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Why do we need four anti-cuts campaigns?

Rebecca Anderson picks apart the bizarre logic of Britain’s competing anti-cuts campaigns

If we are to stop the cuts, beat privatisation and banish austerity we need to be united and organised. We need a mass movement that can call huge demonstrations, put pressure on the union leaders and bring solidarity to every struggle.

As it stands, most of the initiative is left to the TUC, the reluctant leadership of the anti-cuts movement. So we desperately need an alternative leadership.

A number of organisations have attempted to do this but have failed because they have all tried to build separate anti-cuts campaigns rather than one massive, powerful one.

The National Shop Stewards Network, Right to Work, Coalition of Resistance and Unite the Resistance stage a range of activities from protests outside the TUC calling for strike action to solidarity trips to Greece. Combined they consist of only a few thousand people, but a few thousand united is more powerful than a few thousand divided.

In fact one anti-cuts campaign would be far more attractive to activists and have greater authority in their eyes, so the numbers involved could grow quickly. A cynical – but nonetheless accurate – interpretation of how this came about is that each of these fronts is the property of a far left organisation: the Socialist Party control the NSSN; the Socialist Workers Party has RTW and UTR; and Counterfire calls the shots in CoR.

Why does the SWP have two fronts? Possibly because RTW’s national secretary Chris Bambery left the party, so a new front was needed. I say ‘possibly’, because in these supposedly independent campaigns the elected leadership rarely meets and ‘officers’ take the real decisions behind the scenes.

There are political differences; for example CoR is against a general strike to stop the cuts, while the NSSN would limit such a strike to 24 hours. But they are all against the cuts and tactics could be debated and decided democratically at a unity conference.

With a united anti-cuts campaign we could put far more pressure on the TUC to call strikes and demonstrations – or organise them from below. A united campaign, bringing together workers, youth, people from all walks of life, would also have the potential to organise local anti-cuts assemblies that could debate ideas and take action as well as co-ordinating nationally for huge demonstrations.

In local assemblies activists could meet each other, work together and provide an alternative source of support should the reformist leaders abandon the struggle or it sell out. Our aim should be to build a movement capable of mounting serious resistance, like they have in Greece and Spain.

As the movement grows, it will inevitably draw in more and more sectors of the working class and downtrodden people. In this situation, anti-cuts assemblies could draw in delegates from every workplace, neighbourhood and community, who can report accurately on the state of the movement, make collective decisions for action based on this information and execute these decisions immediately.

Such bodies would be real councils of action, which could open the road to a decisive showdown not only with the government but with the system it defends.

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