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A working class solution to the crisis

 

The Con-Dem Coalition aims to destroy the welfare state. The bosses, police chiefs, top civil servants and most of the media back them.

The 26 March demonstration can launch a massive wave of popular anger. But the government won’t back down because of one huge demonstration. Blair went to war in Iraq despite more than a million marching against.

To stop the government, we need action by workers, service users, young people, pensioners, unemployed – the whole working class.

It will take a general strike to throw these vicious cuts into the rubbish bin of history – and this coalition of millionaires with it.

But how can we get this when our leaders, from TUC head Brendan Barber to Labour leader Ed Miliband, are more frightened of a general strike than they are of the Tories and Lib-Dems?

The first step is to build stronger united anti-cuts campaigns in every city, every borough, every town, bringing into them delegates chosen in every union branch, workplace, college and school, every estate, campaigning group and working class political party. Our aim should be to transform them into real action councils capable of calling local and nationwide strike action.

We need to push for solidarity strikes with every sector facing cuts, drawing in the whole community, students’ and the unemployed to support workers’ action.

Through action we can create local councils of action and a national co-ordination that can either force the union leaders to call a general strike or unleash one from below ourselves.

In Greece and in France last year there were huge waves of strikes against the government’s attacks. The governments tottered but the union leaders refused to press home the attack, restricting things to on-off days of action and mass demonstrations. In Tunisia the announcement of an all out general strike sent dictator Ben Ali packing – and a developing mass strike wave in Egypt brought down Mubarak.

A general strike always poses the question: who runs the country? If we succeed in stopping the cuts and bringing down the ConDems, who would rule in their place?

Labour has only promised to carry out “fair cuts”. There is a danger that if the Con-Dems were brought down then Labour would come in and start cutting while everyone has gone home. Afterall, Labour councils throughout the UK are cutting services and jobs just like their Tory counterparts.

The working class should form the new government. Councils of action based on delegates elected from working class communities could be the basis for a new type of government – a workers’ government. Delegates would be subject to recall by the working class people who elected them, so they couldn’t break their promises like capitalist politicians.

Where are the Labour and trade union leaders?

Back in October the TUC promised to coordinate industrial action against the cuts.

Since then week after week the government has announced more cuts while the TUC leaders have done nothing.

When the TUC finally met in February in response to the wave of cuts, they announced the demonstration on 26 March, which they had decided on five months previously. Brendan Barber and other union leaders went out of their way to assure the bosses and the government that “no one was talking about a general strike.”

But if the trade union leaders announced from the platform of the 26 March demonstration a mass campaign of coordinated strike action against the cuts culminating in an all out general strike, it would be greeted by a roar of enthusiasm. Hundreds of thousands would leave Hyde Park to organise militant action. Britain could rapidly be made ungovernable. But most of the TUC leaders, Ed Miliband and the Labour Party leadership fear this like the plague.

However a united nationwide movement on the scale of the millions-strong victorious anti-Poll Tax movement would also put huge pressure on the union leaders to call a general strike – or stand aside.

The students did just this in December when NUS leader Aaron Porter tried to demobilize the movement after the occupation of Tory HQ at Millbank.

Our watchword should be: with the official leaders where possible, without them where necessary.

Smash the anti-trade union laws

The anti-union laws ban solidarity action and political strikes – but the law doesn’t prevent solidarity between the bosses or stop a government attacking workers’ living standards.

But defiance of them – solidarity action between workers in support of anyone attacked – can make these laws inoperable. The police cannot arrest all the strikers, the courts could not hold them all!

We must demand our trade union leaders break the laws or we will do it ourselves.

We need mass pickets and because the police will try to break the strikes, we need our own organised self-defence squads to protect them.

Against falling wages and greater inequality

Inflation is reducing the value of our wages even without the public sector pay freeze. The official inflation figures are a deception as they fail to take into account the poorer you are the more you spend on vitals such as food and fuel –  the very prices that are rising fastest. We workers should calculate our own cost of living index by means of local price control committees.

Pay should be automatically protected against inflation with a one per cent rise in pay for every one per cent rise in prices. We should put this in every wage claim and demand this sliding scale of wages is enshrined in law. All pensions and benefits should also be protected against inflation in the same way.

The minimum wage should be set at £9.75 an hour and index linked to inflation too.

At the top of the social pyramid are 10 per cent of the population who own between 85 per cent of the country’s wealth. The incomes and the ill-gotten gains of the rich should be subject to swingeing taxation. We should scrap indirect taxes an abolish income tax for all but the wealthy.

Stop racism and fascism

The tabloids – the DailyMail, Express, Star and Sun – stir up a barrage of hate against “Islamic extremism” and “floods of migrants”. They pillory Muslim women for wearing the niqab, they demand that Muslims adopt “British values” but cannot say what these are.

The English Defence League has picked on “extremist” Muslims as the scapegoats. The EDL and its Welsh and Scottish branches are fascists, they are using anti-Muslim prejudice in the same way as the Nazis and their English followers used anti-Semitism. They must not be allowed to march and intimidate black and Asian communities. The Labour movement must mobilize to stop them wherever they try it.

But the state, with its police and its courts, is still in the front line when it comes to persecuting migrants – hunting them down, setting up prison camps and deporting whole families.

We demand they can remain and work in Britain with full citizenship rights. No to nationality tests, pledges of allegiance or forced learning of English.

