Magnificent march - now let's strike to beat the Tories

April 5, 2011 - 0:0

Saturday’s march was magnificent. Certainly well over half a million marched, showing the depth of the bitter anger at Cameron and Clegg’s cuts.

Now the great protest of March 26, 2011 can be the beginning of a new surge of resistance.
Every reader of Socialist Worker must play their part in making that happen. Hundreds of thousands of people were crucial in making the march a success – and in getting it called at all.
When David Cameron came to office, some claimed workers in Britain were so beaten and apathetic that they would not fight back. Remember last August when then Unite union leader Derek Simpson said, “We don’t have the volatile nature of the French or the Greeks”?
Six months later and hundreds of thousands are on the streets. This took activists pressuring the union leaders, arguing with their workmates and friends to come, filling the transport, getting the banners made and the delegations organized.
Now we need those same people — and the many others who are inspired by last week Saturday’s march — to put themselves at the head of another argument inside the working class.
The argument is this: if we can demonstrate together in such great numbers, then we can also strike together.
In 1979, when Tory Margaret Thatcher came to office, there were six million more trade unionists than there are today. But for all her brutal assaults, we never saw a march like this.
In 1980-81 the Labour Party held three monster demonstrations across Britain. The TUC backed a major demonstration that took place at the end of the People’s March for Jobs in 1981. But even added together, those four mobilizations were smaller than last weekend’s protest.
And the march in 1990 in London that played a decisive role in breaking the poll tax was less than half the size: 200,000. No amount of police violence or lurid headlines in papers about “anarchy” can obscure the fact that 26 March was massive. But it wasn’t just the numbers that were so impressive — it was the composition of the protest.
All those pampered ideologues who bore on about the “death of class” and the irrelevance of trade unions got their comeuppance. Alongside the unions were many anti-cuts groups, disabled people’s campaigners, women’s groups and others. They showed the massive scale of opposition to the Tories across society. At the centre of the march, though, were the huge delegations of organized workers.
Workers have social power because when they stop work they collectively cut off the source of their bosses’ profit or bring a service to a halt. This is the power we need to use now.
Speaking at the rally on Saturday, PCS union leader Mark Serwotka said, “Look around you in this park. Imagine what it would be if we didn’t only march together but took strike action together.”
Len McCluskey, the Unite union general secretary, said that the demonstration “must be only the start” and urged everyone to “continue the fight, including coordinated industrial strike action.”
So significant union leaders now argue that cuts are not inevitable—that it is right to fight this government of Eton boys and millionaires with united strikes.
This makes it much easier for those who argue for a militant fightback and a general strike. We are no longer a small minority. To win such action, though, will still take a big political fight inside the working class.
The general level of confidence to strike is fragile. Individual strikes, protests and occupations in our communities can defeat individual cuts and build up that confidence.
But to derail the entire project of making workers pay for a crisis they did not create will mean bringing down the government. And that means mass walkouts.
We need strikes by millions to wipe the smiles off the faces of the bonus-grabbing bankers and their political defenders.
(Source: SocialistWorker online