The size of demonstration showed why we are right to say the anti-cuts movement needs to be trade union based.
If CoR or RtW had called the demo it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as big and probaby with worse politics — with the pro-Qaddafi people and George Galloway speaking and maybe a Liberal just for balance...
The section of the demo I spent most time with — the (teachers) NUT — was characterised not by “visceral” anger, as you could have expected, but by a “celebratory” mood.
Yes, people are pissed-off with the government but there is as yet no “hook” to engage this pissed-offness.
My guess would be that NUT members have some vague notion of the pensions issue but no firm hold on the issues.
When Climate Camp came to the City of London, they decided that they wanted to “take on capitalism”. But the only way they could think of doing this was to pour a bucket of paint over it — to do spectacular stunts which would show everyone how crap capitalism is and how much people hate it.
They didn’t have a clear idea of how to actually destroy capitalism, so they did the next best thing: showing that they were pissed off with it.
I think that’s exactly what’s going on with the UK Uncut/direct action people. Some young people will have gone on the 26 March demo just because they wanted a ruck with the police. But the “big ideas” behind fighting the police and smashing up a shop is the way you fight capitalism.
Some quite developed anarchists I know are getting swept up in the “riot-fever”. Lots of students, who went through the student movement in autumn, have become very enthusiastic about property damage for its own sake. A lot of these students are from the posher institutions like Cambridge and UCL — but a lot aren’t.
The demo was better than expected in terms of numbers, and we shouldn’t be afraid to be “optimists”.
The turnout gives us a reason to fight and to urgently work out the next steps industrially and politically.
Paul, south London
The ludicrous action of the SWP of petitioning for a General Strike, is cheap and dishonest rhetoric. No union executive has adopted that position.
A general strike would be illegal and the TUC General Council are hardly going to call one on receipt of a petition from the SWP/ Right to Work. To my knowledge, no-one in any union executive, including SWPers, has even proposed putting that to the TUC.
The Socialist Party position is more practicable; at least public sector unions may be able to co-ordinate strike action legally. But again, are their supporters advocating that in the unions in which they have presence? No.
While drawing attention to such hypocrisy we also need to practically come up with answers about co-ordinating trade union protests.
In the UCU (college lecturers’ union) we had a reasonably successful strike on Thursday 24 March. In my own union branch there has been a growth of militancy on the left, more pickets out (about 30) than we had previously, but scabbing was there — possibly as high, if not higher, than we had during our last strike in 2006, despite us being far better organised.