The right-wing leadership of the TUC sees tomorrow’s anti-cuts march as a one-off protest that merely “sends a message” to a government which has launched the most comprehensive attack on living standards, jobs and services since the 1930s. March 26 is, however, where the fight to bring down the Coalition gets under way in earnest.
TUC leaders have sat on their hands since the ConDem government took office and immediately went on the offensive. Local councils were allowed to implement cuts without any serious union-led opposition. General secretary Brendan Barber is desperate to find a compromise with the government where none exists.
He is also anxious to keep tomorrow’s turn-out under control, working closely with the police and hiring professional stewards to get people to march from A to B, listen to demagogic speeches and then go home. But this will not simply not do. The economic and political situation is far too grave for marches by themselves to have any significant impact.
That is why A World to Win supports the plans that activists have announced for, amongst other things, staying behind in Hyde Park for a day, holding a Constituent Assembly on Sunday, occupying Trafalgar Square in an echo of the take-over of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and for protests in Oxford Street against tax-dodging corporations.
Their merit is that they recognise in one way or another that challenging the authority of the government and the corporations they rule on behalf of, is necessary, even if the objectives are as yet unclear or not agreed upon.
If anyone doubts that the Cameron-Clegg-Osborne government is gripped by crisis, the budget revealed all. Their so-called Plan A of cutting the deficit to revive the economy can’t and won’t work. Ministers can’t even get fuel prices down by 1p a litre and the oil corporations have threatened to sack thousands in response to plans for a tax levy. Growth targets, which measure the health of the capitalist economy and nothing else, are looking decidedly terminal.
Inflation means the cuts will have to be larger than forecast to meet the aim of eliminating a budget deficit that arises out of the global crisis of capitalism, which is far from over (even if the TUC denies there is such a thing). Portugal’s Socialist Party-led government has collapsed over austerity measures and now faces paying 8.4% for loans (Ireland is paying 10% plus). Spain, also led by the “Socialists”, is where the next domino is scheduled to fall. As prices rise, interest rates on UK government borrowing (now 3.57%) will rise too, adding to the debt.
So the Coalition is not for turning, not least because the financial markets and the impact of the global recession say so. It is doing what capitalism demands in times of need – drive down living standards, put people out of work and declare that there is no alternative. There is certainly no alternative in Labour, which, as Ed Miliband says openly, favours a “more prosperous capitalism”, presumably achieved by cutting more slowly than the Tories.
We say “No” to the British, French and American attacks on Libya for many reasons. But an important one is the fact that the government wants to divert attention away from what’s going on in Britain. And of course, Miliband is helping out on that one too, wrapping himself and his party in the Union Jack to back the government’s illegal onslaught.
Let’s take our inspiration, instead, from the uprisings and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, that began in Tunisia, swept through Egypt and found their way to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and now Syria. We have to build a movement that stretches across every sector of the community to challenge the government, to bring it down and to build a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. After March 26, the movement has to organise itself in People’s Assemblies for this purpose. The planning event on April 9 is crucial in moving beyond resistance to liberation through self-determination.