Saturday 26 March saw well in excess of the reported 250,000 people march through London against the public spending cuts which are now being pushed through by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
The mainstream news media took the opportunity to report that the TUC-inspired demonstration was not called to oppose the cuts, but merely asked for an ‘alternative’ to them. To the delight of the capitalist media, Brendan Barber and others spoke at length about the unfairness of the cuts but did not dare to challenge the capitalist foundations of the current crisis or the inherent flaws in a system that is based upon the exploitation of man by man.
Barber and the TUC hierarchy, far from wanting to bring about any real opposition to the cuts, provided the financial and organisational means to mobilise hundreds of thousands of workers who were promptly marched from their coaches to Hyde Park and back again! In so doing, Barber and the TUC effectively acted as a pressure-release valve for capitalism. The anger and resentment that confronts capitalism, and which had motivated many thousands to protest, was allowed to dissipate. Frustrated and exploited workers could blow off some steam as they passed through London on a spring afternoon.
Despite the class treachery of the union leaderships, those who marched on the 26th will have learnt important lessons. The sheer size of the march (which took four hours just to enter the park) will have confirmed in the minds and hearts of those in attendance that a genuine fight-back is possible. The material conditions exist for resistance, as does the will to oppose the cuts; all that is lacking is the necessary leadership.
At the rally in Hyde Park, Labour leader Ed Miliband clutched at every cliché going. He lurched from references to the suffragettes to the anti-apartheid movement and even threw in the odd mention to the American civil-rights movement! He said that “Our struggle is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish because they represent the best of the country we love”, and went on to call for “homes fit for heroes”!
By heroes, we don’t believe he meant the masses of working and middle-class people gathered in Hyde Park, but rather the scores of unfortunate men and women who are returned each year in body bags and wheelchairs from Labour’s most recent colonial misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq!
After years of privatisation under Labour, many of those in attendance were sympathetic to calls to ‘Break the link’ with Labour, and CPGB-ML comrades easily distributed the 10,000 copies of the party’s ‘No to ALL capitalist cuts’ leaflet they had brought along.
If we really want to build a movement that can fight the cuts, we have to understand that capitalist overproduction crisis lies at the heart of the recurring economic meltdowns. To bury this outmoded system once and for all will require a bitter struggle against capitalism, and against the influence of capital in the labour movement, and this begins with a struggle to break organised labour from the vice-like grip of the Labour party and all those who wish to organise an ‘alternative’ programme of cuts, privatisations, lay-offs and wars!
Perhaps Mr Miliband failed to see the irony when he quoted Martin Luther King at the end of his speech: “The arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice”!