Monday, 13 September 2010


IT was a very English demo. Yesterday, in Manchester, saw what Dave Chapple, President of the National Shop Stewards Network, described as the 'first national demonstration against the Coalition Government's cuts' and their slogan was that the 'TUC Must Call a Demo'. Well that should scare the Coalition! But were they merely pushing at an open door all the time? Today, the TUC has declared that it is planning a 'campaign' against the cuts.

Last night, SKY TV and other media captured the occasion on the evening news: 500 flag waving demonstrators outside the convention centre at Manchester's G-Mex. Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, calling for co-ordinated strikes and civil disobedience and right winger, Les Bayliss of Unite the Union, saying this will be suicide.

All the usual suspects were on parade - the Socialist Party with their 'New Workers' Party'; the SWP with its Right to Work campaign; the refashioned communists; Trade Union and Trades Council banners from up and down the country; even a handful of folk from the Manchester Solidarity Federation. Young syndicalists like Becca (UNISON) from Birmingham addressed the crowd and the old anarcho-syndicalist former miner Dave Douglass (NUM) from Northumbria told us that great industries like coal mining did not die 'they were slaughtered' by Thatcher and Major.

This is a movement – the National Shop Stewards Network – that is backed by public sector unions such as RMT; PCS; CWU; the National NUM and the POA. So yesterday's demo was about preserving jobs in the public sector and not about a new world order. Calling on the TUC to call a national demonstration against the public sector cuts must be one of the most timid demands imaginable and this conservativism of the British left is typical. Bob Crow sounds militant and even harks back to the poll tax riots but expectations of radical social change seem very remote at the moment.

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