The state also continues to persecute black and Asian people irrespective of their religion or whether they are British citizens or not. Black people still face higher rates of arrest and imprisonment, poorer housing and education, discrimination in jobs and careers.

The Labour movement should actively support the self-defence of migrant, black and Asian communities against racist and fascist attacks as well as police harassment.

For the liberation of lesbians and gays

Lesbians, gay men and transgendered people may have legal equality in the UK but at schools, workplaces, in towns and cities, they still face attacks and discrimination.

And despite court rulings against homophobes, there are still churches and sections of the media that want to deny LGBT people equality.

The workers’ movement and youth must defend lesbian, gay and transsexual people and fight for full rights for lesbian, gay and transsexual people including marriage.

There should be no discrimination in access to work or to services including the right of lesbian and gay couples to rear children. No bans on educating people in their sexual choices, or on the public expression of affection.

Fight unemployment

We must fight all job losses and workplace closures. The working week should be cut to a 35 hours. When faced with factory, shop or office closures or mass redundancies we should strike and occupy, demanding they be nationalised with no compensation to the bosses and run under workers’ control.

Workers can draw up an emergency plan of production to meet people’s needs; building affordable housing, schools, clinics, green power and transport systems.

When the bosses and their government whine that they cannot afford all this answer is simple. Open the books! Abolish the business secrecy that allowed bankers to bring the economy to the verge of collapse in 2008 and today is used to covers their lies on the necessity for savage cuts. We can end this by workers inspection and control.

Youth fight for freedom

Young people are under attack, paid less, suffering double the rates of adult unemployment and now having higher education put beyond their reach. There must be massive investment in education, in free sports clubs and gyms, in art, film and music studios, where young people can bring out their full creativity and have fun.

Young people themselves must decide what services they require and then run them democratically for themselves. This is a real antidote for anti-social behaviour, not media abuse and police repression.

Students debts should be cancelled, all tuition fees scrapped and loans replaced with grants. In short there must be fully funded free state education for all paid by taxing the banks and multinationals.
Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now![/b]

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a cynical attempt to control the oil reserves of the Middle East and Central Asia. Every socialist, every militant worker must support the defeat of our own ruling class in reactionary these wars. Our real enemy is at home.

British troops must come home now; our membership of Nato must end; there must be no attack on Iran. We must oppose foreign wars on the false pretexts of defending about human rights, humanitarian missions or restoring democracy.

The home front of the war on terror are the reactionary laws that increase the power of the state to spy on and arrest and even imprison us for 28 days without charge We call for the repeal of all these undemocratic measures.

Liberate women from inequality and oppression

28 years since the Equal Pay Act, women still earn on average 15.5 per cent per hour less than men.

Equal pay means raising women’s wages so that they are really the same as men’s. We need to win equal pay through strike action across the public and private sector, linking women’s demands for justice to the fight of male workers against inflation and the pay cuts.

Women are exploited at work and in the home. Housework and childcare are still mainly the job of women. Only the socialisation of these tasks – with free 24-hour nurseries, under the control of parents and crèche workers, can share these responsibilities amongst everyone.

Domestic violence and rape remain common, while conviction rates are very low. Many rights are still not established in law, the right to abortion is limited and under regular attack.

The liberation of women from discrimination and oppression is in the interests of the whole working class.

The more they can divide us on pay, the lower they can hold down wages – the more unpaid work at home they can foist onto women, the cheaper it is to pay for our labour. We should unite with men and fight as a united class.

Combat climate change and global warming

Climate change is threatening a global catastrophe. Destruction of the environment is growing every year.

Emissions of greenhouse gases through burning oil and coal, the massive expansion of reliance on private cars, is melting the icecaps and raising sea levels.

Extreme weather events are a growing global phenomenon, raising food prices threatening food supplies. But the capitalist system can’t reduce emissions because it can’t plan the global economy to meet human need.

The way to combat climate change is for a massive shift away from energy based on burning fossil fuels. But nuclear power is not, as Cameron claims, a “green alternative.” The ongoing crisis of Japan’s nuclear plants in the aftermath of the earthquake shows this.

There should be no expansion of or reliance on nuclear or coal-fired power stations. Instead they should be phased out as soon as possible and the workers should be redeployed in environmentally sustainable production, on equal pay and conditions.

We should demand a massive expansion of investment in renewable energy funded by taxing the rich. We should make the big polluters pay. We should fight for the nationalisation of the energy companies under workers control without compensation and draw up a renewable energy plan.

For a planned economy to meet workers’ needs

Under the last Tory and New Labour governments industries and services were privatised and the market was introduced into education, the health service and local government.

Now the Con-Dem coalition intends to finish the job by breaking up or privatising the remaining public services and slashing their workforces.

All privatisations right back to Thatcher’s time must be reversed, we must nationalise without compensation. Their profits must be ploughed back into society to pay for services, pensions and amenities.

But the old state run companies of yesteryear were bureaucratically managed to serve interests of the private sector before those of the public.

We need a radical new vision of how our society can be run, where the people who work in and use the industries can make the decisions. We need a democratic plan of social production and use.

All the major banks and financial institutions must be taken over without compensation and merged into a single state bank that channels investment where the working class believes it can be used best.

A state bank would help rationally organise the economy, connecting wants to needs according to a democratic plan.

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