Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/682/12568
Build strike action to defeat Con-Dems
John McInally, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) vice-president, personal capacity
The coalition government is stripping our communities of jobs and services. It intends introducing a worryingly harsh "welfare" regime in an unprecedented transfer of wealth and power from the majority to a tiny elite who have no interest in society except how much profit they can screw out of it.
It is truly sickening to listen to a multi-millionaire spiv like Cameron talking about a "sick" society when it is the insatiable greed of him and his kind which is the main cause of the social dislocation he bemoans.
Rioting and looting are not in the interests of trade unionists and working people, whose communities bear the brunt of such events, it is firefighters and other emergency services who have to deal directly with the consequences but also other public sector workers who have to pick up the pieces.
The Tories, with the acquiescence of Labour, and the rest of the political establishment, not least of all the media, including "liberal" opinion-formers, are trying to portray this as a 'law and order' issue when in reality it is the predictable consequence of decades of neoliberal/monetarist policies.
This is a war on working people generally, but on the most excluded and marginalised in particular.
There is however a direct correlation between the savage attacks on services to communities that need them most and the anger and alienation of large sections of youth who face the worst unemployment levels in decades.
Millions of youth have effectively been told by the coalition government and the wider political establishment - you have no future, no access to higher education and no stake in society. Young people see a political establishment steeped in open corruption, MPs fiddle their expenses, criminal elements like Murdoch etc run the press, police chiefs increasingly see their job as protecting corporate interests and suppressing legitimate protest rather than protecting communities.
Worst of all in some respects is the Labour Party, which at one time provided a forum for the expression of discontent of the most marginalised but is now another mouth-piece of the corporate elite.
PCS's statement on the riots said "...we have to step back and recognise these disturbances did not happen in a vacuum. It is not condoning violence to say that simply dismissing this as 'mindless criminality' is to give up on our responsibility to look for causes and solutions."
Our society is more unequal than at any point since the 1930s. There will be those who will call for tougher sentencing and more police powers, but these will not solve the very deep problems facing our country. As PCS has argued, we need investment to create the jobs and build the infrastructure that our communities need.
We should also resist attempts to demonise young people in general. They have been the biggest victims of this recession. The lawlessness of the financial and political elites is a much larger problem that our society must address.
PCS will continue to oppose the barbarism of this government and build support for an alternative based on tax justice, investment and job creation.
Real leadership is required from the trade union movement to speak out for our class including the most marginalised and the dispossessed. In order to do this our movement, and particularly the TUC, should follow the policy of PCS and other unions and adopt a position of no cuts, and build the kind of widespread industrial action capable of defeating and bringing down this government.
In The Socialist 17 August 2011:
The street eruptions and aftermath
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
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