YESTERDAY Premier Blair could not raise a single clap for his answers to questions about his privatisation drive in the public sector, in the civil service, health and education at the TUC Congress.
As for the destruction of trade union rights in the prison service, Blair did not even attempt an answer.
This was after he was badly shaken when up to 100 delegates walked out of the Congress hall after a placard-waving demonstration when he entered.
Blair was then booed and jeered when he referred to his wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Lebanon, asserting that these were proxy wars, implying that Iran was behind them all, not himself and President Bush.
It was as plain as can be that New Labour and the trade unions have not the slightest thing in common, that one represents the interests of capital and the other reflects the interests of labour. One can flourish only at the expense of the other.
Delegates furious with Blair were further angered when news filtered through that Blair’s political partner, Gordon Brown, had condemned those delegates who had earlier exercised their democratic rights and walked out in protest at Blair’s visit. Brown also supported everything that Blair had said to the Congress delegates.
The question and answer session and Brown’s declaration that he is with Blair made it clear that the interests of the trade unions require that Brown does not follow Blair into the premiership.
What also became crystal clear during the morning’s session was the pathetic reformist nature of the TUC General Council.
Speaking for the General Council, Tony Woodley, the TGWU leader, made it clear that it had reservations about the resolution on the ‘Trade Union Freedom Bill’.
The Trade Union Freedom Bill is a moderate Bill whose aim is not the repeal of all of the anti-union laws, but to achieve ‘better protection for striking workers, fairer industrial action ballots/notice procedures, reform of the use of injunctions, regain full trade union rights for prison officers and allowing supportive action in certain circumstances.’
It is completely in the tradition of reformism. However, the TUC General Council did not want more than one national demonstration in the year (May Day). Woodley added: ‘We want to be flexible and assess progress in parliament before we consider another demonstration’, and that the General Council had concerns about a commitment in the resolution to establish a fund to cover legal challenges. Woodley said: ‘We can’t leave in an open demand for unlimited resources.’
Woodley was also forced to make a statement about the ongoing Gate Gourmet struggle. He stated: ‘The good news is that, thanks to all our efforts and the support from other workers, we have seen 300 workers get their jobs back. . . The bad news is we haven’t been able to take official action and there are still workers who can’t get their jobs back, as you saw with the demonstration outside yesterday.’
Woodley said: ‘It makes me sick at the stomach. If our members were able, they would have taken secondary action in support of our members.’
The facts are that Woodley betrayed that struggle. His members in Heathrow Airport did take secondary action, but he sent them back to work. The union leaders refused to take official action, and he was so sick in the stomach at what happened to the Gate Gourmet locked-out workers that he stopped their hardship pay.
Delegates at the Trade Union Congress must insist that there is a discussion at the Congress on the Labour leadership. They must instruct the General Council that Blair and Brown must be made to resign, and that the trade unions will only finance a Labour government that carries out socialist policies.
The Labour Party must be purged of Blairites and other traitors of the working class, and a new leadership must be built in the trade unions to replace the pathetic reformists who know only how to betray, and cannot win a single battle.