|TUC march, Manchester, 2nd October 2011|
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
The answer, my friend, isn't blowing in the wind - it's being held in denial by those very same trade union organisations that workers are looking to for a sense of purpose and direction.
People are asking,"If there is little difference between Conservatives, Liberals and Labour, who do we vote for?"
The coalition government of Tories and LibDems will administer a swift death for our Welfare State and National Health Service. Labour, on the other hand, prefer a more lingering demise. Whichever is chosen, the result is the same. The coalition government claims the cuts are necessary and Labour agrees.
The unions huff and puff, work people up into wanting to 'do something', arrange a 'day of action', book coaches in towns and cities and ferry thousands to either the capital or a major city to march with balloons, banners, flags, whistles, horns, drums and loud hailers to protest and demand an end to government policies - then they get on the coaches and return home.
What has been achieved? Other than a superficial sense of solidarity, absolutely nothing because, the following day, it is as if the event didn't happen. Everything returns to 'normal'.
The government continues its policies of attacking the standard of living and quality of life of those who depend on a wage or a salary (and those who are totally reliant upon sickness or disability allowances) for their survival. Labour declares it would reform none of this legislation if elected to government and major unions continue to bankroll the Labour Party even though this party will not eliminate 'anti-union' laws which prevent unions from taking action to defend their members' terms and conditions of employment or act in solidarity to defend other workers against exploitation.
Workers become frustrated and angry. They need to let off steam. Organise a day's march and a rally! Yes, that will do nicely to shut them up for a while. How much more of this will workers tolerate before they begin to ask "What the hell are we doing here? These marches are achieving nothing!" How much longer will it be before workers tell the unions to stuff their marches and demonstrations and to provide some meaningful political leadership?
There was a time most unions 'educated' their new members, providing them with an understanding of Surplus Value and a sound understanding of the Class System. Sadly, this has not been done for many years and is why workers look upon a major economic crisis, with its attendant unemployment and deprivation, with incomprehension. If the system can plunge them and their families into destitution then there is something wrong with the system. It is inhumane. Surely, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of the human intellect to come up with an alternative, is it?
At its November conference in 2009, the British Trade Union Congress completely endorsed the People's Charter. This Charter explains why ordinary members of the British population, who did not cause the current economic crisis, should not be required to pay for it in terms of a severe reduction in their standard of living and quality of life.
The Charter describes how the deficit could be met by closing the doors to 'tax havens' (make the super rich pay their taxes just like the rest of us), stop forking out vast sums for foreign wars, introducing a Tobin Tax (also known as the Robin Hood tax) with a tiny percentage paid on all business transactions and, controversially for Furness, cancellation of all further development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems (such as submersible American Trident missile launch platforms - affectionately referred to as Trident subs in these parts). These measures would eliminate the deficit and provide funds for manufacturing leading to economic growth and a return to prosperity.
Now, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Some trade unions appear to disagree for they have done precisely nothing to promote the Charter. In Furness, the unions ignore the Charter completely and boycott all efforts to bring it to the attention of the general public. Their blanket of silence is fully endorsed by the local Labour Party and the Labour MP, John Woodcock. Oh, they will make sympathetic noises but they are indifferent to the suffering which is about to be inflicted upon the constituents of this region and the population at large.
In closing, I am minded of what George Bernard Shaw had to say about the opposite of Love.
"The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference."