There were hundreds of placards on the TUC anti-cuts demonstration with the words “General strike” — produced by the SWP and, in a new development, the Socialist Party.
Workers’ Liberty has criticised the SWP’s use of this slogan because it does not "follow the logic of the class struggle": it is not the right demand to take the movement forward from where it currently is. If the TUC did “call a general strike”, it would almost certainly flop.
But the SWP don’t believe this is a serious possibility either. Opportunist as ever, they brandish “general strike” to sound left-wing and attract recruits, but nowhere in the labour movement do SWPers propose the unions adopt this demand, let alone put forward a serious plan for it to be implemented. The official statement voted on and issued by the SWP-organised Right to Work conference in February made no mention of general strikes whatsoever!
Now the Socialist Party has added its own sectarian and opportunistic twist.
The SP placards on 26 March shouted GENERAL STRIKE NOW! in big letters. Much smaller, and difficult to see from any distance, were the words above, “One day public sector”.
But a one day, cross-public sector strike is not a general strike — an ongoing mobilisation breaking across both legal and institutional constraints and sectional boundaries. But the SP cannot let the SWP sound more “left” than it does — hence the placards.
And the SP is just as opportunist as the SWP. It does not use its considerable influence in the unions to fight for its demand, but instead uses it to ward off the possibility of action by individual unions or groups of workers (for example in the civil service union PCS).
Such demagogy hinders a struggle against bureaucrats who do not want to seriously fight any battles. We should demand the unions champion and fight to win every dispute currently in the offing, and encourage rather than hinder the development of further struggles.