Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/738/15534
A recent TUC organised conference, entitled 'Outsourcing and Austerity - Civil Society and the Coalition Government' was attended by over 100 people from the voluntary, charity and third sector as well as union and anti-cuts activists.
The Labour spokespeople made much of the 'one nation' sound bite with Lord Glassman talking about the need to 'restrain capitalism'.
He also specifically commented that we needed to move away from the politics of "irreconcilable class conflict".
This wonderful exercise in spin was interrupted by a questioner who asked: "Can we trust Labour or is 'one nation' just another version of 'big society'?" This drew sustained applause.
I asked what was Labour's message to people under Labour administrations such as in Southampton, where Labour have already declared their intent by closing a local swimming pool and lining up a projected £29 million cuts next year.
Expecting us to endure another two years of cuts and the prospect of business as usual under a Labour government would not be tolerated.
"The gentleman has demanded more leadership from us", replied the Labour MP, followed by much handwringing about "Labour councillors have to make tough choices."
Another panellist interjected angrily: "It may well be tough to make tough decisions, but it's a lot tougher for those who are having their services cut!"
Feeling slightly battered at this point the Labour spokesperson said: "we will repeal the NHS reform bill" anticipating a groundswell of approval. Alas it was not to be. Instead there were shouts of "what are you going to do now?"
Someone added: "you bought the privateers in, how are you going to get them out and when are you going to apologise?"
Conferences like this make the 'job' that Labour is doing clearer. Fortunately there will be an increasingly active challenge to their timidity and, as one person expressed it: "We need a pincer movement against the government, remember the poll tax".
In The Socialist 17 October 2012:
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist Party