Remember their education and health pledges, which they later backtracked on? Remember their pledges to end poverty, which has actually widened under Labour?
After their electoral hammering New Labour can be forced to make concessions, particularly if workers get organised and take action against those capitalist firms threatening redundancies. This is the language of working-class action that Blair and his cronies will sit up and take notice of.
But even if they make concessions and give the cash assistance that Phoenix are hoping for - like the £100 million they recently gave to keep British mines open - that won't be the end of the matter. These concessions can only be temporary solutions unless workers' action goes further and forces the government to stop subsidising the bosses and nationalise the car industry and other firms threatening sackings, under workers' control and management.
- Nationalise. Don't subsidise the bosses' profits.
- No transfer of any production capacity from any car plant without workers' agreement.
- Link up Rover, Ford and other car workers for a one-day strike of the car industry.
- Take the car industry into public ownership with democratic workers' control and management, with a plan of socially useful production.
In The Socialist 5 May 2000: