Friday, 31 December 2010

The campaign against cuts needs unity. It doesn't need distractions!

As we move into a new year, the campaign against the slash-and-burn policies of the ConDem government will need to intensify.  It will also need to pull in the maximum number of people from all of the campaigns against various aspects of the cuts.  I could wish that all of these people would be coming at this from a revolutionary socialist perspective, but I realise that this is not going to be the case.

The Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition has in many ways been a model of how to organise a united fightback against the cuts.  It has been an open, democratic body which has respected the fact that no one individual or political tendency has all the answers and that the priority is to get everyone working together on what unites us.  It has offered and given support to initiatives from other groups, rather than tried to muscle in and claim ownership of every activity.  This can be seen in the way that it has related to the tax protests by UK Uncut and the student rebellion against tuition fees.  Also the solidarity which it has given to the Argus journalists in their dispute and to the fight by council workers against the Connexions cuts and the attempt to close Bright Start Nursery.

It is therefore no coincidence that the BSTCC has grown over the last half of the year, to the extent that it needs to find a bigger room for meetings and is branching out into the localities - with a successful Portslade meeting earlier in the month and one planned for Hollingdean in the new year.

It is for all these reasons that Socialist Resistance is concerned that progress both locally and nationally could be hindered by proposals likely to be put to the National Shop Stewards Network anti-cuts conference to create an "All-Britain Anti-Cuts Campaign".  An article on SR's website explains the background and our opposition to this proposal.  It has been motivated by the Socialist Party's members on the NSSN steering committee and unsurprisingly was adopted, since the SP has a majority on that body.  But what is significant is that the SP carried not a single non-SP member of the committee with them.  The NSSN steering committee is now divided on this issue with effectively two factions - the SP on one side; everyone else on the other.  It is one thing to be able to use a majority to get your way, but any victory starts to look a bit pyrrhic when there's nobody with you.

We need to build a fightback against the cuts in the workplace - and the NSSN is crucial in developing this, in the absence of much fight at all from the union leaderships - but what we don't need is another national body purporting to be the national anti-cuts campaign.

Locally the Socialist Party has played an exemplary role in the anti-cuts movement and their activists have been crucial to its success, but I hope that they recognise that they need to continue to work within a broader movement rather than set up some new body which is not needed or wanted by the vast majority of people outside their ranks.

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