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Students shake the Con-Dems, now workers can break them

2010 WAS A year of youth rebellion as the students from schools and colleges across the country took furious action against the Tories’ hike in fees and cuts in grants.

Let no one speak of the apathetic, playstation generation again. The cry of ‘Tory scum’ went up in every town and city across Britain.

Voiced by young people in their tens of thousands – marching with incredible frequency, occupying at remarkable length – their determination succeeded in shaking the foundations of the Con-Dem government.

Clegg and Cable’s Lib Dems were exposed as hypocrites and traitors in the eyes of millions. The Tory party that had all too quickly showed its true colours found its headquarters occupied.

If the nasty party was back – so too was resistance.

Hope

This was a wakeup call – not simply to the reality of a system that serves the rich and privileged but also to the power we have when we stand up together and fight. The great youth rebellion of 2010 rekindled the spirit of 1968. Suddenly and almost without warning it gave hope to millions.

It marked the end of the ‘phoney war’ when the Tories and the mass media bombarded us with talk of ‘savage’ but ‘inevitable’ cuts. Until the students protested, marched and struck in their thousands, our side in the battle had barely raised its voice.

Now all that has changed. Yes, the Liberal Democrats did not back down – they voted it through like the traitors they are.

But the fight is still on. This wasn’t just a battle over fees.

It’s about the kind of society we want to live in.

There is an alternative to the nightmare of Con-Dem Britain – where the rich live ever more ostentatious lifestyles at the expense of the poor, where services are slashed and sold off, and millions are condemned to poverty.

That vision has been challenged – now we need our own vision and a strategy to win.

The student movement will encourage militant action in the rest of the working class against the 500,000 job losses in the public sector against the 30 per cent cuts in funding for council services, against the housing benefit cap that will drive scores of thousands out of their homes, against the Tories’ plans to slash pensions, limit legal aid and tear up basic welfare for working people just to pay for the crisis of their system.

General strike

And industrial resistance is key to stopping these attacks. We need to launch indefinite strikes and stoppages to force real concessions, coming together in a general strike to bring down the Con-Dem government once and for all.

The TUC congress called for “coordinated action” – but TUC boss Brendan Barber has done nothing to make it happen. The outgoing leaders of Unite, and the current leadership of Unison and the GMB have stood in the way of united militant action. New Labour leader “red” Ed Miliband has condemned “irresponsible” strikes…as if fighting these vicious cuts was somehow an irresponsible thing to do.

It’s time to say loud and clear to every single leader of the trade unions and Labour Party, “If not now, when?”

But how?

Well, teachers, lecturers and civil servants are already planning to ballot for co-ordinated strike action against pensions. We need similar ballots against every cut and bring them forward so we strike at the same time.

In local government the scale of the cuts could be catastrophic – now is the time for a militant defence of jobs, conditions and services.

Anticuts committees

A series of actions have already been called (see page 2). We need to link them up.

Anticuts committees have sprung up across the country. There have been angry demos against council cuts in Lewisham and Coventry. Labour councils that have carried out Tory cuts have rightly faced furious protests.

We need to build local action committees and link them up nationally – that way we can take action with the official leaderships wherever possible, but also without them wherever necessary. That’s what the students did: their official leader Aaron Porter of NUS opposed the struggle, but rank and file networks of students organised despite him. That’s the way workers can beat the cuts despite the TUC.

If we take this road, we can break the Con-Dem government once and for all. In 2010 the Con-Dems came to power and were shaken to their core within six months – now we must break them once and for all.

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