THE news that has emerged that the Tory police and crime commissioner for Northamptonshire, Adam Simmonds, has been in secret talks for twelve weeks over the merger of the county’s fire service with the police is much more than a cost-cutting exercise.
If carried through to its logical conclusion, as Simmonds and the government clearly intend, it would see the Fire Brigade organisationally merged with the police, and would open up the prospect of police carrying out fire fighting duties and firefighters being required to police their communities, using water cannon as required, no doubt.
Already there has been talk of fire fighters being used as police community officers when not actually out fighting fires, the same development that is taking place in America as bankrupt cities and states are engaged in a full-on merger programme of emergency services.
The plans that have emerged in Northamptonshire are clearly an attempt at importing the American model into the Britain and the Tories in the county are in no doubt that the government will soon be introducing legislation to allow the full-on merger of these services, along with the ambulance service.
As far as the government is concerned firefighters are basically a waste of money, spending the majority of their time sitting around waiting for fires or accidents to occur.
In fact, firefighters are amongst the most highly trained and skilled professionals in the country and the lives of countless numbers of people have been saved because of their professionalism and ability to use highly sophisticated machinery.
But for the Tories it’s just a case that anyone can operate a hose in the same way that anyone can drive an ambulance, the fact that this would inevitably lead to unnecessary loss of life is a price worth paying in the cause of cutting emergency services to the bone.
One of the unspoken but decisive driving forces behind this plan to merge the services is the desire by the coalition to outlaw strikes and break the trade unions in the emergency services.
In any merger the right to strike, which is legally forbidden to the police, will undoubtedly be outlawed in any merged service, something that leading Tories like Boris Johnson have been demanding for ages.
Given the savage cuts that the coalition is attempting to impose on the fire service, with plans to close 12 fire stations in London and 75 across the country, with 520 firefighters facing the immediate prospect of the sack, and the huge resistance of FBU members to this, the government is clearly preparing for a showdown with the workers and their union.
Incorporating the fire service into an arm of the capitalist state and imposing police discipline and legally enforced no-strike clauses on firefighters and other emergency service workers, is part of the strategy for implementing these cuts.
In Greece riot police have been used to force striking Metro workers back to work, and in Britain the coalition is being driven along the same path, as the crisis demands that the working class pay in order to keep bankrupt capitalism and its banks afloat.
The dragooning of emergency workers into the capitalist state apparatus, where no doubt the expertise of the fire service would be invaluable when it comes to using water cannons against strikers and demonstrators, is an enormous wake-up call to every worker and the trade unions.
The coalition government is preparing for a massive intensification of the class struggle in Britain. It is preparing for all-out war against the working class. It is feverishly reorganising its state for civil war actions against workers and youth.
This drive must be answered through mobilising the huge strength of the working class in a general strike to bring down the government and advance to a workers government and socialism. The working class must win the class war that the Tories are now waging!