Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/741/15628
Action to stop all cuts
The heroic working class in Greece is in the middle of its 21st general strike since the start of the world economic crisis.
Workers in Spain, Portugal and Italy are preparing their historic coordinated strike action for 14 November.
The determination and courage of striking miners in South Africa inspires workers in every country. With increased warnings now of a 'triple-dip' recession the need to step up preparations for a 24-hour general strike in Britain was a major theme of the Socialism 2012 weekend of discussion and debate on 3 and 4 November.
Here, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge gives a taste of a fantastic event.
Opening the Saturday night rally Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party secretary, declared that "we are in the fight of our lives". The bosses at Britain's biggest companies have seen their average earnings increase by more than a quarter this year while average household spending, reflecting the impact of austerity, is down 3%. So it was fitting that the entire event was imbued with a serious and determined approach to planning the next steps and ideas necessary to fight austerity and kick out the Con-Dems.
Bob Crow, RMT transport union general secretary, was the first speaker in the rally. Using the example of his beloved Millwall football club he showed the difference confidence can make to a team's performance and applied this to the working class in Britain.
Following the magnificent trade union demonstration on 20 October, when he and two other union general secretaries called for general strike action, Bob said he felt the "confidence of the trade unions is rising".
Bob called for a mass campaign of workplace meetings and a rallying demand for "a general strike in 2013".
The POA prison officers' union took the general strike motion to the TUC in September. Joe Simpson, the union's assistant general secretary, like Bob, took the opportunity to attack the right-wing trade union leaders whose preferred strategy is to wait for a Labour government rather than organising a determined campaign of workers' action.
Joe said he'd seen Labour leader Ed Miliband speak twice - at the Durham Miners' Gala and on 20 October when Miliband confirmed to 150,000 anti-cuts marchers that Labour is firmly for cuts. Joe called on members in the unions affiliated to Labour to take motions to their branches calling on their unions to stop funding Labour.
Turn anger into action
Claire Laker-Mansfield powerfully illustrated 'them and us' Britain - comparing the pampered privilege of a young David Cameron at Eton and Oxbridge to the experience of the majority of young people. With the abolition of EMA student payments, up to £9,000 annual university fees, sky-rocketing unemployment and a constant demonisation by right-wing politicians and the media, how can young people be anything but angry?
But, Claire said, organisation around clear demands can turn that anger into a movement. The student demo on 21 November must only be the start of a determined resistance by young people, including joining with workers in struggle.
Peter Taaffe was the final speaker of the night. He left us in no doubt that a 24-hour general strike would terrify the government. He explained how the Portuguese working class, assumed to be a 'docile' poster-child for workers accepting austerity, rose up with a million on the streets and inflicted a defeat on the government.
"Even the most brutal and seemingly determined government can be compelled to step back if the labour movement uses effective power. This is what the one-day general strike means."
Peter explained that there must also be a political strategy - to build a new mass party of the working class. He reminded us that Tory axe-man Osborne was, rightly, booed at the Paralympics - but that Miliband was also booed on 20 October.
"Capitalism is already bankrupt and will be seen as such by more and more workers." The only people, Peter pointed out, who seem to have confidence in capitalism are Ed Miliband and the Labour front bench, arguing the case for so-called 'responsible capitalism'.
"Hand-in-hand with this goes the need to advance a socialist alternative. Now no meeting, demonstration, trade union branch, gathering of workers should go by without us arguing the socialist case."
For more reporting of Socialism 2012, see: Socialism 2012: A socialist alternative to rotten, bankrupt capitalism
See www.socialistworld.net for reports and analysis of the general strike action in Europe
In The Socialist 7 November 2012: