Thursday, 16 September 2010


Now it's Swampy, Direct Action & Extra-parliamentary Man ( & Woman)

LAST SUNDAY on Sky TV Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, was calling for Fathers4Justice type actions, but by Wednesday he was reminding a fringe meeting of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester, of Swampy and other extra-parliamentary actions. The Chair, revolutionary syndicalist, Dave Chapple, was moved to ask him if Swampy had now joined the RMT? He said that what was needed was broad based imaginative campaigns in the community and that he thought that this year's TUC conference had been positive with calls for coordinated action and strikes which, in his view, had to be 'political', and he said that, for the first time in many years, the media had turned up in strength. He argued that we had to put forward real social demands.

Linda Taaffe, Secretary of the NSSN, called for a 'strategy of mass action' like the Poll Tax campaigns of the early 1990s. She said it was not just the poll tax riot that had won that battle but rather the determination of ordinary people not to pay the tax. In the end, of course, the Prime Minister who superseded Margaret Thatcher, John Major, had said that as a tax the Poll Tax was 'uncollectable'. Indeed, it was Margaret Thatcher that who through her anti-trade union laws helped bring back the riot to streets of England. In the 1970s and 80s some Industrial Sociologists like Tony Lane and Huw Beynon saw strikes and industrial action as a safety valve in society and some at that time saw the union official as the 'manager of discontent'. Calls for the increasing use of the law to limit the right to strike from people like Boris Johnson may well lead to more insurrectionary, less predictable forms of action

Amid the slogans and rhetoric at the TUC conference and on the streets during the demo last Sunday, there is a sense in the air up here in Manchester of a possibility of summat different on the horizon, summat more exotic perhaps, some alternative action more surprising than an ordinary strike. The utterances of Bob Crow, perhaps unconsciously imply something strange is in the offing and all week senior policemen, with an eye on their own interests, have been warning of social disorder if the cuts are implemented. Perhaps the National Shop Stewards Network will find a role for itself yet.

1 comment:

bammy said...

The turn up at the meeting was around 50 and the chair gave most of these the chance to speak. A North West planning meeting was held afterwards with 11 in attendance. It is hope to organise a cuts rally around the time of the Coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review. There will be another meeting on the 27th, September to organise this.