Thursday, 13 May 2010

PEOPLE'S CHARTER: Is this an alternative agenda or vain expectations?

This coming weekend the TUC Trade Union Councils' Conference 2010, will discuss the People's Charter. It calls for 'the nationalisation of banks, insurance and mortgage industries and an end to asset stripping, raids on pension funds and corporate tax loopholes.' It asks for 'more taxes on the rich; better and more jobs by [the State] investing to create employment, and a higher minimum wage; decent homes, no repossessions, rent control, and more funds for councils to build homes and buy empty properties; bringing energy, transport, water, post & communication under nationalisation; free heating & transport for pensioners, an end to child poverty & bring back education grants without fees; reintroduction of trade union rights; end cost of war & nuclear weapons, and cancel debts of poor of the planet.'

To bring about this lot, the motion says: 'it is noted that the TUC Congress 2009 agreed to build support for principles outlines in the Charter in workplaces & communities to help promote progressive policies in the Labour Party & [wait for it] to get a million signatures to show that the government must put people first. Trade Union Councils to collect a million UK signatures to show the Government it must put people first and to get MPs and local councillors, particularly but not exclusively those in the Labour Party, to back the People's Charter.'

These people haven't progressed since the 19th Century when the original Chartist Movement set out to appeal to the powers that existed then, with a petition. It represents a kind of strategy, but one that looks to the government (preferably a Labour Government) to set out an agenda, amended to include the above incoherent wish list: a potted program based on vain expectations and, in the present economic and political climate, a total illusion. A domestic colander so full of holes it is hardly worth serious consideration. It is such a weak effort, so lacking in intellectual rigour and analysis, that it merely demonstrates the absence of vision in the current UK labour movement.

1 comment:

bammy said...

The PEOPLE'S CHARTER is a typically English weak response to the current crisis lacking vision, imagination or any sign of serious thinking that will appeal to the general public or inspire a new radicalism in our politics. It calls for reforms which belong to an age long gone. It calls for change to be brought about by a social democratic State. It may be noted that in the 20th Century some European movements went further than this: The 'Workers' Next Step' editorial (see elsewhere on Blog), reported that:- 'the Spanish National Confederation of Labour [CNT] (brought) industries in Barcelona under workers' control in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War' ... This was described by the military historian Antony Beevor thus: 'There were sometimes long discussions and wrangles within the worker' committees, but when issues were clear, little time was wasted. Services such as water, gas and electricity were working under their new management within hours of the storming of the Atarazanas barracks [on 19th, July 1936].' Then, he says: 'Using the framework agreed at the Saragossa conference, a conversion of appropriate factories to war production meant metallurgical concerns had started to produce armoured cars by 22nd, July ...' He adds: 'The industrial workers of Catalonia were the most skilled in Spain.'

It is perhaps too much to hope that the British TUC could ever bring itself to devise a takeover of industries by working people in this country. Because it is so much easier to keep on paying political contributions to the Labour Party and its MPs.