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Strikes are inevitable

The Tories are once again calling on their right-wing allies in the media, Murdoch and his ilk, to turn the agenda upside down.   First they drew the poison from the greed and recklessness of the bankers and injected it into the necessity for the biggest public expenditure cuts since the Geddes axe of the 1920s.   Now they’ve switched the argument away from whether cuts on this scale are remotely necessary (they’re not) and transposed it into an issue of disorder on the streets.   Instead of calling for retribution against the banker malefactors who caused this crisis, they’re complaining that the working class victims may actually be audacious enough to protest, and what’s worse, protest effectively.   How dare they!

In politics as in war the dominant party presses their advantage, not to the limit of what is reasonable or defensible, but to the fullness of their power without limit.   The scale of the fiscal cuts and the coming Departmental cuts in the CSR cannot conceivably be justified by the state of the economy, only by the determination to press home their advantage when their enemy (the Labour Party and the unions) are perceived to be at their weakest.   They are even going further by looking to extend their stranglehold over the unions by introducing new open-ended legal constraints including the ‘conspiracy to injure’.

What is really unnerving the Tories and the Murdoch press is that this assault on the basic rights built up by unions and workers over the last century is so extreme that it might just trigger an upheaval that was uncontrollable.   People don’t riot or demonstrate for fun; they do so when they’re desperate and have little or nothing to lose.    And this time they will indeed have little or nothing to lose.   When the cuts really begin in earnest – and we ain’t seen nothing yet – the Tories and their friends are fearful about where it might all lead – as well they might be.   Hence the campaign to head it off by raising the canard of a return to the 1980s.   But they’re in for a surprise.

Would capital, if it were confronted with an equivalent attack on its wealth and power, simply take it lying down?   Of course not.   It would threaten (and implement) capital flight, it would move factories abroad and blame the Government for cutting British jobs, it would move offshore to avoid paying UK taxes (on an even greater scale than now) and blame the Government for the collapse in UK revenues, it would conspire with foreign capital to bring down a legitimate elected Government by every legal and illegal device it could lay its hands on, and ultimately through its friends in the armed forces and secutity services threaten and if necessary launch a coup d’etat.   All to protect their own power and privilege.   Yet all the unions and workers will be doing is seeking to protect their members and families from utter impoverishment, and wholly by legal means.   What else would anyone expect them to do when their share of national income has fallen from 65% to 53% over the last 3 decades – a collective loss of £180b a year, representing an average loss to every one of the 15m working families in Britain of £12,000 a year?

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